Category Archives: XXII. THE WIDENING GYRE

Week 112

Putin stared out the K-7’s window, narrowed eyes glowing a furious green, until he saw C-4 burst from the water. Only then did he turn away.

The view out the other side of the Pal’s flying fortress was almost beyond comprehension: The mountain valley looked like a war zone.

Burning shards of Mila’s jet blanketed the northern shore, and pillars of smoke poured from gaping wounds in the great Cthulu Temple.

Orange-robed monks streamed from the Temple as white brick walls lost their grip on the mountainside, collapsing into clouds of dust.

Mila was dead. The thought came to Putin from far away, arriving like a stranger. He’d followed her into a trap, and now she was dead.

“Brace for impact!” Murder Cat’s voice blared over the intercom, tearing Putin away from his brief encounter with introspection.

White-knuckling the control column, Murder Cat eased the 700-ton aircraft’s city-bus-sized pontoons onto the sea as gently as he could.

WHAM! The impact bounced Black Ops into the air and he toppled to the floor, blinking his weird goat eyes in surprise.

As soon as the plane settled, Snowy raced toward the K-7 cargo bay. “Battle stations!” Murder Cat leapt from the controls and followed her.

Outside, the crumbling temple continued belching flames, disgorging a flood of panicked monks running wildly down to the sea.

Upon reaching the water’s edge, some realized they’d escaped one horror only to face another. They hesitated, and were trampled.

A cry went out, desperate but determined. “Attack! Defend Cthulu!” The Time of Pain had come, and it was best to die as soon as possible.

The words were repeated over and over. The K-7 floated just a hundred feet offshore, and monks sprinted into the water toward it.

Putin burst into the cockpit, looked at the narwhal sitting at the controls, and shouted, “Eeee-oouh! Eyeee-uhh!” Peaches or Herb nodded.

His/her flipper pushed the throttle forward and the K-7 slowly spun until its tail faced the shore. Then s/he slapped a toggle switch.

At the rear of the K-7, a massive ramp dropped, slamming into the water and shooting a towering wave toward the approaching monks.

Amorphous orange forms were tossed in the swell and cast into the depths. The attacking monks froze, and for a moment all was quiet.

They heard the water lapping against the K-7’s pontoons, and then a high-pitched whine followed by a thud. Confusion and fear gripped them.

Herb or Peaches swiftly swam toward the K-7, with C-4 perched on his/her head. The little dog yapped happily despite the danger.

A flash of light from within the cargo hold! A deafening roar! And then Snowy burst into the air, wearing a totally sweet battle mech.

Week 113

Inside the Ixion, the Red Tsar’s entourage crowded around the ultra-thin viewscreen facing the water, watching the projection from outside.

The Fetid Lord himself sat unmoving in his seat, looking neither right nor left.

“Oh my!” George Takei exclaimed as Mila drove the Phenom into the monastery wall. There was silence as they watched the flames.

“What about the Poodle?” the Red Tsar asked, without looking at the others. “She dropped it into the lake,” Arianna Huffington replied.

Their leader nodded. “A mistake,” he rasped. “A demonstration of spite. If she’d kept the animal with her, it would surely have died.”

“Excuse me, Your Heinous, but could we discuss our next move?” Antonosky asked peevishly. “Apparently, this is a Mantis landing pad.

“And when Mantis lands, they’ll be landing on top of US. We should get out.” “Out?” Cheney sneered. “Out there? And then what?”

“That’s what I’m asking!” Antonosky snapped. “Then what?!” “Wait,” said Kanye, “are Mantis and Cthulu supposed to destroy each other here?”

“While we take Putin,” Huffington nodded. “But I don’t see Mantis OR Cthulu,” Kanye said, watching as flaming monks ran toward the water.

“They’ll be here,” the Red Tsar said. “That’s what I’m saying!” Antonosky exclaimed. “They’ll BE here, and they’ll be right on top of US!”

“There goes something else into the water,” George Takei announced as they watched Putin’s K-7 swing low over the inland sea.

“Saving the dog,” the Red Tsar said. “Should have kept it with her.” “I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE DOG! WE HAVE TO GET OUT!” Antonosky shouted.

Their leader emitted a horrendous odor of displeasure. “Kill him,” he said.

Kanye drew his machete and stepped obediently forward, toward the doctor. “What? No! Wait!” Antonosky cried.

“Pardon, mein Fetidness,” Kissinger said smoothly, “but we must keep the doctor alive if we are to complete the Putin transfer.”

The Red Tsar’s stench increased. George Takei was afraid he would be sick. “Kill someone else then,” their leader said petulantly.

With a bow, Kissinger reached behind one of the seats, pulled out a sawed-off shotgun, and shot Cheney in the face through his gimp mask.

“Damn! That’s some hardcore irony right there,” Kanye announced to no one in particular. Takei threw up a little in his mouth.

“Deploy our forces,” the Red Tsar commanded. “At once,” Kissinger replied, bowing again. “Takei, Yeezy, take the rocket launcher.

“Doctor, take Der Stalin to a safe place and prepare for the transfer. Huffington, come with me—I’ll want psychic intel during the battle.”

Solemnly, Kissinger raised his hand and gave the sign of the Order. Then he turned to lead them out of the plane.

Week 114

Outside, Snowy paused. She heard static, then Putin’s voice in her earpiece: “Draw them away from the K-7. Take the fight to land.”

The War Bear looked to the shore and saw that beneath the crumbling temple stood a towering statue of a strange, tentacled creature.

She fired a burst of machine gun fire at the effigy to test the monks’ response. They howled in rage. Perfect. “MC, follow me!”

Murder Cat rushed out of the K-7 in his own battle mech, and the two brave warriors sped toward the shore. The monks advanced to meet them.

The Pals landed behind the statue’s base as the monks raced along the shore toward the massive effigy. “Hold,” commanded Snowy.

Hundreds of monks charged, a hundred yards away. “Hold.” 50 yards. “Hooold!” 30. “Now!” Snowy blasted into the air, launching at the statue.

Murder Cat followed an instant later, and the two lowered their shoulders, slamming into the towering statue like two linebackers.

A deafening crack rent the air. The monks looked up in horror as a shadow washed over them, the colossus swaying back and forth.

Gradually the statue settled back into place. Hovering in the air, Snowy and Murder Cat looked down at the outraged devotees of Cthulu.

Suddenly, an explosion erupted from Snowy’s back and she plummeted to the ground. Before Murder Cat could react, an explosion dropped him.

From a distant plateau, George Takei lowered his rocket launcher. “Well done,” said Kissinger. “Thank you, sir,” replied Takei.

Pushing up onto her forepaws, Snowy heard a chipper female voice say, “Armor damaged, power source damaged, weapons offline. Good luck!”

“Black Ops has to change that stupid voice,” Snowy thought. She shook her head and looked around: Crazed monks amid fiery bits of debris.

Men with shaved heads hefted hunks of stone. Murder Cat was still down, but rousing himself. Snowy rose and assumed a defensive stance.

An army of lunatics desperate to die versus two Putin Pals wearing damaged armor. Snowy smiled. At least it would be a fair fight.

Murder Cat stood and slowly backed toward Snowy. The War Bear half turned toward her comrade, “Morning, Sunshine. Ready for breakfast?”

The big tiger merely flipped up his visor and yawned as if waking from a long nap. “You want to call for backup?” asked Snowy. “Nope.”

The monks surged forward en masse, clawing and biting, tearing each other apart and attacking with the limbs of their fallen brothers.

Snatching up flaming wreckage, dozens of monks set themselves ablaze and screamed prayers to Cthulu as they attacked.

Snowy and Murder Cat fought masterfully, but the sheer number of assailants and their maniacal savagery threatened to overwhelm the Pals.

Week 115

Sensing opportunity, Kissinger gave the command. “Now is the time! Attack the airplane! Kill the beasts, and bring Putin to der Red Tsar!”

Takei was first into the air. He turned to Kissinger, batted his eyes, and coyly said, “We’ll be greeted as liberators”—then he jumped.

Kissinger cocked his head upon hearing the quote, nostalgically remembering proud little Richard Cheney strutting about in his gimp suit.

Kanye stood nearby, next to a waist-high robot squire holding a bulging duffel bag. Arianna couldn’t stop herself: “What’s that for?”

Yeezy gave her a look of mixed contempt and pity. “Wardrobe changes. You think I’m gonna fight this whole battle in the same outfit?”

With that, he pulled on his Maison Martin Margiela tile mask, unfurled his sequined angel wings, and he and the robot leapt off the plateau.

Arianna turned to Kissinger and rolled her eyes. “Why is that idiot here?” Henry shrugged. “‘808s and Heartbreak’ is a great album.”

Shaking her head, Huffington encased herself in an orb of telekinetic energy and launched into the air, following her teammates to the K-7.

Takei and Kanye touched down on top of the giant aircraft. Takei unsheathed his katana, plunged it into the airfoil, and carved a long arc.

Kanye reached down and peeled back the aluminum. He told his robot squire to wait outside, then jumped, following Takei into the K-7.

Kissinger and Huffington were close behind. The four intruders stood in an ornate hallway decorated with black velvet portraits of Putin.

From beneath his droopy eyelid, Kissinger surveyed the hall and pointed. “Ve’ll head to the cockpit. Putin’s sure to be there.”

Sitting in his captain’s chair, C-4 nestled happily on his lap, Putin watched the quartet on a monitor. He scratched the little dog’s head.

“Can you believe they expected to surprise me that easily?” he asked the pup, then turned to Black Ops at the control panel. “Ready?”

Black Ops blinked his weird goat eyes and bleated an “Affirmative!” Putin nodded with satisfaction. “Excellent.

“Release the bees, and the dogs, and the dogs with bees in their mouths so when they bark they shoot bees at you,” Putin commanded.

Black Ops hesitated. “Sir … we don’t have any of those things.” Putin frowned with frustration. “Well, what do we have?”

“Bombs, lasers, stuff like that.” Putin was clearly disappointed. “OK, but next time we do something like this, I want the dogs with bees.”

“Yes sir!” replied Black Ops, as he turned back to his controls. Out in the hallway, the Order members continued racing toward them.

Running at top speed, his vision obscured by the black silk gauze of his mask, Kanye never saw the tripwire snap up from the floor.

He did notice, however, the explosion the tripwire triggered. It burst from the wall to his right and sent him flying across the hallway.

Kissinger’s eyes grew wide, and his jowls puffed out in shock. In his dated German colloquialisms, he shouted, “Ve’ve been made! Cheeze it!”

Week 116

Outside the K-7, chaos continued. Snowy and Murder Cat stood back-to-back, killing crazed monks. “Have you noticed something?” Snowy asked.

“There aren’t as many as before?” Murder Cat said, wading slowly through a waterlogged pile of dismembered corpses to reach new attackers.

“Besides that,” Snowy replied, smashing a skull with one giant paw. “Seems like they WANT to die, as long as they’re near that ugly statue.”

Murder Cat paused and watched as a monk looked up at the giant effigy, screamed something unintelligible, and threw himself at the War Bear.

Snowy dispatched the monk with one swipe. “Sacrificing themselves to their god,” Murder Cat agreed, easily ripping another monk in half.

“I don’t like it,” Snowy grumbled, as two monks raced forward together. “I want to fight, not help these fanatics commit suicide.”

“Let’s stop and see what happens,” Murder Cat suggested with a grim smile. He and the War Bear moved closer together and waited.

One of the two attackers broke away from the other and raced forward, looking upward at the statue and screaming the monk’s battle cry.

Instead of killing him, Snowy pushed him backwards. The monk fell over his dead brothers and landed on the ground, unhurt.

Immediately, the other monks ran forward and began beating their unfortunate brother until he stopped breathing.

“Didn’t see that coming,” Murder Cat said. “He failed as a sacrifice,” Snowy explained, as one of the murdering monks came at them.

“Allow me,” said Murder Cat, as he swept the monk to one side with the arm of his battle mech. Again, the monk landed on the ground unhurt.

As he began screaming in frustration and rage, the other monks hurried over to beat him to death.

When they were finished, the remaining monks stood together, panting and staring warily at Snowy and Murder Cat. “Had enough?” MC asked.

“They don’t trust us to kill them,” Snowy nodded. The monks huddled together, not sure what to do next.

Dr. Antonosky peered down from his hiding place near the edge of the plateau. “What a shitshow,” he thought.

The plan had seemed so reasonable, back in the Order’s headquarters in Moscow: Lure Mantis to Cthulu, and watch them destroy each other.

Then the Putin Pals are killed, and the Order captures Putin. Stalin gets a new body, and the Red Tsar begins his thousand-year reign.

“It could happen,” Antonosky told himself hopefully. “It could still happen.” The Red Tsar emitted another horrendous odor.

Bloody hell! What good was it to stay out of sight, when anyone could smell Stalin a mile away? The doctor turned to his Leader.

And then the whole sky darkened, and a high-pitched wailing arose from the monks crouching on the shore below.