(Kirby) Free as in Freedom

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Since Rebecca’s having trouble getting online, she arranged for some interim entertainment for her loyal readers. As I understand it, she gave Kirby a few seeds before she went offline and, in typical Kirby fashion, he spun off his own yarn. Now, I’m posting it. Hopefully, everybody will be entertained and nobody will get hurt!

xxoo,
Hitherby Admin

It was a cold day, not unusual in this part of New York. A very short, but impeccably dressed man stood in a parking lot of a bar. The fading paint on the sign indicated that the proprietor was someone named Harry, but that’s not who the little man was looking for. He entered the establishment, casually running a finger across one of the grubby tables, and sighed.

“Nobody has any respect for cleanliness anymore. Everything’s always quick and dirty, slipshod. They could at least get a nice tablecloth, make it look presentable.”

Only one other customer was there at this early hour, well before beer-thirty in the afternoon when those that could leave work early would start to trickle in. He was a giant of a man, with both fat and muscle to spare. He was dressed in a motley outfit, pieced together from a hundred different bits of fabric, and held tight by an astonishing array of buckles, snaps, ribbons, velcro, and suspenders. He turns to face the smaller man, his demeanor downcast.

“There you are, ‘Mac,” the little man bows gracefully towards the giant. “I should have expected to find you at a place like this. Look, if this is still about that girl—”

“Vi.” The giant sighed melodramatically. “I just can’t stop thinking about her. She was so cute, and limber like you wouldn’t believe! She was the one, G.”

The little man laughed, dismissively. “She was a right unfriendly bitch, ‘Mac, and you know it. Moody as hell, too, remember? One day she’d be in command mode, barking out orders like she was the Queen of Egypt, and then you turn around, and she’s little miss tell-me-what-to-do. Besides, she was never going to be one of us, you know that, right?”

“But, but I loved her! We’d have made it work!”

The little man patted the giant’s arm consolingly. “No, man, I’m sorry. You just can’t win once it gets religious. Remember those two Indians we ran into, back when we were kids? They’re still not talking, got themselves two whole separate tribes that can’t even speak the same language anymore. You gotta let these things go, buddy.”

“But—”

The little man was saved from further outpouring of angst by a melodious sound from the devices each carried on his wrist. A holographic image of a skinny boy with thick glasses and wild hair appeared, projected from each. In stereo,

“Oh, good, Gnome, ‘Mac. We’ve got a code 500. Assemble back at the mansion, real-time!”

**

A gathering of multicultural individuals sat around the conference table, looking at a large monitor filled with hopefully pertinent information. An old man rolled in, in a futuristic looking wheelchair. He seemed to command everyone’s respect, as the conversations stopped. Behind him came a young man with brightly colored orange hair spiked up in a style that suggested action, dressed in orange and blue tights, with the symbol of some sort of abstract furry animal emblazoned across his chest.

“Hey, Ed, who’s the kid?” the Gnome asked.

Ed, the old man, spoke in short, choppy sentences. He sounded military. “This here’s Firefox. Trained by my pal Mo himself. He’s got some intel, on some save the world stuff. Came to us, instead of those flashy X-11 showoffs that the TV likes so much. Fox, this here’s my crew.”

He pointed to the short man in the dapper suit first. “This is the Gnome. Don’t judge by his size. Damn useful fellow. Likes things clean. Watch out for his feet, he’s got a mean stomp, man wouldn’t see it coming.”

Next, he pointed to the Giant, ‘Mac. “This here’s Emacs. That’s with a cs, not an x, no matter what you read in the Bugle. He can do just about anything, if you give him enough time. Real mechanical wiz. Hey, ‘Mac, sorry about my kid, eh, these things happen.” He didn’t sound terribly sympathetic.

Next, he pointed to the nerdy fellow, last seen as a hologram. “This here’s our search and recovery expert, Grep. Boy’s got more information than the library of congress and the search index of Alta Vista in his brain. A team’s only as good as its intel, and nobody can sort through it faster.”

Next, he pointed at a woman. She seemed a tad on the pudgy side, but she had a brilliant and friendly smile. “This is Perl. No a. Spelling is important on this team, you can’t spell, just go home to the big Lizard right now. She’s our linguist, she can charm a tax collector out of his pocket change in just about any language known to man. Hey, Perl, what’s that thing on your shoulder?”

She giggled. “It’s my cyber-parrot! Eventually, I’ll be able to interface with him, and be able to do just the most amazing things! I’ve got a spec for quantum superpositions already written, that will allow me to exist in multiple places at the same time! And he’ll be able to curry favors better than any construct ever devised, and the new grammar parsing is out of this world!”

The Gnome spoke up, “Don’t parrots usually have, I dunno, beaks?”

Perl looked stricken. “Well, he’s not finished yet. I’m a little behind schedule, if you really must know.”

“Yeah, yeah. So, what’s he do so far?”

Perl brightened up. “He can turn into a snake! He’s more snake-like than a real snake, for four out of seven criteria acknowledged by the American Herpetologists Association!”

Ed cleared his throat. “Anyway, yes, right, we all look forward to your upgrades, Perl. Next, we have—is that damn ghost in here?”

A whispery voice came out of the shadows, sounding as if it had come from beyond the grave. “Yes, boss.”

“Good. This is Ghost Script, espionage expert. Not much to see, and that’s the point. Can’t be a spy if they see you. Can you imagine ‘Mac sneaking into Redmond? Hell no. Anyway, finally, we’ve got Bison. Just what you’d expect, heavy weaponry and heavy hitting. Also a master at word games. We don’t accept mental midgets here.”

“Hey!” said the Gnome.

Bison laughed. He was pretty much your everyday anthropomorphic Bison with a minigun.

Ed finished, “So, them’s the Gnu Mutants. And you, Fox, what do you do?”

“Um,” the young hero stammered. “I’m just your basic Fire Blaster. I shoot things. With fire.”

“Ah, the classics, wonderful. Now, what’s this about SCO?”

Firefox looked around the room nervously. That acronym got everyone’s attention. “Right, um, we’ve recently learned that the Society for Creative Oppression is back, and planning a major attack.”

“Back?” asked Grep. “So soon? I thought the X-11 Men humiliated them so badly last fall, they’d never show their faces again! And aren’t they bankrupt?”

Firefox nodded. “Were. The google on the ‘net is, Big Bill’s funding this job.”

“Damn.” The Gnome pounded his fist into the table. “Bill Billionaire himself. I thought we had him tied up in court for the next six years, at least.”

Grep shook his head. “No, he’s all buddy-buddy with the new boys in Justice. Comp.os.watchmen has been warning about something like this for the last three months. So, what’s he got SCO doing this time?”

Firefox paused, for drama. It didn’t much work, but conventions must be maintained. “He’s going to launch an attack on Moon Base Penguin, while Linus himself is there presenting the FSF Grand Master medal.”

The faces twist into shock and panic, as Firefox adds, “If we don’t act now, LINUS WILL DIE!”

Be sure to pick up the next exciting issue of The Gnu Mutants! Will Linus be saved from the evil minions of SCO? Has Big Bill revived the Borg Agenda? Will the Galactic Protector League’s most bizarre offshoot team be able to turn the tide in time? Will Perl 6.0 ever be released? Guest starring Mo Zilla himself! Be there in 30, true believers!

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