Tales of the AICEFF
Operation: D-Labor Day
Day 1 - 0600 hours:
Damn, what a boring day! I think I'd much rather be like the others wasting the day away in the regen tanks. I've been doing the budget for the next year, and it looks like some of the more experienced team members will have to stay in their stasis for a while. In the meantime, I'm supposed to be out hiring new recruits that are willing to work for a few scoops of gravy train and a dab of spoiled whipped cream for pay. That shouldn't be hard.
I take out the stealth car for a quick scout around the area searching for likely candidates. Somewhere around the corner of Smith and Wesson I see a woman walking around with a truck load of refried beans balanced on her head.
I watch as a young yuppie goes strolling by and she blasts him with a handful of Auntie Rosita's finest. Oh yeah, that's the kind of attitude I'm looking for to be in the AICEFF. I stroll over to her and ask her what her name is. She starts arguing about why names are important. She asks me what my name is and I say Ibidis (Codename: Mortem). She looks at me funny and says that was the name of her last boyfriend. Yeah, I know. It's a common name, but I couldn't think of a better code name.
I ask her if she'd like a job working for nothing and getting killed all the time, guaranteed to come back to life more times than George Foreman. She seems to be comparing multiple deaths to the load of refried beans on her head. She drops the slop and we shake hands, squishing beans all over the neighborhood cat who happened to be walking below us.
I ask her what her Codename is going to be. She says, Antithesis. Well, Codename: Antithesis, let's go find us some more team members. This is Ibidis (Codename: Mortem) saying, beans, beans, the wonderful fruit. The more you eat, the more you.... yuk yuk.
Day 2 - 1345 hours:
With Anithesis by my side, holding a handgun the size of Toledo, we walked down to the edge of town holding on to the camel I bought over by the Side-Step cafe. This little jaunt to the desert would hopefully result in grand rewards as we are looking for the woman that, theoretically, is the most hyper person to ever strike the planet. The way I see it, if we can find her, we should have the gate-charger for any deep penetration operation.
We cross over the top of the sand dune and see her, sitting there an killing off a mass of the red-billed desert ducks of the Sahara: Lucy. Antithesis keeps her gun trained on her while I approach. Hey, I've got this proposition for you. She listens while I throw the sales pitch and nods her head in agreement. Sure, she would like to go out and charge through a wall like an adrenaline-based life form and take on the responsibility of going head-first into the enemy camp and seeing what they had for breakfast by counting their coffee grounds.
She wants the Codename: Pantera Sounds good to me, says I and we roll on, intent on finding the latest member of our troop. We need a pilot to get us from one place to the next. I'm looking for the man who likes too much Miami Vice. I'm looking for the man known only as the Flamingo King. This is Ibidis Mortem saying, Hey Crockett, is that white with cream color you're wearing? Ooooh, tres mauvais. Le yuk Le yuk.
Day 3 - 0937 hours:
Well, I've now got two new recruits in tow and there's still no sign of the third new presence. We've been searching this desolate wasteland for many days now and all we've seen thus far is the most sickening display of gluttony and obsessive avarice that should never have eyes laid upon it. Yes, that's right. Flocks and hordes of uncaring mothers and single-minded housewives and other various forms of wild-eyed collectors swarm over the mountainside, searching for the ever elusive drove... of beanie babies.
I'm not worried about them, though. I only need one. The best one. I watch as they scour the countryside, searching for the Styrofoam spore that is the sure sign of a beanie nest. I felt the horror rise up within me as an innocent rabbit fell victim to a depraved pack of mindless hunters who believed it to be the elusive floppy the bunny. No such luck there bunny. Had I not already done my damnedest to kill the most evil rabbit in the world earlier in my career, I would have really felt bad.
Suddenly, a cry echoes forth from one of the hills. Someone has spotted a nest of them! I signal for Antithesis to take a look and tell me what she sees. Sure enough, the battle is on. An elusive mound of other-country bears has been found, and the battle royal is on to see who stands at the top of the pile of dead bodies, clutching a frayed $2.00 toy in their hands.
We watch for a few minutes while some general unpleasantness goes on, but no clear-cut winner is emerging. Damn! It looks like my suspicions were unfounded. Wait! Someone is walking towards the fray. I snatch the field glasses from Antithesis' hands and focus on the lone figure. The figure, a woman, just stands there for a moment, watching the goings-on like Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western. Suddenly, out of her pack, she pulls out a dual pair of Poulan chainsaws, starts them by pulling the ripcords with her teeth and leaps into the pile of maniacs.
Screams, two-cycle engines, and carnage is all we can hear for a couple of minutes. Then from the pile of mangled limbs emerges the woman, holding the pristine bear in her hands like a newborn infant. A few steps later, she stops and inspects it closer. Then I hear her scream obscenities and she hurls the bear to the ground, wailing about the tag being bent. She fires up the chainsaws and hacks away on the already-dead bodies for a few minutes to assuage her frustration. I give the signal for Lucy Pantera to fire the tranq dart into our newest chainsaw-wielding recruit. Codename: Spirit. This is Ibidis (Codename: Mortem) saying, I'm the king of the world! (Which is better than king of the mountain around here!) yuk yuk.
Day 7 - 1432 hours:
The bullets are flying fast and furious around here. I've been doing my damnedest to contact the team, but the last mortar shell has separated me from the rest of the team and I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever find 'em. The first thing I take care of is field dressing the shrapnel wound in my arm. One of those damned Labor Day Whites got a bit too close for comfort with the shot.
I try again to raise Codename: Rohmer on the radio, but I imagine she's attacking the Whites in a bull rush with the others. Ever since Operation: Kick Corporate Ass, the team's been itching for a bit of revenge. It's always galled everyone that we never got the masterminds behind wiping out our resources. It was only through a bit of blind luck that we ever found out it was the Labor Day Whites to begins with. We had been lucky to escape with our lives, but Codename: Evil Pixie managed to find out the location of their true hideout by blasting a couple of shots from her jet pack into the mindless drone's testicles. Man, talk about some singing!
These blue-suited maniacs that have been attacking us ever since we paratrooped in here to downtown Des Moines have been fairly easy to dispatch, but their sheer numbers are almost overwhelming. There! The bleeding's stopped. I take out my field glasses and crawl to the top of the street pothole I've taken cover in. When I look through the glasses, I see the rest of the team well up ahead, ducking, dodging and killing. What a bunch of killers. I can feel a tear welling up in my eye.
I take and wave my hand to disperse that gas I just cut loose. Man, that'll definitely make a grow man cry. Wheew! I hear the crunch of shoes behind me, and I realize I'm caught. Damn! That's what I get for taking a moment to check on the team. I catch a glimpse of the white shoes behind me, but before I get a chance turn around and attempt anything, the body lands beside me. The Labor Day Soldier's dead face is a sickly green and his gun is melting. Hmmm. I guess he's just not used to it like I am.
I leap out of the pothole and spot Codename: Lucy Pantera darting from building to building for cover from the rain of bullets. A suit is about to get the drop on her, but before I can shout a warning, Codename: Spirit dashes in from out of nowhere and cuts the hive worker to ribbons with her twin chainsaws. She does like her work up close and personal. By the time I have reached their position, the other team members have begun to gather around a building 100 yards away. Codename: Plohoie Debushka is doing something with a beaker near one of the sewers openings. I'm sure I don't want to know what it is. About the time Lucy Pantera, Sprit, and I arrive, Codename: Not A Phase has attached the biggest non-nuke bomb I've ever seen to the plate glass door and is readying the fuse. Rohmer finally crackles over the air. Apparently there is a lot of high-freq traffic surging around this building. She says that there are no other entrances in or out of the building, according to Codename: Ligeia who had been scouting the area.
Codename: Immortal Sin taps me on the shoulder, giving me the quiet signal to look up. I scan the area above and notice an enormous, boyish looking head floating like a parade balloon above our position. Shit! Big Brother is watching. On my signal, Immortal Sin cuts loose with a blast from his flame-thrower. Big Brother is too far away for any damage to occur, but the thermal currents rising in the air cause him to close his eyes, and float back.
Not A Phase gives the thumbs up from by the front door, and she and Codename: Druidic Concoctions haul ass away from there. I tap Immortal Sin on the shoulder and give him the hit the dirt signal. As he does, the bomb from the door explodes in a fury of sound. As we all raise our heads and peer through the dust we notice that the door is still closed. Damn! This Plexiglas research has got to stop!
A small slot opens near the front door and a letter slides from it, bouncing along the ground and coming to a stop on the street in front of us. I notice the letter of mail has a big "E" printed on it. I hear some chatter over the headsets and see Codename: Ligeia, Codename: Schrodinger's Cat, and Codename: Plohoie Debushka begin to shuffle towards the mail. Realization dawns on me a bit too late and I shout for them to come back, it must be a trap. They reply back that they can't. It's as if they don't feel complete without it. I shout over the comm for everyone to haul ass and stop those three from getting there on time. Only Ligeia and Cat have the grappling hooks, though.
About the time we get nearby, Plohoie reached down to pick up the mail. Oh shit! Get the Hell out of here! It's an E-mail Crackdown Bomb from the Head Cheeses! The strange whooshing sound engulfs everything, and I open my eyes to see the team members manacled to steel balls on links of chain. Damn! We've let the Head Cheeses, the leaders of the Labor Day Whites, get their slimy claws into us. It's almost impossible to escape their grasp once that happens. Soon, we'll all be like the other suits stomping along the city. Things aren't looking good. I can hear Big Brother laughing from up above. Yeah, well fuck you too! This is Ibidis (Codename: Mortem) singing, that's the sound of the team, working on the chain... gang. Oh don'cha know.... yuk yuk.
Day 7 - 1447 hours:
That's it, I'm getting pretty pissed off right now. There's nothing like being manacled to a steel ball in the middle of Wall Street with Big Brother watching and the Head Cheeses controlling our Labor Day weekend. Druidic Concoctions has pulled out what looks like a robotic beaver that is gnawing away on his manacles. Good. Maybe he can get free in time to forestall any attack that I'm sure will be coming soon. I get on the comm and ask Druidic Concoctions what that thing is called. He just looks back at me and smiles, shaking his head. Yeah, you're right. Sometimes it's better not to ask.
Suddenly I'm besieged by transmissions from the other team members asking me what to do next. Well Hell. My mind is racing like a willie on Viagra and I finally come upon a plan. First thing is to rid ourselves of that surveillance known as Big Brother watching. Schrodinger's Cat! Fire a heat seeking rocket up there and give that bastard a chase! Cat nods her head and then launches a missile into the air. The rocket flashes by Big Brother like he wasn't even there. Damn! I should have known the heartless bastard wouldn't generate any heat.
A loud grating noise emanates from behind me and I see Spirit standing there looking at me sheepishly from where she tried to chainsaw her way out of the manacles. I give her the kill signal, so I can hear what the Hell is being said to me. Scanning the rest of the group I see Plohoie Debushka has set up what looks like a massive erector set around her manacles and has started a corrosive drip onto the chain. She glances at me and give me the 2 sign. That could only mean she's brought out the big stuff, the most corrosive substance there is, the venom milked from my ex-girlfriend! That chain should be toast in no time.
Lucy Pantera shouts out she has a plan and then she fires up a holographic projector, bringing up the image of a naked woman standing on the side of the road. What in the Hell is that supposed to do? Suddenly, I catch a flicker of movement from overhead and see Big Brother gliding down for a closer look at the apparition. Good thinking Lucy! I'd forgotten that Big Brother is programmed to watch for smut in the workplace!
The rest of the team seems to have picked up on the situation without any urging from me. That's why they're the best. Ligeia readies her grappling hook and hurls it, hooking successfully on Big Brother's white collar. The floating head tries to surge away, but Ligeia has hooked the line to her ball and chain. Ha! Done in by your own ingenuity, Big Brother! Evil Pixie lines up a shot in that vicious sniper rifle of hers and fires a shot, plugging Big Bro right between the eyes, sinking the disembodied head to the ground. Oops! It looks like it landed on Ligeia! We'll get that off ya in a minute. There. That takes care of the Labor Day Whites' eyes and ears.
Now to find a way out of these chains. I check to see how Plohoie's doing and she smiles encouragingly. Good. It looks like that corrosive venom is going to work. Ha! Like there was any doubt. I've felt that stuff before. I tell Rohmer to have the team hold in place until Plohoie can get us free. Antithesis reports back that she hears some type of strange stomping noise. Waitaminute! I hear it too.
Suddenly, bursting around the corner comes a troop of suited zombies! They stop nearby the building and just stand there watching us. One of them steps to the front. A brave man, considering the entire AICEFF has their weapons pointed at him. The man, dressed impeccably to the hilt with his wingtips and Brooks Brothers' suit pulls out a briefcase and starts rattling off some melodramatic rambling about how we've desecrated the hallowed grounds of the true work for in America. He then looks back to the vacant-eyed, slacked-lipped, red-faced from ties pulled too tight, 24/7 wedgies from bad chair automatons behind him and gives the signal to attack. Uh oh, get ready to fire, guys!
The brainwashed robots give a wordless yell and start rushing to us like a scene from Braveheart. The AICEFF know they may take our lives, but they'll never take... our free willy! Fire! The first ranks of suits virtually explode at the combined firepower of the team, but they are quickly replaced by almost double their number. I know quickly we'll not have enough ammo to take out these monsters, but we'll sell our lives dearly.
Suddenly, the suits start tripping over themselves and begin acting buggy. A few of them are opening fire into each other while others just stumble around aimlessly. What in the Hell is going on here?!? Suddenly they all give a collective convulsive jerk and collapse to the ground in a groaning fit. That has to be the weirdest thing I've ever seen. Ligeia gives a cry and I turn to see her completely trapped under a wave of fried bodies. Yeesh! We'll get to ya in a minute, Ligeia!
There's only one left standing: the leader. I see him laughing and waving his briefcase over his head going, Whoo-Whoo! Realization dawns on me as I see him casually strip off the Brooks Brothers' suit and reveal the AICEFF uniform underneath. All right! It's Codename: Flamingo King, the master of disguise of the group.
Flamingo King comes sauntering over all proud of himself while Plohoie sets up her lil' erector sets around everyone's chains. I feel like a fraggle surrounded by doozers here! I ask Flamingo King what he did to kill the suits and he smiles back saying those weren't true suits, they were programmer/suits. They're the easiest to control and manipulate. He just set their internal clocks ahead past the year 2000 and they went into a hysterical breakdown before shutting down permanently. All right!
Plohoie finally frees us all from the e-mail shackles and we all gather in the middle looking for a way to penetrate the Labor Day Whites' HQ. Rohmer starts to lay out an idea when we get a heads up from Pixie. I look up and see the sides of the building open up into 4 large cannon-like contraptions with the words "Inbox" written across them! A loud work whistle sounds and suddenly piles of paper come streaming from the cannons! Oh my God, we're about to be buried under tons of paperwork!
This is Ibidis (Codename: Mortem) saying, I think we're giving deadline a whole new meaning! yuk yuk.
Day 7 - 1516 hours:
We've got tons of paper heading our direction and have about 5 seconds to deal with it. Immortal Sin! Get the flame-thrower working! He gives a "Hell, yeah!" and starts blasting his load into the air. yuck! The paper is catching fire and raining down on us, but it's either deal with small fires or get buried under a pile of paperwork. I give the signal for the rest of the team to gather together and start to fire a way out of the deadly rain, but as soon as I do, a massive amount of Scarlet ribbon launches from the ground and winds around our feet, hindering our movement. Damn! How are we going to take care of this load of paperwork when we keep having to wade through this red tape!
Ligeia and Schrodinger's Cat attempt their iguana maneuver, but they're more like an iguana without a heat lamp... stuck. I hear Not A Phase over the comm cursing at some explosive device she's trying to set off to clear out the area. Man, I hope we get out of here before she sets that off. Then I hear salvation itself as Spirit fires up her dual Poulans of death. The buzz chatters over the comm units as she chops her way through the red tape like Ted Kennedy on a 5 day bender.
The area around us is starting to look like a ticker tape parade as the paper and tape pieces shred all into the air. I hear Immortal give a sudden yelp as Spirit inadvertently cuts the tube to his flame-thrower. The gas spews all over Spirit and she spontaneously combusts! Ligeia leaps over to put out the flames, but as she gets there a huge wad of paper lands full on Spirit, crushing her. Ligeia is only partially trapped, her legs still sticking out from under the pulp. We'll get to ya in a minute, Ligeia!
The paperwork shows no signs of letting up and Immortal's flame-thrower is down. We just need one clear shot through the red tape and we'll be safe in the alcove to the building! Schrodinger's Cat is trying to keep the rolls of paper off us with some well placed rocket blasts with Not A Phase helping her re-load. Antithesis is doing a good job as well with that big f'ing gun of hers, but they'll be out of ammo soon.
Druidic Concoctions suddenly shouts "Eureka!" Oh shit. That's rarely a good sign for us. He pulls out a large pronged device, calling it his Random Rotating Ribbon Remover. He promptly sticks it in the mass of red tape and it starts whirling, pulling the strands of damned stuff towards it like reporters to a Sausage Tasting Contest by Lewinski. Once it finishes, he triumphantly holds it over his head. I take a closer look at the contraption. Isn't that just a battery powered fork? He looks at me with a flat stare. Of course not. He says it is good for pasta, however.
The rest of the team, after extracting Ligeia from the paper makes a bee-line for the alcove. Schrodinger's Cat remains outside to cover us. Once we're in, she fires a final shot and dives into the alcove. When she hits, she accidentally sets off a charge from her rockets, causing the wall above her to explode. It collapses in a heap of rubble, trapping Ligeia underneath. Lucy Pantera and Flamingo King begin to extract her from the mix.
Well now we're stuck in the doorway with an immovable pile of paper on one side and an impregnable door on the other. Great. Rohmer pipes up that she might have an idea again. She starts cycling through frequencies, trying to find the one combination that will open the door automatically. Immortal Sin turns quickly and accidentally prods Lucy Pantera with his wand..... of his flame-thrower. She starts scratching the rocks like a rabid kitten and cuts loose with a ear-splitting yelp. The door suddenly opens and Rohmer has a surprised look on her face. Apparently Lucy Pantera knows how to open doors, not to mention her cat hysterics have managed to free Ligeia from the rubble.
We enter the door cautiously, Ligeia in the lead, as usual. She's still walking a bit shaky, but she wouldn't allow anyone else to lead. Something about the honor of her people or some such nonsense. I did cut down on the amount of explosive she's carrying, though. No sense tempting fate. Lucy Pantera walks through the doorway last, keeping rear guard. I look back in time to see her reach over and pick up a dime from the ground in the doorway. She looks up and raises the coin in the air. Look what I found, she screams. Suddenly the door slams down, crashing her body underneath. Damn! Looks like she had the voice to close doors as well. I'll have to remember that when we bring her back through the regen tanks. Well it could have been worse, it could have gotten Ligeia again, as well.
I feel a tap on my shoulder and Antithesis points over her shoulder. I look where she indicates and see Ligeia and Immortal Sin trapped underneath another door. Immortal looks pretty much crushed, but Ligeia is only partially trapped. I tell the guys to see if Immortal's flame-thrower can be salvaged. We'll get to ya in a minute, Ligeia!
Day 7 - 1546 hours:
We've been walking along this tunnel for the last 20 minutes looking for any chance that there's another tunnel. Everyone's very wary of doorways after losing two team members to them. Ligeia has managed not to get hurt during this lil' jaunt. I get some chatter from the comm, it appears we're underneath the section of the building the cleaning crew is in. The rapid-fire Spanish on the comm is interfering with the team's ability to communicate. I give the order to stow the comms. Ligeia dashes back to report there's a dead-end room ahead.
We enter the room and Plohoie Debushka is the first to poke her head in. It is a non-descript gray-walled room with a single trash can in a corner at one end. There's a scrap of paper lying on the ground next to the trash can. Plohoie notices this and starts to walk across the floor, complaining about how someone couldn't hit the trash can from 1 foot away. That IS strange. Why wouldn't someone throw it away? Oh no! Plohoie, no!! It's too late as she has already picked up the paper and lifted the lid for the trash can. It's a trap from the Cleaners!!
As soon as the lid opens, Plohoie gets sucked into the can like chrome from a trailer hitch. The floor opens from underneath us and we all free fall through space for a couple of seconds. We finally crash down to the ground, (with the exception of Evil Pixie, who's hovering 2 feet off the ground) into a non-descript gray walled tunnel. The ceiling snaps shut over head with a clang of life-sucking fluorescent lights.
All right, guys. Let's find out where we are. Not A Phase reaches out and cautiously touches the wall. It has a strange spongy feel to it. Her eyes go wide and her breath catches. What's wrong? She whispers something unintelligible. Did you catch that, Pixie? Pixie nods her head gravely. Apparently we're trapped in the endless sea of cubicles. The mind-numbing trap of corporate existence. Oh my God! Only Vice President's can escape from here!
Not A Phase starts howling madly, jabbering about how she just escaped this place and she was not about to come back. Don't worry Not A Phase, we'll get out of here. Just don't panic. She shoves me out of the way with a strength born of pure desperation. As I crash into the cloth-covered corkboard, Not A Phase starts dashing down the maze of cubes, randomly throwing grenades and various explosions along the corridors. Fire in the hole, team! We all duck for cover and hear the screaming and explosions fading in the distance until one loud boom silences them for good. Damn! These Labor Day bastards are using every psychological trick in the book to lure us into traps. No more! It's time for payback!
This is Ibidis (Codename: Mortem) saying, we put the middle in middle-management. yuk yuk.
Day 7 - 1601 hours:
Here, in the endless maze of cubicles, we, the living members of the AICEFF are f'ing lost! What a pain in the butt! None of our compasses work, because the support poles in the building need to be degaussed and the magnetic fields screw with our direction. I think we're walking around in circles. There's been no sign of Not A Phase's body, but I've seen that posted "Top ten reasons computers are better than men" list at least five times. Of course, it could just be everyone thinks the same jokes over and over again are funny. ... There's been no sign of Not A Phase's body, but I've seen that posted "Top ten reasons computers are better than men" list at least five times. Of course, it could just be everyone thinks the same jokes over and over again are funny. ... There's been no sign of.. Auuugh! I almost fell into the same type of mindless repetition that saps everyone's will to live.
I turn to check the others and they're starting to have that vacant stare in their eyes. The exact same look that populates the suits, or foot soldiers, of the Head Cheeses. I fire a couple of shots in the air with my trusty machine gun to snap them out of their trance.
Antithesis is the first to shake the effects of the visual trance off and I have her quickly flip her visor down and switch to filter mode. That should take care of the effects. I follow suit, but quickly realize that it isn't helping. Uh oh. If we spend much more time in here, we're going to be in for some serious pain. Quick! Switch on the bullshit filters!!
Ah, that's better. I love these new devices the boys at HQ cooked up for us. They were initially only to be used when we attend political conventions, but they had too many uses for me to warrant leaving them behind. Antithesis and I quickly move to the others and throw on their own bullshit filters, and they groggily shake their heads clear of the mesmerizing spell.
Schrodinger's Cat seems pretty pissed off at people messing with her mind. Either that or her bullshit filter has triggered cut off her belief in the true value of Jim Carrey to the world. See lets loose a wordless scream and mounts her rocket launcher to her shoulder. Oh shit! Here we go again, guys! Hit the deck!
She launches a missile down the corridor and it smashes into the cubicle walls at the end. There's an eerie silence broken only by Schrodinger's Cat's panting that follows. Then we start to hear the creaking. I look down at the end where the rocket struck, and the previously undamaged wall has started to totter. It falls into the wall next to it and then the domino effect takes over.
The walls begin to crash down in a wave and we all scatter looking for a way to escape. I remember quickly how to avoid a market crash and that's to build up confidence in the stock! I quickly give the order for the team to brace up against the nearest wall. If we can give it enough support, we might be able to prevent it from toppling. I place my hands on it, and feel the others form a line behind me to add back-up mass and strength. The thunderous booming of the walls around us dominates all other sounds. I can feel the weight strike against the other side of the wall, but the team seems to hold well against it's weight. I can hear the booming of falling walls pass us by and keep rolling along behind us. Whew! We're safe.
I carefully ease off the wall, making sure it doesn't fall on top of us all. It appears to be holding fine. I step back and look around. Far down the former corridor, over the fallen maze of walls, I can see an exit to this Hell hole. All right. I yell out for Ligeia to take the point, and hear a muffled gurgle in response. I turn and look to see Ligeia partially trapped under a wall that had collapsed around us. I guess that's the risk to take when you stand at the back of the line. We'll get to ya in a minute, Ligeia.
Day 7 - 1615 hours:
We've emerged from the gray maze of hopelessness and have emerged into what I knew would be a false paradise: the executive lounge. Looking around I see the flaunted power by the VP's in the form of endless packs of gourmet coffee, extra-soft toilet paper, copies of "Big Trouble in Little China" in the VCR, and floors! The poor, useless slaves working elsewhere don't have things such as these. The area is abandoned, and I've been feeling like a lab rat for too long now, so I'm expecting a trap. Ligeia is now jumping at every sound, so I'm not sending her in first. Antithesis seems to be chewing at the bit to head in, so she loads up her hand cannon and strides in like she owns the place.
She has taken no more than a few steps and she sees a table sitting to the left. Oh no! On the table sits an enormous piece of cheesecake! Quick, Schrodinger's Cat! Fire a grappling hook and stop her from reaching the table! Cat is busy trying to remove a rocket and load a hook in her launcher. I direct the team to step in the room cautiously and I try to divert Antithesis. It's not working, she's locked onto the cheesecake like a policeman on Rodney King. Hurry Cat! Suddenly Antithesis grabs the cheesecake and starts munching away. I watch for a second, waiting for the inevitable trap to fire, but nothing happens. Hmmm. Maybe it wasn't a trap.
I hear a loud whistle and see a projectile resembling a sheet of paper firing through the air towards Antithesis. She ducks quickly as do the rest of us. The sheet embeds in the wall behind us. Druidic Concoctions reaches up and takes it down. It's a memo from the Head Cheeses trying to give us the ax! Not a chance, you corporate bastards! It's going to take more than that to fire us!
Anithesis stands up just as I finish my sentence. Only then do I realize how ill-timed my words were. Dozens of more ax-memos come sailing through the air, ripping Antithesis to pieces before she can recover. Oh well, at least she died on a sugar rush. I'm sure she didn't feel a thing. The rest of us maintain our cover until the memos finish sailing overhead and embedding in the wall behind us.
I stand back up and start to check out Antithesis when I hear a loud crash coming from the wall behind us. I feel a tap on my shoulder. Yeah yeah, I know. Tell Ligeia we'll get to her in a minute.
The team members dig Ligeia out from the collapsed wall and I take a look around the floor. Rohmer moves up to stand beside me and mentions that the floor seems particularly hollow sounding in this spot. I'd been thinking the same thing. I flip the chocolate table over and peer underneath. Aha! A secret camera. So, little brother seems to be watching too. I fire a shot into the camera lens to blind the watchers.
All right, team. We need to get through this floor. Druidic Concoctions says he might have something to do the job. Somehow I knew he would. He pulls out what appears to be a jackhammer in the shape of a holy cross. When I mention it to him, he says that's what it is! Well there's a first. He says it's something called Jonas' Jumping Jackhammer of Jehovah. This should get through the floor, all right. Evil Pixie volunteers to man the device as she can fire her pack to avoid falling through the floor if necessary. Druidic tells her to be careful. He's still making payments on that thing.
After a few ear-splitting moments of her riding the jackhammer with a curiously pleasant expression on her face, the first cracks in the floor begin to appear. We all clear back away from the beginnings of the hole. For some reason, everyone is keeping a wide berth around Ligeia.
Once the hole is cleared, Ligeia bounds into the hole feet first, determined to be the first one to face the damage. We hear a loud crashing sound and look into the hole after her. So that's where they keep the corporate ladders! Ligeia is buried under a pile of ladders from where she upset their carefully stacked formations. Hang on, Ligeia! We'll get to ya in a minute!
Once we're down inside to rescue Ligeia, we see a clear wall on the far side of the room. There, in their full corporate regalia, are the Head Cheeses with The Chain Gang, also known as the VP's arrayed behind them. Rohmer starts firing on the spot, but as I figured, they glass protecting them is bullet-proof. Waitaminute! If they're here behind that glass, then it looks like we've stumbled into another trap. Not good.
One man standing at the forefront starts talking on and on about how we've upset the balance of the corporate morale in the country and crap like that. I recognize him from our files. It's Exec Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board. While his speech continues, the team extracts Ligeia from the rubble and Flamingo King props up a ladder to the hole in the ceiling we came down.
Sinatra has finished his speech and has started laughing. Damn! I missed what he said. About that time the walls start closing in, like a trash compactor. Well Holy Hell! It's the downsizing room! Quick, get up the ladder! Flamingo King nods and starts to scramble up the ladder. He only gets somewhere in the middle before the rungs fall out from underneath him and he comes crashing back down on top of Ligeia. Someone get to her!
It figures the Head Cheeses wouldn't want anyone to be able to climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Those bastards. I check the surrounding area, scanning from 9 o'clock to 5 o'clock and don't see any avenue of escape there. Shit guys, we'll never get out of here at 5 o'clock! Check 7 o'clock! Nope. 10? Nope. Damn! Things aren't looking good for our team. This is Ibidis Mortem saying, the last person that quits or is fired will be held responsible for everything that goes wrong. yuk yuk.
Day 7 - 1632 hours:
This corporation has pulled out the plug and is downsizing rapidly. We've only a few seconds left before we're all laid off permanently. Quick team! We've only one chance to stop this mass lay off, form a union! The team gather together and starts to break up pieces of the ladders strewn about the room. We manage to tear loose pieces and make a slatted fence that stretches from one end of the room to the other. That's right, team! Use the union's most powerful defense: the picket line!
The walls close down on the picket line which is reinforced by the team members' bodies. As long as someone doesn't turn scab and we hold our solidarity, we'll win. I can hear the hydraulics pushing the walls begin to whine and stutter. Finally I hear the sound of metal screeching and a loud boom, followed by silence. The walls finally stop their struggle. A cheer goes up from the team!
The guys start to sit down, making some half-hearted attempt at working their way out of the room. Hold it, guys! Don't start getting that union laziness about you! We'll lose all of our bargaining power if we do! We've still got our mission to take out the Labor Day Whites!
We need to find a way through that bullet-proof glass to get to the VP's. If only Spirit were here, should could just saw her way through. Druidic says he think he knows a way to get through. He pulls out what looks to be whirling blades on the end of a 4' pole. He calls it his Whirling Windmill of Dastardly Discombobulation. What? Isn't that just a garden weasel? He looks at me with his shocked eyes. Of course not. He attacks the glass like a Tasmanian devil on crack and soon has a tremendous furrow created down the center. Perfect for planting corn or lichens.
I tell him to step out of the way and I have and Pixie fires a well-aimed shot into the crevice. The glass shatters with a loud crash and suddenly Druidic Concoctions drops to the ground in convulsions. Oh shit! Gas! Put your masks on team!
Ligeia sprints forward to check on Druidic and then slowly shakes her head. Damn! I hate to lose someone this close to accomplishing our goal. I give the signal to start into the other room when we suddenly hear a tremendous howling and sounds of gunfire and combat from the other side. Ligeia promptly leaps through the window to investigate. The rest of us follow suit.
We slip through the control room so recently occupied by the Head Cheeses and we step out onto a large platform high on the wall of a cavern. There, on the floor of the cavern, rages an enormous battle. The VP's and the Head Cheeses are being attacked by a band of smartly dressed savages. The VP's vastly outnumber the savages, but are losing the battle quickly, for the savages are cutting off their resources. What in the Hell is going on? Rohmer mentions that she has seen something like this before. The savages we're seeing are the Headhunters. The Headhunters?!? Oh my God. These heartless bastards will waste anyone for a quick profit.
With revulsion, we watch the Headhunters decimate the VP's guarding the Head Cheeses, severing the heads from their corpses and carrying them around with them. Only a couple of VP's are left and the Headhunters have them surrounded. Sinatra is stepping to the fore, preparing for battle. Evil Pixie! Take him out! The sniper nods her head and lines up a shot. One quick depression of the trigger and the Chairman of the Board goes down in a heap. Just to make sure, Schrodinger's Cat launches a rocket into the downed body, causing an explosion that rocks the cavern.
That was not such a good idea, Cat. Now the Headhunters know we're here. As soon as the words leave my mouth, the savages turn and regard us coldly. Looking to see if we can help them turn a profit, no doubt! Then, as if a silent signal is passed among them, they all turn and hurl the severed heads at us on the platform. We all quickly dive to the side, except for Ligeia, who had been tying her bootlaces. She looks up in time to let loose a quick yelp before she is covered in the heads of state. Yuck! We'll put on some rubber gloves and get to ya in a minute, Ligeia.
Flamingo King suddenly motions towards the cavern floor. Uh oh! It appears the Head Cheeses have taken advantage of the distraction we provided to merge together to form Ultra-Mega Cheese! The Headhunters are still looking up at us, oblivious to the impending danger. Ultra-Mega Cheese suddenly punches a Headhunter so hard, his hand crams into the man's ass and pops out his head. Ouch! Now that's what I call a hostile takeover!
The Headhunter, panicking and caught by surprise, soon fall prey to the vicious assault of Ultra-Mega Cheese. Form up, team! This isn't going to be easy! We quickly rappel down from the platform to give us maneuvering room. We all start opening fire on the Ultra-Mega Cheese, but our rounds appear to have no effect. Damn! I knew the common worker could never get the boss's attention!
Soon all of the Headhunters are dead and the Ultra-Mega Cheese stands in front of the AICEFF in a Chinese standoff. Hmmm. There must be a way for us to get the thing close enough for one of Cat's rockets to have affect. It would have to be almost point blank range, the beast would kill us before it got that close. What do the Head Cheeses heed above all else? Of course! How could I be so blind?
I carefully pull out and unwrinkle a twenty dollar bill from my vest pocket. I've got to be careful with this, it's our cab money to get back to base. I dangle it in front of me and hold up a match next to it. Ultra-Mega Cheese instantly sense the potential loss of money and his attention is focused on me. He starts to stalk closer, watching me intently for an opening to get the money before I destroy it. I start to walk backwards, luring him closer to where Cat can launch a rocket straight up his cost center.
The comm units suddenly bark back to life and I flinch involuntarily in response. Rohmer is desperately trying to fix the problem, but it's too late. Ultra-Mega Cheese has already taken advantage of the distraction. I catch a flash of gouda and then feel a crushing pain. The damn thing has pounded me into the floor. I can feel the internal damage, and I know I don't have much time left.
From where I lay, I see all that remains of the team after Ultra-Mega Cheeses rampage. Flamingo King and Ligeia are all that are left standing. I can't see Rohmer, Pixie, or Schrodinger's Cat, so I have to assume the beast took them out when it launched for me. Wait! There they are. It looks like Ultra-Mega Cheese moved so fast it caught Cat off guard and she launched her rocket straight down, wiping out all three of them. Damn!
In my pain clouded brain, I try to think of what has managed to bring down corporate heads in the past. My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of a cheesy intercom system echoing faintly down from above the ceiling. "Manager to aisle seven for a price check..."
That's it! There's Winn-Dixie grocery store above our current location. That's our chance! I whisper into the mike to the other team members my plan, hoping Ultra-Mega Cheese, who's been preoccupied trying to fit the money he got from me into a vending machine, doesn't overhear. Flamingo King and Ligeia nods their heads in understanding.
Flamingo King steps to the center of the floor and starts to hurl insults towards Ultra-Mega Cheese. The beast instantly launches himself towards the master of disguise. As soon as he gets close, Flamingo King tears loose his outfit to reveal his mailman uniform underneath. Ultra-Mega Cheese lets loose a terrified scream and bursts back into the individual Head Cheeses who cower in fear of Flamingo King. The master of disguise played to the Head Cheeses fear of a worker going postal suddenly.
Excellent, now that the Head Cheeses are weakened, it's time to finish them. Ligeia walks forward resolutely and stands directly in front of the Head Cheeses, who are pinned in place by Flamingo King's presence. Just by her presence underneath, I can hear the ceiling starts to crack and give way. Us team members share a quick, satisfied look before the roof caves in, bringing down the Winn-Dixie above. The only way to eliminate the corporate heads is to bring the market crashing down. Ha! As I punch the signal to send our DNA codes back to home base, I hear the blood-curdling screams of the Head Cheeses. This is Ibidis (Codename: Mortem) saying, take that you bastards! yuk yu....... © 1998 C A Lutke