By Sean (Dust Man)
(In a surprisingly well-lit office with pastel colors that act in complete disregard for the stereotypes of shady business transactions…)
Porter : How is current status of our projects?
Prometheus : Slowed at the moment. We have run into some delays in technological development and recruitment because of our need for secrecy. At current pace it is unlikely we will make any major progress for several more years.
Porter : And your solution to this is?
Prometheus : A little bit of a distraction. And I have an idea that not only will keep eyes off of us, but also let us do a bit of testing at the same time. I admit that some of this plan exists to fulfill some petty desires on my part, but nothing that should harm future plans.
Porter : If there is one thing I enjoy about this partnership it is your efficiency and honesty. Now what do we need to do?
(Elsewhere, in Kalinka Cossack’s laboratory some repairs are being done on the resident Toad Man.)
Kalinka : How the hell did you lose both of your eyes?
Toad Man : I fell down some stairs.
Kalinka : And get a hole punched through your side?
Toad Man : I fell down some stairs.
Kalinka : Your kneecaps and elbows have been swapped.
Toad Man : I fell down some stairs?
Kalinka : Geoff… why?
Dive Man : Dunno what yer talkin’ about.
Toad Man : Do I get my present now?
Dive Man : Sure thing, buddy. I hid it in the dumpster out back.
Toad Man : That makes it two presents in one!
Kalinka : Do you know how stretched are budget is? We can only bill the RPD for damages that happen during official business.
Dive Man : And I have volunteered ta go collect donations for you in the lord’s name, but ya keep refusin’ fer some reason.
Kalinka : We really don’t need another PR disaster. I’d rather bet on the random coincidences that seem to rule our very existence to carry us through this.
Nástenka: Kalinka, you have a call from Porter C. Powell on hold.
Kalinka : It is sad how often that works out.
Dive Man : God, I am sorry fer doubtin’ you. But would it kill ya ta let me in on the plan more often?
Kalinka : CL-DOS, put Porter on the main screen.
CL-DOS: Certainly, Kalinka.
(A screen flickers on.)
Porter : Lovely to see you again, Miss Cossack.
Kalinka : The pleasure is all yours, what mess do I need to cling up for you this time?
Porter : You wound me. And here I was going to invite you to a demonstration being done on some new energy research. I have one lab that has been working with a new vendor and dealing with some exotic materials that he was able to acquire. In fact I’d like to even pay to have your team and expertise on hand in the event something goes wrong.
Kalinka : And I am sure nothing will.
Porter : That would be a very unfortunate and unlikely event if it did. The only downside is that I have had a meeting just come up that conflicts meaning that I will be unable to accompany you myself.
Kalinka : A tragedy. And the reason you chose us versus others in the RPD?
Porter : Inviting Crorq would require a much larger catering budget than I am willing to allocate. And this may very well be my personal opinion, but I believe we’ve created a rather wonderful working relationship. You will need to inform me of how everything went after the fact. What I am sure will be a boring and straightforward conversation. Now I hope you have an enjoyable visit and do take care.
(The screen returns to black.)
Kalinka : Well time to gather the team.
Ring Man : We are already here.
Bright Babe : We need to deal with this shady power company again?
Kalinka : Wait. I know that Geoff was in here with me when got the call, but when did the rest of you get here?
CL-DOS: I took the liberty of calling them after you began talking with Porter.
Kalinka : Anyways, everyone get ready where going on a field trip.
CL-DOS: Ooh, I don’t think I’ve ever been outside of the lab before. Should I acquire permission slips for everyone?
Kalinka : … That is not necessary. And CL-DOS, you don’t have a body.
CL-DOS: And? … Oh… Home alone again.
Dust Man : If we just need a body I could probably construct something out of the spare parts. It won’t necessarily be that sturdy or pretty but could easily whip up at least something with the necessary sensory equipment to-
Kalinka : It’s not necessary. I need CL-DOS to be able to continue managing the laboratory without distractions. Gunker will also be staying behind because I do not wish to risk loss or damage to any backup files or systems.
Gunker : Gunker accepts tiny boss woman’s plan. Tiny people doorways only anger Gunker with their tiny attempts to hinder his progress.
Ring Man : What about you and Nástenka?
Nástenka: What about us?
Drill Man : As much as it pains me to agree with our traitorous Ring, would it really be safe for you two to go?
Kalinka : Well, there is a chance my scientific expertise will be needed or my ability to smooth things over after one of you causes a problem.
Skull Man : Planning ahead is a wise tactical decision.
Kalinka : Also some of you may have forgotten my shotgun. *grabs the aforementioned item and begins to twirl it with one hand*
Pharaoh Woman : Why does she carry that old weapon?
Toad Man : No idea, but she keeps smacking me with it when I eat her tools.
Kalinka : As for Nástenka-
Nástenka: You forget that I am not only a secretarial unit but also a bodyguard one. One of the original problems I was built to solve was that where be someone to remove any of Kalinka Cossack’s would be suitors.
Bright Babe : So you scared them off?
Nástenka: After the first one most were kept away by fear, yes.
Dive Man : Ya know, yer startin’ ta grow on me.
Kalinka : Moving on, if there are no more objections it is best we head out.
(The Cossacks depart and reach one of Porter C. Powell’s research facilities. This one unlike the one visited in the prior encounter with the Panzerkons and Ballade, is alive with bustling people. A familiar face greets them when they enter.)
Burke : Greetings, Cossack’s Comrades and Dr. Kalinka. It is good to see you today.
Dive Man : Ya know ya never did call me.
Burke : I’ve been quite busy. We’ve been researching some new energy alternatives after the recent setback with Energon. If I may introduce you to our new vendor who has made this possible and hunted down so many rare and unique forms of raw energy.
(A large figure steps out from around the corner. His shadow falls over the eight robot masters, Kalinka, and the secretarial robot. Quickly a look of horror falls upon five of the robot masters and Kalinka.)
Kalinka : No, just no.
Drill Man : What did you do, John?! Of all the things you could have done to betray us why this?
Ring Man : I have no idea what you are talking about.
Dive Man : Look, I’m sorry God but this goes past being passive aggressive. This is just mean.
Dust Man : Thinking about it, when we last came across him didn’t you call god a ‘prick’ and threaten to crack open his skull?
Dive Man : Damn it, that was before we actually met. C’mon can’t you let bygones be bygones?
Swindle : Well, if it isn’t some of my favorite old pals the Comrades. It was always a pleasure doing business with you.
Skull Man : Question. After your various scams and counterfeit products how are you still in business?
Swindle : You wound me. I assure you that everything now carries the Swindle Satisfaction Guarantee. If I’m not satisfied, we can work out a new payment plan. Also I am offering cheap rentals as a try before you buy strategy. Still no refunds but you may be able to use store credit towards something that costs more than your original product especially when you sign up for our customer support via a low monthly payment.
Kalinka : Gunker and CL-DOS have to be having a better time than this.
(Meanwhile back in Kalinka Cossack’s laboratory…)
Gunker : I must say, this tea you just made is just divine.
CL-DOS: Thank you. It was this new recipe I found online that –
(Suddenly a wormhole opens up across the table from Gunker and a swarm of odd creatures begin to hurry out.)
Zergling : KEKEKE!
Gunker :Tiny mutant thing, Gunker smash!
(Now back to the situation at Powell’s research facility.)
Swindle : So you see via cunning business deals, being willing to trade with anyone, and explorations I’ve managed to get a hold of some types of energy that no one ever heard of.
Skull Man : I would like to inform everyone that odds of a situation occurring where we need to participate in combat have raised to 85%.
Dive Man : Look, even I’m not gonna take that bet.
Kalinka : So what have you been working on?
Burke : Well after the difficulties with the Panzerkon subjects, we’ve been testing on simpler machines such as metools. Our first test subject has been given a new power battery utilizing a type of energy called ‘Phazon.’
(A motion is made towards a window looking into a small room. A metool is inside it with both eyes and some exposed wiring glowing blue.)
Phazon Metool : Hiss. *It kicks the wall and the sound reverberates through the room*
Burke : As you can see there is a rather significant increase in power. Phazon injections can also have similar effects on organics but we are going to have to fix the various side effects that both types of subjects suffer before we attempt further testing in that area.
Kalinka : Side effects?
Swindle : Insanity, rejection, organ failure, mutations, death, hallucinations, suddenly turning inexplicably evil. Just the usual side effects from new mysterious power sources.
Ring Man : The usual side effects?!
Burke : In the stream of Phazon Swindle was able to locate we also found this small colony of odd creatures that seem capable of possessing and changing both mechanical and organic beings. Without a host they seem incapable of leaving their current environment and surviving so any outbreak has been avoided. Those they possess seem to go through some upgrades though. We have begun calling them the ‘Ing.’ And what they possess we refer to as a Darkling.
(Another window into a small room. This one contains a metool whose color scheme has darkened and shifted to mostly black. It has a glowing red eye and appears to have claws. It has fired its buster at the window numerous times leading to several scorch marks.)
Darkling Metool : *Glares at Burke, Kalinka, and Avi*
Pharaoh Woman : But metools are so cute, why does this one dislike my royal visage? Is my headdress on crooked?
Burke : We have also determined that they have some yet to be explained natural dislike towards blonde woman. This sometimes carries over to green-haired woman for other reasons have yet to determine.
Dive Man : Maybe they are gettin’ over a bad breakup.
Burke : That hypothesis has yet to be explored.
Nástenka: For obvious reasons.
Swindle : Now the next one here is real interesting.
(A window into a room with … a quite normal looking metool. Suddenly a small coin is fired out of a wall and … goes through a coin slot that suddenly appeared on the metool. Soon out from the metool comes another with pincers, small wings, claws, and antennae. The new metool begins scratching at the wall.
Pharaoh Woman : Look! It has little feelers and cute little fangs and-
Bright Babe : Avi, calm down.
Pharaoh Woman : Ahem, I have no idea what you are talking about. As the chosen emissary of the Egyptian pantheon I am of course always calm.
Burke : That coin is called a cell medal. They are made from greed or possibly a better way of putting it would be desire. The term for the more monstrous creature created is called a … ‘Yummy.’ This terminology was not created at this lab I would like the record to show. Also there is another thing worth noting.
(A turret seems to come down from the ceiling of the room containing the ‘Metool Yummy.’)
Metool Yummy : !
(The turret then opens fire and the monster metool bursts into a few coins.)
Pharaoh Woman : How dare you! Anubis please umm please weigh that metool against a really heavy and big feather, potentially the whole bird. This is a request from your Russian pharaoh queen. Uh, if it isn’t too much trouble considering your difficult time dealing with the dead and dealing with zombie problems.
Burke : As they fulfill or attempt to fulfill the desire of the individual person they are made from, they grow in power and generate more medals. The monsters created are also fairly resistant to any attacks not powered by these medals. At the moment we have not been able to develop anything other than combat equipment that we can power with these medals.
Swindle : But really, if you have military contracts which I know you do that isn’t really a problem.
Burke : Finally we have one material we have not quite been able to test yet.
(A glass display case is shown. A purple piece of metal with a ‘z’ marked onto it is on display.)
Burke : This is called ‘Zonder’ metal. From what Swindle has been able to provide-
Swindle : Which is completely accurate as long as you pay top dollar.
Burke : It was original developed as a way of converting stress into energy. As a way of both providing power and working as a psychological tool to improve people’s life. However while under its effects the individual’s stress is amplified, their behavior becomes rather destructive, and they begin to absorb and merge with any and all nearby machinery as they constantly transform into a larger and more dangerous form. American scientists were able to develop a resonance technique to destroy these medals and there are individuals that can be contacted who can purify an individual of their influence returning them to natural form. There are very few of these metals in existence and they only work on intelligent, organic life. We also would have difficulty containing a test subject since they could potentially absorb whatever we use to contain them.
Ring Man : Is it me or do these all have a theme?
Drill Man : Well, that will make it easier for you to send a report to your secret masters then.
Dust Man : No. All of these seem to have the ability create powerful but mindless soldiers. All have high destructive capabilities and can be difficult to suppress without the right tools and equipment.
Skull Man : Affirmative. It brings to question what type of organization would be researching these ‘power sources.’
Swindle : Fellows, relax. You’re sounding paranoid. Of course everything I sell has some combat potential; I mean I’m a weapons dealer primarily for crying out loud. Though I will sell anything else I find of course. I leave it to you eggheads like Anna and Kalinka here to come up with other uses.
Kalinka : I bet CL-DOS is happy to have stayed behind now.
Archon : POWER OVERWHELMING!
CL-DOS: Yay, those energy things are helping take care of the monsters!
High Templar : We must purge this world to stop the spread of the Zerg.
Gunker : Bring it on, tiny floating thing!
Over-1: I just got your call, now what is spewing out of a wormhole here? Oh, cra-
(And now back to the far more interesting research laboratory.)
Kalinka : Questionable materials aside, everything seems in order here and it looks like we can leave.
(A large explosion is heard, smoke billows into the room. Ballade walks in, grinning like a maniac and dragging a security guard.)
Ballade : *tosses the security guard in front of him* He tried to stop me from my revenge. They all did, until I started killing them. But he finally started talking. They all did as they babbled on how to save themselves. But talk does so little. And now it is time for me to finally destroy the Comrades all by myself.
(Ballade charges forward firing wildly, and the Comrades jump out of the way. Kalinka, Nástenka, and Anna are all pushed out of the line of fire as the Comrades prepare to engage in combat. But Ballade continues to rush forward and crash through another wall into one of the test rooms. He then emerges holding three coin like objects in his hand.)
Ballade : No futile team-ups with other villains, you’ll now die by my hand. Just me. *begins throwing the coins into his forehead, leading to monstrous, slightly insect-like Ballades to crawl out of him*
Ballade Yummy #1 : Me.
Ballade Yummy #2 : Me.
Ballade Yummy #3 : And me.
(A large barrage of Ballade Crackers is fired and they all charge forward to engage the Comrades. Drill and Dust begin engaging the original, with Dust attempting to use his vacuum’s power to hold the insane robotic killer in place for a salvo of drill missiles, but their opponent charges through. Dive and Skull attempt to pin down one of the Ballade Yummies, but find it to agile. Another ignores Bright’s light and avoids being entangled by the attacks of Ring. The last shrugs off Toad’s acid rain and Pharaoh’s concentrated blasts. Little by little the CC are forced back.)
Drill Man : Darn it, shouldn’t the duplicates at least be weaker?
Dust Man : If Ballade’s greatest desire is out destruction and as they fulfill it they grow than while they potentially were weaker than him at the start the lon- *Dust becomes interrupted by a swift kick sending him flying into the wall* Ack… Let me simplify and just say the longer this fight goes on the worse it gets for us.
Dive Man : Damn it, since when is Ballade this strong?
Ballade : I was robbed of a chance of killing a Dive Man once, oh how I wish it was me that got to fire the shot. Maybe now I'll get that glorious opportunity. But first, *he walks over to the case displaying the zonder metal and breaks it* I believe I was told this little piece of metal will make a mechanical monster out of any human. And there is such a hated human here. *flicks the metal with great precision at Kalinka and it sticks to her head*
Kalinka : Ow… Stay away… I can’t…
Nástenka: Kalinka, what’s wrong?
Kalinka : ZONDER!
(Mechanical tendrils grab onto Nástenka and begin to take her apart and pull her into Kalinka’s shifting form. More reach out and begin to grab at the rubble from the oncoming battle. They reach out further towards the walls, the comrades, and even Swindle and Ms. Burke who had been staying out of the way.)
Ballade : Yes, rip your family apart and devour them!
(Suddenly the tendrils start and begin to twist and move towards Ballade.)
Ballade : What?! You are supposed to be a mindless monster!
Zonder Kalinka : YOU HURT MY FAMILY! ZONDER! PREPARE TO DIE!
(Zonder Kalinka charges, her arm shifting into a mass of gun barrels that open fire. The Ballade Yummies jump in the way only to be ripped apart as Zonder Kalina attempts to absorb them leaving a scattered array of coins.)
Ballade : Stay back! *Returns fire, but gets blasted back through several walls* Ugh…
(Zonder Kalinka charges after, grabbing pieces of debris and using it to enhance her new form. Ballade finds some strangle blue energy seep into the room he just fell into as a shadowy form swirls overhead and begins to touch his armor.)
Ballade : Heh, heh, heh… Whispering shadow, you think you can overpower my mind? You think your thoughts can extinguish the inferno that is my constant hatred for all that carry the name ‘Cossack?’ You know nothing! But join me and I will give your people the world after I have left it in ruin!
(The shadowy form of the Ing swirls around Ballade and seems to suck in the spilled Phazon. His armor changes to be darker as it shifts.)
Darkling Ballade : Yes… Now let’s see what we can do… *catches a punch thrown from Zonder Kalinka and resists being sucked in and absorbed* I believe this is closer to a fair fight, though I loathe the word fair. *Returns a kick that sends Zonder Kalinka into the opposing wall.*
Zonder Kalinka : Zonder… *Tendrils are sent out into the floor, walls, and ceiling of the room. The lights flicker. Some of the tendrils glow blue, visibly showing a flow of Phazon into the monstrous Cossack. A few then reach out and begin to pick up and pull in the previously discarded medal remains of the Ballade Yummies* ZONDER!
Darkling Ballade : Now, that is just cheating.
Dust Man : Did we just become redundant?
Skull Man : I see little tactical value that we can contribute to this fight.
Drill Man : See what your traitorous ways have wrought?
Ring Man : Is there anyone having a weirder day?
Ultralisk : *ROAR*
Gunker : GUNKER NOT FOOD!
High Templar : Can’t you see this world is lost, stop getting in our way!
Over-1: And can’t you see I won’t let you destroy a planet over what could be an easily contained situation if you would just help!
CL-DOS: Go Team Cossack! Go Team Not Destroy the Earth! … I really wish I could have a body to help with… Wait! I control the security system! I have turrets!
Over-1: You just remembered that now?!
(Now back to the research laboratory.)
Swindle : Well, I look forward to providing you the various tools and material you need to repair or replace anything damaged or lost in this attack at a more than reasonable price.
Burke : I hope we are still collecting this data.
Darkling Ballade : WHY! *kick* WON’T! *punch* YOU! *head-butt* DIE! *salvo of explosives*
Zonder Kalinka : Zonder… I could say the same thing… *both arms combine to form one rather large cannon* ZONDER!
Bright Babe : We need to help.
Skull Man : Tactically speaking, our only meaningful contribution is likely to be parts for Kalinka to use.
Drill Man : Well we won’t know unless we try, Cossacks roll out!
(The Cossack’s Comrades each begin to fire off their weapons. Most bounce harmlessly off Ing Ballade or get avoided, but Bright’s flash of light suddenly sends their opponent reeling.)
Darkling Ballade : AGGHH! What did you jus- *a blast of energy from Zonder Kalinka hits him from behind* Stop interrupting me!
Pharaoh Woman : Now taste the divine wrath of uh… Ra?
Dust Man : Ra would be appropriate.
Pharaoh Woman : Yes, taste the divine wrath of Ra! *fires off a Pharaoh Shot*
Darkling Ballade : Ack! Why are you insects now hurting me? *His body slowly starts shifting back to normal* What do you mean the Ing are weak to light?! I thought I was teaming up with a powerful alien life form not some wussy vampire! Can I still cross a river or break into buildings, or is that too much for you to handle?
Zonder Kalinka : Light? *reaches up and begins ripping out and absorbing all the ceiling lights* Zonder… I can do that! *at the end of each arm one giant bulb forms and then not only lights up, but is fired like a rocket at the Ing Ballade, blasting away his recent ally*
Ballade : Damn it… *arm begins to spark and fall off* Why did I use that damn metal… Why did I try to be partners with a damn shadow… I won’t fail again! I will see your corpses at my feet! *teleports away*
Zonder Kalinka : *Turns towards Ms. Burke* CALL. THE. PURIFICATION. EXPERT. NOW!
Burke : Already called! Already called! Just please wait a few minutes and not eat the rest of the lab!
(Roughly 30 minutes later…)
Dive Man : Yer purification expert is a Japanese boy who is really an alien that happens ta be able to take a form similar to an angel and turns people back ta normal with vaguely latin chanting while glowin’ green?
Burke : There are only two individuals capable of such an act currently on Earth and the other is identical except for being slightly ruder and glowing red.
Kalinka : My head…
Nástenka: At least you are currently more than a head.
Burke : Purification usually leaves you in a more euphoric state as all the stress used to power the Zonder form is now gone… Perhaps the intake of the Phazon, cell medals, and other lab substances is also causing an extra effect.
Kalinka : Or I’m going through withdrawal since my body can’t handle the lack of stress… Ow.
Porter : I can’t believe this. Not only were so many lab samples ruined and so much damage done, but the majority of it directly at your hands. In fact the attack only happened because Ballade came here to go after you and your team. Tisk, tisk. I wonder what the rest of the RPD would say?
Kalinka : One, not in the mood for this. Two, considering how often these happen there are laws preventing being prosecuted for ‘attracting’ villains and for being unwillingly turned into a monster. This is apparently the world we live in. So it is usually just a legal mess and a PR nightmare. But now for three. Speaking of PR nightmares, what will be the public’s response to discovering that your research facility that is supposed to be discovering new clean and renewable energy sources contains a lot of odd substances that seem to only turn civilians into mindless monsters or rather soldiers. I wonder what the reaction would be?
Dive Man : I love workin’ for that woman.
Porter : Now, now. I only posed a question. In fact much of this could be blamed on the fact my security force seems to need an upgrade. After the Panzerkons breaking out of the Energon research facility and now Ballade breaking into this one, they clearly are some combination of not well enough equipped, trained, or built. As a show of thanks, let me personally cover not only your medical bill but also the repairs of your Comrades.
Kalinka : Deal, but I am handling the repairs myself. I’m not letting any of your men tamper them.
Porter : The thought never crossed my mind.
(Hours later, the Comrades, Nástenka, and Kalinka return to base and see Gunker mopping up some alien guts while Over-1 shakes hands with some other armored, robed, hovering alien while some being comprised entirely of energy stands in the background?)
Kalinka : What?
High Templar : You have shown we were too quick to judge. Your planet is capable of protecting itself against the Zerg threat, at least an invasion of this scale at present time. We apologize for potentially overreacting in our initial meeting.
Over-1: Not a problem, now if you can just exit through the swirling portal that brought you here that would be real great.
Archon : Farewell.
Kalinka : What happened here?
Over-1: I am counting that as two alien invasions thwarted and taking my five minute break.
CL-DOS: Just the usual.
Drill Man : Why does that feel accurate?
Dive Man : Cuz God works in mysterious and sometimes mean-spirited ways?
Dust Man : Because this is what our job basically is at this point?
Drill Man : Fair.
Toad Man : Oooh, let me help clean that up! *begins licking at the floor*
Kalinka : We just replaced that tongue…
Pharaoh Woman : It is good to see that… uhh…. whoever the Egyptian god or goddess of the home is protected and bless this place in my absence.
Porter : So that went better than expected didn’t it.
Prometheus : Yes, Anna says the data we have from the Panzerkons, Ballade, Kalinka, and the Metools that we should have a revolutionary new prototype power supply done soon. All Cossacks were pinned at one of two observable locations and kept from noticing any other anomalies that occurred today. I’d say recruitment is practically comp-
(A nearby wall collapses under a mighty pickaxe)
Metool Daddy : Who dared subject my children to such horrific experiments!
Prometheus : *bows* I apologize, but I may be the one at fault. I assure you I only worked with volunteers, it was simply that the side effects turned out to be greater than I expected. If an arm would appease your justified wrath, then I would hap- *a pickaxe came down and lopped off Prometheus’s arm*
Metool Daddy : It might.
Prometheus : Ow… Was not expecting you to actually take that offer. But it was offer I did provide so I have no regrets.
Porter : Now, with that out of the way I believe we would like to offer a deal to such an illustrious and kind ruler such as yourself.
Metool Daddy : For now I listen, but do not think I will stop at your arm if my children are in danger.
Prometheus : Of course, of course. I assure you, you will be very interested in hearing our offer.
(To be continued…)
AM as Drill Man Sean as Dust Man Geoff as Dive Man
Jet as Bright Babe Hunter as Skull Man
John as Ring Man Avi as Pharaoh Woman Flippy as Toad Man