CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR PASSING SENTENCE

The Manager cackled as he crossed the metal walkway and approached the central console of The Dr.’s … no …wait. This was now his RETARDIS. The Manager stepped up to the main control of his RETARDIS and let loose a long booming laugh. He had finally won, it had finally happened. Just as he had planned it. Now, with The Dr. trapped in the Manager’s old RETARDIS that he had no doubt foolishly disabled to stop an escape attempt on his enemies behalf, it was plain sailing from here. The fool. ‘Noob,’ The Manager said with a twisted smirk and set in his new destination. The sweet nirvana that would soon be his own Mercury Rooms. He hadn’t thought of a name yet. Nothing was glorious enough to do it justice. It was a matter he would dwell upon in the months to come as he set about the construction of his new and wonderful empire. * ‘OH MY GOD!’ Aries cried as she, Beakedbard, Jason and K-Y watched the Command Centre explode in a giant fireball. The remnants of the structure hitting the section of the Mercury Rooms below it, deleting them. ‘NO!’ Jason croaked, dropping to his knees. ‘That’s not possible!’ Beakedbard gasped. ‘THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE!’ ‘NO!’ Jason shrieked angrily. ‘NOOOOOO!’ The four of them watched as the last few flaming remnants collapsed into the far end of the Main Index with another giant fireball. The few members that had been within the Mercury Rooms began to gather in the Index as what was left of the Command Centre burned. ‘That looked much better than I thought it would,’ a voice said with a half-laugh from behind them. Beakedbard span round to see Freaka-chu and Martian Manhunter clambering through a portal into the Index. Both of them looking severely pleased with themselves. ‘Alright dudes,’ Freaka-chu nodded. ‘What’s going down in groove town then?’ * The Manager leaned against the metal rail that ran around the main control section, separating it from the wide expanse of the circular platform beyond that covered the internal working of the RETARDIS that glowed up the sides of the platform through vents in the floor. The central column whirred as he inspected the video screens and the ceiling that provided a detailed map of the galaxy. It would all have to go. As soon as he landed he would go to work at the internal mechanisms and change the chameleonic properties of the RETARDIS. He was thinking black. Black and chrome everywhere. Perfect. Suddenly, the RETARDIS lurched violently to one side, the central column fell silent and the lights went out. ‘WHAT IN THE NAME OF RALJEX IS GOING ON HERE?!’ The Manager fumed, pounding the control panel with both of his fists. Sparks flew out at him and a small cube he hadn’t noticed before whirred on the panel. He recognized what it was though. It was a video cube. With a snarl, he picked up the purple object and allowed it to play. His worst fears came to fruition as The Dr.’s image buzzed into life on the nearest viewing screen. ‘You,’ Freaka-chu said with a half-laugh. ‘You are clever. You almost got me! But, you’re not the only one who can reverse engineer a plan. You see, no doubt, you knew that I’d

disable your RETARDIS, thinking it was you I was tracking down, rather than Red, to stop you from escaping. And, no doubt, you knew that would take me quite a while, getting to the top room of the tallest smegging tower of your ice palace. ‘But,’ Freaka-chu continued. ‘You didn’t factor on my greatest assistant ever being with me.’ ‘Hello,’ Martian Manhunter popped his head into view and gave a cheeky wave. ‘You see, this guy here,’ Freaka-chu grinned. ‘Flies at break-neck speeds, phases through anything and everything. So, as soon as I worked out that you’d stolen my automatic recall device and would most likely be using it as a means of escape from whatever the hell you were doing. If I’m as brilliant as everyone tells me that I am, I got it right in thinking that you would so predictably blow up the Command Centre whilst under the guise of Red … then you should be shitting yourself right at this moment, and rightly so.’ The Manager gave a roar and slammed his fists on the controls again. ‘Because, Chris here managed to get me back to my RETARDIS before you had a chance to call it in as your getaway vehicle, meaning that I could time travel back to earlier this morning in the Mercury Rooms and convinced the Administrators to construct a second Command Centre, complete with remote control fake Administrators and place it over a dead section of the Mercury Rooms. ‘We hid the real Command Centre using a cloaking device, and once that was done with, I temporarily disabled the automatic control function from my own RETARDIS.’ The Manager’s head snapped up in the darkness. ‘NO!’ He fumed. ‘And I activated the one inside yours,’ Freaka-chu said, his smile growing ever wider. ‘The power pack I installed shouldn’t last too long though. I expect it has already failed along with the brief alterations I made to the inside of your vehicle. Don’t worry, I’m sure that once you finish fumbling around in the dark, you’ll be able to fix the lighting and you’ll be back in the wonderful Narnia madness that you clearly love so much. This video is currently powering the monitor, but that will fail as soon as this message is complete.’ The Manager darted forward, grasping for the cube, perhaps if he ended this puerile message he could use the remaining energy to power his RETARDIS. ‘I wouldn’t try to siphon the power out of the video,’ Freaka-chu said with a wink. ‘If you stop it now the power will dissipate so you may as well listen up.’ Freaka-chu said darkly, leaning forward towards the camera. ‘What you did to Red is unforgivable. You tried to kill me and my friends. You tried to destroy ALLUC and your actions have led to the deaths of countless Allucian members. So I, The Dr. the last surviving member of the High Council of Video Lords banish you and your evil ways. Your RETARDIS will never work again, you’re stuck in there. The door will never open. You’ve got the rest of your final life to while away in solitude. I hope you enjoy it.’ The screen went black. ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ The Manager roared with fury as he was plunged into complete darkness. * ‘See,’ Freaka-chu said as he guided the assembled moderators out of the elevator into the real Command Centre. ‘Safe and sound.’ ‘I really thought that was the end of ALLUC,’ Jason breathed a sigh of relief. ‘You could have let us in on it, Freaka,’ Beakedbard said with a frown. ‘You gave us the fright of our lives.’ ‘What?’ Freaka-chu scoffed. ‘You lot are appalling actors; the Manager had to believe that everything was real. Only the Administrators were in on it. Nicely done I might add.’ ‘I AWAIT MY OSCAR,’ Fink boomed. ‘So that’s it then?’ Jeebus asked warily. ‘There’s no other freaky shit going to happen?’ ‘No more than usual,’ Freaka-chu shrugged. ‘Crap,’ Jeebus replied. ‘I was kinda hoping against that.’ ‘What about Red?’ Elion said with a dark expression.

‘WE HAVE TAKEN THE STASIS CRYSTAL TO OUR HOME DIMENSION,’ Vatex said loudly. ‘WE HAVE EXAMINED THE DEVICE AND UNFORTUNATELY HAVE TO AGREE THAT FREAKA-CHU IS CORRECT IN HIS ANALYSIS.’ ‘THERE’S NO WAY TO BRING RED OUT EARLY,’ Krizzo interjected. ‘WE JUST GOTTA HAVE PATIENCE AND HOPE THAT THIS THING WASN’T SET TO HOLD HIM FOR ETERNITY.’ ‘There’s really no more that we can do?’ Vash asked hoarsely. ‘I’M AFRAID NOT,’ Fink said sadly. ‘ALL WE CAN DO IS CARRY ON WITH OUR DAILY LIVES AND HOPE THAT THE MANAGER’S CRUEL ACT WILL NOT CAST ITS SHADOW ACROSS US FOR LONG.’ ‘Except in the case of all those who died,’ Totoro added, nursing a severe wound in his side. ‘EXCEPT IN THAT CASE,’ Fink nodded. ‘So … then … it’s … business as usual?’ Danny asked with a grimace. ‘EVEN MORE SO THAN USUAL,’ Vatex boomed. ‘THERE IS MUCH WORK TO BE DONE TO GET THE MERCURY ROOMS BACK TO FULL OPERATION.’ ‘Then let’s have at it!’ Totoro cried throwing his arms up and crying out in pain as he was reminded of another stab wound he had received to the chest. ‘You’re going on vacation,’ Elion reminded him sternly as the Moderators clambered into the elevator and descended into the Main Index. As they passed through the main section of The Mercury Rooms, they watched the members going about their daily lives, trying to restore some normality. There were already people arguing in the Global Warming thread, The Will-ko topic was filling up with unbelievable amounts of spammers and Links were appearing thick and fast. McKellion sauntered up to Roxy and whispered delicately in her ear. ‘Get your coat love … I’ve got a knife,’ before her Penguin army dog piled him into a random room. Elmo had now taken to painting himself red until his fur grew back fully. L96A1 and Steffman didn’t seem to be meeting each other’s gazes after forcibly spending a “happy hour” with McKellion. Pun was sat setting fire to bits of paper while Will-ko and Jazz looked on from a distance. CooCooKaJoo was busy updating the one-hundredth “100 things” threads. The sports and anime sections were taming with life as Vash left the other Moderators to engage himself in a conversation about Manga with Asawin; Danny left to look for the latest football scores and Totoro bid them goodbye as he left the Mercury Rooms through the exit portal to begin his extended recovery period. ‘It’s going to be a while before things get back to normal around here,’ Elion mused as they watched the members go by. ‘I give it about half an hour,’ Jeebus shrugged. ‘That’ll be about right,’ Freaka-chu said as he approached his own RETARDIS that he had parked outside the Off-topic section. Martian Manhunter was leaning against it expectantly. ‘Where do you think you’re going?’ Elion said crossly, folding his arms. Freaka-chu opened the RETARDIS door and smiled back at him as Manhunter entered, greeting K-Y who was waiting inside. ‘That’s the beauty of it,’ Freaka-chu smiled. ‘I have absolutely no idea … Why don’t you come with?’ ‘Me?’ Elion frowned. ‘Yeah,’ Freaka-chu nodded. ‘Anybody else fancy it?’ ‘I’m in!’ CooCooKaJoo shouted eagerly, flying through the door. ‘Aye, I’ll take a trip,’ L96A1 said with a shrug. ‘Elmo is coming too!’ Elmo cried, following Beakedbard and Skelifish as they too entered the RETARDIS. Freaka-chu looked up at Elion expectantly. ‘Fine!’ Elion huffed. ‘But if we die, I won’t let you ever hear the last of it.’ ‘Wouldn’t have it any other way,’ Freaka-chu laughed as he pulled the door closed. VROOOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOOK! VROOOOOOOOOOK!

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