Genre: Cosmic Fantasy
Self Publication Date: Unspecified
Decades of rigorous psychometric testing have at last revealed the four most interesting living humans, who have been covertly rushed to a secret government facility under Roseland, Nebraska. What awaits them there defies all earthly description: an extragalactic device that lets the user go anywhere, anywhen they want. Our heroes will finally get a chance to see the universe as it really is. And it’s a very strange place indeed…
They were on the roof of the Research Building, atop a massive microwave relay tower that interfaced with navigation command centers all over the city, and they were smoking exquisitely expensive cigars. They stood for a moment, smoking in silence, nothing between them except mutual respect, camaraderie, and a three-ton X-292 “TYPHON .88GIG CORE” Doom Cannon.
Madcap had ordered the thing up here earlier that day, after Scorpio’s decree that the deranged experiment be dismantled. No one in Research Branch had been particularly happy about that, they liked to know what things were supposed to do before they took them apart.
The night was quiet, but in the locust-filled air, a thousand things were happening. Somewhere down below, in the bowels of the Research Building, Thalar’s team were doubtlessly putting the finishing touches on their Antimagic project. Titanic forces would soon be unleashed which would shake the foundations of thaumatergy itself, but Madcap couldn’t abandon his work: his passion for pure, unfettered scientific curiosity kept him high overhead and largely alone, in the cold and desolate night air, to see his own personal creation perfected. The machine emitted one anticlimactic beep, a signal that its power-up sequence was complete.
“Okay,” Madcap said, disabling the safety devices on the security consol and arming the thing, “What’s our best guess as to what this does?”
“Well, you designed the power source,” Gear said, “So we’re looking at about .88 gigawatts of power in the core…unfortunately, Pole designed the payload and firing system itself, and he’s no longer with us.”
“Oh yes,” Madcap said, mentally running through the list of Research Department casualties this quarter. “Was he the casualty we had in Neurotoxiciology last week, or the one who succumbed to that Saguaro cactus hybrid gone horribly wrong?”
“Both, actually,” Gear said, “It was his idea to combine the two into some sort of super-weapon.”
“And now we’re about to fire something he designed…with no supervision?” Madcap said.
“Yes,” Gear replied.
“Cool.” Said Madcap, staring into the night.
“You gonna shoot the damn thing or not.” Gear said.
“Right,” Madcap said, typing in the firing coordinates for the device. Internal turboimpellers whirred silently as the barrel of the massive glass cannon lowered until it aligned perfectly with a pristine white gazebo across the quad. The Gazebo looked more like a product of baking than architecture. It had layers of extraneous woodwork, rows upon rows of friezes, thousands of tiny interlocking bits of wood, dovetailed and flanchettoed into precise alignments…the thing didn’t even have nails. It was perfect.
“Why’re we shooting at that again?” Gear asked.
“It’s made of cedar,” Madcap said, his voice filled with icy purpose, “I hate cedar…”
“Very well,” Said Gear, without missing a beat. “Can I push the button?”
“Hell no,” Madcap replied, and crushed the giant red button beneath his fist.
The button was made of rubber, and bounced back into shape after briefly being flattened. The Gazebo was made of wood, and didn’t.
The whole scene unfolded so quickly it barely registered in Madcap’s mind. One second, the thing stood, a taunting target of delicate wood and immaculate white paint. One second later, there was a flash of violet light, like a spark jumping from the gun to the target, and the gazebo was gone, just a pile of flat, vaporized timber. There wasn’t even a bang, just the pathetic “kerthumple” of falling wood.
“Awesome.” Madcap concluded, and started the weapon up again.