1 – OFF TO POP THE UNIVERSE
Somewhere on the opposite hemisphere of XBOXL1V's globe from the Halothrii Wilderness, an abandoned hydroelectric facility sat lonely under a large rocky outcropping that jutted out and created a ceiling of stone more than a hundred meters above the facility. Abandoned with a hasty evacuation at the end of a battle just a few days ago, the now empty base still continued to pump water through the center of the encampment, a circular courtyard with a knee-deep level of water still in it. In one of its surrounding control rooms up above this courtyard , a soldier in brown armor stood in front of a computer terminal, looking to see if there was anything remaining in the base after the evacuation that he could swipe.
As his armor suggested, he was a member of the Brown Army, a consortium of mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, and guns for hire who sided with the highest bidder and scavenged whatever resources they could find in war torn battlefields (after the battle had ended, of course).
So far, the soldier's search had been uneventful. But as he continued using the terminal to scan for all remaining supplies in the base's storage, he came upon something which he found rather interesting. An enormous energy signature was emitting radio frequencies from nearly a kilometer under the base. A distress signal, he wondered.
But no, that couldn't be; no known base had levels going that far down below the ground. Not even military combat bases. And this place had provided power, not defense.
It must be a natural phenomenon, he concluded. He delved further into the data files of the base logs. The previous inhabitants of the base, the Orange Army, had been looking into the energy signature themselves, and studying it to the best of their abilities. They hadn't accomplished much in this regard before they'd been driven from the base by another group, the Red Army, but even so the Brown was able to discover that the energy signature contained enough power to run a dozen medium sized army compounds. The find of the year, if ever there was one. The Brown straightened up in excitement and turned to inform the rest of his team, who were patrolling and exploring the rest of the hydroelectric plant for anything else useful.
To his surprise, two fusion coils were standing directly behind him.
Odd, he thought to himself. I don't remember those being here when I came in. Being slightly distracted from his initial excitement, the Brown decided to check on the terminal again, and make sure he'd researched correctly. With a finding this big, he would look terrible if he'd misread and what he informed the others turned out to be somehow wrong. He pulled up the files he'd looked at before, and sure enough, they were just as genuine as when he'd first read them. Again, he turned to find the rest of his team-
-And found five fusion coils standing behind him, slightly closer towards him then the initial two had been before.
The Brown stared at the coils in confusion. He hadn't remembered the two fusion coils he'd seen before…and now…five? Was his memory trying to play some kind of joke on him? He decided to take one more look at the terminal, in large part due to the fact that he was beginning to get a little creeped out by the fact that five fusion coils had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. This time on the terminal, he looked up food reserves, which was one of the things he'd actually been sent to look into. Unsurprisingly, there weren't any left. The Brown briefly recalled a saying he'd heard somewhere about wars in general: An Army always marches on its stomach.
Yes, that was it. Made sense too. You can have all the firepower in the galaxy, but it won't do your forces any good if they starve to death before they can use them. It was food, not weapons, that truly defined a war.
So when the Oranges had evacuated this base, they'd first and foremost taken all of their food with them. Not that the Browns needed any food right now. They had scavenged more than enough foodstuffs from previous battlefields. This time (ironically, considering the saying) they wanted weapons. Of which, so far, they hadn't found any. The Brown deactivated the terminal a third time, and slowly peeked around behind himself.
A dozen fusion coils glowed back at him.
The Brown reflexively twirled back to face the terminal. Those fusion coils want something, he thought to himself. Another part of his consciousness admitted this idea as insane, but another part of himself somehow knew that it was true. It was as though he could feel the fusion coil's intent.
Just keep looking at the terminal, he thought silently to himself. Maybe they won't notice you. He sat for the next minute, just looking at the terminal, not actually doing anything on it but attempting not to look behind him. For many agonizingly loud heartbeats, he resisted the urge to turn around. But eventually he could take it no longer. He had to see! Slowly, reluctantly, hesitantly…he inched himself around to face the other side of the room.
The entire room was filled wall-to-wall with fusion coils.
The Brown jumped and looked in all directions in a panic. He didn't have time to scream before his life ended in a gigantic explosion that shook the entire base.
For a few seconds the base vibrated violently from the blast. Windows groaned in their frames, loose shingles slid off the roof, dust filled the air, and the water in the pool rippled. With a loud groan, a dead tree at the edge of the base uprooted and fell off the cliff the base was positioned on.
When it subsided, all that remained in the room were the fusion coils. Just as they'd planned.
Having perfected their technique just before traveling to this place, they had learned the ability to release a significant fraction of their stored energy without actually exploding. This combined discharge from all three dozen coils in this squad had been enough to destroy everything in the room, with the exception of the walls of the room itself, as well as the computer console, which had somehow been protected from the blast entirely.
Shortly after things had calmed down a bit, a thirty-seventh fusion coil literally floated into the room. The other coils turned slowly and faced this new coil in awe, despite not having anything resembling faces, or eyes for that matter. Once the floating fusion coil had reached the center of the room, it stopped and spoke with a menacing baritone: "Have you secured the base?"
"Yes, Lord Vincent," a coil at the base of the pile replied, voice much less deep than the first. "The other squads have taken care of the rest of the bipeds."
"Excellent," the fusion coil named Vincent stated. "And the energy signature? Does it have enough energy to breach the barrier to the other universe?"
"It does, my Lord," said a third fusion coil, who had rolled over to the computer console from the pile. "Our focusing techniques allowed us to keep the terminal from being destroyed in the discharge, and according to what I've found on it, the energy pocket under this base has just over enough energy to breach the barrier."
"Yes," Vincent mused. "The barrier which, it is said, must never be breached, the legendary Fourth Wall. Only legend tells of it, yet I have discovered it. And soon, it will be no more. For the component we seek lies in a part of the alternate universe that can only be accessed through this 'Fourth Wall' and we therefore have no choice but to destroy it."
"The component to focus The Hand!" the second fusion coil exclaimed in excitement.
"Yes!" said Vincent. "The component necessary to direct the awesome power of The Hand. The one we had before was destroyed by that terrible Green, but soon we will have another, even better than the one before. Then The Hand will be complete! And then, at last, we will have the ultimate device, by which we shall pop the universe by poking the fabric of space-time itself, and begin existence anew…an era of fusion coils! Ahahahahaha!"
The other coils in the room joined Vincent in his laughter. The cheering crowd of fusion coils rolled/floated out of the control room and onto a nearby walkway. As soon as all of them had passed by, a lone Brown peeked out from behind a rock, thinking over everything he had just heard, and whispered to himself: "What the fuck?"
Nome shot up from his sleep. He would have liked to sleep longer, but couldn't afford more than an hour's slumber, even though he knew it wasn't physically healthy for him. He needed to spend nearly all of his time constructing the portal, which was now almost complete.
Ever since the Yellow and Green Armies had agreed to an indefinite truce in order to stop the Reds, Nome had been working with a floating physics-defying metallic orb called Master Chief to fit together the components for a means by which to return to the other universe. The leader of the Reds (a fusion coil named Vincent, Nome still hesitated to admit) had somehow constructed a giant floating hand in the other universe which he intended to use to poke the fabric of space-time in their universe and 'pop' their universe out of existence, much like a bubble. The Greens and Yellows had managed to delay its use by damaging one of its components, but they needed to return to the giant hand and completely destroy it. And so, they needed a portal.
Nome looked around. He was just outside the Green's base entrance structure, in the southern half of a large canyon. The midnight sky glinted with the lights of thousands of brilliant stars and one small moon. Nome took a small moment to admire the sky (and to wake up a bit more from his nap) then turned his attention to the half finished construct before him.
Master Chief had nearly finished assembling the center ring, which would serve as the gateway the Greens and Yellows would actually step into. Beyond that, several tower like appendages of durasteel extended outward to form a distorted tree-esque shape that was taller than the Green's base entrance structure. However, it would be a lot taller by the time Nome and Master Chief were done with it. They still had so much more work to do…
Nome sighed. It wasn't just the looming task in front of him. It was the fact that the instant he had woken up, he had detected a dark feeling in the very back of his mind. A feeling that something very bad was about to happen, at Vincent's hands. A feeling that, even before poking the universe out of existence, Vincent was even now in the process of doing something terrible to the nature of existence. Nome had never been one to believe in supernatural things before, being the very scientific mind that he was. But after what he'd seen the Reds do on Yellow Command, and after his journey into an alternate universe stranger then his most peculiar dreams (and after seeing a telekinetic talking fusion coil), Nome was not entirely sure what to believe anymore. And so he had to take this gut feeling into consideration, even though, up until the last six days, pure instinct had been the only thing he ever relied on that was not carefully calculated according to well established scientific theories and equations.
Nome opened his tacpad and pulled up on its screen the schematics for the portal. Doing a bit of mental math, Nome calculated that they were only about 34 percent the way done.
Good thing they still had eight hours till they were scheduled to leave through it; he and Master Chief would need nearly all of that time to finish its construction. After that (assuming the design schematics worked) he, the other Greens, and the Yellows would head into the other universe. The Greens had already been there once. The Yellows, however, would have no idea what to expect. That made it a very good thing they would be teaming up with people who did.
Even so, Nome still wondered exactly how they would defeat Vincent for good. They had tasted the vengeful fusion coil's true power once before, an encounter that had nearly cost them their lives. In fact, if Skope hadn't sniped something important on the giant hand and distracted Vincent, they might very well not have lived to see this night.
But fortunately, the Greens had formulated a plan just this evening: they would try to enlist the help of a group of people they had met in the alternate universe, the Clan of the Caged Watermelon. They had fought alongside this clan in a previous battle and come out enormously victorious. Nome hoped that their combined skills would be enough to defeat Vincent and the Reds.
Nome's thoughts were interrupted by the appearance of Master Chief, floating down right in front of his face. Clearly, the orb wanted him to actually start helping, not just stand around and think. Nome decided that he was now awake enough to do so, and followed the orb over to the center of the contraption, the gateway ring. A long night was ahead of him. Time to continue work…