The planet began to tremble with ever increasing intensity. Greg fell to his knees as the quakes became stronger and more frequent. He held his hands over his ears in hopes that he might not hear the deafening destruction of the planet around him. Greg's heart pounded in his chest. He could feel the ground underneath him begin to heat quickly.
A tear came to his eye.
"Where were the other Q-men?" he thought to himself. Greg questioned his judgement for leaving his comrades in their moment of need. He knew at the last minute that the J-Men were really explosive droids. In the heat of the moment he chose to punch his emergency beam-out-beacon-of-survival instead of trying to warn the other Q-Men. He told himself that if he had tried to warn them then they would all be dead. But in the back of his head, in the area where nightmares are bred, he felt pangs of heartbreak. He should have warned them. Q-Men stick together.
A terrible thunder boomed across the dusty planet. A wall of rock exploded and traveled like a tsunami towards Greg. He was paralyzed and powerless. The emergency beam-out-beacon only works once, and he used it to escape the explosion. He held his hands wide as he knelt, as if welcoming his fate...
"Todd!" excalimed Jeff, "Incoming transmission from Hubris Valhalla, er, New Sharlikiscalia."
"Put it on screen!"
"It is a PDF file, I will print it out... It says: congratulations Todd on bringing us to our new homeworld and killing Greg in the process! We see the rumors of your wit and intelligence have hardly done you justice. You are hereby commended by our people. Rest easy knowing you will always have a home with us." As Jeff read the file Todd's face grew into a broad smile.
"Finally! Someone appreciates my hard work!" Todd screamed happily. Jeff and Mike looked at each other uneasily. Todd was on yet another power trip.
Dave awoke only to find his eyes stinging with the pain of a thousand needles. He could not see and he blinked his eyes furiously to flush out whatever was causing the irritation. He stumbled around in circles as he frantically wished for the pain to stop. In his confusion he stumbled into Craig, who was unconscious on the floor. Stumbled is an understatement, as he really kicked Craig square in the gut. Strangely enough, this eased his pain.
"OW!" Craig shrieked, "what the heck are you doing!?"
"Nevermind..." Craig stopped arguing with Dave long ago about such trivial things as intra Q-Men bodily harm. "Where are we?"
"I don't know. The last thing I remember seeing is...Greg beaming away. Then a tremendous explosion" Dave's face was pregnant with thought.
"Could our emergency-beam-out-beacons-of-survival gotten us out?" Craig was at a loss for explanation. All he knew was that they should have died in the explosion. They all should have - it was the Q-Men way.
"Perhaps the J-Men beamed us out? Or a power surge in the cell force field displaced our matter? Or... Maybe Greg's annular confinement beam was dispersed in the explosion and we got beamed out too." Craig knew the answer to Dave's random musings. It was the last choice in the short string of possibilities.
"Back when I was in kindergarten we messed around with confinement beams and small explosions. We were trying to make a potato gun out of it. One day we ignited one off and bits of potato ended up all over the world. What a surprise to the sheep herder in New Zealand who had a potato chunk smack him in the forehead!" Craig laughed as he recalled his youth, he was a wily young'in.
"Amazing! But where are we now?!"
"We could be anywhere in the galaxy Dave. Anywhere at all! Not only that, but I am worried. We could be parsecs away and Greg has no doubt already gotten himself into trouble..."
Todd was gallivanting around the bridge of the J-Men ship in a Napoleon style hat he had replicated. "Onward you miserable fools!" Todd said in his worst French accent. Jeff and Mike jeered as Todd stuck his hand inside of his coat. This was getting out of control. "Maximum warp!!"
"Where the heck are we going?" Jeff questioned.
"Anywhere! I want to feel the deck plates rattle and the engines resonate as we pass warp 9.5!" Todd happily ordered.
"Todd, our ship can't go that fast. We can only achieve those speeds under extreme duress!" Mike screamed. Mike knew that power had gotten to Todd's head. It had happened before, but sometimes the screaming would bring him down from his certificate-induced high. But he seemed even more out-of-sorts this time.
Todd pulled his phaser out and trained it on Jeff. "Make it so..."
Dave and Craig had been walking for a short time in search for any sign of life on the desolate planet they had been stranded on. The situation was not looking good.
Dave lamented, "it's too bad that our implanted devices imploded in our beam out."
"Yeah, it has given me quite a rash." Craig itched at his arm until something caught his eye. There was a reflection not far away. This of course meant one of two things: very beautiful women with a signal mirror, or, more likely, water. "We need to head that way" Craig pointed at the reflection.
"Sounds good." The two Q-Men began their trek to investigate the reflection. It was not far away, and they soon arrived at the source of the glare. Dave ran ahead to see exactly what it was. "Water!!" Craig ran forward and the two quickly lapped up the luscious liquid. They lay flat on the sand, gluttonous from their water drinking. They were very content, until a metallic clanking sound caused them to stir.
"What was that?" Craig was worried. Metallic sounds never bode well in a War episode, and both Craig and Dave knew it. They looked around, surveying their surroundings. They saw a series of very beautiful women as they peeked around the corner of a large boulder. They looked strangely familiar, and they carried a signal mirror.
"Dave, Craig!" they all said at once. "Thank heavens!"
"Do we know you?" Dave asked.
"Of course! Remember the massage I gave you that night before your epic battle with the J-Men?"
"Linda! But I thought you were still on Hubris?"
"We were, but just as the Sharlikiscalinian ship was approaching a strange energy erupted from another planet and we ended up here... We don't know how. Can you help us?" Linda's face changed from the joy of meeting the Q-Men to sadness as the weight of the situation again hit her.
"We don't even know if we can help ourselves. We need to find Greg and save him, as he has no doubt gotten into trouble. We have to get out of here, yet this is just a desolate planet." Dave sighed slowly. "Only one thing is certain right now, that we will all stick together." Linda's face gently smiled. It was a smile that came naturally when she was around Dave...
Craig sat down on a rock to think of a way off the planet. Several Valhallans quickly came over and gently massaged his shoulders. Craig began thinking aloud. "How can we generate an emergency subspace signal?"
Greg was fully prepared to meet his fate as the tsunami closed in. But just as quickly as it had appeared it had shrunk away. A tsunami of equal size, but opposite phase had ran into it and canceled it out. Greg thanked his lucky stars for wave physics. But he was not in the clear yet. In the distance he could see more tsunamis forming. They were much larger than the ones he had seen before. Greg looked around him. Lava was bubbling up from the depths below. There was nowhere to go, and time was running out.
Craig had been slowly swimming in circles in the water when he had an epiphany of thought.
"Ah HA!" he screamed. Craig then proceeded to climb out of the water and run around naked screaming "eureka!". To everyone surrounding him it was an obvious duplication of Archemedes after he had discovered bouyancy in his bathtub. As he continued to repeat his mantra, Craig gathered several flat stones and piled them up at the waters edge. He then stood there until the water's surface became glass smooth. Craig cracked a wry smile.
"What is it?" Dave asked. Craig handed him a flat stone.
"You see that dead tree on the other bank of this lake?"
"You need to skip this rock three times in that direction" Craig explained.
"What is that supposed to do?"
"Just do it. And stand right here. Throw it when I say ready." Craig was obviously hyped up about his plan.
"One, two, three, THROW!" Dave's rock skipped the prescribed three times, but Craig's only skipped once before diving into the water. "oops..." Craig was red in the face. Not only had he not skipped his rock, but he was still stark naked. "One more time" Craig handed Dave another rock.
"Ugh!" Dave grunted, feigning effort. It was not a heavy rock. Both rocks skipped three times at an exact 45 degree angle to each other. The resulting waves on the water rippled out in circular patterns around the skipping points. At just the right moment they all coincided in the middle of the lake. An audible sound was heard, much like the clinging of a fork against fine crystal. The waves on the water had met and, since they were in phase, reinforced each other. The effect was so strong that it reached into subspace, sending out a signal echoing out in all directions from the planet.
Light years away a light blinked on in an abandoned ship. A console illuminated producing a wave analysis program. It was rough, but the advanced Digital Signal Processor filtered out the background noise to yield a clear reading. It was the ping of death. A frequency so specific that only Craig would know how to produce it. The console blacked out. The ship was again silent. Suddenly, every system powered up and went to maximum readiness. The ship was intuitive and knew what it had to do. The warp engines primed and engaged. It was a very fast ship, and it would stop at nothing to save the Q-Men.
"Todd, we are burning out our warp coils! We cannot keep this up!" Mike screamed. He hoped that maybe, just maybe, Todd would snap out of it.
"No! Never! We will take Moscow!" Todd replied. He then stunned Mike with his phaser and returned his aim to Jeff, who drove the ship ever faster.
"...actually I do have a knot in my back that has been giving me troubles." Craig cooed as Melody firmly, but lovingly, massaged out the muscle ache. Craig closed his eyes in ecstasy. When he opened them back up, they were on board the ship.
"What the? Craig, what ship is this? This doesn't belong to us!" Dave worried more about the violations of intergalactic law than their own well being.
"Nonsense! Remember that old Quadra 840AV I took apart? Well, I made a ship out of it! And boy is it fast!" Craig was happy to see his handiwork actually, well, work.
"Can we get to Greg in time?"
"Does the Pope wear a funny hat? Regular subspace drives work by folding space and then going through the folds to yield a shorter route. This baby turns space into origami. We will be there in five seconds thanks to Swan drive!" Craig hit the 'locate Greg' button.
The tsunamis closed in on Greg with bodacious speed. "...big hitter the Lama. And he turns and says to me 'Gunga la gunga' which means 'on your death bed you will receive eternal consciousness'. So I got that going for me, which is nice..." Greg was delirious with fear. So much so that he has turned to reciting old Caddyshack lines. He closed his eyes and awaited fate.
He opened his eyes to find a cafe mocha in his hand.
"Oops, wrong button!" Dave then pressed the 'beam Greg up' button and ignored the 'beam down mocha' button. Greg appeared in front of them with an angry expression on his face.
"I will get you you no good varmint!!" Greg was still in his Caddyshack world. He remained agitated until Betty came over and relaxed him with a massage and a piece of cheesecake.
Now, to find those no good J-Men!" Dave said. Craig nodded in agreement and punched the swan drive.
"Todd! Incoming ship!" Jeff said worriedly.
"Impossible! We are faster than any registered ship in existence!"
"Um, actually, we have slowed to warp 2. We have toasted our warp coils, we are sitting ducks. We can't run, and we have no available power for weapons or defense!"
"How could this be?!" Todd was visibly shocked.
"They are hailing us."
"Ding-dong. Q-Men! Uh, um, ugh, what are you doing dressed up like Napoleon?" Greg was dissapointed. His valiant speech-of-death had been interrupted, Todd's ridiculous costume had caught him off balance.
"Fools! I will crush your pathetic army!" Todd laughed heartily, as he thought Napoleon might have.
Craig caught on to what was going on. It was another one of Todd's 'episodes'. "Todd you forgot the three cardinal rules of existence!" Craig explained, "You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit in the wind, and you don't invade Russia in the middle of winter!" The Q-Men laughed as Dave hit the 'Ironic Death' button.
The J-Men were instantly transported to Hubris Valhalla, er, New Sharlikiscalia. The sharks lifted Todd up as a hero as soon as he arrived. Todd questioned why he was transported there, but nevertheless he enjoyed his popularity. Jeff kneeled by Mike, who was still unconscious. Jeff slowly shook his head at Todd. Todd just smiled.
"I'm king of the world!" Todd screamed in his best Leonardo DiCaprio impression. But as Todd smiled, a great force shook the planet. The planet quaked as a great electromagnetic pulse rocked the landscape. Every ship and device exploded as the pulse grew out of the star. Sharlikiscalia was instantly transformed from one of the most advanced societies in the galaxy to one resembling something out of Earth's stone age. Everyone was shocked, but the loss of all technology was the least of their problems. The sun which was formerly Hubris Valhalla was five seconds away from going nova. Supernova that is, huge explosion. Suddenly a Hallmark card appeared in front of the J-Men.
"Dear J-Men, You made your bed, now you must lie in it. Happy trails! - The Q-Men"
"Guys, I am sorry. I should have stayed, I should have warned you that the droids were going to explode..." Greg pleaded for forgiveness.
"Greg, the only reason we survived was because you beamed out! If you hadn't have hit your beam-out-button we all would have been grilled medium well in that little cell." Dave grinned as he spoke. It wasn't often that he got things to rhyme unintentionally.
"Yes, it's true Greg. You won the day." Craig stepped closer to Greg and put his hand on his shoulder as he spoke. Greg sighed and reflected for a moment.
"Thanks guys, I owe you one."
"It's cool. What are Q-Men for? Let's have some coffee!" And with that they all sat down for coffee and massages. Who needs Valhalla when the kind people of Valhalla were on the ship with you? In a small ceremony they rechristened the ship "Valhalla" and said a few kind words. They all kind of chuckled as they saw the first explosions of the old Hubris Valhalla sun take place. The J-Men would soon be no more.
To be continued....maybe.....