PHANTOM CRISIS Chapter 3: KRIS
“Cory, how are we holding up?” asked Allen
“We’re running on backup at 19 percent and fading fast. We’ll be dead weight in the air in 36 hours.”
Allen pulled at the topographical map in front of him, zooming in to a crater below. “Well… this is our extraction point. Our mission to retrieve Princess Randy, heir apparent to the Ergonian throne.”
“Who in hell would want to rule this piece of shit planet?” mused Kris.
“That’s not our problem” replied Allen. “But this is: Our forward thrusters are a bust running on auxiliary power. We’ll need to do a landing from our current position and trek about three kilometers to this crater, retrieve Princess Randy, get back to the Kibou and hope we receive an energy pulse from Lihue.”
“All in a day’s work right?” said Cory.
Rex shook his head. “I have a really bad feeling. I’m not picking up anything, human or ‘phantom’. Honestly, we don’t even know how old the distress call is.”
“You always have bad feelings” Cory replied. “Let’s just get down there quickly, investigate the extraction point, and rescue Princess Randy if she’s there.”
Allen closed the map and looked up at Kris. “You know what to do big guy, take shuttle 2.”
WHOOOSH! The shuttle’s rear hatch opened, and Kris’ hulking bionic body ventured forth. “Time to map this sucker out… Can you guys hear me up there?”
“Loud and clear, ready to burn a safe passage behind you” replied Rex. “How’s it look down there?”
“Fucking gnarly dude, one big shit colored desert. Picking up some seismic activity though.”
“I see that too. Be careful down there.”
“Yeah. Just trying to figure out if it’s geological or mechanical, there almost seems to be a rhythm -oh, there it is again.” A shimmery green wave lit up the ground and sped off into the horizon. “Like a field of corn back home…”
“Uhm, yeah. Rex, looks like the planet is covered in phosphorous. Phantom poop, maybe?”
“Well consider yourself the lucky guy who gets to breathe it all in first. Speaking of-”
“Yeah, you guys are totally good. It’s a little nitrogen heavy down here, but you non-bionics will breathe fine. Just don’t run around for too long.”
“I don’t plan to Kris. You about ready for your favorite part of the job? Allen’s ready to lock the argonic mass displacer onto your posterior tracer systems.”
“So you’re pointing the ship’s lasers at my ass. Duh, hahaha.”
“Well I am the science officer. Sorry.”
Kris laughed “All right boys, give me a three second delay. It is a pret-ty steep ascent.”
“Gotcha.” Rex quietly calculated the distance to surface ratio and entered his equation into the mainframe. “Good to go, Allen.”
Allen flipped the mapping console back to life and moved over to the weapons control center. “All right Kris, we’re good to go in T minus 10. Hope you said your prayers today.”
“Always do boys, always do…” Kris took a last look up above him at the twinkling lights of Kibou.
3 – 2 – 1
Kris exploded off the ground, viscerally bounding off towards the crater at full speed while his mechanically enhanced posterior whirred like a turbocharged kazoo.
Kibou’s lasers lit up Ergo’s sky in a perfect red beam, touching down about 20 meters behind Kris. The ground hissed and steamed out putrid green flumes as the laser engraved a perfectly smooth path in it’s wake.
“How we doing down there Kris?” asked Allen. “You need me to slow down the gun?”
“I’m good like the wind baby. Ain’t no stop -what the fu..?”
“Seeing some movement in my peripheral. Probably just debris falling from the trail.”
Rex moved over to Allen and spoke into the mic “I’m still not picking up any signals down there, you’re the only living thing down there.”
Kris clutched the cross he wore around his neck tightly. ‘Please no phantoms, please no phantoms’ His mind sweating out dread as the shadowy figures approached; keeping speed while inching closer and closer to him. ‘Damn it, I needed my horse binders today.’
“Feed me.. Feed me… Your soul” The ghostly voices grew from a whisper to a murmur in his ears.
Kris focused on the crater ahead of him ‘Come on you got this. Just about a half kilo more’
“Feed me.. FEED ME YOUR SOUL”
Kris’ skin went to ice as the dark entity pulled up beside him and reached into his chest.
“Jesus Christ! This is NOT in my head, not in my head!” Kris threw off his trench coat, revealing gleaming white barrels that protruded from his shoulders. “Kris to Kibou! I am engaging, repeat I am engaging!”
PSHOU! Blue laser light streamed out from the barrels, forming twin meter long blades.
Kris leapt off the ground and spun in circles, cutting through the darkness around him. “I think I got him, guys.” Kris glanced up ahead at the rim of the crater. “Oh shit!”
Allen’s voice cut through Kris’ panicked thoughts. “Engaging what?! What do you see? Kris you all right? Just 50 meters to the extraction point!”
“I got a… Jeez I got a big phantom in my way. This thing is fucking… I am talking Dino-huge.”
“Damn it! Need you to abort Kris. We don’t know what we’re up against. I repeat, abort mission and get back to the shuttle now!”
Kris clutched the cross around his neck again. “I’m breaking through guys, keep that laser on my ass!”
“Kris, no! Turn back. That is an order, turn back now!”
Kris squatted into the ground and leapt up into the air again, lashing a long electrified chain out from his left arm. “Hurricane Eye!” His elbow thrusters ignited, spinning him into a whirling sphere of lightning and blue lights.
“Feed me YOUR SOUL!”
Kris gradually spun to a stop and picked himself up. “Whoa..” He found himself in a well-lit grand hallway. Pristine white walls towered several stories high, etched with golden carvings of orchids, fruits, and doves. And the steady babbling of a fountain could be heard in the distance.
“At long last, my brave rescuer. Oh how long have I dreamed of this day.” moaned a tired voice.
“Uhm, his highness Princess Randy, I presume.”
“Yes.” Randy politely curtseyed. “But also known in some circles as -the Mexican.” Randy clapped twice and cued the sound of a brief mariachi intro. Kris puzzled over his host; a dark, gray-haired gentleman in an extravagantly puffy white cotillion-worthy gown. “Are there others or just you?” asked Randy.
“There are. I’m Kris, a Pathburner by trade, Man of God by hobby.”
“My how fascinating. You must tell me more about this “Pathburning” over dinner. Now come.”
“Let me just contact my ship first… Kris to Kibou. Target acquired, I am with Princess Randy.”
“Oh my, a target am I? How scandalous!” grinned Randy.
Allen’s voice crackled over the receiver “Are you safe Kris?”
“Yes, I think.”
“Thanks for making the path buddy. We’re all coming down now.”
Randy beckoned Kris again, lifted the front of his gown, and hurried off down the hallway towards the smell of hot tamales. “Yes, yes. The more the merrier, hahaha.”
… To be continued!
PHANTOM CRISIS Chapter 2: DAN
“Have you completed your analysis?” asked the curious lab coat, poking at the floating tetrahedron with her pen. “It’s a weapon” replied Dan. “Probably packing a 900 gigamass transnadium core, enough to light up our corner of the milky way.”
“Fascinating” she replied, clicking her pen closed and returning it to her pocket.
“Nothing fazes you does it?” chuckled Dan “Which is why you’re the best assistant I’ve had. Well, in this life anyway.”
“Would you like to expound about your past life, Doctor?”
Dan waved his hand in a deliberate circle, and the blonde bombshell holographic assistant disappeared into a strand of white lasers. “That will be all Penelope -no, wait.”
“Yes Doctor?” replied Penelope, as the lasers materialized into a hunky blue-eyed adonis in gym shorts. “Is this appearance preferable?”
“Very funny Penelope. Is there still no contact from Team WANG and the Kibou? They should have arrived at the extraction point hours ago.”
“I’m sorry Dan, but there has been no contact. I took the liberty of firing an ion charge to their hyper-exit coordinates, but there is no receipt of an energy transfer. My calculations indicate a 97 percent chance that the Kibou did not reach its mission coordinates.”
“Well that is a problem, for now. Penelope, kindly pulse some red light onto our little pyramid here?”
“Ah, the only color in the spectrum to survive the massive gravity of Andromeda’s L-Sector. Very well.” The room darkened, and a red glow beamed onto the tetrahedron. The metallic object spun violently in several directions, finally splitting in half to reveal a bluish cloud-like core.
“Help me. Oh help me please. Save me and my people.” came an unenthused voice from the spinning core. A dark and tired countenance slowly materialized. “Greetings, well-deemed subjugate. I am the most royal, quadruple-crowned, rare flower of the eastern Andromeda system, framed by comets and enthroned by stars, the aeon-spanning celestial beauty of renown in the galactic chronicles as…” Dan swiped a finger to the right of the image and the audio message sped up into an indiscernible squabble. “Fast forward” he chuckled.
“Ah, here we go…” Dan crossed his arms and leaned back away from the tetrahedron.
“…fiftieth but not more than 3rd runner up her Highness Queen of Princesses, Randy.” The little figure curtseyed and smiled for a moment. “My people lived peacefully on the desert moon of Ergo. While mining for resources, we uncovered a portal to another dimension -a phantom zone. Violent phantoms awakened, who feed on our life force and energy, depleting them to create more phantoms in their frenzied wake. Please I beg of thee, save me. I mean, us.”
Dan had seen this message several times before. Opening the curious little box had been no trouble, but something bothered him. Was it the nonchalant delivery of Princess Randy’s S.O.S? Or something far more sinister?
“Penelope, ready Cory’s ship for takeoff please -it’s much faster than mine.”
“The fastest cruiser on our planet, sir. Are we headed to Ergo to join the team? My analysis indicates that certain members of WANG are not mentally stable enough to meet you. Encountering their past may have undesirable effects.”
Dan gazed out the laboratory window. A celestial river of stars burned brightly in the clear skies over Lihue. He reminisced on that fateful night 150 years ago, when he was walking as usual to Wang Chung’s to help the crew clean up after a big birthday party. He could still hear the explosion that sounded like a thousand buildings collapsing, and feel the sting of the nitrogen blast that instantly froze Cory, Brian, Kris, Rex, and himself.
“My team will be ready, because they have to be.”
PHANTOM CRISIS Prologue & Chapter 1: ALLEN
2165 A.D. Team WANG, a reconnaissance and attack specialist quartet disguised as a terraforming outfit, are suddenly awakened from cryo-freeze when their class IV mining ship Kibou comes to a jarring halt four light years past the Andromeda system. This is their story…
“Weapons Specialist Allen of USS Kibou requesting an ion pulse immediately, do you read me Lihue? Do you read me? Our vibratronic receptors are locked to your coordinates and ready to be recharged. Do you read me?… Shit” Allen knocked a pile of smut magazines off the navigational board in disgust. “Fucking antiques”.
“Yes… but they are my antiques” came a voice from below. Kris pulled himself up from the little porthole and into the control room, his hulking robotic appendages jutting out from his priestly garb. “Reverend” quipped Allen, his eyes rolling in disapproval. “Soldier” seethed Kris. Allen hated being called a soldier, but there were more important things to do than renew an old quibble.
“Why have we stopped in the middle of god knows where?” asked Kris, as he eased into the navigational seat.
“I thought god was your specialty, Reverend.”
“You’d do well not to mock my spirituality, you Tweedle-dee mercenary.”
“Well fuck you too. Since you’re so damn busy why don’t you start waking everyone else up? And quote me some scripture instead of Lewis Carol, strengthens my… faith.”
Kris jumped out of his seat and sauntered off to the sub zero lab, muttering under his breath. Allen resumed his attention to the communications hub. “Lihue do you read me? This is Weapons Specialist Allen of USS Kibou, do you read me?” He peered out at the behemoth moon below him, swirling with earth-sized lightning storms and rivers of magma. “God help us now.”
“Holy shit!” laughed Kris. “Who the hell enters cryo-freeze with a full on boner?” he said, as he pulled out his communicator to take a snapshot. “Well that’s Rex for you” quipped Cory. “Too bad my eyes are still too frozen to see what kind of dream he was having.”
“You know he only dreams in brown” said Kris, laughing so hard his bionic posterior lit up in electric blue.
“That’s disgusting. But I think my vision’s coming to. Blue lights -we actually back on earth?”
“Hahahah! That’s just my robo-ass” replied Kris. “Oh jeez..”
A cloud of nitrogen misted upwards out of Rex’s capsule amidst the hissing sound of the frozen gasket seal being released. Rex coughed and stumbled out, rubbing his eyes and moaning. “Ah, my head hurts. I hate waking up. Over and over again”
“Ever since they found us right? I just wish I could remember” said Cory
Kris shook his head and flicked the other two on their ears. “You’re the only one who doesn’t remember Cory. We all worked at a bar together. Wang Chung’s. I was your boss for five years and-”
“Bullshit” called Rex. “He was not the boss, Cory. But it was a bar, and (sigh) I have to piss like a race horse.”
“Well maybe Cory can take you by the handle and-”
“Hey this is Allen, if you guys are all awake then get your butts up here and help me stabilize this floating piece of junk!”
As the three mismatched explorers lined up to the port ladder, Cory paused. “Wait, we have to wake the others.” “Who?” asked Rex. “You always say that. There are no others Cory.”
“No, there are, I just know it. But I can never remember their names or faces.”
“Well what do you remember?” asked Kris.
“There was a lot of anger. And that dream, I keep seeing that dream.”
Rex nudged Cory to move him along. “You mean the feather?”
“Yeah. I keep seeing that glittery feather in the spotlight, gliding down slowly onto an open stage. Then everything bursts into fire.”
“Basic!” replied Rex.
“What did you just say?!”
“I said ‘Basic’!… hmm, I don’t even know where that came from”.
“That’s it!” yelled Kris. “Cory’s right! Even I remember now. We’re missing someone, we need to find-”
“Brian.” Cory leaned onto a lighted control panel and sighed with relief. “I feel like a big part of my head just opened up, what a relief.”
“So where can we find this Brian?” asked Rex.
Cory lifted his hand and shushed Rex and Kris, ushering them to lean in closely. “Allen knows.”
Happy Halloween Dear Wangers,
This year we are doing something unprecedentedly special for all of you. The first bar IN HISTORY to present a 5-part space opera novella -”THE PHANTOM CRISIS”, starring your favorite Wang Chung’s bartenders! Here is a brief synopsis:
“Team WANG is hurtled into a 22nd century adventure of galactic proportions! What is behind the Phantom Crisis? Can the remaining humans on Earth and the peaceful moon Ergo survive? And will Dan, Brian, Rex, Kris and Cory overcome their differences and regain their memories in time to work together and defeat the Phantom King and his minions? Find out in the exciting original 5-part novella -”THE PHANTOM CRISIS”, only at WangChungs.com!”
Every day, starting today we will post a BRAND NEW chapter in this exciting saga. Be sure to follow and share it with your friends. The 5th and final chapter will ONLY BE AVAILABLE in print, and can be obtained physically at Wang Chung’s on Halloween, October 31st -Where you and your friends can personally experience the hair-raising wonders of… THE PHANTOM ZONE!