By Spark Man.exe
(At the Parasol Ham Corporation HQ, Electopia...)
Worker: Well sir, I've got some good news and bad news.
Manager: What's the good news?
Worker: The good news is that we got our shipment of magic hams are ready to go, down to the last additive.
Manager: (smiles) Excellent! I already have our buyers picked out, and I'm sure they'll be frequent customers too. But what's the bad news?
Worker: Our delivery staff tried to go on strike, so we had to let them go.
Manager: All of them?!
Worker: They're getting their severance pay as we speak.
Manager: Damnit! (slams his fist on the desk) This couldn't have come at a worse time! We can't spare anyone without falling behind on our next project.
Worker: But I think I've got a solution. This was in our inbox: "Got problems? Need help? Got some money you're willing to spend? Then call the Darklight Mercenaries!!! We'll do anything for cash! No matter where you are, one of our associates will come to assist you! Offer valid anywhere in the world!!!! Interested? Contact Guilter or Cold Man.exe today! PS: We don't ask too many questions."
Manager: ...Get our shipment of Magic Hams ready. Our new delivery boys will be here soon.
(That afternoon, at the Electopia Scilab...)
Scientist: Is everyone here? Good. Today, I have gathered here some of the most elite net battlers and vigilantes from around the world for the gravest of matters.
Dr. Hikari: No, thank you, Alfred. This is a matter that has concerned me for a while now.
Lan: (running around wearing a yellow bicycle helmet) YAYYY!!! YOU BROUGHT TWO OF MY FRIENDS YAYY!
David: Thanks. We're glad to be here, Ms. Stake was starting a get a little grouchy.
Dr. Cossack: Huh? Who? Oh. It's you, Hikari. I don't like you.
Cyros: How did he get here?
Jon: (hangs head) I felt lonely without him...
Chaud: Yeah, but I couldn't talk Raika into coming. *sniff* It's like he wants nothing to do with me...*sobs*
Adrienne: It's better to have loved and lost than have never loved at all. (pats Chaud on the shoulder)
Dr. Hikari: I just hope this is enough. Lan said he e-mailed someone for some extra help. Whoever he asked for better be up to the job though.
Alfred: (watches Lan run into a wall repeatedly) Yeah, I'm sure they're topnotch. Anyway, the issue at hand here are the reports of a new infection that's slowly spreading through the net. Observe. (punches up a visual of several decrepit navis brutally ravaging a group of normal navis)
Chaud: (regains composure) Yes. Any navi that's infected starts ignoring its operator's commands and starts mindlessly killing anyone within arm's reach, spreading the infection.
Moe: Yeah, I thought we were the only ones who had problems with this. What bothers me is how quickly these navis appeared. It's like they came up overnight.
Dr. Hikari: (puts a CD on the table) Here. I've been working on a customizer program to counter this. It's still in the works, but with a little fine-tuning, I think it-
Dr. Cossack: Thanks! The Eurhythmics are my favorite group! (grabs the CD and puts it in a CD player) Aw, I've got this album already. Several copies actually.
Chaud: Someone should get that.
Jonathan: Yep. Someone should....
Chaud: ...Don't everyone get up at once. (tries to make his way through a maze of donut boxes and trips on the Hobo) Is this really necessary?
Moe: We don't tell you how to do your job. Don't tell us how to do ours.
Chaud: Humph! (answers the door indignantly) What is it?
Nathan: Uh hi. You must be Chaud. Are Lan and Dr. Hikari here?
Dr. Hikari: Yes. Can I help you?
Nathan: I represent the Parasol Ham Corporation. And in light of the contributions to society you three have made, we'd like to award you with these free magic hams.
Net Guardians: Free food!! (rush outside the lab)
Nathan: Oh you guys are here too? Cool, that's convenient. Help yourselves, there's plenty for everyone!
Cyros: Hey, don't I know you from somewhere?
Nathan: ...No, I don't think so.
Cyros: You sure? I swear, I've seen you before...not often, but I'm positive that I know you.
David: Hey! You're holding up the line!
Cyros: Oh well. Send some more our way whenever. (grabs his ham)
Nathan: It's a pleasure! (grabs Dr. Cossack) Hey pal, one per customer.
Dr. Cossack: (reveals several pieces of ham bulging out of his jacket) You don't understand. One of them is for the "good" Dr. Cossack, another for the "bad" Dr. Cossack, another for the "horny" Dr. Cossack, and another for me! Hee hee!(goes inside)
Lan: (grabs his ham) THANKS FOR THE MAJIC HAMS LADY! YAYY! (goes inside)
Adrienne: Wow, we struck gold! (eats her ham along with everyone else) Hey Alfred, wanna bite?
Alfred: Thanks, but no thanks, I'm a vegetarian. But knock yourselves out, I could use a bathroom break anyway. (walks out)
Lan: (eats his ham)THESE NO MAJICAL! BOOOO! WE OUGHTA-(stops dead as his eyes glaze over and stare off into space) Whooooaahhh....Far...out maaaannnn!
Carlos: You okay, Lan? (suddenly stops dead and stares at his hands)....Duddde. My hands are HUUGGE! They can touch everything but themselves! ...Oh there they go.
(As the group falls into a stupor, Alfred can be seen outside, getting in a taxi and speeding off. But meanwhile, back at the Darklight Mercenaries' base...)
Nathan: Damnit, that wasn't the kind of job I had in mind when I signed up. Why the hell did they need us to deliver hams?
Spark Man.exe: What do you expect? Work's slow for budding mercs. Still, for a delivery job, they paid pretty well.
Nathan: Yeah, but I was hoping to at least bust into somewhere like-
Spark Man.exe: Hey shut up for a minute. I got a message from Cold Man. He says Lan wants to hire us and to meet him at the Scilab at one.
Nathan: Him again? Well at least it may be exciting than delivering hams.
(later, at the Scilab...)
Nathan: (knocks on the door and checks watch) Man, where is he?
Lan: (skating around the hall) Wh-wheeeee! I'm using my Shade Soul!
Nathan: What the hell? Lan, where were you-
(Suddenly, Lan carelessly rollerblades into Nathan head-on, knocking him out)
Lan: Hey, who threw this body at me?
Chaud: (opens the door) What happened? (sees Nathan's body) Oh my god!
Dr. Hikari: (steps outside) Dude! You killed him!
Lan: I did?! Oh shit man! I killed him! The cops are gonna bust me! I gotta bury him in the backyard!
Chaud: Wait, no! You gotta dissolve the body in tub of acid! We can use the fountain out front; no one will see us there!
Dr. Hikari You two aren't thinking clearly! The best thing to do is chop the body up and THEN dump it in the fountain!
Nathan: (gets ups slowly) Agh! That really hurt you jackass!
All: AHHHHHH!!!! He's become the living dead! (pummel Nathan with fire extinguishers) Die monster! Die!
Nathan: (grabs the extinguishers out of their hands) No! Other than all that, I'm fine! What's got into you?! This isn't the job you requested for, is it?
Lan: Huh? How did you know about that?!
Chaud: Oh my god! He's a pyschic zombie!
Chaud and Dr. Hikari: Pyschic Zombie!! AHHHHHHH!!! (run outside)
Nathan: No! I'm the guy you hired, Lan! Now what's the job you wanted me for?!
Lan: Oh you sure? Whoah...Come in man. (grabs an extinguisher after Nathan goes inside) Better keep this handy.
Nathan: So, what's the job anyway?
Lan: (takes a bite of his ham) What job? (stares at Nathan with glazed-over eyes)
Nathan: Ugh! Cold Man said you hired us!
Lan: Oh yeah. We've got a serious problem. I got a wicked of the munchies! HAHAHAHA! (takes a big bite of his ham)
Nathan: Damnit you little shit! Be serious!
Lan: Okay, okay, wait a minute wait a minute...HOOOOOO! AHAHAAAHAA! (takes another bite of his ham) You want a hit of this?
Nathan: Ughhh...I'm leaving.
Lan: No, wait a minute...We were trying to deal with a pack of whacko navis or something like that.
Nathan: Okay, now we're talking. Where are they right now? Actually, don't answer that. I'll just find out myself. Jack in! Spark Man.exe! Transmit!
Spark Man.exe: Okay, I'm in the Scilab area. I don't see anything here though.
Nathan: Keep looking. At least until that hammed-out twerp says something coherent.
Lan: Yeah! You tell him, sister!
Spark Man.exe: No, Scilab Area 2 looks clean too. Lemme check area 3.
(Spark Man enters Scilab Area 3 and comes to a T-junction, ony to find a horde of shambling decrepit navis)
Navi mob: Uhhhhh.....Ohhhhnnnnn....
Spark Man.exe: I think I found them.
Nathan: What are they? Zombies? They look and sound like crap.
Spark Man.exe: Ah, who cares? (fires several spark shocks at the mob, but they keep lurching foward)
Nathan: What the hell? That would've brought down a regular navi...
Spark Man.exe: Well we're not dealing with normal navis, are we? (fires several more spark shocks, but the zombies remain unfazed)
Zombie: Raaaargh! (crawls up to Spark Man and grabs his leg)
Spark Man.exe: No free samples! (impales the navi's head with his conductors)
Zombie: Arrrrgghhh!! (collapses and doesn't get up)
Spark Man.exe: I think we found our magic bullet. (skewers another zombie's head)
Nathan: Good, 'cause they did too.
(Spark Man turns around and sees a fresh wave of shambling navis approaching from SciLab 2).
Zombie mob: Uhhhhhnnnn....
Spark Man.exe: This isn't fun anymore. (cloaks himself, runs down the t-junction, animates the zombie navis' shadows which slices their heads off.)
Nathan: There. That wasn't so tough. Are there any left?
Spark Man.exe: (reappears and checks out the Scilab Areas) No, I think it's clean. If Lan's out of his stupor, collect our earnings.
Nathan: That's not an unreasonable request. Hey, Mucnhie Boy. We took care of your-
Spark Man.exe: Yow! What the?
Nathan: What's wrong?
Spark Man.exe: See for yourself!
(Suddenly, several zombie navis begin getting back up, their heads reattached and surrounding Spark Man!)
Nathan: You've got to be kidding me. They can regenerate?
Revived Navi mob: huuuuhhhh.... (lunge toward Spark Man)
Spark Man.exe: (desperately pushes the zombies away as he backs down the T-junction) Apparently.
Nathan: Hang on! I'll see if I can't get any help! Lan! Any chance at all you how to delete these guys!?
Lan: Hold on! (starts punching buttons on his PET)
Lan: Hang on...
Lan: I got it!
Nathan: What do you got?
Lan: The tune to Mario Brothers! (presses his PET's buttons in tune Mario's theme) Dee,dee,dee,deedeedee! (eats his ham)
Mega Man.exe: FATAL ERRROR! MASTER BOOT SECTOR CORRUPTED!! PET SHUTTING DOWN!!
Nathan: That's it! (grabs Lan's ham and throws it down the garbage chute)
Lan: That was my last fatty you asshole! (dives down the chute) Why is everyone riding me today? Ah damnit...
Spark Man.exe: (frantically impaling navis) No pressure here.
Nathan: Just hang in there! Let me try the Net Guardians!
(Nathan frantically runs into the next lab, but trips over the hobo and falls face first into a wall of unforgiving donut boxes)
Nathan: Freakin' hobo...(climbs out of the boxes) Guys! I need your help! There are these zombie navis that can regenerate and-
David: (standing in front of a tall, narrow, grey, featureless cubicle wall) Okay! Okay! Do it again guys!
(Adrienne and Moe hum the theme from 2001, A Space Odyssey as David slowly throws a ham bone up. It hits the ceiling with a resounding bang and gets lodged in the tile)
Carlos: Dude! I told you it would turn into a spaceship!
Jonathan: Sweet...Let me try!
Dr. Cossack: (eating his ham while feverishly scribbling notes) Wow! I haven't been able to think this clearly in who knows how long! Yes...yes...it's all coming back to me again! Now for the coup de grace! (inserts Dr. Hikari's disk into his computer and quickly enters some coding) Eureka!
Nathan: Dr. Cossack! Thank god! We got a serious problem on our hands! There's a horde of zombie navis in the Scilab area!
Dr. Cossack: Yes! Yes! I know all about that! I just completed Dr. Hikari's customizer program! Quick, let's get it installed in your navi!
(back in the other lab...)
Dr. Cossack: At first, the situation was a complete hopeless quandary to me. But after eating the magic hams you delivered, the solution opened itself up to me! (grabs Nathan's PET and futzes with it)
Nathan: Hey, hey! I've had bad experiences with "experts" screwing with my PET. I don't want have to steal your PET too.
Dr. Cossack: Trust me. The problem at hand here is that the virus infecting these navis also gives them uncharted regeneration. In fact, it is so potent, that it can even regenerate a navi's head! So the key here isn't destroying the infected navi, but the infection itself. (hands the PET back) All finished, try it now.
Spark Man.exe: (trapped in a corner) Ah, that didn't take long. (impales a zombie but when he does, it reverts into an unconscious navi upon contact) What the?
Nathan: It's working! Do that again!
Spark Man.exe: (winces in pain) Augh!
Nathan: What's up?
Spark Man.exe: It's nothing. Remind me to thank Doc afterwards. (fires spark shocks while winching in pain)
(The zombie mob continues lurching foward, but can't stand up to Spark Man's new weapon. Within moments, the mob is trasnformed into harmless knocked-out navis. Spark Man however, is on his knees, propping himself on his conductors)
Spark Man.exe: That should do it, and not a moment too soon. Who knows why, but my HP's running on fumes. Nathan, you sure your PET didn't get F-ed up again?
Dr. Cossack: Oh yes, that. That program draws on your HP in order to neutralize the infection. The more you use it, the weaker you become.
Nathan: Geez, couldn't you find another energy source?! ...Well, I guess it worked for the better. After all, we can get paid now. Spark Man, jack out and let's get outta here.
(Nathan leaves the building and heads to a nearby dumpster with Lan inside)
Nathan: C'mon Lan. I did your job. Now cough up the dough.
Lan: (takes a bite out of his filth-encrusted ham) No! I need it for my next fix!
Nathan: Kid, you leave me no choice. Not only will I tell the cops that you killed me, I'll unleash my all-powerful Maximus Glutius attack! (assumes fighting stance)
Lan: Shit, you'll tell the cops?! (throws Nathan his wallet) Take it! It's all I got!
Chaud and Dr. Hikari: (leap out of the shadows holding shovels in one hand their hams in the other) Prepare to meet your doom, Pyschic Zombie!
Nathan: Actually, the pyschic zombie flew that way. (points in random direction) I'm the wallet and valuable jewelery inspector Mulder. (flashes Wal-Mart discount card) You two are up for inspection.
Chaud and Dr. Hikari: Really? (hand Nathan their wallets and rings)
Nathan: No, I'm sorry. These don't meet our regulations. I'll have to confiscate these. I'll re-issue you guys some more up-to-standard versions later for a small fee. I'll keep in touch with you. (heads off)
(Back at the Parasol Corporation...)
Worker: Dr. Ashford? He'll see you now.
Alfred: Uh...great. (enters an office to find)
Manager: Dr. Ashford. Concerning your "Magic Ham" project...
Alfred: Why are you so mad at me, Dr. Birkin? I did everything by the books. I staged the zombie attack to lure Netguardians and Chaud here. The hams were delivered on schedule and I'm certain everyone ate them. Hell, not even that pathetic mercenary was the wiser! It was a perfect operation!
Dr. Birkin: You call this a perfect operation?! (punches up a video of the Netguardians)
Carlos: Dude! I told you it would turn into a spaceship!
Dr. Birkin: Or this?! (fast fowards the video)
Cyros: (clutches his head) Ugggh...What happened?
Adrienne: (props her head on the wall) Last thing I remember was eating that ham. It's all blur from there.
Moe: (on all fours with his head against a chair) Ohhh...I don't know about you guys, I'm not touching another ham as long as I live.
Dr. Cossack: Hey guys, have any of you seen my Eurhythmics CD? The "bad" Cossack didn't take it, did he?
Dr. Birkin: (shuts off the video and glares at Alfred) Dr. Ashford, you assured me that these magic hams of yours would make the finest netbattlers ours. But thanks to your "perfect operation", it'll take months to get back on schedule! And our preferred clients aren't the kind of people who like to hear that!
Alfred: I-I-I don't understand. Th-The additive in the magic hams should've put them under our control. But I assure you, this won't happen again.
Dr. Birkin: I know it won't. (presses a button, calling two burly guards) Gentlemen, I've decided to let Dr. Ashford here go. Please give him his severance pay. (opens a hidden door behind him from his computer)
Alfred: No! No!! I'm still reliable!!
(Alfred Ashford tries to escape, but the guards easily grab him and lead him through the door. Pierching creams of agony and terror can be heard further down the secret passage before Birkin closes the door)
Dr. Birkin: (opens a drawer and pulls out the Darklight Mercenaries' advert) So far, you boys are the only ones who have proved to be reliable. I'll have to keep you in mind in the future...