I really hate FFN – I had to copy and paste this into an existing document to get it to work. I had to do it in my last AF oneshot, too. Methinks the site doesn't like them, somehow :)
This is set almost immediately after 'Alpha's Ark', and thus Paulo is still in shock. It's a response to Valentine's 'Internet Safety with Hex' challenge, though the characters kinda hijacked the fic and took it on its own little ride. Yeah. Enjoy.
It was raining, it was pouring but there was currently no old man snoring. There was not even an old man in the house. The closest thing to one was John Middleton but, as he constantly protested, he wasn't old. The correct thing to do at these times was nod and smile, then edge backwards before he could suspect you of smiling. Not doing this was as dangerous as being in the near vicinity of one of Li's Ideas.
Currently, the group of teenagers known as Alpha Force were in Amber's living room, reclining on Amber's comfortable armchairs which clustered around Amber's large flatscreen TV. It was Amber's house, after all. Nothing to be worried about.
What was to be worried about, was Alpha Force's sanity. Alex, in a fit of sensibility and I'm-the-unofficial-leader-so-I-might-as-well-act-like-one-ity, had decided to let Hex run a training session for the rest about computers. Now, an hour or so later, he decided that it had not only been a very bad idea – it had been a really, really Bad Idea.
To put this in context – and idea is to an Idea what lighting a match is to Hiroshima. With Chernobyl added in there, just in case the resulting disaster isn't bad enough. It's what a dog getting put down is to World War Three.
A Bad Idea is what a reasonably sane entity is to a Twilight fangirl. Get the picture yet?
This was not Li's Idea, surprisingly. But Alex decided that he would soon employ the tool that all good leaders had – the tool of the re-delegation of blame. In other words, if the thing went smoothly (which was getting more unlikely by the second) then it was his idea. If it went badly (which it was almost certain to. This was Alpha Force, after all) then it was Li's idea, and Alex would be the one saying 'I told you this was a bad idea', even if had been his idea in the first place.
Hex and Amber would be wise enough to say nothing, if the former even realised this was going badly. Hex probably relished the chance to get on the computer, regardless of the unfolding Chaos.
Yes, Chaos. With a capital C. It's the aftermath of an Idea.
Paulo, of course, was still going insane, and no obstacle in Alex's re-delegation of blame. Actually, he'd probably better do something about that. He didn't want to go to all the hassle of changing the team name, would he? Alha Force? That wouldn't work at all.
Not to mention that Paulo was his friend. That was important, too.
His mind made up, Alex raised a hand tentatively. Hex had taken command as only a computer geek in an ICT lab knows how.
Five minutes and a very complicated lecture later, Hex deigned to call upon Alex.
"Yes Alex," he said, sounding scarily like a teacher.
"Hex, as much as this is highly interesting, we probably should do something about Paulo."
Paulo picked this precise moment to roll over and yell: "AWK! AWK! The chicken! It comes, it comes!"This would have proved Alex's point, had Hex not been taken over by the mania that comes from being in command of a person's education.
"Yes. That's a brilliant idea. Just let me finish talking about correct passwords."
Hex cleared his throat. "Now, can anyone recap what we were talking about? Li?"
Li pulled a face, the one familiar to all students at any school. It's the face pulled when the teacher calls on you and you really, really don't know the answer, and haven't been paying attention long enough to hear the question anyway.
"Umm… we did a bit on choosing the correct passwords…?"
Amber rolled her eyes. "Yes, because that so isn't what he said a second ago…"
"Yes!" said Li, completely missing the sarcasm. In Paulo's temporary… absence, someone had to be the hopelessly naïve one. "It isn't what he said. He said 'let me finish talking about correct passwords.' He never said anything about choosing the correct password."
Alex could feel a headache building up. "Hex, fascinating as this lecture about… internet security is, I think we have far more important things to worry about than choosing a correct password. For example-"
He never did get to finish what he was saying, since Hex interrupted with a maniac gleam in his eye.
"Of course it's important! What could be more important than choosing a correct password? I mean, you could just us one two three four if you're not careful. That's the type of code an idiot has on his luggage!"
Alex decided not to point out that that was the exact code he had on his luggage.
"And of course, that's only the beginning. You don't want to use a password like Fluffy twelve for instance – that's just stupid. And random combinations of numbers are hard to remember. So – Amber, can you give me an example of a good password using the various elements we have just discussed?"
"H-three-L-one-oh," Amber replied promptly. "But Hex, this makes no sense. I've seen you hack into computers without bothering to guess the password at all. What's the point of having a safe password if someone's going to hack it anyway?"
Hex shrugged and quickly moved on to hide the fact that he didn't know. "It's the principal of the thing. Most people aren't as brilliant as I am."
Amber disguised a laugh as a cough and Hex glared at her before continuing his lecture.
"Of course, passwords are only the beginning. Now we're going to discuss a very serious thing – it's called internet safety. Do not, in any circumstances, talk to people you don't know on forums."
Li pointed out that he did it so why shouln't they?
"Ah, but that's because I'm older, wiser and more experienced than you are."
Amber rolled her eyes again. "Hex, you're the second youngest on the team."
"Fine. Wiser and more experienced."
"That's debatable," said Amber under her breath.
Before they could have yet another argument, Alex cut in and tried to make his point. Again.
"Seriously, you guys. We need to do something about Paulo. Imagine what Mr Middleton will say when he sees him – or what his family will do to us when they find out you've finally broken him."
"Oh, don't worry about my uncle," said Amber, waving her hand about airily. "He's used to the chaos we cause – and you'd better include yourself in that Alex. You know you're as much a part of us as the rest of us are."
"That made no sense at all," Li informed her.
"So? You get what I mean!"
Alex cleared his throat. "Look, before we get sidetracked – again, we need to do something about Paulo."
"No we don't," said Hex, still driven crazy by power. "What we need to do is talk about computers. Now, can anyone tell me-"
Luckily for everyone else's sanity, Paulo chose that moment to yell out: "No! Not the chicken!"
"My point exactly," Alex said smugly. "Seriously – what are we going to do?"
"Pour a bucket of water over him?" asked Li.
"No, that wouldn't work," Alex told her hastily. "Well it probably would, but it would ruin Amber's couch and probably the carpet too."
Alex groaned. "Do I really have to answer that question?"
"You just did," pointed out Hex.
"Oh, shut up. Stop being so pedantic."
"Because… because we have Paulo to deal with. Speaking of Paulo, we really do need to rescue him from his lunacy."
"Why?" asked Amber, straight faced but joking. "He seems perfectly happy the way he is."
"Do I really need to…"
"Answer that question?" chorused Amber, Li and Hex along with him.
"And the answer is no," Hex said cheerfully. "We can try pouring water over him and see what happens, and then we can continue my lecture. Or we could just leave him to his own devices. I'm sure he'll recover soon enough…"
"As long as we don't get any water near my palmtop," he added as an afterthought.
"You know," Li mused, "Do we really need to resurrect Paulo's sanity? After all, hasn't he just embraced what we all truly know – that we're insane anyway, and that we're all just hallucinating the idea of sanity? That would mean that Paulo is the sanest of us all."
The sane – or insane, assuming if you believed her theory or not – looked at Li with an expression she had gotten very familiar with. It more or less said 'what are you on, and where can I get some?'
"Li," Amber said, for once failing to keep her expression even, "That made no sense whatsoever."
"I know," Li beamed. "Aren't I amazing?"
Hex and Alex exchanged glances and backed away slowly, Hex clutching his palmtop protectively to his chest.
Just before an Idea could be fully formed, however, Paulo screamed: "Die, evil chicken, Die!" and thrashed around frantically on the sofa.
"You know," Hex said, grinning with the air of someone about to deliver an inside joke that only he gets, "we could always give him some dried frog pills."
Alex and the girls looked at him blankly.
"Come on! You can't tell me you haven't read Discworld! Paulo would have gotten it."
A horrible thought hit Alex. "Is what he was yelling from that Discworld thing?"
The unofficial leader sighed and rubbed his temples. "And I thought it was Li's fault he'd gone insane."
Both Hex and Li yelled "Hey!" at the same time.
"Come on then," said Amber. "Let's just go ruin the furniture and revive him. We can argue about whose fault it was later."
"But we haven't finished the lesson yet," protested Hex.
"We can finish it later when you'll have an extra student."
"Fine. Just don't you dare get water on my palmtop!"
So. Let the insanity continue. I may or may not write more oneshots, depending on if I have any more ideas. I probably will though, and I'll still be round the forum.
It's been a nice learning curve for me here, and while I'm going to focus more on other fandoms you'll still see me round here occasionally.
Reviews will be received gratefully.