ALPHA v0.3

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B'Harnworld Part I--The Beginning

Topic: barney

B'harnworld, Part I--The Beginning

Jamie leisurely strolled up the long, winding path to the huge, windowless, office building. It was a beautiful spring day--the birds were singing, there was a purple sky above him, the grass showed its beautiful shade of neon green, sign that summer and all its games would soon arrive. As he approached the door to the building, he could hear that wonderful song echoing from the speakers around the building. "I looove you...." echoed the sweet refrain. He hummed quietly along as he reached the doors. "Have a stuuupennnndous day!" came a voice from a speaker as the door opened from him. He strolled across to the elevator door and inserted his security passcard. The doors hissed open and he stepped in with the other workers, all clad in purple and green clothing. He pushed the button for his floor (He worked on the eleventh floor, giving him a marvelous view through the windows) and suddenly had an uncontrollable shiver run through him as he noticed for the first time how everyone looked exactly the same. He began to sweat, and was glad when the door hissed open again to let him out with its pleasant little laugh. Or was it a pleasant laugh at all...? He walked down the purple and green hall past purple and green cubicles with little drawings of the Mighty Leader. As he entered his security code into the keypad on his door, he noticed another purple and green clad worker arriving at her own office. He winced involuntarily and hurried into his office and latched the door behind him. Jamie released a small sigh of relief that he hadn't heard the "Good morning, special friend Jamie!" had the other worker, Janice, seen him. He was safe in his own office now, and he was safe. Or so he thought. Jamie worked for the Imagination Dissemination and Expansion Administration (or IDEA) branch of the Government. He plopped down in his chair to look at the day's video of the game he was to learn and go out and teach others. He would say, "Hey, everybody! Come play a stupendous new game with me!" and of course everyone else would come and join. Everybody knew that if they played, they could be Lord Barney's friend. Some people got to be a special friend of his Lordship when they didn't play, but that was different. Nobody really wanted to be a special friend. That meant that there would be extra jobs and responsibilities. As he watched the video of people dancing in a circle around a plush stuffed toy, Jamie's mind began to wander. Why did everyone act the same? Why did they all dress the same? Why had he never seen Lord Barney in the plush? Why hadn't he ever thought of this before? He frowned for a moment, perhaps only a fraction of a second, as the thought crossed his mind, and he went back to his job. Jamie finished learning the game and hurried home to his friends to teach them this new game. Everyone thought he was so clever! How did he ever come up with such wonderful IDEAs and games! But, as he finished teaching them this new game, he wondered about how creative he really was, and that brief scowl again crossed his brow. He went home to bed, wondering what was going on in his mind, and what tomorrow would hold in store for him. In that first brief moment he scowled, another friend of Barney was watching Jamie. The sole job of this friend was to see to everyone's happiness and make sure nobody was unhappy. Unhappiness was unfriendly, and if you were unfriendly... well, why would anybody want to be unfriendly with such a friend as Lord Barney? He pushed the button over the monitor showing Jamie and went back to singing that new song. A light went on in Lord Barney's chambers. Someone had had an Unhappy Thought! He alerted his friend BJ as to the person's location and got his name and number. He also had a watch started on him. He scowled again! He did! He did! How can it be? Wondered the watching friend. Oh well... He pushed the button again, and the monitor went to a pure purple backdrop. He'd done his job. Now... what verse was I on? The light went on again in Lord Barney's chambers. The person had done it again! He grabbed the green phone, and was talking to Baby Bop in a few brief minutes. "It looks like I get a new special friend!" he exclaimed. Baby Bop immediately understood, and went to find their new special friend. The alarm clock sang a happy tune at 6:30 in the morning the next day, the same as always. For some reason, Jamie hated the sound of it. He rolled over, and smacked it with his hand in such a way as to mimic simply rolling over. However, he hit it much harder than if he had just rolled over. In fact, he broke the purple LED face of the clock. *sigh* "what a shame..." thought Jamie as he rose from bed. He continued through his morning routine. He shaved. He showered. He got dressed in his (ugh) purple and green garb. He went downstairs to breakfast where he had a cup of grape juice and a bowl of high fiber cereal. That's when he did what was to be his first doubletake of the day-- the cereal in his bowl looked just like tree bark. "Nah... couldn't be. They wouldn't feed us tree bark... would they?" he wondered. Nonetheless, he ate his bowl of treebark flavored cereal and listened to the sound of the TV behind him. [Jamie always sat with his back to the TV at breakfast. That was HIS spot. He didn't know why, it just WAS. He liked it there.] He got his shoes on, velcroed them on, and meandered off to work again. It was another beautiful day--an exact duplicate of the day before. Come to think of it, there had been a lot of days like this lately. How long had it been since winter? Jamie couldn't remember. His thoughts were diverted soon anyway as a parade came winding down the street and crossed behind him. "A parade? Today? OF COURSE! Today is independence day! Today was the day that freedom had been won from... well, he couldn't remember who or what, but it was a day to celebrate anyway. He bounced his way up to his office, and shouted "HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, EVERYONE! THERE'S A PARADE OUTSIDE! GO AND SEE HOW STUPENDOUS IT IS!" at the top of his lungs. Immediately, the office emptied, and he was left alone in the room. He had already seen the parade, but he decided to watch from the window... "Wait a minute... the WINDOW?!? There ARE no windows in this building... if there were, I could see them from outside!" He began to walk towards the windows. It was as if some unseen force was making him to go look out. There was the street, the sidewalk, the park, the street... but no parade. Jamie tried to remember looking out the window before. Winter... yes, that was a few months ago. He could remember making a snowbarney out front of the building. Had he ever seen it from this window, though? No; every time he'd looked out this window he'd seen the EXACT SAME VIEW. It wasn't really a window at all! "How come I never realized this before..." he wondered.

"Perhaps because you've been a special friend until recently!" came a shrill female voice from behind him. The hair stood up on the back of Jamie's neck. He broke out in goosebumps, suddenly realizing that he'd been thinking aloud. Terror shot through his body like nothing he'd ever felt before--fear was a new and foreign sensation for him. Barney was his lover and defender! He had nothing to fear! Nonetheless, Jamie's knees buckled and he sprawled on the floor unconscious in a yellowish pool of his own making. Jamie awoke and found himself dressed in clean, dry clothes and in a purple-painted cubicle about 6 ft on each of the three axis. It was bare, save the shelf he was lying on and a Happy Seat on the side of the room. (There were lots of happy seats around now that everyone was eating that new cereal. They were always busy, too.) Jamie looked around at the purple walls again, and suddenly felt the need to go purge his stomach of his last meal, which he did. After what Jamie thought was about 5 minutes, the door (there was a door in here?) opened and he heard that shrill voice again. "The Master will see you now!" Jamie trembled with an odd combination of fear, wonder, and curiosity. What was going on? Why was he here? Was Jamie really going to talk to HIM? The small green creature led Jamie through a maze of passageways long enough for trained lab rats to get lost in. Eventually, he found himself facing a set of tremendous purple doors. This could only be one place-- the entrance to the Master's Palace! Jamie trembled again. He looked behind him to see the green critter gone, and then was startled back to reality as the doors opened to reveal... YES! It was HIM! Jamie was almost overwhelmed with joy, and then with a series of other, more foreign emotions. Fear. Anger. Irritation. More fear. He gazed upon the large purple figure with wonder at what was going to happen. "Why, hellooooooo there friend Jamie! Welcome to my stuuuuuuupendoussssssss home! Come in! Do come in and be my special friend!" As the words echoed around him and in his mind, Jamie shivered again. He followed anyway, not knowing what else he could do. There was absolutely no chance of escaping, and if there were... what would he escape TO? Again Jamie was led through a labyrynth of passageways and rooms, and found himself in front of a pair of great Oaken doors. "Jamie, I'm afraid that you've been thinking unhappy thoughts! We can't have you thinking unhappy thoughts! Come! Let me show you something few people ever get to see-- the scary and unhappy past that you no longer need worry about. I keep this museum just so I can show people like you and remind you what it used to be like, before me!" The doors swung open, and Lord Barney led the way inside. He saw pictures of killings, blood, guts... wars, flaming crosses... Jamie was horrified by what he saw. And then he came across a section of the museum that simply fascinated him to no end-- it was clearly the most recent of the museum, but that wasn't what was interesting. It was the curious items in it. He paused, reflecting on the items there and trying to figure out their significance. "So, you are intrigued by these horrific items? Well, let me tell you about them! Those things there wrapped in plastic, those are things called "Unhealthy Snacks." They were found by my friends to be so bad that we immediately began a campaign to eliminate them. Those long and odd shaped devices in the case over there--those are devices used to fight against us in the Liberation Battle. Look! There's a pez cannon! A burgermasterblaster! A supersoaker! ooo... and this one is the most frightening of all... a statue of a purple monstrosity! Yes, there was another purple one! But he was bad... he wanted all to eat the Unhealthy snacks and suffer a dreadful fate!" "What were we liberated from, Lord Barney? I hope you aren't upset with my asking." "Gracious no! Let me show you my prize items..." Barney led Jamie to a back room with glass tubes with liquid and some odd grey items in them. "Look! This is the Brain of a common person today-- notice how small and efficient it is! And never would it be crowded in your skull! Now, look at these others... these were taken from the last of those fighting against us. Notice how large and ungainly they are! How awkward! Nothing could ever get done with a brain that large! These people suffered from the unfortunate effects of Unhealthy Snacks and odd genetic mutations! Jamie scanned the sets... there was a remarkable difference in size! He read the labels to himself... "today" under the small one... then under the others "Serbeus," "Manticore," "Starbuck," "Netdoc," "Syvinski." Names he vaguely remembered from.... when? He didn't know. "You see, we tried to cure them, but they resisted until they died. We felt it bad to let them die in such shame, so we decided it would be best to make them useful. You see Jamie, we have found that you too suffer from the unfortunate makeup that these fellows did. But we caught it in time! We can cure you!" Jamie paused, considering what had been said. Barney saw this, and spoke again. "I see you need time to absorb this new information. We will discuss your situation more in the morning. But now, you can sleep in my Palace!" Jamie tossed and turned in his purple and green covered bed. Strange thoughts and visions passed through his mind-- images of those long gone, of a world much different... or a world much less purple, and a different sort of green than he'd seen in a long, long time. But was it truly something that he HAD ever seen? Was it just a dream? A picture of a strange temple of some sort passed through his mind at just that moment, along with it an image of a purple being. Lord Barney? No, he was much different. His purple was a different color. He had temples everywhere, with great golden banners overhead. Jamie felt oddly at peace when he saw him, and stopped tossing and turning. No, this was NOT just a dream. It was a flood of memories that had been pushed far back out of his consciousness. Memories of people long gone returned to him... Serbeus... Syvinski... yes, he could remember them both. He had known them both before the Change. Starbuck and Manticore... he knew he'd never actually met them, but he knew who they were. He remembered seeing them packing away some soft, fluffy, sweet and sticky foodstuffs at that same strange temple. Nobody could match their prowess when it came to stuffing themselves with... hotcakes? Yes, Hotcakes! That's what they were called! And... YES! Unhealthy snacks! They weren't bad for your brain; they stimulated it! Jamie sat bold upright in his bed, which was now soaked with sweat. Now he knew the truth about Lord B'harni! He suspected that he had known it all along, but that it had somehow been forcibly repressed. His name wasn't Jamie, either... it was... what was it? Or rather, what had it been before the Change? He couldn't remember. But he knew that he'd been with a band of rebels fighting to survive against B'harni... No! He'd been a LEADER! And he would be again... now that he had his cerebrum back under his own control, he'd never give in again. Barney wandered into the room, his usual grin on his face, and peered over the edges of the covers at Jamie. "So... You think you know the truth, do you? Well, go ahead and ask me questions. I'll tell you the truth... and you'll love me for it!" Jamie's eyes narrowed to slits as he glared back into the face he thought he'd never have to love again. "Why--why do you brainwash people? To make them 'happy?' To make the world peaceful? Why?" "Don't be so silly! Why, I do it for POWER, of course! I do it for GLORY and PRAISE! Tell me, when was the last time you heard of someone challenging my leadership, my wisdom, my greatness? Not since the Change, I'll wager!" "No, you're right. I haven't. But I WILL hear it. And I'll be LEADING the people when your time comes, B'harni. You will fall, your power will crumble to dust as the world unites to free itself from your slavery!" "Ahhh, but it won't! You see, it will never know that it is enslaved! Nobody will tell them!" "You kill me, and they'll find out. I'll be a martyr, and YOU will be meat!" "Kill you? No, I'm not going to do that... I'm going to make you my friend! I haven't killed anyone since the change! In fact, the last one to go, Manticore, died at his own hand rather than see this my planet, my world... this Barnworld!" "I'll never be your friend, and You won't win. You won't win because you CAN'T. You CAN'T control everyone or watch everyone, and when you make one slip, you'll fall, and it will be all over!" "We shall see, my friend," his eyes glowed with intense glee, "We shall see indeed!" "Bring him!" The voice was no longer calm, friendly, or jovial. It was now a deep, rasping, hideous voice straight from hell itself. But "Jamie" had no fear, for nothing this thing could do to him could compare to stealing his mind, thoughts, and identity. NOTHING. Jamie was strapped into a chair in a purple room. The only thing in the room was the chair and the purple walls. Then they left him. He tried to sleep, but found he could not. He tried not to look at the purple walls, but could not avoid it. Seconds stretched to minutes stretched to hours. Finally he couldn't stand it. he strained against the straps and screamed with all his heart and soul. He had to break free. Barney heard the scream and smiled his big perfect grin. His victory was beginning. He allowed Jamie to scream another ten minutes, then pressed the button in front of him. The walls in the room suddenly changed color, and video screens became visible all around him. In through the door strode the beast, grinning from ear to ear. "Look around you, Jamie. You see, I CAN watch you all all the time. Where would you like to see? Who? Look!" As he looked, Jamie could see faces of people all around the globe... in red square, tianamen square, boston green... he saw London, Paris, Lima, and Lisbon. He saw McGill, Austin, Ames, and Seattle. It was true... Barney could see everywhere. He screamed again and strained to break free and strangle the beast that was tormenting him. "Tsk tsk tsk... naughty naughty!" Barney said as he walked out of the room. "Now you have to be punished!" The door closed, and the lights became blindingly bright white, and all the walls became white, too. Jamie screamed yet again. Hours later, Jamie was screaming for mercy. He heard ungodly loud music, pounding rhythms, and screams. ANYTHING would be preferable... Suddenly, the walls returned to a friendly shade of purple, comfortable furniture was brought in, and the straps released. Food was brought in. Barney himself came in and sat down to dinner with him. "You see? I'm not such a bad guy!" His eyes glistened. "All you have to do is be my friend and you can live well! Be happy, friend!" Jamie glared at him. Barney sighed, and whistled for his friends. Everything was taken out of the room, and Jamie was strapped down again, and the process began again. Over the next few weeks, the cycle repeated itself again and again. Each time, Barney was kinder and gentler with Jamie when he was there and harsher and harsher when he refused to be friends. Gradually, Jamie saw that Barney truly was his friend. Barney came in for his usual dinner/peace offer, and brought some nice fresh Broccoli. "I love you, friend Barney," Jamie said with a tear in his eyes. "I always will, and I hope everyone else will, too!" Barney grinned his big toothy grin. "So do I, Jamie, So do I!"

DARKTIMES, Part 2...

Jamie was dreaming again. He hadn't had dreams for a long time... not since he'd been retaught how to Truly Love. And even during the time of his reeducation, he'd only dreamed in purple and green. But not now. Not this time... this time he was dreaming in full color, and it was more real than anything else he'd ever seen before in his life. And that scared him. Terrified him, actually. He was sweating tremendously when he awoke, his purple and green bedsheets soaked to the mattress with his sweat. Jamie sat bolt upright. He was awake, and the dream was fading from his mind. Jamie wrestled with the memory of the dream as he ran his fingers through his light brown hair. How long had it been since his reeducation? How long since his last dream? It had been a few months, he was sure. But without the passing of seasons, calendars, or real clocks around he had no way of knowing for sure. All he knew was that the Great Purple One still ruled the land, and he cared for all its inhabitants. Granted, there were rumors about some kind of underground, some people foolish enough to refuse His love, but Jamie didn't really believe them... The SpecWatch officer leaned over his console, concentrating intensely on one of his monitors. He only had 2, which was half that of the others, but he had to pay twice the attention to details... actions, activities... facial expressions, physical responses. He glanced at the pulse monitor to his right. Subject One's heart was racing, but its rate was decreasing somewhat. Brain waves were off the scale. What... was happening? He was sleeping, nothing should happen then. A... dream? he'd heard of such things, but since they were Evil Magic he'd never experienced them or seen them himself, being so close to the Good One. He decided that he'd best report this in, and raised the phone receiver next to his console... Jamie stood and walked over to the kitchen. He sighed deeply, still in awe of what he'd seen. Most of it he couldn't remember, but parts of it chilled him to the marrow. "Juice, cold." A glass LuvJuice appeared on the table top. All he had to do was ask for what he wanted and it would be brought. Jamie stared at the purple juice for a moment, then changed his mind. "Change that. Water, cold." The glass disappeared, leaving a glass of water in its place. It was green. Jamie sighed, and sat down to drink his water. What was that place? Who were those people? He couldn't remember. Jamie finished his water and went back to bed. The sheets were now dry and clean, and the bed freshly made. The glass disappeared from the table as he left the room. He closed his eyes, wondering if the dream would come again, and if he would learn anything new... The comm link in the Great One's chambers rang briefly, awaking him from his pleasant slumber. He'd feasted greatly the night before on some young, tender flesh, and didn't want to be disturbed. He noticed, however, where the call was coming from--the WatchCenter. That disturbed him somewhat, so he decided to answer it rather than let the Commander take it. He flicked the switch on his bedside console, causing a viewscreen to come to life opposite his glorious bed and the audio link to come up. He could see the SpecWatcher, but the SpecWatcher could not see him. "Great One, I'm sorry to disturb you. However, it is my love for you that commands me to make this call." "Tell me, Loved One, why you call, and I may reward you for your service." "Great One, my Subject One is behaving oddly. He rose just minutes ago, his heart overacting and his brainwaves looking like it was going to explode. Indeed, I feared it such, and thought you should know that you might save him. This is why I have called, My Lord." "You have done a good thing, WatcherOne. You will be rewarded for your service." "Thanks be to you, Great One. I will leave you now in peace. Love and long life, Great One." The Great one switched off the commlinks, disturbed. Subject One again? It had only been a few brief months since his reeducation. "He must be watched," he thought aloud. "Commander!" he called. In stepped a small green creature. "Subject One is to be watched carefully. Bring him to me if he acts erratically in any way." "Yes, my Master. I Obey." He bowed, and backed out the door he'd come in, closing it behind him. Jamie rose with the sound of his alarm singing in his ears. It burned his ears as he listened, he was so tired. The dream had exhausted him. Nonetheless, he rose and prepared for work, donning his purple and green clothing with the same pride he did every day. He ate his breakfast of Healthy Foods and LuvJuice, and headed out the door towards the Imagination Dissemination and Expansion Administration (IDEA) headquarters building. He didn't bother to lock the door behind him. Everyone knew there was no need. The Great One provided and defended all, not that it ever needed defending... The day marched on, a beautiful day with purple skies, green clouds and trees, and a bright yellow sun. Jamie worked quietly at his desk. His mind would not stay in one place; he was too tired, or something. Yes, that was it. He was too tired. "Master, Subject One's waves are increasing. What should we do?" "Send a message to his superior, saying he's done stupendously at his job and will be getting a vacation. He won't be in to work for quite some time. Then collect him at his home and take him to the Education Center. I'll talk to you again there." "As you wish, my Liege. Bop out." The Great One was worried. Jamie left work as always, when the song sounded again from the speaker by his desk. He started off towards home, through the product district, where products of all kinds were available for all those under the Great One's rule. Suddenly, there was a great commotion from behind him, on the ground. Jamie whirled around in time to see something or someone rise from a hole in the pavement, and a blur of motion. Something was jabbed into his back, and he passed out just as the Commander rounded the corner--too late... Jamie awoke with a pounding headache in a large, dark room. He couldn't move. Something was restraining him. "So... you're awake. Good," came a voice from the corner. A large man strode over to Jamie and removed a headset from Jamie's head. Jamie hadn't even noticed it. "We'd prefer to use a full stereo, but the sound from it would be heard and we'd be found, you see." "You shall be found anyway. Taking one of the Great One's Special Friends does not go unpunished." "You still don't understand, do you? You still call him the "Great One?" Here, let me show you something. This is how we found you and why we took you when we did." He flipped a switch on some kind of control box in his hand, and a viewscreen flickered to life on the wall in front of Jamie. "You'll have to forgive the quality. You see, we only get what equipment we can scrounge during our brief trips outside, and tapping in, well, you don't get real great quality from a pirated transmission..." "MORE ILLEGALITIES!?!?" Jamie was incredulous. Such actions were unhear of! "oh shut up and watch! You might as well--you aren't going anywhere anyway..." Jamie shut up. On the screen he could see... the Commander? And who was he speaking with? "Great One, another Subject is acting oddly. Permission to claim him before the renegades know of him?" "THE RENEGADES! That's YOU! You're..." "SHUT UP!" "Do so, Commander, and don't let another one slip through your toes. Or you will suffer miserably..." The Commander bowed. "As you wish, My Lord." "Now, watch this..." The captor pushed a button, switching the display to a surveillance view of someone out in the street. "Take him now, or we'll lose him to Lard-butt again," he said into his controller. Several figures rushed from the shadows and grabbed the figure, jabbed him with some kind of stun device, and dragged him off into the shadows again as the Commander came charging in. The Commander pulled some kind of weapon and fired a beam at one of the figures, hitting him. He fell dead. One of the others returned fire, grazing the commander, but doing no real damage. He then retreated into the shadows, dragging his fallen comrade with him. They vanished, escaping from the Commander while in his eyesight! "What do you think of your Lardy Leader now, 'Jamie?'" teased the captor. Shooting people? Taking by force? Is he so much better than us? Is he really so good? Tell me!" He leaned into Jamie's face, putting their noses practically tip-to-tip. "Tell me! Is he really so gad-blasted GREAT?!?!?" Jamie was silent for a few moments, then answered meekly with a question rather than a statement. "Tell me, who you are. Tell me, who I am..." The captor smiled. "I... am known as Serbeus. I head this facility and group. For now, at any rate. Our leadership is returning to us, one by one. You are a part of that return. Your name is Warrior Sturm Pulgh. You were, and soon will be again, a part of the glorious Doberman Empire, a force dedicated to fighting the Bloated Bastard. The Empire, in turn, was a part of a larger group of similarly devoted individuals. Together, we were the Jihad. And we will be again. The Jihad has fallen on some dark times, but like the phoenix it will return, stronger than ever, prouder than ever, and better than ever. It will defeat the Purple Pest once and for all!" "It's... It's coming back now... the torture, the interrogations... the capture of innocents... what happened to us, Serbeus? What happened to the Jihad? How was it that these Dark Times set in upon us without us seeing it?" Serbeus sighed deeply, and tried to think through what he had to say. "I guess things all started with a bastard by the name of McDaniel, trying to start this 'New Jihad.' Those of us true to the cause and with real honor and knowledge had to castigate him from the Jihad. Now, when you cut off someone with at least a similar idea basis, you take certain risks. McDaniel was that... he disliked the Bastasaur, but he was dangerous... for himself, for us, and most of all, for innocents. We had no choice but to make him an enemy. "We were winning. All was going well. Then, new forces showed up. They went by different names, and were at different sites. We tracked them down, and in doing so, began a downward trend. What we found was that one of the original heads of the Jihad was fighting against us, 'for our own good,' he claimed. We were furious at this-- that one of our own would defame us and attack us. He was separated from us. "Soon there were others. Others who looked to slightly differing methods from the Jihad. We sought them out, too. We tracked them to groups, to individuals... for actions, thoughts... for words. Flame wars ensued. Mailbombings became commonplace occurrences. We would attack in spurts for minor, correctable infractions... we wouldn't give the benefit of the doubt to anybody anymore and argue logic. Flame came first, answers and counter-points or questions later. Pulgh took this chance to break in. "So what was the problem? we were still fighting the Pedastasaur, fighting the good fight, so to speak. What was so wrong about that?" Samhain shook his head. "No, we weren't. We were becoming what others accused us of being--flame happy mailbombers who would mercilessly flame anybody with opinions or views differing from ours. We conquered other groups in the name of the cause. We weakened ourselves from the inside. "B'harni saw what was happening and took advantage of it. He picked off Jihaddi one by one, sending stinging messages or flames that were just enough to start flames. Flames grew to blazes grew to bombs... one would leave, and he'd pick them up and take them into the fold. Eventually, only a few managed to escape and hide. And now, his brainwashing is fading from the leaders' minds as their own personalities begin to fight back from the depths of the subconscious mind. We bring Jihaddi here as soon as their capture becomes imminent, at times sacrificing foot soldiers, as you saw, so that we can bring the leaders back home. For without the leaders, the footsoldiers will fall victim yet again." "So who was that that I saw rescued?" "That, my friend,' said Serbeus as he undid the straps restraining the warrior, 'was someone missing in action. That... was Commander Phoenix. And with him, our leadership is almost completely returned, and linked together by a computer network between several bases such as this one. It started shortly after the beginning of the Dark Times. It is known as the serpmailer. And soon, restructuring of the Jihad will be complete, and orders for the attack will go out over it. We will retake this Earth, and force B'harni and his minions from it forever!" Serbeus led the warrior to the command center. As they strode through the doorway, he noticed two other extremely large men sitting at the command table. They were working on some sort of device, and looked up as Serbeus approached them. "Good to see you up and around again, Sturm," Said the first. He recognized him almost instantly as Commander Augustus. "Welcome Back to fighting the good fight," said the other. It took a moment, but it finally dawned on him who this was. It was the noble Samhain. But he was dead! He had seen his brain on display during his reeducation! He.... "I know what you're thinking. Last time you were in the museum you saw my brain and thought me dead. Such was never true; I was just hiding here, developing the needed items for the coming war, and biding my time until I could bring other Jihaddi back here. If you think back really hard, you'll probably remember seeing Serbeus' brain, too, about a month before you remember last seeing mine." Serbeus laughed and shook his head, then went over to the console and began working on something or other. Samhain was right; he did remember. And he remembered others as well. "What about the great Syvinski? Was his brain fake, too? Has he returned?" Samhain's face was suddenly very serious. "No. He was caught first in fact. That's how his purple pussy-assed cockbreath no-load dipshitness got us to fight each other. But he fucked up. He kept the body in a cryo-freeze. Any time now we should be..." Samhain was interrupted as a large cylinder was brought into the room. It was set down, and hooked to a control console. The technician left silently without saying a word. "Ahhhh, here he is now. We managed to liberate his mind and put it back in his body. Of course, he's starting more or less fresh, and may still have a few traces of programming in him, but he's back. He's now an ice-phoenix, resurrected from the cold to the bold." "So what are we going to do? Are we all free? When do we begin?" "Patience, patience. Any moment now Serbeus should be calling the meeting on the serplink. Then we shall begin." Even as he said that, monitors around the room flickered to life. A different face or set of faces was on each monitor, apparently each at different locations across the Happy Land. Sturm recognized them all--they were all here! All the great warriors and combatants of the past! Arsenal, Serp, Sandman... Agamammnon, Owsen, Charcarodon... and all the others! The Jihad was back! "Gentlemen," said Samhain, "We have each given our pledge to the Jihad. We have given of our bodies and of our minds. We have waited, we have tolerated... but no longer. Today we shall begin the end of these Dark Times. "Never again will we fight against each other. We must not, we can not. For ours is the side of Truth. One of the role models that WEDJEE was based on put it very clearly. He said 'You Will Not Fail.' And so, gentlemen, we will not. Today, we do what we do best. We Attack! Jihaaaaaaaaad!" "JIHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!" cried the faces on the monitors. There was a tear forming in Sturm's eye. They would not fail. Some would fall, but that would not matter. B'harni must die! The rest was irrelevant! And it always would be. And they did not fail. Over the next 3 days there was a world- wide rush on all hardened B'harni sites. After years of little or no resistance, B'harni's security and defense were lax. It was a rout at every turn. In the end, Samhain descended into the Master's Chamber to finish the deal. Owsen, who had been foretold would finish B'harni, sacrificed himself to finish the field commander, so it would fall to someone else. And who better to face him than someone who had faced him many times before. Samhain slid down the rope through the skylight, his katana held against his back with a thin leather cord. He dropped to the floor and approached the throne as the sound of bomb blasts echoed nearer and nearer. It was almost over. "So, Manticore, we meet again! Huh HUH huh huh! Super-dee- dooper!" The bloated beast waddled towards him. "Now, he growled, I'll do the job I started long ago, and finish you!" "You will not fail." the words echoed through Samhain's mind as the bloated blob approached. He drew the katana, forged out of Jihaddium in the Cypress Steel process, purified and hardened by the incredible heat, pressure, and radiation at the destruction of the first Barney Class Battleship, it was now sharp enough to slice cleanly through a 3 foot diameter column of solid Jihaddium and leave only a hairline behind where it had passed through. And it set sponge flesh on fire upon contact. It would be more than enough for this task. The beast approached. It paused, warily eyeing the blade in Samhain's hands and the fearsome blaze in his eyes. For the first time since he didn't know when, he felt genuine, sheer, terror. But he wouldn't show it. This was his last chance, and he knew it. "Manticore... welcome... TO DIE!" He lunged, his razor sharp teeth and claws bared. Samhain merely sidestepped halfheartedly, and he missed brutally. Samhain sighed loudly enough for it to echo in the throne room. "You're always just a little too slow. Not just with your attacks, either. With your information. I'm a full commander now. The name is Samhain. Recognize it? The name comes from a time of FEAR. Now you shall know fear, and fear is me!" Samhain lunged, feinted, and slashed as B'harni backed against a large granite column. The beast's eyes were now terror-filled, and he barely ducked in time to avoid losing his head to the slash. The fact Samhain had missed bolstered him somewhat.

"Huh HUH huh huh! you MISSED! Huh HUH huh huh! You're such a loser! Huh HUH huh huh!" Samhain rested the blade gently on his shoulder and smiled at the beast. The laughter suddenly stopped. When someone has the guts to lower their guard so completely and smile, you take notice. And you wonder what's going on. Then you attack. He did so, charging at Samhain. Samhain didn't raise his guard, he just ran around a bit. This was fun. Besides, he wanted the others to see this. A few moments later the others dropped in through the roof, and tried to step in. Samhain merely looked them back and continued running. B'harni stopped and looked around. Samhain stopped and rested next to a column, apparently to catch his breath. B'harni charged. Samhain swung the katana in a wicked arc, angling down at about 30 degrees towards the column. He sidestepped, and B'harni careened towards the pillar. The beast stopped just in time, and stood about 6 ft from Samhain. Samhain reached into his pocket and found a super ball. Purple and Green, even. "Wanna play ball, B'harni?" "Huh HUH huh huh! Sure! You can't hurt me with a super ball!" Samhain grinned. He threw it at the column as hard as he could, knocking out a nice chunk on B'harni's side. It slid smoothly out, a smooth cut on the bottom, and an angled cut at the top. It was a perfect pie piece, almost. It fell on the floor, and the column leaned, careened, and collapsed directly on B'harni's head, splitting it wide open and crushing the rest of him underneath. Wild applause broke out in the chamber. The war was won, the Dark Times were over. They had not failed. Nor would they ever. They were the Jihaddi, and united they stood.

ALPHA v0.3