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The Misadventures of Nobody (and X-Ray)

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At long last I am returning to writing comedies. I hope that you all enjoy this!





In the time before the restructuring of BZPower.com, in a world known as the internet, the being known as X-Ray authored creative works known as fan-fictions in the Library section of BZPower.com. These fan-fictions fell under three categories; Comedies, Short Stories, and Epics. He wrote several of the first two, but only one of the last. They were separate, and without purpose, other than to entertain a small pool of readers. So, X-Ray illuminated his comedies with a new character: Nobody. Nobody was, by X-Ray's own description, an anthropomorphic running joke. The friendly wraith could be equal parts charming and grim, stoic and exuberant. He went on many adventures in X-Ray's comedies, frequently providing color commentary on the events surrounding him in Glatorian of Bara Magna: Curse of the Grey Crystal. It was only in Nuva Nation, X-Ray: The Return, and Bionicles at Work that he became a fully developed character, having a larger role to play in the plot. He went on many adventures as an agent of the Order of Mata Nui. Eventually, he met up with X-Ray at the end of Bionicles at Work, ready to explore the new world of Spherus Magna.


X-Ray, on the other hand, was a decidedly cautious fellow. He did not exactly long for adventure the way Nobody did. True, he wished to travel, but he did not want to take part in a climactic battle for the fate of the universe. Fortunately, he, being the author, was able to steer himself away from danger... until now, that is.




Chapter 1: Arrival


“…and Malum would have been Davy Jones, and the Vorox and Zesk would have been his crew, Metus would have been Lord Beckett, Atakus would have been Mercer, and Ackar would have been Sao Feng!” X-Ray took a deep breath, having just finished explaining his casting choices of a Bionicleized parody of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Nobody was with him at the moment.


“What about the Kraken?” asked Nobody. The transparent armored being with a tattered, grey hooded cloak and a banged up silver Kanohi Suletu was riding with X-Ray on the newly built Magna-Rail, a continent spanning train privately owned by Fe-Nui Industries. They were on their way to Fe-Metru, where they hoped to engage in some sightseeing.


“The Scopio, of course!” said X-Ray. In marked contrast to the bedraggled appearance of his companion, X-Ray wore a finely tailored pair of dark blue slacks, topped by a white dress shirt and dark blue vest with a silver tie. His right eye was the eyepiece of a Kanohi Akaku Nuva, adorning his face like a monocle, as a certain female comedy author had once described it.


“Wow,” said Nobody dryly. “Almost makes me wish you would write a sequel.”


“I would have,” said X-Ray, “but copying things word for word from the novelization and movie while trying to think up jokes gets tedious after a while. Besides, I don’t think there was much demand for it.”


I would have read it,” said Nobody.


“Yeah, but you’re Nobody,” said X-Ray. “You’d probably be in the comedy. I’d like everybody to read my comedies.”


“Nobody will read them if you don’t do something original,” said Nobody. “That is to say, people, not including me, won’t read your comedies unless you come up with something original.”


Nuva Nation wasn’t original?” said X-Ray. “Bionicles at Work wasn’t original?” He paused for a minute, and then said, “What would you know about originality? You’re the one who’s named after a character from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”


Bionicle: Infinities was original!” said Nobody. “And besides, you named me. And you’re the one who named himself after a character from Holes!”


“Point taken,” said X-Ray. He glanced out the window, and then said to Nobody, “I believe that we have arrived at our destination.”


The bus came to a halt at the Fe-Metru Magna-Rail station, where X-Ray and Nobody grabbed their bags and headed towards the front of the train car. They descended the steps, and headed into city. The streets, brightly lit by abundant sunlight, were packed with life, including Agori, Matoran, Glatorian, Toa, Turaga, and dozens of other species that had moved into this location, Spherus Magna’s fastest growing metropolis. The urban center was home to many thriving industries, from clothing and office supplies to restaurants and book stores. Indeed, there had not been a clothing market in Spherus Magna for a hundred thousand years, what with the predilection for twenty-four hour armor among the Spherus Magna inhabitants. Fortunately, thanks to the newly ushered in Pax Bionicle, people were beginning to walk about without their armor, in plain clothes. A few key pundits predicted that Fe-Metru would soon become the business capital of the world.


Speaking of pundits, X-Ray decided to listen to one by flipping on the radio app on his handy-dandy cell phone. There, on station AM 420, he decided to listen to The Ben Geck Program.


“Do not underestimate the Shadowed One!” said Geck from X-Ray’s phone. “He will not stop until he has completed is agenda or had died trying. My fellow Spherus Magnans, we must unite if we wish to stop this threat to freedom and peace.”


“Do you actually believe this stuff?” said Nobody to X-Ray as they walked down the sidewalk. A skyscraper under construction loomed ahead of them.


“Of course!” said X-Ray, turning down the phone’s volume as the radio program went to commercial break. “Ben Geck has a high rate of accuracy, and is by far one of the most knowledgeable conservative pundits out there. And you of all people should know that TSO is a serious threat.”


“Whatever,” said Nobody. “I read Era Magazine. Besides, I’d like to remind you that the Shadowed One hasn’t been seen in over a year. The Dark Hunters are for all intents and purposes defunct. The most serious threat to public safety is the Skakdi, and they’re not waging war any time soon.”


X-Ray and Nobody stopped at a street corner to take a picture of the under-construction skyscraper. “Okay,” said X-Ray, consulting his phone, “we need to find some lodgings for the night.”


You need to find lodgings,” said Nobody, “I have to find someplace to live. I’m on assignment from the OMN, you know.”


“That assignment being…?” said X-Ray, pulling up the GPS feature on his phone.


“I can’t tell you,” said Nobody. “It’s a secret.”


“You and your secrets,” said X-Ray. He examined his phone’s screen, and then said, “Okay, there’s a Motel 6 a couple blocks west of here. Let’s head there.”


“Good, good,” said Nobody. They walked down the street, passing by the various businesses and persons. Finally, after several minutes of walking, they had reached the Motel 6.


“An Earth based business on Spherus Magna?” said Nobody.


“Thanks to that portal that got opened up recently,” said X-Ray, “Earth businesses and entrepreneurs have been flourishing on Spherus Magna. This one mining company even started mining protodermis over where the Mata Nui robot collapsed!”


“Ah, the beauty of capitalism.”


They walked into the lobby of the hotel, and the person behind the counter, a water tribe Agori, said to them, “Good afternoon, sirs. How may I help you?”


“We’d like a room for the night,” said X-Ray. “How much does it cost?”


“Our spring rates currently apply,” said the Agori, whose name tag read Sheila, “so it would cost $70 dollars per week day for an apartment with two double beds, $58 for just a room with two double beds, and $50 for just one double bed.”


“We’ll take the apartment with two double beds,” said X-Ray.


X-Ray took out his credit card and handed it to Sheila, who then gave it back to him when she was done. She then handed them a key card and said, “Your room number is 201.”


“Thank you,” said X-Ray, flashing his best smile. He and Nobody headed out of the lobby towards the elevators, and proceeded to ascend to the second floor. Once they reached their room, they set down their luggage and made themselves at home.


X-Ray said, “Isn’t this great, Nobody? We’ve got a spectacular view of the Skrall River, a sweet hotel room, and a whole city to explore!”


Nobody yawned, and then said, “Yeah, it’s great, X.” He set his suitcase down on his bed, and took down the hood of his cloak. “I’m going to go take a shower, X,” said Nobody, going over to the bathroom. “I’ll be out in a minute.” He took his cell phone and placed it on the nightstand next to his bed. “Let me know if someone calls on my cell phone. I’m expecting an important call from my boss at the OMN.”


“Righto, Nobody!” said X-Ray. The youth plopped himself down on the bed, and grabbed the remote control. He turned on the television and clicked to the Discovery Channel. Dual Survival was on. X-Ray sat back and watched the show, dreaming all the while what grand adventures he and Nobody would have in this wonderful city. He glanced at his watch. It was 3:15 P.M.


After Nobody was finished with his shower and dried off, he emerged from the bathroom and laid down on his own bed, joining X-Ray is watching TV. They were both tired from the long train ride from the portal site, and were glad for the down time.


“What should we have for dinner?” said Nobody.


“I hear that the baked sand bat over at McKyry’s is fantastic,” said X-Ray. “They’ve really stepped up in their menu. Besides, I’ve always wanted to taste some Bara Magnan food.”


“Baked sand bat it is then,” said Nobody. “I’ll go get it-” Nobody was interrupted by his cell phone ringing. He picked it up and said, “Hello?”


“Nobody, this is Claire from the OMN, Fe-Metru Base. We need you and X-Ray to come to our building right away to be debriefed by Thomob.”


“Understood,” said Nobody. He clamped the phone shut and then turned to X-Ray, saying, “We need to get to the OMN building now.”


“What’s the matter?” asked X-Ray. “Is there another consulting thing that they need help with?”


“They didn’t say,” said Nobody as he got up from the bed and grabbed his cloak. “All I know is that we need to be debriefed by Thomob.”


X-Ray rolled his eye and then said, “Right then. I guess that means we’ll have to postpone going to McKyry’s. Let’s go, old friend.”


To be continued...




C & C appreciated! I've gotta say, it's good to be back!


:akaku: X-Ray :akaku:

Edited by X-Ray

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And now, chapter 2! Comments and Criticism appreciated! :)


Chapter 2: The Deputy Director’s Dilemma


The Order of Mata Nui Spherus Magna Headquarters was an impressive sight on the outside of the building. Thanks to help from Artakha’s people, the OMN had enough know-how, combined with their immense resources, to quickly set up shop anywhere they chose. And what with the Order’s decision to go public after the Destiny War, it was all the more important that they keep up appearances. The shiny, silver and grey skyscraper was officially known as Mata Tower, but had been dubbed by most people in and around it as “The EB.” That is, “the Empty Bottle.” This was because of the simple reason that only three floors of the sixty story building was actually in use. The EB was empty largely because the OMN, though still wealthy enough to acquire the EB in a matter of months, was still by and large a weakened, halved organization. The higher-ups were too paranoid to allow anyone to rent out the empty floors, convinced that even as a public organization, it would still be better if they remained as cloak-and-dagger like as possible.


Nobody thought this was a good idea, though X-Ray only saw it as another source of mirth in the universe. That said, X-Ray was content to quietly listen to Nobody speak at length about why secrecy was more important to the OMN than ever before.


“…and furthermore, X, we still don’t know where Helryx, Axxon, and Brutaka are. Helryx’s standing orders may have been to go public, but she had confided with the board that our organization required strict secrecy in the areas where secrecy was necessary. Our operations must be treated as confidential until they are no longer confidential.”


“I just think the idea of working in the PR department of a black ops organization is a funny idea,” said X-Ray. He adjusted his eyepiece, scanning the EB. “Ah, here we are,” he said as he and Nobody rounded the corner. X-Ray’s eyepiece showed him various technical stuff and flowcharts on the heads up display built into his vision.


“The Mata Tower,” said X-Ray. “Built within six months in 101,002 A.S., this building serves as the headquarters for the Order of Mata Nui. It cost five million widgets to build and is the fourth tallest building in Fe-Metru. The reason a whole office building was built was because the OMN needed to move into Fe-Metru fast, so they bought the Mata Tower before it was being built, when they still had buckets of money to burn, our tax money, you know. Anyway, they bought the tower to use before their official, new Spherus Magna headquarters could be built.”


“I don’t think you read all that on your HUD, did you?” said Nobody, keeping lockstep with X-Ray. He looked around, keeping an eye out for something.


“No, I just made it all up out of my head,” said X-Ray. “It helps that I’m the author and all.”


“We have to go to Thomob’s office on the 59th floor,” said Nobody. The wraith led the way through the revolving doors, walking through the near deserted lobby of the EB. They walked up to the front desk, where a Ga-Matoran sat, alert.


“Visitors for Deputy Director Thomob,” said Nobody, leaning on the front desk.


The Ga-Matoran picked up a phone, made a call to the 59th floor, and then hung up. She then said, “Yes, you are Nobody and X-Ray? I’ll have to see some ID.”


X-Ray pulled out his wallet, and showed the Ga-Matoran his student ID, while Nobody fumbled around his person. X-Ray glanced at Nobody and frowned, saying, “What’s the matter, Nobody?”


“I, um…” said Nobody nervously. “I don’t have any pockets.”


“Not even in your cloak?” said X-Ray. He rolled his eye, and then said to Nobody, “Here, just wait here, I can talk to Thomob by myself.”


“No!” said Nobody, shouting suddenly. He calmed down, and then said, “I mean… no, no. The deputy director was very clear that he wanted me to accompany you at all times.”


X-Ray raised an eyebrow, and then said, “Very well. I know how to fix this.” He turned around, concentrated for a few seconds, and then produced a bag out of thin air. “A bag, Nobody,” said X-Ray. “You will find everything you need in it.”


Nobody took the bag and rifled through it, finding a Bionicle toiletry kit, which included mask polish and oil, as well as a wallet. Nobody took the wallet and opened it to find a driver’s license of himself. He looked to X-Ray with a confused look, and said, “Is this legal?”


“It was never illegal,” said X-Ray. “This stuff didn’t exist, but now it does. You’ll even find your registration records in the DMV database.”


“But I don’t have a driver’s license!” said Nobody. “I never took the test!”


“We can fix that after the meeting!” said X-Ray, happily walking towards the elevators. “Now, let’s go, Agent!”


Nobody sighed, showed his ID to the Ga-Matoran, who buzzed him in. Nobody then ran to catch up to X-Ray, wondering how long he would have to put up with his charge’s reckless use of author powers.


* * *


A few minutes later, Nobody and X-Ray were seated in Thomob’s opulent office. There was a solid oak desk (imported), Corinthian leather chairs (imported), five day old donuts (not imported), and a great ash book case, filled with tomes from floor to ceiling. A window gave a magnificent view of the skyscraper across the street, as well as the street below. The emerald armored Thomob, wearing his powerless Noble Ruru, stood gazing out the window, with his back to the seated Nobody and X-Ray.


“I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve called you here today,” said Thomob. “Ha! I always wanted to say that.”


“Please cut to the chase,” said X-Ray. “My time is valuable, and so is yours and Nobody’s.”


“Very well,” said Thomob. He turned to face X-Ray and Nobody, and walked over to his desk. He sat down, and opened a ledger lying on his desk. He took a grainy photograph out of it, and showed it to X-Ray and Nobody. “We believe this fellow here is out to get you.”


“Who is that?” said Nobody, peering at the photograph. It showed a freaky looking dude walking down a street with swords coming out of his head like a pair of antlers from Medieval Home Depot.


“That’s Shadow Stealer, right?” said X-Ray.


“Right,” said Thomob, putting the picture down. “Our sources say that he may want to off you.”


“Why would Shadow Stealer want me dead?” said X-Ray, shifting in his chair. “I understand that he already has some kind of beef with the Shadowed One for some reason. Did we ever figure out why?”


“This is all we have on Shadow Stealer,” said Thomob. He reached down and closed the ledger, which was marked, “Confidential.” “We have no idea what his beef with the Shadowed One is, but we do have some idea about why he’s shifted his sights at you.” Thomob took a donut out of the box and began to munch on it. Nobody and X-Ray exchanged sickened expressions.


“You see,” said Thomob, “we believe that Shadow Stealer has either made peace with the Shadowed One, is working for him, and has been hired out to kill you, or else he was hired by someone else to go after you.”


“How do you know this?” asked X-Ray.


“We have a source in the Dark Hunters,” said Thomob. “A certain blue and gold armored fellow who gave us a recording of TSO talking with his staff about it.”


“But I thought Ancient was dead!” said Nobody. “And didn’t GregF say that the DH was disbanded after TSO went to look for greener pastures on Spherus Magna, so the speak?”


“Firstly,” said Thomob, taking another bite out of his donut, “Ancient was only mostly dead. There’s a big difference between all dead and mostly dead. Mostly dead means—”


“Cut the crud,” said X-Ray. “I’m the author, and even I wouldn’t stoop to The Princess Bride references. Just say that TSO didn’t really kill Ancient. He killed his LMD or something. I don’t know.”


“Um, anyway,” said Thomob, “secondly, the Dark Hunters may be essentially defunct, but TSO’s new organization, the Obumbrati, rough Latin for ‘shadowed ones,’ has quickly become a major power in the Spherus Magna criminal underworld. They will stop at nothing until they are the dominant criminal power on the planet.”


“But why do they want me dead?” said X-Ray, still quite confused. “I’m just some random teenager!”


“You’re not just some random teenager,” said Thomob, leaning over his desk. “You. Are. The. Author. Whatever you say goes. They know that you are the biggest threat to their power, because you are the only one who can stop them decisively. What they don’t know is that if they kill you, this world will end. We must keep you alive at all costs.”


“So if you can stop them decisively, right now, with your all encompassing author powers,” said Nobody, taking a donut, “why don’t you just draft him and have him do as you say?”


“We would if we could,” said Thomob, “but we can’t. Directive 42—”


“Ha!” said X-Ray. “Hitchhiker’s reference!” Nobody and Thomob looked at him strangely, and then the author said, “Eh, continue.”


“Ahem,” said Thomob. “Directive 42 states that we are not allowed to interfere with the author’s design. We are only to abide by it.” He spread his hands out, as if making an introduction, and said, “Those are the rules.”


X-Ray and Nobody sat hunched over in their chairs, trying to understand everything that had been revealed to them. Nobody turned to X-Ray and said, “You knew all of this, didn’t you?”


“Hey,” said X-Ray defensively, holding up his hands, “I’m just making this up as I go. I have some rough outline of what’s going to happen, but the rest fills itself in.”


“All the more reason to have you locked up in a safe house somewhere in the Black Spike Mountains,” said Thomob. “But, on the advice of the board, I have relented from such measures.” He turned his head and looked straight at Nobody, and said to him, “Nobody, you are hereby appointed official liaison and bodyguard to the author.”


X-Ray glanced at the clock on the left wall. It was 4:15 P.M. He then turned to Thomob and said, “Well, I think that I can—”


Suddenly, the fire alarm went off, nearly scaring X-Ray out of his skin, and Nobody and Thomob out of their armor. Thomob quickly grabbed his donut box and said to the other two, “Don’t panic! Don’t panic! DON’T PANIC!”


X-Ray said, “Dude, you’re the only one panicking. Now, let’s get out of here. We’ll finish the debriefing later. And please, enough with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy references.”

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Good comedy here. Apologies for taking so long to comment; I've been meaning to do so for a while, but got tied up in...other things.


Some parts I particularly enjoyed:


“I hear that the baked sand bat over at McKyry’s is fantastic,” said X-Ray. “They’ve really stepped up in their menu. Besides, I’ve always wanted to taste some Bara Magnan food.”

“Baked sand bat it is then,” said Nobody. “I’ll go get it-”




“I don’t think you read all that on your HUD, did you?” said Nobody, keeping lockstep with X-Ray. He looked around, keeping an eye out for something.

“No, I just made it all up out of my head,” said X-Ray. “It helps that I’m the author and all.”


That's the sound of the fourth wall exploding.


“Firstly,” said Thomob, taking another bite out of his donut, “Ancient was only mostly dead. There’s a big difference between all dead and mostly dead. Mostly dead means—”


"Mostly dead" is the official medical term, too. :P


Good first couple chappies. KUTGW.




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Chapter 3: Journey to the Center of the Low Rent District


Nobody and X-Ray followed Thomob out of the building, going down fifty-nine flights of stairs to the ground floor, where they coalesced with the other inhabitants of the EB in the tower’s parking lot. Maxilos robots herded the crowd away from the building. The crowd of beings, mostly bureaucrats and paper pushers in dress shirts and ties over armor, gabbled like gukko birds.


“-just in time for summer break.”


“My feet are killing me.”


“-finally found an effective diet.”


“I’m telling you, Rob, I believe that Elvis is alive!”


In the midst of all this, Nobody and X-Ray stood with Thomob in the middle of the parking lot, waiting for the fire department to arrive. Fortunately, the fire department managed to arrive in a timely manner. The big, red fire engine, manned by Sarda, Kiina, who was the fire chief, and several others in the gang of yahoos who made up the Fe-Metru Volunteer Fire Department, plus Spinax. They raced along, lights flashing and sirens blaring, pulling up to the firelane. Sarda was being comically dragged along by Spinax, who was almost as big and heavy as the hapless Ta-Matoran. The energy hound was full of himself, as usual (get it? The energy hound was full of himself, meaning he was full of energy? Get it?).


Kiina, decked out in her firefighter gear, shouted, “Wahoo! Alright boys, let’s find that fire and fight it! Wahoo!”


X-Ray whispered to Nobody, “It’s just an overheated microwave in the lunch room. Hardly something to write home about.”


“And yet the fire department came,” said Nobody, observing the firefighters dash into the building, while Spinax helped Sarda secure the fire hydrant.


Eventually, it was determined that there was no cause for alarm, despite the fire alarms going off, and a certain chubby fellow in a bowtie was warned not to leave his popcorn unattended in the microwave, and to always follow the instructions on the bag.


Once Kiina had finished chewing out Rob, she looked up to the sky and said, “Hey, human-face! You just called me and my boys a bunch of yahoos!” She then paused, before muttering to herself, “I can’t believe I’m talking to the author.”


X-Ray was about to call Kiina to inform her of his status as the author, when Nobody clamped a hand over his mouth. As X-Ray was about to object, Thomob said to him, “Well, now that this little escapade is over, we will go back to my office to complete your debriefing.”


X-Ray nodded, and returned Nobody, Thomob, and the rest of the crowd into the EB. Once they had finally returned to Thomob’s office, Thomob said to X-Ray, “As the author, you are in great danger. It is therefore imperative that you not draw attention to yourself, and thus put yourself in even more danger.”


“What would you have me do?” said X-Ray, expertly quoting The Dark Knight.


“Endure,” said Thomob, who was almost as nerdy as X-Ray. “Movie quotes aside, you, as the center of the universe, must be careful. I would suggest taking up an inconspicuous lifestyle. We have a job lined up for you if you want it, not to mention an apartment you can share with Nobody.”


X-Ray glanced at Nobody, and said, “What is this, ‘job’?”


“A movie reviewing gig at the Fe-Metru Register,” said Thomob, adjusting his mask. “We figured you would like something like that.”


X-Ray contemplated his navel area for a moment, and then looked up at Thomob and said, “I’m in. When do I start?”


Thomob smiled. “Once you’ve chosen to accept the job, you start next week. Show up at the offices of the Fe-Metru Register in three days at 9:00. They’ll brief you on your new employment status.”


Nobody said to X-Ray, “X, if being my roomie makes you uncomfortable, then I won’t be offended.”


“You don’t give yourself enough credit, Nobody,” said X-Ray, patting the wraith on the shoulder. He stood up out of the Corinthian leather chair, and said to Nobody, “I mean, we’re only sharing an apartment together, and I have a job to keep me busy. How bad could it be?”


* * *


The next day, after collecting their luggage from the Motel 6 they had previously been staying at, Nobody and X-Ray took the train to Fe-Metru’s low rent district, Westside. They disembarked from the train and walked from there to their new apartment building. Nothing in Fe-Metru was particularly old, as the whole city had been built just over a year ago, but this particular piece of property in the low rent district was just was X-Ray was looking for. It was built in the Metru Nui style, meaning that it was a long, pointy needle of a tower with a few windows crisscrossing the sides like stripes on a shirt.


“Here’s our new home,” said X-Ray to Nobody as they came into the building’s lobby. X-Ray observed the shabby interior, in marked contrast to the shiny outside appearance. The carpeting was ugly and disheveled, the furniture was secondhand and grungy, and the front desk had a dust layer an inch high. Even the receptionist, an Onu-Matoran, appeared old and dilapidated.


“This place is a dump,” said Nobody, heading over to the front desk. “What was the Deputy Director thinking?”


“He probably never even went to this place,” said X-Ray, knocking on the desk. The receptionist, who had been asleep, was suddenly stirred, nearly jumping up out of his chair. “Who what when where why?” he said, confused.


“Sir,” said X-Ray to the great Rau wearing Matoran, “We’re here to rent out a room.”


“Room 581 is available,” said the Ta-Matoran, handing them a key. “Welcome to Mountridge Square Apartments. Your rent is due at the end of every month, 120 widgets a month.”


“Understood,” said X-Ray. He and Nobody went over to the elevator (“At least this place has an elevator,” said Nobody to X-Ray), and ascended to the fifth floor of the nine story building. Upon reaching the fifth floor, they exited the elevator and navigated the hallways to find their room. The carpet in the white painted hallways was just as matted as the carpet in the lobby, and when they finally found their room, the door was covered by a thin layer of filth.


“Now do you agree with me?” said Nobody as he put the key in the lock.


“I never disagreed with you,” said X-Ray, hefting his laptop case and his suitcase, plus his backpack. Nobody tried to open the door, but it was jammed, and wouldn’t open at first. The appliance of a little force, however, allowed him to force the door open, and the two companions were not at all impressed by what they saw.


The room was bare as Lex Luthor’s head, with not an article of furniture in sight. The walls were painted a drab grey, the one window was broken, there was a large dent in the left wall, and on the right wall was a chain of words written in some kind of red ink, probably lipstick, which read, “Who is Jean-Paul Valley?” The floor’s carpet wasn’t as ugly as that of the lobby, but was more so that of the hallway.


“Hey, it’s not incredibly bad,” said X-Ray. He walked over to the middle of the room and set down his bags. “If we can pick up a couple of beds, a table, a refrigerator, and some food, we can make this place our own. We also might want to fix that window.”


Nobody sighed, and set his lone bag on the floor next to X-Rays. He took his cell phone off of his belt and dialed Thomob’s number.


On the third ring, Thomob answered, saying, “Thomob here.”


“Thomob?” said Nobody. “This is Nobody. I just wanted to call and tell you that this place you picked out for us is a dump.”


“Hey, your rent’s being paid for by government money,” said Thomob. “Once X-Ray gets his job up and running, maybe he’ll get an apartment upgrade.”


“But I have to live here too!” said Nobody. “I make enough money to get my own apartment, but I have to be stuck chaperoning the author! What more do you want from me?”


“Just relax, Nobody,” said Thomob’s voice from the phone. “Once X-Ray’s financial situation stabilizes, you might be able to get an apartment upgrade. Besides, we’ll be providing some money for you to start off with, but you’re on your own from there. Unless you prefer the safe house in the Black Spike Mountains option…”


“No, no!” said Nobody. “I’m sure this will be fine. Just tell us where we can get the money.”


“It will be deposited in a bank account in X-Ray’s name at the local branch of Alaska USA,” said Thomob. “Just go down there and get the money. There should be some 5,000 widgets there for your use.”


“Okay, thanks,” said Nobody. “We’ll get down there right away. Bye.” He then turned off the phone with a “beep,” and turned to face X-Ray. “X!” said Nobody as he adjusted the taser he had stored on a thigh holster. “We’ve got to go to the bank to get some money, and then we’ve got to go get lunch!”


“Righto!” said X-Ray, who had just finished inspecting the bathroom. “Let’s go!” The two had spent the previous night at their Motel 6 room before taking the train down to the low rent district to see their new apartment. They had gotten breakfast from a Chick-Fil-A.


So, the duo exited their apartment and, with a little help from X-Ray’s GPS app on his smartphone, found the nearest branch of Alaska USA, which was a short train ride away in the Jonnstown neighborhood. This particular branch of that esteemed bank was situated across the street from the Chick-Fil-A that X-Ray and Nobody had previously eaten at.


Nobody and X-Ray went over to the bank, going through the glass and steel doors. X-Ray approached the counter, and the human female teller smiled at him and said, “Yes, sir?”


As X-Ray began the process of accessing his account, Nobody, bored, took a look around. There didn’t seem to be anything of interest in the bank. There were various personages standing in line or sitting in chairs, waiting to do their business with the tellers. A few were reading newspapers in the courtesy chairs. Nobody walked over to an empty chair, and scooped up a copy of last week’s Wall Street Journal. He began reading an article on how to kick start a global economy.


Just as Nobody was about halfway through the article, two Agori in ski masks burst in through the door of the bank, yelling, “This is a hold up! Everyone down on the ground now!”


X-Ray turned around in panic, as the robbers rushed to the counter. One of them, a fire Agori, brandished a .357 magnum in the teller’s face, saying, “Take me to the vault!” He was also carrying a bag to put the money in.


Meanwhile, Nobody, who was lying on the floor with the other bank customers, activated his phasing power when the other robber’s back was turned. He sunk into the floor, using his mask of telepathy to find out where the robbers were. He remembered that the second robber was carrying a glock. He cursed himself for leaving his unbreakable black Kopaka sword of awesomeness at the OMN Barracks on Daxia, but he remembered the one weapon he did have; his taser. Activating his invisibility, he peaked over the edge of the floor, and saw that the second robber’s back was turned. He then snuck up behind the second robber, an ice Agori, and stuck the robber with the taser. The robber was electrified- literally. The robber yelled in agony before collapsing to the floor in a heap.

The other robber heard the commotion, and ran past X-Ray. On an impulse, X-Ray stuck out his foot and tripped the robber, who fell flat on his face. X-Ray quickly grabbed the fallen magnum and held it in the robber’s face, saying, “Freeze! I place you under citizen’s arrest!”


“But you aren’t a citizen,” said Nobody, who was just about to call the police on his cell phone.


“Whatever,” said X-Ray. “But seriously, dude… that was so cool!”


Nobody rolled his eyes, and said, “Oh brother.”

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Chapter 4: Plotting Plotted Plots


Far away from Fe-Metru, in a city known as Joisey Nui, there was a not-so-sinister looking office building. This building, called the Swenson Building, was entirely bland and uninteresting. No particularly major companies called it home, and no suspicious incidents had ever attracted the local police there. For these reasons, the Shadowed One had seen fit to rent out the thirty-second through thirty-fifth floors in the fifty story Swenson Building as his base of operations. There, the Obumbrati schemed and plotted their actions, trained their troops, and filed paperwork.


The Shadowed One was just coming back from his coffee break. Running an evil cabal of mercenaries could be pretty stressful. Clad in a black suit with a golden tie, He passed by one of his minions, and said to him, “Greetings, Ted.” The minion, a human in a blue suit, returned the salutation. The Shadowed One continued on his way before arriving at his office. He said to his secretary, “Good morning, Thelma. What do we have scheduled for today?”


“Well,” said Thelma, “the Chief of Intelligence has a report for you about the situation in Fe-Metru, the board has a meeting scheduled with you at 3 o’clock, the building manager wants to speak with you, and the weekly plotting session with your inner circle is at five.” Thelma was an aging Ga-Matoran with a light blue Great Komau, which made it look like she was wearing a large set of nerdy looking glasses. She was the quintessential secretary. “Also,” she said, “Larry from Operations died at the hospital last night.”


“Terribly bad news, that is,” said the Shadowed One. “Send his family my full condolences and make the funeral arrangements as stated in his contract.”


“Yes sir,” said Thelma as the Shadowed one strode past her and entered his office.


The Shadowed One’s office was finely furnished with a mahogany desk and a Dell computer. There were a few pictures on the desk showing him at important points in his life. His and Ancient’s groundbreaking of the Odina base, the first strike against Metru Nui in the Toa-Dark Hunter War, the stag party of his third marriage. He sat down in his overstuffed velvet chair, picked up the receiver of his rotary telephone and dialed a number.


After a few minutes of waiting, a voice on the other end of the line said, “Hello?”


“Ah, Fredd!” said the Shadowed One. “My secretary informs me that you wish to meet with me. What is it you would like to discuss? I’m sure that we can handle it over the phone.”


“I suppose so,” said Fredd, the building manager. “You see, I’ve been getting complaints from other tenants in the building, about guys in riot gear hanging around one of the floors that your company rents. What’s that all about?”


“Merely my private security,” said the Shadowed One, who was known to the fire Agori as “Bruce Wolfe.” The Obumbrati was known to Fredd as Wolfe Industries, an engineering and manufacturing company. “As a major contractor to various governments, we must always be on the lookout for burglars and espionage,” said the Shadowed One. This was of course, a lie. The thirty-third floor housed a training center for the soldiers of the Obumbrati, where they were trained in combat.


“Alright then, Mr. Wolfe,” said Fredd. “Just make sure that there’s no trouble caused by your men.”


“When have I ever given you trouble, old bean?” said the Shadowed One. “Ta ta!” He then hung up the phone. He picked it up again to call Thelma, and said to her, “Thelma, tell Intelligence Chief Grant that I am ready to see her now to hear her report.”


“Yes, Mr. One,” said Thelma. “I’ll page here right now.” Another click. A few minutes later, the Shadowed One’s phone rang again, and he answered it. “Yes, Thelma?” he said.


“Intelligence Chief Grant is here to see you,” said Thelma.


“Go ahead and buzz her in,” said the Shadowed One. There was a buzz, and the door opened, and the Intelligence Chief entered through it.


Intelligence Chief Guinevere Grant was a tall, red headed human woman in her mid-thirties, with long, angular cheek bones and a short forehead. She walked like a gymnast, no mean feat in a suit coat and pencil skirt. Her hair was in a single long braid, contrasting against her light but not pale skin. She was carrying a dossier, and a pencil was resting on her left ear.


“Ms. Grant!” said the Shadowed One. “It is good to see you!”


“The pleasure mine, Mr. One,” said Grant. She took a seat in one of the chairs and opened the dossier. “I have for you a report on the situation in Fe-Metru,” said Grant. “The two beings known as X-Ray and Nobody have recently taken up residence in that city. They were spotted visiting the OMN HQ, and a day later they foiled a bank robbery.”


“What is the current status of X-Ray?” said the Shadowed One.


“Our last report placed him and Nobody in an apartment in Westside,” said Grant.


“Good, good,” said the Shadowed One. “Step up surveillance on them, but try to remain inconspicuous. Once we are certain of when he will be least protected, we shall swoop down and execute the final stroke of our plan.”


“May I ask what that would be, sir?” said Grant, cocking her head to one side.


“I hoped someone would ask that soon,” said the Shadowed One. “It’s terribly annoying to have to continuously speak in such vague terms. The end of this plan is to kidnap X-Ray and force him to make us the rulers of the world.”


“I see, sir,” said Grant. She was used to her boss talking in such grandiose terms. “Shall I inform you of the other things we have learned from our surveillance in Fe-Metru?”


“Certainly,” said the Shadowed One. He leaned back in his chair, and said, “Proceed, chief.”


“Well, we have identified four possible front companies being used by the OMN,” said Grant. “Bond Shipping, Goldeneye, Inc., Fe-Metru Auto Shop, and Fruit & Loot.”


“What are these businesses in business for?” asked the Shadowed One. “I can guess what the Auto Shop and the shipping company is, but what about Goldeneye and Fruit & Boot?”


“Fruit & Loot, sir,” said Grant, correcting. “Goldeneye, Inc. is a weapons retailer. Fruit & Loot is a fruit and check cashing store.”


“Why in the world would someone want to run a check cashing store out of a fruit stand?” said the Shadowed One. He was greatly puzzled by this revelation.


“Not sure,” said Grant. “I once saw a business where divorce lawyer work and iPhone repairs were done out of the same business. At any rate, that particular business is highly suspect, but the majority of our surveillance is on Bond Shipping.”


“Yes, yes,” said the Shadowed One. “Shipping companies are often used by both criminal enterprises such as ours and spies to hide smuggled goods and information.” He took the dossier from Grant and flipped through it disinterestedly. “I see that this Bond Shipping seems to deal primarily in foreign antiquities. That is also a common industry for spies and criminals to deal in. Uncertainly valued goods of varying size and weight make it a gold mine for smugglers.”


“Indeed, sir,” said Grant. “What is your command on the Fe-Metru situation?”


“You are to continue your surveillance,” said the Shadowed One. “As soon as we have finished negotiating Shadow Stealer’s contract, I want him dispatched to abduct X-Ray as soon as you judge him to be at his most vulnerable.” He turned to look Grant in the eye, and said, “Have I made myself clear, Chief Grant?”


“Yes, sir,” said Grant. “I’ll begin working on this immediately.”


“Very good then,” said the Shadowed One. “You are dismissed. I’ll see you at my weekly plotting session at five.” Grant nodded, took the dossier, and left the room. The Shadowed One’s gaze followed her out of the room, before he glanced down at his wedding ring. It was a gold band with Matoran characters etched into it which read, “Forever Bound, Forever Loved.”


He then walked over to his desk, sat down, and rang up Thelma. “Thelma,” he said, “When did you say that I’d be meeting with the board of directors?”


“Three, sir,” said Thelma. “And remember, your weekly plotting session with your inner circle is at five.”


“I know, I know,” said the Shadowed One. “I’ll get to both on time.”



* * *


The Shadowed One knew that board meetings were important, but nevertheless found them incredibly droll. He understood that as a board member and majority shareholder of “Wolfe Industries,” he had an important part to play in maintaining the company that served as a front for the operations of the Obumbrati. However, the Shadowed One, while an excellent strategist and organizer, was, quite frankly, a terrible leader. He maintained his “Failure Equals Death” (F.E.D.) policy from his days as leader of the Dark Hunters, though most of the missions assigned to underlings up until this point hadn’t been of particularly high enough risk to warrant worry over this detail. Of course, there was that one incident with the gopher and the donuts. The F.E.D. policy was buried in the contract of every member of the Obumbrati, and extended to those that worked at maintaining the illusion that was Wolfe Industries. On the other hand, Wolfe Industries was an extremely elaborate front, having evolved from a mere shell company to being the number seventeen employer in Joisey Nui, and the number thirty-two employer on Spherus Magna.


To put it simply, the front had become so elaborate that its concerns warranted the Shadowed One’s attention more than the actual operations of the Obumbrati, which annoyed him to no end. True, he was actually making money to finance the Obumbrati, but it still wasn’t his area of expertise. At the end of the day, the Shadowed One was little more than a particularly devious, not to mention diabolical, thug, presiding over a gang of slightly less devious but equally diabolical thugs. He was a commander, not a businessman.


Which is why he relied on Obadiah Stane to help him in this regard.


Stane had been hired personally by the Shadowed One to serve as the CEO of Wolfe Industries. For those of you wondering how a deceased character from the Marvel Universe had become CEO of a fictional corporation in a Bionicle fan fiction, the explanation is rather convoluted. In short, the Shadowed One had rescued Stane from certain death while experimenting with an interdimensional travel device, derived from the gun used in Portal 2 and a Kanohi Olmak. Stane had just been defeated by Iron Man at the end of a series of events we know as the film Iron Man. He was about to be completely destroyed when our good friend the Shadowed One swooped in and fired a portal below Stane’s falling body, transporting him onto the Shadowed One’s ship. After that little escapade, Stane had become a staunch member of the Shadowed One’s staff, serving as CEO of Wolfe Industries and Chief of Finances at the Obumbrati. Of course, the Shadowed One knew better than to trust Stane, who he saw as little more than a fool and a pawn, because he had, after all, betrayed Tony Stark, and therefore might betray him. He had thought the same of the late Nidhiki; nobody trusts a traitor.


“TSO!” shouted Stane from where he was standing over by the water cooler. He went to greet the Shadowed One with a firm handshake. “About time you got here. The board’s simmering like a steak on the grill, and I’d wager they’d be even madder still if they found out they were helping to hide an evil cabal.”


“Not so loud, Stane!” said the Shadowed One as he rolled his eyes. Stane’s normally bald head was hidden by a well crafted brown wig, and his white beard had been long since shaved off. Stane, in order to avoid attention, not to mention extradition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, had adopted the Obubrati-provided alias of “Stefan Smythe.” Clad in a white suit and dorky looking glasses, the oval shaped man with a roundish head entered the conference room with the Shadowed One. Thus, the meeting began.


Just when the Shadowed One could barely stand to hear anymore of Stane’s blathering of stocks, profits, employment benefits and whatnot, the meeting adjourned. Stane flashed his best salesman’s smile, greeting all of the board members as they filed out of the room.


“See you all next quarter!” he said, no disguise able to hide his trademark joviality. Stane glanced over at where the Shadowed One was asleep in his chair, and walked over to him, saying, “TSO? Hello? Time to wake up, boss!”


The Shadowed One awoke with a start, saying, “Send Lurker to get his head.” He blinked hard, and then saw Stane standing before him, and said, “Oh. Stane. Sorry about that, I’ve been nodding off a lot lately. I don’t sleep very well these days.”


Stane smiled and patted the Shadowed One on the back, saying, “Well, I understand, what with you running a shadowy cabal unrelated to this humble front company, but you know what they say! ‘You… I mean, it…” Stane searched for some words of wisdom or proverb or axiom that would illustrate a point he wasn’t really sure he understood. He drew a blank. “Ah, never mind what they say!” said Stane as the Shadowed One got out of his chair. “What do you say, huh? What do you say?”


The Shadowed One said, “I say…” he glanced at his watch. Four fifty-one P.M., it read. “I’m going to be late!” he said, dashing out of the conference room, leaving a bemused Stane behind him.


The Shadowed One bolted over to the elevator and pressed the down button, taking him from the thirty-fifth to the thirty-fourth floor of the Swenson Building, taking him to the floor on which his Plotting Room was located. He ran all the way down the halls, a difficult task to accomplish in a bipedal being with an awkwardly proportioned tail. He scrambled past surprised looking underlings in business suits, getting ready to get off work as the time neared five o’clock.


Finally, the Shadowed One arrived at the plotting room, a windowless door marked “Private Conference Room.” guarded by female black Skakdi. “Hello, Delilah,” said the Shadowed One. “I’m here for the weekly plotting session.”


“You know the drill, boss,” said Delilah in her usual gruff demeanor.


The Shadowed One went up to the door, and knocked the secret knock. A regular knock, followed by three fast knocks, followed by five slow knocks. The sign on the door flipped open to reveal a slot, through which a pair of eyes peered. “What’s the password?” said the person on the other end of the door.


“Richard of York gave battle in vain,” said the Shadowed One. The door was then opened, and the Shadowed One stepped into the darkened room.


Inside of the dark room, was, of course, darkness. The Shadowed One felt his way over to the dimly lit conference table, and sat at the table’s head. He looked at the other persons seated around the table. Guinevere Grant, his Chief of Intelligence; Ancient, his Chief of Personnel, and Keeper of the Door; Barraki Pridak, a trusted collaborator; Branar, head of a group of Skrall; Kilgore, chief of a tribe of Frostelus; and finally, Justin Bieber, who was not only the most vicious, feared, and hated personage to grace the internet, but was also a pop star. Together with the Shadowed One himself, they were the Shadowed Seven.


The Shadowed One folded his hands, and said, “Gentlemen, lady, I am pleased to announce that our plan for world domination is on the verge of coming to fruition. Our lovely Chief of Intelligence, Ms. Grant, has recently informed me of X-Ray’s activities in Fe-Metru. Ms. Grant?”


As Grant began to fill in the others on the situation in Fe-Metru, the Shadowed One glanced around the long table. Pridak was looking handsome as ever, what with his and the other Barraki’s post-cured state, and seemed absolutely diabolical tapping his fingers together. Kilgore was sitting uncomfortably in his chair, probably stuck in it. Ancient wasn’t standing at all, as the blue and gold being’s simian anatomy made sitting in chairs designed for humans difficult. Branar sat in his chair comfortably, eating from a bag of caramel covered popcorn. Bieber was stroking a white cat, and practicing his evil laugh in his perpetually pre-pubescent voice.


“...and so we’ll send in Shadow Stealer to abduct X-Ray once we’ve determined when he will be most vulnerable,” said Grant, finishing.


“Thank you, Ms. Grant,” said the Shadowed One. He turned to Bieber, and said, “Mr. Bieber, how goes your recruiting drive?”


“TSO, dude,” said Bieber, “I’ve got a million bloodthirsty fan girls just waiting to do anything they want for me. We’ve already got an unstoppable army which I can unleash at any time.”


“Excellent,” said the Shadowed One. He looked at Pridak and said, “Mr. Pridak, I assume that you and Mr. Kalamah are ready to take command of Mr. Bieber’s army should the need arise?”


“I have yet to see one soldier of this supposedly invincible army,” said Pridak. “I refuse to fight a battle without properly ascertaining the state of my forces first.”


“I understand,” said the Shadowed One. He turned back to Bieber and said, “Mr. Bieber, how soon can you deploy a platoon of your fan girls for training by Pridak?”


“Like, will forty-eight hours be quick enough?” said Bieber. “By the way, how many people are in a platoon?”


“Forty-two, by the United States Army’s standards,” said Pridak. “Just get them to me and I’ll whip them into fighting shape.”


“Very good then,” said the Shadowed One. He then said, “You may want to collaborate with Chief of Personnel Ancient on that.” He then turned to Ancient, and said, “Speaking of which, how goes the negotiations with Shadow Stealer, Ancient?”


“Not well, sir,” said Ancient, shaking his head. “He insists on speaking to you personally, and keeps disarming all of the representatives we send to him… literally.”


“I’ll make an appointment with him,” said the Shadowed One. “Ask him if there are any other requirements for meeting with him. If not, then tell him I will meet him at a motel in New Atero… two weeks from now. Capisce?”


“Capsice,” said Ancient, kneeling down on the floor heavily. He was a very tired out guy.


“Is there any other order of business to attend to?” asked the Shadowed One. When no one said anything, he then said, “Very good then. Let us now indulge in maniacal laughter, and then play the anthem of the Obumbrati.”


All of the people around the table started laughing as evilly as they could, ranging from the soft cackling of Bieber to Pridak’s great belly laugh. Finally, when they were all finished, the Shadowed One said, “And now, the anthem,” said the Shadowed One. They all stood while the Shadowed One pushed a button on the table, which played a recording of “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood and the Destroyers (that is the band’s real name). After that, they all shook hands and parted ways, exiting the Plotting Room one at a time.


The Shadowed One slipped off to the water cooler, and pulled out a cell phone. He dialed a number and waited for the person the other line to pick up. Finally, a voice on the other end of the line said, “Hello?”


“Hi, sweetie,” said the Shadowed One. “Just wanted to call to let you know I miss you.”


“I miss you too, daddy,” said the young, female voice on the other end of the line. “I can’t wait to come to our new home.”


“Oh, you’ll love our new home,” said the Shadowed One. “I’ve got us a nice penthouse, and there’s a park, and stores, and all sorts of other fun stuff for you to do. You’ll love it in Joisey Nui. You’ll be coming home very soon, I promise. The man that will take you there will arrive in just a few days.”


“I love you, daddy,” she said.


“I love you too, Maria,” said the Shadowed One. He glanced over to where Pridak was waiting to speak with him. “I have to go now, but I’ll call you later,” he said. “Goodbye.”


“Bye,” said Maria. There was a click on the other end of the line, and the Shadowed One put his phone back in his inner suit coat pocket. He then turned to Pridak and said, “What can I do for you, Pridak?”


“I just wanted to make sure,” said Pridak, “that you know what you’re getting yourself into. I mean, I understand if it means us taking over the world, but I’m not completely convinced of using crazed fan girls, bloodthirsty or not, as soldiers. I want effective troops, but I also want mentally stable troops.”


“Rest assured, old friend,” said the Shadowed One, patting Pridak on the shoulder. “I wouldn’t send you anything but the best. And trust me, what these fan girls lack in skill they will make up for in unwavering obedience and fanatical drive. And besides, I wouldn’t have made you my general if I knew you couldn’t marshal an invincible army out of teenage girls.”


“I’ll see what I can do,” said Pridak. He then went to leave, saying, “I’m going to get a drink.”


“Oh, wait up!” said the Shadowed One, running to catch up with Pridak. “I know this pub which serves this heavenly root beer.”


Pridak looked at him, and said, “Yeah… right, right, root beer. Bottoms up, I guess.”


Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Ancient talked into his own cell phone. “Yeah, he’s recruiting Shadow Stealer,” he said into the phone. “We still don’t know when he’ll make his move, but it won’t be long now. Also, he’s working with Justin Bieber and Pridak to assemble an army of crazed fan girls. … Uh huh. Roger that. I’ll report as details happen. … Right. Goodbye.”

Edited by X-Ray

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...interesting couple of chapters. Shadowed One's certainly got an interesting form of Dialect. Sounds like he'd be perfect as a villain in an educational cartoon.




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Chapter 5: The Call


On a nice Sunday morning, X-Ray sat in on the back pews of Westside Community Church. Nobody sat beside him, but he wasn’t lonely. He was listening intently to Pastor Raymond Roy’s sermon, leafing through an English Standard Version of the Bible.


Nobody, for his part, couldn’t understand the sermon, which was in English, the lingua franca of Fe-Metru being Agori. He wasn’t even sure if he wanted to understand. Even though the Bible he held was printed in Agori, he knew he had to keep alert for potential threats to his charge’s safety.


“And so,” said the Pastor, “it says in Acts 10:38 that Jesus ‘went about doing good.’ And in 1st John 2:6, it says that whoever professes to live in Christ must ‘walk in the same way in which he walked.’ In light of these verses, we therefore must go about doing good, walking as Jesus did.”


After the sermon was over, the worship Pastor, Don Jackson, led the congregation in singing “Be Thou my Vision,” followed by, “It is Well with my Soul.” After that, a few closing comments by Pastor Roy, and then the congregation was dismissed.


X-Ray and Nobody managed to navigate the thin crowd to the front door of the small church building. In fact, it wasn’t their own building at all, but a High School whose auditorium the church rented for use by the church. The majority of the fifty-member congregation consisted of human workers and businesspersons, the odd Agori, Glatorian, and MU inhabitant, including Takanuva and Hahli Mahri. Pastor Roy stood at the door of the auditorium, shaking hands with the each person of the small congregation as they left. X-Ray stopped to talk to the Pastor, Nobody at his side.


“Yes, I understand why it might be difficult for our Matoran Universe members to partake in communion,” Roy said to X-Ray. “Fortunately, I have consulted Takanuva on the issue, and believe that they will simply be able to absorb energy from the grape juice and the wafers, like they did on the island of Mata Nui.”


“I’d be willing to help in any translating,” said X-Ray. “As the aut-”


Nobody elbowed X-Ray, whispering to him, “X, don’t tell him!”


“Um, as the authoritative person on such matters,” said X-Ray in a sheepish manner, “I hope to be of great aid to the church.”


“I’ll take you up on that if we ever need it,” said the Pastor, smiling. “One of our Matoran members, Wendell, intends to travel back to Earth to attend seminary, and then return to start his own church! It is truly a new era in the field of missions.”


X-Ray nodded, smiled, and tipped an imaginary hat to the Pastor. “Goodbye, Pastor Roy!” he said. He turned and went out the auditorium’s main door, with Nobody close beside him.


“You almost revealed your secret to yet another person,” said Nobody, chiding X-Ray as he had done many times before.


“I know I have to keep it quiet,” said X-Ray as the duo walked down the halls of the school, out the doors. X-Ray felt the noticeable shift from the air conditioned school to comfortable breeze of the temperate outdoor environment. “But do you really think a preacher can’t be trusted with something like this?”


“He’s a civilian,” said Nobody, “not to mention a human. He’s not supposed to know about you.”


“Please,” said X-Ray. “Even if I did manage to let slip that I’m the author, he’d probably think I’m crazy and call 199.”


“All the same,” said Nobody, readjusting his hood, “you need to be careful. The Obumbrati is out to get you, remember?”


“I know, I know,” said X-Ray, waving off Nobody as they took to the sidewalk. “Relax, Nobody. I can summon forces you’ve never dreamed of to fight for me, and I do hold a first degree black belt in taekwondo.”


Nobody grunted, and didn’t reply. As the two of them continued walking, Nobody noticed something different about X-Ray. His usual carefree manner was now subdued and solemn, and his eyepiece burred and buzzed with activity. Nobody could tell that X-Ray was deep in thought.


“Okay, I’ll bite,” said Nobody, in perfect lockstep with X-Ray. “What’s on your mind, X?”


“Oh, you could tell?” said X-Ray. He cracked a smile, but soon banished and continued, saying, “I was just thinking of the Pastor’s sermon. You know, what he said—”


“No, I don’t know,” said Nobody. “Remember, I can’t understand English.”


“Right, right,” said X-Ray, “but I heard from him that we should do as Jesus does, because it says so in the Bible.”


“And what did this Jesus do?” said Nobody. The sun showed through his transparent armor, creating a bizarre shadow behind him.


“He ‘went about doing good,’” said X-Ray. “I’m not entirely sure what that would entail for us, but I have some good ideas.”


“Dearest me,” said Nobody. “What’s that big brain of yours cooking up now?”


“I was thinking,” said X-Ray, “that with our combined ability, we could endeavor to do good throughout the city! And not just the city, but the entire world! No, not even the world, the entire universe! No, scratch that to, we could do good through the entire plain of existence! Remember how good we worked together during that bank robbery a few days ago? Imagine what we can do when we’re looking for good things to do!”


“That’s… certainly ambitious,” said Nobody, slightly puzzled. “But how exactly would you go about being something tantamount to superheroes?”


“That’s the fun part!” said X-Ray. “I was thinking that we could, you know, go into business as private detectives or something. Then, with my author powers and brains and your know-how, we could help all sorts of people! Like- like Michael Westen on Burn Notice!”


Nobody stopped, stepped in front of X-ray, grabbed him by the shoulders, gave him a good shake, and said, “X-Ray! Listen to yourself! You’re taking inspiration from TV shows for Mata Nui’s sake! Don’t you think that there might be something…” Nobody’s voice trailed off as he cocked his head to one side, like he was listening for something. Then, in a whisper, he said to X-Ray, “Don’t look, but there’s a Matoran in the bus stop across the street watching us with a listening device disguised as a sub sandwich.”


X-Ray looked across the street to see a Ko-Matoran sitting in the bus stop, holding a sub sandwich in one hand a newspaper in the other.


“I said not to look!” said Nobody, taking X-Ray by the arm and leading him down the sidewalk. X-Ray decided to listen to his friend this time and averted his gaze. Meanwhile, the Ko-Matoran folded up his newspaper, took up his sub sandwich, and walked down the opposite sidewalk parallel to Nobody and X-Ray.


“How long has he been following us?” said X-Ray in a whisper to Nobody.


“I don’t know,” said Nobody, “I only noticed him just now, but I didn’t see him when we went into and left the church. We’ll try to lose him at the train station.”


“How did you notice him, by the way?” said X-Ray as they made their way to the station (they had been headed there anyway in order to get back to their apartment in Westside).


“I’m a Toa,” said Nobody, “and my element is Surprise. I can detect when others are attempting to use that element, and I pack plenty of it myself.”


“Ah, the element of surprise!” said X-Ray. “I knew I would be able to use that pun from my epic sooner or later!”


“Quiet!” said Nobody. The duo walked into the train station, Nobody stealing a glance behind them to confirm that the Ko-Matoran was still following them. He was. They went over to the ticket dispenser, where Nobody punched in their request for two tickets to Westside. After paying their fare, they waited for their train to arrive at the station. They both stood silent in the crowd, not speaking to one another.


Then, X-Ray broke the silence by whispering to Nobody, saying, “Nobody, I just had a top rate idea!”


“What would that be?” said Nobody, whispering back.


“Why not try and capture our tail and bring him back to the OMN for interrogation?”


“Such an attempt would be incredibly risky, and I don’t know if we could pull it off, even with my elemental powers.”


“Well, why not just scan his mind with your Kanohi Suletu and find out who he’s working for?”


“I already tried that!” said Nobody. “His mind’s shielded from mental attack or telepathy, similar to my own training as an agent of the OMN.”


“Oh. …Um, Nobody?”


“Yes, X-Ray?”


“If you’re a Toa, then how is it that you’re also an agent of the OMN?”


“I work in a similar function as my more famous compatriot Mazeka. Now, here’s our train!”


The train came to a neat stop next to the platform, and its doors opened. “11:30 to Westside, now boarding,” said the prerecorded announcement over the P.A. system. The train was white and streamlined, modeled after Japan’s world famous bullet train.


“Kapurkar would have a field day here,” said X-Ray as they boarded the train. He turned to Nobody as they took seats next to each other, and said, “You do know who Kapurkar is, right?”


“Yeah, yeah,” said Nobody. “Jalina’s brother, right? Toa of transport and everything? Likes trains?”


“Yeah, that’s him,” said X-Ray. He looked back at the doors, and saw the Ko-Matoran who had been following them walk into the train car and take a seat two rows behind them.


“Great scot!” said Nobody to X-Ray. “Our tail is sitting two rows behind us!”


“I know,” said X-Ray. “The narrator just said so, didn’t he?”


“Right, right,” said Nobody. The train started up and sped off down the dark tunnel, heading towards Westside. The train wasn’t particularly crowded, as it was a Sunday and most people had the day off, and thus didn’t need to be commuting anywhere, least of all to the low rent district. But there were still enough people that Nobody was sure he and X-Ray could lose their tail in.


After about fifteen minutes, the train arrived at the Westside station. “Now arriving at Westside Station,” said the prerecorded message on the P.A. system. The doors opened, and Nobody and X-Ray got up and walked past the Ko-Matoran, who was still holding his sub sandwich. They then went out through the doors, speedily walking out into the thin crowd.


Nobody turned and saw the Ko-Matoran following them, and then turned back to X-Ray, whispering to him, “X-Ray, keep walking around the corner. When we go around the corner, I’m going to phase through the ground and then grab this Matoran. Keep walking casually.”


X-Ray nodded and said, “Got it!” He and Nobody kept walking down the street, passing a few… passerby, and then turned a corner. Right on cue, Nobody activated his phasing powers and sunk down into the sidewalk, until he had completely disappeared beneath the pavement. X-Ray kept walking.


As he kept walking, the Matoran following them turned the corner as well. He wore a black Noble Huna, and was still holding the ridiculous sub sandwich. Just then, Nobody sprung up out of the ground right behind the Ko-Matoran and grabbed him in a chokehold as soon as he solidified. The Matoran struggled in panic, dropping the sub sandwich he was carrying.


X-Ray kept walking casually, glancing behind him to see Nobody whip out a pair of handcuffs and bind the Matoran. Nobody then pushed the Matoran to the ground. X-Ray kept walking casually.


Nobody kneeled down and looked the Matoran in the face, and said, “Who are you?”


“The first of many!” said the Matoran, spitting out the words, not to mention getting saliva on Nobody’s mask. “Cut off one head, two more will take its place!” He took a deep breath, and then said, “Hail HYDRA!” He then proceeded to hold his breath. Very hard.


Nobody was momentarily confused, but he then remembered a scene from a movie he had watched in a theatre a few years before, and then it dawned on him. “X-Ray, come back!” he shouted to his friend.


X-Ray, who had been casually walking up until now, turned around and ran back to where Nobody was interrogating the tail. “What is it?” said X-Ray to Nobody.


“I think that our man here works for HYDRA,” said Nobody. “Imagine that. HYDRA.”


“What makes you think that?” said X-Ray.


“Well,” said Nobody, “He just said, ‘Cut off one head, two more will take its place. Hail HYDRA!’ I have a feeling he’s an agent of HYDRA.”


“Huh, how about that?” said X-Ray. “Well, I guess you’d better arrest him so that we can haul him off to OMN headquarters.”




What neither of them knew was that a dark figure was watching them from a nearby rooftop through a pair of binoculars. Lying prone on the roof top, this shadowy character pulled out his walkie-talkie, and said into it, “This is Mordor to the Shire, the unknown has been captured, over.”


The person on the other end said, “Acknowledged, Mordor. What’s going on with Gondor and Rohan?”


“Rohan and Gondor have captured the unknown,” the shadowy figure which we will now refer to as Mordor said. Mordor paused, as a bead of sweat dripped down the side of his face and onto his chin. “Should I continue to follow them?”


“No,” said the voice on the other end of the radio. “Abort. We know where he lives, so it will now be easier to resume surveillance. Get the Karzahni out of there.”


“Roger,” said Mordor. He put his binoculars and radio into his bag, and headed to the other side of the roof, where he hoofed it down the fire escape. The mission, for today at least, was over. What thoughts did he ponder in his mind as he made his way to his escape vehicle? Those thoughts included, There will be no good coming out of this mission, mark my words! and I wish I could get a raise. and I wonder what will happen on tonight’s episode of Once Upon a Time! Such were the thoughts of Mordor.

Edited by X-Ray

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Interesting chapter, and perhaps a bit of commentary on a number of issues. Not a ton of comedy, but it's certainly very well written. The parts with HYDRA chanting were pretty funny, though.




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Huh, I could of sworn I posted this chapter. Must have had something to do with the forums going offline. Oh well. Here it is, again. "Next" chapter will be up next week.


Chapter 6: Open for Business


“Hail HYDRA!”


“Look, Mr. Sanjay, if you’ll just answer the question—”


“Hail HYDRA!”


As he watched through the two way mirror into the interrogation room, Nobody rested his masked face in his hand. He had implored Thomob to allow him to take part in the interrogation directly, but the deputy director wouldn’t have it. “This isn’t The Dark Knight,” Thomob had said. “You were the arresting actor. We always have fresh faces go at the interrogation.”


In this case, the “fresh faces” were Mazeka and Tobduk playing good cop/bad cop. Mazeka sat in a chair next to the Ko-Matoran, whose ID named him as Sanjay, while Tobduk stood over the desk, laying into Sanjay.


“Look, we know we know you were following X-Ray!” said Tobduk, shouting into Sanjay’s face. “We found your listening device in the sub-sandwich you had, and we’ve got two witnesses against you. So, tell us who you work for already!”


Sanjay just looked Tobduk in the eye, and said once again, “Hail HYDRA!”


As Mazeka came in on the other angle, Nobody turned to Thomob, who was standing beside him, and said, “Look, Thomob, I know you have a lot of work to do, but do you need me any longer? If you’re not going to let me help interrogate this guy, then I have to get X-Ray home.”


Thomob massaged his temples and said, “I suppose so. We won’t be able to hold this guy forever anyway, due process and all. You can go.”


“Thanks,” said Nobody. He left the room, grabbing his cloak off of a chair, and made his way through the corridors of the EB, until he came to the break room. There, X-Ray was sitting down, watching the news on the television.


X-Ray turned as he heard Nobody enter the room. “Hey, big guy,” said the teenager, rising to greet his friend. “I thought you’d be at it forever. How goes the interrogation?”


“Terrible,” said Nobody as he put on his cloak. “This Sanjay guy, the Ko-Matoran, I mean, he won’t say anything other than ‘Hail HYDRA.’ Mazeka and Tobduk are at their wit’s end.”


“I don’t suppose you’ve considered enhanced interrogation techniques?” said X-Ray, getting up from his chair.


“Not yet,” said Nobody. If he had eyebrows he would have raised one. “Are you sure the moderators would even allow that?”


“Not by a long shot,” said X-Ray. “Ready to go?”


“Ready,” said Nobody. They left the lunch room and walked through the building, heading to the elevators. They passed cubicles and offices, teeming with individuals waiting for the clock to strike five. The carpet was a drab grey, as were the cubicle walls. They finally reached the elevators, waited for them to open, and entered. They were alone in the elevator.


Nobody glanced at X-Ray, and said to him, “So, you still thinking of going all Michael Westen on Fe-Metru?”


“I don’t know about that,” said X-Ray, scratching his head. “I’d like to stay within the bounds of the law. Like I was saying, we could open up a private investigator business.”


“Sounds like a plan,” said Nobody. The elevator continued its descent. “Where will you set up shop?”


“In the low rent district!” said X-Ray. “Where else? Got to fight crime where the crime is, right?”


The elevator opened, and to the two friends stepped out into the EB’s lobby. “That’s great and all,” said Nobody, “but what kind of cases do you think you’ll get?”


X-Ray shrugged and said, “Oh, we’ll just have to wait and see.”


* * *


A few days later, X-Ray and Nobody had rented an office in a small Westside office building. They were able to set up shop quickly as Bara Magna did not require one to acquire a license to become a private investigator. Their office space consisted of a main room and an outer reception area.


“Now all we need is to figure out whose name we’ll put up on the board,” said X-Ray as he sat in the chair behind his desk.


“Nobody and Ray?” said Nobody. “I can’t use my real name. It’s a big secret.”


“Use one of your aliases then,” said X-Ray. He took out a coin and spun it on the empty desk. “Also, we have to decide who gets first billing.”


“You can get billing if you want,” said Nobody, turning around. “Even if I’m probably going to be doing most of the work…”


“Oh, are you feeling underappreciated?” said X-Ray, snatching the coin, a neat silver dollar, off the table. He stuck it back in his pocket and said, “We’ll call it, ‘Your name and Ray’ if you like. Just so long as we’re in business.” X-Ray adjusted his eyepiece, and said to his friend, “Nobody, I know I can’t know your real name, but maybe you can use the name listed on that driver’s license I whipped up for you a few days ago.”


Nobody went over to the door where he had left his bag, and took his new wallet from it. He opened it to look at the I.D. Nobody turned to X-Ray and said, “I can’t read it. It’s in English.”


“Oh dear,” said X-Ray. “That may have been a slight oversight on my part. Here, allow me.” X-Ray furrowed his brow, concentrated really hard, and snapped his fingers. “Voila!” he said, looking at Nobody. “How’s it now?”


Nobody looked at his I.D. Sure enough, it was written in Matoran now, with his new name spelled out perfectly.


“Maxwell… Deveroocks?” said Nobody, puzzled by the strange spelling of his new surname.


“I believe it’s pronounced ‘Dever-oh,’” said X-Ray, now looking over Nobody’s shoulder. He clapped his hands together and said, “Right then! Devereux and Ray it is. We are now officially open for business!” X-Ray chuckled lightly to himself, before making an addendum, saying, “Title drop.”


“Um, there’s still one thing we need,” said Nobody as he contemplated his new I.D.


“That being…?”


“A secretary.”


X-Ray frowned heavily, and said, “Nobody, we barely have enough money to rent this office. How are we going to afford a secretary?


“Well,” said Nobody, going over to the office’s second desk and sitting in the swivel chair behind it, “I suppose we could just have it read as “’Maxwell Devereux, Private Investigator,’ and you could be the secretary.”


“Um, yeah, no,” said X-Ray. “I want to be a part of our little misadventures too! If that requires getting a secretary, then fine, we’ll get a secretary. But how will be find one?”


“Put an ad in the paper,” said Nobody, slouching in his chair. He held up a copy of the Fe-Metru Register that he had bought. “I’m sure somebody will respond to it.”


“That’s a bit out of our budget too,” said X-Ray. He thought for a minute, and then said, “Wait! I know! I’ll whip up an ad in Publisher on my laptop, take it to a print shop, have them print it out for me, and then post it on the bulletin board at church!”


“Hang it all,” said Nobody, getting up from his chair and throwing his hands up in the air. “Why don’t you just use your author powers to make an ad? Make it written in Matoran and in English, and you’re set.”


X-Ray contemplated Nobody’s suggestion, resting his chin in his hands, and leaned on his desk. Finally, he said, “I suppose I could do that. It’s just that I don’t really like using my author powers for trivial matters. And sometimes things go wrong when I use them.”


“Oh, come on!” said Nobody. “It worked just fine when you made that I.D. for me.”


“Speaking of which,” said X-Ray, “how come you didn’t have an I.D. already? You’d kind of need one as a member of the Order of Mata Nui.”


“What part of ‘secret agent’ do you not understand?” said Nobody, exasperated. “I didn’t have an I.D. because I’m still officially undercover. Protecting you.” Nobody paced over to the door and folded his arms.


There was a silence between them. After a minute or so, X-Ray said, “Look, here’s an idea for the secretary thing. I could handle all the secretary-related work, at least for the first few weeks, but when business picks up, we’ll hire someone. Sound okay?”


Nobody sauntered over to X-Ray’s desk and leaned on it, saying, “It’s okay, X. We’ll make do until then. But now…” He spread his arms wide, and, in a magnificent sounding voice, said, “We are open for business!”


“I already did the title drop, Max,” said X-Ray, unimpressed. X-Ray chuckled to himself, leaned back in his chair, and said, “Still… it’s time to put up the sign and post the hours.” X-Ray sat up straight, and once again concentrated as hard as he could, and when he was done, he pulled out a sign from behind the desk. It read, “Ray and Devereux: Private Investigators.” And below that, it said, “Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.” Below that was their phone number.


“Perfect!” said Nobody. He took the sign from X-Ray, and went over to the window, where he hung it from a pair of hooks drilled into the ceiling. The hooks were a testament to a previous occupant of the office space. Nobody turned back to face X-Ray, and said, “Now, we just have to set up a website, get us in the major internet directories, and get put in the next edition of the phone book!”


X-Ray snickered, and said, “If I didn’t know you, Nobody, I’d have thought that you were having fun with this.”


Nobody laughed, saying, “Of course I’m having fun! We’re about to set off on a great adventure!”


* * *

The next day, Nobody and X-Ray sat at their desks, not speaking to each other. The business cards they had produced lay on their desks, beginning to collect dust. It was two o’clock in the afternoon, and not a single customer had entered through their door, or called on their phone. It was, in a word, monotonous.


“What the heck are we doing?” said X-Ray. “Someone should have called in by now.”


“It’s been less than a day,” said Nobody. “Be patient. I’ve been on stakeout for days at a time, and it’s never as comfortable as this.”


X-Ray sighed, and glanced at his watch. 2:01 P.M. “I get what you’re saying Nobody,” he said, “but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I decided to go into this business.”


“Oh, pish posh,” said Nobody. “Nothing new is ever what you expect. Except maybe taxes. But the point is, you never know what’s going to come through that door.”


And then, something did happen. The door was opened from the outside, and a jungle Agori came in through it. The Agori was female, and she walked upright, unlike other jungle Agori. She had a black leather purse slung over her shoulder, and a mane of brown hair fell past her shoulders. She wore no helmet. Speaking in Agori, she said, “Hello, I’m looking to hire your services.”


Nobody smiled, and sat up straight in his desk. X-Ray was befuddled, for he did not understand Agori. “What did she say?” he said to Nobody.


“She wants to hire us,” said Nobody. Nobody got up from his desk and went over to the Agori, and bent over to shake her hand. “We are at your service,” he said in Agori. “Please, tell us what you need us to do.”


Meanwhile, X-Ray thought, And here, we… go. And then: An Adventures in Odyssey reference and a The Dark Knight reference? I wonder if that was a bit much. Oh well, never mind that! Our first case!

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Here's the re-post of chapter seven. A new post will be up soon.


Chapter 7: Investigation Consternation


The Carson Heights neighborhood of Fe-Metru wasn’t the sort of place most might see as a crime ridden area. Indeed, it had one of the lowest crime rates in the city, and was rather well to do. It was populated mostly by upper middle class human settlers, with the odd well-to-do Agori and Matoran Universe inhabitant. It was one such Agori, a female Jungle Agori who identified herself as Lisa, who had given us our first case. Apparently, someone had vandalized her plastic flamingo.


“X-Ray,” Nobody said to me as we walked down the street, “I notice that the narration is no longer in third person, but first person. Why are you narrating?”


I said to my Nobody, “Nobody, my very dear friend, the narrator called in sick today, so I am taking over his duties. I also figure that it will be a nice change of pace to people who might be getting bored with our humble comedy.”


“I figured it was more of an epic comedy,” said Nobody. He adjusted his new utility belt, and said, “Still, this could be a good way of making the comedy interesting. Are you going for the Watson approach?”


“The thought crossed my mind,” I said in reply, “but I’m not entirely sure I want to completely change the format of the comedy right in the middle of it. However, if the fans are receptive to this idea, I might choose to keep it.”


“A pity if the narrator losing his job, though.”


“True, but as my dear old dad always says, it amounts to two things; supply and demand. If there is a demand for third person narration, there will be a supply for it. I’ll ensure it, for that matter. Besides, I’m sure that the narrator can get another job, maybe in an up and coming epic. I always hire him to do the narrating in my short stories, though for the song fics I have a singer fellow I know come in-”


“X, quit babbling!” said Nobody, grabbing me by the shoulder. He turned me towards a nice looking, two story house with a four car garage and a big, white wooden door. The house was white with blue trimmings, and had a small front yard with a lovely looking flower garden. In this garden was Mrs. Lisa Muldoon, who was tending to some strange specimen that I had never seen before, probably of Spherus Magnan origin. She was wearing dirty, torn work clothes and a sunhat of a distinctly Earthen style.


Lisa looked up, smiled, and began talking to us in Agori. I myself couldn’t understand her speech, being unstudied in the language. Heck, I could barely put together a complete sentence in Spanish, having only begun my studies in that class.


“What’s she saying?” I asked Nobody. Like all MU inhabitants, he had been bestowed with the ability to speak Agori fluently following Mata Nui’s doing so. I, unfortunately, had come to Spherus Magna at a later date, and did not have this ability, and was a human besides. I had to learn the language the hard way.


“She said, ‘Good morning,’” said Nobody. “Can’t you just use your author powers to give yourself the ability to comprehend the language?”


“It’s unwise to use my powers for such flippant reasons,” I said. I made sure to sound very grave as I said this.


“It’s hardly ‘flippant,’” said Nobody. I was sure he was frowning under his mask.


“Wait, I have an idea!” I said. I concentrated as hard as I could, and voila! A babel fish appeared in my hand, and I stuck it in my ear. I turned to Lisa and said to her, “Hello, I’m, uh, Xavier Ray, and this is my partner, Max Devereux. Please show us the crime scene.” Lisa only looked at me blankely.


“Dude,” Nobody whispered to me, “that babel fish only works one way. You can understand her, but she still can’t understand you.”


“Dangnabbit,” I said. I sighed, and resigned myself to the fact that I’d still have to learn the Agori language the hard way.


Nobody then explained to Lisa why we were here, and how she already knew us, having called upon our services. “Please show us the crime scene,” said Nobody.


Lisa said, “Of course.” She led us over to another section of her garden, where several smashed plants and a shattered plastic flamingo lay on the soft dirt. “As you can see,” said Lisa, “the flamingo is almost completely destroyed, and several of my plants are smashed.”


Nobody knelt down next to the flamingo. “Seems like it was bludgeoned,” he said. “Perhaps a baseball bat?” He then said to me, “X, I need your eyepiece on this.”


“Yes, certainly,” I said, crouching down next to my friend. I pulled up the forensic feature of my eyepiece’s built in heads up display, and scanned the flamingo with black light, infrared, and Gordon Ramsay vision.


“X,” said Nobody, “what’s ‘Gordon Ramsay’ vision?”


“It detects bad cooking,” said I. “The salesman was very convincing when he sold me the feature.” I stood up and said, “Anyhow, the scans show nothing, but I just had an idea.”


“And what would that be?” said Nobody, who also got up.


“Simple!” I said, before whipping out a fingerprint dusting kit. “We dust it for prints!”


“Fingerprints?” said Nobody. “Oh, I’ve heard of those. Humans and Spherus Magna inhabitants have them. MU inhabitants don’t, you know.”


“Is that expository dialogue I hear?” I said to Nobody. “Enough of that jargon between us, old chum. Now, let’s see here…” As I carefully dusted the mangled flamingo, Nobody questioned Lisa.


“When did you notice this?” he said to her.


“It was like that when I came to water the plants a several days ago,” said Lisa. “It was last Thursday.”


I heard the sound of Nobody jotting down notes in a notepad he had with him. “Uh huh,” he said. “Have you noticed anything else suspicious?”


The woman thought for a moment, and the next thing she said caught me completely off guard. “Nothing much, except for my car being lit on fire.”


Nobody paused in mid pen stroke, and looked the Jungle Agori right in the eye. “Your car was on fire?”


“The night before I discovered the flamingo,” said Lisa.


Nobody turned around, removed his mask, and massaged his temples, put his mask back on, turned back to the woman, and said, “Ma’am, I think you need to report this to the police.”


The woman threw her arms up in the air, and said, “I tried to get my husband to call the police, but he says not to worry about it! That’s why I hired you people!”


“But… but,” said Nobody, trying to get over his confusion, “but you’re concerned about your flamingo, but not your car?”


“I had insurance for the car,” said Lisa. “That flamingo is my favorite garden decoration, but no insurance there, no no!”


Nobody said to Lisa, “Ma’am, do you know about anyone who would want to harm you or your husband? Send a message, maybe?”


“I’m fine for myself,” said Lisa. “I don’t know about my husband though. He never tells me anything.”


Nobody nodded, and jotted down some more notes on his notepad. “I think we might have to question your husband… what’s his name?


“Barry. But he’s on a business trip,” said Lisa. “He won’t be back until tomorrow.”


“Right, right,” said Nobody. “Call us when he gets back so we can ask him some questions.” Nobody took a card out of his utility belt and handed it to Lisa. He turned to me and said, “Okay, X, found anything yet?”


I looked up to Nobody and said, “Yeah, I found one full set of finger prints. Like this flamingo was ripped out of the ground before it was smashed.”


“We’ll take those down to the base and run them then,” said Nobody. He turned back to Lisa and said, “Please, do call us when your husband comes back home.” The woman only nodded, and then returned to tending to her garden. Nobody then said to me, “Let’s go, X.”


* * *


“And… here we are, gentlemen,” said the black and grey armored being as he stood up from behind his computer. His name was Rob, and he was in charge of the new fingerprinting program that the OMN had opened after moving their operations to Fe-Metru. MU inhabitants had no fingerprints, but Agori, Glatorian and humans did.


“What have we got?” said Nobody, as he and I stood in the CSI lab on the forty-second floor of the EB.


“It looks likes your man is a small time thug named Krua,” said Rob, turning the computer screen so we could see it. A picture of a helmetless, humorless rock Agori with hard, blunted features stared back at us.


“Krua has been in and out of county jail for petty theft and burglary, and has been known to associate with the local chapter of the Crips,” said Rob, reading from the record on the computer. “He’s currently out on parole after holding up a jewelry store.” Rob leaned over, looking at the computer screen. “His last known residence was 21 Jump Street.” Neither of us laughed. Nobody laughed in fact. “Get it?” said Rob. “21 Jump Street? The TV show?”


“Rob,” said Nobody, “we didn’t come here for jokes. What’s the real address?”


“Fine, sourpuss,” said Rob. “It’s North 59th Street, up in Little Roxtus. Rough neighborhood though.”


“We’ll risk it!” I said, jotting down the address in my own notebook. “We’ve got a case to solve!” I then said to Rob, “Thanks, Rob. We owe you one.”


“I’ll take you up on that, detectives,” said Rob. There was a twinkle in his eye behind his orange Great Huna.


* * *


One twenty minute bus ride later, Nobody and I arrived on a deserted street in Little Roxtus. It wasn’t what we expected from Rob’s description of a “rough neighborhood.” Sure, the streets weren’t very clean, a lot of storefronts had bars in the windows, and there was a Toa of Stone police officer encasing a Skrall warrior’s arms in rock right across the street from us, but… Okay, yeah, it was a pretty bad looking neighborhood, but I had a formidable friend at my side, plus an awesome black Kopaka sword stuck in my bottomless backpack, from the makers of Toa PocketTM!


Anyway, we walked down the street to this fairly rundown looking, one story house. It was painted brown, with no trimmings, in sharp contrast to the Muldoon house. Nobody knocked on the door as the both of us stood on the weathered wooden porch. Half a minute later, a middle aged female Rock Agori answered the door. “Can I help you?” she asked us.


“I’m No-, eh, Max Devereux,” said Nobody. “And this is my partner, Xavier Ray. We’re looking for Krua.”


“Why do you want to talk to my nephew?” said the lady. “He hasn’t done a thing wrong. Are you police?”


“We beg to differ,” said Nobody. “And no, we are not the police. We’re private detectives, hired by Lisa Muldoon from Carson Heights to find out who smashed her flamingo, and possibly set her car on fire. We found Krua’s fingerprints at the scene of the crime, and in the interest of everyone involved, we’d like to talk to your nephew.”


The lady looked at us suspiciously, but then said, “Alright, come on in.” She went back inside as we entered, calling into the house, “Krua! There are two men here who want to talk to you.”


She led us into a grungy living room. The carpet was filthy, and looked as if no vacuum had been used on it ever, the sofa was torn and its stuffing was showing through the ripped sections, and the TV had a crack down the middle which had been repaired with a piece of duct tape.


“I’m beginning to think our apartment isn’t so bad,” I whispered to Nobody. We sat down on the sofa as a younger, male rock Agori came into the living room. He looked at us with contempt, and said, “What do you want, fools?”


“Please, sit down,” said Nobody to Krua. Krua didn’t sit down. “What’s your current address?” said Nobody. “Your full address.”


Krua thought for second, and then said, “10312 North 59th Street, Fe-Metru, Vulcanus Prefecture… 49127, Spherus Magna.”


“What is eighteen divided by two, multiplied by seven?”


Krua appeared confused at first, but then thought for a few minutes, counting on his fingers, and then said, “76.”


Nobody nodded, and then said, “Where were you on the night of August 19th?” said Nobody.


Krua’s eyes shifted to the left corners of his eyes, and his fists curled into balls, and he said to my friend, “I don’t remember. That was, what, two weeks ago?”


Nobody nodded, and jotted something down on his notebook. He gentled bumped my elbow, and I glanced at his pad. It read, “He’s lying.” He then said to Krua, “One week, actually.” He looked Krua in the eye, and said, “Do you by any chance know of a Lisa Muldoon from the Carson Heights neighborhood?”


The rock Agori’s pupils went to the upper right corners of his eyes. Krua’s shook his head, saying, “Never heard of her.” His fists uncurled, and his stance relaxed.


“How about a Barry Muldoon, from the same neighborhood?”


Krua’s eyes widened, and he shook his head vehemently, saying in a loud voice, “Never heard of him either! What the heck do you want, fools?!” He took a few steps toward us.


On the other side of the room, Krua’s aunt said, “Now, Krua, there’ s no need to get angry-”


Krua gave this Aunt his best glare, before turning back to us.


Unfazed, Nobody then said, “I believe that will be all. Also, you may want to study up on your arithmetic. The answer to the math question was 63.” Nobody got up from his seat, and went over to Krua, and looked him the eye, saying, “Also, you were mistaken when you said that you don’t know where you were on the night of August 19th. Care you try again?”


Krua snarled, and then said, “I don’t need to answer you, fool!”


Nobody said in reply, “You’re right, you don’t. However, you would have to answer questions from the police. It was your fingerprints we found on Lisa Muldoon’s plastic flamingo, smashed in her garden, and we could easily turn this evidence over to the authorities.” Nobody paused to allow Krua to absorb this information. He then said, “Or, you could tell us why you did what you did, and we could settle this between Mrs. Muldoon and yourself out of court. Do you understand?”


Krua stared at the floor, evidently thinking over his prospects. He then said, much more quietly than before, “It was just a job. Some human with a weird accent hired me off the street, said he’d pay me to torch the Muldoon’s car and wreck their garden.”


“Did he have a name?” said Nobody. I whipped out my own notepad to jot down my own notes.


“It was really hard to pronounce,” said Krua, mumbling his words. “Alexander… something.”


I wrote down the name on my notepad. “Do you know where we can find him?” I asked. Krua starred at me blankly, and I remembered that he didn’t understand English or even Matoran.


“He asked if you know where we can find him,” said Nobody.


Krua sighed, and then said, “I met him at Branar’s. It’s a bar not far from here.”


Nobody finished scribbling out notes, and then said, “Very good then. We’ll go pay him a visit. If you, ahem, remember anything else, please… call us.” He handed Krua our business card, and then said to me, “Let’s go, Xavier.”


Remembering my pseudo-name, I followed Nobody out the door of the house. I looked behind me to see Krua and his aunt arguing fervently. I hoped that nothing bad would come of it.


As we walked down the sidewalk, I said to Nobody, “Nobody, I have to ask you, how did you know that Krua was lying?”


“The Reid Method,” said Nobody. “An interrogation method which relies heavily on the study of someone’s eyes. For creative thinking, the pupils would go to the upper left corners for creative thinking, as in a math problem, or a lie, and they’d go to the upper right for memory, like when he was telling the truth.”


“Brilliant!” I said. “I wish I’d thought of that myself.”


Nobody snorted and said, “X-Ray, you did.”


“…Oh. Right.” We continued walking, I pulling out my smart phone to get directions to “Branar’s.” Just then, something occurred to me. I said to Nobody, “Nobody, why didn’t you just use your Kanohi Suletu to see if he was telling the truth?”


Nobody remained silent for a moment. Finally, he said, “That’s personal.”



* * *


Branar’s Bar and Grill wasn’t the swankest place I’d ever seen. It was the quintessential dive bar, a one story establishment with no windows and one regular door. There might have been another door in the back, as per city code, but I wasn’t sure. It was painted white, and there was a big sign on the roof reading, “Branar’s Bar and Grill.”


Nobody said to me, “I’ll handle this. You stay outside.”


“Why can’t I come in?” I said. “I’m not that young.”


“Bara Magna national statues clearly state that humans below the age of 21 are not allowed to enter drinking establishments,” said Nobody. “You of all people should know this.”


I held up my hands and said, “You’re right, you’re right. Go in and ask your questions. I’ll just loiter over here on the sidewalk.”


Nobody nodded, and then entered the bar. I waited for several minutes, puttering around in circles. I looked over my notes, brainstormed story ideas, and prayed a silent prayer for Nobody’s safety within the bar. I looked at the clouds in the sky and wondered at how one of them looked like a Kanohi Hau. I examined my lightly exercised muscles, and straightened my tie. I looked at my gold and silver colored watch, and read the time. 1:38 P.M. I adjusted my eyepiece, and squinted in the bright sunlight. I was, in a word, bored.


Suddenly, someone broke down the door of the dive bar from the inside, and Nobody came tumbling out of it. “X!” he shouted. “Get out of here!” Just before we started running, I witnessed a burly looking human with a long mane of black hair in a pony tail and a mustache-goatee run out of the bar. I had enough presence of mind to snap a picture of him with my eyepiece’s built in camera, before running away with Nobody. He and I both ran as fast as we could from the dive bar, and I dared not look behind me again.


“He’s too big to run very fast!” said Nobody. “We’ll outrun him soon enough!” He wasn’t panting nearly as much as I was, he being blessed with a biomechanical Toa body with ever-strong muscles and endurance. I, on the other hand, was not nearly as fit as my friend, and thus began to fall behind. Nobody didn’t look back, but I could hear the man we were running from running behind us.


“Hey, you come back!” he shouted in rough English. His words barely understandable thanks to a thick Russian accent. He’s Russian? I thought. Great. Why couldn’t the evil foreigner be French? …Not that I have anything but respect for the French.


We eventually found ourselves on a busy street, and ran into an alley. It wasn’t exactly grungy, but there were bits of trash all over and a couple of cardboard boxes. Nobody put a hand on my shoulder, and said to me, “X! Get us out of here with your author powers!”


“Right!” I said. I quickly pondered the ways we could escape. Use my author powers to give us both jetpacks? Whip out a Kanohi Olmak for Nobody to use to get us back to the office? Disguise ourselves as homeless people?


Nobody’s facial expression was unreadable beneath his mask, but I had a feeling that he was frowning. “Scratch all that!” said Nobody. He then said, “We need a trains schedule and station map! Now!”


I obliged, running after Nobody as I concentrated as hard as I could, before feeling the object materialize in my hand. I handed it to Nobody, who, studying it quickly, dragged me out of the opposite end of the alley. We both ran as hard as we could down the street. Meanwhile, the big Russian guy had followed us and was gaining ground. But then I had an idea.


“Use your taser!” I said to Nobody. “Get him!”


Nobody ignored me and continued running. Thinking better than to question his plan, I kept running after him. We finally turned around a corner, and, behold! There was a train station before us! Just two blocks ahead. I dared not glance at my watch for fear of slowing down, and Nobody didn’t look like he was going to stop running. “We’re almost to the train station!” I heard him shout. In an effort to slow down our pursuer, I summoned a handful of smoke bombs and let them fly loose from my hands. I heard a gassy sound behind me as they detonated, sending a column of smoke up behind me.


After a few more minutes of running, panting, utterly exhausted, we finally arrived at the train station. We were on a large, cement platform in an open pedestrian area, with a pair of tracks running parallel to each other before us. I whipped out my change purse to pay for tickets at the ticket machine, praying with all my might that the train would arrive on time. The tickets felt like they’d take forever to come out. “Two tickets to Westside!” I said into the machine.


“Two tickets to Westside,” said the computer in a halting, stilted, mechanical voice. Two tickets were dispensed out of the ticket slit. I grabbed them and gave one to Nobody. We were still breathing hard.


Nobody and I then stopped to catch our breath, and then, I looked back behind me. There was a big smoke cloud a block past where we’d run, and there wasn’t anybody chasing us.


Nobody suddenly suffered a spasm of some kind, and put a hand to his head. “He’s coming!” he said to me, almost hissing. I could tell that he was thinking quickly; he balled up his hands into fists when he got stressed. Finally, he said, “Quick! Summon a pair of trench coats and fedoras!”


“What?” I said, incredulous.


“Just do it!”


Nodding, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath through my nose, and exhaled through my mouth. I thought as hard as I could. A pair of trench coats and fedoras, that fits us. I then opened my eyes. There were the coats and the hats, draped across my arms.


Nobody grabbed one of the trench coats and one of the fedoras, and put it on while saying to me, “Put that get up on now! That brute will be here any moment!” I hastily complied with his instructions. I spared one final glance to my right, toward the direction of when we had last seen the man, and I saw him coming. I then turned to Nobody, and saw the train coming in our direction. It was getting closer.


Finally, our pursuer arrived at our location panting and out of breath. We had since regained our breath, and patiently waited for the train to stop in front of us. The big man with the goatee sauntered over to us and said, in broken Agori (I could tell that it was Agori because I had removed the Babel fish from my ear on the way to this neighborhood because it was giving me a headache), “Sirs… have you seen a pair of men in fine clothes running this way?”


I didn’t look at the man, but only said, in my best Spanish, “Uh… Yo no hablo Agori.” The train arrived in front of us, the door opened, and we boarded it. The big man with the goatee stared at us, breathing heavily. He basically looked like a younger version of Danny Trejo, only as a Russian. Good luck imagining that, gentle reader. The doors closed in front of us, separating us and the Russian man. And then the train left.


I went over to a pair of empty seats, and collapsed in the window seat. Nobody sat down next to me, and he said to me, “What time is it?”


I glanced at my watch, and then said, “1:45. The train arrived right on time.”


Nobody exhaled heavily, and then said, “Okay, I guess I’d better tell you what happened.” He then jerked his head up, and said, “Wait, 1:45?” He pulled out a cell phone out of a pouch on his utility belt, examined it for a few seconds, and then relaxed, before saying, “Phew. I thought… I thought today was tomorrow.”


“What’s tomorrow?” I asked, inquisitive.


Nobody took off his fedora, which clashed terribly with his hood, and said to me, “That trench coat and fedora trick works like a charm, doesn’t it? We’ve been using that strategy since my academy days.”


I decided to not pursue Nobody’s worry over the time and day any further. If he had something personal that he felt he couldn’t share with me right now, then so be it. I wouldn’t press him. Instead, I said, “What happened in the bar, Nobody?”


Nobody sighed, and said, “I walked into the bar, and I asked the bartender for a guy named Alexander. He pointed me to this big Russian guy in the back and said he was Alexander. I went over to the guy, and said to him in Agori, ‘Sir, do you know of a Jeff and Lisa Muldoon of Carson Heights?’ He then got angry and pulled out a knife, but I got the jump on him with my melee taser, but then he knocked it away from me. I would have fought him, but I didn’t want to cause a scene, especially in a bad guy bar full of his buddies, so I ran. The door, unfortunately, got broken down in the process. And we ran here, and great job with the smoke bombs, by the way.”


I then said to Nobody, “Thanks. Also, I got a picture of the brute with my eyepiece.”


“Good man!” Nobody said, and we shared a high five. He then said, “Now, you’re going to have to go interview Mr. Muldoon, see if he knows an ‘Alexander’. I’ll take this picture back to base and see what I can find.” He sat back, and took another breath, before saying, “Tomorrow, that is.” He leaned his head back and nodded off.


I nodded, but then something about Nobody’s statement caught me off guard. “I- what do you mean I have to do the interview? I don’t speak Agori! Hello? Nobody?”

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I liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive! Many apologies for the long wait between updates, but I have at last completed this newest chapter! I pray that you all enjoy it! It took a darn long time to complete it.


Chapter Eight: Translation Frustration


It is I, the narrator, returning to my old position. I hope that no one was inconvenienced. I am now switching back to third person.


Nobody’s alarm clock went off next to his bed. Beep-beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep-beep! He reached over to his nightstand, fumbling for the digital clock’s “snooze” button. He peered out from underneath his blankets at the time: 6:00 A.M.


Nobody pushed the sheets aside and sat up in bed, before stumbling over to the closet. He glanced at the door. He didn’t hear X-Ray stirring, his friend using a sleeping bag on the sofa until his own bed was shipped in. Nobody grabbed his cloak and utility belt out of the closet, and put them on. He then grabbed his Unbreakable Black Kopaka Sword of Awesomeness and put it on his back. That and some other equipment of his had arrived by courier yesterday evening from the OMN.


Nobody turned on the lights in his room, and went over to where he had put his large duffle bag. Kneeling down next to it, he opened the bag and began to rummage through its contents, before pulling out a photo album. He leafed through it. One picture showed his graduation ceremony from the OMN Academy on Daxia. Another showed him breaking a couple of bricks. A third showed him and Jerbraz standing next to each other, with Trinuma standing between them, his arms draped over their shoulders. This picture of Jerbraz showed him before he had been rendered invisible. Jerbraz was, indeed, quite handsome for a biomechanical being, his sculpted figure colored red and silver. He wore a Kanohi Kakama and had a not-quite-awesome sword on his back. They were in the desert of Zakaz, next to a sleeping Tahtorak. There were a lot of other pictures, such as him at the office, him in a jungle, him standing in front of a burned down building. Good times.


Nobody put the album aside, and then took a different album out of the bag. He opened it, and saw some very different pictures. Pictures of a Ko-Matoran in a small village. One of that Matoran at a school, intently listening to a lecture, another of the Matoran working in a restaurant kitchen. The last picture showed the Matoran sitting on a sofa at a party, surrounded by other Matoran, who were all eating pizza and chips and salsa and drinking root beer, looking like they were having wonderful time.


Nobody sighed, and put the album back. He then left the room, walking past the sleeping X-Ray, and went over to the kitchenette. He started on making an omelet with basil and thyme, with parmesan cheese on top. While waiting for it to cook, he went back over to his nightstand in his room, and picked up his cell phone. As he returned to his station at the stove, he checked out his schedule. Interview- Mr. Muldoon – 1:45, read one box. He scrolled over to another. Dr. Mill – 2:00, read another. Darn it, thought Nobody. He shut off the cell phone and returned to making the omelet. He also put some bread in the toaster and chopped up some apples.


Just then, a cell phone rang. Or, more accurately, a timer on X-Ray’s cell phone rang, sending out all sorts of noise, nearly vibrating off the coffee table. X-Ray reached over, grabbed the cell phone, and switched off the timer, before turning around and going back to sleep.


“C’mon, X,” said Nobody. “You’ll have to get up sooner or later. Breakfast is going to be ready soon anyway.”


X-Ray mumbled something incoherent, before squirming out of his sleeping bag and lurching over to the shower. Nobody shook his head, chuckled, and returned to cooking the omelet. This would be a good one. The omelet, that is. He wasn’t sure how the day would be, but he hoped everything would be… orderly. Yes, that was a good adjective. Orderly.


Twenty minutes later, X-Ray emerged from the shower in a towel, and grabbed some of his clothes from the closet, before returning to the bathroom. After another few minutes, he returned, dressed in his usual dapper way. “What’s cooking?” he said.


Nobody didn’t look up as he said, “An omelet, topped with parmesan cheese, seasoned with basil and thyme.”


“Sounds good!” said X-Ray, looking over the counter. A few seconds passed as X-Ray examined the tasty looking dish in the making, before he noticed something disconcerting. “Um, how many eggs are you using?”


“Two. Why do you ask?”


“Oh, I’m just… are you sure that’s enough?”


“It should do. Add an apple, some leftover baked chicken, and a glass of milk and I’ll have enough to last me until lunch. The city still hasn’t finished setting up the P.E.R.S.”


X-Ray was confused. “Firstly,” he said, “What do you mean by ‘purse’, and why do you talk like you’re the only one eating?”


Nobody looked up from his cooking and said, “Hm? Oh, ‘P.E.R.S.’ stands for ‘Public Energy Resupply Station.’ You remember, back in Metru Nui, that the Matoran just went to get their energy recharged once a year at this place in Ga-Metru, and on Mata Nui, the Matoran just absorbed energy from foodstuffs.” Nobody turned off the burner and took the pan to the counter, where he had a plate waiting. “Until they can get the P.E.R.S. up and running,” he said, “which could take a while, government being government, we have to keep ourselves sustained the old-fashioned way, similar to how you humans eat stuff.” Nobody opened the fridge and rooted around for what he was looking for, saying, “As for the food situation…” He turned around, now holding an apple, the milk jug, and a little bag of baked chicken. “I’m your bodyguard, X-Ray,” said Nobody. “Not your chef.”


X-Ray leaned on the counter, feeling positively mellow. “Oh,” he said. “Okay, that’s no big deal. I can cook my own food.”


Nobody smiled, and said, “I’m glad you understand.” He poured himself some milk, and then put his food on the counter, before moving over to take a seat next to X-Ray. He dug into his food, holding it up to mouth, and sucking the energy out of it like vampire, leaving only the inedible parts of the food, such as the bones of the leftover chicken, left over.


“That’s kind of disturbing,” said X-Ray, averting his eyes.


“As I understand it,” said Nobody, absorbing his glass of milk, “you humans don’t like to watch when your own kind eats.”


“Only when they do it in with their mouth open!” said X-Ray. He got off his stool and went over to the counter, and said, “Good grief, why am I even having this conversation? This whole section has been completely devoid of anything which advances the plot!”


Nobody looked up from his meal and said, “Oh, that reminds me! You have an appointment with the Muldoons to interview them about our case.”


“Speaking of which,” said X-Ray, “Have we received anymore calls about cases?”


“I don’t know,” said Nobody, returning to eating. “I’m your bodyguard. Managing your little P.I. business is your job, not mine. If you want to formally employ me-”


“You know perfectly well that we’re equal partners in this endeavor! Man, what’s with you, Nobody?”


Nobody held up his hands, and said, “I’m just saying, it’s not my job to manage the phones or the email. You’re the one who’s supposed to be doing clerical work.”


X-Ray glanced at his watch. 7:50 A.M. “Cripes!” said X-Ray, running for the fridge and grabbing a yogurt out of it. “We need to get to the train station A.S.A.P.!”


“Why, what’s the rush?” said Nobody.


“Because our office opens at 9:00, and the train leaves at 8:20!”


“So? We have plenty of time! The 8:20’s never been on time for almost two years!”


“C’mon, Nobody!”


* * *


Nobody and X-Ray managed to get to their office just in time for opening. Unfortunately, there were no messages from clients asking them to take on cases. There were, however, two pranks calls, a political call from Friends of Turaga Jay, four telemarketers offering some shady business deals, and one death threat.


“Say what?” said Nobody, playing back the message.


“He who minds his own business will live a long and happy life,” said the recorded voice in a thick Russian accent. “Stop investigating the Muldoons or die.” Click.


“That’s… heavy stuff,” said X-Ray, wiping his brow. He pulled out his Taser, and said, “Fortunately, we’re armed!”


“This is not a situation to go into lightly, X,” said Nobody. “We’re going to have to cancel that meeting with the Muldoons, and then I’m going to have to get you to a safe house.”


“Wait, why?” said X-Ray. “This is our first big case—”


“It’s our only case.”


“Whatever! We’ve got so much going for it!” X-Ray pulled out the dossier that he had been assembling, and flipped it open, revealing notes, pictures, data, maps, and a fragment of baked sand bat. “I mean, look at this!” he said. “We’ve got Krua’s testimony, fingerprints, pictures of the guy who tried to kill us, and now this death threat! If we save the recording, we can use it later if we get a conviction!”


“That’s not the point,” said Nobody. “The point is, I have a similar appointment, and now that we know for sure that you’re in serious danger, which I enabled to happen, I am failing my duty as your bodyguard and handler to let you out of my sight while the Russian mob is after both of our heads!”


“What’s this appointment of yours?” asked X-Ray, not at all daunted by Nobody’s declaration.


“…It’s personal,” said Nobody. “My point is that you can’t go do your thing while I have my appointment. You either have to stick with me, or hang out with Mazeka and Tobduk for a while.”


“I thought your first duty was to protect me,” said X-Ray. “Isn’t that your job?”


“It is,” said Nobody. “But- but I really, really need to go to this appointment. It’s important.”


“Ooh, got a hot date?”


“Don’t even start!”


“Alright, alright,” said X-Ray, shrugging his shoulders. “If your little ‘appointment’ is so important, then I guess I’ll have to cancel that appointment with the Muldoons, and hang out with Messers Mazeka and Tobduk.”


“That’s the sort of thing I like to hear,” said Nobody. He went over to the window and positioned the sign to read “Closed.” He turned to X-Ray, and said, “Right then. To the train station!”


X-Ray readjusted his trench coat, left over from their last escapade, and put the dossier into this backpack while Nobody wasn’t looking. Two can play the spy-detective game, he thought to himself. Or in this case, one.


* * *

“And remember,” said Nobody as they stopped in the break room of the OMN offices at the EB, “don’t go wandering off. Stay within sight of Tobduck and Mazeka at all times. Also, don’t eat anything out the refrigerator. If you’re hungry, order take out.” He patted X-Ray on the shoulder, and said, “Got all that, X?”


“Got it,” said X-Ray, putting on his most debonair smile. With a wave, he waited until Nobody had left the room. He then counted to five hundred, before gathering up his back pack and slipping out of the break room. He stole through the rows of cubicles until he reached the elevator, and pulled out his IntelliPhone to consult his Horizon Navigator app. As he stepped into the elevator, he calculated that from the nearest train station, it would take half an hour to reach the Muldoon’s neighborhood. More than enough time to get to the Muldoon’s house.


A few minutes later, he reached the ground floor, and walked out of the lobby. Nobody was nowhere in sight, and the halls were bustling with the usual mid-morning crowd. X-Ray was just glad that he hadn’t had to deal with Mazeka and Tobduk. Those two are about as effective as energy hounds without noses when it comes to sticking to an assignment, he thought, especially when it was covering for their coworker’s bodyguard duty. As X-Ray made his way to the train station, he began to wonder how he would interview the Muldoons. He supposed he would have to use his translator app to compose the questions while he listened to the answers in English thanks to the Babel fish. That might be cumbersome, but without Nobody’s cooperation, it would be the only way to conduct the interview.


I wonder what that guy’s up to with his appointment anyway, he thought. I hate it when my creations hide things from me. Oh well. I’m sure that if he thinks I should know, he’ll tell me. Nobody’s smart enough to know not to hide stuff from his friends… right?


* * *


Nobody got up as the train arrived at his stop. It was time for another appointment. He exited the train car and walked down the sidewalk of a far more upscale neighborhood than downtown or Westside. The buildings here in Robindale were no taller than five stories high, and there were more trees and grass patches on the sidewalks. There was not a speck of graffiti in sight, and the grass was nicely trimmed, with pretty little flowerbeds on every corner. The buildings were kept up nicely, and happy, smiling people went about their business.


Under his Great Suletu, however, Nobody was not smiling. Instead, he was concerned with a very pressing piece of business. He looked up at building after building, comparing the addresses to that which was on the slip of paper he held in his hand. No, not that one. Not that one either. But wait, here it was. 9104. He scrambled up the steps of the small office building, and went in through the front door. He walked through a foyer, down another hallway, and through a door which read, “Psychological & Counseling Services.” He took a seat in a waiting room as soft instrumental music played in the background. Old periodicals and magazines starred up at him, printed mainly in Agori, with a few in Matoran.


A door opened on the other side of the waiting room, and a middle aged Agori in semi-formal attire leaned through, saying, “Ah, there you are, Urban.” And then, with a slight cock of the head: “It is Urban I’m speaking to, isn’t it?”


Nobody gulped, and said, “Yes, I’m here, Dr. Mill.” He stood up and walked over to the door, and followed Dr. Mill into the offices beyond. Nobody took a moment to place his sword and utility belt in the holding bin just off to the side, before joining Dr. Mill in his office.


* * *


X-Ray finally arrived at the Muldoon’s house, which looked about the same as it did when he and Nobody had last visited. The garden had been mostly restored, and there was a different car in the driveway. A very nice, expensive looking car. X-Ray guessed that this must be Mr. Muldoon’s vehicle. He went up to the door, checked the prompt sheet he had on his phone, and knocked.


After a few seconds, Mrs. Muldoon answered, and said, “Oh, hello, detective! My husband is right in here. He just got off the phone. Come in, come in!”


X-Ray went into the house, and found the inside of the house to be as greatly furnished as the outside of it. It contained a piano, a chandelier, a nice set of chairs in the sitting room, a big, flat screen TV, and a staircase leading up to a second floor. “Nice house,” he said in English, before remembering that Mrs. Muldoon couldn’t understand him.


X-Ray followed Mrs. Muldoon in and went with her to the dining room table. Sitting there was a water Agori who could only be presumed to be Mr. Muldoon, eating a sandwich. Mrs. Muldoon introduced X-Ray to her husband, saying, “Barry, this is, eh… what’s your name again?


“My name is Xavier Raymond,” said the teen, in his best Agori. Mr. Muldoon scoffed, and went back to eating. X-Ray put away his phone, having memorized the questions and introductory phrases on the way. “I’ve been hired by your wife to investigate the vandalism which occurred on your property.”


Mr. Muldoon glanced up with a scowl and said, “What do you mean, scandalism? Is that even a word? Are you some kind of rag reporter, trying to bring trouble on an honest man? Lisa, who is this?”


X-Ray was flustered. He must have gotten some words wrong. “No, vandalism,” he said, making sure he had just the right words. “I understand that somebody set your car on fire and smashed up your wife’s garden.”


Mr. Muldoon stood slack jawed, and then stood up, standing just a little shorter than X-Ray, and said to him, “You do not get to talk about my wife that way, you stuck up, self-righteous—”


“I’m sorry sir!” said X-Ray, back peddling. He started apologizing, lapsing back into English, managing to get out, “I didn’t mean to say anything about your wife! I’m only trying to help you!”


Suddenly, Mr. Muldoon stopped sputtering, and glanced over at his wife. “Lisa, this guy speaks English?” Mrs. Muldoon shrugged. Mr. Muldoon then turned to X-Ray, and said, in perfect English, “Well, why didn’t you just say so?”


X-Ray gaped. “You speak English, sir?”


“Of course I do!” said Mr. Muldoon. “I’m a city building inspector. I’ve got to know English to talk to people all over the city.” He then said, “Now, how many I help you?”


A wave of relief passed over X-Ray as he switched on his recording device and said, “Alright, sir, what I mean to communicate was that I’m a private investigator hired by your wife to investigate the vandalism of your wife’s garden and car. Do you know of anyone who might have a reason to threaten you?”


“Not that I know of,” said Mr. Muldoon with a laugh. “Like I said, I’m a city building inspector. What harm could I do?”


X-Ray nodded, jotting down notes on his notepad. As he looked up, a thought occurred to him. A nice house with nice things in it. A nice car in the drive way. Overnight business trips. A building inspector, able to afford all this? thought X-Ray. I think not.


“We traced the fingerprints found on Mrs. Muldoon’s plastic flamingo,” said X-Ray, choosing to be cautious. “We found them to belong to a small time thug named Krua, who said that he was hired by a guy named Alexander to commit this act of vandalism. Do you know an Alexander? Big, Russian guy with long hair and a goatee?”


Mr. Muldoon shook his head quickly, before saying, “No, I don’t know anybody like that.” His pupils went to the upper left part of his eyes. “Maybe it was just a random act of violence.”


“Maybe…” said X-Ray, jotting down more notes. Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Muldoon had begun talking to each other in Agori. Fortunately, X-Ray was still able to understand them because of the Babel fish which he had stuck back in his ear.


“Barry, if you’re getting involved with those gangsters again,” said Mrs. Muldoon, “I’ll go to the police. It’s one thing when we get a threatening phone call, but my garden, and the car?”


“Lisa, I’m telling you, nothing bad is going to happen,” said Mr. Muldoon. “I’m telling you, I’ll pay off my debts just like last time, and then I’ll never gamble again.”


“Promises, promises!” said Mrs. Muldoon. “That’s what you said when you agreed to look the other way with that apartment building, and what happened? You went and gambled your hard-won bribe money away!”


Suddenly, a good idea struck X-Ray: use his eyepiece’s thermal imaging vision to scout around the house. Surreptitiously, he flipped on the device and innocently glanced around the house. Nothing… Nothing… Thornax launcher… Nothing… Nothing. He flipped off the device, disappointed. His eyepiece didn’t allow for the full range of powers provided by the Kanohi Akaku, the mask of X-Ray Vision. However, it did have a video recording device on it. He turned his eyepiece toward Mr. and Mrs. Muldoon, and activated the record function on the eyepiece.


“-and then there was the time at Lacey’s!” said Mrs. Muldoon. “Honestly, if you’re going to go to a Casino, why not go to the legal ones?” X-Ray jotted down a note, just in case. “Lacey’s…”


“Because I don’t want to drive down to the Bone Hunter reservation every time I want to have some fun!” said Mr. Muldoon. “What part of saving money on gas don’t you understand?”


“Barry, you know what huge risks you’re taking, doing what you do!” said Mrs. Muldoon, practically yelling in Mr. Muldoon’s face. “Living like we do won’t matter much if the same people you helped garner money from are knocking down our door trying to get it back!”


“Relax, relax already! I’m meeting Fyodor tonight to make the final payment, and then I’m swearing it off for good. Then it will just be back to same old same old.”


C’mon, show me the money… thought X-Ray.


“These Mafiya punks can’t get by without me,” said Mr. Muldoon, putting a hand on his wife’s shoulder. “As long as I’m covering their butts, they can’t do a thing in this town.”


Bingo. X-Ray cracked a smile.


Unfortunately for Mr. Muldoon, Mrs. Muldoon said, “I wish I could believe that, Barry.”


“You stupid—”


The argument soon devolved into a flurry of vicious insults, no doubt stemming from the accumulated slights and annoyances of the last fifteen years. X-Ray stood silently by the quarrelling spouses, patiently waiting for them to let up. Finally, Mrs. Muldoon broke off the conflict and left the room, fuming. This left X-Ray and Mr. Muldoon standing alone.


Mr. Muldoon turned to X-Ray and said, “Eh, Mr. …Raymond, is it?”


“Yes, sir.”


“Yes, Mr. Raymond. I’m sorry that you went to all this trouble for such a minor infraction.” Mr. Muldoon chuckled and said, “You know what the wife can be like.” X-Ray only nodded placidly. “Anyhow, what will your bill be?”


X-Ray quickly calculated the amount, and said, “Two-hundred dollars, plus expenses, amounting to a total of $215.”


“You don’t say,” said Mr. Muldoon, going over to a drawer and pulling out a checkbook and pen. He jotted out a check and handed it to X-Ray. “That should cover your trouble. Sorry to waste your time on such a trivial matter. We’ll inform the authorities of the car damage, thank you.”


“No problem, sir,” said X-Ray. “I’ll be going then. Good day, Mr. Muldoon.”


“Good day, Mr. Raymond,” said the middle aged jungle Agori, smiling. X-Ray didn’t much like that smile. He turned and headed out the door, and passed the nice, expensive looking car, and started down the sidewalk. It was time to head back to the office.

* * *


Dr. Mill took a sip of his coffee, and looked at Nobody. “So,” he said, “last week, you said that you were concerned that your condition might endanger your job security?”


“Yes, doctor,” said Nobody, bowing his head. “But above all, I just want to get my mask working again. It was doing fine until a couple of days ago, and now I can’t get it to work at all. My physician said it was psychological or something.”


“I see…” said Dr. Mill, taking notes. “This may be serious, Urban. Though cases such as yours are extraordinarily rare, those documented in Toa such as yourself have experienced loss of the ability to use mask powers upon the changing of identities.”


“It wasn’t like that before,” said Nobody. “When I’m Urban— when I’m me, I mean, I didn’t have any trouble reading other people’s thoughts. Ha, I actually had trouble not hearing other people’s thoughts constantly, and had to take a class to learn to get it under control.” Dr. Mill continued to jot down notes. Nobody sighed, and then said, “But when I’m Nobody, I... I literally become someone else entirely. I’m quirkier, more amiable, I suck at fighting. But I can still use my mask powers.” Nobody shook his head, and then said, “I just don’t know what I’ll do if my boss finds out about this. I’ll get booted out on a Section 8 in a minute, if they don’t arrest me for lying about my medical records.”


“My advice remains simply this,” said Dr. Mill, looking sage. “Tell your supervisor the truth, and try to work through it with him. Remember, your mental health is more important than any job.”


“But it’s not just a job!” said Nobody. “The Order is my whole world. I get to travel around, kick bad guy butt, and be a hero. What more could a guy want?” Dr. Mill smiled kindly, and was about to say something, but Nobody continued. “But you know what?” he said. “It’s not just that. Even more important than all of that stuff are all the people I’ve met, who have become my surrogate family after... everything that happened to me. Jerbraz. Trinuma. Johmak. Mazeka. Thomob and Tobduk even. Even if I was stuck with a desk job, I’d still have all the guys there to work with. I’m an agent through and through, and I always will be.” Nobody chuckled, and said, “But at least I get paid to watch X-Ray’s back. That guy may be a total knucklehead sometimes, but he’s also one of the coolest, hippest, smartest, nicest, and bravest guys I know, and I’d follow him through the gates of—”


“Eh, Urban,” said Dr. Mill, “I beg your pardon for interrupting, but our time is up for today. Let us meet again next week. Same time?”


“Uh… yeah, that will be good,” said Nobody, rising.


He shook Dr. Mill’s hand, said his farewell, and walked out the door. He collected his utility belt and sword, before heading out the door. He made his way out of the building, walking to the train station. Nobody knew that he had to get back to the EB before X-Ray began to get restless. As he stood in line to buy his ticket, he took out his cell phone and called X-Ray. Four rings later, all he got was an answering machine.


“Hi, X here,” said the recording. “I can’t get back to you right now, but please leave a message.”


Nobody frowned under his mask. That was odd. X-Ray always made sure to answer his phone. Let’s try Mazeka’s number. He dialed Mazeka, and on the second ring, he got an answer. “Mazeka here,” said the Ko-Matoran.


“This is U- eh, Nobody,” said Nobody. “Can I talk to X-Ray? He’s in the break room, and he’s not answering his phone.”


“No, he isn’t here,” said Mazeka. “I’m there right now. …Wait, shouldn’t you be with him?”


Oh no… “Uh, everything’s fine, Maz,” said Nobody. “Goodbye!” He put the cell phone back on his belt, and quickly bought a ticket to Westside. He had to get back to the office.


The train ride was hard on his nerves, his fingers gripping his sword feverishly. If X-Ray had tried investigating the Fe-Metru bratva on his own… If Mr. Muldoon was really mobbed up… He didn’t want to think about that. Finally, the P.A. system said, “Arriving at Westside Station. Prepare to disembark.”


Nobody jumped out of his seat and ran to the front of the car, shouldering past other passengers and dashing out onto the platform. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him, all the way to Ballard Street, where their office building was. He ran through the doors, up the stairs, and finally, he reached the office suite (If it could be called a suite). Nobody fumbled with his key as he struggled to get the door unlocked, and when he did, he flung it open. He froze, dropping his sword. It audibly clattered to the ground.


“No… No! No!”


:akaku: X-Ray :akaku:

Edited by X-Ray

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Oh no!


Nobody's troubles are unique. You don't see many BZP comedies where one of the main characters needs a psychiatrist. Hope X-Ray is okay. Bonus points for the Babel Fish.


Unbreakable Black Kopaka Sword of Awesomeness

That's so tacky and lame, it's amazing.

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Let's see here... holy nuts, three months since the last post? Man, I've got to get back to this! Here's a long overdue chapter 9, and it's extra long too! Thank you, loyal readers for your support!


Chapter Nine: Captive Hearts


“It’s all my fault.”


“No, no, don’t blame yourself.”


Nobody shook his head, standing up from his spot at the bench outside of the office low-rise. A Fe-Metru Police Department officer stood by the front door, looking stern. Investigators were examining the ransacked but otherwise empty room that Nobody had found an hour earlier, while Mazeka interviewed Nobody outside.


“But it is my fault,” said Nobody, adjusting his cloak. “It was my duty to keep an eye on X, and I flagrantly misplaced my obligation.”


Mazeka kept his notepad in hand, carefully writing on it. “Let’s start from the beginning,” he said. “Why did you leave X-Ray at the EB in the first place?”


Nobody sighed. Might as well get it over with. “I had an… appointment,” he said. “A very important, personal appointment, that I had to have, and I needed a place to park X-Ray until I could take care of it.”


“Why didn’t you just call in a personal day so we could schedule a replacement for you?” asked Mazeka. He thought for a moment, and said, “Unless, or course, you knew your reasons for a personal day would be denied by your supervisor…” Mazeka gave Nobody a knowing grin, and said, “So, was she hot?”




“What?” said the Ko-Matoran. “I’m just saying, we all know that you haven’t been able to get yourself a girl in centuries—”


“That’s not why I needed an appointment!” said Nobody. He stood and started pacing. “Honestly, I don’t know how much of more these jejune, sophomoric jibes I can take! I hate, I absolutely detest—”


“Okay, okay, calm down, Nobody!” said Mazeka, waving his hands. “If it wasn’t a date, then why did you need a personal day?”


Nobody stared Mazeka in the eye, and said, “I had to go to the doctor.”


Mazeka cocked his head to the side. “The doctor? Why didn’t you just say so? I’m sure your supervisor would have allowed it.”


“Not the cough and migraine kind of doctor,” said Nobody. “A different kind of doctor. You know… a shrink.”


Mazeka gaped, before saying, “Well, that… that’s something. Um, for what, may I ask?”


“None of your business!” said Nobody. “Now are we going to stand on this street all day, or are we going to find X?!”


“Nobody! Mazeka!”


The two OMN agents turned at the sound of their names, to find Deputy Director Thomob approaching with his retinue of aides and bodyguards. The sapphire armored being had arrived in a Cadillac and was dressed in a nice suit.


“Wait a second,” said Nobody, “why’s your armor blue? Didn’t the narrator say in chapter 2 that it was, quote, ‘emerald’?”


“I repainted it,” said Thomob, smiling behind his mask. “It doesn’t help that the author can’t keep track of what color it is.” Thomob’s eyes narrowed as he approached Nobody, and said to him, “Speaking of which, I’m here because I heard X-Ray’s gone missing. What’s the situation?”


Nobody glanced behind him at the low-rise, before looking back at Thomob. “It’s a long story.”


* * *

X-Ray woke up with a start, a bucket of cold water having been dumped on his head. He glanced around, gasping in shock. He was in a darkened room, sitting in an uncomfortable chair with his arms bound behind him with duct tape. A glaring light shined in his face, and a table was set up in front of him. A swarthy brute stood in front of him, looking menacing. Beside him stood the tall, husky, longhaired man from before, holding a now empty bucket. Alexander.


X-Ray gulped, and struggled to keep a cool head, a difficult thing to do with the throbbing headache pounding inside his skull. The last thing he remembered was these two breaking into his and Nobody’s office space, and someone jamming a needle into his neck. He hated needles.


“Let’s get down to business,” said Alexander’s partner, walking up next to X-Ray. “I’m Mikhail, and you are going to tell us what you know about our operation.”


X-Ray looked him in the eye, and, resisting the urge to tell Mikhail to relocate to a particularly nasty destination in the Matoran Universe, instead said, “No, thank you.”


Mikhail grabbed him by the hair and got in his face, saying, “That wasn’t the answer I was looking for.” He tightened his grip on X-Ray’s hair. “Understand. We do not play flipping games.”


X-Ray bit back a smile. Mikhail’s use of a euphemism instead of an actual profanity reminded him that he, not Mikhail, was still in control of the situation, if only on a purely metatextual level. “I’ve got nothing to say to you,” said X-Ray. His scalp was beginning to hurt.


Mikhail released X-Ray, and took a step back. He then said, “Let’s start from the beginning. You were caught consorting with an asset of our organization, and your partner ran into Alexander here at Gold Harbor.” He paced back and forth, never breaking eye-contact with X-Ray. “Comrade Muldoon then called to let us know that a pair of amerikanskiy detectives were snooping around his house, talking to his wife. And now, we have you here.”


Mikhail leaned on the table, leering at X-Ray, and said, “If you cooperate, and tell us what you know about our operation, and who is on to us, and how much the police know, then maybe we can work this out. Together.”


X-Ray considered his interrogator’s words, and then, abruptly, laughed. “Pretending you’re my friend?” said X-Ray. “Typical interrogation tactic. Let me guess, ex-KGB?”


Mikhail only smiled back, and said, “I was formerly employed by that organization. Now I am part of a different organization.” Alexander remained in the shadows, silent.


“You mean, ‘organizatsiya’, correct?” said X-Ray, daring to make a sneer. He was rewarded with a blow to the face by Mikhail.


“Curses!” said Mikhail, massaging his hand. He had hurt his hand on X-Ray’s eyepiece. Regaining his composure, he then said, “You have a smart mouth.” X-Ray noticed that Alexander was writing something on a piece of paper. “But let’s see how if that holds up after we’re through with you.” He went over to another corner of the darkened room, where X-Ray could barely make out another table. It was too dark for him to make out what was on it, but he could guess. He didn’t like what came to mind.


X-Ray breathed in deeply, and then exhaled. He needed to find a way to alert Nobody to where he was. His hands were bound, and shouting for help was out of the question, but he did have one thing: his eyepiece. It had deactivated when X-Ray was drugged unconscious, but Mikhail’s blow had inadvertently turned it back on. Nothing like a good old booting up, thought X-Ray. And now, the eyepiece was beginning to turn back on. It came online, bringing up the HUD in X-Ray’s field of vision.


Mikhail turned back to X-Ray, coming back into the light, holding… a feather? “Now, as you amerikanskiy say,” said Mikhail, “’We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.’” X-Ray eyed the feather, and thought, We’re in a children’s comedy. Figures.


The Russian put the feather back on the other table, and said to X-Ray, “We’ll give you time to consider your plight, and then we’ll come back. Perhaps you will be felling a bit more… chatty then. If not…” He glanced back at the table. “This isn’t the only thing I have back there.”


The two walked out of the room, slamming the door behind them. X-Ray immediately began running through his eyepiece’s computer, going to the email app. Unfortunately, wherever he was, there was no WiFi.


“Dangit!” said X-Ray. So much for that idea. But then another one occurred to him: Thermal imaging vision. He scanned the walls, trying to see through them. What he saw mildly surprised him. He saw that beyond the walls of his prison was a large space, where Mikhail and Alexander could be seen conversing. A shipping container inside of an abandoned warehouse, he thought. Straight out of Burn Notice.


X-Ray went back to the other apps in his eyepiece. Email was out, so that left the phone and text messaging. He mentally summoned the keypad, and began typing in the numbers to the local emergency hotline. 6… 1… 1…


“Six-one-one,” said the operator. “What is your emergency?”


“Oh, thank Mata Nui!” said X-Ray. “I’ve been kidnapped, but I have a cellular device that the kidnappers don’t know about. I need help!”


“Do you know where you are, sir?” This operator was a trained professional. Not breaking a sweat even for a minute, and she knew English too. That, or she had a Babel fish in her ear.


“Uh…” X-Ray suddenly realized that he had no idea where he was. “No, I don’t. But I know who my kidnappers are. My name is X-Ray, and their names are Alexander and Mikhail.”


“Okay, are they humans, Glatorian, Agori, Bone Hunters, or Skrall?”




“Okay, are they white, black, or Hispanic?”


“Uh, white. And they’re Russians, I think. Russian Mafiya.”


“Alright, good. Stay on the line, the police will be there soon.”


X-Ray would have wiped the sweat off his brow, but his hands were still bound behind him. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll try to keep giving you information as I can.”


“That would be great, sir, but don’t endanger yourself.”


“Yes, ma’am.”


* * *


“You what?


Thomob’s words hit Nobody like a jolt from a taser. He winced under his mask and prepared for the oncoming tirade. It came.


“Not only did you aid and abet the principal in engaging in dangerous activity,” said Thomob, “but you actually abandoned your post to go see a psychiatrist, without informing your supervisor?”


“I understand what it means to breach protocol, sir,” said Nobody. The two stood in the captain’s office of the local FMPD precinct, filled with the usual bustle of such a location. Also in attendance were Agents Johmak and Trinuma.


“Evidently,” said Thomob, pointing a finger in Nobody’s face, “you do not! Do you have any idea, any idea at all, what a danger it is to both you and your fellow agents to send you into the field when you do not have full possession of your faculties? Do you?”


Nobody only nodded, saying, “Yes, sir.”


“I would hope so,” said Thomob. He turned around, taking his turn at rubbing his face. The job was getting to him, and he was quickly becoming more and more enthusiastic about Helryx’s return. Finally, he turned around and said, “Okay, look, here’s the story. We are going to find X-Ray, and you’re going to step back from the situation.”


Nobody tried to interrupt, but Thomob raised a hand and said, “I know, you want to help find X-Ray, you two being friends and all, but you know as well as I do you that you are too emotionally connected to this situation. That, and you are not in full possession of your faculties. The only thing that I can allow you to do is to let us know about any information you might have about where X-Ray might be. Understood?”


Nobody nodded, knowing that the lanky green being was correct. “Yes, deputy-director.”


“I’m glad that you understand,” said Thomob. He turned to Johmak and Trinuma, the latter of whom was perfectly miserable trying to contort his large frame in a room designed for Glatorian and Toa. “Trinuma, I want you to coordinate search efforts with the FMPD, and I want every available uniform cop and agent knocking on doors. We need to find X-Ray before HYDRA does. Get in touch with the FMPD’s gang unit and organized crime task force, see if they know anything. Johmak, I need you to—”


Suddenly, Pohatu Nuva came in through the door. He was now Captain Pohatu Nuva, having helped found the Fe-Metru Police Department with Kopaka Nuva after the events of The Powers That Be. He was not at all annoyed that his comrades had commandeered his office.


“Deputy Director,” said Pohatu, “we’ve received a phone call on the 611 system. It’s from X-Ray!”


If Thomob was elated at this news, he didn’t show it. “Where is he?”


“We don’t know, he’s on a mobile device, but we’re trying to trace the call.”


“Get him on the phone with…” Thomob’s voice trailed off as he tried to decide who would be the best at maintaining conflict with X-Ray. Ordinarily, they would have a close relative or a family member do the job while the police monitored, but these were very different circumstances. “Mazeka,” he finally said. “Get him on the phone with Mazeka.”


“Mazeka’s leading the search on the streets,” said Johmak.


“Fine, you get on the phone with him,” said Thomob. “Set recording devices, keep him talking, you know the drill.” Johmak and Pohatu left the room, while Nobody, Thomob, and Trinuma remained.


Nobody said to Thomob, “Sir, if there’s anything I can do—”


“Save it, Nobody,” said Thomob. He leaned on the desk, sighed, and then looked the agent in the eye. “Nobody. Urban. I don’t know how the disciplinary review board is going to handle you after this fiasco, but even if you do get past them, you’ll be out on a Section 8 faster than you can say, ‘I am so dead.’”




“I’m sorry, but this is how things work. Whatever’s got you wrong in the head, we can’t afford having agents who don’t have it all together.” Thomob got up to leave the room, with Trinuma contorting his body to follow. Thomob stopped to look back at Nobody, and said to him, “Whatever happens to you, Nobody, you’ll have your OMN pension, and I know you’ve got a lot more skills than sneaking and skulking. You’ll be alright. Until this fiasco blows over, however, you’re on paid administrative leave. May Mata Nui be with you.” Thomob and Trinuma left the room, leaving Nobody to his own thoughts.


Great. I’m on paid administrative leave, he thought. I can’t do anything within official parameters. Nobody took his OMN badge off of his belt, and looked at it. What am I without this? He put the badge in his pocket, and headed for the lobby. I’m what I’ve always been. Nobody.


* * *


“Okay, we’re tracing the call,” said Johmak’s voice in X-Ray’s ear. “Stay on the line. Whatever you do, don’t cut off the signal.”


“Yes, ma’am,” said X-Ray. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He was beginning to tire, his eyepiece needed a new battery, and he had a terrible crick in his back. He remained sitting in the darkness, waiting for his captors to come back in and “torture” him. He was somewhat familiar with real world torture techniques, but in a children’s comedy such as this, he might be subject to far worse ordeals, such as being forced to watch Disney Channel sitcoms, or having to eat nothing but ham sandwiches.


The door then swung open, and Alexander came in, carrying a Styrofoam to-go box. “Dinner is served,” he said. He set the box on the table and opened it, revealing a nice helping of fried rice.


X-Ray took no time to think about how delicious the fried rice looked, and instead looked Alexander right in the eye. He whispered to himself, “Facial recognition, go.” He covered the command with a cough, while the eyepiece computer ran the program, comparing Alexander’s face with that of every criminal on record in Spherus Magna.


Alexander sat down with the food in the chair in front of the table, took out a fork, and proceeded to begin eating the food. “Thought the dinner was for you, eh?” he said, laughing.


“Ha ha ha,” said X-Ray.


“What’s going on? X-Ray?” said Johmak on the other end.


“Wow, I’m so hungry, I could eat a computer!” said X-Ray.


Alexander looked at him strangely, and then went back to eating the rice.


“Yeah, I’d eat so much it would criminal!” said X-Ray. C’mon Johmak, he thought, put two and two together. “You’d need a database to categorize just how hungry I am!”


“Shut up,” said Alexander. “I’m trying to eat in peace.”


X-Ray mentally fingered his way through the HUD’s facial recognition program. There were seven matches, three of whom were named Alexander. Narrowing it down from there, there was only one who matched this Alexander’s appearance. Alexander Babikov. His current address, rap sheet, and other pertinent data were all there. X-Ray only knew of one person he could send the information to. It was the only phone number he had. He copied the screenshot, cut and pasted it into a text message, and sent it.


“I hope that nobody tries to serve me something spicy!”


Alexander glared at him heavily, saying, “Look, I want you to be quiet. I have been instructed not to kill you, and if you disturb my lunch, I will not kill you. I will only break—”


“—dance?” said X-Ray. He used Alexander’s momentary confusion to scan the mobster’s dinner. With Gordon Ramsey vision.


A voice audible only to him, in a British accent, said, “This dish is flipping awful. How anyone could allow it down their flipping throat is a secret upon which the gates of Karzahni are built. That place that made it, Lao’s Restaurant, is the worst Chinese restaurant in Fe-Metru!”




* * *

Nobody was on his way out of the Fe-Metru police station, when his cell phone beeped. He had a text message. At first, he thought he’d ignore it. But he suddenly realized that there was only one person who had his private number who would send him a decidedly unsecure text message.


Mata Nui… X-Ray!


He dug his phone out of his satchel, and quickly checked his text messages. He had two text messages, one of which was a screenshot of a file from the Spherus Magna Criminal Database, and another was a place. Lao’s Restaurant.


Nobody bolted back to the office, flashing his badge through security, until he got back to Pohatu’s office.


“Captain Nuva!” he said to the Toa of stone, who was at his desk. “I just got some text messages from X-Ray! He sent me a screenshot of a file from the SMCD, and the name of a Chinese restaurant. I think he’s trying to help us find him!”


Pohatu nodded, and said, “Let’s see them.” He picked up his phone, and said, “Get the D.D. of the OMN in here.” He put the phone down and turned back to Nobody, taking the agent’s phone from him. “Let’s see here…”


* * *

“No! No! Stop!” said X-Ray, making a futile struggle to close his eyes. It was horrible. It was awful. It was Disney television.


Alexander had reported his strange behavior to Mikhail, who decided to go right on to torture. In this case, he was forcing X-Ray to watch certain Disney channel sitcoms which shall not be named. X-Ray writhed in pain, he cried, he wailed, he screamed. Nothing helped.


“All this can be stopped, you realize,” said Mikhail, leaning over the table while the television played in the background. “Tell us what you know of your operation, and your suffering will end. Are the police onto us? Who told you where to find Alexander? What else do you know?”


X-Ray took a deep breath, looked Alexander right in the face, and said, “Go to Karzahni, dirtbag.”


Mikhail nodded, and picked up a remote control, turning up the volume of the television. “Enjoy the show,” he said. He turned to leave.




Mikhail stopped, and turned to face X-Ray. “Have you changed your mind, Mr. Raymond?”


X-Ray panted, and then said, “Yeah, I’m ready to tell you everything. Everything I know.”


Mikhail smiled, and turned off the television. He walked over to X-Ray, and said, “Start from the beginning.”


X-Ray got his breath back, and summoned his composure. He then began singing. “Rorschach and Deadpool! A nut and a fool!”


Mikhail blinked. “What?”


“He’s a mental case. Music’s not his thing. So I wrote the theme! I’m so talented! Copyright Deadpool! Copy and I’ll sue! I think that the song should end right here!”




Mikhail, having learned his lesson, had punched X-Ray with his right hand. Being a lefty, it was slightly less severe than his previous punch, but had succeeded in giving X-Ray a nice black eye. “Quit wasting my time!” he said, his voice contorted into a snarl. He seethed, and stepped back to converse with his partner in Russian. X-Ray chanced a smile. All he had to do was stall until Nobody and company could pull a big dang heroes moment.


Mikhail and Alexander finally left the interrogation room, without explanation. X-Ray wished for only a moment that he had Hydraxon’s enhanced hearing. Granted, he would have liked to have anything from Hydraxon right now, such as weapons, fighting skills, armor, tracking abilities, stealth, general awesomeness. But enhanced hearing would at least help him hear what was going on behind the outer walls of his prison.


I’m gonna have to find Hydraxon or Mazeka or somebody and ask him to train me, thought X-Ray. And then, he thought, C’mon, Nobody. Get here quick!


* * *

“Okay people, we’ve got it!”


Pohatu stood in a briefing room with a veritable army of FMPD officers and detectives and OMN agents. They consisted of MU inhabitants, Spherus Magnans, and humans. Thomob, Johmak, and Trinuma were present.


“We’ve received messages from X-Ray indicating who his captors are and where he might be,” said Pohatu, pointing to a picture of Alexander Babikov on the board. “Alexander Babikov is a bro in the Russian mob. He’s got no current warrants out for him, and his current address is listed in the Little Kiev neighborhood. His known associates include Mikhail Bogolomov and Ivan Krupin, who both have outstanding warrants. The bottom line here is that if we find Babikov, we find X-Ray.” Pohatu had made sure to fill the search squad with his best and most experienced officers, no mean feat considering that the FMPD was barely two years old.


“We’ve also got the name of this Chinese restaurant,” said Pohatu, continuing, “Lao’s Restaurant. It’s near the warehouse district, and from what we’ve got from Agent Nobody, X-Ray used Gordon Ramsay vision to ascertain where a dish of food he saw was from. It is our belief that he is somewhere in the vicinity of this restaurant. I want Pelagia and Sally out on the streets, looking for X-Ray. Check and double check every angle, leave no stone unturned. The goal is to find Babikov, and then we’ll find X-Ray. Use X-Ray’s case files that we were provided with by Agent Nobody, and find Barry Muldoon too. I want him for questioning yesterday!


“Uh, sir,” said a human detective, Kent Lawrence, “don’t we need to get a warrant to search Babikov’s residence?”


“It’s called probable cause, rookie,” said Pohatu. “Any other questions?” He saw Pelagia raise her hand. The former Ga-Matoran was now a full-fledged Toa of water, with a mask of X-Ray vision which made her the perfect fit to lead the Missing Persons Unit. “Yes, Pelagia?”


“Captain, Sally was fired last month.”


“What?” said Pohatu. He needed Sally, a Toa of psionics, to help with the search by scanning the area for X-Ray. This required a search warrant, but Pohatu wasn’t about to be bothered with bureaucracy. “Who did that, and why?”


“…You did, sir. She used her powers to get her pals out of parking tickets, was caught drinking Mountain Dew on the job, and parked in your spot. Twice.”


Pohatu took off his mask and massaged his temples, and then put his mask back on. “Great. What do we do now? We need a Toa of psionics!”


Thomob, who had been sitting through the entire speech, suddenly had an idea. He shuddered at the thought of it, but it was the only thing to do. He said, “We can use Agent Nobody. He’s ready, willing, and able to help.”


“Get him in here!” said Pohatu. “He’ll have to do.”


When Nobody was summoned from out the hallway, he was briefed on their proposed order of operations. After Thomob informed him that he was no longer on administrative leave, Nobody said, “What do you want me to do?”


“Lead a team to the area around Lao Restaurant,” said Pohatu, “and conduct a mental scan of the area. How far is the range of your Mask of Telepathy?”


“Pretty far,” said Nobody. “I could scan pretty far around… if I could rely on it.”


“What do you mean, ‘if you could rely on it?’” said Pohatu, looking a bit cross. “We need you now!


“It’s my Section 8,” said Nobody. “It does stuff with my mask powers.”


“Perfect,” said Pohatu. “Typical Fed.”


“I can use it now!” said Nobody. “Look, think of a number between one and one hundred.”


Pohatu didn’t say anything.


“It’s 47, right?”


Pohatu raised an eyebrow under his mask. “Yes…” He then realized that all of the other cops and agents were staring at the three of them. “What are you starring at?” he shouted to them. “Move out! You have your assignments! Pelagia and her uniforms, stay here!” The cops and agents beat a hasty retreat out of the briefing room, heading to their various assignments.


Once the briefing room was clear, Pohatu took aside Thomob and Nobody, and said, “The three of us, we’ll take the warehouse area search. We’ll just have to make do with… uh, Nobody…? Yeah, with Nobody here. We will stay updated with the rest of the team via the radio.” He turned to Thomob, and said, “You know your way around a weapon?”


“I can handle a Midak Skyblaster pretty well,” said the deputy director.


“We can get you one of those,” said Pohatu. He turned to the other cops, and said, “Right, gear up, boys and girls. We’re about to go on a search and rescue!”


Nobody, Thomob, Pohatu, Pelagia, and the two other beat cops (one male Jungle Agori and a human woman) headed to the armory to outfit themselves with their gear. The armor was bulletproof, and effective against hardened Thornax, but was of minimal deterrent to the various oversized and hyper-destructive weapons of the Matoran Universe, not to mention explosive Thornax. Some human city council-members had suggested banning such destructive devices, but the ever-practical Agori and MU inhabitant majority had defeated the notion, on the grounds that such a measure would merely move such weapons onto the black market, and into the hands of criminals. The law abiding citizenry would be left unarmed.


“Tell X-Ray to get off his soapbox already so we can rescue him!” said Nobody, annoyed. “Honestly, I know he means well, but Mata Nui, it totally distracts from the plot!”


“Who are you talking to?” said Thomob.


“The narrator, dangit!”


To be concluded.


:akaku: X-Ray :akaku:

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And here... we... go. Prepare to be amazed!


Chapter 10: Case Closed


Detective Kent Lawrence turned around to face Barry Muldoon. They were in a brightly lit police interrogation room, and on the other side of a two-way mirror, Lawrence’s partner, an ice Agori named Detective Heklar, listened in.


“Let’s go back to the beginning,” said Lawrence. “Your wife told us that after her garden and car were vandalized, she hired a pair of private investigators to find out who did it. You find out about it after you come home from a, ahem, ‘business trip.’ Now, when Raymond interviews you and his wife, you don’t like it too much.”


“Of course not!” said Muldoon, the water Agori squirming in his chair. “I take serious offense to my private life being investigated by strangers!”


“Well, it’s about to be investigated some more,” said Lawrence. “After Raymond left, you called your friend Alexander Babikov.” Lawrence paused briefly, before saying, “Care to fill me in, Mr. Muldoon?”


“I have no idea who you’re talking about,” said Muldoon. “All I know is that I want my lawyer, and I’m not telling you squat until I get one.” A bead of sweat fell down his forehead.


“I see,” said Lawrence. He made it look like he was going to walk away. “But I’ll have you know that a lawyer won’t do you much good. Your pal Babikov is already ratting you out down the hall, and we’ve got the other guy… Bogolomov, isn’t it? Yeah, we’ve got Bogolomov here too, and he’s spilling the beans on you too. Just might want to think about that.” With that, Lawrence left the sweating Muldoon in the room, making his exit.


Lawrence went over to the viewing room with Heklar, who was talking with Mazeka. “What’s your angle?” said Heklar, who made for a very odd sight, being an Agori clad in a suit and tie.


“He’ll crack in a minute, believe me,” said Lawrence. “You just go in there in another half hour and play good cop. What have we been able to determine from X-Ray’s case notes?”


“Apparently,” said Heklar, “X-Ray thought that Muldoon was working with the Russians by taking bribes to give their buildings a free pass on inspection. The NIS white collar crime division was actually investigating him for it before this thing happened. Anyway, Muldoon’s a city building inspector, and we were able to get a warrant to examine his financial records.” Heklar took a case file off of a desk and flipped through it. He came to a page and said, “Yeah, here. Muldoon’s records show money being transferred to his bank account from a maze of offshore accounts, which our forensic accountants managed to trace back to one Kliment Shevchenko. ‘Kliment Shevchenko,’ it turns out, is a known alias for…”


“Bogolomov!” said Lawrence.


“Right on the money, rookie. Now all I have to do is go in there and play good cop, get Muldoon to spill the beans, as it were, and then we work out a plea deal with his lawyer and the D.A.”


“Just like on Law and Order!


“Yeah, exactly like on Law and Order!


At this point, Mazeka spoke up, saying, “Excuse me, detectives, your plan is all well and good, but it hinges almost entirely on getting Muldoon to roll on his boss. If I know anything about the Russian Mafiya, Muldoon fears Bogolomov and the other bros more than he fears us. And we’ll never be able to turn Bogolomov and his thugs.”


“You let us worry about Muldoon,” said Heklar. “This kidnapping is our jurisdiction and we’ll find him. The NIS might step in later, but this is our town, we were here first, and we’ll find this kid.”


Mazeka shrugged and said, “If you say so. Still though, you’ve gotta admire the detail that X-Ray went into when he had us describing the mob activities.”


“What” said Heklar, enormously confused.


“I know, right?” said Mazeka. “He’s got a great premise here built on a solid foundation, but he needs to capitalize on the contrast between the Bionicle world and the human world. Otherwise it’s just a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy knock-off crossbred with Burn Notice.”


“Forget about metatextual commentary!” said Lawrence. He then said to Heklar, “Find Captain Nuva or whoever the heck’s in charge right now and tell them we’re close to breaking Muldoon. Then get Muldoon’s lawyer.”


“Okay,” said Mazeka, waving his hands. “You do that. I’ve got to get back to the EB to let our people know what’s going on. We’ve got to get all available agents on this case, though I have a feeling it’s going to be wrapped up soon.”


“What makes you say that?” said Heklar.


Mazeka smiled, and said, “Didn’t you read the title of the chapter?”


“…Right,” said Heklar. “Well, I’d get Captain Nuva, but there’s only one problem.”


“What’s that?” said Lawrence.


“He’s out looking for X-Ray with his special team.”


*          *          *


Nobody scanned the area with his Kanohi Suletu, searching for X-Ray. So far, all he could find was a bunch of empty warehouses. And really, that was all there was in the warehouse district. He was currently grouped with Pohatu and the human uniform cop, while Pelagia, Thomob, and the other Agori uniform had gone to cover the other half of the district. They had been searching for almost an hour by now, and daylight was running out.


Nobody wasn’t exactly sure how to interact with Pohatu. He had never spent much time with fellow Toa, hailing from the Northern Continent in the MU, where Toa were scarce. He hadn’t had anyone to teach him, except for a senile old iron Turaga who could barely help him to get his mask to work. Therefore, his lack of knowledge about the Toa Code had made him the perfect dupe for the OMN. He had been recruited by them as a Special Agent, “special” meaning that he was taken in for mildly unethical medical experiments. Krakua totally had it easy, he thought in hindsight. That’s where he had met Jerbraz and Tobduk, becoming fast friends with them even before the experiments. Of course, before he was officially inducted as an agent, he wasn’t Nobody. He was—




Nobody turned to Pohatu, surprised. “What did you say?”


“Urban,” said Pohatu. “Thomob called you Urban, Nobody. Is that your real name?”


“That’s classified,” said Nobody, his response almost automatic.


“If you say so,” said the Toa of stone. “Right, I’ll call in Pelagia and see if she’s got anything.” Pohatu turned to the human uniform cop, took her radio and said, “Detective 508, this is Captain Nuva. What’s the status of ongoing investigation, over?”


The radio crackled, and a reply came back: “Detective 508 to Captain Nuva. We ain’t found stuff. How’s it on your end?”


“The same, 508,” said Pohatu. “Keep searching, over.” Pohatu turned back to Nobody, and said to him, “What about you?”


“I’m just getting a lot of nothing,” said Nobody. “We’re mostly looking at abandoned warehouses tied to the chutes, with not a soul to occupy it. We’ve a got a few squatters here and there, only a few of them humans, and they’re not who we’re looking for.”


“We’ll keep looking,” said Pohatu. “Onua didn’t stop looking for Lewa when he went missing, and I didn’t stop looking for Gali back in Karda Nui. We won’t stop until we find X-Ray.”


“I’m honored to serve with you, Captain.”


The group continued on, walking down the sidewalk, knocking on whatever doors they could find. Without search warrants, Pohatu couldn’t use his Kanohi Nuva to phase through whatever he wanted, and Nobody’s use of a Kanohi Suletu to actively scan for minds was stretching it. Then again, X-Ray’s messages could probably argued as probable cause, so they were in the clear.


Suddenly, Nobody found something. He stopped, Thomob bumping into him from behind. Nobody ignored that and concentrated. He could hear… thoughts. In… Russian? And other thoughts… in English!


“I’ve got it!” said Nobody. He rushed ahead of Pohatu, shouting, “The abandoned auto assembly plant on 43rd and Spiro! Come on!”


“Can you confirm it?” said Pohatu, already readying his Kakama.


“I can!” said Nobody. “It’s Babikov, Bogolomov, and X-Ray! We need to hurry!”


“Nobody, wait!” said Pohatu. “I’m calling for backup!” He turned to the uniform and said, “Sandoval, call it in. We need backup at 43rd and Spiro now!


The uniform called for backup, while Pohatu ran to catch up with Nobody. “I need you to slow down!” said Pohatu, running alongside the other Toa. “You’re going to get yourself killed going in alone like that. Besides, you’re still on administrative leave, I can’t let you participate in the raid.”


“But we need to get there now!” said Nobody. “They’re going to kill him!”


*          *          *


Mikhail Bogolomov was not having a good week.


It all began when that weasel Muldoon had called to complain about the feds investigating him for bribery, and how he couldn’t “help” anymore. (In this case, “help” meant not properly inspecting the buildings they were using to hide all of the contraband they were smuggling into Spherus Magna.) Mikhail, of course, was having none of that, and ordered Alexander to send him a message. A few days later, Alexander reported that a pair of Bionikl detectives had tracked him to Gold Harbor, but escaped when Alexander attempted to confront them.


Then Muldoon called to inform Mikhail that an amerikanskiy private detective had come to Muldoon’s house, investigating the “message” that Alexander had sent. Mikhail decided the problem needed to be taken care of now, and therefore got Alexander to go with him and “detain” the investigators. Unfortunately, they were only able to get the human detective, who they interrogated in the usual spot, and found nothing. And now… they were thinking.


“The American has resisted all of our interrogations,” said Mikhail to Alexander in Russian. “I have tried every trick in the book, and still he doesn’t break.”


“Perhaps he does indeed know nothing?” said Alexander. “Just like most amerikanskiy, they don’t have a thought in their empty heads but what’s on the internet.”


“No, he knows more than he’s letting on. We just can’t make him talk.”


Alexander looked very thoughtful. He was very thoughtful. He had a Ph.D in molecular biology. Then he said, “So what do you propose we do with him?”


“Simple,” said Mikhail. He took a drink from a hip flash full of Sprite. Then, he said, “He is no longer of use to us, so we dispose of him properly.”


“How appropriately vague for a children’s comedy,” said Alexander. “Let me guess. We [content censored for being too violent]?”


“No,” said Mikhail, “I was thinking something more along the lines of [content censored for being even more violent].”


“Perhaps, but have you considered [content censored for being downright unprintable]?”


“Hmm… Yes, that’s a good thought,” said Mikhail. “Thank you, Alexander. See to it at once.”


Alexander grinned, and took a knife out of his waistband. This was going to be fun… for him.


Before Alexander could execute what was undoubtedly a horrific and unspeakable act, Pohatu Nuva sped through the wall of the warehouse and rushed up at super-speed to the two, yelling, “Freeze!” He pointed his Midak Skyblaster in Mikhail’s face, the mobster staring down the weapon with a mixture of surprise and terror.


A moment later, Nobody phased through the floor, and stuck his sword up against Alexander’s throat. “My name is Nobody,” said Nobody. “You kidnapped my partner. Prepare to—”




Nobody laughed to himself, and briefly glanced at Pohatu, saying, “Relax, Captain, I was just going to say, ‘be arrested.’”


Unfortunately, Alexander used this brief moment of distraction to tackle Nobody to the ground, and began tussling with him. Nobody phased through the ground, and Alexander, who didn’t waste time being confused, ran with all this might towards door. Nobody phased through the floor and began chasing him, but as Toa Metru Onewa had once observed, Toa bodies are not generally built for speed.


Fortunately for Nobody, he needn’t have worried. The other entrance was kicked in by Thomob, toting a Shotgun of Coolness, with a bunch of other police officers behind him. Thomob pointed his weapon at Alexander and said, action movie style, “You seem to be in a hurry. How about a quick trip to jail?”


“Whoot!” said Pohatu. “That, my azure friend, was a great line!”


Everybody looked at Pohatu like he was the strangest person in the world.


“Err, I mean,” said Pohatu, “Sandoval, Pelagia! Arrest these two thugs! Search the place for X-Ray!”


The officers scrambled to obey their captain’s words, Pelagia and Sandoval putting the handcuffs on Mikhail and Alexander, who went away quietly. Thomob and Nobody, however, were more concerned with finding one other person.


“X-Ray!” shouted Nobody. He leaned against a shipping container that was sitting in the middle of the warehouse. “He’s got to be around here somewhere,” he said.


Then the penny dropped.


Realizing that X-Ray was in the shipping container, Thomob said, “Quick! Does anybody have a Mask of Strength or something?” Then he said, “Wait a minute, somebody get the keys off of those two!”


Once they finally got the container unlocked, Nobody got in and undid X-Ray’s bonds. “X! Are you okay?” said Nobody.


“I’m fine, Nobody,” said X-Ray. “Just one thing though…”


“What is that, X?”


X-Ray looked at him, haggard and weary, and said, “Let’s never do this again.”


*          *          *


A few hours later, X-Ray sat in a hospital bed, with some bandages around his head from the beating he had taken. Nobody sat at his side, talking to him.


“I can’t believe that what started as an investigation for petty vandalism turned into a kidnapping case involving the Russian mob,” said X-Ray. “I think that I let my influence from The Good Guys carry over into this comedy a bit much.” He readjusted his position in the bed and said, “So, what about you?”


“I’m on administrative leave,” said Nobody, “and then I’ve got a tribunal to go to.”


“A tribunal, huh?” said X-Ray. “For abandoning your post?”




“Sorry, Nobody. I mean, why are you being called before a tribunal?”


Nobody sighed, and said, “Well, for one thing, I, like you said, abandoned my post by leaving your side. I endangered you by letting you out of my sight.”


“Hey, Nobody, if there’s anyone to blame for that, it’s me. I’m the one who wanted to play Burn Notice.”


“I still had a responsibility to you, and I shouldn’t have allowed you to wind up in such a dangerous situation.” Nobody shifted nervously in his spot. He then continued, saying, “And then there’s… the other thing.”


“What, what other thing?” said X-Ray. He was slightly confused, but also curious. He hoped that Nobody wasn’t in any more trouble than he already was.


“I…” said Nobody. “I’m not right in the head. I left my post to go see a shrink.”


“You mean a psychiatrist?” said X-Ray. “Well, small wonder. You have a pretty stressful job. I’d imagine that a lot of people in your profession would have to go to a therapist every now and then.”


“No, it’s not like that,” said Nobody, shaking his head. “I didn’t go because I felt stressed or something. No, no. You see…” Nobody looked at the floor, and then made eye contact with X-Ray again. Very slowly, he said, “You see, I suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder. I have two personalities: Nobody and Urban. One is a docile, mild mannered bookworm, and the other is a grim, badbutt secret agent.


“I don’t know whether it has something to do with my transformation into a Toa all those centuries ago, or whether it just happened naturally, but the fact of the matters is that I’m going to be out on a Section 8 if I’m lucky, and court-martialed for hiding it this whole time at worst.”


There was a silence between the two friends. X-Ray pondered Nobody’s words. He hadn’t counted on this happening. He only wanted to diversify the characters in the strip a bit more, including people from a background of mental illness. On the other hand, this had caused Nobody to suffer. Still, he couldn’t simply banish Nobody’s problems at will with his author powers, as this would draw the ire of the readers, and the most basic principles of good writing.


Nobody, for his part, didn’t know what to do next. Getting kicked out of the OMN on a Section 8 wasn’t exactly the greatest way to present yourself to an employer, and there wasn’t a whole lot he could do about it. He would understand if the OMN decided to give him the sack, but he didn’t have a clue what would happen to him afterward. He’d probably get a pension, but that was about it. Good luck on getting a letter of recommendation for his next job too. If he was lucky, he might be able to get a job working for a security firm. If he was unlucky, he’d wind up living on the streets. In short, life was very uncertain for him at this point.


“So what do we do now?”


Nobody looked up at X-Ray, breaking free from his melancholy contemplations. “What?”


“I said, ‘So what do we do now?’”


Nobody sighed again, and said, “I have absolutely no idea.”


X-Ray smiled, and said, “I do.”


*          *          *


Two days later, X-Ray and Nobody found themselves in the Little Roxtus neighborhood. It was pretty much the same as when they had been there a few days before. Broken down store fronts, litter everywhere, graffiti on every other wall, all the standard stuff. They headed down the sidewalk, to a grungy looking house, and walked up to the door.


X-Ray took a deep breath. It had been his idea to come here, but he was still hesitant.


“You sure you want to do this?” asked Nobody.


“I’m sure,” said X-Ray. “I’m just kind of nervous.”

“Go on, I think it’s a great thing,” said Nobody. “Do it.”


X-Ray took another deep breath, walked up to the door, and knocked.


A few seconds later, an old, female Rock Agori answered the door. “Oh, hello,” she said. “It’s you two again. The police were already here to talk to Krua, and he’s not being charged because he’s testifying against the Russian mafia.”


“We’re not here about that,” said X-Ray, “but we would like to talk to Krua. Could we please come in?”


The woman thought for a moment, and said, “Okay, come in.” She led X-Ray and Nobody in through the door, and they sat on the grungy old couch in the grungy old living room, while the woman went down the grungy old hallway.


A moment later, she came back with Krua, and sat down in her grungy old chair. “What would you like to talk to my nephew about?” she said. Krua said nothing.


X-Ray cleared his throat, before addressing Krua, saying, “Krua, my partner and I wanted to invite you to a place where you can have a good meal, do whatever you feel, and hang out with all the guys.”


Krua looked puzzled at first. He then said, “What kind of place is that?”


X-Ray smiled, winked at Nobody, and said, “Ever heard of the YMCA?”


*          *          *


In a darkened chamber in the headquarters of the Obumbrati, the Shadowed One sat at the head of a table. His inner circle had convened, and they were not happy. Not only had they failed to accomplish much of anything during the entire story arc, but the snacks were late. However, they still had to have these meetings in order to show themselves to be a threat to the heroes.


“Chief Grant, status report,” said the Shadowed One to Guinevere Grant, his Intelligence Chief.


“Our agents have been tailing X-Ray and Nobody for some time without being detected,” said Grant. “So far, they have found that X-Ray and Nobody have gone into business as private detectives, and recently helped break up the Fe-Metru bratva’s drug trafficking operations.”


“I see,” said the Shadowed One. “What about the bratva’s other operations?”


“Their human trafficking arm is still operational,” said Grant. “Their weapons trafficking activities continue to thrive, but all other operations have declined about 23 percent.”


“Very good,” said the Shadowed One. He turned to Justin Beiber, and said, “So, Mr. Beiber, what exactly have you done to help us so far?”


“I…  I’ve made some rocking songs!” said Beiber. “And I’m ready to summon a vast army—”


“Yes, yes,” said the Shadowed One. “But where is this army?”


Beiber sat in silence, and said, “Well, um… I was busy, you see, with my new movie, and my music, and—”


“Clearly,” said the Shadowed One, “You have not been as productive as I had hoped. Though you still have significant clout on Earth, you have yet to produce an iota of fruit, as it were.” The Shadowed One put his hand over a button on his chair. “I therefore have no reason to retain your membership in the inner circle.”


Bieber’s eyes widened in terror. “No, my lord, no! Please! No! No—”


But it was too late. The Shadowed One pressed a button, and Bieber and his chair fell through a trap door into a darkened chasm, never to be heard from again.


“I’m glad we’re rid of him,” said Pridak. “His music drives me crazy.”


“He’s not dead,” said the Shadowed One. “That pit only leads to the gutter outside of this office building. My men with escort Mr. Bieber back to Earth. Besides, my daughter likes his music.”


The rest of the now Shadowed Six agreed with Pridak, but they were willing to bend to the will of the Shadowed One. “Who shall replace Bieber?” said Branar. “We need an army and weapons now.”


“I have a solution for that,” said the Shadowed One. “Our Chief of Personnel, Ancient, has negotiated a treaty of alliance with the Fe-Metru bratva. Their leader, Mr. Ivan Krupin, will be joining us.” The Shadowed One pushed another button at his spot, an intercom, and said, “Thelma, please buzz Mr. Krupin in.”


A moment later, the room’s door opened and a tall, lanky man with a thick, black mustache walked in. He wore a $300 dollar suit, and walked with a swagger. He did not look like the sort of man one trifled with.


“Gentlemen,” said the Shadowed One, “this is Mr. Ivan Krupin, leader of the Russian mafia in Fe-Metru. He is our newest member in the Shadowed Seven.”


Krupin nodded, and went over to where an attending, deaf Matoran had provided a new chair in Bieber’s old spot. He sat down, and leaned on the table.


“So, Mr. Krupin,” said the Shadowed One, “How may we work together for our mutual benefit?”


Krupin cleared his throat, and, in thickly accented English, said, “It is simple. Kill X-Ray.”


UP NEXT: A new story arc, a new mission, and a new character! Tune in next time for The Misadventures of Nobody (and X-Ray)!


:akaku: X-Ray :akaku:

Edited by X-Ray

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And now, without further ado...


Chapter 11: Brand New Day


Nobody sat in a small, comfortably heated room. Before him were three OMN officials who sat behind a table with microphones and notepads. Nobody also had a microphone, but he didn’t need it to amplify his clear, confident voice. It was hooked up to a recording device, along with the other microphones, for this was a tribunal. An internal affairs tribunal.


“State your name for record,” said Helena, the female, white armored OMN official heading up the tribunal.


“Toa Urban,” said Nobody.


“What is your codename?” said Helena. Her piercing eyes glowed fiercely from underneath her Great Komau.


“Nobody,” he said.


“Agent Urban,” said Helena, “why did you abandon your assignment to guard X-Ray?”


“I did it so that I could go see my psychiatrist,” said Nobody. He had long resigned himself to the fact that, one way or another, his condition would become a matter of agency record.


“Why did you go to see your psychiatrist?”


Nobody trotted out his carefully rehearsed answer. “I went to see my psychiatrist in order to continue my treatment for a certain mental disorder.”


Helena leaned away from her microphone and whispered something to the OMN official next to her, Monkaro. Monkaro was a brown armored being with a Kanohi Zath and a business suit. He was, like the other two, one of the innumerable petty bureaucrats working in the middle management of the OMN who had little experience with the practical side of things in the agency. But he did know the Order of Mata Nui Manuel of Rule and Regulations. And for the purposes of this hearing, that was enough.


Monkaro then spoke up, and said, “Agent Urban, what mental illness do you suffer from?”


“Dissociative Identity Disorder,” said Nobody. If Nobody’s answer confused the tribunal, they didn’t show it.


“Does this mental illness impede your ability to act as an agent of the Order of Mata Nui in any way, shape, or form?” said Helena.


“It depends,” said Nobody. “Right now, I’m in my base personality of Urban. My other personality, Nobody, is… unpredictable. Reckless. You see, the way DID works is that I could go to sleep one day, and wake up two weeks later with a new car and a severely reduced bank account. People like me who suffer from DID generally have no memory of their activities while in their other personalities. The only reason I know about my other personality is because X-Ray filled me in on the issue a little while ago.”


Helena and Monkaro leaned back to confer. Nobody readjusted his mask. He had worn his best business suit instead of his standard tattered gray cloak, but he now knew that any hope of making a good impression on these taciturn paper-pushers was useless.


So he waited.



*          *         *



X-Ray glanced up from his book at the door which Nobody had disappeared into an hour before. Beside him sat Mazeka, who had been filling in as his bodyguard until a new one could be assigned. It had only been a week since the kidnapping incident, but Mazeka was already beginning to grate on X-Ray’s nerves. If Nobody had been a control freak, Mazeka was a totalitarian dictator.


Mazeka has insisted on everything from wearing very uncomfortable bulletproof vests under their clothes to testing X-Ray’s mango smoothie for poison. Normally, X-Ray wouldn’t have minded such thorough measures to ensure his protection, but Mazeka was taking things ludicrously far.


Needless to say, X-Ray and Mazeka weren’t getting along well.


“That guy looks awfully suspicious,” said Mazeka, keeping an eye on an elderly human sitting across the hall, reading an old magazine.


“Mazeka,” said X-Ray. “First of all, that’s not a guy. That’s a woman. Secondly, what in the Great Beings’ name could be so suspicious about an elderly woman reading an old magazine?”


“We learned in psychological profiling class,” said Mazeka, “that one way that you can tell a potential threat is by their reading material.” He pointed to the old woman. “You see her?” he said. “That human is reading last month’s issue of Era Magazine. Why would she be reading last month’s issue?”


“Maybe because she wants to finish it before reading this month’s issue?”


“No. She’s plotting something, I just know it. Does she look like the type to wait until she’s done reading the previous month’s magazine to start reading the next one?”


X-Ray rolled his eyes, and said, “Whatever you say, Mazy.”


“That’s Agent Mazeka, if you please.”


“Fine then, Agent Mazeka if you please.”


Before their spat could escalate any further, X-Ray spotted Nobody exiting the room where the tribunal was being held. X-Ray immediately got up to go greet his friend. Nobody for his part looked absolutely glum.


“What’s the word, Nobody?” said X-Ray, trying his best to put on a jovial front.


“I’ve got a follow up hearing next week,” said Nobody. “They want me to see the OMN psychiatrist for an in-house evaluation. Those paranoid bureaucrats don’t trust anyones opinion which doesn’t have an OMN badge and paperwork filled out in triplicate next to it.”


“I hear you, brother,” said Mazeka. “The brass hasn’t been the same ever since Helryx fell off the map. Thomob is the only guy in the agency who seems to have a reasonable thought in his head.” Mazeka turned to walk with X-Ray and Nobody down to the elevator. They were currently on the EB’s forty-second floor, where the various offices were held. The OMN held offices on the fiftieth through the thirty-eighth floors, and they still weren’t doing anything with the other thirty-seven floors. Their new base downtown, however, would be up and running soon.


“So,” said Nobody, “I’ve been thinking.”


“About what?” said X-Ray.


“I’ve been thinking about where Helryx, Brutaka, and Axonn went,” said Nobody. “I mean, last we saw them in the serials, they were stuck in some tower over in Bota Magna. What’s to stop us from catching a plane there, hiking to the tower, and freeing them?”


X-Ray was about to reply, but he suddenly caught his breath and said, “I don’t think we’ll be needing to worry about that, Nobody.”


Nobody looked ahead to where X-Ray was looking, slacked jawed. He too lost all ability to suspend the lower part of his mouth.


Mazeka, for his part, only said, “Speak of the devil…”


Walking down the hall, in a slow walk of awesome, were Helryx, Axonn in a cast, and Brutaka wearing a Kanohi Hau. Though they looked different and battle scarred, they also looked more resolute, more alive, and more powerful than ever.


Inevitably, the two parties met in the hall. There was a silence.


Finally, Brutaka extended the first greeting by saying, “Wazzup, homies?”


“Helryx!” said Nobody, grabbing the ancient Toa of water in a tight hug. “You’re back!”


Helryx smiled, and said, “Normally, this would be a severe breach of protocol, but given the occasion, I’ll allow it.”


Meanwhile, X-Ray extended his hand to Brutaka, who promptly crushed X-Ray’s hand in his own mighty grip. “Glad to see you back, Brutaka,” said X-Ray. “And it is Brutaka, right? Or are you still under the influence of that antidermis stuff?”


“No, it’s totally me, bro,” said Brutaka. “Axonn and I have been in rehab for the last eight weeks, while the author and Helryx were trying to sort things out in the canon.”


“But I haven’t even met Helryx until now!” said X-Ray. “What do you mean, I and her were helping sort out things with the canon?”


Brutaka raised an eyebrow. “I said, Helryx and the author. You’re not the author, little man.”


X-Ray was momentarily perplexed, but then the realization hit him like a bolt of lightning. “You… you don’t mean… him, do you?”


“Yes, him. And her, and him too. And them as well.”


X-Ray’s eyes widened, and this mind exploded.


“Well, that… that’s great! This is awesome news! That is, if it is what I think it is. Is it? Because if it is, I totally want to know all the details. I mean, it may mean spoilers, but—”


Helryx shushed X-Ray and said, “Keep quiet! It’s supposed to be a secret!”


At the mention of the word “secret,” the entire hall briefly became hushed, before erupting back into activity at Helryx’s ensuing dirty look.


Helryx glanced around, and said, “Look, let’s get to Thomab’s office, and then we’ll talk there.”


The two Toa, the Matoran, the human, and the two titans walked back to Thomob’s office on the fiftieth floor. They had to walk up the stairs because they all couldn’t fit into the elevator. But X-Ray needed the exercise, and it was good for all of them anyway.


When they finally got to Thomob’s office, Helryx turned to the other five and said, “Okay people, listen. Before we go in there, I want you to understand that nothing you hear in this office can ever be repeated until we tell you can. If you tell anyone what you see and hear in there, you’ll be charged with treason.”


“Just like in Transformers 3?” said X-Ray.


Helryx rolled her eyes while everyone else groaned. “Yes,” she said. “Just like in Transformers 3.”


With that, Helryx melodramatically opened the door, and led them all in. Within Thomob’s spacious office were Thomob himself and five humans, four male and one female.


“I… I don’t believe it,” said X-Ray, marveling that he would be able to meet them.  


“Believe it,” said Helryx, cracking a smile. She motioned to the five humans and introduced them, saying, “Gentlemen, this is Greg Farshtey, Bob Thompson, Cathy Hapka, Michael DiMartino, and Bryan Konietzko.”


“They’re putting together a Bionicle TV series.”



*          *         *



In a five star hotel penthouse in downtown Fe-Metru, the Shadowed One sipped a wine glass full of root beer. His bodyguard, Sentrahk, stood at his side. Also in the room was Ivan Krupin, his newest ally, and his own bodyguard. They had just arrived.


“It is good to see you, Shadowed One,” said Krupin. “Before you brought me into your confidence, I heard many things about you. I am pleasantly surprised to find all of them to be wrong. They descriptions, I think, did not emphasize enough your ability as a leader and organizer. You have, in short, exceeded my expectations.”


“You flatter me, sir,” said the Shadowed One, clinking his glass against Krupin’s. After they had both drank root beer, he said, “Now, what would you advise that we do in order to expand our operations into Fe-Metru?”


“I tell you,” said Krupin, “X-Ray must be killed if we are to accomplish anything.”


“You may be right,” said the Shadowed One, “but if we kill X-Ray, reality as we know it will cease to exist. He is the author, you know.”


“What do you mean, ‘the author?’” said Krupin. “What does him being a writer have anything to do with our operations?”


The Shadowed One stopped sipping his root beer, when the penny dropped. He doesn’t know...


He regained his composure, and said, “What I mean is, we live in a fictional realm, and X-Ray is the manifestation of the author of that fiction. If we kill him, we and everything here will cease to exist.”


Krupin laughed, and said, “Shadowed One, I did not come all this way to play children’s games. If you do not tell me why you want X-Ray to die, despite his obvious threat to our organization, I will be forced to withdraw my support.”


The Shadowed One took a deep breath, and said, “Mr. Krupin, listen to me. On Earth, there is a toy company called ‘the LEGO Group.’ That group has a line called ‘Bionicle.’ That line has huge storyline and mythology interwoven with the toys associated with that line. I and everything you know, or rather, everything you think you know, is based on the imagination of a teenager who writes fan fiction based on Bionicle, on a website called BZPower.com. That teenager is X-Ray, and reality as we know it is based in the fan fiction he is writing, called ‘The Misadventures of Nobody (and X-Ray)’. To destroy him would be to destroy our reality.”


The Shadowed One took a deep breath, and then said, “Therefore, why not simply capture X-Ray and force him to write an ending which puts us in charge of this world?”


Krupin starred in stunned silence. Finally, he said, “Why should I believe that this is true?”


The Shadowed One put down his glass, and walked over to Krupin. “If I can prove to you that this is true,” he said, “will you help me capture X-Ray, alive?”


Krupin starred down the Shadowed One, and said, “I will.”


The Shadowed One smiled, and said, “Good.” He then motioned to Sentrahk, and said, “Come, let us go.”


“Where are we going?” said Krupin, wary.


“To the library.”


To be continued...


:akaku: X-Ray :akaku:

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And now, without further ado...


Chapter 12: Best Laid Plans of Archives Moles and Matoran


The Shadowed One and Ivan Krupin made for an odd pair, walking up the steps of the Fe-Metru Public Library. One was a wiry black and yellow being with a tail, dressed in a business suit, whose aura projected a confidence that saw no possibility of defeat. The other was a stocky, clean shaven, charcoal haired man who managed to look both incredibly tough and terribly awkward. It didn’t help that Sentrahk was still with them, along with Krupin’s bodyguard, Juris.


Krupin, like many Russian Mafioso, had a background in the military. Unlike many other Russian Mafioso, however, he did not have a KGB background, nor a particularly good education. He was still tactically savvy and tough. After all, he had to be in order to be the Fe-Metru Bratva’s head honcho. Heck, he was even an above average Chess player. Krupin was not, however, exactly what one might term “bookish.”


It was therefore quite odd that a man like Krupin would find himself accompanying a man like the Shadowed One (also known as Bruce Wolfe) to a place like the Fe-Metru Public Library. When they arrived in their private car, Krupin said to the Shadowed One, “I still don’t see how this will prove your ludicrous theory.”


“Oh, believe me,” said the Shadowed One, “this place contains everything I need to prove it to you. Free WiFi, a nice, quiet environment, and, thanks to a generous donation from the Kristina Wolfe Foundation, every book we will need to prove my case, and many more besides.” He straightened his purple tie, and said, “Besides, I have a fine to pay.” They arrived at the top of the stone steps, and the Shadowed One generously opened the glass door for Krupin. Juris went in after him, and Sentrahk went in after the Shadowed One.


The Fe-Metru Public Library was a great, metal and glass building, built in the style of Ko-Metru knowledge towers, but on a wider, more horizontal scale. It was at the same time grand and beautiful, breathtaking and imposing. To any city on Earth, it would have been an enormous expenditure taking years to build. Fortunately, thanks to the technology of growing knowledge towers, along with Po-Matoran and Onu-Matoran engineering, it had taken less than a month to build at a quarter of the cost.


Inside the library, there were colossal shelves filled to the brim with books, many of which were Matoran tablets put into book form by the meticulous work of Ko-Matoran scholars and Ga-Matoran translators, before being organized by Onu-Matoran archivists. The greatest Matoran works of literature and other scholarly works were available, including the sole surviving manuscript of The Death of Lhii and the complete works of Kodan the Chronicler. Many of the works there were salvaged from the ruins of Metru Nui by the valiant and steadfast efforts of the Salvage Squad.


But what interested the Shadowed One the most, for this occasion, was the children’s literature section of the library. This section was peculiar to humans and Spherus Magnans, as MU inhabitants did not have children in their ranks. Therefore, this section could usually only be found to occupied by parents and kids, both human and Spherus Magnan. Furthermore, it would be extremely odd to see two large, imposing figures, one in a business suit, the other in dark blazer and turtleneck, stalking into the children’s section, along with an even rougher looking gentleman and an even more freakish looking thing.


You have to hand it to the Shadowed One and his companions, as they walked as nonchalantly as possibly into this rather odd section of the library for them to be in. The Shadowed One knelt down and scanned the library shelves, thumbing through the tabs until he came to what he was looking for. “Here we are,” he said, pulling a handful of thin books from the shelves. “A selection of the works of Greg Farshtey.” He took the books with him, and headed past the excited children and confused parents. The four went over to a desk, and the Shadowed One presented the books to Krupin.


“Now, Mr. Krupin,” said the Shadowed One, “please take some time to read these books. You can read English, I presume?”


“I can,” said Krupin icily. He looked over the four titles. Makuta’s Guide to the Universe, Dark Hunters, Mata Nui’s Guide to Bara Magna, and Bionicle Adventures 10: Time Trap. The title of the third one caught his eye, and he thought, Hmmm… Mata Nui… Where have I heard that name? With a sigh, he sat down in a chair, took Mata Nui’s Guide to Bara Magna, and began to read.


*          *         *


“I mean, I think it’s great and all, but how did they manage to pull it off?”


X-Ray, Nobody, and Mazeka were walking down the streets of Westside, heading for the YMCA. X-Ray had just asked how in the world the OMN had managed to secure the talent they had gotten to work on a Bionicle TV show.


“I know it sounds kind of weird,” said Nobody, “but the OMN still has a lot of clout. Helryx hasn’t been holed up in that tower all this time. No, while we were all mucking about with this absurdist fan-fic nonsense, Helryx and Mr. Farshtey were in Denmark trying to convince the LEGO executives that Bionicle had what it took to launch its own TV show.”


“And they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams,” said Mazeka. “Honestly X-Ray, I wish you’d paid attention during that briefing so we wouldn’t have to explain all of this to you through hackneyed expository dialogue.”


“Okay, so sue me,” said X-Ray. “I was just kind of excited to actually meet… you know, him. Greg Farshtey. His writing was what got my imagination flowing when I was kid, up there with Brian Jacques and C.S. Lewis. He’s one of my primary inspirations in writing.”


Nobody thought for a minute, and said, “Really? You consider Greg Farshtey to be one of your inspirations?”


“That’s right.”


“Even though he’s… you know…” Nobody struggled to put the words together diplomatically. “A hack?”


He immediately regretted saying those two words.


“How can you say that?!” said X-Ray, consumed with rage. “Greg Farshtey is the one responsible for turning Bionicle into one of the greatest merchandise driven storylines the world has ever seen!”


“Exactly,” said Nobody. “And that’s his only claim to fame. What exactly has he written other than Bionicle? A couple of RPG books? Face it, X, Farshtey is just a glorified flavor text writer.”


X-Ray stopped walking and looked Nobody right in the eye, pointing an index finger at him. “Listen, friend, if it weren’t for Mr. Farshtey, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation! So what if he’s not exactly Charles Dickens, he’s still a great writer! Haven’t you read Tales of the Masks, or Time Trap, or Downfall, or The Final Battle, or Raid on Vulcanus, or Journey’s End?”


“I read the novelization of Bionicle: The Legend Reborn. And the serials.”


“And didn’t you like them?”




“Why not?”


Nobody shrugged, and said, “They’re just not my thing. They’re… you know, kid’s stuff.”


“It’s supposed to be for kids! That’s why it’s so amazing that it’s so good!”


“X, I like thrillers, crime fiction, and mysteries, okay?”


“Then read Mystery of Metru Nui! There’s plenty of mystery in that one!”


Suddenly, Mazeka stepped in between them, and said, “Dudes, lighten up. They’re just books. What’s the big deal?”


“It’s exactly like I said before!” said X-Ray, now directing his wrath toward the hapless Mazeka. “If it weren’t for Mr. Farshtey, none of us would be talking at all, right now.


He is the reason that the Bionicle universe as we know it today exists. His writing and books are the reason that this fan-fic is the way it is. And it is he who is currently doing his very best to stay in contact with the dormant fan-base, throwing a lifeline back to Bionicle should it someday be revived. Without him, Mazeka, you, maybe me, nobody would exist as we know them today. Not you, not Helryx, not Tahu, not Gali, not Mata Nui, not Gresh, not Ackar, not Kiina, not Kopaka, nobody.”


By this time, the three of them were standing in the middle of the sidewalk. The heat of the argument had surprised both them and some loitering bystanders. A cricket chirped.


“What are you numbskulls looking at?” said Mazeka to the bystanders. “Move it! Go!” The three kept moving, leaving behind an array of confused strangers.


They walked in silence until they came to the YMCA building. The YMCA had a long reach, so it was only natural that they should follow the wave of human immigrants to Spherus Magna. This particular installation was a circular, Metru Nui –style building plated a chrome-protodermis alloy which was ubiquitous throughout Fe-Metru. A slit of window encircled the upper part of the building, while at the base there were glass doors and dividers, allowing the lit gym facilities to be visible from the outside. The YMCA insignia was prominently displayed on a rotating sign perched on top of the round building. It was not unlike the Moto-Hub in design, perhaps owing this trait to the fact that it was designed by a Le-Matoran architect from Le-Metru.


The three entered the YMCA building, walking past the MU inhabitants, SM inhabitants, and humans exercising and playing. They went over to where the lacrosse team was playing, and sat down in a set of metal bleachers. The lacrosse teams were both playing well, but the team in the yellow jerseys were just ahead. A few minutes after Nobody, X-Ray, and Mazeka sat down, that team won. Nobody cheered.


“Yay, yellow!” said Nobody, standing up and cheering. The others looked at him like he was an escapee from the local loony bin. “What?” he said. “I’m just getting into the team spirit!”


One particular rock Agori came up to where they were sitting with an awkward grin on his face. “Hey, bros!” said Krua, for it was indeed Krua, fist bumping with Nobody and X-Ray. He looked at Mazeka, and said, “Who’s this guy?”


“This, Krua,” said X-Ray, “is my new bodyguard, Mazeka. Nobody here got in some trouble with his boss since we last met, and… uh, it’s a bit complicated. Secret, too.”


“Hey, I’m all down with that,” said Krua. “I understand that there’s some things that you can’t tell me because of, you know, your job and all. I respect that.”


“Well,” said X-Ray, “I’m glad that you understand. So, how’s the YMCA been treating you?”


“Really good, man!” said Krua. “I like the sport, the team’s playing great, and I love the whole darn thing! I haven’t seen any of my old Atakus Clan buddies in at least two weeks, and my auntie loves you both for what you’ve done to help me.”


“I’m just glad that we’ve been able to do some good!” said X-Ray, smiling. “I’m also happy that something good came out of that mess with the kidnapping and all.”


“Yeah, I read about it in the papers,” said Krua. “You did help put away some of those Russian punks though.”


“I know, I know,” said X-Ray as Krua sat down next to him. “But still, I wish we could keep doing good like that, only a little more carefully this time.”


“You’re not doing the private eye thing anymore?”


“No. I couldn’t scrounge up enough money to pay the office rent, so I was evicted. I also couldn’t get any new cases.”


“It didn’t help that Mrs. Muldoon sent out a chain letter accusing us of ‘hounding’ her husband,” said Nobody.


“True, true,” said X-Ray. “But still, what’s to stop us from doing some good? There’s got to be a mentoring program or something that the Y sponsors. I could help teach English, or… or something!”


“Actually,” said Krua, “now that you mention it, the Y does have a program like that. Jaller, Hahli, and Tarix are working with a non-profit called Helping At Risk Kids, HARK, in coordination with the Y to, well, do exactly what it says on the tin.” He got up and stretched. “Maybe you guys could help out with that.” Krua descended the steps, saying, “Anyway, I’ve gotta hit the showers. See y’all later!”


After they had all bid Krua farewell, Nobody, X-Ray, and Mazeka headed out of the YMCA building. It was time to get back to X-Ray’s new residence, a safehouse on the outskirts of the city. Mazeka had called an undercover OMN car to ferry them there.


When the car, a black four door sedan, finally arrived, X-Ray got into the back. Nobody was about to follow, but Mazeka stopped him, saying, “Sorry man, but you’re gonna need to find your own ride home.”


Before Nobody could so much as protest, Mazeka got into the back of the car, shut the door, and signaled the driver to go ahead. Thus, Nobody was left standing on the sidewalk, once again on his own. He would have kept standing there, for lack of anything better to do, when a familiar voice caught his ear.


“Hi, Nobody,” said Krua, who walked up to the wraith, carrying a gym bag. “What are you doing here on the sidewalk, all by yourself?”


“X-Ray and Mazeka had to… go somewhere,” said Nobody. “Somewhere secret. Since I’m not X-Ray’s bodyguard anymore, I didn’t get to go along for the ride. I was thinking of catching the bus back to my apartment. What about you?”


“I’m actually headed back to Little Roxtus,” said Krua. “If you want, you could swing by sometime. HARK headquarters is based in Little Roxtus, and we’re on the internet if you want to find us.”


“Yeah, that sounds really great, Krua,” said Nobody. “Maybe I could help. I’ve got nothing but time on my hands right now.”


*          *         *


“And so you had the Mask of Time right in your hands?”


“That’s right,” said the Shadowed One, taking a sip of coffee. He, Krupin, and their bodyguards had finally emerged from the library and were now sitting in a coffee shop, drinking decaf. Krupin would have preferred a certain other beverage popularly known to be of Russian origin, but it would never fly in a children’s comedy. “I had Makuta right where I wanted him,” said the Shadowed One, “and my minion Voporak was ready, willing, and able to destroy that Toa, when that odious shadowspawn burst from his bonds, threw Voporak at me, and aged me some 3,000 years. Thankfully, I have a very good dietician and personal trainer, so I don’t really look it.”


“Yes, yes,” said Krupin. “Alright. After reviewing the evidence, I now have reason to believe you. I remember the news reports telling of how it was now possible to come from Earth to Spherus Magna, thanks to new space travel technology.”


“Which I’m sure will make a marvelous subject for an epic if the author decides to do that,” said the Shadowed One. He sipped his coffee, and then leaned over the table, staring the Russian mobster right in the face. “Now, Mr. Krupin,” he said. “Will you help me enact a plan to capture X-Ray?”


Krupin looked very thoughtful. He said, “Perhaps, but I have one question. Supposing we were able to capture this X-Ray, how would we convince him to put us in charge of this planet? Couldn’t he just use his author powers to get himself out of any jam he found himself in?”


“Good question, Mr. Krupin,” said the Shadowed One. “In fact, that is a question that I have pondered myself. I have, however, thought of a solution. I am convinced that X-Ray, no matter him being the author, is still a dreamer. I know him that well. I also know that all dreamers are fools. It is planners, like myself, who win in the end. And as long as X-Ray is dreaming of a good story to tell, he will be unable to bring himself to resolve the plot with such a blatant Deus Ex Machina. Accordingly, once I have captured him, I will simply threaten his life and the lives of his friends, systematically killing them until he obliges us and makes us the undisputed rulers of Spherus Magna.”


Krupin nodded, and then said, “Alright. I understand.” He then stood up, leaned on the table, and said, “But, Shadowed One, there remains one problem. With your OMN guarding X-Ray like a mother bear guarding her cubs, how do you propose to get to X-Ray at all?”


“Why, that’s simple, my friend,” said the Shadowed One. He finished off his coffee, put the mug down, and said, “We go hunting, and we set a trap.”


To be continued.


:akaku: X-Ray :akaku:

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Ooh, tough crowd, huh? Maybe you guys will like this new chapter...


Chapter 13: Bodyguard Complex


On the outskirts of Fe-Metru, there was a nice looking house situated in a forest at the end of a private road. This was the safe house X-Ray was being quartered in, and it was a fairly comfortable residence. It had a good sized television, WiFi, a sofa, plenty of food, satellite TV, Netflix, a large supply of books, the works. The only thing it appeared to lack was company. As the old saying goes, no man is an island, and X-Ray felt positively deserted. Mazeka was standing guard with some other agents around the complex. This was not one of those places that was visited often.


He lounged on the living room sofa, aimlessly flipping through the TV channels. There was a weird Japanese soap opera, the local news, a couple of cop shows, a Mythbusters knock-off, and a documentary channel. Being satellite TV, there was an innumerable amount of channels, but sadly, nothing much to watch.


X-Ray finally turned off the TV and went over to the bookcase. He was just grabbing his copy of Tales of the Bounty Hunters when there was a knock on the door. X-Ray went over to the front door and peaked through the viewing hole. On the other side of the door were Helryx, Mazeka, and a tall, attractive young woman.


Intrigued, X-Ray opened the door, greeting the three. “Hello, Helryx, Mazeka,” he said. He looked at the woman, and said to her, “Hello, I’m X-Ray. Who might you be?”


The woman extended her hand, saying, “Agent Zhang. You’re X-Ray?”


“Indeed I am.”


Helryx interrupted the exchange and said, “We need to talk, X-Ray. Let’s get inside.”


The three went over to the dining room, where they sat down at the table, Helryx placing a briefcase on it. Helryx said, “Okay, X-Ray, we’ll be letting you out into the wide world again, but you’ll be accompanied by a new bodyguard.” She motioned to the Asian woman, and said, “You’ve met Agent Zhang. She will be your new bodyguard in place of Nobody for the foreseeable future. Thomob and I decided that you needed a less…” Helryx considered what word to use. “Flamboyant, yes, a less flamboyant bodyguard.”


“How was Nobody ‘flamboyant’?” said X-Ray, flummoxed. “He’s almost a ghost.”


“Precisely,” said Helryx. “With a human guarding a human, it will be easier for you to blend in.” She looked him in the eye, and said, “You don’t want to spend the rest of this fan-fic living in a safe house, do you?”


“No, ma’am!”


“Good. Pack your bags, X. You’re going to Tesara.”


X-Ray raised an eyebrow, and said, “Tesara? Why Tesara?”


“You’re in Witness Protection,” said Helryx. “We’ve got to keep you far away from Fe-Metru, and the Russian mob and HYDRA both have a long reach, not to mention this mysterious third player we’ve been tracking. You’ll be given a new identity and a new life. You’ll be far away from people who want to kill you.” Helryx let a smile creep up her face, and said, “Plus, you’ll have an actual job. We’ve got you a gig lined up as a bookstore clerk.”


X-Ray wore a melancholy expression. He didn’t so mind moving from Fe-Metru as he did leaving Nobody stuck in a rut behind him. “What about Nobody?” asked X-Ray. “Will I ever see him again?”


“Probably not,” said Helryx. “He’s off your case, and he’ll probably be out of a job here at the OMN if that tribunal goes where it looks like it’s going.”


“But what about the comedy?” said X-Ray. “It’s ‘The Misadventures of Nobody (and X-Ray)!’ If you split us up it will create all sorts of problems with the plotting and stuff! It will be very difficult to write! It will have to become about one of us, instead of both of us!”


“I’m sorry, X-Ray,” said Helryx, “but this is how things have to be.” She then opened her briefcase. “Especially in light of this,” she said, pulling out a copy of The Fe-Metru Times, slapping it on the table. The front page read, “The LEGO Group: Bionicle returning in 2015.”


X-Ray stood still, shocked. First the TV show, and now this? He extended a quaking hand towards the periodical, picking it up. “This…” he said, almost too shocked to speak. Finally, he found the words. “This is phenomenal!” he said. “Bionicle is coming back!” He shook Helryx’s shoulder vigorously, and said, “This is stupendous! We should be celebrating! Helryx, this is big news!”


“Which is precisely why we need to hide you,” said Helryx. X-Ray looked confused, but Helryx continued. “X-Ray…” she said, hesitant. “X, a new era is dawning. In a little while, if all goes as planned, the main storyline will be back, and this fan-fic will be virtually obsolete. We’ll finally know what really happened to me, Axxon, Brutaka, Tahu, Gali, Kopaka, Lewa, Gelu, and everybody else. I hate to say it, but your invented world won’t be necessary anymore when Bionicle comes back.”




“Let me finish. You’ll still be able to do your thing for a little while. But when the real story comes back, this world will merge with the new old world, and everything will change.”


“But Helryx,” said X-Ray, “That’s the whole point of a fan-fic! It exists outside the realm of the actual fictional universe! It’s the product of a fanboy’s imagination and nothing more! We have nothing to do with the actual Bionicle canon! We can literally do whatever we want!”


“But you’ll want to write within the reasonable parameters of the Bionicle story, correct?” Helryx starred down X-Ray.


“Well, yeah, but I don’t see—”


“You wrote this comedy as a supplement to Bionicle after it was over, in which anything could happen. Knowing you, X-Ray, you’ll want to stick to the broad strokes of the canon as much as possible. And you’ll do that as best you can when Bionicle comes back, right?”




Helryx smiled and said, “Good. Which is why we need you alive to testify and to keep this comedy running so that this change can even happen, hence the safe house and bodyguard. Once you’re out of danger, then you’ll be able to do as you wish. But now is not that time.” Helryx stood up, and said, “Agent Zhang, you are now in command of security here, and are responsible for X-Ray’s safety. Good day.” She turned to leave, saying, “Mazeka, come with me. I have a new mission for you.”


X-Ray watched Helryx go. He called after her, saying, “Can I at least say goodbye to Nobody?”


Helryx stopped, turned to face X-Ray, and said, “Look, if you want to talk to Nobody so bad, I will arrange for him to meet with you before you leave. I give you my solemn word. However, you must be accompanied by Agent Zhang at all times.”


X-Ray glanced at the unperturbed young woman behind him, and said to Helryx, “As you wish.”


Helryx nodded, and strode out of the house, Mazeka following her. That left X-Ray and the woman alone in the room.


X-Ray scratched the back of his head. He didn’t like the direction this comedy was taking. Finally, he turned to the agent and said, “Um, I’m sorry, what’s your name again?”


“Agent Opal Zhang,” said the woman. “You can call me Opal.”


“Right… Opal,” said X-Ray. He looked at her, dressed as she was in business casual, that is, jeans and a business jacket. She was indeed an attractive lady.


Finally, X-Ray stammered out, “There’s, uh, some leftover pizza in the fridge, if you’re hungry.”


“I’m fine, thanks,” said Opal. “I’d advise that you get your things ready. We have to get on an airship in a couple of days, and you’ll need to be prepared and rested.”


“Ah, yeah, sure,” said X-Ray, walking out of the room. “I’ll go do that.”


X-Ray spent the rest of the afternoon packing his bags. He knew that most of his belongings would be shipped to his residence, but he still had some stuff to pack. A few days worth of clothes, a book or two, his laptop. That would do it. The whole time he thought about the new bodyguard downstairs. Opal. Could this be the beginning of a new, strong friendship? He seriously doubted that he and Nobody’s bond could ever be fully replicated, but he still held out hope. They’d be meeting soon anyway.


After all, Helryx had promised.



*          *         *



Nobody looked at the storefront which served as the HQ for HARK. In yellow paint on the front window was spelt out the words “Helping At Risk Kids.” It looked well-funded for an organization started in a Rock Tribe ghetto.


“That’s it,” said Krua, pointing at the storefront as he and Nobody crossed the street. “HARK. We’re still a small organization, but Tarix has been using his connections to find donors and sponsors who have been helping us get established.”


Nobody nodded, and said, “What exactly are the goals of your organization, Krua?”


“Pretty much what it says on the tin,” said the rock Agori. “We’re working with the schools and some local churches to jumpstart mentoring programs, tutoring, volunteer community service projects, community events, career seminars, support groups, all sorts of stuff. We’re basically giving kids a way out of gang life that doesn’t involve a stint at Knee Island, just like you and X-Ray did for me.”


Nobody and Krua continued talking as they walked into the HARK offices. At the front desk was a Ga-Matoran receptionist wearing a light blue Kakama. She looked up from her computer and said, “Hello, Krua. Who’s your friend?”


“This here’s Nobody,” said Krua. When the receptionist looked at him funny, he said, “No, seriously, that’s his name.”


“That’s an… unusual name, to say the least,” said the receptionist. She cleared her throat and then said, “If you’re looking for Tarix, he’s in the office with Captain Mahri and Pastor Campbell.”


“Can you ask if he’ll see us?” asked Krua.


“Sure thing,” said the receptionist. She picked up her phone and pushed a button, saying, “Tarix, Krua and Nobody are here to see you. …No, he said his name was ‘Nobody.’ Alright, I’ll send them in.” She put the phone down, and said, “He’ll see you now. His office is down the hall and to the right.”


“Thanks, Thelma,” said Krua. He and Nobody walked down the hall to Tarix’s office. When they entered the office, Tarix was at a table with Jaller Mahri and a tall, thin human with a grey mustache and a head as bald as an egg. They were discussing something on a whiteboard, and Jaller had his laptop out.


Tarix looked up and saw Krua and Nobody come into the office. “Hello, Krua,” he said, “and your friend… Nobody, is it?”


“Yeah, I’m Nobody,” said the wraith, giving Tarix a firm handshake when the Water tribesman came over to shake it. “I came down with Krua because I heard you guys needed some volunteers.”


“While we have not shortage of volunteers,” said Tarix, “at the same time, we can never have too many. For the foreseeable future, there will always be work that needs to be done.” He motioned to Jaller and the man, and said, “Oh, where are my manners? Mr. Nobody, this is Captain Jaller Mahri of the FMPD and Pastor Bob Campbell of First Presbyterian Church of Rosewood.” (Rosewood was the proper, official name of Little Roxtus, Little Roxtus being a generic name for any neighborhood with a large concentration of Rock Tribe inhabitants.)


After they had all exchanged greetings and shaken hands, Tarix said, “We were just talking here about an ex-convict rehabilitation program we were going to work on in conjunction with First Presbyterian and the police department. If you would like to volunteer with our organization, however, there’s a form up front that you can fill out.” He shifted in his chair, before saying, “Submit the form to Thelma and she’ll pass it along to me.”


“Um, yes, sir,” said Nobody. “I’ll go do that now.” He and Krua left the office, heading back up front. When they came up front, Nobody said to Thelma, “Hi, I was told that I could get a volunteer registration form up here?”


“Of course,” said Thelma, reaching behind her desk and giving him a form. Nobody took the form and a pen given to him by Thelma and began to fill it out on the desk. Name? he thought. Dear me… He put down “Urban.” That was his legal name, after all. “Nobody” was an alias, a nickname even. He navigated through the rest of the form without much trouble, until he came to the part where it said, “Do you suffer from any sort of mental or physical impairment? If so, specify in the space below.” Uh-oh, he thought.


He toyed with the idea of lying. It wouldn’t really hurt if he didn’t mention his sickness, would it? But then he remembered that trying to cover up this key detail was what had landed him in trouble back with the OMN. Perhaps honesty is the best policy, as X-Ray is so fond of insisting. With some reluctance, he wrote down his ailment. It read, “I suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder.”


Finally, he signed his name at the bottom of the sheet. Here goes nothing, he thought. He got up, took the paper, and put it on Thelma’s desk. “Here you go,” he said. Thelma smiled and nodded, taking the paper.


Suddenly, without warning, a weird, buzzing sensation began to tingle at the base of Nobody’s skull, and everything seemed to slow down around him. This physical peculiarity originated from the fact that Nobody was a Toa of Surprise, as in the rhetorical “element of surprise.” It was more than a bad pun, though. Nobody, thanks to ethically dubious medical experiments performed on him by the Order of Mata Nui, had as his element Surprise itself, meaning he could induce ignorance and confusion, give himself the advantage of surprise, and even detect the element of Surprise in use around him.


It was for this last reason that Nobody, just in time, dived out of the way as a large brick was heaved through the front window of HARK HQ, shattering the glass pane into a million pieces. The brick clattered onto the floor, while a frightened Thelma ducked beneath her desk, and Nobody activated his intangibility mode to avoid the flying glass shards. Krua had been sitting in a chair near the door, just out of reach of the debris.


The Ga-Matoran receptionist was briefly stunned, while Nobody raced down the hall to meet Tarix, Jaller, and the pastor. “Tarix!” said Nobody. “Somebody just threw a brick through the front window!”


Tarix raced to the front office and surveyed the damage while Jaller pulled out his cell phone and Campbell saw to Thelma. “Quick!” said Tarix. “Call the police!” He went out the door, and looked around. Nobody was in sight.


“Quick, he went this way!” shouted Nobody, who had already phased through the ground and was doing a quick scan with his Suletu. He and Tarix ran down the sidewalk, rounding a corner, where they caught a glimpse of a Rock Agori hopping into a Thornatus across the street. He turned to look at them, gave them a two-finger salute, and sped away.


“Shoot!” said Tarix as their quarry sped away. “That rock Agori… he must have sent him.”


“Who?” said Nobody, confused. He walked up to Tarix, and said, “Who’s ‘he’ Who must have sent him?”


Tarix looked at Nobody, and uttered a single word, his voice dripping with contempt: “Atakus.”


To be continued.


Comments and constructive criticism appreciated!


:akaku: X-Ray :akaku:

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And now, for the next chapter. Merry Christmas, one and all, happy new year, and joy to the world. To any Jewish folks in the audience, Happy Hanukkah.


Chapter 14: Exposition Expedition


“Atakus,” said Lieutenant Vastus, plopping a fat folder on the desk of his office, “has been on our radar for a while. He’s got five warrants on him, is a primary suspect in at least three open cases, and a person of interest in nine more.”


“Woof,” said Nobody, leafing through the manila folder. Atakus’ mug shot was a far cry from the shiny black helm of his set box. The Rock Agori’s helmet was pitted and rusted, and his armor was in much worse shape. “This guy sounds actually dangerous. Wasn’t he just a small player in the cannon? I don’t think he even appeared in any of the books.”


“Not much of a small timer now.” This was from Tarix, who was standing in a corner, contemplating his navel area. The three were in Vastus’ office at the downtown headquarters of the Fe-Metru Police Department. The head of the department’s Gang Unit, the green-armored Glatorian was more than happy to talk to two witnesses of what was almost definitely an act of petty vandalism committed by the Atakus Clan.


“Maybe not,” said Vastus. “Aside from his personal rap sheet, which includes everything from extortion to aggravated assault to jaywalking, he’s a big player now in the Fe-Metru underworld, and the biggest in Little Roxtus. The Atakus Clan has connections to similar Rock Tribe and Bone Hunter gangs with bigger names, like the Branar Clan in Joisey Nui, the Stronius Clan in Tajun, and the 31st Street Bone Hunters in New Atero.”


“And this is the guy who’s heckbent on shutting down H.A.R.K.,” said Tarix to Nobody. “You can see why we’re going to need help against this guy.”


“Why does Atakus want you guys gone?” said Nobody. “The first thing they teach in the School of Hard Knocks is that you don’t tick off the authorities by targeting cops and innocents.”


“Maybe so,” said Vastus, leading Nobody and Tarix out of his office and over to a large pin-board covered in papers and strings and notes. A picture of Atakus was at the center, with pictures of Stronius, Branar, Fero, and others linked by strings, along with numerous other notes and official looking papers taped to it.


“The problem with your thesis, however, is that Atakus in no ordinary thug,” said Vastus. “He’s first and foremost a soldier, trained under Tuma and dispersed with the rest of the Rock Tribe after Tuma’s public defeat by Mata Nui. Atakus doesn’t care much about the consequences, kind of like the Russians, and is tough and skilled enough to survive in prison. He’s got friends on the inside, and the only thing he cares about is expanding his clan’s territory and staying in power.”


Vastus traced his finger down through the strings connecting the various pictured figures on the board. “You’re familiar with the First World War of Earthen history, correct, Mr. Nobody?”


“Yes,” said Nobody. He wasn’t sure where this was going.


“I don’t know if he ever actually said this,” said Vastus, “but a portrayal of Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, a German army commander in that war, in an American television series produced in the 1990s, once said that a soldier’s two duties are to follow orders and to survive. Atakus is a soldier with no orders to follow. His word is the order in this own personal army. He therefore must only survive. H.A.R.K. threatens his clan’s survival by choking off the supply of new recruits.”


Before Nobody could raise an objection pertaining to the soundness of wisdom gleaned from a TV show, Vastus continued in his pontifications.


“Crime is not as endemic in Fe-Metru as it is in some Earthen societies,” said Vastus, “but its root causes, combined with the application of the Broken Window theory, are combatable enough so that even someone as relatively brutish and thuggish as Atakus would recognize that an organization as well organized and potentially effective as H.A.R.K. could pose a grave threat to his clan. Therefore, taking into account Nolan’s Theory of Escalation, things could easily spiral out of control.”


“Wow, dude, that was the longest exposition scene I’ve ever had to sit through.”


Nobody turned at the familiar voice, a smile creeping across his face. There he was. Sitting in a chair… with a woman at his side?


“X-Ray?” said Nobody. “When’d you show up?”


“About 3 minutes ago,” said X-Ray, standing up to give Nobody a hug. The two friends embraced, Nobody giving X-Ray a strong squeeze. Coming apart, X-Ray said, “Jaller told me that you were here with Tarix, and I figured I’d stop by.”


“Yeah, sure…” said Nobody, uneasily glancing at the woman, who starred back. “But aren’t you supposed be in the Witness Protection Program or something?” he exclaimed. “You’re marked for death by the Russian mob for Mata Nui’s sake!”


“It’s cool, man, it’s cool,” said X-Ray. “I’ve got a super awesome bodyguard gal right here.” He motioned to his female companion, saying, “Nobody, this is OMN Special Agent Opal Zhang. She’s one of the best.”


“Pleased to meet you,” said Opal, shaking Nobody’s hand. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about you from Helryx and Thomob. Sorry about the tribunal and all.”


“Why should you be?” said Nobody, taking her hand to his lips. “It’s not so bad. And it’s not your fault.” He planted a kiss on her hand, inciting a blush on her face.


“Ummm, Nobody?” said X-Ray. “That’s actually kind of creepy.”


“Hey, I’m a continental,” said Nobody.


“You’re not European!”


“Southern Continent, from back in the MU, ace.”


“It’s okay, X-Ray,” reassured Opal, smiling a very nice smile indeed. “I’ve had even worse experiences with other continentals.” She went over to the board, scanning it disinterestedly. “Okay, here you are,” she said sharply, turning back to X-Ray. “We have to get on a plane to Tesara in an hour, so I’d suggest you say your last goodbyes now. I need to transfer you off to our agents in Tesara as soon as we get there, and I don’t want to be late.”


“Whoa, why so hostile, Opal?” said X-Ray.  “I thought we’d stick around for a little bit, help solve this heinous crime that was just committed against a respected community organization.”


“And what heinous crime would that be, and against what respected community organization?”


“Well, it was…” X-Ray drew a blank. “Nobody,” he said, “we didn’t show up early enough to get as much exposition as we needed. What did Atakus actually do?”


“We suspect,” said Nobody, “that he had someone throw a rock through the window of the H.A.R.K. storefront.”


Opal thought for a moment, and said, “So let me get this straight. You want me to endanger my career and you by not only letting you run around downtown Fe-Metru with another agent who’s on probation, but also attempt to apprehend a dangerous criminal who is not otherwise connected to your case? And all this at the risk of missing our rendezvous in Tesara? And over an act of petty vandalism?”


“Well, yeah,” said X-Ray, putting on his most debonair smile. Unfortunately, his most debonair smile made him look like a certain category of individual known in polite company as a “creep.” Thusly, this response elicited only a scoff from Opal, who then turned to address Vastus, who had been growing annoyed that he was being ignored.


“Lieutenant,” said Opal, quickly glancing at Vastus’ rank insignia, “I am an agent of the Order of Mata Nui, and I thank you for your patience with X-Ray. He can be a bit… cheeky, at times. However, we must go, and I would appreciate your assistance.”


“With pleasure, Agent Zhang,” replied Vastus. With a nod to Tarix, he and the other Glatorian each took one of X-Ray’s arms and unceremoniously dragged him out of the FMPD Gang Unit offices, over to the elevator.


“Wait! Nobody!” said X-Ray, as the wraith ran up next to him. “I just made up a plot detail that might help you! There’s a dirty cop named Mike Culver working in Narcotics, and he knows where to find Atakus and his buddies! If you put the squeeze on him, he can give you the information you want!”


As the five neared an elevator, Tarix and Vastus stopped, with the latter saying, “Culver?! You’re spitting Rock Steed droppings, X-Ray! Culver is one of the best guys on the force!”


“You don’t even have any basis for saying that! I just made him up right now!”


“What the heck are you talking about? Culver’s been on the force since after the Kualsi Nui opened!”


“Yeah, but he’s still dirty.”


“I’d trust him with my life!”


“He’s dirty as Jim Corrigan!”


“Who the heck is Jim Corrigan?!”


Nobody and Opal watched the argument, which was quickly escalating, or rather devolving, into a shouting match. Opal said to Nobody, “You think we should tell them about the whole… you know, the whole we-all-live-in-a-fan-fic thing?”


“I thought you were the official presence here,” returned Nobody. “I’m still on probation, remember?”


“Yeah, but let’s be honest,” said Opal, shrugging her shoulders. “You’ve worked with X-Ray the longest, and you’re familiar with these kind of situations, right?”


“Not really,” said Nobody. “Everybody just kind of seems to be… I don’t know, ‘in the know.’ Even Kiina broke the fourth wall back in Chapter 3. Now that I think about it, Vastus is the only one I’ve personally met so far who hasn’t understood.”


“Hmm…” said Opal. She went over to where Vastus was preparing to throttle X-Ray, and said to him, “Lieutenant Vastus!”


Vastus turned, and said, “Yes, Agent Zhang?”


“You are aware that we all live in a fan-fiction created by a being known on the internet as X-Ray, whose fictional representation within the said fan-fiction is the being you are about to strangle?”


Vastus said what any of us might have said when faced with such a question: “What?”


Opal repeated herself. What Vastus said this time wasn’t much better.


“Yeah, I heard, but I don’t understand. What is a ‘fan-fiction’? What in the world are you even talking about?”


Opal sighed, put her head her hands. She did not have time for this. She looked back up at Vastus, saying to him, “Lieutenant, I need to get X-Ray to Tesara ASAP, but before I go, I want you to sit down with Nobody and talk this over. If you have any questions, please call the OMN’s Office of Extratemporal Affairs and ask them to send you their orientation manual for new citizens. After that, you may want to call the OMN’s Crisis Counseling Services for Concerned  Citizens program. Okay?”


Vastus nodded, trying to understand what was going on. He still didn’t understand all of it, but he wanted to know more, spurred on by a morbid curiosity. “Okay,” he said.


“Good,” she said. She turned to X-Ray, and said with a gesture towards the elevator, “C’mon. Let’s go.”



*         *          *


In slightly less grimy part of Little Roxtus, at a private house, much later than night, a party was being held by the individual called Atakus. He was dining on steak and root beer with his lieutenants and some lady friends, and he was very, very happy. He was surrounded by allies and women, has plenty of food, entertainment, and aspirin, and had a nice roof over his head. His secret Iconox bank account was full of laundered money, profits from his cut of the gang’s narcotics trading operations, and he had the car to prove it. Who wouldn’t feel happy? Like many a Mafioso before him, he could easily say, “Dang, it feels good to be a gangster.”


And yet, it wasn’t enough.


Oh, sure, he was happy now. Very happy. His girlfriend (or one of them), Rhoda, curled up on the sofa next to him as loud rap music blared in the background, whispered in his ear, “You’re having a fun time tonight, aren’t you, baby? Things are real, real good.” She may have been high as a kite at the time, but she was still right. Things were good, and Atakus knew it.


He smiled and kissed Rhoda on the cheek, and said to his best buddy, and top lieutenant, Linus, “You did a good job yesterday with Culver, Linus. I thought he was gonna wet his pants when you put him in that half-nelson.”


“Yeah, man,” said the other Rock Tribe Agori. “If he keeps acting like he did then, we’ll have him working for us for free in no time.” Linus was about as tall as Atakus, but refrained from wearing the signature elongated helmet that most Rock Agori had worn prior to the Battle of Bara Magna. He also had a large Matoran “A” symbol branded into his chest-plate, just to show off.


Atakus nodded, chuckling, and clinked his bottle with that of Linus. After he took a drink, he said to Linus, “So, did we send a message to P.A.R.K.?”


“H.A.R.K., sir,” said Linus, mostly to himself, knowing it wouldn’t do much good to correct his boss’s pronunciation, even though they were best friends. Besides, Atakus was probably too strung out to hear or care anyway. “Yeah,” he continued, “I had my boy throw a rock through their window, with a note attached, just like you said.”


“Good, good,” said Atakus, with another laugh. He then frowned. He didn’t feel happy. That is, he didn’t feel the typical euphoria that came from a good dose of aspirin. Was he getting quality stuff? It must be wearing off, he thought to himself. I need more. He reached over for his bag, but found it empty. Swearing to himself, he shoved Rhoda roughly aside and stumbled over to the aspirin table.


He was about to take another few pills, when the doorbell rang. He could barely hear it over the din of the party, but he heard it anyway. He looked over at where Hadar, the designated driver, was sitting near the entrance, dozing. “Hey, Hadar!” shouted Atakus, trying to make himself heard over the noise. “Get on your feet and see who’s at the door!”


Hadar stirred suddenly, jumped up, and said, “Um, yes sir! Sanguis enim tribubus et!”


“Sanguis enim tribubus et” was the Rock Tribe’s official motto, roughly meaning, when translated from Latin, “For Blood and Tribe.” Hadar wasn’t the most competent marksman, or the best fighter, but he sure knew how to remember names, dates, facts, information- all of the dull things that Atakus simply could not stand. For this reason, he made an able Clan Treasurer, formerly being a Property Accounting Technician, a Warrant Officer in Tuma’s army. He was also known for his temperance, hence his status as the usual designated driver.


Hadar stood to open the door, tired from the late hour. He looked through the peephole, surprised to see a bizarre looking individual with more spikes on him than the Black Spike Mountains. He radiated shadow, and was dressed in the uniform of a pizza delivery guy, and he was carrying several boxes.


Like any common idiot, Hadar opened the door. “I’m here with you pizza, sir,” said the being, who managed to look simultaneously strange, scary, and silly.


“Um… thanks,” said Hadar. He took the pizza box, inspecting it. It had Agori-language characters etched into it, reading “Domino’s.” Hmmm… thought Hadar, who was familiar with American pop-culture. Could have done better, but hey, pizza.


He dug some money out of his wallet, but the pizza guy said, “Everything’s bought and paid for. I just need you to sign here.” He extended a clipboard with an extra appendage, along with a pen. Accepting the items, Hadar signed a sheet with a large chuck of legalese on it, no doubt a waiver for eating the pizza. Once the sheet was signed, Hadar took the pizza, thanked the delivery guy with a small tip, and brought the pizza inside.


“Hey guys!” he shouted. “I got some pizza!”


The Rock Agori who weren’t passed out from the excessive aspirin and root beer, and who weren’t full yet from the steak, eagerly crowded around the stacked boxes, taking out the pizza with their favorite toppings. Atakus perked up a little. He had grown to like this Earthen dish over the last couple of years. He took a slice of pepperoni, and took a bite. It tasted good… very good. He ate some more, until he had finished the slice.


He was just licking his lips, chewing on the crust, when a wave of pain washed over him. A nauseating sensation, springing from the pit of his stomach, drove a shock of bile up into his throat. He threw his paper plate away, and shouted at his friends, struggling not to choke on his own vomit, “Don’t eat it! It’s- it’s—”


Suddenly, he started laughing. Very loudly.


And Atakus wasn’t the only one. Everyone who had eaten a slice of the pizza began to chuckle, then giggle, slowly progressing into hysterical belly-laughing. They all felt quite elated, more euphoric than any of the aspirin they had had before could have made them feel. Yet at the same time, they felt a little sick, like they had eaten too much. Oh well. They were laughing. They were happy. Who wouldn’t want to stop laughing?


But very soon, it became clear that eventually, you must stop laughing. Yes, you must stop laughing eventually, or you won’t be able to talk, or for that matter, breathe. At the moment, the only two people in the room who were still conscious at the moment who understood this were Linus and Hadar, who hadn’t taken any pizza. Hadar was still full from the steak, and Linus had been viewing the boxes with suspicion ever since the pizza had come in the door. And as this fact dawned on Atakus and the other Clansmen as well, they were filled with the utmost terror.


But they were still laughing.


They slapped their knees, held their stomachs, struggled to grab air with their open mouths, but nothing helped. Linus ran over to Atakus, saying, “Atakus! Come here!” He attempted to give him the Heimlich maneuver, Linus formerly being a field medic and thus trained in certain medical procedures. But whatever was in those pizzas, it couldn’t be removed by that maneuver.


Atakus for his part was struggling to breathe, while at the same time puking his guts out on the bare wooden floor. It was a strange experience, laughing and vomiting at the same time. In fact, it was not only a strange experience, but it was also the last experience that Atakus would ever have.


Linus was repelled by the sheer horror of the scene. His friends, his brothers, his comrades, were all either laughing, vomiting, or both. Hadar and himself seemed to be the only two people in the room still functioning. It was quite surreal for him to watch. To anyone else, the scenes of laughing and vomiting could easily be found at any other wild party, if not given the decidedly out of the ordinary context of this one. Hadar went over to where one of the laughing Rock Agori had collapsed, and removed the Agori’s cell phone from his belt. He dialed 199, hoping to get the emergency services. Even if that meant the arrest of his Atakus, it was better than letting his boss die.


“199 emergency. How many I assist you?”


“Oh my gosh! We just got a bunch of pizza, and my buddies ate some, and now they’re all laughing and throwing up! I think somebody put some drugs or something in them! Help!”


*         *          *


In an apartment some miles away from the location of the ill-fated party, Mordor, or rather, the being who had been assigned that code name, dispassionately starred at a computer screen, stoic and detached. He had hidden a camera inside one of the pizza boxes, and he could see and hear everything. Everything.


He took no pleasure in the deaths by asphyxiation and food poisoning that he had arranged, but it was for a good cause. The people he had killed were in the service of evil, and they had to be eliminated for the betterment of society. In prison, they would be hardened, and they would repeat their behavior until their deaths, sometime in the faraway future. Why not, Mordor reasoned, speed up an inevitable process?


Just then, a cell phone rang. He picked it up, answering the device. “This is Mordor,” said the being, cloaked in shadow.


“Harad here,” said the voice on the other end. “Have you completed your objective?”


“Affirmative,” said Mordor. “The Atakus Clan has been neutralized. What little is left will be taken care of by the authorities. If I have not managed to eliminate all of the beings in that house, I will have my source arrange for them to be incarcerated within close proximity to other scumbags who want them dead.”


“I hope you’re not enjoying this, Mordor,” said the voice. “I’d hate to see your inscrutable moral code tarnished.”


“Save it, Harad,” said Mordor, detesting the voice’s owner. “What I’m doing may serve your purpose, but don’t think that you can bribe me with low hanging fruit for much longer. When I’m done here, I’ll soon have bigger fish to fry. Much bigger fish.”


“As you wish,” said Harad. “I’ll just have you know, however, the last person to bear the moniker of Mordor wasn’t nearly as focused and effective as you. Nor was he as imaginative. Truly, toxin in the pizza designed to react specifically with aspirin is an incredible method of assassination. And since it was Domino’s, nobody will suspect a thing anyway.”


“Hrrm,” said Mordor. “I’ll be in touch. Leave my payment in the usual place, and then I’ll be taking my next assignment.”


“Acknowledged,” said the voice. “Harad out.”


The being with the spikes all over his body cut off the call. He starred at the monitor. One of the Rock Agori was talking on a cell phone, obviously trying to summon the emergency services. He’d make sure to have his man take care of that.


After all, thought Shadow Stealer, it wouldn’t do to leave anyone alive to tell the tale, now would it? No, the Shadowed One wouldn’t like that one bit. Not. One. Bit.


To be continued.


:akaku: X-Ray :akaku:

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Loving this so far. One of the best fics I've read in a while - well-written, insightful, funny, an elegant pastiche of thriller, comedy, police procedural, metatextual elements with cracking characters and a very plausible Spherus Magna.

Great stuff. Good to see Atakus. I've been working on a little something involving the downtrodden elements of Bionicle society, and you've handled them very well.

Poor Bone Hunters, stuck out on the rez. 

But the question is, what DID happen to Tuma post-Battle of Roxtus? BIONICLEsector01  says he's a homeless wanderer, but what is he up to - other than what I'm theorising in a story of mine. 


Anyway, keep up the good work and deliver plenty more laughs! 

"Mutiny, Booty and Entropy"  - The Three Vices of the Frostelus


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