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April 20th, Wednesday, 2022, 11.30AM

Guthrie Gallery of Energy Innovations, Freedom City University, Freedom City, USA


Adorning the Gallery's entrances were banners inviting readers to "SEE THE FLYING ALIEN PYRAMID!", strategically augmented with "Free food!", "Live music!" and "Meet Max Mars!" Whatever else could be said about him, in this case all those things were true.


Inside was an extravaganza of Max Mars' usual levels. The austere and functional layout of the Guthrie Gallery, a rotating exhibition of various energy sources from steam engines to a replica Omegadrone Power Pike, was coated in glitz and excess.


On one stage, up-and-coming rock sensation Frank Larrabee sang about the misty forests and mountains of his hometown, Emerald City, and of the unsolved mysteries they hid from wondering eyes. On another, acoustically-isolated from the rock balladeer, metal band Spydor acted out the War of Taranok and Scorvicious, and on a third pop idol Silvia "Silver" Moon and the Moonlites danced through a confrontation with hereditary illness and the stigma against the chronically-ill.


The technology making it possible for all three acts to be on at the same time without their performances interfering had its own mini-exhibit, replete with attractive salespersons. Booths pertaining to other recent inventions, including the Phobos V utility-phone, and advertising positions within MarsTech itself, packed the halls.


The free food ranged from buffet-style steam trays to onigiri to fresh-baked pretzels, in quantities sufficient to feed even a crowd of university students and guests with families.


And in the center, visible from all the arms of the Gallery, was the huge floating, pulsing nightmare of metal and stone that was the alien pyramid. A suite of technicians kept a careful eye on read-outs behind the cordon set up around the pyramid itself, a cordon guarded by smiling and uniformed representatives of Brande Mangement, a company so mysterious that all anyone really knew about it was that it hired superhumans as security personnel. 


In the shadow of all this, Max Mars, standing proud in his five-nothing frame cloaked in a resplendant red suit, held court and eagerly explained what the strange machine was and its ramifications. The crowd that had gathered filtered in and out, kept up to date everywhere in the Gallery on Max's endless patter through the P.A. system.


"This is better than gold, folks! A working alien spacecraft! If you think anti-gravity is for your grandkids, you're in for a shock! With this baby we've picked out planets NASA wouldn't have found for another 80 years, at least! A food replicator, a database of languages we've barely begun to scan, and this ain't even it's full size! Before we dug it up, the people in that Mexican village thought it was just another hill! This is our ticket to the stars, people! Without having to wait until Americatech deigns to grace us with the answers, we'll make our own!"


That last hit more of a sour note with the Freedom City crowd than it might have back on the West Coast. But Mars' other words, and the various gizmos around the central hall demonstrating the applications of this alien super-tech, left a much more positive impression.


"And best of all!" Max's grin seemed barely able to fit on his red-bearded face, "We've found the space jockey who piloted this thing! He's been trapped inside, for thousands of years, and you'll be here when he says his first words to us! So stick around, folks, enjoy yourslelves, and get ready for an outta-this-world encounter!"

Edited by Ari
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Miracle Girl


There was no way Casey Blankenship was going to miss this circus, for a number of reasons. To a journalism student interested in the sciences, Max Mars was certainly newsworthy, even though Casey found his personal style to be a little crass. The mention of the alien spacecraft in the fliers stapled to announcement boards all over campus set off a number of alarm bells as the type of high profile target some villains can't resist. And lastly no student can afford to pass up the promise of free food, especially one who had an appetite like Miracle Girl!


So Wednesday morning found her at the Guthrie Center, tote bag holding her textbooks and supersuit over one shoulder and plate piled high with pizza and fried chicken in hand as she prepared for Mr. Mars to inflict his discovery upon the gathered throng.


Jeez, this guy is obnoxious.

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Dancia had also been assigned to cover the whole thing, but it didn’t mean she couldn’t use the time fruitfully for educational purposes. She’d manage to wangle a plus one for Katie, her adopted twelve year old daughter, including a rather adorable press pass! It’d be something she could show off when she went back to Nicholson’s next week. Katie even wore similar clothes, a navy blue waistcoat over a white blouse.


With her mini reporter in tow Dancia made her way to the main attraction, worried about just what Mars had in store. She was looking to get some good phones to upload to the computers back at Thor island to see if the database had anything on this alien species. And if the situation took a turn for the worse she was always ready to step up as Triakosia!

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While Casey pulled her Tascam digital recorder and directional mic out of her bag, her amazing eyes happened to fall upon a familiar pair of figures.


Oh my God, is that...she got so big!


The blonde student expertly worked her way through the crowd toward Dancia and her adorable daughter, who she met when she did a summer internship with the reporter a few years ago.


"Hey there! Fancy meeting you two here!"


Casey was looking downright professional, with her hair pinned up and elegant glasses on. She wore a smart cardigan vest over a blue blouse, with grey slacks and sensible black leather shoes. Her big smile was quite infectious.

Edited by Heritage
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With a massive grin Katie gave Casey a massive hug, before remembering she was meant to be professional and look with all the seriousness a twelve year old could manage.


“Thank you for the cards Auntie Casey...” she leaned in to whisper conspiratorially “I got this great figurine of you, I think mom is a little jealous!”

Dancia rolled her eyes, temporarily distracted from her attempts to examine the mysterious object.


“We have a house full of the thing, I get all the pre-production models. Centurion (the Cat) keeps knocking them off the shelves!” she shrugged as Katie glared a little


“Great hearing...” she looked more seriously at Casey “Are you as concerned about all this as I am?”

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  • 2 weeks later...



"He's probably trying to see if they can fly, like the real thing," Casey joked after receiving her hug, expertly balancing her plate of food the whole time. "I don't blame him for being disappointed."


"Yeah, this stinks to high heaven," muttered the blonde heroine under her breath in response to Dancia's question. "I've been tempted to give it an x-ray scan, but I was nervous that might trigger some sort of automated response."

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Posted (edited)



A swell of musical crescendo that mixed all three acts into one shook the air, and Max Mars' voice rang out over the Gallery's public address system brimming with glee. 


"Here he comes, folks! Give a nice Freedom City welcome to our visitor from the stars!"


The uniformed Brande guards flanked a floating tube covered in multiple layers of metal-reinforced transparent polycarbonate, filled with some kind of cyan liquid that shimmered with an inner light. As the outer shields retracted, and the floating tube gently came a rest, what had been a dim grey mass resolved into a giant.


The skin was grey and textured like raw stone, the hands and feet both had seven digits ending in short talons. The head was bald, and eyes tightly shut in a noseless face. For whatever reason, he wore black boxer shorts.


A little hesitantly at first, but growing in strength, the gathered people applauded the incredible sight of a new form of life on Earth in the midst of the Anthropocene Extinction. Some people drew closer, though the Brande agents kept them at a respectful distance with a warm smile and cold eyes.


Max wasn't held back, however, and he thumped on the tube with a triumphant grin. "Let 'im out!" he told the agents, and with a gurgling rush the liquid drained from the tube, and the last layer opened up. 


The crowd quieted, staring intently either at the man himself or his image blazing on the screens throughout the Gallery.


The giant's eyes opened, blank and glaring white, lit from within by an otherworldly radiance. His hands raised, gripped the sides of his prison, moving slowly out into the air.


He looked down at the humans, face unreadable and hard as a mountain.


Max approached, holding up a thin wand, addressing the crowd, "This'll translate whatever he says into English! A miracle of MarsPyramid tecGRGK!" very suddenly Max was dangling in the grip of the giant, whose face had twisted into rage! With his free hand he grabbed both Brande agents by their heads and flung them through the roof!


"APE-THINGS OF KU-TAL!" roared the alien, eyes flaring with white fire as Max began to twist and warp hideously, and the people began to scream and run, "YOU WILL AGAIN BE MY SLAVES, AND SUFFER FOR YOUR REBELLION! THUS SAITH KU TU, THE ETERNAL!"


Flinging down Max, who had become some sort of red-furred jaguar-man that began to growl and stalk towards the gathered Freedonians, Ku Tu raised his head and shouted an alien word. 


Around the room, six giant stone heads that had seemed wholly decorative hummed to life, eyes glowing red and flying slowly but surely to block the exits!



Edited by Ari
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