|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
The Job Is Done
“…all I eva’ fuckin’ wan’ed was t’be amaay–”
The Prisoner, gat in hand, steps out of the elevator, the catchy tune from the speakers still stuck in his head. He’s arrived, and there’s only one way to go – through the glass doors marked Cape Enterprises, Uncorporated.
At Apex they said when the hostile takeover was complete, he would be teleported to an island to live out the rest of his days – it’s not quite Fuego, but he’ll make do. Who says you can’t build a spaceship out of palm trees and a promise?
Zoral Tryptamine ring that’s capable of inter-universal travel will probably help too, but that’s beside the point.
The air inside the office is tense, as if a human just finished releasing a whole lot of pent-up tension on another human. There’s the front desk, empty, no signs of a struggle… other than the two gaping holes in the walls, anyway, but those are surely unrelated to the tension in the air. Past the desk, The Prisoner can see windows – ah yes, those must be the windows through which he saw Hymarc and the suited man with the Dif
Zoral Tryptamine ring when the TerrorWing malfunctioned. That ring came from planet Fuego, there’s no doubt about it – that’s The Prisoner’s ticket out of prison.
He crouches below the front desk, tactically peeking around the corner. Just like it was a second ago, the coast is clear. He blinks over to the wall, hugging it with his back as he makes his way down the hallway, peering into the human-sized holes as he creeps past. Empty, just like The Prisoner thought; if there was a struggle here, there would be bodies filling these holes.
As he inches closer to the windows, The Prisoner can smell a certain smell. A skunky smell, a certain skunky smell that smells… Cannabic. He’s never had much direct interaction with Hymarc, but the man never came off as one who smoked Cannabis. He certainly could have benefited from it, but The Prisoner never once detected the herb in the entire Apex building, metaphysically or otherwise. The hostile takeover clearly didn’t go according to plan – could Mister Cape be smoking a congratulatory joint?
Like George Washington crossing the Delaware on the day after Christmas to ambush the silly foreigners who needed to take two days off to celebrate, The Prisoner side-rolls and lands in a crouched position, rifle aimed at the head of… Sean Hymarc?
His eyes don’t deceive him – there’s President Hymarc, sat at a desk with his feet up, puffing on a joint. There’s something different about the Gray Fox though; his tie is undone, shirt’s untucked, he’s not even wearing shoes. Or socks…! Something paradigm-shifting must have taken place here, something that tore Hymarc’s soul from his body and chucked it deep into the bowels of Existence itself.
“What a surprise! Hello Beta, fancy seeing you here! Please, lower your weapon, pop a squat. There’s enough Cannabis in this joint to get half the city high!”
“That… that is not my name,” The Prisoner growls, decidedly keeping his rifle trained on Hymarc’s strangely hyperactive pineal gland. “Until I’m free of your grasp, you shall call me The Prisoner.”
Hymarc shrugs. “Well enough, do as you wish.”
He lazily lifts the joint to his mouth and pulls, the look on his face that of a baby mountain lion when it gets its first taste of cattle.
“Where is Torpol?!” The Prisoner shouts with steam coming out of his ears, failing to mark fear into the very high Hymarc. “I need to complete my mission!”
“Your mission? Ah yes, the whole teleport to the island bit. That’s none of my business. I believe the Doc is still wherever he was taken before Mister Cape and I had our little scuffle. You can go find him if you wish, I’m good right here.”
The Prisoner takes a step forward, then three more, then another, and suddenly, Hymarc’s unable to put the joint in his mouth.
“Then maybe I’ll kill you so Torpol can take over properly. It matters not whose blood is spilled today, as long as my promise is fulfilled. I–”
“Sorry to interrupt, but uh, I care a little fucking bit if more carpet gets spilled over my blood. I mean… fuck it, you know what I mean.”
The Prisoner, keeping his gun pacified in Hymarc’s mouth, turns his head to see a suited man standing with a handful of Mushrooms.
“Hi there, you must be a
Zeroc. I’ve met a couple of you, did some drugs with you, fucked one of you… but I haven’t brutally murdered one of y’alls yet. The day is still young though, sort of.”
Chuck waits a moment for his words to sink in, but they just float to the ceiling.
Then, “What I’m getting at is you’re gonna drop the weapon or I’m gonna drop you. Make the call, indigo child.”
The Prisoner smirks, his body twirling to face the same direction as his face. “Actually, I was born a star seed. Tell me, how do you know so much about my culture? The High Councils will surely wish to know when I return to them.”
“Uh, I don’t? And Jolon already knows about me, we played video games together a lil’ while ago.”
The Prisoner’s eyes go wide for a second, then they return to normal size. “Very well… before I end your life–”
“Not gonna happen,” Chuck corrects the alien before chewing his Mushrooms. Hymarc gets a slightly disappointed look on his face, as if there wasn’t more Cubensis growing in the closet.
“You insolent… I’ve had it up to my third eye with you human swine. I’m an extraterrestrial fucking assassin! I am faster, stronger, smarter… I am superior to you pathetic, puny little humans in every conceivable way. Why will none of you take me seriously?!”
“I think you take yourself seriously enough for all of us, bubba,” Chuck says before ducking underneath a spray of bullets.
“Ah, impressive! You’ve mastered the art of dodging bullets… I did too, when I was in preschool. Tell me, ape, what are you called? I wish to bury you myself when I finally get to my island.”
“You know what, bigshit? Two things. One,” Chuck says as he puts his hand into the shape of gun and pshews the teleportation belt on this dumbass’s waist to smithereens, “fuck you. Two, and trust me, you asked for this shit.”
Chuck then spins around and his power armor melts around him. He dramatically pulls the brim of the power armor’s fedora over the power armor’s eye sensors and then slowly turns back around to face his adversary.
In a very nasally voice, he shouts, “HI! My name is…”
Chuck’s right arm forms into a .50 caliber belt-fed automatic sniper rifle.
“My name is…”
Chuck’s left arm forms into a futuristic railgun that shoots pure lightning, the likes of which would make Torpol cream himself.
“My name is,” chucc-chucc “MAIN CHARACTER!”
Chuck opens fire and bores a gigantic hole in the wall around his bulletproof wooden desk behind which Sean Hymarc hid with the computer as soon as the power armor came out.
Finally, after so many years of working at it, the chair-dent is complete.
When the sheetrock dust and smoke finally clears, Chuck’s guns turn back into his arms and he cracks both his own knuckles and the knuckles of his power armor. Then he grabs the Prisoner, who came flying down from the ceiling, and attempts to spin him out the window, but The Prisoner is one step ahead. Using his momentum to reverse his lack of control over the situation, The Prisoner hurls Main Character through the window, sending him and a trillion particles of glass in a straight line across the city, all the way to the Apex building where a crater is created from the impact.
The Prisoner, breathing heavily, then circles around the left side of the desk, the side with walls rather than wall-windows. He sees Hymarc quivering in the chair cavity, hugging the computer monitor like it was his child. The Prisoner’s not sure which of the two is whimpering like a blind puppy without any legs, but he assumes it’s Hymarc. He wonders what noise the human will make when he’s punted through the wall-window in a few moments and gets a little excited.
“There… the job is done…” between tired breaths. “Give me a new teleportation belt. We had a deal.”
“I-I-I t-t-t-old you, Mis-Mister, erm… M-Mister The Pris-oner. That’s,” Hymarc swallows a chunky glob of sheetrock paste and tries to calm his nerves. Now that his mind is open and he’s not constantly drowning in the black, stormy waters of neuroticism, he succeeds. “My apologies. Like I said before though, that was really Doctor Torpol’s deal. A lot of what goes on at Apex is Torpol’s deal, I’m just the one who owns the company on paper. You’ll have t–”
Sean Hymarc is cut off my a very angry backhand to the face.
“Do you imbeciles realize what’s going to happen when I return to Fuego?! I’m going to tell the Council of Life everything – my imprisonment, my torture, the demented, sadistic experiments your doctor forced me to watch him perform on your idiotic team of mercenaries. The
Zerocian High Councils will find out how far the denizens occupying planet Earth have traveled from the light of cosmic consciousness and you will be seen as a threat. Your species will be seen as a dirty fester, a rotten disease that must be eradicated in the interest of protecting the Universe from harm. We will bring warships larger than a dozen of your pathetic moons an–” guttural bloody choking.
The Prisoner looks down to see the purple-bluish blood that’s leaking from his mouth. It’s dribbling down his chin, tracing the contour of his neck and finally pooling on the large metal spire that once capped the Apex skyscraper – it seems to have impaled him. He follows the spire until his gaze lands on Main Character, who is hovering in the air, grasping the broken-off end of the most overkill lance ever with both of his power-armor-clad arms.
‘I should be dead,’ The Prisoner thinks to himself as he tries to remove the spire, to no avail.
‘Why aren’t I dead?’ as he lowers his hand, his palm facing the pistol that was a rifle before he jumped to the ceiling to avoid the maelstrom of lightning and bullets.
‘Why does it matter?’ as the pistol flies snug into his hand. The Prisoner takes aim and fires, the massive .45 caliber energy bullet shattering the armor around Main Character’s head and popping his skull, killing him instantly.
‘Why isn’t he dead?!’ The Prisoner shouts inside his mind, or maybe he says it out loud; it’s hard to tell, everything happens so fast. All I know for sure is that Hymarc, once he’s alone in the open air that used to be a sealed Cape office, accidentally figures out what the breathalyzer on the computer is for after sucking on it to calm himself, a habit he picked up from Torpol’s therapy. And by the time The Prisoner’s fully intact body goes flying back through the open space, Hymarc is knee-deep in the Cape mainframe.
As for Chuck and The Prisoner, I think this is what happened: a moment after the bullet landed and shattered his skull for the second time today, Chuck’s pissed off headless body flew forward, spire, The Prisoner and all. He tunneled a hole straight through the Cape Enterprises, Uncorporated building using the spire as a drill and The Prisoner’s body as a gap widener, then repeated this process with each and every single one of the forty-three buildings between Cape Enterprises and the titanium wall that keeps the population of New Manhattan from escaping into the rest of the world. The spire, being made of some flimsy not-titanium, would normally not even dent the mighty wall; in fact, under normal circumstances, the wall would dent the living heck out of the spire. However, Chuck’s unbridled murderous rage had him traveling at such a speed that the atoms of the spire actually began to phase through the wall. The spire’s atoms slipped into the empty space that lies between the wall’s atoms until the Universe caught up and realized that shit’s not exactly supposed to go down like that. Then, She froze the aggrandized needle in place and gave its passenger and pilot a nasty bout of whiplash.
Chuck let go of the spire and landed on it, then slowly walked up the length of the construct until he was standing a foot from The Prisoner’s head. As soon as the umpteen hemi-atomic silicarbon-based nanobots that make up the atoms that make up Chuck’s entire body regrew his head, he crouched down, grabbed The Prisoner’s throat with both hands, and crushed it into the shape of a chewed-up apple core. While holding direct eye contact, Chuck slowly and steadily lifted The Prisoner’s body away from the spire, tearing him in half from the chest down. Chuck then began spinning in circles until he released his stranglehold on The Shredded Prisoner, sending him flying back in the direction of the Cape building, successfully pitching him through most of the holes he spired through the towers between here and there.
Many, many floors below the there that was Chuck’s office before Chuck destroyed it, all of Chuck’s friends sit huddled together in the Dirt Eater Mk I. Jolon and Tim are trying to explain their existences to Karen, who’s more freaked out about being in the presence of both a bigfoot and an alien than she is about her boss laying waste to the innocent organisms that inhabit the city above, but she’s just not having it. Just when she accuses the cryptids of being Sigmund and that weird teenager piloting BioBots, MediBot and AdultJack both walk out of the elevator that takes the place of the ladder when the bunker is anywhere besides underneath the Cape Enterprises, Uncorporated building.
“Okay, fine, you two are real. But those are totally Sigmund and the weird kid,” Karen says, pointing to MediBot and AdultJack.
“clickity click clackity” says MediBot, translating to, ‘Yeah, no shit Karen, where have you been?’ in AdultJack’s head only.
AdultJack laughs aloud at this, quickly stifling himself when Karen shoots daggers at him in the form of a killstare.
Turning back to Tim, Karen says, “So you’re literally a bigfoot. Actually, not a bigfoot but the bigfoot, the one that Chuck wouldn’t stop rambling about to the dancers during that one New Year’s Eve that he actually threw a party?”
“I suppose so,” Tim says, rubbing his chin. “I was not invited to that party so I cannot be sure. But yes, I did know Chuck when he was a young child. He’s changed in many ways since then, but yet… he’s stayed exactly the same.”
“What does that even mean?” Karen shrieks in a quiet, respectful tone.
“It means that humans are an interesting bunch,” Jolon quickly says before Tim has the chance to come off as even more wise and sagelike. “Your species is still very young; there are members of my kind that are older than the current human civilization on this planet. On a cosmic scale, you are currently children, whether you like it or not, and you still have much to learn. If we explained everything to you now, you would never learn it for yourself. Besides, even if I was wrong and us telling you the secrets of the Universe wouldn’t prevent you from learning them, by the time you did learn them, you would have forgotten what we told you.”
“Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all,” AdultJack pipes in. Everybody slowly turns and looks at him as if he had three heads. “What? We were doing Shakespeare last we–”
“Kid, Shakespeare didn’t even say that,” Karen says, flexing her literature degree for the first time since she achieved it during the part of her life that she will refer to as The Pre-Chuck Era in her upcoming tell-all autobiography that she’ll hopefully get around to publishing one day. “That was Tennyson.”
“Not according to my school-issued English textbook. Speaking of which, I have sssoooooo much homework to do when I get home, when is Chuck going to be done with whatever’s going on up there?”
A nervous glance is shared between everybody in the room.
“Uh… he’ll come get us,” says Tiny Tim. “It will… take time. Like I was trying to say earlier, before Jolon put his higher being headdress on – Chuck, at heart, is still a child. He’s, erm… he’ll take his time and do things the way he sees fit; it wouldn’t be wise to interrupt him.”
“Okay but, like, what is he doing? Y’all have been so sketch about whatever’s going on up there. I mean, sure, he was cursing a lot and stuff in the elevator, but he’s been cursing a lot since I met him.”
“Kid, there’s a difference between Chuck’s various flavors of expletive-laden episodes, okay?” explains Karen, putting a hand on AdultJack’s shoulder. “Sometimes, it’s the only way he can express himself. Sometimes, he does it because he thinks using curse words in normal conversation makes him cool. And other times… well… sometimes he just kind of loses control and snaps a little bit. I’ve seen it happen a few times, you just have to be patient and let him run his tantrum out.”
“Incorrect,” says MediBot, finally dropping the whole clicking thing. “None of you have been in Chuck’s company like I have. You may work close to him Karen, and you may have known him when he was a kid Tim, but neither of you have gotten close enough to the point where he lets you operate on his body. You’ve never been in his head, not like me.”
“And what, exactly, do you mean by that, Sigmund?” challenges Karen, not about to let her dominance be shaken by the likes of a science nerd, Sigmund the science nerd, no less.
“I mean that Chuck’s let me pilot his body as a BioBot, I’ve literally been inside of his brain, okay? I’ve shared a stream of consciousness with him. You haven’t seen him really lose control, none of us have. He’s never seen it himself.”
“What?” from all lifeforms in the room, including the shape-shifting mammal that only Chuck can see for whatever reason.
“You’re so full of shit, Sigmund,” Karen says, agitated.
“Perhaps… regardless, I think we can all agree on one thing: if Chuck wanted the hostile takeover to end quickly, it would have. We could all be eating ice cream together right now instead of being huddled together down here. But we’re not; we’re hiding while he unleashes his rage on, as he sees it, the Nazis who thought it was a good idea to invade his comfort zone. He puts up a front like he doesn’t care about anything, which, I’ll admit, is true to a certain extent. He’s still a human at heart though, a human with emotions that he doesn’t understand solely for lack of trying. He’s like a cat with a lot of energy that just caught a chipmunk – he’s going to kill the rodent and devour it, but not before he plays with it. Chuck is playing right now; he’s in total control of the situation.”
“And how can you be so sure of that?” Karen demands, refusing to get on the same page as everybody else because Chuck lives in an entirely different book and her spending time in the same space as him causes their brainwaves to drift towards a similar wavelength.
“Because we’re all still alive and speaking of it. Think about it: Chuck literally has the power to set the entire continent of North America on fire with the push of a button. If he really snapped and lost control, we’d be reduced to ashes before we could even realize it’s happened. And there’s nothing we could possibly do to stop it, if it were to happen. Not that it would, but… well, I shouldn’t say that, actually. We all know Chuck, and we all know that it might. It won’t, it definitely won’t, you know, unless it does… but it won’t.” He pauses for a moment, then, in a frighteningly low voice followed by a heavy sigh, “Unless it does.”
“So… so wait, we’re basically his prisoners, then?” AdultJack postulates, coming to grips with Chuck Leary’s actual power for the first time. “So this whole time, we’ve just been waiting around and hoping that Chuck doesn’t get annoyed and decide to blow up the planet on a whim?”
As AdultJack waits for someone to correct him and make him feel like the idiot he hopes he is for thinking something like that, an uneasy silence grips the room by the neck, flies it high into the sky, and then suplexes it deep into the plasti’spa’junk upon which the city of New Manhattan stands, leaving a crater large enough to fill in and make a reservoir out of.
Just like The Prisoner’s doing to Chuck at this very moment.
The Soot Clears
When the soot clears, Chuck finds himself at the bottom of a deep, somewhat molten, and noxious crater. His heart’s beating hard, fast, sending pulsations through his body. The lenses of his sunglasses are cracked, his suit is torn, and his fucking left shoe keeps coming untied. His purple necktie doesn’t have enough hemibots left in it to both construct the NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST button and repair his power armor; Chuck needs to make a very important decision, but first, some taunting.
Without getting off his back, “Ohhhhhhhh FUCK, this is gettin’ saucy! They call you Beta, right? As in second best? Well you just met your alpha, fuckstick!”
The Prisoner leaps from the rim of the seventeenth crater they’ve formed in the city during their concentrated little onslaught, putting his body in the shape of an uppercase letter Y. His hands melt into jet engines and his feet into a spike. As he falls, the engines kick on and The Prisoner divebombs into the bed of the crater, impaling Chuck with enough force to split him in half.
Or at least he would have, if Chuck didn’t don the power armor and zip up to the rim.
“Missed me, missed me, now you gotta kiss me! Ex-cept you don’t, ‘cause I don’t fucking know you!” he sings in perfect rhythm as he watches The Prisoner futilely try to deroot himself from the molten plasti’spa’junk bottom of the crater.
Chuck feels his chest plate get one layer thinner as a compact nuclear grenade forms in his hand. He goes to pull the pin with his teeth like a G, but the tink reminds him that there’s a power armor faceplate blocking it, so he sighs and just pulls the shit with his other hand. By the time the grenade hits the bottom of the pit, The Prisoner is standing on the opposite rim of the crater.
When the resulting mushroom cloud is blown away by the wind, the boys have a good old-fashioned standoff. Both are exhausted. Both are running themselves thin, although only one realizes it, and they’re both sure of one thing now more than ever before: this battle is coming to a close.
“The Prisoner!” Chuck shouts through the haze rising from the chasm, mentally commanding his power armor’s right gauntlet to melt away and strengthen his chest. He then takes off his glove and raises his middle finger to the sky as the ring forms around it. “I’m not sure why, but I feel like this is what you want!”
Chuck then performs a little dance, squatting and unsquatting, discreetly tracing a big oval in the air with his ring. The taunting does not stop. “Yeahhhh you like this? Come and get it, daddy-o!!”
The Prisoner bends his knees and readies himself. This has to be quick, has to be executed perfectly. He opens his right hand and, as his left seems to melt away, a sword forms in his palm. All things must be balanced; this human, nay, humanity in general is the single greatest threat to the other higher lifeforms living in the Universe. The human plague of Earth must be eradicated, and in order for that to happen, this human has to be eliminated. Otherwise… and he’s going to hate himself later for admitting this to himself, but if Main Character is left alive, the
Zeroc won’t stand a chance. The Prisoner takes one last deep breath.
Chuck also takes a deep breath. This has to go flawlessly, one second late and it’s all over. This alien is the greatest unknown threat to the safety of planet Earth, and more importantly, to Chuck’s city. He may hate every last one of the fucktarded consumers that roam the streets below his tower, but he’ll be god-fucking-damned if he’s not going to ensure his concrete playground stays intact. Even the jungle needs insects to thrive.
The Prisoner leaps.
Chuck punches the air.
The Universe stops respiring.
Or at least The Prisoner does; he’s frozen in midair, his blade a micrometer from severing Chuck’s hand at the wrist. Something’s not right, what is this feeling? This razor edge, it’s… not possible. The Prisoner looks down with just his eyes – there’s a portal, an oval-shaped vortex shining with all the colors of the rainbow and then some, juxtaposed vertically halfway through his body. The Prisoner then bends at the neck and feels the front half of his being peeling forward.
There’s no way to stop it, he failed.
Chuck releases his clenched fist and the portal disappears. The two lifeless halves of The Prisoner’s body fall into the crater, hitting the slope and tumbling down, leaving a trail of blueish-purple blood behind.
On a hunch, Chuck extends his left middle finger and jabs it into the puddle. He absorbs the blood, soaking it up like a tapeworm with a straw, then the rest of The Prisoner’s body follows suit. The head’s up display inside his mask tells Chuck that the nanobots he just absorbed have been repurposed into hemibots, and that both his suit and his body are now at full capacity. He releases a phew of relief, and moments later he’s overcome with a maniacle sort of laughter. He bellows a WHOOP of triumph – just like he predicted, the final conflict happened, and Chuck stands victorious.
One moment later, Tim-nah’tee materializes behind Chuck and gasps at the utter destruction that surrounds him.
“Chuck, did… what did you do?”
“Yoooo, wassup Tim?! Boi I just saved the world! There was a
Zeroc that called himself The Prisoner, he was gonna steal my ring and go back to his homeworld and tell the Council to destroy Earth or something! Our Earth dude, you believe that nonsense? Like, if anyone is gonna nuclear holocaust this world, it’s gonna be me! But anyway, I killed the shit out of him! Wasn’t easy, it’s done though.”
“But…” Tim utters, looking around at the macabre masses of dead bodies and mountain ranges of rubble littering the immediate vicinity, extrapolating within his mind the actual devastation that was caused today. Then, with a shudder, “…the carnage.”
“Oh, all this? Nah it’s fine, this city’s strong. Where’s Sigmund and everybody, they’ve got some work to do. I mean, we all do, but I need a fuckin’ smoke, I think I earned it after this bullhockey. Y’all can start without me.”
The Day Is Saved
And that’s just what they do – while Chuck is busy tickling Hymarc into a state of submission back in his office, Sigmund pilots no less than six individual BioBots, and they, alongside AdultJack, get to work repairing the city. Sigmund can handle up to ten bots at once, as he proved during the whole psychephrenic cataclysm thing the other day, but he needed the extra tredecillion nanobots to repair all the buildings that Chuck and The Prisoner used as environmental weapons. It’s a very long afternoon, the majority of which Chuck spends smoking Cannabis and trying to convince Jolon to not have the rest of the
Zerocian High Councils veto the existence of planet Earth. Jolon was never going to let that happen in the first place, the idea was never even discussed among the Council of Life, after all, but hearing Chuck blather on and on about how Earth is like, the bomb-diggity turns out to be pretty darn entertaining, so he just lets him talk.
The living population of New Manhattan also snaps into action – reanimation clinics start popping up everywhere, manufacturing plants start churning out construction bots like it’s their job (because it is) and all dollaristic functions of the city press the pause button for the second time in a single damned week in order to save the consumer body that makes it all happen in the first place. It’s pretty inconvenient, sure, but you can’t have an ant farm without any ants.
By the time the sun sets below the New Manhattan wall, the conflict is over. There’s no more work to be done. The day is saved, and as far as Chuck can tell, the job is done. Not only would Alvey Fratto be proud, but the good guys won… imagine that!