Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Insert Exotic Territory Name Here

Ben lay back, relaxing on the deck chair he had brought with him to the Pendragon fandom. He had discarded his shirt and now was dressed in a pair of swimming trunks and aviator sunglasses, all the better to soak up the abundant rays from the burning sun. At the moment, Ben was taking a breif vacation on the water-world of Cloral. He hadn't brought Shirley with him, and for just a while he could forget about the Society, about Bella, about everything. He could just relax.

The fact that 99.99% of their planet was water had forced the Clorans to be resourceful. They had learned to use water for everything. Water powered their ships engines, and their weapons fired highly pressurized blasts of water. They even had scuba equipment that converted water into oxygen. Cloral was as near a utopia as it was possible to get.

The majority of people on Cloral lived on floating cities called habitats. Each habitat had a specific function, from manufacturing, to accounting to agriculture.

Ben was currently staying on the farming habitat of Grallion, the largest habitat on Cloral. Over the past few days, he had spent his time racing around on skimmers, (Jetski-like boats with pontoons.) going snorkeling and witnessing the extraordinary marine life and vibrantly colored coral. He had even paid a breif visit to the Ancient Roman-esque city of Faar, the only dry land on all of Cloral. But now, his brief vacation was wrapping up. Tomorrow it would be back to the Society and chasing Bella across the infinite fandoms.

As Ben took a drink from the glass by his chair, he idly let his mind wander. Maybe next time he had the opportunity to come here he'd invite somebody. Not Shirley, that was for sure, the Cliche Stick may've been his muse, but he wouldn't put it past her to find some way to ruin even a paradise like this. Maybe he'd invite Aster, she seemed OK. Or maybe Michael, at least here, under the bright tropical sun, he wouldn't have to worry about his Darkness too much. He also had an idea for a new weapon tumbling around in his head. If nothing else it would be original, he would have to talk to Camille when he got back. She should be able to help. Or maybe-

Ben's trail of thought was cut off as he noticed something out on the water, approaching the habitat at an alarming speed. He sat up in his chair, pulling his sunglasses off to get a better look.

It looked like a skimmer, but no aquaneer would be stupid enough to approach Grallion at that speed, they'd never be able to stop in time. As the skimmer approached the habitat, it vanished from Ben's line of sight.
Suddenly a figure came flying over the edge of the habitat towards Ben. He barely had enough time to dive out of the way before a well placed blow smashed the deck chair to pieces.

Ben could only gape at the newcomer. Grallion's deck was almost four stories above water level, but the figure had jumped it as if it were no more than an anthill. Ben's brain vaguely registered shouts and the sounds of a crash from down below. Apparently the skimmer had smashed into Grallion, but a ship that size wouldn't cause that much damage, if any at all.

The figure slowly turned to face Ben where he lay on the deck, shocked. The figure wore a pair of dark shades and his straight black hair was slicked back flat against his skull. He was dressed in a black leather jacket and he wore a pair of blood red leather pants.

"Who're you?" Ben demanded as he struggled to his feet.

"The name's Neb." The other said in a harsh voice. "I'm from the Pro-Cliche and Mary-Sue Protection Society!"

Ben's eyes widened. "I heard about you guys from Tyler and Drake. But what do you want with me? I'm not hunting a Sue right now!"

"Not right now, maybe," Neb rasped. "But I heard from a little green-haired Sue named Bella that you'd been harassing her, so I took it upon myself to take you out!"

"Not if I have anything to say about it!" Ben gritted his teeth, pointing at Neb. "Don't mess with nukes!"

"Mess with nukes!" Neb countered, pointing back at Ben.

Ben looked up just in time to see two explosives falling towards the same destination.

The warheads detonated in mid-air, the shockwaves knocking Ben flat and shaking the entire habitat like a toy boat.

Ben scrambled to his feet. If what he had heard from Tyler and Drake were true, standing and fighting wouldn't do him much good. In that case, it was time to do what he did best.

"Run away!" He shouted in an English accent as he turned and dashed off.

Neb groaned. "Not a Monty Python reference!" He lifted a silver gun at Ben's retreating back and fired.

Ben scrambled down a ladder onto a lower deck as the shot whizzed past. He turned just in time to see the stray shot blast into the wall of one of Grallion's temporary homes with the force of a cannon ball.

That was one of Cloral's water weapons! Ben thought, casting about desperately for a hiding place. Well, if nothing else, at least he isn't mixing items from different fandoms!

The sound of Neb's approaching footsteps on the deck above jolted Ben out of his thoughts.

Ben ducked and turned around a corner, losing himself in a veritable maze of crates and shipping containers. The crates contained food grown on Grallion to be shipped out the various other habitats on Cloral.

Neb slowly strolled between the rows and columns of containers. The crates were about five feet high and five feet wide, perfect for hiding someone. The sunlight glistened off the silver water-powered gun in his hand.
Ben held his breath as he heard his doppelganger pass the crate he was crouching behind.

Think you idiot, think! I can't fight him head on, that's for sure, I'd get steamrollered! I've gotta get out of here as soon as possible. Maybe if I get back to the place where I'm staying I can get my Plothole Generator and hop out of here!

Ben peeked over the top of the crate he was hiding behind, Neb was still strolling between the shipping containers, searching for him. Looks like it's my only hope, that guy's a monster! I'll wait until he gets farther away and make a run for it.

Neb was getting angry, where was that weakling? He couldn't hide forever.

"I know you're here, boy!" He called out. "I can smell you!"

"Hey!" Ben said indignantly, popping up like a groundhog from behind a crate ten feet away. "My deodorant is not that bad!"

Neb snarled incoherently and loosed a volley of shots. Ben ducked as the water blasts whizzed overhead, striking distant targets.

Looks like my covers blown, only one way out of here now!

With a roar, Ben jumped to his feet and charged at Neb blindly.

Neb stopped shooting in shock. What is he doing? He though in a panic, Is he attacking?

But Ben ran right on by, still roaring like a wild animal.

Neb groaned again as it hit him, "Not Han Solo in the Death Star!" He growled and gave chase.

Ben scampered across the deck. He had left his Plothole Generator on the other side of the Habitat, if he could just get to it in time, he would be high and dry, so to speak.

The two ran for several minutes, Neb releasing shots whenever he got the chance and Ben barely managing to dodge them.

Almost there! Ben thought hopefully, as he made one last dead sprint for a ladder leading to a higher deck. If I can just get up there I can grab my stuff!

But Neb had other ideas. Taking careful aim he released a final shot. The blast whizzed past Ben, barely missing his head before impacting onto the ladder. The blast twisted the metal, and with a shriek, the ladder split in two, falling backwards. Ben had barely enough time do dodge out of the way before the falling ladder hit the deck with a crash.

Ben growled, his escape route had been cut off. But he wasn't out of the game yet.

He pivoted, facing the approaching Neb "My coffeemakers are not controlled by Hoover Dam computers!"

Neb scoffed as the floodgates rose behind Ben. "Haven't you learned anything yet? My coffeemakers rule the world!"

A second pair of floodgates rose behind Neb and as if on some unnoticed signal, both gates opened simultaneously releasing a flood of coffee.

Neither Ben nor Neb had any time to avoid the deluge and were both sewpt up in it. The opposing currents pushed the two away from each other, ending up on opposite sides of the deck.

Neb managed to get to his feet first after the flood abated.

"Haven't you learned yet?" Ben turned slowly to see Neb standing a few feet away, coffee dripping off his leather jacket, silver gun leveled at him.

"I'm you!" Neb barked. "I am superior to you in every way!"

"In every way?" Ben scoffed. "Then why did you dress yourself up as a licorice stick?"

"Hey!" Neb barked. "I'll have you know my outfit is awesome!"

"Yeah, awesomely bad maybe." Ben snickered.

Neb waved the silver gun at Ben. "I wouldn't be making jokes if I were you."

"But you are me!"

"No, I'm not me! I'm you! I mean-oh, forget it!

Ben snickered again, but his mind was working overtime. He considered using the Fast-Step for a moment, but all the running had tired him out so there was no guarantee he could dodge every last shot, eventually one of them would connect and good-bye Ben!

"Looks like you got me!" Ben said, as if they were merely playing tag. "Just one question before you blow me away."

"What is it?" Neb rasped.

"Where's your version of Shirley? Shouldn't you have one?"

"Oh, you mean Yelrihs?" Neb scoffed. "That pacifist is back home. She refuses to attack anyone."

"Pacifist?" Ben asked, shocked. "You mean I've got the 'evil' Shirley?"

"Something like that," Neb said. "Now hold still!"

Ben closed his eyes, bracing himself. Hope this doesn't hurt too much!

Neb's finger was tightening on the trigger when a blast of energy exploded at his feet, sending him staggering backwards.

"Well, what do you know? You actually managed to cast a spell correctly this time!"

"Hey, I've done it right before!"

"Sure you have!"

Ben and Neb turned just in time to see Tyler and Drake emerge from a plothole.

"What are you doing here?" Neb rasped.

"We're here to rescue Ben and kick your butt." Tyler said cheerfully, twirling his ping-pong paddle between his fingers.

With a growl, Neb swung around and fired at the duo.

Tyler rolled his eyes, shifted his paddle into a staff and with a flick of his wrist, knocked the shot away.

With a flash, Drake summoned his armor and dashed forward, catching Neb squarely in the chest with kick, sending him flying backwards across the deck.

He hit the ground hard and rolled several feet, the gun falling from his hand. He slowly got to his feet, and picked the gun up again, pointing it at the two.

Drake shook his head slowly. "Don't bother."

Neb looked about wildly for a second, before he realized the situation was hopeless.

"Fine." He snarled. Neb turned towards Ben who was still lying on the deck and fired.

The water blast caught Ben in the thigh and instantly a thick stream of blood shot out.

"I just nicked his femoral artery." Neb rasped, ignoring Ben's scream as he tossed the silver gun aside and opened a plothole behind him. "You've got a matter of seconds before he bleeds to death. So you can either save him or catch me. You'd better choose quick."

Drake growled as Neb vanished into the plothole.

Ben had already passed out from blood loss. Tyler had hurried over and was tearing strips off his shirt, trying to staunch the blood flow from Ben's leg.

"Drake! Help me!" Tyler called.

"Right!" Drake turned away from the place where Neb had vanished and together the two hauled Ben back to the Library.


Ben lay unconscious in the Library's medical room overnight. Shirley, once she reached Ben's side, never left, and any attempts to get her to do so resulted in deep scars.

It wasn't until sometime the next day that Ben finally stirred.

"Hmmmvvvaaaa..." he moaned , eyes still closed.

"What was that?" Shirley asked, leaning over to hear better.

"Heavy Metal will never die." Ben moaned weakly.

"YOU JERK!" Shirley screamed.

When Adrian and Tash came into the room they found Shirley on Ben's chest, punching him in the face repeatedly.

"You had me worried sick." She shrieked. "And the first thing you say when you wake up are the lyrics to 'Balls of Ice'?"

She grabbed a fist full of his shirt and yanked his head up. "I thought you didn't like 3 Inches of Blood!"

"Woah, woah, Shirley! Easy girl!" Adrian said soothingly, not wanting the Cliche Stick to turn on him next. "Can we talk to Ben for a second?"

"Fine." Shirley hopped off Ben's chest and plopped down onto a nearby chair.

"Are you doing OK?" Tash asked.

Ben nodded, wincing, rubbing a hand over his bandaged leg.

Tash noticed. "We finally managed to stop the bleeding and we had you on an IV drip for a while to help replace the lost blood."

Ben chuckled. "I'm surprised a little thing like that took me out, all the blood loss I've suffered at Shirley's hands over the years."

"At any rate," Adrian said. "Tyler and Drake claim you were attacked by your Pro-Cliche and Mary-Sue Protection Society counterpart?"

Ben nodded. "His name's Neb and he has an unhealthy obsession with leather."

Tash folded her arms. "That's odd. So far, the only time we've encountered these people is when we were after Sues and they were guarding them. They're getting more aggressive."

"According to Neb, Bella sent him after me." Ben offered.

Adrian shrugged. "Oh, well, there you go then."

Ben frowned. "But that doesn't sound like Bella at all. Whenever I've fought her, she prefers to do all the dirty work herself!"

Tash shrugged. "Ask her the next time you see her. But in order to do that, you need to rest!"

Adrain nodded as the two turned to go. "Oh, and, Shirley?" He called over his shoulder. "Go easy on him? He's trying to recuperate!"

Shirley bared her fangs. "Oh, don't worry, I will."

Ben paled. "You're not serious..."

"Bye!" Tash called back.

"Oh, c'mon, don't leave me in here with her! ARRRGH! THE TEEH! OH, GOD THE TEETH!"

Tash shot Adrian a look as they walked off, Ben's screams growing fainter behind them.

"Why'd we leave him in there alone with Shirley again?"

"Because he was tickling my kitty ears with a feather duster earlier" Adrian explained.

Tash nodded. "Oh, right. And you hooked up the call button to shock him, right?"



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