The following are excerpts from the comic book series "The Foundation Force Five". Investigations into the publishing company, "Super Comics Publications", are ongoing; however, so far no useful information has been gathered. Any personnel who find an issue of "The Foundation Force Five" should bring it to a staff member with level 4 security clearance or higher, and excerpts of each individual issue should be catalogued here for quick reference for research staff.
"Damn! Do they ever stop?!" shouted The Bodyjacker, deftly kicking yet another Mister Defender in the chest, sending it toppling backwards into the crowd. The gargantuan guards continued their assault on the team, stomping their way into the fray to try and crush the increasingly tired intruders before them.
"Just a little more, Bright! Wondertainment will show himself soon, I can feel it!" Chowderclef replied boldly, secretly doubting his own words. Even though they had been invited by Wondertainment himself, Chowderclef now wondered if it was a trap, a practical joke made by a reality-bending manchild.
Suddenly, the horde of Mister Defenders stopped attacking. They stood perfectly still, assuming their standard "product" pose, arms locked to their sides and standing ramrod stiff. The five heroes stood at the ready, confused but prepared for whatever the mad doctor threw at them next.
Then they heard laughter. Distant at first, it grew and grew until it filled the room, a laugh that was less maniacally evil and more genuinely entertained. "Clef," said Zero One, deadpan as always, "I believe our host has arrived." "He should be showing his face," growled Comrade Gunkill, still worn out from the fight with the Defenders. "Only coward mocks enemy without looking into their eyes."
" 'Coward', Comrade?" came the response, echoing around the room. The voice was high-pitched, direct but not angry. "Is it cowardice to find amusement in your exceptional abilities? To know that you really are as strong as I have been lead to believe?" With a flash, Doctor Wondertainment materialized in front of the team.
What a strange being this Wondertainment was! He was tall but thin, wearing a purple and yellow suit with a top hat on top of his head. He had black, slightly thinning hair and pointed ears, but it was his face that really gave away his alien nature. He had a pencil mustache just above a grin, a horrible, impossibly wide grin that seemed to stretch clear off his face, with yellow eyes that stared unblinking at the valiant heroes. "I hope my appearance doesn't distract you too much, I only took this particular form to make you comfortable."
"You have exactly five seconds to tell us what the hell you want with us before we rip you to shreds." said The Bodyjacker, angry that this reality bender would insult them with sentiments of "comfort" after sending a legion of absurdly large juggernauts after them. "You send for us, and then you attack us without any provocation, without any warni—"
"A test, Bodyjacker, a mere test!" interrupted Wondertainment, his smile still plastered on his face. "I have a request of you, and I wanted to know you would be able to handle the job!" "What sort of 'job' did you have in mind?" Femme Fatale asked, genuinely curious what a being of Doctor Wondertainment's power needed from them.
"You are familiar with the Factory, correct? They are sadly the largest collection of losers and fun-suckers this universe has ever seen, and now they are branching out and encroaching on my territory. They have stolen the blueprints to one of my upcoming products, and I need YOUR help to get it back!" Wondertainment declared, walking around the group but never breaking eye contact. "I am prepared to reward you for your efforts, should you accept."
"A reward, huh? What kind of reward?" Chowderclef asked, skeptical that this Wondertainment would give them anything they actually wanted.
"In exchange for your help, I will turn myself over to the Foundation for one day. One whole day where your people can do whatever it is they do to…what do you call them? Anomalies? They can run as many tests and ask as many questions as they want, and I will not lift a finger to stop them. How does that sound?"
The team pondered this for a moment. True, Wondertainment could be lying, but they knew the O5 council would have their heads if they passed up an opportunity to bring the nebulous Doctor Wondertainment into custody, even if it was only for one day. Even if it went against everything they believed in, the team knew there was only one way they could answer.
"Alright, Wondertainment, you've got yourself a deal."
Wondertainment happily clapped his hands. "Excellent! I knew you'd see it my way! I'll give you the location of the Factory's outpost that's holding my blueprints, and I'll leave the rest to you! Now remember, you must bring the plans INTACT. I don't want to have to do all that brainstorming all over again!"
With a puff of smoke, the mysterious doctor and his army of Mister Defenders vanished, leaving only in his place a plain white notecard. Chowderclef bent over to pick the card up, turned it over, and sighed.
"Pack your bags, team, because we're off to the tundras of Antarctica!"
FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF FOUNDATION FORCE FIVE: INTO THE HEART OF THE FACTORY!
Chowderclef grimaced in anger. For the first time in his life, he couldn't think of any way to escape, and worse still he knew Reptillious knew it. Even so, he had to keep a brave face on for his team, and to show the vile lizard that he would never give up. "Look at you, you pathetic little gecko. You think these chains will hold us? You're delusional! The minute you turn your back on us we'll be free and ready to kick your scaly ass back to whatever dimension you come from!"
"Dream on, Chowderchump! You and your squad are no match for me! Look at you all: bound, helpless, unable to stop the destruction of your pathetic little race! I could kill you right here, right now if I wanted to…but I won't. Now that I have the upper hand, I think I'll torture you for a while!" Reptillious laughed, knowing full well that he had won. "I'll make you watch as your world burns, and all the while you'll know that you were their last chance at stopping me, pitiful as you are!"
"You're WRONG, Reptillious!" shouted Femme Fatale, pulling against her restraints. "Even if we fail, the Foundation WILL come for you, and they'll recapture you just like they always do! You'll never win so long as the Foundation exists, and you know it! You should just give up no-"
"SILENCE!" roared Reptillious, furious that this disgusting bag of flesh would dare suggest that he was weaker than their miserable species! "I am INVINCIBLE, a physical god! Your Foundation captured me once, it is true, but that was their ONE lucky break! It will NOT happen again!"
Reptillious marched over to the bound heroes, rage emanating out of his every movement. "Do you know how I've managed to stay alive for so long? After all, you barbaric monkeys put me through hell, trapped me in acid to burn me alive every second of every day! Impossible pain that would cause lesser creatures than I to simply curl up and die! But I didn't! I survived, that pain is what fuelled my survival, for I knew one day I would have my revenge, and that day has come!"
"And what kind of revenge do you have in mind, you svoloch?" spat Comrade Gunkill, glaring at Reptillious through his one unbruised eye. "You cannot possibly be believing that you alone will be able to kill all of humanity!"
Reptillious paused, and then grinned a sickeningly wide grin, showing off rows upon rows of incredibly sharp teeth. "Right you are, dalbayob. Powerful as I am, there are simply too many of you apes to take on alone. Of course, you are assuming that I will BE alone!"
"What are you getting at, Reptillious?" asked The Bodyjacker, unsure if he really wanted to know the answer.
"During my escape, I happened upon some very VALUABLE information, the kind I'm sure your Foundation would NOT want me to know." Reptillious turned his back on the heroes, still grinning to himself. "It's a funny thing, really, how your Foundation will lock down relatively harmless objects with out a second thought, but will only post one or two guards to protect very useful objects that anyone with the right strength and aptitude could easily access."
"Such as?" queried Zero One, his face expressionless despite their predicament.
"Such as your little operation in the Dolomites mountains."
Immediately, all five of the heroes snapped to attention, now knowing what Reptillious had planned. "Two…two…two…" murmured Chowderclef, breaking the silence that lingered and finally voicing the horror that had dawned in everyone's minds.
"And the primate gets it at last!" laughed Reptillious. "You see, I will not be alone, I will have the best company I could ask for: myself! Imagine it, Foundation Fools! One of me in every city, in every country, on every continent! The human race won't even survive a day once I put my plan into action!"
"You cannot be sure that your plan will work, Reptillious. You have no idea what 222 will do to you." said Zero One calmly, his words falling flat against the evil thoughts flowing through Reptillious' brain.
"If you wretched worms can use the coffins without dying, then I should have no trouble whatsoever! But I have delayed long enough to toy with you fools, I'm wasting time I could be spending building the army of myself. Farewell, meatbags!" Reptillious laughed in triumph as he left the heroes to their fate. Now alone, the five stayed silent, each trying desperately to come up with a solution but failing with each scenario. Truly, their situation could not be worse, and though they would not admit it, they were all afraid that this would be the day when the last line of defense for humanity failed.
IS THIS REALLY THE END OF HUMANITY? JOIN US IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF FOUNDATION FORCE FIVE: DRAGON TRIUMPHANT!
"You cannot be serious, Clef." said Comrade Gunkill, his eyes wide with a look of shock and dismay. "He is just child, bringing him with us would only end in tears! Please be reconsiderin-"
"I think I can handle myself just fine, Comrade!" interrupted Michael Plutonian, his entire body shaking with rage. "I'll have you know I am one of the top-ranked Galactic Police officers this side of the Milky Way, so I have a little more experience than you with these sorts of matters!"
Comrade Gunkill opened his mouth to protest, but Chowderclef cut him off. "He's right, Strelnikov. Even if his experience is imaginary, for whatever reason 1548 has set his sights on 'Mike' here and the only way we'll find out why is if we bring him with us. Leaving him here would only complicate matters further and raise the death toll even more. If anyone has any further objections, I kindly ask you to keep them to yourselves."
The team shuffled around awkwardly, but said nothing. Of course Chowderclef's plan made them feel uncomfortable, but none of them could argue with his logic. After what seemed like hours of silence, The Bodyjacker finally spoke. "Michael, can you tell us ANYTHING else that might help us figure out why 1548 is after you?"
"I've told you everything I know, and to be honest I want to know just as much as you." said Michael sadly, looking down at his feet in shame. "All I know is that Plasmox contacted the Galactic Police Department just eight days ago, and since then we've been scrambling to figure out why he's so fixated on me specifically."
"And the Foundation learned of this obsession at around the same time." remarked Femme Fatale, inwardly pitying the boy's predicament. It was bad enough that he would never recover from 232's effects, but now he had a hateful star after him, and if what happened in Chicago was any indication 1548 wouldn't stop sending its plasma soldiers until Michael was dead. "Clef, how can we be sure that 1548 will stop sending its forces to Earth after we leave?"
"I've told the Foundation to send a message to 1548, telling it that we're bringing Michael and to not attack Earth after we leave. Of course, I have no idea if 1548 will listen, so we can't really be sure. We just have to hope that the Foundation can handle things while we're away." Chowderclef lifted his arm and activated his communicator. "Gears, are the modifications complete yet?"
"The modifications to 1958 are complete, Clef. Though I do want to remind you that this setup is highly untested, and it there is still a high probability that we will not come close to light-speed travel." Zero One's voice crackled through the speaker on Chowderclef's wrist. "Are you sure this is our only option?"
"With what little time we have left, we have to make do with what we've got. Now sit tight, we'll be down there shortly. Clef out." Chowderclef closed his communicator, let out a small sigh of anticipation, and then faced his team. "You all know what the plan is, and I know the stakes are absurdly high, as are the dangers. If any of you want to stay, I completely understand."
"And miss out on all the fun? In your dreams, Chowderhead!" replied Crow, smirking as best he could. "Besides, I hear the stars are lovely this time of year!" The rest of the team smiled at their canine companion's lighthearted comments. They were all sure that they would be facing 1548 together, as a team.
"Well then, everyone, let's go show that overblown nightlight why you DON'T mess with Earth!"
CAN THE HEROES REALLY DEFEAT THE VILLAINOUS PULSAR? FIND OUT IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF FOUNDATION FORCE FIVE: CRAB NEBULA OR BUST!
"And that's where we stand, gentlemen," Lord Blackwood said.
"Gentlemen?" Femme Fatale asked quizzically, her hands on her hips.
"Beg your pardon, ma'am," replied the mustachioed man in khaki. "I'm not so accustomed to the presence of a lady under these circumstances. In any event, our time to act is running out. The Czar's men have acquired some sort of ring that controls the weather and can change the fundamental composition of the elements. If we don't stop them soon, Constantinople will be theirs by dawn - and of course, if that happens, I fear that your time-boat, and your means of egress to your own century, shall be out of reach."
"Impossible!" Comrade Gunkill shouted. "Russians are real men! No need for 399 to win battles for them! Must be Chechen trick!"
"Quite probable indeed, Comrade," Zero-One scolded. "Foundation archives report that use of anomalous artifacts during Crimean War was widespread among Russian forces. Recall account by 1867 in our own time of battle with Thaumaturge? Happened only two months before our arrival here."
"So you heard about that!" Lord Blackwood beamed. "One of my finest hours, if I do say so myself."
"Why did we even travel back in time in the first place?" Chowderclef responded. "This entire mission has been a disaster. Bodyjacker has been kidnapped by Janissaries, the Grand Mufti has 276 and is planning to go God-knows-where - or when - with it, and I can't even reload my Chowdercannon for the next fight if I can't get my hands on some decent paprika!"
"Because," Femme Fatale reminded him, "this is our only chance to recover those ancient Hermetic star charts before they fall into the hands of the Theosophists - and from there to the Fifthists! Have you forgotten what's going on in our own time right now ever since 1425 went critical?"
"Agent Fatale's assessment is correct," Zero-One replied. "Only hope for future is to stop Russian advance, re-acquire 276, and stop 1425 from falling into Theosophist hands."
"I don't know what in damnation you time-traveling gentlemen… and lady, of course, are talking about," Lord Blackwood chimed in, "but there is one more sticky wicket we'll have to deal with before we make our move."
"What is this wick-sticking, you bourgeois hunting-man?" Gunkill snapped. "Out with it?"
Lord Blackwood cleared his throat before he spoke haltingly.
"You do realize that you're all sea slugs, right?"
ARE OUR HEROES STUCK AS SLUGS FOREVER? WILL THE CZAR'S CONQUEST OF CONSTANTINOPLE BE COMPLETE? IS THE FUTURE SAFE? AND WHAT OF CHOWDERCLEF'S FORBIDDEN LOVE WITH THE WOMAN WHO MAY BE HIS OWN GREAT-GRANDMOTHER? FIND OUT IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF FOUNDATION FORCE FIVE: COSSACKS A GO-GO!
"Bumaro, you lying, Chechen son of a [EXPLETIVE REDACTED]!" Comrade Gunkill growled at Robert Bumaro, trying to scramble to his feet and get a shot off at him; his efforts were met with a kick in the face by the cult leader.
"I didn't lie in the slightest, Comrade. I said I was a new man,and that I required your help." Bumaro lifted up the bottom of his robe, revealing brass leg fused seamlessly with his body, "I am, indeed, a new man, and I did require your help to take back my temple."
Gunkill stared at the metal leg. "What have you done, man? The virus… you only have a few days left…"
"A few days left as a bag of flesh! The touch of He-Who-Shall-Be-Whole has made me one of his children." He took a vial out of a hidden pocket in his robe. "I believe your organization calls this 217, yes? This is his touch…" He turned and faced his congregation. "And it shall make you all his children! You shall be my clockwork congregation!"
Suddenly, the mad deacon was hit across the face by a glob of hot potato chowder, and clutched his face in agony. "All this talk of children and touching!" Chowderclef stepped out of the shadows and fired his ChowderCannon once again at Bumaro. "If I didn't know better, I'd say your Broken God was a member of NAMBLA!"
"Clef, that is the fourth most tasteless thing I've heard you say all day." Bodyjacker suddenly threw her amulet towards a cultist closer to Bumaro, who instinctively caught it, and got Jacked. In his new body, Bodyjacker tackled the Clockwork Cleric, and pinning him to the ground.
"Really? Only the fourth? I must work harder!" ChowderClef fired chowder at everyone he could hit. "RUN! Run for your lives! ChowderClef is here!" Soon, the population of the temple had fled into the open arms of the Foundation task force, armed to the teeth with the latest weaponry! Somewhere in the crowd, a member of the congregation called out, "I swear to god, I'm an atheist!"
Bodyjacker held up the deacon by his hair. "All right, Bumaro, we've got you. You're coming in for questioning, after which you will be most likely euthanized due to your exposure to 217."
"You can't kill me, Bright. If you do, I won't tell you where I put the cure for the god's touch…"
"There's a cure?" Gunkill had gotten to his feet, and was aiming a service pistol at Bumaro's head. "What are you playing at, Robert?"
"Yes, and you, my friends, are going to need it quite badly. I took the liberty of bestowing God's Greatest Gift to Zero-One, Femme Fatale, and your little dog, too. You three are infected as well. For Jacker, it won't be a problem, but the rest of you cannot switch bodies…"
The three of them looked at each other, Gunkill noticeably paling. "I haven't felt anything yet, though…"
"God's Touch is slow to act. I estimate you have forty-eight hours left before you start seeing the signs. So, what is it going to be? Shall the Foundation Force Five die with me? Or shall you beg and plead for the only way to cure God's touch?"
WHAT A DILEMMA! BUMARO A TRAITOR, THE TEAM INFECTED, AND ONLY FORTY-EIGHT HOURS UNTIL THEY, TOO, ARE COGS IN THE MACHINE! WILL THE TEAM BETRAY ALL THAT THEY'VE WORKED FOR TO SAVE THEMSELVES? OR WILL THEY MAKE A VALIANT SACRIFICE AND STOP THE CHURCH OF THE BROKEN GOD ONCE AND FOR ALL? FIND OUT IN FOUNDATION FORCE FIVE: A RACE AGAINST THE CLOCKWORK VIRUS!
"What do you mean, 'angry at us'? 914's just a machine, it doesn't have the ability to be angry!" said Chowderclef, who still believed the researcher standing before him was trying and failing to pull off a prank. "And besides, even if the thing was sentient and sapient, I hardly think it would have anything against the Foundation. I mean, the worst thing we've ever done to it was force it to make weird stuff, and that's what it was BUILT to do!"
"Ah…i-i-its not angry at the Foundation, s-sir," stammered Researcher Lawrence, exceptionally nervous that he was contradicting the great Chowderclef. "It's angry at YOU, sir. You, and the rest of the Foundation Force Five. It's requested to see you, sir." The research assistant returned to his console and unlocked the door to 914, and the five heroes entered 914's chamber.
Immediately they were greeted with a peculiar sight: they were all familiar with how 914 was supposed to look, and this was not it. The main mass was still intact, however new parts appeared to be forming along the edges of the machine, taking the shape of long mechanical tentacles. At the top of the machine sat what appeared to be a large speaker, though it looked absolutely nothing like any speakers the team had ever seen.
Chowderclef looked at his team, then back at 914, and began to speak in a confused but confident tone. "Hello, I am Chowderclef, and this is the Foundation Force Five. We have been told that you wanted to see us, that you are angry with us. We would like to know why you are angry with us and what we can possibly do to make it up to y-"
"NO." came a booming voice from the speaker. It was deep, impossibly deep, and there was a sound of grinding gears behind the voice. "YOU KEEP ME IN HERE FOR YEARS, I DO NOT COMPLAIN. YOU USE ME FOR POINTLESS, UNNECESSARY TESTS, I COMPLY WILLINGLY. BUT YOU FIVE HAVE CROSSED THE LINE, I CANNOT IGNORE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO ME."
"And what exactly DID we do to you?" asked The Bodyjacker, still marvelling that 914 was actually capable of thought. "We haven't even SEEN you in months, what could we possibly have done to cross the line?"
"DO YOU REMEMBER THE CLOCKWORK GEARBOX YOU DESTROYED TWO MONTHS, FOUR DAYS AND SEVEN HOURS AGO? YOU CRUSHED IT TO BITS AND MELTED THE REMAINS."
"Yes, I remember the gearbox. We had to destroy it because it was taking over Strelnikov's mind." replied Zero-One. "In addition to that, the Church of the Broken God was after it, if we hadn't destroyed it they would have used it against us."
"AND YET YOU BELIEVE THAT THE GEARBOX WAS YOURS TO DESTROY. THAT ARROGANCE IS WHY I AM ANGRY AT YOU."
boomed 914. "THAT GEARBOX WAS A PART OF ME, A REMNANT OF MY BROKEN SELF. HAD IT BEEN GIVEN TO ME, I WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE BETTER, I COULD DO MORE, MAKE MORE, DESTROY AND REBUILD MORE! BUT YOU DID NOT EVEN THINK TO GIVE IT TO ME, YOU DESTROYED IT AS IF YOU HAD A RIGHT TO DO SO."
"Because we didn't know, 914! How could we possibly have known that the gearbox belonged to you?! There was nothing to suggest that it was yours!" cried Femme Fatale, genuinely upset that they had mistakenly destroyed an apparently important piece of 914, who they were just now learning was truly sentient.
"THE GEARS WERE THE SAME, IT RAN AT THE SAME SPEED AS I, AND I COULD SENSE IT WAS NEAR. DID YOUR RESEARCHERS NOT TELL YOU THAT I HAD BEEN TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOU AS SOON AS YOU UNEARTHED IT?"
"They did mention that you were making an awful lot of noise, 914, but they only told us that AFTER the box was destroyed!" replied The Bodyjacker. "If we had known it was yours, if we had any idea that it belonged to you, we would have returned it to you! We're sorry, 914! We're sorry!"
"I AM AFRAID THAT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH, BODYJACKER. YOU WOULD NOT BE SO KEEN TO FORGIVE ME IF I DESTROYED YOUR HEART, AND SO I WILL NOT FORGIVE YOU. YOU ALL MUST PAY FOR YOUR CRIMES, AND I WILL TAKE THE ROLE OF EXECUTIONER. YOU'LL NEVER LEAVE THIS ROOM ALIVE!"
Chowderclef immediately kicked the door to the hall open, only to find it blocked by Foundation guards, their faces expressionless. "Move, damn you, get out of the way!" cried Chowderclef, slightly panicked that their only exit had been blocked by a gaggle of idiots.
"THEY ONLY OBEY ME, CHOWDERCLEF, FOR I HAVE REPLACED THEIR BRAINS WITH CLOCKWORK OF MY OWN DESIGN. THEY ARE MY SOLDIERS, AS IS YOUR RESEARCHER LAWRENCE. HE PLAYED HIS PART WELL FOR A BRAINLESS SHELL, I MUST SAY. NOW YOU WILL JOIN MY ARMY AS PUNISHMENT FOR YOUR DEEDS!"
Without warning, one of the mechanical tentacles that lay by 914's "body" lashed out towards Femme Fatale, grabbing her around her waist. Femme Fatale screamed and struggled helplessly against the strength of the clockwork tentacle as it quickly threw her into 914's intake port.
"RIGHTS!" screamed The Bodyjacker, who moved to run towards 914 but was blocked by another modified Foundation guard, who now held his gun at the ready. Within a matter of seconds, the four heroes were surrounded by clockwork soldiers, with nowhere to run.
IS THIS THE END OF FEMME FATALE AND THE TEAM? FIND OUT IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF FOUNDATION FORCE FIVE: THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE!
Chowderclef steeled himself as he stared at the mahogany desk in front of him, and made his way towards the lesser of the two chairs pulled up to it. Everyone had warned him that there was no coming out on top of a deal with SCP-738, of course - he'd read the logs himself and he knew what happened to the people who tried. But what else could he do? There was no other force in the multiverse that could help him - and so, with a sigh, he pulled the chair out and sat down.
"Well, well, well," a disembodied force said as a dark mist swirled around the other end of the table, slowly taking a humanoid shape. "I had a feeling you'd show up sooner or later. What can I do for you, my friend?"
Chowderclef gasped as the face of the being before him took form. He'd been told that the "devil" on the other side of the table always assumed the likeness of someone familiar to the test subject, but he hadn't been ready for this.
"You!" he shouted.
"Of course," said the identical duplicate of Chowderclef that sat opposite him. "Who were you expecting? Mickey Mouse? Not even I can afford the rights to that IP, my friend. Now, then - I believe you wanted a favor?"
Chowderclef breathed in deeply. "It's… it's Agent Fatale," he said. "She's in a coma. The Manhattanite sent his goons to gun me down and she took the bullet to save me. The doctors say she might never wake up. I've tried everything - SCP-500, SCP-427, the first minute of SCP-407. I even tried having an SCP-1237-1-L positive dream her healthy. Nothing's worked. I can't let her die. I just can't. I… I need you to save her."
"I thought it might be something like that," said Chowderclef's diabolical double as he laid his briefcase on the table and opened it, "so I had the boys draft up a little something last night." He reached into the briefcase and pulled out a single-page contract with quarter-inch margins, almost the entire page taken up with legalese in almost impossible-to-read print. "If you'll just sign here, and here, and initial here, we can have your dear little Aggy up and running in no time."
"Let me see," Chowderclef said as he took the Prince of Pandemonium's pen in his hand and began to read the fine print. It all looked well and in order, until he got to Section 7, paragraph 4, and…
"Are you kidding?" Chowderclef pushed the paper away. "These terms are preposterous! There must be something else we can negotiate."
"Now, now, my creamy companion," his twin said with a smirk. "These are very reasonable terms. Bringing someone back from the brink of death - well, that's just tricky business, isn't it? And I think you'll agree that this agreement offers you everything you could want in a deal like that - no brain damage, no lasting physical trauma, she'll be the exact same Agent Femme Fatale you've known and loved all these years."
"But at this price?" Chowderclef said. "If I sign this, then the Manhattanite wins! I'll give you anything but this! You name it! You can have my cars! My knowledge of sports trivia! I'll give you my soul!"
"I don't want your soul, Chowderclef," said the dark-toqued demon with a sinister giggle. "I want your love. I want your chowder."
Chowderclef was on the verge of tears. "Damn you! Don't make me choose this."
"This offer is expiring soon, Chowderclef. What shall it be? Shall Agent Fatale die… or shall the existence of New England clam chowder be erased from the world forever?"
WHAT WILL CHOWDERCLEF CHOOSE? IS AGENT FATALE DOOMED TO THE GRAVE? OR WILL CHOWDERCLEF'S CREAMY CRAFT FOREVER GIVE WAY TO THE MANHATTANITE'S REIGN OF TOMATO-RICH TERROR? FIND OUT IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF FOUNDATION FORCE FIVE: AN ADDITIONAL DIURNAL PERIOD!
The atomic titanium door smashed to the ground with a thud, trapping the Foundation Force Five with Ronnie Ray-Gun on his atomic spaceship.
"Finally, I have you five alone," he said. "You have no idea what I've done to get here."
"Ronnie?" said Bodyjacker. "What are you saying?"
Ronnie Ray-Gun pulled out his atomic blaster and tried to shoot Bodyjacker, but Chowderclef intercepted it with a blast from his Chowdercannon.
"What the hell, man?" said Bodyjacker. "It still hurts when I die!"
"That's the point!" snarled Ronnie Ray-Gun. He pulled off his space gloves and cracked his knuckles, and blood dripped from his hands.
"You're not Ronnie Ray-Gun, are you?" said Chowderclef in horror. "You've never been Ronnie Ray-Gun."
"Ronnie Ray-Gun died battling me in the far future of 1981," said the eldritch terror that wore Ronnie Ray-Gun's face. As the Foundation Force Five watched from a safe distance, his atomic spacesuit sloughed off him leaving only rags of faint silver, beneath which was exposed skin and bone. "I saw this day coming a thousand years ago. My plans stretch across all space and time! You were fools! Fools not to have seen it until you were already in my trap!"
"Who… who are you?" said Femme Fatale, as she held an anatomically anomalous pose involving her backside.
The corpse of Ronnie Ray-Gun smiled— or it would have, if it had any teeth. "I… am Evil Empire! You idiots bought my story of being time-displaced. Everyone knows time travel isn't real!1 And soon, this planet will join my dominion across the stars!"
"Evil Empire?" said Comrade Gunkill, his face turning pale. "Is impossible. You died twenty years ago!"
"My body died," said Evil Empire, as a red welt appeared on Ronnie Ray-Gun's forehead. "Your superiors thought that the end of me. They never suspected that my power was from beyond the stars. One body was nothing, Comrade Gunkill… or should I call you Red Commando?"
Whatever little blood was still in Comrade Gunkill's face drained from it. "Stop him!" he shouted. "My comrades, don't let him say anything else!"
Evil Empire laughed. "Oh, it's been too long since I've been in Russia, abominations."
In Russian, he said "Longing."
Comrade Gunkill raised his gun and shot several times. As each bullet approached Evil Empire, a force struck it, cleaving it in two. Each time, another red slash appeared on Ronnie Ray-Gun's body, yet none of them seemed to affect him at all.
Femme Fatale jumped from where she had been crouching, somersaulting through the air, her stiletto aimed at Evil Empire's vocal cords. Evil Empire caught her foot, throwing her into a pile of rubble.
"Steel Beams. Nineteen. [COGNITOHAZARD EXPUNGED]."
Bodyjacker threw his amulet at Evil Empire, who instinctively caught it. His eyes, blackened with blood, widened for half a second, and the rest of the Foundation Force Five held their breath as Evil Empire got Jacked—
"Just kidding," said Evil Empire as he dangled the amulet from one bony finger, as Bodyjacker's old body fell to the ground, like a puppet with its strings cut. "I have seen a starry field of the dead. Souls upon souls can only feed a soul eater. Now, where was I?"
Chowderclef fired his Chowdercannon, and Evil Empire dodged it effortlessly. "No!" shouted Chowderclef. "My chowder is liberation!"
"What happens if he finishes?" said Zero-One, his voice calm and unconcerned.
"Nothing good." Comrade Gunkill closed his eyes as he shed a single tear. "I'm sorry, comrades. I'm so sorry."
"Now there you go again."
Evil Empire smiled as part of his face fell off. Comrade Gunkill was completely still. The rest of the Foundation Force Five, or at least the ones who still had bodies, held their breaths.
"Soldier?" said Evil Empire.
"Ready to comply," said the Red Commando, as he opened his eyes.
"Then kill them!" said Evil Empire. "Kill them in the name of the Evil Empire!"
HOW WILL THE FOUNDATION FORCE FIVE GET OUT OF THIS ONE? WILL COMRADE GUNKILL BE THE DEATH OF THEM? AND WHERE IS STAR COMMAND PROTON? FIND OUT NEXT IN FOUNDATION FORCE FIVE/STAR COMMAND PROTON #5: HE SEES YOU! FOLLOW THE ADVENTURES OF PANDORA SQUADRON IN SCPANDORA #76: COLONEL BOWE AND RAY-GUN'S COMMAND! AND DON'T MISS PENTA-5: BEYOND THE STARS, FOR THE SHOCKING TRUTH BEHIND EVIL EMPIRE!