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Dr. Albert Overbuild stooped over what he liked to call his "RANMOPO," which stands for: "Resurrect All Nexus Minifigures Of Past Origins." Albert was not as young as he once was and his back often grieved him.
"Oh, do hurry up, Albert," said Vanda Darkflame, who was tapping her foot impatiently, "Duke will be back any moment, and you know how mush he hates all types of experiments that don't involve direct smashing."
"Well, this involves direct UN-SMASHING, so he'll definitely be upset about this," said Albert Overbuild, "although I think that Hael's idea of distracting Duke with the situation of a fresh recruit – not to mention a non-paying recruit – who is running a campaign to dissolve Sentinel as the ruling faction and replace it with Paradox was a wonderful one."
"Yes," said Vanda coldly. She hated remembering the event when someone had suggested that one faction be placed above the others in terms of authority, and Sentinel had won the election. Duke had acted even cockier then usual since.
Albert leaned back and pressed his palms into the middle of his spine, relieving a small amount of the pain in his back.
"Now this is the tricky part," said Albert, "if I beef this up by just a centimeter, it may (or may not) cause a massive shock explosion."
"What are the chances of it exploding?" asked Vanda.
"Oh, ninety-ten," said Albert.
"With or against?" asked Vanda. She got a "well-it's-bloody-obvious" look for a reply.
"Keep well away from me, I don't want anything to interfere with this order of operations," said Overbuild.
Vanda took eight steps back and held her breath as Albert took two wires and slowly moved them together. Time seemed to stand still as Albert leaned on the RANMOPO and got a better view of the wires.
Then he snored.
"WAKE UP, YOU BUFFOON!" hollered Vanda. She knew Albert was old but not the he was not the kind to fall asleep on a moment's notice.
"Whu?" asked Albert in a state of semi-sleep.
"You've fallen asleep, you idiot!" cried Vanda, "you were just explaining to me the importance of getting this right!"
"Oh, sorry," said Albert, "now stand back."
Albert leaned over the RANMOPO again and fumbled with the wires. Time again seemed to stand still, and then the door behind Vanda flew open and Duke Exeter charged in.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" he yelled at Dr. Overbuild, "I TOOK AWAY YOUR EXPERIMENTING PERMIT!"
Duke charged at the scientist (who had again fallen asleep) and rugby-tackled him to the ground. Albert woke up and began cursing Duke.
"Get off!" he wailed, "you are killing me!"
Duke jumped off the frail figure of Overbuild and walked over to the RANMOPO and kicked it over on its side.
"THAT SHOULD SHOW YOU!" he cried. The two swinging wires then connected and the Titanium generator jump-started the Paritol container, and the contents spilled into the pistons. The spark plugs ignited and a massive explosion blew out from the basement of Nexus Tower.
The charred remains of Nexus Tower littered the ground of the planet Crux. The few Minifigures who survived the explosion breathed their last as the after-effects of the toxic bomb took over. Some of the gunk from the tower that had flown very high in the air was now caught in the affected gravity of Crux Prime.
Parker Jack the pizza delivery minifigure soared through the atmosphere of Crux Prime much faster than he should have. He was late for the daily pizza delivery in Nexus Tower (by precisely thirteen minutes and twenty one seconds) and was not looking forward to meeting Duke. Or Vanda, for that matter.
Parker's standard red-and-yellow rocket tore through the atmosphere of Crux Prime. Seconds later it buried itself in a pile of ash and tiny flames, where the landing platform usually was.
"Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?" asked Parker in disbelief, "it was here yesterday."
Parker saw the crater where the tower usually was,
"That was too."
Parker pulled out the lucky shovel Swabby Bilgibarrel had once given him for his birthday and began digging his rocket out of the ash. It was hard work. The ash was unwilling to part from its newfound rocket and it was trying to bury Parker as well.
Parker finally got his rocket upright and began looking for a rocket launch pad. There were none. Parker gritted his teeth and promised that he would learn how to use imagination properly when he got back. It would save him trying to drag his one-hundred-eighty-pound rocket to Sentinel Point Zeta in hope of a rocket launch pad.
Three hours later, Parker collapsed on the ground in front of Sentinel Point Zeta, too tired to open the door. The overweight guard who was on watch saw him fall and spoke into his communicator.
"I got a code thirty-seven on my hands," said the guard, "send someone down, will you?"
Seven minutes later, Parker was lying in a warm bed with a sling across one arm. He opened his eyes and saw that he was in a large white room.
"Erg," said Parker, sitting up, "I need to get back to my office in Nimbus Station, I've got to spread the news."
"What news?" asked a doctor who Parker hadn't noticed.
"Well… Nexus Tower… it uh…" stammered Parker, "it blew up."
The doctor stared at Parker in silence. The doctor then looked down at his records.
"I don't understand," said the doctor, "you don't seem to be mentally unstable."
"But it really has blown up!" shouted Parker, "charred debris and everything!"
The doctor picked up a retro-looking telephone and spoke to the minifigure on the other end.
"This is Dr. Mangle, send a scout to Nexus Tower proto," said the doctor.
"I gotta get outta here," said Parker. He leaped out of his bed and bolted for the door. He heard Dr. Mangle's protest but slammed the door and ran for the exit. The same overweight guard whom Parker had come across earlier was mounting his rocket on the launcher and Parker leapt into the rocket before the guard could react.
"He stole my rocket!" cried the guard, "someone get him!"
No one did.
Sturdy Fierce Stallion was sitting on the steps in the Avant Gardens launch area. He was a recruit who was unable to pay the fees necessary to becoming part of a faction, and was not allowed to leave Avant Gardens. Stallion stood up and stretched, he was spending too much time sitting down lately, his legs were tiring faster and the other day he was out run by a stromling.
He walked over to Sophia Amalgam and bought seventy quicksicles, his secret to surviving in Avant Gardens Survival. After purchasing a sufficient amount of Armor shine, Stallion began his trek up the monument road. He passed Vector Longview and a small buzzing sound in his head told him that the Mythrans were having a give-away.
Stallion looked back at the launch area and saw seven recruits rush past Stallion on their way to the mailbox in the sentinel base camp. It still amused Stallion how many people over-looked the mailbox in the landing area.
Stallion dashed to the Sentinel Base Camp and did what he always did when this happened. He pulled out his retro movie camera and activated it, causing all the minifigures to begin waving their hands around.
There weren't many things that made Stallion laugh, but that was one of them. Stallion got over his fit of laughing and stowed his camera away. Then he ran off in the direction of the launch area, just to be that guy who does everything different. He reached the launch area mailbox and (as usual) found it deserted. He reached into the mailbox and pulled out a Heroic Force Blade, a shield that required level forty-five, and the standard Mythran jetpack. Stallion discarded the jetpack and sold the shield to Hu Where; he already had a shield and he believed that flying was cheating your legs out of doing work. Running was the superior alternative. He hesitated and sold his Heroic Force Blade as well. In his opinion, his Elite Force Blade of Lightning was just as good.
Stallion walked to the mailbox again, just to see if the Mythrans had bothered to give him anything useful. As usual, no, they didn't. They never did. Except when they gave Stallion the Uber-Hammer. That had come in handy a lot.
Stallion began loading his rocket onto the Block Yard launcher when his friend, Dapper Poetic Lump, walked up behind him.
"Hey, Stallion!" called Lump.
"Hm?" asked Stallion.
"You wanna go to the Nimbus Station Pizza Place?" he asked.
"Uh… yeah," said Stallion, "but we can't get to Nimbus Station."
"Yes, we can!" said Lump excitedly, "there's some big news there and so everyone's given permission to go to Nimbus Station and learn the news!"
"Then you're on," said Stallion.
He took out his Pencil/Steampunk rocket and mounted it on the launcher for the second time. The first time he had managed to slip past Sky Lane and jump onto the launcher, but the launcher recognized he was a non-paying recruit and dumped him into the water. It had taken a long time to get his rocket pieces back.
Stallion flipped some switches and his rocket zoomed through the atmosphere of Avant Gardens. Lump followed Stallion and soon Nimbus Station came into view.
Stallion and Lump jumped down out of their rockets and stowed them in their backpacks. They ran down to the crowded Pizza Place and saw a weary delivery minifigure telling a story. From the looks of it, he had already told this story several times. Stallion and Lump got closer to the pizza minifigure and his words soon became audible.
"So naturally I was bewildered about all the ash, but I knew I was in the right place, and then I saw a giant crater. I couldn't find a rocket pad, so I dragged my rocket to Sentinel Point Zeta, where someone got the crazy idea I was injured!" said the minifigure.
Stallion wasn't an expert, but he looked pretty injured to him.
"So I came back here and spread the word," finished the minifigure.
Stallion didn't want to ask what news he was here to spread, for fear of looking like an idiot. Thankfully, someone else who had been late for the story asked for Stallion.
"What news?" asked the minifigure.
"Nexus Tower has blown up," said Parker Jack.
"Nexus Tower?" asked Lump.
"Yes, Nexus Tower," said Parker.
"You mean like, the Nexus Nexus Tower?" asked Lump.
"Yes, the Nexus Nexus Tower," said Parker, getting irritated.
"Like, the Tower that holds the Nexus Force's leaders?" asked Lump.
"YES!" hollered Parker, "NEXUS TOWER!"
"Oh," said Lump.
There was silence.
"So what happens to the Nexus Force?" asked a Sentinel Knight.
"Well, we've begun to assign people to become new faction leaders," said Parker, "a certain Lord Brocktree has become leader of Sentinel, a minifigure named Riolu has become leader of Paradox, Dextron has become the leader of Assembly, and Venture League is now run by Sharpie the Daredevil of Lightning."
"What about Crux Prime?" asked a Buccaneer, "when the Darkitect hears that Nexus Tower is gone (unless he was one who blew it up and already knows about it) he will retract his forces from all over and march them all towards the Imagination Nexus, which is surely still there, regardless of the tower's disappearance."
"We've already taken care of that," said Parker, "an Elite squad of warriors known as the Nexus Marauders have excavated the site of Nexus Tower and found that the Imagination Nexus has taken the form of a small glowing ball. That ball is now securely locked up in a hidden chamber somewhere."
"What will happen to Non-Paying recruits?" asked Stallion, "will they now get more rights and privileges now that they are needed more than ever?"
"This I don't know," said Parker, "I'm not even technically in the Nexus Force, unless you count Joe's Pizza hut as a faction."
"Who might I find that can answer my questions?" asked Stallion.
"I guess you could try Lord Brocktree, Sentinel still is the ruling Faction, after all," said Parker.
Stallion thanked Parker Jack and started walking around Nimbus Station with Lump, looking for something that resembled the Sentinel Logo. After a while, he saw a large hologram projection that resembled a large blue falcon. Stallion and Lump ran towards the Projection and soon came across a Super Sentinel leaning heavily on his chair, his legs propped up on his desk.
"Lord Brocktree?" asked Stallion when he got closer to the desk.
"Are you asking my name, or do you want something?" asked Brocktree.
"Er… a little of both," said Stallion.
"Well," said Brocktree, "my name is Lord Brocktree, now leader of the Sentinel Faction, Super Sentinel, wielder of Verminbane, and Lord of all trees relating to brock. Now what may I do for you?"
"Well, now that Nexus Tower is destroyed, I have couple of questions," said Stallion.
"Go ahead," said Brocktree, "I can hear."
"Well, first, now that Rank Three gear will be rather difficult to locate, and we lost a lot of warriors in the explosion, shouldn't non-paying recruits now have all privileges that paying members have?" asked Stallion.
"Well," said Brocktree, "I suppose I don't object."
"So now we are no longer contained to 10,000 coins, have to stay in Avant Gardens, and we can have pets now?" asked Stallion.
"Yes," said Brocktree, "I suppose."
The uncertain manner of Brocktree quickly angered Lump.
"You suppose?" he asked, "what about, 'yes that is okay with me?'"
"All right, I suppose I can be a little more definite," said Brocktree. Stallion noticed that his sarcasm and snide comments were said with a smile, not a sneer, and Brocktree reminded Stallion of his father, who had been an annoyingly sarcastic and clever.
"To move on to my second question," said Stallion before Lump exploded with anger, "will faction gear now be reduced in price, if not totally free, now that it is needed more than ever?"
"No," said Brocktree shortly.
"No?" asked Lump.
"Yes. I mean no. I mean yes, I mean no," said Brocktree, "the money that goes into the Faction gear is used to develop more gear and weapons. An army is not run without a great deal of money."
"Well, yes, but…" began Stallion.
"No," said Brocktree, "faction gear prices shall remain the same for all eternity. Or until I see fit for the prices to be dropped."
"Or until another Faction gets elected ruler and the leader of that faction decides it is time for the prices to drop," said Stallion.
"Well, yes," said Brocktree, then cast a grin in Lump's direction, "I suppose that's true."
Lump and Stallion left the Sentinel Leader's desk area and decided to look at all the Points of Interest in Nimbus Station. This was the place they had dreamed of going to and they intended to enjoy every minute of being there.
They walked through Nimbus Plaza and saw Sharpie, the newly appointed Venture League Leader with his own desk, ruffling around with some paper work and organizing a new Elite Exploration squad. They bought some stuff with their coins and the tokens they had won from certain awards in Avant Gardens and swung around certain pieces of equipment that they had bought. They had no intention to join a faction, but that didn't stop them from buying weapons from certain Faction kits to use.
Stallion ran down to Brick Annex firing his Inventor Guns and obliterating everything in his path. They were so much better than his Pneumatic Drill of Blasting. Lump followed behind, blasting his flareguns and swinging a sword from a Sentinel Knight kit. It saw so much better that his Elite Cleaver.
The two recruits soon reached Brick Annex and saw Riolu, the Paradox Leader. He was swinging his Sorcerer staff and assembling bricks into new experiment equipment. A Rank Three Space Marauder strolled over to Riolu and whispered something into his ear. Riolu asked him something in reply and the Marauder nodded. Riolu and the Marauder marched off into the direction of Brick Annex, and Stallion and Lump ran off to the Nimbus Station race place. The pair skidded to a halt and looked at the cars that someone had left on the side of the road. Unable to contain himself, Lump jumped into one and tore down the race track.
After Lump finally stopped his car and jumped out, Stallion suggested that they try the Battle of Nimbus Station. They ran down the path of Nimbus Station and came to a stop in front of Wenn Wuzzit.
They came out of the Battle of Nimbus Station sometime later, thoroughly tired of being thrashed by Whack Bliddo and starving for some buttery croissants, but otherwise okay.
"What do we do now?" asked Lump.
"I dunno," replied Stallion, "I suppose we could get a Nimbus Isle property."
"Good idea!" agreed Stallion, and the two friends rushed off to find the launch pad.
"Be sure to constantly check the sensors to make sure they're online," said Dex, as Thire came and relieved him.
"Yeah, yeah," said Thire, "Kat and Yummy are up on ridge G-UI78, Sector Omicron. They're securing the Claymores and making sure emergency ejectors are in order."
"Gotcha," said Dex, "I'll be in the hut."
Dex, a member of an elite corps known as the "Nexus Marauders," slung his modified triple-barrel wormholer over his shoulder and walked away from the Nebula Vault. The Nebula Vault was a vault that was built by the Nexus Force in the early days of the Nexus War. Its construction and location were made a complete secret, and the workers were forced to wear blindfolds on their way to the construction sight. And after its completion, it was airlifted away from its place of origin and placed in another secret place. And now the Imagination Nexus was being kept in Nebula Vault.
Dex reached the "hut" that the Nexus Marauders were currently staying in and punched in the code that would grant him access to the metal interior of the building. He crossed the main room and entered his own quarters. He fumbled for the light switch for a minute, and then hit the button and the florescent bulbs came to life. Dex got a brief view of a bearded man with a heavy club, then received a blow to the head that knocked him out cold.
The Marauder's attacker watched him fall with no emotion. The attacker stepped over the limp body and walked out of the hut. He quickly used his tracking skills and retraced Dex's footsteps to the Nebula Vault. He took a silenced sniper rifle from his back and aimed it up at the Marauder posted sentry. The attacker pulled the trigger and Thire fell dead where he stood, a thin trail of smoke rising from his chest.
The attacker (who I'll refer to as Matt, to save typing and the effort of trying to think of synonyms of "attacker") walked up the steps of the Nebula Vault. He was just passing the fallen body of Thire when he felt an iron grip around his ankle and looked down to see the Marauder holding him and pointing a small handgun at his face.
"Now just stay quiet and you'll keep your face firmly fixed on the rest of your skull," said Thire.
Matt began to raise his hands when he suddenly swung his foot (the one not being held by Thire) at the gun in Thire's hand. The pistol was sent flying and suddenly Matt had a knife in his hand and was bringing it down fast on Thire's neck. Thire did a quick roll to the left and yanked Matt's ankle high into the air. Matt stumbled and lay sprawled on the ground as Thire pointed a maelstrom rocket launcher at his chest. Matt lashed out with his foot and smashed the rocket launcher into pieces, causing gas to spray into Thire's face. Matt leapt off the ground and was about to knife Thire when a barrage of laser blasts thudded into the steel wall behind Matt.
Matt turned and saw Dex, fully recovered and unleashing the power of his ultimate three-barreled Wormholer. Matt dropped prone and threw his knife at Dex. The spinning knife missed the intended target, Dex's carotid artery, but it did embed itself in the Marauder's calf.
Matt turned and saw that Thire had regained his feet and had unslung his own standard, but still powerful, wormholer. Matt rolled at Thire's ankles and caused the Marauder to trip and fall over. Before Thire could react, Matt was sitting on him with his secondary knife jabbed in Thire's kidney.
Thire toppled over and Matt made a final slash to the neck, to make sure the job was actually done this time. He picked up Thire's discarded handgun and fired several shots at Dex's head. Sure that the minifigures were thoroughly dead, Matt walked over to the access panel and jabbed an electrified blade into the panel. The door to the Nebula vault slid open and Matt sauntered into the open cave of the vault.
There! The Imagination Nexus! Matt was just about to grab it and make his getaway, when a bright flash lit up the vault interior and several Wormholer blasts scorched the life out of Matt, smashing him for all eternity.
"That should teach you," said Yummy Snotty Clown, "Filth."
Lord Brocktree reclined at his desk at Stratus Outpost, the new faction headquarters. On his screen was the face of Yummy Snotty Clown, who was currently relaying the events of the attempted thievery of the Imagination Nexus.
"And you can't identify this man?" asked Brocktree.
"No, sir," said Yummy, "I didn't get a good look at him before I destroyed him, and after I destroyed him, he was so badly scorched that no one can make out any distinguishable characteristics."
"And are you sure you want to move the Nexus away from Nebula Vault?" asked Brocktree.
"Yes, sir," said Yummy, "if that assassin could find it, it's likely that others will."
"True," said Brocktree, and turned to the other Faction Leaders, who were assembled behind him, "what do you think? Should we move it?"
"I vote yes," said Sharpie.
"No," said Dextron, "those foundations are nearly indestructible."
Riolu was silent.
"Riolu? The vote depends on you," said Brocktree.
"I don't know," said Riolu slowly, "if I had to choose, I suppose I would move it."
"Good choice," said Sharpie before Riolu could think about it any more, "you heard him, Brocktree. Let's move it to Pet Rock!"
There was silence in the room as the other faction leaders tried to come up with a reason they had not thought of that earlier.
"Of course!" said Dextron, "Pet Rock! How could the Maelstrom ever find it there?"
"All right," said Brocktree, "it goes to Pet Rock."
Brocktree was about to swivel around to face the screen again when he saw a movement in the corner of the room. He leapt out of his chair and crash-landed on the surprised form of a weird variation of Stromling.
It looked like a standard stromling, but it was dark black, and the only traces of purple were deep in its eyes.
The strange stromling pushed Brocktree off him and scrambled to his feet. He leaped at the window to make a daring escape, but Dextron pulled him back with a small tractor beam of some sort. The stromling hit the ground and looked around wildly to find what had pulled him back. He saw the device in Dextron's hand and made a mad sprint at him, blade raised to strike.
Dextron frantically tried to switch the device to repel, but something was jamming it. The stromling was just about to hit him, when Riolu stepped in front of it and stiff-armed him. The Stromling staggered back. Before the stromling could recover, Brocktree had already used Verminbane to smash him.
The stromling hit the floor and writhed around. Brocktree turned to the screen and told Yummy his explicit instructions. He clicked the screen off and turned to his fellow faction leaders and saw them staring out the window, their jaws agape. Brocktree followed their gaze and saw what had them so baffled.
Where he could usually see the meadow outside his window, he now saw a massive army of the same Dark Stromlings he had just encountered marching upon Stratus Outpost. They had already penetrated the exterior defenses and were beginning to scale the wall of the Faction Tower.
"Call for help," said Brocktree, his voice wavering, "now."