Category Archives: XXII. THE WIDENING GYRE

Week 117

Above the mountains, above the inland sea, above the monastery and the K-7 and the terrified monks, a massive spacecraft loomed.

Inside, the Green Mother considered the intelligence she’d received and what she knew of the Earth below, knowledge embedded in Insekt DNA.

The coordinates sent by the meat creature Mila were unexpected: The Order’s headquarters was at one of the ancient Mantis landing pads.

Here, millennia ago, Insekts had fought humans who worshipped one of the Elder Gods. Their leaders called themselves the Order.

Indeed, the Order were here now; their Ixion aircraft sat, small and insignificant, at one end of the Mantis landing pad. This was good.

The Green Mother’s antenna twitched: The meat creature was dead. So be it. Below, many humans appeared to be dead or dying.

Mantis was not concerned with the reason for this. Humans killing humans was to be expected: It was their nature.

A large structure was on the lake’s surface; this was unexpected. Mantis commanded flying Insekts to leave the ship and reconnoiter.

The swarm departed. Almost immediately, she received their knowledge: There appeared to be no danger from the humans’ structures.

There were relatively few humans here. There were a few other creatures—goat, dog, tiger, bears, medium-sized toothed Arctic whales.

But beasts had never posed a threat to the Insekt invaders. In fact, beasts killed humans: This was good.

Beasts killed humans; humans killed beasts; humans killed humans. Soon there would be very few humans left to oppose Mantis in any way.

The Green Mother looked at the Mantis landing pad on the great plateau. It would be easy to set down directly on top of the Order’s jet.

Doing so would crush the Ixion like a bug. The Green Mother saw no irony in this. Insekts did not experience such thought processes.

Below, the humans appeared to have turned on each other. Two beasts stood and watched as the meat creatures began beating their own kind.

She decided not to land yet, but to hover overhead until the humans had finished destroying themselves.

Then her scouts could determine if any members of the Order remained alive. If so, Mantis would kill them.

Without the Order’s interference, Mantis would proceed to enslave the earth again. Again, Insekts would take their rightful place.

The Green Mother clicked her mandibles with pleasure at the thought, and a small beetle hurried forward to be eaten by its Queen.

In his hiding place in a deep crevice in the rocky wall at the edge of the plateau, Antonosky welcomed the arrival of the Mantis mothership.

“Perhaps the Plan was working after all!” the doctor thought. “She should have kept the dog,” Stalin said aloud.

Week 118

Inside the K-7, the dust began to clear. Kanye lay screaming on the floor, where he’d been thrown by the force of the explosion.

George Takei hurried forward. “I have Red Cross first aid certification!” he shouted. “Do you want me to assist you?”

Kanye merely continued screaming, which Takei accepted as implied consent. He knelt near the wounded warrior.“Where does it hurt?” he asked.

Yeezy pushed himself away from the bulkhead and into a sitting position. “My wings!” he gasped. “Oh mah gaw! Look at my wings!”

Indeed, the black Orpheus was sitting in a pile of sequins. The tips of both wings had snapped off, and the right one was badly singed.

“Hurry!” Kissinger shouted at them. “Ve must get out of here!” Kanye leapt up. “You’re right! I need a wardrobe change!”

“I believe it would be unwise to go back the way we came,” Takei said pensively. “But ze way ahead is booby-trapped!” Kissinger shouted.

Putin smiled, watching his foes panic. He turned from the monitor to face Black Ops at the control board. ”Prepare to flood the passageway!”

“Aye, Sir!” bleated the tech genius pygmy goat, quickly flipping some switches with his tiny hooves.

Putin began the countdown: “десять … девять …” “Yap! Yap!” barked C-4, sensing Putin’s anticipation.

The monitor showed the four intruders standing immobile in the passageway, bickering about which way to go. “восемь … семь … “

Suddenly, a massive gash opened up in the bulkhead near where Kissinger was standing. Klaxon horns began to blare their alarm.

“We’re breached!” Black Ops cried. Immediately, he switched to one of the cameras outside the K-7. Putin stared at the monitor in disbelief.

A giant Kaiju mosquito was ripping open the ship! “I’ve got this,” Black Ops said as he sent one of the outside gun turrets swiveling about.

The rapid-fire anti-tank rounds from the K-7’s massive autocannon quickly cut the Kaiju to shreds.

“Qvickly!” Kissinger cried, as he realized what had happened. The others followed their Oberführer out the gaping hole and into the water.

“Good old Black Ops,” Murder Cat said admiringly as he and Snowy watched the Kaiju disintegrating under the rain of shells.

“Look!” said Snowy, as the Order made their escape through the hole in the side of the K-7. “Foes!” said MC happily. “A fray!” agreed Snowy.

Without a glance at the still-cowering monks, the two Pals in their battle mechs began lumbering toward the Red Tsar’s troops.

Inside the K-7, Putin watched the monitor with satisfaction. He lifted little C-4 off his lap, placed her gently on the floor, and stood up.

“Bring my battle armor,” Putin commanded. “I’m going out there!” Aye, Sir!” bleated Black Ops.

Week 119

Donning his armor, Putin looked out from the cockpit. The Red Tsar’s minions were slowly wading ashore—the sky above was dark with Insekts.

He thought of his badass friend, Steven Seagal, and silently vowed to make the day more like “Under Siege” and less like “Attack Force.”

Outside, Snowy and Murder Cat were nearing the members of the Order, but suddenly a crescendoing drone made them all look upward.

Mantis’s hovering pyramid was disgorging a torrent of colossal Insekts—bees as big as Volkswagen Beetles, and beetles like Dodge Super Bees.

A dragonfly kamikazed into Snowy’s legs, knocking her over and sending her helmet airborne. George Takei dodged a charging cockroach.

Amid the chaos, Kanye sneaked off, rendezvoused with his robot squire behind the K-7’s landing gear, and searched through his wardrobe bag.

“Gotta find the perfect outfit—maybe Versace. Where’s my leather kilt?!” While Kanye dug through the bag, his squire defended the perimeter.

Away from the K-7, the battle raged on. A cloud of Insekts surrounded Putin’s animal warriors. George Takei struggled beneath a giant ant.

Amid the fighting, fires from Mila’s crashed Phenom continued to burn on the shore as giant moths erratically flitted around them.

Dr. Antonosky observed the chaos and sensed opportunity. “Sire, I think we’re safe to move down to the shore. Putin should emerge soon.”

The Red Tsar only nodded in reply, seemingly lost in thought as the two began to make their way down off the plateau.

Snowy fired a burst from her arm-mounted machine gun, cutting down a dozen mosquitos. She spun, fired again, and laid waste to a centipede.

A thorn bug as big as a mule charged. Snowy took aim, but a series of impotent clicks told her she was out of ammo. She braced for impact.

Suddenly the bug exploded and buckets of bug guts splashed over her, knocking her to the ground. Warily, she opened her eyes.

The blazing alpine sun backlit Putin and glinted off his emerald battle armor. A faint plume of Putinescent smoke rose from his right hand.

The War Bear smiled to see her master on the battlefield. She knew he was happiest and most at home when inflicting pain on his enemies.

Reaching down, Putin helped Snowy to her feet before turning to unleash a blast of plasma from his hand, obliterating a phalanx of roaches.

Nearby, Murder Cat chokeslammed a caterpillar, then lifted its limp corpse above his head and heaved it into a crowd of ants, crushing them.

Down the beach, Kissinger stuck out his arms and started his signature “double lariat” attack, man boobs jiggling as he smashed into a wasp.

The battle raged while a seemingly endless torrent of Insekts descended from their mothership. A whisper of doubt crept into Snowy’s mind.

Then, in that dark moment, she found hope. Through the din of combat, faintly, she heard “Flight of the Valkyries.” The Krokodil was coming!

Week 120

Snowy looked up to the music’s source and was shocked to see the gunship had a stowaway: Robot Scorpion Walt Disney clung to its underbelly!

As the Krokodil passed overhead, Disney released his grip and dropped to the beach, cratering the sand and crushing scores of ladybugs.

The chopper lurched upwards when Disney released, but Toki quickly settled it into a hover and aimed the guns at the Mantis mothership.

All the insekt soldiers were emerging from a single opening in the pyramid; Toki unleashed a dozen anti-tank rockets at that spot.

There was a blinding explosion. The mothership shuddered slightly, then gushed burning and blackened bug carcasses from its hole.

The smell of burning chitin filled the air. Snowy whooped with joy before turning back to the hundreds of foes still surrounding her.

Swooping back and forth along the valley, Toki strafed the battlefield until the gun barrels glowed red and all the ammo was exhausted.

But before he could land, he spied a bus-sized Beaded Lacewing larva preparing to unleash a blast of vapor-phase toxicant from its anus.

The metallic macaque aborted the landing, hit autopilot, ran to Pulpo Paul, and together they fast-roped out the side of the ‘copter.

As they hit the ground, the chopper screamed forward, crushing the Lacewing, crashing into the sand, and then cartwheeling along the shore.

Kissinger watched the shattering helicopter tumble down the beach, but couldn’t escape its path before the tail rotor cut him in two.

Arianna Huffington and George Takei, watching their oberfuhrer be turned into a blood fountain, had the same thought: “Fuck that guy.”

Amid the chaos, no one noticed the Mantis mothership dropping closer to the lake surface to disgorge one last giant kaiju mosquito.

Immediately, the kaiju flew at top speed toward Putin, who was riding a giant rhinoceros beetle like a war elephant, trampling other bugs.

Putin sent his steed charging toward a colossal Brazilian Treehopper, and leapt off before the two creatures collided into each other.

He hit the ground, rolled to his feet, and prepared to face another assailant when he was shocked to hear Snowy suddenly cry out, “Father!”

Upon hearing this, Putin’s knees went weak for a moment, and he spun to see why Snowy had called. The kaiju was diving right at him!

Before Putin could react, an orange blur in the corner of his eye caught his attention. Instinctively, he spun to face the new threat.

NO! Putin’s eyes widened in shock. Racing toward him was Orso, his mechanical grotesquery partially obscured by a tattered monk’s robe.

Putin took a step back from Orso’s filthy maw of chainsaw teeth, slipped on the innards of a squashed maggot, and toppled over.

Orso charged his mortal enemy, orange robe flying behind him as he ran, his steel claw hand wide open. “For Cthulu! For the Bear Clan! Die!”

Week 121

Though Orso had caught him by surprise, Putin quickly regained his composure. The old judo master relished ground fighting and was unafraid.

Mad with rage, Orso charged recklessly. Putin looked past his immediate threat to the giant Kaiju mosquito diving out of the sky.

Orso was so close that Putin could see the spittle in the corners of his mouth, could hear the whirring of the hydraulic pumps in his arm.

For a few glorious seconds, Orso believed he was about to kill his nemesis—and then, just when Putin was within reach, it all went wrong.

Putin slammed his heel into Orso’s doughy stomach, grabbed handfuls of flesh and fur, and used the charging bear’s own momentum against him.

Orso was launched skyward, directly into the flight path of the speeding Kaiju mosquito. The two collided, and then dropped to the ground.

Landing on top of the hideous Insekt, Orso splintered its exoskeleton, soaking the ground with blue-green hemolymph. He sighed with relief.

Then, looking down, the would-be King of Bears knew he was done: The mosquito’s proboscis, thick as a man’s arm, protruded from his chest.

Putin rose to his feet and looked down at his vanquished foe. Then he heard Snowy again cry “Father!” as she rushed to kneel at Orso’s side.

For a moment, Putin felt the sting of envy, the dull ache of loneliness. Then he repeated the words that were his crutch in such times.

“What is best in life? Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.” He saw Snowy whimper softly.

With bloodied lips, Orso smiled up at Snowy. “Dearest one …” He winced in pain from the effort of talking. “I have something to tell you.”

Snowy, cradling Orso’s battered head, looked down on him through eyes shrink-wrapped in tears. She waited expectantly.

Standing a few yards away, Putin knew he should return to the fray. He told himself he didn’t care what Orso had to say, yet he didn’t move.

Orso’s breaths were ragged and shallow. “… I’m not …” Between words, he coughed blood. “… Ursa … Your real …” The effort was too much.

Orso let out a final breath, closed his eyes, and went limp in Snowy’s arms. She buried her face in his neck, and sobbed into his fur.

Putin watched the scene for a moment, then turned, clenching his fists. A towering translucent flame of Putinescence engulfed him.

With a roar, Putin unleashed an emerald blast that tore down the beach, vaporizing every bug and monk in its path.

Through the glass canopy of his walking suit, Pulpo Paul had observed Orso’s dramatic departure, Snowy’s sorrow, and Putin’s ensuing rage.

He rolled his eyes and thought, “Great, now I have to tell them.” He looked up at the towering Cthulu statue: “Assuming we survive.”

Hidden behind a large boulder, the Red Tsar could not see Putin’s explosive discharge—but he felt it. Stalin smiled. “It is time, Doctor.”