Close Encounter of the Strange Kind

By Dangerously Psycho

     One day, the Strange Society was playing Frisbee when an event occurred which would change all of their lives forever.
     The Strange Society is a group of Niles West students on a mission of destruction. Their ethnic group consists of Sicko, who lives by the creed: To do, or not to do, THAT is the answer; Annoying, who hails from the land of the bagpipes; Dangerously Psycho, who owns more sharp objects than a one-step meat cannery; Drum Boy, who plays kettle on full kerosene drums; GOD, who puts the "ni" in divinity; and What DeHelizat, who can make ice cubes without water.
     On this particular spring day, a very important event occurred.
     "Burp!" belched Annoying.
     "Oh, do you mind?" shouted Psycho.
     "Yeah!" continued Drum Boy. "That was gross!"
     "That sometimes is!" proclaimed Sicko. "Especially when she's in the part of the month in which..."
     "Look out!" interrupted What. "Here it goes!" He gave a mighty flick of the wrist and the disk flew fast, far, and straight into the back of Psycho's head.
     "Ooof!" groaned Psycho, falling forward into the dirt.
     "Wonderful," assessed GOD. "Now you've killed Psycho. How are we going to finish our game with only five people?"
     "Oh, boy," groaned Psycho, rolling over onto his back. "The Frisbee must have screwed up my vision. Now all I see is a huge flying disc."
     "Now there's a twist," noted Annoying. "Someone screwing up Psycho's head even more than he has already."
     "Holy Bob! He's right!" shouted Drum Boy. The six stared in astonishment as a giant flying saucer cast a shadow over the lawn.
     "Is this going to delay our game?" whined Annoying.
     GOD stood silent, with a concerned look upon his face.
     "Wow," sighed Sicko. "Imagine the superior technology they must possess! Maybe they'll beam us up!"
     At that moment, a small plate on the saucer's bottom opened, and a small rope ladder was thrown down toward the six.
     "Well, that was a disappointment," assessed What.
     "Unfortunately, 'that' sometimes is," agreed Sicko.
     The group contemplated the situation for a few seconds before beams of light began firing from the ship, scorching patches of grass behind the teenagers.
     "Apparently, they want us to do something..." realized Drum Boy.
     "Was this just an act of hostility?" queried Drum Boy.
     "I do believe so," responded Psycho.
     "Oh, good. Then I'm justified in doing this." Drum Boy gripped the rope ladder, gave a tremendous tug, and swiftly yanked the craft out of the sky, pummeling it into the parking lot. "There. That was fun!"
     "That usually..."
     "Can we get on with our game now?" interrupted Annoying.
     "I don't see why not," replied Psycho.
     The six continued their game as the ship, shaking violently and impaled by a school bus, slowly lifted from the ground and floated out of sight.
     "Are you ok, GOD?" asked What five minutes later. "You seem somewhat shaken."
     "Um, yeah," lied the deity. "There's just an errand I've got to run at the Temple. I'll be back later." The teenager suddenly shifted out of reality.
     "He's gotten pretty good at that teleportation thing," noted Drum Boy, who was watching Sicko chase up a tree after the Frisbee. Suddenly, the tree fell to the earth with a crash.
     "Oops, sorry Sicko," apologized Psycho, brandishing his axe. "Didn't notice you'd already gone up there."
     "Don't worry, Psycho. You're a lumberjack, and you're ok."

     A few realities away, Jester sensed the Monty Python reference. "Did you feel something?" he asked Undecided, who was selecting a card to play.
     "Um, maybe. Well, no actually, but sort of. Um, then again..."

     Arrogant dusted the urn which contained the ashes of his fallen former accomplice, Drug Overdose. The Temple of Strangeness was not a vast place, but contained numerous items of interest. Beside this urn was another which held the pungent liquid which resulted in the defeat of Obnoxious and a third contained the processed sugar which once was the clone Hyper. On a different shelf, across from the plaque describing the Operation Destruction apocalypse, rested the Luna Pen, useful for its shape altering capabilities.
     In the center of the room, however, was the spectacle of most interest. Here, set within the floor, was a portal from which one could view the domains created by the gods of these nine planets, all except the Heavens where they themselves dwelled, and for the Bane World, which is sealed beyond the greatest of godly communication. Arrogant would often spend his time watching the developments on Earth in GOD's absence which would interest the Society.
     The event he had just observed did not concern him much until GOD himself walked into the Temple.
     "Hm, so someone has taken the time to visit me? How social," criticized Arrogant.
     "I trust you noted what we just faced down there," began GOD.
     "Naturally. It didn't seem to be too big of a deal. Why concern that great, godly head of yours, hm?"
     "Because aliens are outside of our league. The gods have no jurisdiction over creations we didn't create."
     "But..." Arrogant was utterly muddled. "I... I don't understand. If the gods didn't create those beings, who did? You can't be suggesting that the commanders of that craft created themselves! Wouldn't that make them gods, too?"
     "I don't believe that it's that severe," reassured GOD, "but my superiors are no doubt going to be unhappy that there has been intervention by another ring of deities during the proceedings of our apocalypse!"
     "Did you just say another ring of gods?"

     Two days later, the Strange Society was loitering in the lobby of a Radisson hotel. Annoying was busy calling the front desk from the pay phones as Sicko attempted to find companionship in the restaurant. GOD and Drum Boy were trying unsuccessfully to book rooms in their own names as Psycho browsed in the gift shop. What was standing by himself in the main foyer when a man in a trench coat, hat, and dark glasses approached him.
     "Pardon me, but do you know the variable speeds of cantaloupe launched into the heavens?" asked the man in a low, hushed voice.
     "It would be dependent upon the humidity and the barometric pressure ratios," responded What in an equally low voice.
     The man appeared to be dumbfounded and nervous. "I'm looking for my Soviet contact. You... wouldn't happen to be him or at least know the whereabouts..."
     What and the other members of the Strange Society dropped to the floor to look for the man's contact. In the sudden commotion, three foreign men on the other side of the lobby revealed machine guns and fired multiple rounds into the trench coat man. During the commotion, with numerous people screaming and running around crazily, GOD stood up and shifted from earthen reality once more. As the men with the guns sprinted from the building and the hotel manager was trying to calm the masses, What stood up with a small object.
     "I found it!" he proclaimed, holding aloft a single contact lens.

     Once again, GOD entered the Temple of Strangeness, this time to answer a call he'd sensed from Arrogant. There was an uneasy stillness in the air, something different from the usual calm of the isolated shrine. He could sense a greater power radiating from within. He, no doubt, had a visitor. Another god had lowered himself to speak with him.
     GOD entered and immediately noted Arrogant cowering in a corner, trying unsuccessfully to maintain some of his poise. The gods never appreciated arrogance in their creations, and although Arrogant was not created by them, GOD was certain that the clone's nature was not appreciated by whomever his visitor should be.
     "I see we're enjoying our second glimpse of mortality, Guardian?" spoke a voice familiar to GOD.
     "Ah, so it's Amura Kimi, patron goddess for those with relationship problems," greeted GOD. "What brings you to this troubled purgatory?"
     "Your existence is in more trouble than you may assume, Guardian," explained the guest. "I'm sure you recall the large, metal craft which confronted you and your bane allies."
     "Earthen creatures had been assured in scripture against the creation of extra-terrestrial societies. I therefore trust this was not the work of anyone from our ranks."
     "Your rank is still below mine, recent, and you'll do well to remember this," reprimanded the goddess. "You are correct, however. These beings were not our creation, nor were they the work of one of our creations."
     "Then it is as I feared. Did these aliens bring themselves into existence, or were there gods who had deflected from us eons ago?"
     "Neither is correct," responded the goddess. "They are the creation of a previously unknown clan of omnipotent beings."
     "THEN THERE HAVE BEEN OTHER GODS?!!" shrieked GOD. "But... how could this be? We created EVERYTHING! The universe, the planets, all life..."
     "We filled the universe. The multiverse, consisting of all universes, was here before we."
     GOD was awestruck by this news. Everything he had been told about his creation was a lie, and they all had known. Space itself had already existed! The gods merely took it upon themselves to fill in the void. And now, a rival tribe of gods was invading upon their terrain.
     "So what do we plan to do about these... um..."
     "They refer to themselves as eternalz," explained the goddess. "They had the drop on us, although the highest Circle of Seven disclosed after the encounter that they had already been aware of the threat, and watching from afar."
     Sure, thought GOD to himself. Of course they were aware. Wouldn't want to admit that these "eternalz" were aware of us before we were aware of them. Wouldn't want anyone to know that they may actually be superior. How many lies have been told?
     "We have consulted with the eternalz and discovered their motives," continued the goddess. "Their attempt was to have their standard creations capture what they perceived to be the most powerful creations of ours in order to show superiority to us and force us to submit. The aliens' instruments detected your human-enclosed banes to have the highest capacity of Earth's creations, and thus it was your allies who were confronted."
     "And about the eternalz?"
     "We have enacted an agreement." This came as a relief to GOD. Perhaps the pompousness of his benefactors would not motivate them to something of severe consequences after all. The goddess continued. "The single, strongest creation of the eternalz is to fight Earth's strongest creations. Our existences have been linked to our mortals, and intervention by an omnipotent being on any function of our Earth has been locked out for the duration of the encounter. When your Strange Society defeats their challenger, the eternalz will cease to exist."
     Never mind subtlety on the behalf of the gods. This was extreme. "And if they lose?"
     "If your mortal banes were to fail, we gods would vanish instead. We are awaiting our victory," responded the goddess.
     GOD wanted to explain how ludicrous this was. He knew that the human banes' true powers would not be unleashed until the human body had died, releasing the bane to the Earth. He also understood that their capacities were severely limited as human teenagers. He wanted to explain all this, but knew he could not, for the determination of the gods is great and fueled by their pompousness.
     "Is the link limited to we six?" questioned GOD.
     "Five, Guardian. You are perceived as a god and not to return to Earth or to intervene in any way. You will only monitor from here, as we all shall be watching."
     "Then how will my friends know...?"
     "The mortal banes have been foretold, just before the challenging entity was placed upon the Earth and the lockout enacted. It is now just a matter of time."

     The five members of the original Strange Table stopped short in the hotel parking lot as a sudden sensation fell over each. All five received a message. Following this, a comet fell from the sky, barreling to the Earth. This was just before the sky was swept over with a much deeper shade of blue.
     "I'm guessing that we just experienced the lockout..." muttered Drum Boy. The five remained silent, contemplating the moment. Then Annoying began to laugh loudly.
     "There can't possibly be anything funny about this," stated Psycho.
     "I just realized that this means we're stronger than Dude!" guffawed Annoying.
     "Odd," acknowledged What, "Dude is a bane without human shell, and Cello Girl has strong abilities, too. Why did they only choose we who were born human?"
     "I don't know, but I don't like it one bit," concluded Psycho.

     The Saiyanesque pod opened in the crater it had made in the marching band practice field at Niles West High School. A black mist emerged and took shape as a tall, dark, wispy figure. The being stood erect, surveying the area around itself. After two minutes of careful analysis, a large man lumbered quickly toward the site.
     "What are you doing, deviant?" demanded Mr. Puff. "Damned vandal! I want to see your ID!"
     The figure glanced over to this hostile being, and sensing potential in him, dissipated and floated to the man.
     "What the hell... Where did...?" Puff's words were cut short by the possession of the alien creature.
     "Ah..." began the alien, now within Puff and controlling his actions and voice. "Earthen society... English language... Conformist Device? All of this knowledge will be useful in defeating... the Strange Society, I guess they are to be called. This defensive body will serve we well until I can take the body of one of them!" contemplated the alien.

     "How are we going to approach this?" questioned Psycho.
     "We have to find and destroy this creature quickly," determined What. "The longer it has to roam, the more it may learn. We have the advantage, but only if we hurry."
     "We've taken on the worst of creations in the Bane World," noted Drum Boy. "This shouldn't be too different from old times."
     "This will be plenty different," explained Psycho. "We aren't banes, we're human and susceptible to human deaths. Whatever this creature is was created by deities who created their own, entirely separate cultures. This being will be nothing like any opponent we've ever seen!"
     "Is this going to interfere with Operation Destruction?" whined Annoying.
     "Operation Destruction is the least of our worries, numskull!" shouted Drum Boy.
     "Actually," intermitted What, "It is a priority. Whatever damage this alien causes, even if we manage to defeat it, could severely harm the success of our destined apocalypse. This is why we have to hurry."
     "But how do we find where the alien, heh, touched down?" asked Sicko.
     "My guess is that Dude is already on it," responded What.
     "Then quick, everyone, to the Protractormobile!" shouted Annoying.
     "Huh?" replied Drum Boy.
     "Take the nearest parked car, and hot-wire it," explained Annoying.

     Dude was tinkering with antennae and a large monitor when the Strange Society entered his bedroom.
     "Dude!" greeted the technician.
     "I trust you're aware of the importance of the comet which crashed nearby about a half an hour ago," stated Psycho.
     "D-dude, du-d-dude, dude, du-du-d-du-dude, dude..." responded Dude.
     "The fate of all life depends on our defeating this creature," explained What. "We need to know where it landed, and if you have anything which may help us defeat it."
     "Du-d-du-d-dude!" shouted the technician. Dude flipped a switch. and the east wall of his room lowered to reveal a large, metallic tank with numerous turrets and weapons.
     "Wow! Great!" shouted Drum Boy. "But how do we get it out of you house?"
     "Du-...dude?" Dude's expression suddenly turned sour. He quickly pulled out a blueprint of his house and began sketching a ramp to his bedroom.
     "Just let us know where this alien is," suggested What.
     "Du, du-dude, du-dude, dude, dude."
     "Oh, naturally," replied What. "C'mon, guys. We're off to the high school!"
     "To the Protractormobile!" shouted Annoying.
     "Just hurry up!" commanded Drum Boy.

     Jim Puff sat in his cramped security office sorting through various files.
     "No names or photographs... it looks as though the Strange Society is going to have to find me." remarked the alien. "I'll be able to sense their approach, no doubt, but I wish I had more to go on."
     "Jim?" Principal Dr. Roger Stein stuck his head into the small office. "Have you finished those locker assignments yet?"
     Mr. Puff's eyes shone with a red glow.
     "I guess now isn't a good time." The Principal scampered away.
     "It's just a waiting game now," concluded the alien.

     At the practice field, a red GTO hurriedly wrapped itself around a tree, sending shrapnel and the KAHNMAN2 license plates flying in all directions.
     "This is the last time we let you drive, Psycho," determined What.
     "Well, I got us here, didn't I?" Psycho pried the door open with his axe and the five filed out.
     "Hey, this crater wasn't here before!" noted Drum Boy.
     "Sure it was. Remember, half the flute section fell in and was never able to get out," argued Annoying.
     "No, you're thinking of the pot hole over there." Drum Boy pointed to another gaping hole in the practice field.
     "Oh, yeah. I guess this is a new one."
     "Heh, heh," laughed Sicko. "We're talking about holes."
     The five approached the smoking crater. "It sure is big," noted Sicko, who then went into a gigantic fit of laughter.
     "The pod's open," observed Psycho. "I don't think the creature's here anymore."
     "Everybody brace yourselves, it couldn't have gotten far," suggested What.
     The five stood their ground and faced each direction, except Sicko who was rolling on the ground, laughing.
     Drum Boy spoke up after a few minutes. "This isn't getting us anywhere."
     Sicko, still rolling around laughing, fell into the crater. "Ouch! Oh! This thing is hot!" He scrambled back up.
     "Hey, wuddiz this?" questioned What, picking up an object which glinted in the sunlight. It was a large, broken flashlight. "This is Puff's."
     "The alien got Puff?" hypothesized Psycho. "Oh, well."
     "It must be on the move. Maybe we should search the school," suggested What.
     "Yeah, and maybe McDonald's will introduce a new blue milkshake," added Annoying.
     "Wuddahell does that have to do with anything?" asked Drum Boy.
     "That has plenty to do with everything!" laughed Sicko.
     "In any case, let's do something," offered Psycho.
     "My thoughts exactly," returned Sicko.
     "How're we going to know wuddiss thing looks like, anyway?" questioned Drum Boy.
     "We'll probably know when we see it," answered What. "It won't look like anything common to Earth."

     Mr. Puff wedged his girth through the CAF doors and produced the key to the vending machines. "This body has many privileges, but requires too much energy to move very far," noted the alien. "I'll be better off positioning myself in one place. But first..." The vending machine's glass door popped open. "If this body has one weakness, it's the dependence on carbon replenishment." Mr. Puff began to devour the contents of the vending box.

     SNAP! The pool hallway entrance to the school gave easily. Psycho put away his crowbar and produced his trademark axe. He rushed into the building and turned about, facing all directions. "Well, it doesn't look like there're any blobs in here," he announced to his comrades.
     "Psycho, why are you so hell-bent on this thing being the Blob?" asked Drum Boy.
     "Darned creature gave me nightmares as a kid," explained Psycho, "along with the Return of the Blob, Son of Blob, Watch out, it's the Blob, and that late 80's remake of the original. Of course, in that one it wasn't even from space. An axe wouldn't work on those creatures. Had to freeze them. Even Duke Nukem couldn't outdo that classic theatre scene..."
     "Oh, nasty!"
     "Psycho has a point, you know," spoke What.
     "About the success of the theatre scene in The Blob being unparalleled in cinematic history?" asked Annoying.
     "No, about the possibility of our Strange powers failing us against this being. Who's to say it can't be pierced with a blade, confused, disgusted, annoyed, or exploded? How would we handle the situation then?"
     "Or even worse..." began Psycho.
     "Yes?" prompted What.
     "Wuddif it's invisible?!"
     "Oh, never mind. Psycho, you have the most complex structure of a simple mind I've ever encountered. Let's just keep moving." As Psycho tried to reason whether or not this was a compliment, the five began their search of the building.

     Beyond the reaches of the Earthen realm, Jester and Undecided were still playing cards.
     "Dammit, will you PLEASE make a move? It's been weeks!"
     Undecided continued to ponder his hand. "Um, well, if I... no, but perhaps... yes, of course! Not. No... um, well, maybe..."

     Sicko began his search right there in the gym as the others dispersed throughout the school, trying to locate their alien adversary. He decided the best way to survey the entire gym would be to climb to the gymnastics area on the balcony and to challenge the ceiling-mounted rope. Reaching the top and spotting nothing, he shimmied up and down the rope repeatedly.
     Or at least he did until he got stuck.

     What decided that the easiest way to find an alien was to consult the locals. He made his way to the loading dock to speak with the janitors.
     "Have any of you guys seen an alien?" he questioned.
     "Hey, Miguel paid good money for his green card!" snapped a member of the janitorial staff.
     "No, I mean the one which crashed down in the pod out front and wants to kill me now, even though we haven't even met!"
     "What on Earth are you talking about?"
     "No, it wasn't on Earth until about an hour ago, and if I wanted to sit and talk about myself, I'd go to a psychiatrist."
     "Soy sauce?"
     "Let me get this straight... you're asking us if we've seen a hit-man from another planet?
     "It must be around here somewhere," replied What.
     "Well, we'll keep an eye out for ya'," promised the janitor.

     Drum Boy traversed the entire length of the school's first floor and climbed the stairs up to the third floor science wing and the chemistry lab.
     "Well, I haven't seen any alien, but maybe I can put together a biological weapon to help me in case I do run into it. Let's see what we have here... Bunsen burner...butyric wing's ventilation intake grate..."

     Annoying, typically, found his way to the PA system room in the main office.
     "Attention all aliens!" he addressed the building. "Surrender yourselves immediately. Submit to the Strange Society, or answer to Super Protractor Man! Resistance is futile! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE...!!!" He emitted a high-pitched shrill which reverberated throughout the school.

     Puff smiled. His prey was searching for him. It would not be long now.

     Dr. Stein sprinted out of the second floor science wing, desperately trying to shield both his nose from the pungent stench from the air vents and his ears from the deafening shrill of the PA speakers. Rounding a corner, he nearly toppled over the entire janitorial staff on hands and knees, vigorously scouring the hallway.
     "I'm glad I've found you! The vents and the PA are both on the fritz, and the vending machines are unlocked and empty! Why are you all here on the floor, anyway?"
     "We're looking for aliens, Dr. Stein."
     "Aliens? What the hell are you talking about?"
     "No, for What DeHelizat. They're after him."
     "I'd... rather not know." Dr. Stein began to run for the main office to figure out the PA system for himself.

     Dangerously Psycho entered the school library on the second floor. Certain elements became apparent to him immediately. First, there was a partial footprint on the carpet composed of dust resembling that near the crater. Second, there was a faint scent and warmth in the air indicating another presence in the room. Third, there were books thrown all about the place and the PA speaker had been torn from the ceiling.
     "Ok, alien scum, show yourself!" Psycho made his demands with a brandished axe.
     "One of those Strange Society deviants, I assume?" The voice was unmistakable.
     "Mr. Puff? Well, apparently the alien didn't kill you. Did you get a good look at the thing?"
     "Oh, I'd certainly say I did," spoke the head of security with red, glowing eyes.
     "You... aren't Mr. Puff," muttered Psycho, blandly.
     The very large man rushed toward Psycho, who vaulted out of the way with his axe. The moment he landed, Psycho turned and struck Puff in the back of the head with the blunt edge of his weapon.
     "You can abuse this man's body as much as you want, enemy," spoke Puff. "I won't be in possession of it much longer, and my consciousness will not black out as easily as his would. I can experience the stimulus of much, much more pain than this."
     "Ah, so we're body snatchers and not blobs. I must say I'm disappointed," confessed Psycho. "Now, you must die!"
     "Like I said, this body won't be mine much longer!" Puff charged at the boy once more, who leapt back and against the wall. With a quick movement of the arm and another lateral jump, Psycho triggered the building's fire alarm and avoided the next charge. Before he could regain his footing however, Puff had made his way to the boy and jabbed a pressure point on his arm previously unknown to Psycho. With a sudden shout of pain, Psycho dropped his axe which embedded itself into the floor. He stood, gripping at his sore limb.

     The other four human banes ran outside, not for the threat of a fire, but for the understood significance of the alarm.

     "Where in the hell did you learn this?" demanded Psycho, still gripping his forearm.
     "Books, of course," explained Puff's captor. "I now have all the knowledge of James Puff and the authors of these book you see on the floor. Now I'll have the knowledge you possess as well, along with what you know of your friends and their weaknesses!"
     "You're not getting it without a struggle!" Psycho backed up to the window overlooking the school bus pickup circle.
     "No, I suppose not." Puff charged the teen once more with glowing eyes, crashing through the glass and sending both bodies plummeting to the ground.

     One by one, the other four of the former Strange Table approached the place where Puff and Psycho were laying, both cut by numerous glass shards and bruised from the fall. When one of the bodies stirred, it was Psycho who picked himself up from the ground.
     "Psycho, are you ok?" asked Drum Boy. "Is it over? Had the alien taken Puff's body?"
     "N-no... no, it... it was a blob," answered Psycho monotonously.
     "But then why did you and Puff fall out of the window, and just where is the alien?" asked Sicko.
     "Um, I did kill it... it's... all over," stammered Psycho.
     "It must have been quite a fall..." noted What, looking displeased.
     "Fall? Oh... yeah. Falling is bad. Bad."
     "Well then..." Annoying was interrupted as Psycho emitted a loud yelp.
     "Ouch!" panted Psycho, who had jabbed himself in the arm. "Damn you!" he growled.
     "You're concentrating too hard, you realize," began What.
     "H-how do you mean?" Psycho looked more composed. "I'll be ok, let's go... hunting, or whatever."
     "Trying to suppress Psycho's consciousness. He has too many, not just one as you'd assumed from Puff. After such a fall, it should be easy to inhabit a mind which should be unconscious, but Psycho can take quite a bit of pain as you now realize. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, and when Psycho jabbed himself in the arm, yours shone red."
     The alien gathered himself. "So I've been discovered. I hadn't counted on your finding me so soon, you must realize. I gain more control by the moment, and have already suppressed him completely. So go ahead and battle your leader, I don't even have his axe. All I need is this boy's knowledge!"
     "Does this mean the world's doomed?" whispered Annoying.
     "Apparently so," replied Drum Boy.
     "If it's knowledge you want," addressed What, "then it isn't Psycho's body you seek. I possess the most knowledge of our individual potentials. Also, if mind control is your ploy, I can achieve such results without leaving my body. Strategically, with the possession of my body and mind, you could rule this world with minimal effort! Just refer to Psycho's mind if you don't believe me."
     "I sure hope you know wudder doing..." muttered Annoying.
     "Well... you're telling the truth, anyway," confirmed the alien. "All right, then. I don't know what you're planning, What DeHelizat, but I definitely have everything to gain by it. If you think I can be stopped outside a body, you're sorely mistaken. Fool! If what Dangerously Psycho believes about your mind capacity is correct, my power will triple by this!"

     Dr. Stein staggered to the scene. After the encounter with Puff, vending machine mystery, PA malfunction, science wing ventilation mishap, fire alarm, and discovery of smoking crater in front of the school, the realization of the broken window didn't surprise him at all. However, witnessing a dark vapor emerge from one of the teenagers' glowing eyes and envelop another boy prompted him to look down at the cup of coffee in his hand, ponder it, dump it out, and walk away, babbling to himself incoherently.

     As soon as Psycho was free of the parasitic alien being, he frantically used his newly regained voice. "What, don't allow it to do this! Are you mad?! How will we ever hope to defeat it then?!!"
     The black mist encircled What and entered him through his eyes, eyes which began to shine red. A smile crept over his lips, but suddenly the expression changed to shock as the eyes faded to be totally white. What closed his eyes for a full minute, and then...
     What opened his eyes, which were now in their original state. He smacked his lips. "Delicious!"

     As the word was spoken, the sky lightened to its original blue. A voice spoke from above. "It looks as though your doubts were unsubstantiated, Guardian," spoke Amura Kimi.
     GOD materialized before the five teenagers. "What DeHelizat, Interrogative of the Bane World, Bane of Mass Confusion of the components of logic, comprehension, and modesty. With your bane locked within your human body, inviting the nemesis within was the only way to challenge it. Within each of you is a being so powerful, a deity would have to be insane to create it, and indeed the creation of the eternalz which focused on the mind could not compare to our Bane of Mass Confusion.
     "So it's all over, then?" asked Drum Boy.
     "Completely," assured GOD.
     "Well, then, if we're through being hunted, I'll retrieve my blade and we'll hunt something different!"
     "Are you sure you've recovered from your fall?" asked What.
     "And why not?" asked Sicko. "I always recover in seconds, standing straight and tall immediately. Why shouldn't Psycho?"
     As he sought his weapon, the rest of the Strange Society walked past Puff's unconscious body and rounded the impact zone in the marching field. There, the emergency vehicles which had arrived to stop the signaled fire were investigating the smoking crater. Dr. Stein was there, too, pleading with paramedics to "take him away."

     Hunting was great on this particular day, even though Psycho never did find a blob.

     The pilots of the alien spaceship who'd been watching the Earth fled from the galaxy in horror. Their creators had now vanished. They were suddenly alone and without their champion. Their only hope would be that the gods of Earth would neglect to wield the same destructive power upon them which their eternalz had planned for Earth.

     "Just play a stupid card!" pleaded Jester.
     "Oh, sure." Undecided played his entire hand in one move. "There, my win. Play again?"
     "Sure." Jester gathered and reshuffled the deck.

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