‘I still don’t see how this is any better than my idea,’ Pater Aurelius protested as he followed Jason, L96A1 and Yanwaell out of a portal into a gargantuan building filled to the brim and beyond with Link cubes flying everywhich way they could. ‘I think Youtube is a better place to look for Buster’s plans than Catholicschoolgirls’,’ Jason scoffed. ‘What Elion said from the start was right. Buster’s too vain. I’d bet my left nut that he’s already submitted video blogs here talking about his plans for conquering The Mercury Rooms.’ Yanwaell held up a picture of a small owl with its head cocked to one side with a speech bubble that read “O RLY?” ‘Yes, really,’ Jason nodded as he paced across the large Youtube lobby where millions of video links were zipping about the heads of the equally large number of users swarming around the massive welcome desk in the centre of it all. To the left, large queues of people were lining up, their arms full of video links they intended to submit. To the right, many more people were browsing through the extensive Video Library using the Search Terminals. A few of the people who were supposedly browsing were actually sneakily copying the videos that were called down to their terminals and storing them in specialized link hunting cases. ‘Some of our lot,’ L96A1 nodded happily. ‘Nothing stops The Mercury Rooms,’ Jason smiled as they approached the large central desk to log in. ‘Good afternoon,’ the log in terminal buzzed as Jason entered his password. ‘Your subscriptions have new entries,’ it chirped. ‘Not now,’ Jason said plainly as he pushed his way through the turnstile and entered the main browsing area past the queue of people waiting to upload videos. The noise in the place was deafening, it was almost impossible to pick out anything that was being said at any one of the fifty-plus Upload Desks that always reminded Jason of an airport check-in set-up. ‘And what tags would you like to add?’ A cheerful woman at the counter asked one of the uploaders. ‘The tags I wish to add are as follows,’ a tall man with the palest of skin, white-blonde hair and deep-set eyes said as he produced a list from his crimson suit jacket. ‘…Master … Plan … Death … ALLUC … Lord … Buster … Evil …Rules … All.’ The figure grinned, baring a set of vicious-looking fangs as he handed over a glowing video link cube. ‘WHAT?!’ Jason hissed, ducking behind a browsing terminal to observe the proceedings. ‘Arighty-then,’ the woman beamed obliviously. ‘Your video is now being uploaded. ‘Would you like to up-load another?’ ‘No my dear,’ the figure grinned back, displaying his fangs even more prominently. ‘That will be all for now.’ ‘Super,’ the woman replied with a cheek-achingly wide smile. ‘Please come again, and have a super day.’ ‘I intend to,’ the figure smirked and paced off into the crowd. ‘Was … that?’ L96A1 started. ‘It was,’ Jason interrupted with a fearful expression. ‘That’s the vampire that Steffman hates, the one that was taken over by Buster.’ ‘The vampire?!’ Pater Aurelius exclaimed, fingering one of many crosses about his person. ‘I’m not equipped to deal with vampires! We turned all the holy water into wine when we were drunk and ran out of alcohol. I’m just not prepared.’ ‘I am,’ L96A1 grinned, cocking his unfeasibly large rifle. Yanwaell held up a pictured of a man, keeled over with a pained expression on his face with the words “BALL SHOT!” underneath.

‘We don’t need to deal with him,’ Jason shushed them. ‘We’ll keep away from him, as long as he doesn’t see us, we’ll be safe. Come on, I want to get a look at that video he just Uploaded.’ * ‘MY GOD!’ Jeebus panted as he collapsed through a portal, Waldo clutched protectively to his chest. ‘I honestly didn’t think that I could get bored of porn.’ ‘Six-thousand and twenty-seven sites,’ Will-ko rasped, catching his breath. ‘And still seventeen hundred thousand more to go … I’ll go blind!’ ‘Jazz is prepared for this challenge,’ Jazz replied eagerly, absent-mindedly masticating* 1 on a cookie. ‘Jazz will continue on Jazz’s own if you weaklings are not strong enough.’ ‘Give me a minute, I need a breather,’ Jeebus spluttered from his knees. ‘Seriously, who’s idea was this anyhow?’ ‘YOURS!’ Will-ko puffed. ‘It all sounded so good on paper.’ ‘YOU FAIL!’ Jazz cried hysterically. ‘YOU FAIL! YOU FAIL! YOU FAIL! Jazz should burn you both! You have shown Jazz how truly weak you are, just as Jazz believed.’ ‘Steady on there Jazz,’ Will-ko wheezed. ‘Jazz does not recognize your authority to request such leniency,’ Jazz huffed. ‘Jazz should douse you both in petrol, set you alight and then Jazz should dance around your burning corpses naked and defecate on the ashes! Jazz concludes this would be the best course of action!’ ‘ALRIGHT!’ Jeebus shouted angrily, getting to his feet. ‘FINE! We’ll press on! Happy now?’ Jazz grinned. ‘Jazz is an excellent motivational speaker. Jazz deserves another cookie,’ he beamed, and rewarded himself thusly. ‘Good god,’ Will-ko gulped as he yanked himself upwards. ‘Can we at least try one that’s not so appealing this time? Something that’s not going to … y’know … grab my attention so much?’ ‘Errr,’ Jeebus winced, taking out a pocket directory on which he had been making a checklist. ‘Well, there’s the midget porn sites, there’s an alarming amount of bestiality, some necrophilia, homosexuality, incest, all the ones I really didn’t want to have to go near. Good god! There’s a combination of all five of them here!’ Will-ko frowned. ‘I said something that wouldn’t arouse me!’ * ‘It’s still not coming up!’ Jason said, cracking his neck as he gave the monitor an infuriated slap. The highest level of Youtube was well out of the way, but the open plan that looked out into the lobby still meant that it was rather noisy. ‘They take forever to put them into the system,’ L96A1 groaned. Yanwaell produced a picture of a BMX rider flying from his bike mid-crash with a label that read “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!” ‘I’m not doing it wrong,’ Jason protested. ‘I’m using the tags that Adamus gave to the Youtube staff.’ ‘Perhaps if we look to the good Lord for guidance,’ Pater Aurelius offered. Yanwaell held up another picture with a frown showing Cookie Monster yelling something at Bert, “STFU” it read. ‘Fine,’ Pater Aurelius huffed. ‘Just remember that you shall burn for all eternity in Satan’s fiery damnation for abusing one of the Lord’s messengers.’ Yanwaell shrugged and produced a picture of a party, “FIESTA!” ‘Hey there guys,’ somebody from behind them called. Jason turned his head as Steffman and Yuiop joined them at the terminal. ‘What’s going on?’ ‘We’re waiting for a new video to appear on the system,’ L96A1 replied testily. ‘It’s taking forever.’ ‘Sounds like a blast,’ Yuiop nodded. ‘What’s so interesting about it?’

You know that your dirty mind read that word wrong for a second

‘Is it the new 24 episode?’ Steffman inquired hopefully. ‘No,’ Jason replied with a sigh, turning around to face them. ‘Look, if I tell you, you keep it to yourselves yeah? Otherwise there’s going to be mass panic beyond all comprehension.’ ‘I haven’t seen mass panic beyond all comprehension for some time,’ Yuiop nodded thoughtfully. ‘Do tell.’ ‘Alright,’ Jason glowered, looking pointedly at Steffman. ‘But what I tell you now, you have to promise me not to go thermal and wreck the place.’ ‘I’ve got a feeling I’m not going to like what you tell me,’ Steffman said, inhaling sharply. ‘Jason, it’s up!’ L96A1 said abruptly, spinning Jason’s chair back around to face the terminal screen where Buster’s face sneered at them. There was a fanfare of music before Buster grinned at them and licked his lips. ‘Well, my soon to be loyal subjects,’ Buster tittered. ‘My master plan is moving along quite nicely. By now, my traps are being sprung all over the internet. My predictions were indeed correct. After my capture of this, Allucian Moderator,’ Buster grinned toothily, stepping aside from the camera to show Red slumped unconscious in shackles upon the wall. ‘I knew that the foolish Mercury Room Administrators’ first course of action would be to send out the remaining Moderators in order to search for their comrade. However, as always, I have been one step ahead of those ingrates all the way. My minions positioned at the most probable search locations across the internet have no doubt already begun dispensing of anybody who comes investigating, and my alliance with the Titans is currently ensuring that the very lifelines of The Mercury Rooms have been cut off. There will soon be no more links, and those that have already been collected will be severed at the source … Buster glowered into the camera, the smile on his face almost unbearably smug. ‘And it gets better,’ he grinned. ‘What the Allucian scum don’t know … what they could never hope to know, is that I’ve been getting a lot of aid recently … a lot of aid indeed that will soon ensure that the most powerful members of The Mercury Rooms will be disposed of. All thanks to my new alliance with The Video Lord ...’ ‘WHAT?!’ Yuiop spluttered, sending his popcorn flying. ‘That’s nae possible!’ L96A1 hissed. ‘NO WAY!’ L96A1 cried. ‘There’s no way Freaka-chu would betray us to Buster!’ Jason shushed him, trying to listen to Buster’s video. ‘And … some of you watching this video will probably be wondering why I’ve been stupid enough to tell you all this … why I’ve taken the time to outline my plan in every detail …’ Buster continued, looking straight into the camera. ‘Why I’ve just explained my one greatest asset to you, The Allucian Moderator sitting at a Youtube Terminal, watching this video …’ ‘Oh, shit,’ L96A1 breathed. ‘You’re in for a nasty little surprise of your own,’ Buster said, trying to contain his laughter. ‘He’s nothing if not organized,’ Steffman observed. ‘Enjoy your untimely death,’ Buster smirked. ‘I do hope it is as unpleasant as possible.’ The video ended with Buster cackling insanely, before the screen went black and the option to either share the video or play it again appeared promptly on the monitor. ‘I don’t like the sound of any of that,’ Yuiop quivered. ‘Yeah,’ L96A1 gulped. ‘If Buster knows that we’d come here tae look for clues then a don’t reckon that we should hang around too long.’ ‘No arguments from me,’ Jason nodded, quickly rising to his feet. ‘Steffman, Yuiop, are there any other Allucian members here?’ ‘Err,’ Steffman said, thinking quickly. ‘I dunno, I saw Seano and Dr. Math earlier, but they could have left already. There were some Link Hunters down on the first floor, but I’ve seen nobody else.’ ‘I observed Moonwalker Morris too, and Gerradinho,’ Yuiop added. ‘Christ! There’s too many of them to go searching for them all!’ Jason cried, fingering his tool belt, like he always did when he was too nervous to think straight. ‘We’ll just have to try to find as many as we can while we get the hell out of here … I’d really like to not be around when that nasty little surprise happens.’

‘As long as it hasn’t happened already,’ Pater Aurelius observed. ‘Let’s hope that-’ Jason started, but stopped abruptly as what sounded like gunfire echoed throughout the lobby below. ‘Speak of the devil,’ Pater Aurelius winced as they abandoned their route to the stairs and quickly went to the balcony. Down in the lobby, Youtube users and Youtube staff were cowering on the floor as Adamus and what looked like a platoon of heavily armed Buster minions brandishing massive rifles surrounded the perimeter of the lobby. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen!’ Adamus hissed cordulantly, holding his white-gloved hands up for silence. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen!’ he repeated until the screaming masses’ noise fell to an acceptable level for him to begin. With a smirk, he produced a small leather book from the inside of his crimson suit and proceeded to read. ‘When Alexander the Great saw the width and breadth of his domain, he wept … for there were no more worlds to conquer … Uploaders, Users, Viewers, lend me your ears for a brief moment. I’m afraid that you have chosen a rather inopportune time to visit the site you call Youtube. For you see, you have inadvertently stumbled into the midst of a turbulent war betwixt my Lord and Master Buster and the Video Thieves of The Mercury Rooms. Now, we know that several key members of this organisation which dares to blaspheme the name of my Master, Buster, lord of all that is evil, are here, right now in this building. Myself and my associates are here with the express purpose to exterminate them all.’ Adamus gestured towards the door. The Buster minions parted as the large doors parted and a platoon of large metal creatures that looked for all the world like massive pepper-pots in garish wigs and ill-fitting evening wear stormed into the building. ‘SEXTERMINATE!’ one of the large pepper-pot creatures shouted in a raspy, mechanical, mono-tone voice as lights on what was supposedly its head alighted. ‘For this reason,’ Adamus continued. ‘You will find that all of the exits are blocked, and anybody trying to escape will be immediately terminated by my platoon and the Darlin’ forces here.’ ‘SEXTERMINATE! SEXTERMINATE!! SEXTRMINATE!’ A Black Darlin’ cried, flailing its feather-duster arm. ‘That is not to say that the rest of you will not serve a purpose,’ Adamus continued. ‘Far from it. Those of you here not affiliated with ALLUC will share a unique privilege. You will all be converted into my Master’s minions. Whether you consent, or not. But I assure you that the process is far less agonising and torturous if you submit freely,’ the vampire tittered, taking out a long sword. ‘After all, what use are you going to be to us without a head?’ Cries of terror and panic ran through the crowd, several of the figures in black fired their weapons into the air for silence, this only seemed to cause more panic. ‘LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!’ Adamus thundered. ‘REMAIN CALM, DO AS YOU ARE INSTRUCTED AND THERE WILL BE NEED FOR LOSS OF LIFE!’ Adamus intuitively looked up and dived quickly to one side as an unfortunate individual that had been leaning over a balcony was hit by a stray bullets fell with a thud to the ground. ‘Well … no loss of life, from this point on!’ Adamus corrected with a huff as the central doors of Youtube flew open once more and four new arrivals marched into the room. Two large bespeckled twins in expensive business suits, a giant, angry-looking lamp and a gargantuan chicken paraded towards the central desk and proceeded to rip apart the machinery. ‘These are allies of my Master,’ Adamus explained. ‘The representatives of the Video Makers. Defenders of the produce that you all crave so dearly. Allow me to introduce The Warner Brothers, The Pixar Lamp and the Pathé Chicken. These Link Eaters are here to permanently erase this international stain of a site. Do try not to get in their way, it will only end badly for you.’ ‘NO!’ Steffman roared as L96A1 and Jason grappled with him. ‘Let me go!’ Steffman said angrily, his hands a mass of flames. ‘I’ll tear that son-of-a-bitch’s head off!’

‘He’s got an army with him!’ Jason said, shaking Steffman violently. ‘You wouldn’t last five minutes! I know you’re both on different sides of the … the thing …’ ‘The constant and never-ending war between the denizens of light and darkness,’ Steffman rasped. ‘The ceaseless battle of eternity between good and evil.’ ‘Yes,’ Jason nodded affirmingly. ‘That one.’ ‘Ye canny go down there on yer own,’ L96A1 frowned. ‘Ye would nae even get close tae the Vampire … you’d get mowed down before yae even got tae call him a bastard.’ Steffman huffed a sigh and extinguished the flames in his hands. ‘So, what do you suggest then?’ ‘I really don’t know,’ Jason gulped. ‘I’m not one for plans! I’m an engineer!’ He turned to L96A1. ‘What do you think we should do? You’re the Super-Soldier.’ ‘Super-Soldier with nae memory,’ L96A1 corrected. ‘But am thinkin’, am thinkin’ ‘Is there no other way out of here?’ Yuiop asked hurriedly. Yanwaell produced a biblical picture of Moses with the Ten Commandments with a legend reading “RTFM” ‘That’s nae helping!’ L96A1 shouted a little louder than he had meant to. ‘The point is that we need a way out, or we’ll probably be dead meat very soon … We canny go out tha front because it’s blocked and a dinnae know if there’s a back way out at all.’ ‘There’s got to be a fire exit,’ Jason said suddenly. ‘It’s regulations! Escape facilities on every floor in case of fire, flood, catastrophe, viral attack or …’ ‘Madmen invasion,’ L96A1 nodded approvingly. ‘Okay then engineer … where would this exit be?’ Jason started to speak but soon couldn’t find any words to use. ‘I … have … no idea,’ he said apologetically. ‘Sorry.’ ‘So!’ Adamus cried from the lobby. ‘If everybody would kindly gather here in the lobby, we can begin to sort out the vermin to be exterminated,’ ‘SEXTERMINATED!’ A Darlin’ cried. ‘Whatever,’ Adamus sighed. ‘We can sort them out from the rest of you. Do be quick about it though, I have precious little patience for these opera-’ Adamus stopped and grinned as a wind began to blow through the halls of Youtube. VROOOOOOOOOOOK! Came a noise that sent a shiver through the Allucian member’s spines. VROOOOOOOOOOOOK! ‘Ah,’ Adamus grinned. ‘Our newest friend, bang on time.’

‘I don’t believe it!’ Jason spat. ‘It’s not true! He wouldn’t betray us! It’s got to be a trick!’ VROOOOOOOOOK! ‘He could nae de it!’ L96A1 shook his head. VROOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOK!

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