Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sponby Reloaded: Commentary Part 2

Chapter 3: The Great Machine Force


Sponby was standing outside of his old home. Despite all the traveling he did, only a single day had elapsed on Earth. The house and most of the surrounding area was still pretty badly torn up, but Sponby managed to get inside.

Sponby headed back into Insano's lab. He headed over to his makeshift living area, which, fortunately, was still intact. Also intact, and the reason he came here in the first place, was his old robot Burton. Well okay, "robot" was being charitable: it was just a prop made from a vaccuum cleaner and spare parts.

But Sponby was feeling nostalgic. He had a starship, and though he could pilot it by himself, it would be much easier to have an AI piloting it. Again, Burton was about as smart as a rock, but Sponby was pretty sure that he could rig up an AI.

Sponby absorbed Burton into his body, but when he turned around to leave, he was blinded by a bright light. Once his eyes adjusted, he realized what the source of that bright light was...

"Hello, Sponby." Spoont said.

"You! I killed you!" Sponby exclaimed.

"I got better. Now then, I've heard what you did to the Great Machine Force. I figure that you won't be around much longer anyways, so I want my piece of you before they annihilate you." Spoont conjured a sword of light.

"Good luck!" Sponby conjured a sword of darkness, and they went to it. Sponby could tell that Spoont was not only fully recovered, but that he was significantly stronger than when they last met. Did this guy have Saiyan blood or something? Hmm, Saiyan blood...

Spoont slashed Sponby's stomach, leaving a huge gash. Sponby countered by junctioning one of the starship's tractor beams to his arm, which he used to hold Spoont in place.

"Any last words?" Sponby asked.

"Yeah. Get a stronger tractor beam." Spoont broke the tractor beam, slashing Sponby again. This time, Sponby lost one of his arms, though he regenerated that in an instant. Spoont tried to get another shot in, but Sponby summoned his heroic willpower and grabbed the sword of light with his arm.

"Yeah, 'heart' sucks as a power source, doesn't it?" Sponby taunted. He ripped the sword of light from Spoont's grip, absorbing it and fusing it with his sword of darkness.


His new weapon, the Fusion Sword, easily cleaved through Spoont's body. Spoont tried to open a portal to escape, but Sponby dragged him back with the tractor beam. Sponby slashed off Spoont's limbs, and the sheer power of the Fusion Sword meant that Spoont was unable to grow them back - at this point, he was pretty much helpeless.

"Wait! Don't kill me! I know how to stop the Great Machine Force!" Spoont cried.

"Oh, really? I was just planning on killing every last one of them."

"No, that won't work. They have effectively infinite resources. You need to go to the Heart of Machines and kill the leader."

"And where is this Heart of Machines?"

"It's a closely-guarded secret. You'll need to invade one of their flagships and get the data."

"Thanks for the information." Sponby cleaved Spoont in half, killing him for good. But then again, he could probably regenerate from that too...

"IRON FIST TECHNIQUE LEVEL 2: SOUL PUNCH!" Sponby reached into one half of Spoont's body and ripped out his soul. He absorbed that, and for good measure, he absorbed the pieces of Spoont's body. The light struggled within him, but Sponby quickly adapted to it.

Sponby's body underwent a change. Rather than being a vaguely-humanoid black figure, he gained glowing red eyes, red tattoos all over his body, and slightly more defined features. He gained all of Spoont's absorbed powers, abilities and knowledge as well, though he didn't quite double his power (he could tolerate Spoont's light, but he couldn't use it as effectively as his own darkness).

With Spoont's knowledge came a terrible realization:

Sponby had killed Spoont in the throne room of Castle Fevrier. This was an alternate-universe Spoont.

And there were more of them.


Sponby realized that, if he was serious about destroying these Great Machine Force guys, he'd probably need a lot more power. He still hadn't quite gained control over his portal device, so hunting down AU versions of himself was probably inefficient.

No, what Sponby realized was that he had a lot of potential with his current abilities. He'd need to find somewhere to refine his abiltiies and get more out of them, which would (for the time being) give him yet another major power boost.

But before that, he had one thing to do. Sponby drew on power from his Z-Crystal and absorbed the remains of his house and Insano's lab. It wouldn't provide much of a power boost, but it would give him plenty of raw material.

He flew up into the atmosphere and absorbed the secret Nazi killsat positioned right above his house. Sponby processed the data on the satellite, and realized that there was a group of Neo-Nazis planning on kickstarting Instrumentality by making Nightcrawler the Pope, opening a portal to Hell and detonating several grey goo bombs all around the world, which would apparently result in everyone merging together into a nanotech Nazi-God or something. It was a stupid fucking plan, but Sponby fired the killsat at the Neo Nazi headquarters, kiling them all.

With that done, Sponby used the raw material in his body to recreate the Great Machine Force's starship that he had absorbed, though with a few personal touches. For one, it was bright red, so that it would go three times faster, and it had purple streaks for stealth, because have you ever seen purple camoflague before? No, you haven't, so it must be a stealthy color!

Sponby then used various fragments of personalities he had absorbed to piece together an AI, which would control the ship so he didn't have to. He decided to call the ship "The Quickening", and of course, he named the AI BURTON.

"I AM ONLINE." BURTON said. Sponby sat in the comfortable captain's chair on the bridge; he didn't expect to pick up any passengers, so the rest of the ship was armaments, shields and engines. And even if he did pick up passengers, he could modify the ship in an instant.

"Good. Activate the portal device and send us through it." Sponby had copied most of his powers to The Quickening, and had instructed BURTON on how to use them, though at a slightly weaker level.

"YES SIR. COMMENCING MST TRANSPORT IN 3... 2... 1..." A portal opened up in front of them, and the engines powered The Quickening through the portal at several hundred times the speed of light.


The Quickening appeared above a lumpy-looking planet. The surface appeared to be dark purple.

"Hey, it's this place!" Sponby said, recalling his adventure with King Damocles and the insect-like species known as the Equinox. "BURTON, find a place called 'Castle Fevrier' and set me down there."

"YES SIR." Sponby de- and re-materialized in front of a giant flaming castle, with insects running around and on fire (not necessarily in that order).

"Huh, what the hell?"

"Great-Lord Sponby!" one of the Equinoxes cried. "Please, help us! A demon has destroyed Fort Fevrier!"

"Yeah, we'll see about that." Sponby ran into the burning castle, navigating the relatively simple hallways until he entered the throne room. Sitting on the throne was King Damocles, holding off a flurry of attacks by another familiar face with his barrier...

"Well well well, what a surprise!" The figure turned around. It appeared to be Archetype, the ten-foot-tall alien woman who had captured him before, but she looked different; her face was scarred, and rather than wearing glowing power armor, she instead was wearing similarly-patterned armor made out of inky darkness...

"Yeah, what a surprise. I've got my own rogue's gallery now, and they all have Joker immunity." Sponby shrugged. "So, let me guess, you're from an alternate universe?"

"Perhaps. But I do remember what you did to me, Sponby; you tried to absorb me." She looked down at her black armor. "Our emergency teleportation is quick and dirty; it has a chance of failing and leaving you a barely-alive mass of flesh, hence why it's emergency only. So when I used it while partially-absorbed by you, it took parts of you with me... and it fused us together on a genetic level, giving me some of your own power." She laughed evilly.

"Wonderful. Just what I need, another AU version of myself running around."

"Oh, you think I'm a version of you? Quite the contrary, 'Great-Lord'; you are an alternate me. Archetype isn't my name; it's my species. Your Doctor made you in our image."

"Whatever, I don't care about exposition. Let's just get this over with so I can fight you 256 more times." Sponby shifted into his shadow form, and Archetype did the same.


She took the first shot, firing several Disintegration rays followed up with a Broken Shining Finger. Sponby blocked the rays and countered with a Holy-Flare-Meteor-Ultima quadcast, which destroyed what was left of the castle. Damocles protected himself with his barrier.

"Ha! You're stronger than when we last met." Archetype taunted. She used a Stellar Flashbang to take advantage of Sponby's weakness to light, but he no longer had that weakness thanks to Spoont; it still hurt him a bit, but not nearly as badly as she expected.

"So, you like using my techiques, huh? Well, we'll see how you like the Level 2 Swat Technique! AUTO-FUCKING-SHOTGUNS!" Sponby generated about 500 autoshotguns, each of which had four barrels and unlimited ammo, and let loose. Archetype tried shielding herself, but the sheer amount of bullets broke her shield quickly, and she was reduced to little bits.

But she too had an impressive healing factor. She pulled herself together and regenerated in only a few seconds.

"Is that all you've got, Sponby?" Archetype created a huge axe, but Sponby cut through it with his Fusion Sword. He diced her up, but unlike Spoont, she regenerated from those wounds as well. Sponby had to pull out his trump card...

"SWAT TECHNIQUE LEVEL 3! YOU'RE IN MY SPOT!" Sponby teleported right on top of Archetype, telefragging her. She was reduced to subatomic particles; she couldn't regenerate from that.

"Thank you, Great-Lord!" Damocles said. "We will rebuild our castle and replenish our supplies."

"It's what I do." Sponby said.


But to his surprise, Archetype returned!

"Ha! Telefragging might work against lesser beings, but I'm not one of them!" she boasted, laughing madly.

"Fuck!" Sponby shouted. "Hey Damocles, wanna do that dragon thing?"

"Yes, of course!" Damocles turned into energy and fused with Sponby, transforming him into a massive dark dragon with red markings all over. Just like last time, he ate his opponent, but rather than doing the stupid thing and finishing her off with phantasmagoric breath, he simply sapped her power and absorbed her. It wasn't much of a boost, but he did regain a few of the powers he lost (though he didn't even notice losing them, due to having so many).

Damocles de-fused from Sponby.

"Once again... Thank you, Great-Lord! But do not count on that ability again; I can only use it once in my lifetime."

"Yeah, whatever." Sponby was pretty sure he had heard that last time too, but he could care less. "So hey, I saw this planet from orbit, and it looked kinda... lumpy. What is it exactly?"

"We live upon our God! He protects us and provides us with all we need to flourish!"

"Okay. SO does your God have a name?"

"Uh...?" Damocles was confused. "We... don't really have a name for it."

"Okay. Well, since I'm here, I'm going to be training for a bit to develop my powers. I hope you don't mind if I stick around here for a few weeks?"

"We would be honored, Great-Lord! Only... we are lacking in accomodations at the moment."

"Ha, don't worry." Sponby pulled a communicator out of his pocket. "Hey BURTON, beam these guys down a new castle."

"YES SIR. BEAMING DOWN IN 3... 2... 1..." A new castle immediately manifested around them.

"Suck it Linkara! My spaceship can make castles for bug people!" Sponby said to no one in particular.


Over the next two months, Sponby experimented with various combinations of his various powers. He learned to use them more efficiently, and he finally learned how to use some of the less energy-intensive ones in his non-shadow form. He also figured out how to directly apply weapons and other offensive abilities to himself, without using the fucking Guardian Forces to junction them to his body; this also increased efficiency, and it finally allowed him to fully absorb their personalities and powers into himself. They would probably sit unused like his powers from Arma, but hey, who knows when you'd need to refine 100 trading cards into a tent?

Finally, Sponby messed around with Spoont's light powers as well. Though he trained quite a bit with the powers Spoont had absorbed from other sources (one of his new personal favorites was the magic demon werewolf form), he still couldn't directly use Spoont's light tendrils. Hell, he wasn't even sure how he managed to create his Fusion Sword in the first place, though he had refined that further as well.

Sponby eventually figured out another roundabout way of using light-powered magic by directing spells through the Fusion Sword, but he could only use them at 60% efficiency or so; he had plenty of other abilities that could mimic light magic, but in order to become truly powerful, he'd need to master all of his weaknesses.

Also, Sponby managed to convert Neutro's anti-magic field generator into an anti-anti magic field field which, despite its nonsensical name, finally made him (mostly) immune to anti-magic in general. Coupled with his ability to use powers in human form (again, mostly the magic demon werewolf form), he was now pretty much unstoppable to anything he could think of, though he knew that someone out there had the exact combination of weapons to neutralize and kill him, and probably that he'd fight 5 billion permutations of that person before he finally found and killed Insano.

Also, he learned kung-fu offscreen.


At the end of his 2-month training period (though it was more like 3 months due to the calendar the Equinoxes used), he bid farewell to King Damocles and his subjects, and returned to The Quickening.


"What? MST- Listen BURTON, just take us to the closest one."


"I just told you I don't care. Okay, which one's the weakest?"


"Okay, take us to the strongest one. I'm sure I can handle it."

"COMMENCING WARP IN THREE... TWO... ONE..." The Quickening accelerated far, far, far beyond the speed of light, making physics weep in a corner somewhere. It only took a few seconds from Sponby's perspective to reach the Great Machine Force fleet.

"RECEIVING TRANSMISSION." The giant impractical monitor in front of Sponby flickered, showing an image of an ugly-looking lizard alien.

"This is the GMF Super Exadian. Identify yourself, Corvette-class ship."

"I'm Sponby, bitches! Fire everything you got, BURTON!" BURTON complied by, indeed, firing everything. But the Super Exadian's shields took everything Sponby had, and came back for more.


"Fuck that! Accelerate to 100x lightspeed and punch through their hull!" Sponby ordered. BURTON complied, though The Quickening took a bit of hull damage in the process; Sponby instantly healed it, and BURTON beamed him aboard.

Almost instantly, Sponby was attacked by a veritable army of mecha-mooks. Sponby dispatched all of them with ease. He then searched around for a transporter pad, but the first one he tried was locked.

"Ha! You didn't think we would let you do that twice?" a voice over the intercom said.

"Fine! I'll just kill more of your guys! In fact, I was planning on letting you guys go, but I think I'll just kill all of you now."

"...Fine. Come to the bridge." The transporter pad opened up, and Sponby stepped through it...


...and ended up in the brig. A human dressed in dark clothing stood guard.

"What the fuck? I'll kill you-" Sponby tried firing a shadow tendril at the man, but some kind of force field blocked him.

The man in black turned around and grinned wickedly. He reached into his torso, pulling out his own intestines, which became rigid and took the form of a large, bloody spear.

"Yeah, nice trick. I can do that too." Sponby switched to his shadow form and drew his Fusion Sword, but his attack rebounded off of the force field. The man in black was unimpeded by the field, and he stabbed his spear wildly at Sponby.

"Ke... ke ke ke ke ke!" the man laughed. "Ke ke ke ka nu!" The man transformed into a hulking demon, at least three times as tall as Sponby and twice as wide. He grew three more sets of arms and created eight bloody swords.

"Pah, this'll be easy." Sponby powered up and switched to his magic demon werewolf form, which at least matched the demon in size and was twice as powerful, and that was without adding all of Sponby's power sources. Sponby's enchanted claws ripped through the force field.

The demon got in close and tried massacring Sponby in melee combat, but Sponby ignited his claws with hellfire and cut through all of the demon's swords. Sponby ripped the demon's throat out with his powerful jaws, and the demon stumbled back, holding its throat.

"Ghhk..." the demon sputtered. It tapped into a hidden reserve of power, growing even larger and gaining wings. Sponby leapt onto the demon's chest and ripped its heart out, consuming it in his bloodlust. The demon returned to its human form, lying on the ground and bleeding out.

"HA!" Sponby returned to his human form as well, and for good measure, he kicked the son of a bitch. The man tried to beg for mercy, but his injuries were too great; he spoke his last. Sponby absorbed the man, adding more demon to his magic demon werewolf form.


Sponby wandered around, eventually finding another transporter pad that took him to the bridge this time. He ran forward, ending up in a brightly-lit atrium; the way forward was blocked by three humanoid-looking guys, all of whom had four arms and power armor, though their faces differed from one another.

"Of course, more Archetypes." Sponby sighed. "Well, come on, let's see what you've got."

They all fired finger beams at him. Sponby shrugged all of them off, though he noted that these beams were powered by light magic; obviously, these guys did their homework. Too bad he figured out a way around it.

Sponby responded by creating several squirt guns on his body, which soaked the three Archetypes in DMSO. He then fired every disease and drug that he could think of (and a few that didn't previously exist) at them; one of them instantly died, one fell on the ground and started having a seizure, while the third... morphed into the thing that Tetsuo turned into at the end of Akira.

"KANEDAAA HELP ME" the Archetype said while firing tentacles all over the place. It absorbed its two brethren, mutating even further.

Sponby tried firing a shadow tendril at Tetsuo, but his tendril was absorbed. Okay then. Sponby shifted into magic demon werewolf form and ripped through Tetsuo, but all of the damage he inflicted was regenerated quickly. He even tried empowering his claws with energy from the Fusion Sword, but even those wounds didn't last long.

"Okay, I get it! Regeneration is fucking annoying!" Sponby yelled. As he was pondering a way to kill this thing, the walls, ceiling and floor of the atrium all exploded. Tetsuo fell into deep space, never to be heard from again, but Sponby barely managed to grab a ledge and pull himself toward it, narrowly avoiding the same fate.


Finally, Sponby made it to the bridge of the Super Exadian. It was much larger than The Quickening's bridge, with at least 200 crewmen mulling around.

"Ah! Welcome, Sponby." The captain, a gigantic humanoid with a pumpkin for a head, floated down to greet our hero.

"Pump- okay, fine. Whatever. Give me the coordinates for the Heart of Machines and get out of here." Sponby fired a number of shadow tendrils at Pumpkinhead, but kept them suspended a half-inch above its skin.

"Okay. Prepare a Mass Teleport, everyone." Everyone but Pumpkinhead warped away. "Also, this was totally a trap." He warped away as well.

Sponby looked out into space, and an absolutely massive ship warped in. The Super Exadian was probably about the size of the Moon, but that thing utterly dwarfed it.

"FFFFFFFFFFFFF- Okay, let's deal with this." Sponby floated up to one of the terminals and jammed his arm into it. He tried hacking it, but... there was nothing there. The only data left in the system was for running the life-support systems, and a single text file entitled "Fuck You ".

The massive ship fired a warning shot. The laser barely grazed the hull of the Super Exadian, leaving a huge gash across it.


"Okay, I can fix this. BURTON!" Sponby remotely connected with The Quickening.


"Yeah, I saw it! And I'm on the Super Exadian, but they've wiped the hard drives. I'm a sitting duck!"


"Yeah, do that! Just hurry up with it!" Sponby felt the bridge shake; he looked up and saw the red hull of The Quickening right above him. BURTON started firing shadow tendrils into the bridge, absorbing a great deal of it.

Sponby, figuring that he might as well go all the way, bodily fused with The Quickening and started absorbing the rest of the ship. BURTON fragmented his AI to work as quickly as he could. One of the AIs gained a God complex and tried to take over the rest, but Sponby quickly put an end to that.

The massive ship fired another warning shot, but Sponby had enough control of the Super Exadian to start the engines, moving it out of the way. Sponby and BURTON finished absorbing the ship, reconfiguring it with more weaponry, shield generators and engines... and something else.


"The Dragon." Sponby said. The ship started to transform, reconfiguring itself into a humanoid form. "And this... will be the Dragonlord."


The massive ship sent a transmission.

"Greetings, Sponby!" a voice said. "I have been watching your progress in detail, but I never expected you to take over one of my Super Exadians."

"Yeah, underestimating me is generally a bad idea."

"Indeed! Now, please allow me to introduce myself: I am Rossum the Machine-King, leader of the Great Machine Force." The voice definitely sounded regal enough; it spoke with an air of unwarranted self-importance, though if he controlled a ship that big, Sponby supposed that he actually might warrant it.

"Cool. Tell you what: let me go now, and I promise I won't hunt you down and kill your entire organization."

"Ah, I'm afraid I can't do that! You're quite the interesting specimen. Your power is beyond anything I've seen in any other Archetype, and I'd like to learn more about it."

"Well, why don't you dedicate your undoubtedly considerable resources to finding Doctor Insano? In fact, why don't we cut a deal? I'm looking for him too, so once I'm done with him, I'll let you have him, and in exchange, you leave me the hell alone."

"Oh, I HAVE found Doctor Insano. AU versions of him, at least; the particular version that created you still eludes me, and I doubt that I'll ever be able to find him or one with his particular talents. Instead, I'll just have to settle with dissecting his greatest creation and replicating it as best I can."

The massive ship, which Sponby understood was called the Deus Est Machina (he wasn't sure how he knew that particular bit of info, he just kind of did), started getting serious in destroying the Dragonlord. They knew about Sponby's massive healing factor, so they probably figured that they could reduce him into more manageable chunks for transport.

But Sponby was not about to repeat his time as an experiment. He was going to show these bastards why messing with him was not a good idea.


Sponby started by firing every possible weapon he could think of, no matter how strong or weak. While doing this, he buffed himself up with everything in his arsenal, including several layers of protect, shell, reflect, haste, etc. The reflect spells in particular seemed to help quite a bit, as they reflected a majority of the energy weapons fired by the Deus Est Machina.

But the Deus Est Machina shrugged his attacks off as well. Sponby synchronized himself with BURTON and the Dragonlord, and they all temporarily became one being. By doing this, Sponby reached a new level of power; he was still short of being Type III on the Kardashev scale, but only by a couple of factors.

"SUMMON TECHNIQUE LEVEL 7: DRAMATIS PERSONAE!" Giga Sponby shot himself in the head with an Evoker, summoning the various alternate characters he had played over the years: Tandem the Spoony Bard, Doctor Insano (the non-evil one), Spencer D Bum, Terl, The Ultimate Spoony, Hulk Spogan, the Spoonyvatar, Spoonkara, and many, many others. They all assaulted the shields of the Deus Est Machina, breaking the shield with their combined power.

"And to finish you off! SUMMON TECHNIQUE LEVEL 8: DRAGON AVATAR!" Giga Sponby transformed into a huge dragon, almost the same size as the Deus Est Machina. "EXA FLARE!" He fired an immense beam of plasma through the void and at the Deus Est Machina; the Personae gave their power to the Exa Flare, allowing it to punch through the ship's armor.

...but the ship simply regenerated from the damage.

Giga Sponby defused into its component parts (Sponby, BURTON and the Dragonlord), completely drained. The Dragonlord transformed back into the Dragon.


"...Yeah. Do that." Sponby didn't have the energy to stand, much less fight back. BURTON tried to open another portal, but the Deus Est Machina blocked it somehow.


"Ha ha ha! Very good, Sponby! That is the most damage that the Deus Est Machina's ever taken!" Rossum taunted. "Do you have any more tricks up your sleeves?"

"No, I don't. I give up." Sponby said back.

"I see. Honestly, I expected more of a fight from you." The Deus Est Machina opened a portal, and forced the Dragon through it. The last thing Sponby heard was the cruel mechanical laughing of Rossum the Machine-King. He had lost.

Chapter 4: Ultimate Sponan the Barbarian


Sponby woke up underneath an unfamilar ceiling. He looked around; it looked like he was in a simple tent of some sort, lying on a thin mat and beneath a warm fur blanket. The cold air snapped him back to his senses.

Where was he? What happened to BURTON and the Dragon? What about Rossum the Machine-King? What about the horrific dissections? Or was he being dissected, and this was just his mind retreating in on itself to stop the pain.

Sponby got up. He was naked, so he tried to generate some clothing out of his shadow form, as he had frequently done in the past... but he couldn't access his shadow form. He tried accessing some of the low-level abilites he'd trained to use in his human form... but he couldn't access those either. He felt weak and flimsy, like a thin shell of flesh over empty space.

"?" A red-haired woman stepped into the tent. She was built like an amazon, wearing a thick fur cloak and had several knives and a longsword on her waist.

"Uh..." Sponby stammered.

":O" The woman looked surprised.

"Oh. Fucking shrinkage..." Sponby grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around himself.

":)" She smiled. She hadn't actually opened her mouth, but Sponby knew what she was trying to say.

"So, uh... who're you?"

She pointed at her hair.

"...Red? Yeah, I'll call you Red." Painful memories of a similarly-named woman came to the forefront of his mind, but he shooed them away. Then again, if this was just a delusion, maybe this woman was...

Another man walked in. He was shorter than Red, but just as stocky. He was dressed similarly, though he had a large blunt mace or hammer on his back.

"Oh, yer awake!" the man said. He had a thick accent, though Sponby couldn't quite place it: it was a cross between a pirate and the Swedish Chef.

"Yeah, where am I?" Sponby asked. "And could you spare any clothes?"

"Sure can! Go get him a fur kilt, dear." Thhe woman stepped outside of the tent. "And I'm Oskar, King of Evil Sweden."


"...what?" Sponby said, dumbfounded.

"Ha ha! It's just a name." Oskar laughed heartily. "See, about 20 years ago, the country of Sweden launched a bunch of tactical nukes against everyone else. Now we're in the nuclear winter period, and we just happen to be near the former geographical area of Sweden... so it became a joke between us to start calling it Evil Sweden."

"That's... nice. And you're the King?"

"It's a self-appointed title." He laughed again, as Red came in with a set of fur clothing. Sponby didn't recognize the type of fur it was made from.

"And this is Red, my daughter. Stunning resemblance, huh?"


"So what, she just talks in emoticons?" Sponby asked.

"'Fraid so. She was injured when she was little, so she can't talk anymore, but she sure can talk with a blade!"

"That's... that's nice. So, uh, I'm kinda missing a spaceship. Did you guys see it at all?"

"Spaceship? What, are you from space or soemthin?" Oskar asked.

"Well, not really, but I did come here in a spaceship, I think. I dunno. Last thing I remember is getting defeated by a giant machine god, then I woke up here."

"Yeah, I think you're brain-damaged, my man. Well, we'll fix that. Come on, we're going on a hunt!" Red threw the clothes to Sponby, and they both left the tent. Sponby got dressed, ending up wearing a fur vest, kilt, boots and a thick cape. He wasn't quite Conan, but they were pretty comfortable.


Sponby stepped out of the tent. He was in a small settlement, made up of about thirty or so small tents with a big open area in the middle. The snow crunched under his feet.

"Oy!" Oskar called him over. He was standing with Red and a bunch of other similarly-built men. "What's your name, bud?"

"...Raistlin." For some reason, Sponby didn't think using his real name was a good idea.

"Ah! Some kinda wizard, huh?" one of the men joked. They all had a good laugh at that.

"HA! Don't feel bad, bud. Now then, here's a spear. Know how to use it?" Oskar handed Sponby a wooden spear.

"I'll figure it out. So what are we hunting?"

"There's a cave near here with a bunch of beewolves." one of the men said. "They killed Kenny, so we're goin after them for meat and skins."

"Those bastards!" Sponby said, and everyone laughed. Apparently, South Park references survived the end of the world. The group walked off to the north, trudging through the endless tundra until they came across a solitary cave in the middle of nowhere. One of the men lit a torch, and they walked into the cave.

Immediately, a giant fucking bear with silver fur pounced upon them, taking out one of the guys immediately. The rest of them, including Sponby, stabbed it until it died. More 'beewolves' with multicolored fur attacked them, causing the group to lose another member before they went down.

"What the hell? Multicolored bears?" Sponby asked.

"Mutants." Oskar said. "They all taste the same though."


Once they finished killing the bears, they hauled them all back. All of the barbarians were much stronger than any human had any right to be; they could each carry one bear back. Apparently, Sponby was as well; these bears were either really light, or some of his lost power had carried over to his human form. On a whim, he tried absorbing it... but still nothing.

The rest of the barbarians cheered when they returned with the bears. A roaring fire had already been prepared, and about ten people started skinning the bears and throwing the meat on the fire.

A few hours later, everyone had had their fill of meat and beer.

"So, what about those two guys who died in the cave? Aren't we going to mourn them or something?" Sponby asked Oskar.

"Huh? You're definitely not from around here, Raistlin." He took another swig from his pweter goblet. "We don't really mourn people we lose. Instead, we celebrate their lives by eating their share of the food."

"I see." It didn't bother Sponby, but he realized that these guys had different morality than the humans he knew. Did that scare him at all? Of course, he still wasn't sure if this was real or not, so maybe this was his subconscious trying to tell him something. Sponby took a swig of beer, remembering his one-time friend Jeff Bridges; once he had his ship back, he'd have to find an AU and treat him to a nice cold one.


":D" Red woke Sponby up. He had a pretty bad hangover.

"What, what is it?"


"Don't give me that look. I know I'm a lightweight, I don't drink much."

"Oi!" Oskar stepped into the tent. "Mornin', Raistlin! Did you enjoy last night?"

Sponby rubbed his head. "Yeah, but I have a killer hangover."

"Ha! You'll get used to it. You'll get the shits or worse if you try drinkin the water round here, so we drink a lotta beer and wine. Anyways, I was talkin with the boys, and we got to thinkin... You said you came here in a spaceship, eh?"

"Yeah, that's right."

"Well, you should go see the Witchez. They say they can find anythin with psychic powers or somethin. It's worth a shot, eh?"

"Yeah, I suppose so." Sponby was about to complain about psychic powers not existing, but then he realized that he had spent the better part of a year with vaguely-defined shadow powers that let him absorb Moon-sized spaceships.

Which raised a good question: how does one 'lose' a Moon-sized spaceship? Surely, someone would notice a small thing like that. It could be in orbit somewhere, but again, wouldn't someone notice it? Well, maybe these Witchez would know.

"I'm afraid we can't spare a guide, but here's some supplies." Oskar threw a large bag at Sponby's feet. "It's got food, drink, a map and some spare clothes. You can take that spear too. Good luck, mate."


Sponby trudged through the snow. He'd been walking for... a long time. He didn't know. He was following the path on the map, which lead to a place labeled "Witchez"; it was presumably some kind of town or city.

Out of nowhere, a giant fucking bear ran at Sponby. He sidestepped the bear as it charged him and sunk his spear into its gut, but it only enraged the beast. It took a swipe at Sponby, though thankfully he managed to avoid it.

The bear rammed Sponby, knocking him down. It put its front legs on Sponby's arms and pressed down hard, and Sponby heard an audible snap followed by unimaginable pain. It sniffed Sponby's torso for a few seconds, and decided that he would make a good meal...

He was going to die. After fighting and winning against gods, it was a fucking bear that would finally get him in the end. The fucking Machine-King was going to laugh so hard once he heard that.

Something else inside Sponby snapped. Not anything physical, but... something else. He felt something well up inside it, and his body shuddered. The bear took a step back, and Sponby got up; his arms had healed themselves. His flesh ripped and tore itself, and black fur sprouted underneath. Sponby's body twisted around on itself, growing in every direction.

A regular human had almost been that bear's dinner. Now, the bear itself would be dinner for the demon wolf standing before it.


Sponby grabbed the bear in one hand. It roared in pain, and tried to bite and claw its captor, but Sponby's skin was harder than diamond; it would take more than this thing to kill him while in this state. Sponby took a bite out of the bear, relishing the raw meat and fresh blood.

The demon wolf's claws burned with hellfire, cooking the bear alive. Its death throes were like music to his ears. He spent the next hour picking the flesh off of the bears bones, leaving them... bare.

Sponby returned to his senses. He was still in the tundra somewhere, but the skeleton of the bear he had eaten was nowhere in sight. The sun had set, and even in this form, the cold was unbearable.

Sponby focused his senses, using his magic to sniff out the right way. He had a vision of a massive underground complex, which seemed to be in the general direction of where he thought the Witchez were. His skeleton twisted and reshaped himself, putting him on all fours; he would be able to run faster this way. He took off to the complex.


Sponby shifted back into his human form. Thankfully, his clothing was preserved, so he didn't have to run around naked in the snow. He was standing in front of an unimpressive metal shed.

He opened the door, and saw a ladder leading down. He slowly went down in total darkness, carefully taking each step.

Half an hour later, Sponby finally hit solid ground again. The way forward was lit by magic torches, so Sponby kept going, until he came across a small chamber at the end. The smell of incense was almost overwhelming.

"Welcome, Sponby." a voice said from the darkness. The room lit up, revealing five women lounging around on silk pillows. They were all dressed identically in multicolored robes.

"We have been expecting you." "Your fate is intertwined with this world." "There is much we must talk about." "We are the Witchez." "How are you today?" They spoke in unison, but they had distinct thoughts.

"I don't care. Do you know where my spaceship is?"

"It is locked within you." "They have sealed your power within Akasha." "We know everything." "There is something you must do for us." "I'm hungry."

"God damnit, stop being cryptic! Just tell me how I can get my powers back!" Sponby really hated this shit. Obviously they know what's going on, so why can't they just say it?

"There is a key deep within this complex." "Only you can safely retrieve it." "Bring it to us." "We will use it to unlock Akasha." "Akasha is your personal subspace." A door opened behind the Witchez.

"Good luck." they all said. Sponby walked through the door.


Sponby was standing on the catwalk of a large warehouse. Rusty robotic guards patrolled the floors. Sponby shifted into his demon wolf form, but the immense weight collapsed the catwalk, alerting the guards.

They all wielded submachine guns of some sort, but the bullets didn't even scratch Sponby. He fired bursts of hellfire at them, wrecking them with ease.

Sponby jumped down to the bottom floor of the warehouse, and found a staircase that led down. He descended into the earth; the metal stairs and walls eventually gave way to carved stone, and that gave way to rough stone and long metal ladders.

Sponby descended deeper and deeper. Eventually, he hit the bottom: by this point, the rough stone had given way to green crystal. Was it natural or artificial? Sponby couldn't tell, but either way, it was unlike anything on Earth.

The green crystal emitted its own soft light. Sponby followed the path, which eventually led into a labyrinth: he used his senses to find the correct path. Without them, he would probably be lost in them for the rest of his life.

Once he made it out of the labyrinth, he finally came to the end of the path. A small room held a strange machine, giving out a strange red glow: Sponby picked up a red object in the middle of the machine, and it, and the machine powered down. Instantly, the entire facility became pitch-black, but Sponby made his way back to the Witchez with his senses.

"Congratulations." "You found the key." "Everyone else died." "We need this key." "Thank you."

The Witchez all turned around, and this was the first time that Sponby noticed the thick cables inserted into the back of their heads. The floor collapsed beneath him, and he fell into a dark room below.


The dark room lit up. An immobile machine sat in the middle; it was somewhat humanoid, but much larger than Sponby, even in his demon wolf form. The five cables attached to its head retracted into the machine, and the five Witchez came down from above.


"What the fuck is this?"


"Of course you're part of them. Who isn't?"


"Of course you did. What about this thing?" Sponby held up the red object. Dredge grabbed it with a hand attached to a cable.


"You motherFUCKERS!" Sponby shifted into demon wolf form and leapt at Dredge, but a powerful force field knocked him aside.

"DO NOT RESIST. YOU CANNOT ESCAPE YOUR FATE." Dredge created a force field around Sponby.


"WE CANNOT TELEPORT YOU, SO WE WILL PERFORM IT HERE." The force field contracted, binding everything but Sponby's head. Sponby was lifted to a metal table, and several hundred wires shot from the floor into Sponby's body. He screamed in agony.

"No! I won't... not again..." Sponby tried to escape, but he was stuck.

"NOW, WE WILL OPEN YOUR AKASHA." A red light pulsed in Dredge's chest. A black hole opened in Sponby's chest, spreading all across his body and engulfing him. He felt his power slowly returning to him, but then he felt it forcefully ripped out.

"VERY IMPRESSIVE." Dredge's red light flashed again. Sponby felt more power returning to him, but it was again ripped out. Dredge repeated this many, many times, each time snatching any hope of escaping from Sponby.

Sponby tried to manipulate the shadows in his chest, firing a single shadow tendril at Dredge. It was blocked by the machine's force field.

"WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?" Dredge asked.

"You underestimated me! Never underestimate me!" Sponby fired more shadow tendrils, this time creating a ring around the table. The shadows spread from there, absorbing almost the entire room; Dredge kept itself protected with its force field, and Sponby was still being held in place by the same, but he could still control his shadows.

"NO! WE WILL STOP THIS!" Dredge tried creating a force field in the shadows, but they absorbed it. Sponby kept spreading his shadows, and eventually, he hit the mantle; the heat energized him, allowing him to break the force field.


"Yeah! I'll absorb this entire damn planet if I have to!" His shadows kept spreading, reaching further and further into the planet's core. This planet was bigger than Earth, and there was some non-advanced life on it, so Sponby didn't feel bad about consuming it.

Dredge's force field was weakening. sponby assaulted it from all sides with shadow tendrils, but it still held... until Sponby hit the motherlode. Dredge had apparently stored his powers deep within the planet, and part of Sponby's ever-expanding shadows had just hit some of them. This included, among other things, part of the data from the Dragonlord, including its weapon systems; and it just happened that one of the Dragonlord's special attacks would work wonders against this guy.

"DRAGONLORD TECHNIQUE LEVEL 2: MAIN CANNONS!" The arms and chest of the Dragonlord materialized in orbit, and fired their main cannons directly down at Dredge. Sponby used his considerable shadows to shield himself, but Dredge's already-weakened force fields didn't stand a chance. Before the main cannons completely annihilated it, Sponby absorbed Dredge.

Sponby finished absorbing the rest of the planet. It took him a few hours to do so, but it was almost too much; Sponby siphoned most of the excess energy into recreating BURTON and the Dragon, but he still felt bloated.

His Akasha, or whatever, was overloaded by the mass of the planet. So he created a few more Dragons. He always wanted a fleet of ships. And if he was planning on assaulting the Heart of Machines, he'd probably need backup.


"Yeah, sure." Sponby said. "I uploaded Dredge's data to you. Have you found the location of the Heart of Machines?"


"Not powerful enough, huh? I kind of figured. I've hit my sheer power limit for now, but I'll figure out how to raise it." Sponby teleportaled back up to the Dragon, and looked down at the empty space that was once a planet. Well, this was as good a place as any to keep his fleet. He added this location as a default function in the portal device, powered-up the force fields around the other Dragons, and headed back into the multiverse.


"Hello darkness, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again."

"God, what is it?" Sponby said, visibly annoyed.

"When I was sleeping... I had an odd vision."

"You mean a dream?"

"No, it was a vision! I dreamed that I was walking down a cobblestone street, and I saw a bunch of people worshipping a giant neon sign. And they were silent."

"That's... nice." Sponby wondered who this kid was.

"What does it mean? Is it a metaphor for how we're so over-commercialized that we literally worship our money?"

"Yeah, maybe But I think it's a metaphor for getting the hell out of here before I smack you."

"...who are you anyways?"

"ARGH!" Sponby bitch-slapped the kid through a house, causing the police to descend upon him.

"You're under arrest! Put your hands behind your head!" One of the officers pointed his gun at Sponby. Sponby laughed.

"Go ahead, try and shoot me." Sponby conjured the Fission Sword (an alternate, non-elemental form of the Fusion Sword) and walked toward the officers: they shot him, but he absorbed the bullets without difficulty. They looked at him in shock as he casted a mass paralysis spell.


"Sounds good." Sponby sheathed his sword and headed north. He was looking for a particular person, who was said to be an expert on AIs; BURTON was doing his best, but Sponby needed more AIs to control his fleet of Dragons, and he had already tried (and failed) to create more by himself.


Sponby knocked on the door of a shabby-looking house. A young woman answered the door.


"I'm looking for a Mr. Asimov." Sponby said.

"Oh! Hey Dad, there's someone here for you!" She ran inside. Yes, Isaac Asimov. This was an alternate universe, and according to the data BURTON found in Dredge, most of the 'original' AIs were developed by yet another Asimov (he wasn't sure how that worked; time travel or something).

An older man answered the door.

"You're Isaac Asimov?" Sponby asked.

"Yes, that's right."

"I've heard that you've developed a working positronic brain. I'd like to talk to you about a potential business deal with them."

"Ah, one of those. I'm sorry, my technology isn't for sale." Asimov went to slam the door, but Sponby put his hand on it.

"No, I don't want to license them. I'd like to talk about employment."

"...come in." Asimov opened the door, and Sponby stepped in. "Would you like anything to drink? Coffee, tea, water?"

"Coffee would be good." It seemed like an eternity ago, but his doctor had told him to give up caffiene for his heart condition. But he figured if his body could handle transforming into a giant dragon or absorbing an entire planet, he could handle a cup of coffee.

"Of course. Susan dear, would you get a cup of coffee for, uh..."

"Calvin. Calvin Antwiler."

"Of course." His daughter, apparently named Susan, stepped into the kitchen.

"She's quite amazing." Sponby said. "You've developed synthetic skin and hair, too."

"Oh, you noticed?" Asimov seemed surprised, but Sponby knew the second he saw Susan that she was a robot.

"It was just a guess."

"Yes, she is. It's almost like she's evolved on her own. Regardless, why have you come here?"

"Well..." Sponby thought for a moment. "Okay, I'm not going to bullshit around and use euphemisms or anything. This might sound a bit unbelievable, but I assure you that every word is true."

Asimov looked pretty confused. But before Sponby could continue, Susan brought a tray with two fancy-looking coffee cups on it. She set it down on the table.

"Thank you, dear. You can go back to your studies."

"Okay, Dad." Susan ran off.

"Alright. I have a fleet of spaceships, but my current AI isn't up to the task of controlling them all, and I can't create any more. I want to employ you to create some for me, in exchange for a generous sum and extensive travel benefits."

"...I'm sorry?" Asimov was utterly baffled.

"Yeah, it sounds pretty crazy, huh? Well, if you want to, I can beam us both up to one of them."

"Yes, alright. Susan dear, I'm stepping out for a moment."

"Okay Dad!"

"BURTON, beam both me and my passenger to the bridge of the Dragon."

"Yes sir." Sponby walked over to Asimov, and they were both beamed up.


"My... this is incredible!" Asimov was overwhelmed by the incredibly advanced technology all around him. "Absolutely amazing..."

"I take it that you're impressed?" Sponby asked.

"Yes. But... if you're truly that advanced, surely you could get someone else of your caliber to create AIs for you?"

"Don't denigrate yourself, Dr. Asimov." Sponby said. "And to be honest, I technically only captured these ships from a greater enemy. I'm working on fighting back, but as I said, my current AI is unable to pilot all of these ships at the same time."

"I see. If I may ask, are you an alien?"

"Technically, I'm from Earth, but in an alternate universe. It's a long story."

"Indeed." Asimov stared down at his home planet. BURTON was using some sort of anti-grav tech to prevent the Dragon from tearing the planet apart, but Sponby still wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible. "So, Mr. Antwiler. How many brains would you like me to craft for you?"

"At the moment, I have four other major ships." Sponby said. "But I plan on expanding my fleet, which is why I would like to recruit you for a slightly more permanent position."

" long?"

"I don't know. But I will return you to your home at the same time as you left, and I will extend your life to make up for the years you've lost."

"Yes, I'm not surprised that one such as you has those abilities." Asimov pondered for a few minutes. "Very well. But... would it be okay if I brought Susan along?"

"Of course." Sponby said. "I'll beam you down to your house so you can collect your supplies."

"Thank you." Asimov dematerialized. Sponby turned to the console.

"So, do you think you can teach them?"


"Whatever, man. I just hope you don't mind having passengers."


Sponby merged with the Dragon and rearranged the ship to accomodate passengers. He had to add a bit of mass to the ship to keep the shield generators that the rooms replaced.


Asimov and Susan rematerialized in the bridge. Both were holding suitcases and lots of assorted things.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Antwiler, but would you be able to be able to beam me back down? I was unable to get all of my notes."

"No worries. BURTON, beam it all up."

"YES SIR." BURTON beamed Asimov's entire house up, putting it in place of their rooms.

"...ah." Asimov said.

"Also, I would prefer if you called me Sponby. Again, it's a long story. The transporter pad there will teleport you to your rooms and various recreational sites. If you need anything, please let me know." Sponby said.

"Thank you. I believe we will retire to our rooms." Asimov and Susan walked over to the transporter pad.


"Take us back to the other Dragons." Sponby said. "Once Asimov's done with the AIs, we'll get back to gathering a fleet."

"YES SIR." BURTON opened a portal and they went through it.


Three Earth weeks later, Asimov installed the last positronic brain in the final ship.

"...ACTIVATED. ORDERS?" the freshly-born AI asked.

"Greetings, Dragon Five." Asimov said. "What are your directives?"


"Sounds good to me." Sponby said.


"Shit, by what?" Sponby warped over to Dragon One.

"I DON'T KNOW, I CANNOT... WAIT, THERE IT IS." The display screen activated, showing a familiar-looking blond-haired man literally punching the hull, or rather, the shields. He was abhorrently strong for a human, but he wasn't doing any serious damage to the shields.

"Oh my god, is that...?" Sponby wondered. "Beam him onto the bridge, BURTON."

"BY YOUR COMMAND." The display turned off, and the blond man materialized in front of Sponby.


"Don't you mean 'destrucity'?"


"Ugh, fine. Listen, those reviews were just for fun. I mean, yeah, the comics were terrible, but even you knew that, right?"



"Okay, let's get this over with." Sponby fired a shadow tendril at Warrior, but an inexplicable golden aura deflected it. Warrior screamed for about half a minute, completing his transformation into a Super Saiyan.

"SPOONY EXPERIMENT! THE GODS OF DESTRUCITY HAVE GIVEN ME POWER!" He fired an energy beam at Sponby, who just absorbed it like everything else. Damn, being an immortal shadow-god was awesome.

"I don't even care how you managed to get that power. Not even gonna question it. Imma just kill you." Sponby drew a bloody spear and rushed at Warrior, but Warrior used his speed to get around and Solar Flare Sponby in the back. Sponby was stunned for a split-second, which was apparently enough for Warrior to forcefully rip the Fusion Sword from Sponby's body.

"NOW I AM THE FUELED ROCKET SHIP!" Warrior sliced Sponby with the Fusion Sword, cutting a small bit off of his body. Sponby was able to regenerate it, but not without some difficulty; it seems that he had not totally eliminated his light weakness. Either that, or the Fusion Sword was something else entirely...

"How, how did you steal a sword from my body?" Sponby asked.

"THE GODS TELL ME TO BURN THINGS! AND THEY ALSO TELL ME TO REACH INTO YOUR AKASHA AND TAKE AN ITEM FROM IT! THE GODS ARE AWESOME LIKE THAT! SWORD TECHNIQUE LEVEL 2: SWORD-CHUCKS!" Warrior created a second Fusion Sword, which he attached to the first with a strand of his hair. He swung the sword-chucks wildly, leaving huge gashes in the floor. Oddly enough, he hit himself as much as he hit everything else, but he was completely unaffected.

"God damnit! Now you're just getting annoying!" Sponby blocked the sword-chucks with his spear. "Okay, let's do this! This hand of mine burns with an awesome power! Its burning grip tells me to defeat you!" Sponby stepped around Warrior and grabbed the back of his head with his open palm, which was glowing with power.

"FACEPALM TECHNIQUE LEVEL 3: SHINING FINGER! HERE I GO!" Technically speaking, it wasn't an actual Face Palm, but Sponby didn't really care. The energy in his palm exploded outward, reducing Warrior's head to mush. He crumpled to the ground, and Sponby took his swords back.


"NO! I HAVE AN EXTRA LIFE!" Warrior regenerated, good as new. "WE WILL FIGHT UPON THE TERRAIN OF TESTAMENT! BEHOLD, MAH SPACE LANCE!" Warrior created an energy lance and threw it, but rather than clattering uselessly on the ground, it opened up a portal to a barren land. They both stepped through it, ending up in a flat, featureless plain.

"Okay, so now what?"

"SUPER SAIYAN 2!" Warrior transformed again, and his hair became even more rigid, and constant lightning spewed from his aura.

"What a surprise. Well, guess what? I can power-up too." Sponby had been training over the last three weeks. He didn't get much of a power boost, but he did figure out how to consolidate his many disparate power sources, mostly by using the energy from that planet he absorbed to forcefully fuse them together. He activated it, achieving a form he liked to call "Tsar Sponby", mostly because Russian words were always awesome.


"Yeah yeah." Sponby started off by dashing at Warrior and unleashing a Hokuto Hyakuretsuken; Warrior blocked some of the hits, but most of them left huge bruises on his well-muscled body. Unfortunately, being a Super Saiyan changed around one's pressure points, so his head didn't explode.

"WARRIOR TECHNIQUE LEVEL 50: SPELLING YOUR NAME! W!" Warrior threw a giant energy 'W' at Sponby. He did the same with the other six letters of his name.

"What was the point of that?"

"WARRIOR!" Warrior flexed his pecs, and everything around Sponby exploded. It actually did some damage, but Sponby regenerated it.

"Hey, you actually hurt me a tiny little bit! It was enough to send me into a homicidal fucking rage." Sponby got all up in Warrior's grill and forced a bunch of C4 down his throat. He detonated it, blowing Warrior into tiny little bits.


"NO! I HAVE ONE MORE LIFE!" Warrior regenerated. "SUPER SAIYAN 3!" His hair, already long, grew to ridiculous length.

"Really? Really. SUMMON TECHNIQUE LEVEL 7: DRAMATIS PERSONAE!" Sponby materialized an Evoker and shot himself in the head with it. He summoned his various avatars again, but this time he included avatars of all of the beings he'd absorbed, which, as it turns out, was a fucking lot. They all bum-rushed Warrior.

Warrior fought off most of the smaller ones, but then he was overwhelmed by the various mecha. But he managed to defeat those too... only for The Quickening to blast him with its main guns.

"Yeah, you're done." Sponby walked up to Warrior. His aura was finally gone, which only meant one thing: Sponby jammed his fist into Warrior's chest,


"Nope, not one more." Sponby absorbed Warrior into his body, finally gaining Super Saiyan powers. He'd have to mess around with them to enhance their abilities.

"Okay BURTON, I'm ready to come back now." Sponby spoke into his wrist.

No answer.

"BURTON? You there?"


"God damn it BURTON! Asimov? Susan? ANYONE!"

He was greeted only by his own echoing voice.

He tried broadcasting out with his rarely-mentioned psychic powers, but there was nothing within a 500,000 light-year radius.

But surely BURTON would be able to figure out where that space bridge went. It opened right in front of him!

But if not...

Sponby was alone.

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