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Year 11

About X-Ray

  • Birthday 10/06/1995

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    God's green Earth.
  • Interests
    My interests include reading, writing, watching movies, playing around on the computer, some board games, Batman, Star Wars, and comics. Also, I am a non-denominational Christian. : )

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Toa (13/293)

  1. Hmm... interesting. I've been away from Bionicle for a while, but I'd love to take a crack at what Tahu might like. Tahu strikes me as the sort of guy who wouldn't listen to music much. At least in his younger days. Post-Journey's End Tahu is a whole different ballgame. His passion, volatility, and drive may point to a lack of enthusiasm for any kind of entertainment that involved sitting still and listening. But he's also evidently a fan of an action-driven sport like Kohlii, so he might be into something that reminds him of drama, theatricality, and action. (See Mask of Light.) (If he could be persuaded to listen to music, it would probably be while working out or engaging in hard, physical, outdoor labor. Perhaps Nuparu teamed up with the Nynrah Ghosts to invent stereos and MP3 players.) He might also be inclined to tune in to something which reminds him of what drives him: His duty to his people and to Mata Nui. That means something like spiritual or meditative music, something which stirs the softer part of his soul, appealing to his passion for justice (that is, playing fair, keeping your word, and defending the innocent) and his respect for courage and cunning. I can therefore imagine an older, wiser Toa Tahu, still in fighting shape, practicing his new powers that he got at the end of Journey's End while listening to something from Survivor, Kanye West, or Imagine Dragons. (Maybe humans from the year 3000 figured out a way to import music files to Spherus Magna, and have sent a sleeper ship to make first contact with that planet's residents, due to arrive in about 106,000 years post-Shattering.) But after he's done with the day's work, maybe he picks up one of those newfangled paper and cloth books (He likes them much better than stone tablets), perhaps a biography of Toa Lhikan written by Turaga Vakama. So he sits down a flips through it, and then turns on a recording of a choir of Ga-Matoran and Le-Matoran singing a hymn to the mysterious Papa and Ranga (see here: https://drop-a-brick.blogspot.com/2019/09/mnog-chronicle-chapter-iii-sky-father.html), composed by Turaga Nokama, Nuju, and Artakha in the days of peace post-Journey's End. Maybe Tahu, looking up at an old group painting of his old team, smiles in a rare moment of sentimentality, and says to himself, "Great Beings... Greater Beings... wherever you are... thank you." That's a former fan-fic writer's take on the subject. I charge five dollars per-Toa for anything after this. Cheers, X-Ray
  2. This makes a lot of sense. I would imagine that commerce would be a major reason that the Ta-Matoran of Metru Nui would engage in mask-making on a large scale. Perhaps masks forged in Metru Nui were renowned for their high quality, similar to how Cashmere clothing is known for it's high quality in our world. Perhaps Vakama was a highly-skilled specialist, which is why Dume/Makuta commissioned him to try and forge the Mask of Time. The physical attributes of Ta-Matoran making them more adept at working in rough conditions is also an intriguing line of thought. The Ta-Koro guard on Mata Nui were pretty tough and hardy, to the point of being the premier military organization on the island. Maybe on Metru Nui, the Ta-Matoran were known for such toughness and hardiness, which also made them adept at other physically demanding jobs, such as, say, construction or welding. Perhaps they worked with Le-Matoran (known for having technical know-how in regards to heavy machinery) on large engineering projects. Perhaps such a collaboration was was what made Metru Nui such a cool city. First is unity, after all. :-) Cheers, X-Ray
  3. Hello!

    I can't believe it's been almost exactly five years since I last posted on these forums! Bionicle was my whole world for so long, and I was just so sad when it ended. Medical issues on my end didn't help the situation, but I'm doing better. Looking back at some of my old fan-fics, I realize that I was in a very dark place back then. My bad home situation, I think, was reflected in my writing.

    But anyway, I hope to have a little fun getting back into the swing of things here on the forums! It will be quite the adventure!



  4. Any chance of a repost of Bionicle: Infinities? I never got around to reading that :(

  5. Oh man, this is sweet! I think this is the version of the song that was playing in the background of the Bionicle retrospective that they released back in the day. That was such a great video. X-Ray
  6. That was really fun, silly, and altogether entertaining! I haven't gotten too much into Gen 2 yet, but maybe I'll check it out in more detail now. This is a great way of referencing Gen 1, making fun of its sillier aspects, while at the same time working with Gen 2 in a creative way. Very good job indeed! X-Ray
  7. Funny stuff! Honest trailers are always good for a laugh. Man, I've got to get back into the swing of things... But anyway, I totally agree with the stuff you brought up in this little mini-comedy. TLR could have been done a lot better, and the amount of potential that went out the window with Tuma was almost as big at the Mata Nui robot. X-Ray
  8. 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. X-Ray
  9. 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.” “But—” “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?” “…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! X-Ray
  10. All right! This is awesome! I can't believe that it's finally coming back! This is the best move LEGO could have possibly made! And for the record, the new Mask of Creation looks super cool! X-Ray
  11. 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?” “No.” “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. X-Ray
  12. 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... X-Ray
  13. 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— “Urban?” 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!” 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?” “X…” “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)! X-Ray
  14. 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?” “Mazeka!” “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?” “Humans.” “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.’” “Thomob—” “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!” Bingo. * * * 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. “Wait!” 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!” PAFF! 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. X-Ray
  15. This is the re-post of a song-fic I wrote a while back, but which seems to have disappeared. May this second rendition be a source of amusement and inspiration! The Ballad of the Batman A song fic by BZPower.com member X-Ray Down in Gotham City, twixt Metropolis and New York, There was a man who fought for justice, with the stubbornness of a cork. He was called the Batman, and he was always fighting the good fight. Down in Gotham City, evil fears the knight. He swung through the city on lines as strong as steel He met with the police commissioner via this Bat-signal deal. He rode around in a pimped out ride, called the Batmobile it was If you asked him why all this bat-stuff, he’d say, “Just because.” Oh, the Batman is a detective, a tried and true dark knight He fought the mob and won, and with evil he’s always itching for a fight Criminals fear the Batman, who’ll catch them wherever they go From the East End to Hong Kong, from Tricorner to Congo. His squire was Robin, a bright and cheery lad, He needed this charming acrobat to keep from going mad. He was later joined by Batgirl, and then by Nightwing, you know who And Huntress, Catwoman, Oracle, Azrael, and then Spoiler and Batwoman too. The Bat had many allies, but his enemies numbered great From Two-Face to the Joker, the Harlequin of Hate. The Riddler and the Scarecrow, and of course Black Mask And dirty cops like Jim Corrigan and Detective Arnold Flass. Oh, the Batman is a detective, a tried and true dark knight He fought the mob and won, and with evil he’s always itching for a fight Criminals fear the Batman, who’ll catch them wherever they go From the East End to Hong Kong, from Tricorner to Congo. And don’t forget the Penguin, the gentleman of crime Clayface the shape-shifting actor who’d kill you for a dime Bane with his green venom and Poison Ivy with her green vines And Mad Hatter constantly quoting Alice in Wonderland lines. Batman went through many trials, many bouts from over the years A Death in the Family, Knightfall, No Man’s Land, and R.I.P. brought him tears. And let’s not forget the Contagion, Officer Down and War Games These are but a few of those trials, many of which have no names. Oh, the Batman is a detective, a tried and true dark knight He fought the mob and won, and with evil he’s always itching for a fight Criminals fear the Batman, who’ll catch them wherever they go From the East End to Hong Kong, from Tricorner to Congo. The world will always need the Batman, yes, that much is true Whether it’s this Earth or another, like, say, Earth-2. He’s the scourge of all evil, for evil fears the knight And though he patrols the shadows, he’s the greatest guardian of light. Oh, the Batman is a detective, a tried and true dark knight He fought the mob and won, and with evil he’s always itching for a fight Criminals fear the Batman, who’ll catch them wherever they go From the East End to Hong Kong, from Tricorner to Congo. X-Ray
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