The Universal Squad #27

Pastling

Imagine if you will, our hero Jerry

He's all dirty and hairy, with naught but a thin makeshift loincloth covering his unmentionables, wielding what looks like someone's dismembered arm or possibly leg and bashing it against the head of a robot (or a man in high tech armor at the very least), both of which are struggling in the midst of a strange, chromed out laboratory filled with incomprehensible toys and trinkets that look like they're from the Future!

(That should do for a 'cover', shouldn't it?)

Notice: for those of you that are faint of heart, the following tale isn't exactly what one would call G-rated in nature. It may contain a plethora of bad language, excessive violence, sexual innuendo, and/or of course, things that would get this story burned, were it in a printed form, by the more fanatical elements of just about any religion on earth. In other words, if any/all of these things offend your sensibilities - you've been warned.

(That should do for a 'disclaimer', shouldn't it?)

***

Jerry hid behind a mighty tree, the advantage momentarily his.

More than sufficiently downwind from Them, he watched Them with anticipation as They approached his trap. The trap, of course, was a massive feint, built knowing full well that he was being observed from afar. A trap that was a trap within a trap, or more accurately, a diversion. While they attempted to avoid the seemingly obvious nature of the trap's function, Jerry lay in wait for Them to get close enough for him to strike.

They, of course, were the Men from the Future. Or more accurately, from A Future, one that he's apparently found himself in under dubious circumstances. Everything was sort of blurry at first, but it all eventually came into crystal clear focus as the days passed. It all had to do with that jerk Roy Shijitzu, who just had to keep pushing him, and pushing him.

And then threw a whole army of super powered retards at him and his friends. One teleportation mishap later, here he was. Waking up in a daze in this ugly, tropical rain forest, he was completely naked save for a post-it note affixed to his forehead. It just had a simple message on it, in English.

"The Future Hates You."

After he read it, it dissolved into ... some kind of grayish goo, leaving him completely unarmed in this unbearably hot, swampy forest. Not thinking much on it to start, Jerry searched his surroundings for something, anything he could use as a weapon. Settling on a big, broken tree branch, he began to make his way into the mysterious jungle. Awareness slowly returning, Jerry's confusion transformed into seething rage as things eventually came back to him.

He'd wandered around in the jungle for a time, his only defense against the wild animals and gone-savage time travelers his Tree Branch of Sanity. And yes, he was beset on all sides by time travelers that had wound up in this jungle somehow, at least he gathered from their wild gibberings before he'd shut them up with the Tree Branch of Sanity. Of course since they all seemed crazy, their origins were up for debate until he met one that seemed to have some of his marbles in yet.

This fellow, apparently hailing from the 23rd century, had told Jerry all about their common captors. Waylex Smythes, as he introduced himself, was a leading Man of Tomorrow in his home on Mars, and had devoted himself to conquering the Days to Come. Little did he know that the era he'd targeted for his first real leap into the time stream was strictly policed by a people who were afraid of their existence being wiped out by a lone time traveler with too much time on his hands.

To this end, they'd started policing Time itself, collecting any travelers that happened upon their era and any in the past they could get their hands on and dumped them without equipment here in this, the completely restored Amazon Rain Forest. And then, for sport, they would allow 'hunters' to roam the jungle to kill the Travelers for having the temerity to risk their existence for knowledge or greed or... whatever other mad impulses drove someone to leap into Time.

The man gave Jerry a loincloth, a coarse stone, and a decent meal for his troubles, before leaving him to his Fate. Waking up all alone when Waylex made for even greener pastures, Jerry decided he wasn't going to wind up with his head on a plaque in some Future Jerk's study. Oh heck no, he was going to give them what for, and force them to send him home. It wasn't like he came here on purpose, after all this was all that Shijitzu clown's fault!

So after slowly sharpening one end of the Tree Branch of Sanity into a somewhat deadly point, Jerry set out and began to lay a trap for these would-be hunters. Being at an indeterminate point in time, he figured they were able to easily watch him from afar, so any sort of tricky scheme wouldn't really work he'd have to rely on something dead simple. But he didn't think they knew he knew they could watch him, and thus he developed the Plan.

Over the course of two days, he rigged up a massive implement of terror out of tree branches, vines, rocks, and a huge pit which he filled full of spikes. The thing didn't work for crap, but that wasn't the point; the point was it looked like it did, and thus, Jerry went into hiding until like a Venus fly trap, it drew in some of these mysterious Men from the Future. Sure enough, it didn't take them long once he'd cleared the immediate area.

Waiting for them downwind, he could hear two of them chattering to themselves, but couldn't quite make out their words as they approached his completely useless mechanism. Well, useless unless he shoved one of them into the pit proper, that is. As he crept up on them silently, the Sanity in hand, they continued to ramble on as they prodded and poked at the frightening array of vine ropes, misshapen tree chunks, and of course the barely covered pit of spikes. All three of them.

Future Man Number One poked a vine experimentally. "This thing is crap it doesn't do anything!"

Future Man Number Two sighed at that. "I know, I watched him building the thing from the air cams above the trees."

Frowning inside his helmet, Future Man Number One then grew a bit frustrated. "So why go to the effort? It took two days!"

Future Man Number Two shrugged at that. "I don't know, he's from the past who knows how those savages think. Though he is the first that was able to build anything. Most of these find themselves without picotronics and just curl up and die. Or go kooky insane and start killing anything that moves."

Hopping from one foot to the other, Future Man Number One began to grow uneasy. "Well here's hoping he's not dead yet we need to pick him back up before the hunters find him. Accounting's going to have our heads if this one dies he's not even a real time traveler!"

Future Man Number Two then smacked Future Man Number One upside the helmet. "I DID read the briefing, ass. Now let's download the video to see where he went after building this joke before -"

Future Man Number Two never finished the thought, as Jerry had managed to somehow creep up on them without being noticed (their yammering having nothing to do with that, no sir) and smashed him hard in the helmet with the Tree Branch of Sanity. "Ha ha, suckers!" As the man fell to the ground, Jerry leaped onto his back and began hopping up and down, not sure if the impacts were getting through the curious silver suit he was wearing but... not averse to trying in the slightest.

Seeing his friend used as an ersatz trampoline, Future Man Number One flipped out. "You dick! We're here to save you and this is how you treat us? Why don't you eat some hot subatomic bits!" Raising his mysterious, oversized gun at Jerry, our hero leapt off of Future Man Number Two and hid behind a large tree, grimacing as the blast Future Man Number One fired vaporized a 3' cubical section of his cover, and caused the whole thing to come crashing down next to him.

"Save me? You've got a funny way of showing it, numb nuts... disintegration doesn't do a lot for my health!" Flinging the Tree Branch at his best guess for where Future Man Number One was standing, Jerry then ran out after his projectile, hoping to catch the belligerent goon while he dodged the weapon. Closing in before he could fire the strange gun at him again, Jerry head butted Future Man Number One in the helmet, an act that left them both somewhat dizzy.

Somehow recovering first, Jerry seized the man's gun, guessing it wouldn't work for him due to some fancy Future trigger identification mechanism, but thinking that 'waving a gun in someone's face' was a good negotiation tactic. "Now. You want to 'save' me with this huge gun, and I appreciate the sentiment. Why don't I return the favor and 'save' you, jack ass..." Pointing the apparent subatomic particle cannon at Future Man Number One, Jerry quickly broke him.

"No!" Before Jerry could stop him, Future Man Number One slapped a badge on the chest of his silver suit and vanished without a trace. Warily eyeing Future Man Number Two, Jerry nudged him with his foot until he rolled over, from his stomach onto his back. Seeing a similar badge, he pulled it off his first victim and held it onto his chest. Dropping the gun he assumed he couldn't use anyway, he smacked the badge with his now-free hand and was suddenly... elsewhere.

***

Blipping into existence anew somewhere else entirely, Jerry paused for a moment to at least attempt to get his bearings. Looking around, he saw he was in some sort of arrival room, apparently one in which people 'home in' after striking these badge thingies. An emergency withdrawal, perhaps? Who knows, but the room's walls were smooth and had no controls to speak of. Luckily for him, the door was still open, as if someone had just left.

Oozing through the doorway as it began to close, Jerry could easily hear the Man from the Future that had fled from him. "And then he mauled Bjorn before I could stop him..." Looking closer, Jerry saw the fellow talking with some sort of technician, or debriefer, or both.

Charging them, he knocked them both over with sheer momentum, and began to bludgeon them senseless with his bare hands in a sheer fit of rage. "I'll kill all of youuuuu!"

He didn't, though, leaving the two unconscious on the hallway floor. Seizing a few devices from the technician (?), Jerry quickly swallowed one of them, thinking up a Plan. He had no idea what it was, and secretly hoped it wasn't some sort of button-sized disintegrator or something. Brandishing what looked like a one foot long baton in front of him, he made his way further into the complex, the words of his would-be captors ringing in his ears.

'Save him?' Maybe they wanted to send him home... he'd try to find out thanks to the magic of eavesdropping, since 'saving' didn't jibe with what that Waylex had told him about these clowns. With all that in mind, he began to prowl the hallways looking for more people. Whether to listen to them or to beat them into a coma, he really didn't care at this point, but Jerry's search was cut short when he suddenly heard a loud, booming voice behind him.

"JERRY MULLIGAN."

His entire body clenching at once, Jerry slowly rotated around to face the voice, only to find not one, not two, but a dozen heavily armed and armored Men and Women from the Future were menacing him. Sort of like the two in the woods, but... you know, more. And in this tight hallway with no readily seen escape route. Dropping the baton-thing (or whatever it was), Jerry put his hands up, after scratching himself under his loin cloth for effect. "What?"

They then zapped him something fierce, and everything went white. When he woke up an indeterminate time later, Jerry found himself thinking that at the very least, he wasn't dead. But then as awful as he felt, like he'd been stepped on by about thirty people, maybe dead would be better. He'd been dead before, after all, and it didn't hurt quite like this. And it didn't have that impending dread that you get from being naked and being secured to a cold slab of metal.

"You gave us quite a merry chase, Past Tense. You're the first of your kind to ever manage an invasion of our control facility here above the prison... luckily for you, we need to send you home to preserve the timeline." Looking around despite the terrible pounding in his head, Jerry saw the fellow watching him, and decided that he didn't like the man. Though 'man' was something of a misnomer, as this was a bona fide robot - just built to look manlike.

"Bwueh."

Still unable to talk, Jerry just sat back and glared at the artificial life form as it walked over to him and injected... something into his arm. "Here, these probes will delete the last few days of your memory and self-destruct. Before you know it you'll be back in your own time, knowing nothing of your time here, and having no evidence that anything weird had happened, not even lost time. We're going to put you right back where you came from..."

Jerry began to struggle at this, considering that 'right back where he came from' was in a dogpile of villains, give or take. Though a second consideration came to mind as everything started to go fuzzy in his brain. He'd swallowed something... could he make himself throw up before all his memories were gone? If he didn't he might just flush this piece from the future he'd 'secured' down the toilet and never be the wiser. And then some bum would find it and...

He tried to gag himself with his tongue, but wasn't making much headway when the android threw a huge switch, apparently just for good measure.

And then everything went white a third time.

Waking up with a face full of sand, Jerry felt like he was forgetting something, but also felt like he was about to be sick. Being the kind of person to believe that 'it always feels better after', he stuck his finger down his throat and accelerated the process. With morbid curiosity, he looked down at the pile of puke and saw something shiny and inexplicable inside, and fished it out with a stick. Thinking it looked like something to study later, he put it in his pocket.

At which point he felt his uniform, and found it to be full of holes. For some reason he couldn't explain, he felt like he should be naked, but wasn't about to strip... somehow he'd managed to escape from that jerk Roy Shijitzu and his big horde of super-wanks. Even though the beach was inviting, he had to get home somehow and find his friends... and then deal with that stupid psychic clown once and for all - in the harshest way possible...!

***

Now that Jerry has also made his way back into the proper time and place (well, give or take a few miles), we'll look in on Devilroot next time, in order to see just what it is that has befallen him in the wake of our team-scattering incident. While Jerry wound up in the future, our sorcerous friend was displaced across the dimensions, and isn't quite sure where he's been dumped at. Here's hoping he can figure out how to escape before the locals find him...

(That should do for a 'preview', shouldn't it?)

***

The Universal Squad #27: A Pastling...
© 2009, 2012 Denny Hill 2, All rights reserved and so forth.

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