Halls of Frustration
The story opens in an unnamed solar system
(okay, it was named, but I forgot what they named it) somewhere in the
dark reaches of the
server where the second-or-third annual Interactive Story is formed by
the server's loyal subjects under the nurturing guidance of the Cyberjocks
(Amy, the cute one; Scott, a big dork..er, cool guy; Mike, another ..er..cool
guy; and Travis, an even bigger dork..er, cool guy). Since the whole
damn thing's sponsored by Nintendo the tale starts with actual videogame
moguls using their actual names...and a new character is formed, ashes
from ashes dust from dust, from the stray bits littering the forum floor.
Above the new-forged Master of the Universe spin
the planets of the (what's-it's-name) system...Corneria, a standard Earthlike
planet now overrun by terrorists; Fortuna, an icy planet covered largely
with snow and guys dressed like Eskimoes, capable of supporting various
humanoids and the hardiest of creatures; and a low-gravity swirl of meteors,
dust and debris known as Meteo.
The premise is, a new, highly-useful element
has been discovered, Titanium 64 (this was obviously Nintendo's part of
the tale :), and it seems everybody wants the stuff. Bad. A team of officials
and scientists has been sent out to this system to scout, sample, and report
back on their findings. Meanwhile, various secret organizations have formed
in an attempt to gain control of and exploit this resource.
Name: Robert (Rob) Aran
Age: approx. 21
Description: Brother of Samus that hasn't been lucky enough to
star in any videogames, so nobody's heard of him yet. Hoping to make his
big break in Metroid64 where his whole story will be told, and perhaps
his own ELF-TV sitcom Rob's Planet. Like his kid sister, Rob has been augmented
somewhat with the help of some very cool electronics including Duratank
(Nothing tanks the copper tank!) energy storage tanks, in-brain radio reciever,
computer interface and some other nifty toys.
Story so far:
He has spent most of his earlier life on planets SR388 and Zenon, another
planet infested with scary brainsucking creatures, and battling a large
assortment of mutant creatures that resulted from a nutty professor's experiment-gone-bad.
Returning home one stardate from another succesful mission, he encountered
an agent from the now-famous planet Gates (after the Universal Committee
of Bugfaced Creatures saved the pathetic Earth civilization from the monopoly
of Microsoft Corp., Bill Gates fled to and colonized a planet of his very
own). After unsuccessful attempts to negotiate peacably with the agent
from Gates, who was sent to capture some specimens for Mr.Gates to create
a minion army with, the agent blasted Rob's craft and seriously damaged
it. The wounded craft crash-landed on the swirl of debris known as Meteo
with its last bit of power, and Rob soon befriended the native creatures.
(Needless to say, the unsuccessful agent from planet Gates was dematerialized
by his master the instant he received word of the failure.)
[Meteo, and the planet
SR388] chatting via GalaxyFone
Rob: ...Yeah, and they need some teams to
go explore it.
Samus: So you're saying they found a bunch
of low-grav asteroids floating around the Lylat system, they think there
are huge reptiles inhabiting it, and they want to send teams of pilots
out there and check it out and report back?
Rob: What do you mean think? They've seen
tracks and everything. Even I've seen them. At night, I can hear the eerie
cries of creatures in the distance. This is some dangerous stuff here.
Maybe you'd better stay where you are, on second thought.
Samus: I'd love to be part of it, but I've
got problems of my own to deal with over here. Apparently Plumber-boy managed
to get himself captured AGAIN, and the Princess isn't going to have nothin'
to do with it. So it's up to me to get his tail out of trouble and everything.
He keeps calling me from an intergalaxy pay-phone (collect, of course!)
telling me that if I don't get here soon Bowser will make him his "girlfriend".
I told him, that only happens in prison! Snap out of it Plumberboy!
Rob: Oh alrighty. I was hoping you could come
and bring along that nuke-ray of yours in case Planet Gates sends another
agent out here to get revenge on me. But if you're busy I can always try
Reddog and his gang.
Samus: Wha? agent from Gates?
Rob: I didn't tell you about that? Oh well,
maybe next time...
Samus: You don't want them on your bad side.
Those guys have some serious connections. ...Anyway, I may join you and
the expedition later if all goes well getting Mario back.
Rob: Sounds like a plan. And I hope he's using
1-800-COLLECT. Save up to 44 percent!
Rob strolled across the rocky surface.
"...For a hill, men would kill, why? They do not know. ...", he sang to
himself. What's the big fargin' deal about titanium-64? Why are people
willing to go to war over the stuff? Sure it's strong and lightweight,
but geez, why not just use that formula we got from the Cyrillians? Rob
stopped pondering these questions for a moment as he spied a fairly large
twelve-legged bug on the ground. Instinctively, Rob's bionic foot slammed
down to convert the mandibled creature to four ounces of bug grease. Upon
impact Rob was immediately propelled 30 meters into the stratosphere. As
he sailed through the sky he thought to himself, "I HATE it when that happens."
"Enjoying your stay here on Meteo?"
called one of his new friends, a tall, odd-looking creature, who witnessed
Rob's encounter with the rock-muncher.
"If you ignore all the wars and fighting,
it's a quite restful place. ...One question though."
"What's that?", the creature replied,
watching Rob slam down upon the surface.
"When d'ya suppose we could get a little
GRAVITY around here?"
He awoke to find himself on the cold surface
of an unknown planet. In his hand was a smooth, seamless black cube.
He took a few moments to assess the situation.
Nothing broken, that's a good sign. A few cuts and bruises, a little blood,
nothing to worry about. No bumps on the noggin, that's always a plus. No
clothing. That would mean I'm naked. But that's the least of my troubles.
Like "Where the hell am I?" and "How did I get here?"...and, "What is this
thing in my hand?"
Just then he heard a voice behind
him. "Daddy, there's a naked man over there!" The boy and his father
ran toward him. "Are you all right?", said the father.
"I--I think so", he replied.
The new arrival asked him, "You'll freeze
to death out here. Would you care to come with us to our place and have
dinner? And maybe I can give you some clothes. A naked guy walking around
in this atmosphere would certainly attract some unwanted attention."
"Sounds great, thanks a lot. By the way,
what's your name? If I'm going to be wearing your underpants I should at
least know what to call you."
"Call me Dr. Dos. And you?"
"I'm...." There was a long pause. "I
Dr. Dos and his family sat down with the
man and began to feast on a meal of dopefish and a delicious but unidentifiable
"Well, it would appear that you have
lost your memory," said Dos.
"No, really?" said the man, loosely
slapping his hand against his chest. "Well you're a doctor, right? Can
you do anything?"
"I'm afraid I'm not that kind of doctor.
Mainly I do research and work with experimental and powerful top-secret
gadgets. Actually I'm sort of a mad scientist. Mad. MAD! Crazyyyyyy and
a little insane, hahaaa"
"Honey, I think you're scaring our
guest," cautioned his wife. "And stop foaming at the mouth! You do that
everytime you talk about your work."
"Well, the best course of action is
to wait and hope your memory returns. Meanwhile, I can show you my latest
gadget, a device that can actually read from some species' minds! Unfortunately
the code it spits out isn't of much use."
"Sounds like fun", said the man.
"Can I call you Ian? That was the name
of my well-respected colleague who was killed by a planetary traveler for
knowing too much. I know it's not the greatest, but I'm sick of calling
you 'the man'."
"Whatever you want. Ian, the man, Joe
Blow... up to you."
After they had finished Dos took "Ian" down
a set of stairs into his underground laboratory. "This," he said, "could
replace those 1-900 psychic lines forever, if only I could figure out how
to use this output."
He removed a rodent from a cage and connected
the machine. "This is connected to the rat's visual area." He placed a
white card with a black square in front of the rat's eyes and read the
"As you can see, this data is pretty useless.
What do you say tomorrow we take a closer look at that cube you were carrying?"
Rob kicked the side of his crippled spacecraft.
"Well, that should do it for this piece of junk. Now for a test drive."
Even though he had been stranded on Meteo for some time now, he just now
got around to repairing the gaping holes in his wrecked ship and rigging
the engine back to working condition. He made the patch for the ship's
hull by heating up a pile of titanium-64 rocks and sort of stomping them
into a metal sheet. "Now, for a test drive." He inserted his card key and,
leaning into the cockpit, rapidly tapped the ignition button before ducking
out and scurrying behind a rock. He came out only after the engine started
and nothing exploded. "Good," he said. The repair job worked.
"Onscreen!" said Overlord Gates. "I
thought you killed him!"
"So did I!," sniveled the servant
in charge of killing Robert.
"As you can see," said Gates, stroking
his white cat and pointing at the monitor, "he's still alive, and he's
firing up that craft of his. You didn't even destroy his spacecraft?!?"
"Honestly, Master, I thought he was
taken care of."
"Well don't just sit there looking
stupid, get out there and finish him!!"
"I'm on it."
Robert ran a few pre-flight checks on his
equipment, especially his weapons. "A Gates agent could be up there right
now, waiting for me. This gutbucket had better be working!," he thought
to himself. Just to be a bit safer, he pulled his remote-control Pocket
Gooney out of the glove box to fly reconnisance over and around Meteo.
While the 4-inch long spy ship surfed around Meteo's orbit looking for
trouble, Rob took a few moments to clean off his craft, S.N.A.F.U. (Situation
Normal, All [Fouled] Up). Then he moved on to the bumper stickers: "Kiss
Me Quick And Do Not Slobber," read the one his ex-girlfriend put on when
they were still dating. Finally, he washed the last of the meteor dust
of the windshield (the Star Trek viewscreen was part of an option package
he decided not to spring for- then again, so was the CD player) and crawled
inside, quietly singing a song he heard entitled "Piece of S--t Spacecraft".
He lifted off and within three seconds was in orbit.
"Agent to Gates, repeat, Agent to Gates.
I am now in orbit over Meteo. Target is also in orbit. Proceding with kill.
Agent over and out."
Rob was suddenly jolted to full alertness
by his Pocket Stool Pidgeon's alarm. A mid-sized vessel was moving rapidly
on an intercept course with him. "Probably Channel 5's shadow traffic ship.
Like they need to fly over all the roads to tell you there's another rush-hour
traffic jam." He pulled out binoculars for a closer look at the now-visible
Gates. Rob could tell by the unmistakable
Planet Gates insignia on the side of the craft: A large foot crushing a
serpent, whose fangs were embedded in the heel. Rob recalled the chain
of events leading up to W.H. Gates' exile from the planet Earth twenty
years ago. He was big and greedy, yes, but nobody really did much to stop
him until his proposal to put a huge two-way telescreen in every single
Earth home. That and the huge eyeball billboards and "Big Brother Is Watching
You" ad campaign. After he bought America's Liberty bell from Taco Bell
corp. just to make a point, the people had had enough. Their computers
were already watching their every move, Gates' skycams were viewing their
shopping habits, hobbies and interests to target advertising to them, and
the people were quite angry. Just before he was banned from the planet,
he vowed revenge against Earth, all Humans, and anyone who crossed him.
He then went far away to colonize his very own planet with clones of himself.
He named it Planet Gates.
Rob saw a large explosion on the side
of the Agent's vessel. He quickly tuned his in-brain scanner to some frequencies
Gates craft were likely to use. He heard a distress signal from the ship
stating that its engines were not functioning correctly, and that its weapons
were not working at all. "Allrighty," said Rob, "a sitting duck."
Just then a message came over the public
channels: "Agent of Gates to unidentified vessel 'SNAFU', do not move.
I am heavily armed and prepared to kill. Both my weapons and engines outpower
yours by a wide margin. Do not move, or I will kill you right this moment."
The agent was obviously bluffing. As
a matter of fact the dashboard lie detector Rob had installed was beeping
very loudly at the moment. Rob kept his vessel still and tried to act scared.
"Itchy trigger-fingers, six in all"
"Inches above my trusty trackball"
"If one of those fingers should happen
BOOOM! went the rocket launcher. After the
shrapnel had flew its course and the debris had dissipated, Rob looked
at what was left of the enemy ship. He then turned on his windshield wipers,
as there were a lot of guts obstructing his view of his work.
"I've got a piece of s--t spacecraft"
"It won't go past Warp Six..."
Rob whistled to himself a bit uneasily, darting
his eyes around the area looking for potential witnesses and hoping nobody
saw him annihilate the Gates agent.
"...The rockets fire all by themselves"
"I'll have to get that fixed...."
After breakfast and a brief game of Detach-the-dog-from-the-mailman's-leg,
Dos and Ian again went downstairs to the underground lab. "Pretty wierd
stuff, eh?" said Dos.
"Mind if I take a closer look?" Ian
took a step toward the device that Dos claimed coukd read some creatires'
minds. "Whe do you suppose you'll actually be able to USE this thing?"
Ian got in closer still to examine the wired
cap that connected Dos's rat to the machine when suddenly it started beeping,
about once per second. "Has it ever done this before?", said Ian.
"Never. And check out the screen, it
hasn't done that either."
They watched the monitor. A dash appeared
on the screen every time the machine beeped. After about 30 seconds the
screen cleared and the following appeared:
#8634- humanoid male: current location
ECT time 22 hours, 26 minutes: Universal
standard time 34.5463.412
Human host OK
Human host implanted instructions check OK
-executes in 15d 5h 23m 59s
The machine then continued beeping. "What
the...fudge?" they said in unison.
The hideously deformed creature materialized
on the rocky surface of Meteo. Its enormous curved and slightly hooked
teeth gleamed in the dull glow from outer space. Around its neck was a
chain bearing a small metal cube- a rugged, miniturized version of its
companion on Fortuna. The creature snarled, having a vague feeling that
his quarry was elsewhere. The creature peeked into the mind of his target:
Cold, ice-covered planet. Taken in by a family there. Safe and warm. Below
the surface. I can feel him. The creature's glowing yellow eyes darted,
looking for a dark place to hide out. It quickly found a space in a rock
crevice and ducked inside, waiting for nightfall.
[somewhere around the same time]
Rob sat in the niteclub and watched as his
favorite comedian, George Sinfield, did his next bit.
"...I am not Cornerian, however, people
always assume this because I am thin, in-shape and a fast runner. Not that
there's anything wrong with that; I mean, that's quite okay if that's
who you are... but me, I'm not. I mean it's understandable; you never hear
anybody say, "Listen, I love being Metean with you, but since there's a
thin atmosphere and virtually no gravity, don't you think it's time to
lose weight and get in shape? You'll have a lot less trouble getting around."
Maybe instead of pointing in the direction of the planet, Cornerians should
be identified like, "Say, you know Richard over there? I hear he's a little
(huff, puff, huff, puff)"..."Yeah? I always thought he was a little (huff,
Rob's laughter was interrupted by an announcement
from the bouncer: "Call for Robert Aran, repeat, Robert Aran, there is
a call for you on Line 1."
Rob picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"This is Wilhelm Gates of the planet Gates.
Watch your back and sleep with one eye open, for you shall die!"
..."Yes, we've been monitoring transmissions
on the planet Gates for quite some time now," explained Dr. Dos.
"Why?," Ian asked.
"Well, Things have been getting very suspicious
around there lately. As it turns out, they've been performing some strange
experiments using Einstien's relativity theories, the latest involving
some sort of transporter device. And rumor has it, by the way, that
Einstien is still alive, just abducted by Gates."
"That still doesn't explain how I got here.
And that THING on Meteo?"
"My friend, you were one of their experimental
subjects. A lab rat, if you will. They were using you and others to test
the transporters. Come over here for a sec."
Dos went to the closet, pulled out a wire
coathanger and straightened it. He then started to explain the workings
of Gates' experimental transporters:
"Okay, let's say this is a line through space",
Dos said, holding up the straightened hanger. "This end is your position,
and the other end is where you want to go. Conventionally, you would hop
in a ship and fly it to your destination, across all this space. But, why
bring yourself to your destination when you can bring your destination
Dos began to bend the rod in a curve, until
the two ends touched. "Now it's a very short distance. The device basically
curves space in such a way that the two points almost touch, moves you
about a foot to one side, and TA-DA, you're at your final destination.
The field is shut off and the curvature of space returns to normal."
"Great," said Ian. "But how does that explain
my current situation and the creature roaming Meteo?"
"Well, the Gateses got greedy. They eventually
built THREE of these things, then got this bright idea, 'Hey, let's run
'em all at once and see what happens!'. At this point they tried various
objects in the teleporters; a box of Sharpies, a small ficus tree, a sweat
sock. The sock was merely turned inside-out, the ficus became a disgusting
puddle of gelatinous ooze, and the Box of Sharpies was slightly demagnetized
but otherwise unharmed."
"So the problems most likely stemmed from
the fact that these different fields were warping space independently of
each other, and each tel could not correct for the distortion caused by
the other two, right?"
"Ian, you're one smart cookie," replied Dos.
"They eventually wrote a computer program into the devices that would account
for outside distortions of space. You and this other test subject, you
managed to unlock your cages in the PlanetGates research fortress. Once
out, you knew that your only hope of escape was through the teleporters."
"What is now the Thing That Should Not Be,
now terrorizing Meteo, was the first of you two to enter a teleporter.
The Gateses did not realize it at the time, but there was a bug in the
software that was supposed to correct for other warp fields in the vicinity.
Your buddy did not fare well. You were the second; from what I can determine,
an error occurred during teleport that got you 'stuck' in warped space.
The Gateses knew something was stuck, but didn't know what. Thinking it
may be one of their own, the Gates leader implanted a type of digital code
in your mind that would cause you to basically self-destruct, going absolutely
berserk and destroying everyone and everything you possibly can before
committing suicide. Then they cut the power and let you fall where you
"Furthermore, they have absolute control
over you now. By tapping the little-known sixth sense common to all Vanians
like yourself (I ran a DNA test while you were sleeping), they can implant
further instructions via the black transmitter you brought with you here.
You cannot be far seperated from this box, nor can it be destroyed, without
executing the program and ultimately killing you and many innocent people."
When Robert Aran regained consciousness,
he was being led up the narrow ramp to one of the many levels by a black
and pale-white cyborg. The sound of Rob's metallic boots clanking against
this grated support echoed forlornly through the compound as the sounds
of low conversation and muffled shouts contributed to the gloom of the
dimly-lit chamber. Upon reaching the top of the grated ramp, he was led
across another suspended metal causeway, which shifted and swung slightly
with every step; then was directed to the left, down another, narrower
walk. Looking out over the railing attached to this hanging walkway, Rob
got a fairly good view of the entire complex. Looking down, he saw for
what appeared to be miles down a seemingly bottomless building consisting
of more walkways like this one on various levels. Looking up, he saw more
of the same. At the very top of the complex, he saw an immense rounded
window embedded in the highest point of the ceiling; the view was of outer
space, black and empty. The complex was laid out in the form of a cross,
the walkways branching out in four directions from the emptiness in the
center. Along the perimeter were row after row of metal doors. These led
to narrow corridors which, as Rob soon found out, led to long lines of
cagelike holding cells. Everything in the complex was metallic, from the
walls to the floor to the sliding shutter that periodically covered the
circular window of darkness. He was escorted through one of the metal doors
lining the wall. The two segments of the door slid apart with a loud whine
and hiss of air, and Rob was hustled inside. Down the long and winding
corridor he was half-walked, half-dragged into a dark metallic room, different
from the others, and strapped into a metal chair. The cyborg looked at
him without a word, then left, letting the door whirr shut behind him.
A lone pale-green plant hung limply from a pipe that ran across the room
near the ceiling. Five minutes passed.
A bead of sweat rolled off Robert's forehead,
landing on the floor with a soft splash that echoed throughout the small
Robert was brought to full attention by a
soft hum that accompanied the opening of a partition in the middle of the
room. Behind it two men, one large and one small, sat in larger chairs
with lit buttons lining a pair of panels before them. He recognized the
familiar insignia on the mens' garments: A large foot crushing a serpent,
whose fangs were embedded in the heel. He instantly realized where
he was upon seeing this. It was the enormous complex on Planet Gates, of
which he had only heard in rumors and old stories back on Meteo. He shifted
nervously in the cold chair.
"Robert Phineas Aran..." said one of
"Welcome home. We've been expecting you."
...and...That's why it's called the Halls of Frustration! That's the
End! No ending! No, count 'em, NO loose ends tied up whatsoever! Muhahahaha!!
You're going to stay awake nights wondering how it all ends, but you'll
never, ever know! Hahahahahaaaaaaaaa.....<whump> Yeeouch! <whap>
OW!! <crunch> ......
Bill has been clobbered to death by a mob of angry readers. The end.....
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