Week 122

Inside the mothership, Mantis also felt the force of the Putinescent blast. It was nearly time to take back their own.

Slowly, carefully, the huge Insekt space pyramid began to lower, gradually coming ever closer to the great inland sea below.

As the shadow of the massive craft fell across the battle, Kanye West looked up from the wardrobe bag being proffered by his robot squire.

“Oh mah gaw!” he breathed. At last it had come for him! At last he would take his rightful place!

How many video games had he played, trying to find the right combination? He was right to have joined the Order, that was the key!

His castration had been a test—No! A purification! Now he was pure, now he was ready! Kanye stepped forward confidently and raised his arms.

“Ascend!” Kanye shouted to the enormous Insekt craft above. He smiled, expectantly waiting.

All around him, the battle raged. The stench of vaporized Insekts, destroyed by Putin’s power blast, was overwhelming.

Slowly, a port in the bottom of the hovering pyramid began to open. “Yes!” Kanye shouted. “Ascend! Ascend!”

The opening widened and more Insekts poured forth, flying in a seemingly endless stream into the dark shadow cast by the mothership.

The Green Mother sent them forth to die. Many had died already; this was to be expected. Always, in battle, many would die.

No matter how many were killed, there would always be more. How many humans were still alive on the shore below? And how many beasts?

It did not matter. The mothership held many thousands—thousand upon thousands. Not one was afraid of death: Death was to be expected.

On the shore beneath the great floating pyramid, Snowy had returned to fight alongside Murder Cat—monks, Insekts, whatever came their way.

But both their battle mechs were damaged, and they began to tire. “Look,” Murder Cat said, pointing upward to the swarming Insekts.

“Ascend! Ascend!” Kanye screamed as the swarm flew overhead. The glittering gold chains he wore caught the attention of a giant waterbug.

It swooped down, snatched Earth’s greatest rock star in its maxillae, and flew back toward the opening in the mothership.

The Queen Mother was hungry. She wished to feed!

Week 123

Ariana Huffington and George Takei watched as the giant waterbug carried Kanye West away into the Insekt spacecraft.

“Didn’t see that coming,” Takei said. “I did,” the psychic sorceress responded smugly.

“As did I,” came a thought, unbidden, into their minds. It was Pulpo Paul, standing in his walking suit next to Toki.

“Cover me, George!” Ariana cried, forming an orb of protection around herself just as Paul unleashed a blast of psychic energy.

The two foes faced each other across the sand, which was slick with black bug’s blood. “Say that three times fast!” Paul challenged.

Huffington merely laughed. “Not a chance!” She narrowed her eyes, then unleashed a riposte: “Silly sheep weep and sleep!” Paul grimaced.

The psychic cephalopod realized he should not underestimate Huffington’s powers. Only one of them would survive this direct confrontation.

Both George Takei and Toki, the robo-monkey martial arts master, remained on guard, protecting Ariana and Paul as they faced off.

But more and more, the Insekts seemed to be concentrating their attacks on the rapidly tiring Snowy and Murder Cat, further up the shore.

“Preshrunk silk shirts!” Paul thought forcefully. At last Huffington felt the octopus’s power. “Preshrunk silk shirts! Three times, fast!”

Kanye’s robot squire, confused by his sudden absence, somehow discerned Pulpo Paul’s thoughts and began rummaging in the wardrobe bag.

He pulled out a lavender preshrunk silk shirt and moved forward toward the octopus, but Toki, seeing this as a threat, leapt into his way.

The metallic macaque twirled his nunchaku, but the robot squire had no threat-recognition programming and so continued toward Pulpo Paul.

Paul and Huffington glared at each other; Takei killed the occasional giant flying roach with his sword. No one was watching the robots.

Faster and faster, Toki twirled his danger sticks in more and more elaborate patterns as Kanye’s robot squire came ever closer.

Just as he reached Toki, the robot squire held out the preshrunk silk shirt—ensnaring the nunchaku so suddenly that Toki’s arm broke off.

“Eleven benevolent elephants!” Huffington thought triumphantly. Pulpo Paul blinked. “No,” he countered, “it’s seventy-seven. Try it.”

“Seventy-seven benevolent elephants?” Huffington paused. “Seventy-seven benevolent elephants, seventy-sefen benefolant … ARGGH!”

George Takei wheeled around just in time to see Huffington’s head explode, splattering her brains across her orb of protection.

Watching the monitor inside the K-7, Black Ops saw both robots disabled, while Pulpo Paul and George Takei eyed each other warily.

“Peaches, and/or Herb!” he called. “Can you take me to shore? I have to some repairs to tend to!”

Week 124

Looking at the pile of meat that had recently been Arianna Huffington, George Takei winced as one does upon seeing a friend step in poo.

He turned to survey the battlefield and assess his situation. Most of the Order was dead, but there was still a chance for victory.

In the distance was a large boulder, and he wagered it was the Fetid Lord’s best hiding spot. Nearby, Putin continued his rampage.

It was time for the next phase of “Operation He-Gassen.” Pausing for a moment, Takei thought fondly of his mother, then charged.

Sprinting at top speed directly toward Putin, Takei thought of nothing but the task at hand. He relinquished his life to the Order.

“You CLOWN IN BLACKFACE!” Takei cried, his voice rending the air with a physicality normally reserved for freight trains. Putin turned.

Takei was bounding up the beach like an uncaged tiger, brown eyes calm, silent save for the fluttering of the sashimono on his back.

Putin had to admit his assailant looked pretty badass, katana cocked behind his head, banner streaming behind him, and carnage all around.

It was a shame. Putin nodded slightly, out of respect. Takei continued his sprint, closing in, seconds from striking distance.

Putin twitched his arm like he was shaking off a horsefly, and a beat later, Takei was engulfed in green flames.

Without breaking stride, Takei continued toward his target, an unstoppable force until the Putescent fire reduced him to ash.

Putin took a last look at the ashes of his honorable foe, then turned away and saw Robot Scorpion Walt Disney creeping toward Snowy and MC.

Putin opened his mouth to call a warning into Snowy’s comm, but Disney’s advance was suddenly halted when a giant pincer grasped his tail.

The jar containing Walt’s partially frozen head swiveled to face his attacker. A terrible fury of mouth parts bore down on him.

An Insekt scorpion, half again as big as Disney’s mech and brandishing fangs, had him held as firmly as a child grasping a kitten’s tail.

With a quick snip, the scorpion popped Disney’s cryogenic telson helmet into the air. It landed in the snow and rolled down a slope.

Putin chuckled at the Mouse King’s ignoble demise, eyes narrowing as he remembered being snubbed at Club 33 during a visit years ago.

Without Disney’s half-frozen brain controlling it, his robot scorpion body flipped into self-destruct mode. The hulking mech squatted.

Then, as the Insekt assailant rushed in to finish its kill, Disney’s exuviae erupted into a ball of wind and fire.

Putin was momentarily blinded by the flash. He shielded his eyes and turned away, white spots dancing in a black sea and ears ringing.

As his senses returned, a blurry figure by the surf slowly came into focus. “Come, Vovochka. It’s time to go home.” Putin knew the voice.

Week 125

Putin shuddered as he recognized the voice of the only man he’d ever admired. His vision cleared, and he saw Joseph Stalin smiling at him.

“Vovochka,” Stalin said again, moving slowly forward out of the shadow of the rocky cliff. “You look tired … so tired.” Putin froze.

Tired? Yes, he was tired. He felt as if this battle had gone on for days. And now here was Stalin, his idol, speaking like a close friend.

“Here,” murmured the Fetid One, reaching out a hand with only a few spots of visible decay, “I’ve come to take you home with me.”

Stalin smirked, his thick mustache rearing up like a grumpy caterpillar. He took a step forward. “Don’t fight this. It’s destiny.”

The air was ripe with unholy stench. “You do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power.”

Stalin stepped forward again, and Putin, looking dazed, took a small step towards him. Putin trembled. A storm was building behind his eyes.

The Fetid Lord reached out his hand. “With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.”

Suddenly C-4 jumped out from Kanye West’s wardrobe bag, where she’d been hiding since he stopped to change outfits behind the K-7!

The little dog ran around Putin’s legs, yapping merrily. “C-4!” Putin exclaimed, breaking eye contact with Stalin. “How naughty you are!”

“I knew your wife should have kept the dog with her,” Stalin grumbled. “What?!” Putin exclaimed. If Mila had kept C-4 in the jet, then …

Putin stared in horror at the Red Tsar. It was as if he saw Stalin for the first time, and finally realized what that smell was.

“NO!” Putin roared. The rotting corpse before him was not the man he’d idolized. Putin seethed and smoldered green. Fury overwhelmed him.

For a moment, Putin seemed to turn translucent, and then he erupted into a supernova that shook the length of the beach.

Stalin blinked, and the colossal blast wave knocked him backward toward the surf. Flaming timbers fell from the collapsing temple above.

The explosion crashed against Cthulhu’s towering effigy, and the horrible colossus shook from the impact. It quivered, but did not topple.

When the emerald flames faded, Putin was kneeling in a shallow dish of glass several yards across. He looked up as the statue groaned.

“Just like Chernobyl,” he thought before turning away from the towering effigy. C-4 yapped wildly at the swaying statue.

Then it exploded, blocks of stone arcing through the air. They crashed into the sea, blasting plumes of water like depth charges detonating.

Snowy and Murder Cat watched in horror as a massive slab of stone fell directly on top of Peaches or Herb, and Black Ops disappeared.

Smaller chunks were propelled great distances. One of these hit Stalin, decapitating him. His head rolled to the edge of the water.

Week 126

Hovering high above, the Green Mother dispassionately watched the carnage. She saw only fluctuating decision trees and odds of success.

The Orange Robes all were dead. Most of the Order were dead. The Red Tsar was still dead. This was as She had expected.

The Putin Pals were not yet all dead: This was not expected. She would send more Insekts, more and more, until all were eradicated.

All but Putin, of course. It did not seem as if they would need him to conquer the Earth after all, but he could be of use elsewhere.

There were so many worlds, so many that did not, at first, understand that reverence to Mantis was the only option.

Earth had strayed, but the Hive was reclaiming its lost territory. This was inevitable, for the Hive can be delayed, but never stopped.

Mantis sent a command through the hive mind, and on the ship’s bridge, drone beetles began positioning the great brood pyramid for landing.

Closer and closer, the giant Insekt spacecraft sank to within a few hundred yards of the rubble that was once the great Cthulu statue.

Snowy looked up wearily as the Mantis mothership descended, blotting out all trace of the sun and plunging them into deep twilight.

A few hundred yards away, Putin stood staring at Stalin’s headless body. Snowy watched him, and redoubled her efforts against the Insekts.

Fighting next to her, Murder Cat kept looking hopefully for his friend Black Ops. Surely he would emerge from the water any minute!

Pulpo Paul could not deal with all the Pals’ trauma at once; he turned to Putin, sending thoughts to try to help him out of his shock.

Staring at the headless body of his idol, Putin realized two things: He was going into shock, and he was finally free of the White Room.

Putin suppressed a retch and felt a brief spell of vertigo. He swayed at the knees for a moment, caught himself, and straightened up.

Doctor Antonosky peeked out from his hiding place behind the rocks, and spied Stalin’s head resting near the lapping waves. What a disaster!

Lower and lower came the giant pyramid, closer and closer to where Putin stood, alone and undefended.

In a blur, Mantis tore a leg off Kanye’s limp carcass and thrust it to her sharp mandibles. She watched Putin’s image grow on the monitor.

Victory was near. She decided to send forth the last of the Insekt warriors, to assure total destruction of the foes.

The Great Pyramid emitted a broad black stream, and the deafening drone of countless beating wings echoed off the mountain walls.

The massive Mantis mothership hovered over the pile of rubble where the statue of Cthulu had once stood. The time had come, the time of…

An impossibly massive arm burst from the sea, grabbed an edge of the Insekt pyramid, and flung it against a mountain.