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It would be as obvious to most that the task set before the Moderators of the Mercury Rooms was pretty much as impossible as it would be for a Cauliflower to suddenly sprout limbs, take up arms and declare war upon Serbia. Luckily the Moderators in question never say “die” *1. But, with an entire internet to search, it was clear to all of them that finding the location of the evil Buster would be about as easy as finding any kind of nutritional value in a Big Mac. ‘So, explain to me again what we’re doing,’ Ron grimaced as Elion threw a large bag full of supplies at him. ‘Like I said,’ Elion huffed. ‘We’ve got to find Red before Buster extracts the ALLUC security codes from him.’ ‘Nice reminder of the plot points,’ Pun smiled wryly as he placed his copy of Rapist Monthly back inside his coat pocket. ‘But I can’t help but notice that this whole thing doesn’t revolve around me at all.’ ‘There’s a reason for that,’ Richy said with a feigned smile. Pun stuck his tongue out at the giant Domo. ‘We’ve got no idea where to start looking at all though?’ Ron huffed. ‘None,’ Elion returned a similar frown of irritation. What was he getting himself into? The impossible loomed at him once more, he was beginning to feel that it had out-stayed it’s welcome a little. ‘Seriously guys,’ Beakedbard moaned. ‘This really seems like a lot of hard work. Shouldn’t one of us stay here just in case Red finds his own way back?’ ‘You’re going,’ Vash said with a cluck, throwing a rucksack at the already partially stoned Hippo. ‘Awe,’ Beakedbard moaned. ‘Well then, I should at least get the coolest team members then.’ ‘That would be us,’ Roxy said, coming over to stand by him with McKellion in tow. ‘HI!’ McKellion grinned enthusiastically at Beakedbard. ‘Crap,’ Beakedbard said, slumping against a wall. ‘I’ll come too,’ Skelifish said, putting aside the stone he had been using to sharpen his scythe. ‘Otherwise I’d be afraid that this team wouldn’t be coming back at all.’ ‘Erm, excuse me,’ Roxy scowled. ‘I’m probably the most capable member here.’ ‘Keep telling yourself that,’ Skelifish said with a smirk. ‘You guys FAIL!’ Jazz shouted sardonically. ‘You expect Jazz to follow you all over the internet? Why not just change the fucking access codes? You losers. Jazz would make a better Moderator than Red. You all must see it. Jazz is the way. Change the codes for Jazz.’ ‘We’ve told you why we can’t just change the codes!!’ Jason huffed. ‘Moderators can access all areas automatically. Plus, who knows what horrible things Buster is doing to Red right now!’ Yanwaell held up a picture of a large-eyed fish with the words “O NOEZ!” written on it. ‘I agree,’ Danny said angrily, punching his palm. ‘We’ve got to save Red pronto!’ ‘Does Jazz really care?’ Jazz mulled to himself. ‘This does not concern Jazz … Jazz concludes this is not important.’ ‘I’ve tried doing a locating spell on Red already,’ Will-ko grumbled from where he had perched on a crate of supplies. ‘But I still don’t have any real magical control out here on the open Internet. Get me in the World of Warcraft and I’ll own everyone … but other than that … I’m stumped.’
Well, they will obviously use the word. They are not deficient in their vocabulary skills
‘I am travelling to the World of Warcraft,’ Totoro said, sheathing his large sword. ‘I have not been to my homeland in some time. I will not be welcomed by my people, but I still have many contacts throughout the realms.’ ‘No thanks,’ Will-ko said. ‘I’m going with Jeebus. He’s already told me where he’s going to look first.’ ‘Where?’ Jazz asked quietly. Will-ko whispered the answer in Jazz’s ear. ‘Jazz will also be going with Jeebus!’ Jazz said excitedly. ‘Just so you know,’ Jeebus said, loading his giant gun and yanking on Waldo’s lead. ‘I’m not slowing down for you guys … and if we see pigeons at all … you do as I say … I don’t like entering into combat situations with civilians, so if I tell you to take cover, you take cover, right?’ ‘Of course,’ Will-ko nodded, rolling his eyes. ‘Wouldn’t want to be pecked to death now would I?’ Jeebus glared at the young magician. ‘Peck?’ He grunted. ‘If they get their hands on you magic boy … pretty soon … you’ll be begging for them to peck you to death … I’ve seen things … so many things … … …’ ‘Perhaps Jazz should go with a team that is not full of insane people,’ Jazz said, drumming his chin. ‘I think that Carmen is my favourite Opera!’ An unfamiliar shirtless teenager with long hair said in a loud voice as he wandered into the room. ‘It’s so moving, subtle yet elegant.’ ‘Lovely,’ Elion nodded. ‘Now go away Musica, this is a private room.’ ‘There’s no need to be rude,’ Musica pouted and slumped off out into the Off-Topic Section’s Courtyard. ‘Wonderful idea, Video Lord,’ Elion huffed. ‘It was the best I could do at short notice,’ Freaka-chu retorted. ‘I had to disguise this room somehow, couldn’t stick up a room called “Help us to Save Red from Buster’s evil clutches before he destroys The Mercury Rooms” now could I? I mean, yes we’d get a lot of volunteers; more than we’d need of course but, like Fink said, the fewer people that know Buster can walk in here any time he feels like and make merry with the apocalypse, the better.’ ‘And, naturally, making a room about people’s favourite Operas was the most logical choice as a disguise,’ Manhunter said testily. ‘We could have done this in the Will-ko room,’ Will-ko grumbled. ‘Well, we’re here now,’ said Jason, folding his arms over his bio-hazard T-shirt. ‘So who’s coming? And who’s going with who? We have to split up if we have any chance of finding Red.’ Yanwaell produced another picture of a grinning man sat a computer which read “WOW! OLD NEWS IS SO EXCITING” ‘Yeah, I know we keep saying it,’ Danny huffed. ‘But we don’t really have a choice in the matter. We’ll get more of the internet searched if we split up.’ ‘We’ll go,’ Arina said, raising her arm and Angelus’ at the same time. ‘Will we?’ Angelus asked, bemused. ‘Fine, you two can come with me to Dailymotion,’ Vash nodded. ‘You fancy coming with me, Chris?’ Freaka-chu asked the Manhunter. ‘Why not?’ Manhunter replied. ‘I haven’t diced with death in hours.’ ‘Ace,’ Freaka-chu nodded. ‘I’ll go get the RETARDIS warmed up.’ ‘The RETARDIS?’ Manhunter frowned. ‘I think I will take a rain check.’ ‘What? Oh, come off it!’ Freaka-chu waved his hand dismissively. ‘Crikey, one misadventure in ancient Rome-’ ‘I nearly lost an arm!’ Manhunter interrupted. ‘Nearly,’ Freaka-chu said pointedly. ‘Nearly lost an arm. You’ve still got them both haven’t you?’ ‘That’s not the point,’ Manhunter said, narrowing his eyes. ‘No, the point is that we’re wasting valuable time!’ Freaka-chu said, zipping up the small black and red rucksack he had brought along. ‘So, c’mon Chris, adventure awaits us!’
‘Fine,’ Manhunter said dryly, grabbing Asawin and CooCooKaJoo tightly. ‘But I’m not getting stuck in prehistoric France alone this time.’ ‘I SHALL ALSO REQUIRE A TEAM,’ Mooney shouted over he room. ‘I AM MOONEY AFTERALL … MOST PEOPLE SHOULD WANT TO BE ON THE COOL TEAM’ ‘I’ll go with you Mooney,’ Duffy said enthusiastically. ‘REALLY?’ Mooney said in alarm. ‘NOBODY ELSE?’ ‘I am also liking to go,’ Lazy said, pocketing his Dutch-to-English Phrase book. ‘Though I am not of the being sure, where the things go on … no.’ ‘OH MY GOD,’ Mooney whined, his wings sagging. ‘Yeah, I’m up for a ride with the Moonster!’ Richy smiled. ‘OH, THANK GOODNESS!’ Mooney said with a sigh of relief. ‘Okay then … Goddamit,’ Elion huffed. ‘The rest of you get into teams and get out there,’ he nodded, heading towards the door with Ron and PunBB in tow. ‘QUICKLY!’ He added as he exited the room out into the Off-Topic Section courtyard, at the far end of which the exit to the Index Section lay. The dazzling Internet sky loomed above them as they exited the Off-Topic dome and crossed over to the exit portal. Elion could see the massive spire of the building that housed the Black Hole operating System. The gaping void into which all the links (and one time, himself) were cast. ‘So where are we starting?’ PunBB asked excitedly. ‘I know this great rape forum we could try, McKellion told me about it.’ ‘Maybe not,’ Elion sighed. ‘I think we should start somewhere a little more productive.’ ‘Google?’ Ron offered. ‘Google?!’ Elion spat. ‘For anything else maybe. But how many results do you think we’d get if we asked them to locate “Red” for us, or “Buster”? Use your goddam head, Ron. You’d have to be a complete retarded moron to even think about using Google at a time like this!’ ‘So … are we gonna ask Jeeves instead?’ Ron queried. ‘Jeeves couldn’t find chicken at a goddam KFC,’ Elion replied as they exited the Mercury Rooms via the Exit Portal. ‘We’re going to Wikipedia. That Buster’s such an egomaniac; I bet he’s submitted an entire section about himself.’ ‘Oooh, Good thinking,’ PunBB grinned as they disappeared into the ether that was the internet. The portal disappeared with a flash behind them. ‘Keep up!’ Freaka-chu called over his shoulder as he walked briskly past the space where the portal had just been. ‘We’ve wasted enough time already.’ He fumbled in his many pockets and finally produced a key with which he opened the door on the front of the Red Pillar Box he had arrived in that, somehow, he had since managed to park outside beside the portal with pinpoint accuracy. He claimed it was a great success, attributed to his keen Video Lord skills of navigation. He didn’t mention that he had been aiming for the other end of The Mercury Rooms entirely. ‘And I wonder how much more time we’ll waste while we’re lost in the Antarctic,’ Manhunter commented quietly. ‘Is that a possibility?’ Asawin asked nervously. ‘Not really a possibility,’ Freaka-chu said as he ushered the trio inside the RETARDIS. ‘More of a probability … but that’s not the point, we’ve got a mission on our hands. We need to pick a starting point first,’ he said as he closed the door behind them. ‘I think Google will be a good place to begin.’ * ‘Welcome to Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopaedia,’ a giant, floating, symbol-covered sphere that looked to be made out of jigsaw pieces declared to Elion, Ron and Pun as they entered a brilliantly white plane. ‘Today’s featured topic is … Gilberto Silva,’ The Sphere continued. ‘Gilberto Silva is a Brazilian Football player. He has played most of his club football for the English club, Arsenal, as a defensive midfielder,’ ‘Off!’ Elion shouted at the sphere, which fell silent.
‘What do we ask it?’ Ron said quietly. ‘Just ask it to find “Buster” and hope for the best?’ ‘I think you should ask it about me,’ Pun said. ‘Not enough people ask about me.’ ‘Did you know … ?’ The sphere perked up again. ‘… that the British Percival P.74 helicopter project was cancelled in 1956 because the aircraft was unable to fly?’ ‘OFF!’ Elion shouted. ‘It’ll start up again unless we give it a search topic,’ Ron remarked. ‘On this day in 1866,’ the sphere began again. ‘Root beer was first prepared commercially.’ ‘Enough!’ Elion exclaimed furiously. The sphere flashed once and disappeared. ‘What?’ Elion spluttered. ‘No! No! I didn’t want to search for tha-’ Before he could finish, a circular section of the ground beneath their feet rose up under them, and a wafer-thin disk of transparent material carried them high into the air above the plane where million upon millions of brilliant white book shelves full of whitecovered books loomed haphazardly at them. There seemed to be little or no organisation to the way in which the giant shelves were laid out. Many of them even seemed to bump into each other from time to time, with the collisions sending books scattering in all directions. The disk carrying Elion, Pun and Ron sped upwards, narrowly avoiding being crushed between the ever-moving bookcases until it stopped at the top shelf of one with a large E-556 sign stuck to it. A computer screen illuminated in front of them displaying a Movie poster with Jennifer Lopez’s face on it. ‘Enough,’ a small version of the sphere embedded into the side of the screen said. ‘is a 2002 Hollywood psychological thriller. It stars Jennifer Lopez as Slim, a young waitress who one day finds the man of her dreams in the diner where she works,’ ‘For goodness sake,’ Elion said and cursed under his breath. He cleared his throat and spoke directly at the small sphere. ‘Buster.’ The computer screen went blank. ‘Buster can mean one of several things,’ the sphere replied pointedly. ‘A USA term of address: see wiktionary: buster; Buster (comic), a British comic; Buster (sport comic), a Swedish comic;’ Elion slapped his forehead. ‘Price Busters TV, a shopping channel based in the UK who has a mascot that is a monkey called Buster; Lord Buster, master of all evil and soon to be ruler of ALLUC and The Mercury Rooms; Buster (film)-’ ‘Go back!’ Ron said hurriedly. ‘The err … Buster, master of all evil thing. That one … please.’ The sphere flashed at them, and the disk on which they were stood span off again. This time, they plummeted downwards towards the only bookcase that wasn’t white, but more of a light grey color, above which a large sign hung saying “REJECTED” ‘I knew it,’ Elion said, folding his arms. ‘Egotistical bastard.’ The transport disk came to rest in front of a darkened computer screen that illuminated as they arrived. ‘This article has been rejected by Wikipedia pending review,’ the small sphere at the side of the screen announced. ‘Would you like to view this article?’ ‘YES!’ Elion, Pun and Ron said in equal frustration. ‘Lord Buster,’ The sphere chimed. ‘The lord of all that is evil, dastardly and generally notniceable.’ ‘You can tell who’s written this,’ Pun commented. ‘When the mighty mind of the Buster-Bot, sent by the Video Makers to crush Video Thieves, was inadvertently combined with that of a foolish young man named Fred Kelly, an individual possessing the power of Psycho-co-kinetic Absorption and Replacement, Lord Buster was born…’ ‘I hope this isn’t as long as I think it’s going to be,’ Elion tutted. ‘… the bringer of chaos, master of destruction, the tool of evil that will bring fire, and chaos and a never-ending torrent of …’ ‘I bet it’s longer,’ Ron groaned, running a hand over his freshly shaved scalp.
‘… for his enemies, which he would put into a blender …’ ‘Is this still the introduction?’ Pun moaned, taking his copy of Rapist Monthly out of his coat. ‘Let me know if we ever get to the contents section.’ ‘ … swore revenge on the occupants of The Mercury Rooms …’ BANG! The computer screen exploded in a shower of sparks. ‘SHIT!’ Ron exclaimed as he struggled to keep his balance on the disk which tipped ever so slightly as he and the others neared the edge. ‘It was a good plan my fine friends,’ A figure dressed in black smirked as he rose up next to them on a transport disk, brandishing a large gun. ‘But all for not I’m afraid. You won’t be finding where your Moderator friend is being held from here.’ ‘I should have guessed,’ Elion said scornfully, observing Buster’s brain-washed minion. ‘Which one are you then?’ ‘AS if you don’t remember,’ the figure scoffed. ‘No, really,’ Elion shrugged. ‘I don’t do names, I can’t even remember what these guys are called,’ he said gesturing at Ron and Pun. ‘Seriously?’ the minion growled in disbelief. The group nodded. The minion gritted his teeth and puffed. ‘I am Kool!’ ‘… Yeah … but you’re not really though are you?’ Pun mulled. ‘You’re not cool … you’re a little sad really … and nobody’s talking about me at the moment … so I don’t care about you at all … no … you’re not cool.’ ‘Kool, is my name fucktard! I’m a servant of the mighty Lord Buster.’ Kool glared, raising his gun at Elion. ‘I suggest you leave your weapon where it is Moderator. Or else, one of your associates here might meet with an unfortunate incident of a violent and nonsocially redeeming nature.’ ‘Might what?’ Pun frowned. ‘He’ll kill us,’ Ron whispered. ‘Oh,’ Pun nodded in understanding. ‘…Why?’ ‘Because you’re irritating me to start with!’ Kool exploded. ‘Let’s not forget you’re also attempting to usurp the plans of my Lord and Master!’ Kool cocked the gun at them. ‘So, with that said, I would very much like for all three of you to get on your knees and put your hands behind your heads.’ ‘That’s what McKellion normally says to people,’ Pun mused. ‘It doesn’t end well when that happens … so I’d rather not.’ ‘SHUT UP!’ Kool spluttered. ‘On your knees, hands behind heads!’ ‘And then what?’ Ron asked warily. ‘Yours is not to reason why, Allucian scum!’ Kool spat. ‘Yours is to do as I say! You’re all my prisoners now, and you’ll do what I tell you, or else,’ he patted the barrel of his gun. ‘Or,’ Elion shrugged. ‘How’s about …? NO!’ Thinking quickly, Elion threw himself onto kool’s transport disk, intending to wrestle the gun from him. Things didn’t exactly go to plan, however. Firstly, Elion’s forceful leap and sudden disappearance from his own disk, caused it to tip violently, sending Ron and Pun hurtling backwards into the computer screens, to which they were forced to cling. Secondly, Elion’s arrival on Kool’s disk caused it to completely invert, sending both Elion and Kool hurtling over the edge. ‘Oh, I DO hope you’re happy!’ Kool scowled as he and Elion began to fall.