Nutty's new series, "The Great Race", promises to be fun and exciting, with new characters and new fandoms joining in with all the regular Lair denizens. And, horror of horrors, Nutty has actually managed to build a plot into her series. ::GASP!!:: I know, who ever thought it could happen? Trust Nutty to be the one to pull it off. :D
So, in her name, I present to you the first story of:
The Great Race: All in the Name of Food
A Lair fic for Moonbeam
1 Aug 2004
It started off as a small thing, but then again most things usually did.
Michael was hungry. So he excused himself from the interesting discussion he was having with one of the vampires regarding what that author, Asp, had recently done to both him and Kitt, and went off in hunt of some lunch.
He ended up hanging off the fridge door glaring into an empty white vacuum. Okay, so it wasn’t totally empty, but the half a cantaloupe sported three puncture holes reminiscent of a certain mutant’s claws. And the lone carton of milk hadn’t been opened by any mortal means, the twin bite marks in the top the only clue as to how it had become half full.
Michael sighed. Too many Lair denizens and not enough shopaholics. “Kitt, I’m starving. Let’s go for take out. Plot me a course to the nearest drive thru.”
“Very well, Michael. However I will leave it up to you as to how to get Vespurrs off my hood. She’s curled up and fallen asleep. Oh, and by the way, she drools in her sleep as much as you.”
Michael grinned. “Then she is in good company.”
“Hmph,” was the electronic reply.
The tall man turned to find Moonbeam gazing up at him, a hopeful look on her face. “Any chance of a ride?”
Another grin split his face. “For you, Moon, anytime.” He reached out a hand and took hers, and the two of them attempted to sneak out the back way to avoid encountering any other hangers on.
Unfortunately, they were less than successful.
Moonbeam’s Secret Lair is THE hangout spot for fiction characters in this galaxy, plus several others and the occasional alternate dimension. Therefore, the variety of senses available at any one time to alert the denizens of possible snooping, sneaking, or creeping, could be rather impressive.
This time it was Wolverine who discovered the incidence of attempted escape.
A set of adamantium claws shot out and impaled themselves into a door frame millimetres from Moonbeam’s face. Normally Moonbeam wouldn’t have minded in the slightest, since she loved the sound those claws made. That and the fact that those claws were attached to a most delectable arm, which in turn was connected to an even more delectable body, but usually, said claws weren’t attempting to shave off the end of her nose.
“Logan, what do you think you’re doing?” Moonbeam frowned up at the mutant, doing her best to ignore the suddenly worried squawk issued over Michael’s comlink. “You should know better than to threaten Michael. Kitt is capable of taking out the entire side of the mountain to get to him, and then where will we be? No Lair, no fun. Play nice.”
The mutant frowned up at Michael, who simply cocked an eyebrow back at him. The two had had discussions in the past. Mainly regarding the scratch Wolverine had left on Kitt’s MBS after the AI had managed to somehow offend the aggravated mutant. The whole thing had nearly turned into a major incident, when Karr stepped in to defend his brother. Nick had been called, and Moonbeam had had to smooth a great deal of ruffled feathers that afternoon.
Consequently, Michael and Logan had a tendency to avoid each other.
“Where are you two going?”
Moonbeam rolled her eyes. “Just out for takeout, Logan. Relax.”
Wolverine glared up at Michael. “You better look after her, otherwise you and your partner will find out a whole new meaning to the words ‘slice and dice’.”
She felt the driver bristle behind her.
Moon reached up and laid her hand on the exposed metal claws, her other hand taking the opportunity to rest on Michael’s chest. “Okay, guys, back off. Michael and I are just off to grab some takeout, we’ll be back in no time. Would you like us to bring anything back for you, Logan?” She glared at the mutant, ordering him to behave.
The chink of his retracting claws was the mutant’s only answer as he stalked off. Hmm, Moon thought to herself, more ruffled feathers to smooth. Well, she’d just send Wolf or Pheral – or maybe both – to soothe his savage beast later. That would take care of him, but as for the other... She looked up at Michael, who only smiled mischievously back at her.
“What?” He was all innocence.
She sighed. Men! They were all the same.
Unfortunately some more of that half of the species had overheard everything.
“Did I hear the word ‘takeout’?”
“Someone mention food?”
Jack, Mac, and Asp poked their heads around the door, eager looks on their faces.
So much for sneaking out.
“Why can’t we just get delivery?”
“Because it is too damn slow, Kitt and I can be there and back in less than half an hour.”
“Now that’s slow. I say we buzz Picard and borrow one those replicator thingies he keeps boasting about.”
“Replicators! Are you mad?” Jack shot out of his seat, quickly followed by Daniel, and a no less shocked Thor.
The main room of the Lair was full to the brim with characters and authors, all now foaming at the mouth at the thought of food. The Lair grapevine was efficient to say the least, and everyone currently at the Lair was here - with the exception of Vespurrs who hadn’t been coaxed off Kitt’s hood yet, and that Darien guy who had literally disappeared during the security revision and hadn’t been seen since. His searchers had eventually given up on him. He’d turn up sooner or later.
“We risk our lives to keep Earth free of the Replicators and you guys wanna borrow one? I thought Picard was on our side, what the hell is he doing working with those scum?” Jack’s glare shot around the room, and Tomy could see his fingers twitching in search of a gun he didn’t have with him. Thor was speaking into a glowing rock.
Moonbeam, sitting next to Tomy, sighed. She seemed to be doing that a lot today. “Jack, Daniel, Thor, sit down. A replicator is a machine that converts generic chemical components into usable objects including food.”
Jack blinked, obviously missing the point. Daniel’s face wrinkled up. “Sounds disgusting.” Come to think of it, it did. Thor continued to mumble into his glowing walkie-talkie.
Two seconds later the room was blinded by a flash of white light and on the coffee table appeared a pile of neat little boxes.
Thor picked one up and handed it to Jack. “O’Neill, here is your ‘takeout’.”
Everybody in the room leaned in Jack’s direction attempting to see what was in the box. All except for Mulder, who, glasses hanging off the end of his nose, hid in a corner scribbling hurriedly in his notebook.
Jack peered into the box, a pair of fingers reaching in and pulling out what appeared to be a yellow children’s building block. “Ah, Thor, buddy, um, no offence, but Carter warned me about these.” He sniffed at it, his nose wrinkling before returning it to its container. He put the box down, Asgard food untouched. “I vote Burger King.”
The box was suddenly snatched up by a hand appearing out of a gold shirt. “I’ll take that, looks positively delicious.” The Captain of the Enterprise (no A, B, C, D, E, or any other frelling letter of the alphabet :D) grabbed another box and handed it to Spock, standing beside him. “Hey, Thor, these come in vegetarian?”
The Asgard flicked a glare in Jack’s direction before fossicking through the pile of boxes and chucking one in the Commander’s direction. “It appears Vulcans are indeed as advanced a race as I have heard.”
“Hey, will you guys get it together! I’m starving here.”
“I don’t see you volunteering to go and get the food.” Riddick turned his rather intimidating glare in the direction of MacGyver, who was lounging in his favourite chair.
“Well, apparently these guys are faster at it than we are.”
“That is a simple matter of opinion.”
Nicholas MacKenzie glanced up at that. “Opinion? Whose?”
“Mine. The only one that matters.” LaCroix didn’t even bother to glance in MacKenzie’s direction.
The uproar that resulted at that statement drowned just about all recognisable discussion out.
It was Tomy’s turn to sigh. She stood up, having had enough. Horses were definitely easier.
Two fingers in her mouth, and a shrill whistle echoed throughout the Lair. “Okay, quiet! You want food, we will get food. First question, what food do we want?”
That started off a whole new babbling discussion, but this time paper was acquired and a list made.
Once it seemed that everyone had had their say, and a menu was decided on, Tomy raised her hand again and, surprisingly, received total silence in response. “Okay, second question, who is going to go and get it?”
That question didn’t get as organised a response as the other one.
“I thought we’d already decided on Kitt and I?”
“Karr and I could...”
“Speak for yourself, Nicholas, I am not a pack mule.”
“So you consider me to be one?”
“I say we beam-“
“Yeah, right, so everyone gets confirmation that aliens really do exist.”
“I could borrow Moon’s plane.”
“Or I could borrow Moon’s plane.”
“Ma horse and I are quite capable-“
“Well, the shortest route is across the mountains. Horse country, my boy.”
Tomy quietly agreed with that one.
“There is only one!” (At that statement, Methos suddenly sat up straight, alert, his eyes combing the room.)
“Last I looked there were at least seven, not counting alternate dimensions.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about. There is only one Enterprise and she is mine.”
“A little possessive are we?”
“Spock, come here and boggle this guy’s mind with some of your mind boggling logic, I’m sick of listening to him.”
“Very well, Captain.”
Suddenly everyone was interrupting by a slamming door. They all looked up to find two new arrivals standing in the doorway. Lots of black leather, a man, a woman, and quite a bit of firepower. A pair of blue eyes gazed calmly across the room filled with arguing characters.
“Who are you?” Moonbeam stood up. As Proprietress of the Lair she had final say on who got to visit and who didn’t.
The man’s face softened at the sight of her, though the woman remained as stony as ever, her dark gaze running up and down Moon’s approaching figure, clearly assessing her for threat. Tomy almost flinched as Nicholas was suddenly on his feet a hairsbreadth behind Moonbeam, ever protective, Michael and a glaring Wolverine taking her other side. The two might not agree on much, but Moon’s safety was the one thing they had no argument about. Various other characters moved towards authors, glances darting about, silent communications bouncing back and forth. One wrong move and a war would erupt, the newcomers the first victims.
The man held out a hand. “Er, hi, I’m John Crichton, and this is Aeryn Sun. Moya heard a rumour about you, and Nutty here let us in.” He looked around. “Nice place you have here.”
From behind one leather-clad leg the suspect dwarf appeared, somewhat bashful and guilty looking. Several characters flinched automatically. Moonbeam frowned at her. “You could’ve asked. Aren’t Jack, Mac, Michael and Jim Kirk enough? Next you’ll be asking John Sheridan to drop by as well.”
There was a clearing of a throat and a man resembling the Scarecrow stood up, slightly embarrassed. “Sorry, Ms Moonbeam, but she let me in yesterday.”
“Nutty, how do you expect us to feed all these extra characters? No wonder the frickin’ fridge is empty.” Tomy made a mental note to remind Moon to chain that author up more often.
Jack put up a hand. “I vote we chuck Nutty out.”
“That’s because you just can’t handle a little whump.” Kirk was licking his fingers.
Jack made a move towards the starship captain, but suddenly found his way blocked by an eyebrow arching Vulcan. He stared up at Spock. “You know, you’re a lot skinnier, but you remind me of Teal’c.”
If only to prove Jack’s statement, Spock didn’t honour him with a reply.
Moonbeam had just about had it. There was a hole where her stomach used to be, they had been discussing takeout for the past hour, and were no closer to getting lunch at all.
“John, Aeryn, welcome to the Secret Lair. Please take a seat, we are discussing takeout for lunch since we’ve eaten ourselves out of house and home.”
The black clad man smiled. “Pizza sounds great. Haven’t had it in ages.”
Moon’s eyes caught the heavy weaponry the two characters were carrying. “However, I’m afraid you’ll have to leave your guns outside the Lair. This is a weapon-free zone.”
Crichton stared at her, obviously puzzled, and Aeryn spoke up for the first time. “Then how come half the people in this room are armed?” English was obviously her second language.
It was Moon’s turn to frown, before realisation set in. She turned to look at Nick, encountering a slightly guilty smile. Michael in turn looked completely innocent, but then again he always was. Wolverine didn’t even bother to hide a thing. A flick of a wrist and his un-disarmable weaponry made a rude gesture in several directions.
Moon sighed. “Okay, everyone, how many of you are carrying weapons?”
There was the sound of many clicks of metal on metal as various knives, claws, fangs, and a variety of guns suddenly appeared in the room. Kirk palmed a phaser, Riddick pulled some evil looking shivs out from under his shirt, and Mac fashioned some duct tape, a couple of rubber bands, and three toothpicks into a machine gun.
She glared at MacKenzie as he neglected to produce his own library of defence even though she knew he had to be armed. His smile was mischievous, and a moment later she realised that to ban weaponry she’d have to bodily ban the agent. The man was a walking weapon himself.
She sighed again.
Ironically all the authors in the room had managed to produce several writing implements. Several mimed writing near their favourite characters just to watch them flinch. Apparently the pen was mightier than the sword. Methos was seen to flinch more than once, his hands edging around his throat.
Moon raised her hands in capitulation. “Okay, okay, I give up. I don’t care anymore. I just want food.”
O’Neill and Mulder continued to grumble about the fact they had obeyed the weapon restriction and hardly anyone else had. Jack was particularly miffed when Daniel sheepishly put his Berretta away, some comment about learning from the best aimed in the Colonel’s direction.
Tomy whistled again, and Moon put a hand to her ear. Ouch. But it worked.
“Who is getting the food?”
The room erupted again.
For crying out loud!
She stormed out of the room, exasperated. That cantaloupe was looking more appetising by the moment.
Kitt was enjoying the afternoon sun. With one minor exception.
Karr kept laughing at him.
It wasn’t really his fault that the author had a fascination for him, and he didn’t really mind her sleeping on top of him, but Karr found the whole scenario hilarious. Well, as hilarious as the darker AI managed to get.
“Nick says you look cute.”
Hah! So he’d been passing images to his driver. Well, two could play that game. Kitt grabbed a snapshot of Karr from his memory bank, manipulated it, and promptly sent an image of Karr dressed in a pink tutu to his own driver.
Michael was drinking a glass of water at the time, trying to stave off hunger cramps, and nearly choked, managing to spit a good portion of it onto the hapless hobbit standing next to him.
The acidic remark Michael sent him did little to hide the laughter echoing in the back of his driver’s mind, and Kitt found himself grinning.
“Ah, Karr? Michael says the same about you.” He flashed the image at his brother.
The predictable outraged rumble followed a microsecond later, and Kitt could swear he heard an echo of Nick demanding what the hell was going on out there.
Kitt snickered. “You asked for it.”
“You are getting far too smart in your old age, Kitt.”
“I learnt from the best.” He grinned at his brother.
Their discussion was interrupted as an annoyed Moonbeam stumbled out of the Lair. Kitt frowned, abruptly querying his driver as to what the hell was going on IN there. Something was distressing the Lair Proprietress, and that was something that should never occur.
Michael sent back an impression of chaos. Kitt sighed. Sometimes humans were just illogically annoying. His driver frowned at the thought, but then reluctantly agreed.
Kitt’s first instinct was to start his engine and move in the direction of Moonbeam to perhaps have a talk with her, make her feel better, perhaps offer her a ride to clear out the cobwebs. But Vespurrs was still on his hood, and he didn’t really want to risk her falling off if he moved.
So he asked Karr to help Moonbeam instead.
The older AI glared at him. “What? Me?”
“Yes, you. I know you care about her, get over there and help her.”
The dark AI grumbled.
“Don’t give me that stoic load of crock, Karr. I know you, you know you, and this is Moonbeam we are talking about. Remember that nice fic she wrote about you, Nick, and Vin?”
“Yes, but I also remember that fragment she wrote about Peso and me as well.”
“Hey, that was edited out so it doesn’t count.”
“Speak for yourself.”
The older AI glared at his brother, but nonetheless started his engine and glided over to where Moonbeam had sat herself down on a log.
Kitt sighed. His brother would never admit it, but there was far more to him than he let on.
Karr approached the quiet author carefully. His experience with humans and especially female humans was rather limited. He had always worked well with Alex, but then again that was different.
The other element in this encounter was the considerable amount of awe Karr kept hidden concerning authors in general. They had such power, such capability to change the course of his life. For an AI who had to be in control, this was a little frightening.
But Moonbeam was special.
Moon jumped when Karr spoke her name. The usually silent AI had crept up on her, and his voice snapped her out of deep thought.
The prow of the Stealth was an inch away from her leg, its engine running quietly, but so close she could feel the soft heat radiating off the shell.
“Kitt is concerned for your wellbeing.”
She looked beyond the black car to the other AI sitting further away, Vespurrs still on his hood. “Well, you can tell him that I’m fine.”
“I will not lie to my brother.”
Moonbeam blinked. So much for bluffing.
“Okay, so I’m a little down.”
Why? She wasn’t really sure. Why was she feeling this way? And what was she actually feeling?
“I don’t know.”
The AI rumbled.
“That’s the truth.”
“Tell me about it.”
She didn’t expect Karr to take her literally.
“Perhaps you feel a lack of control. Nicholas tells me the group is still arguing.”
She sighed. “That sounds about right.”
The AI was silent a moment. “This is unacceptable.”
And suddenly Moonbeam had the impression that some unknown events had been set in motion. She stared at the forbidding black car.
Nicholas MacKenzie was at the very end of his very long patience. Everyone was arguing, and no one had made a single move to go and get the required food. Sure he could live on thin air in an emergency, but this wasn’t an emergency and he was hungry. Karr continued to make acidic comments in his head regarding the characters he was surrounded by.
Jack and Mac had started the old argument about who could fly Moon’s plane the better. The various vampires had gathered together and stormed out of the room several minutes earlier, deciding to hang out with a less argumentative bunch. Michael was currently in a corner, his kneecaps pinned by a rather irate Gimli. The dwarf didn’t appreciate his hobbit friends being spat on. Nick almost smiled, shielding his thoughts firmly from his partner. That picture of Kitt’s had been amusing.
Wolverine and Methos were in another corner mock fighting claws versus sword. It all ended rather abruptly when Logan slipped and chopped the Immortal’s sword in half. Oh, great, there would be hell to pay for that one. He made a note in the back of his head to see if any of his contacts could get hold of an Ivanhoe sword, perhaps an application of MBS might help.
But his biggest worry was the state of the authors. Several of them were looking wilted. Shady in particular. The author had had a rather bad week, and to deny her food at this point would just compound the problem. Her and Tomy were talking quietly, their usual spark missing. His eye caught sight of Nutty, hovering over by the newcomers. She was shaking slightly.
“Karr, give me a vital stats reading on all the authors in the Lair.”
A pause as the AI accessed his systems. “Nick, all authors show lowered blood sugar levels. Shady is nearing exhaustion, she really needs to rest. Tomy’s chemical balance leads me to believe she is considering homicide in the near future – Kitt tells me her and Asp had an encounter with some morons that vandalised their car.” The AI’s offence at that thought was loud and clear. Nick made a note to advise the two authors not to let on to Karr exactly who had been responsible. The AI’s temper had been disturbed. “Storm is tired, but not in any danger. Several other authors have fallen asleep, Vespurrs is still out here with Kitt. Gumnut is showing signs of hypoglycaemia.” That would explain the shaking. “But Nick, Moonbeam is out here and she appears upset. All this conflict seems to be disturbing her.”
She wasn’t the only one. “Thanks, Karr. I think this has gone on long enough.”
Nick caught Michael’s eye and Kitt’s driver suddenly stopped paying attention to the complaining dwarf at his feet. Ignoring him, Michael made his way over to Nick.
“I think it is time we got things back under control. Our authors need sustenance. No authors, no characters.”
Michael glanced around realising the state of the writing contingent in the room. “Oh, shit.”
“What’s the plan?”
Nick smiled at his friend, saying nothing, but passing information back to Karr, who passed it onto Kitt. Shortly, a matching grin appeared on Michael’s face. “I knew I hung around you for a reason.”
The Lair’s loudspeakers crackled as Kitt interfaced with them. “Your attention please.”
Suddenly the entire Lair fell silent, authors and characters alike staring up at the source of Kitt’s voice. “It has come to our attention that the characters in the Secret Lair have been neglecting their duties of author care. There is a severe lack of food available, and discussion of obtaining food has taken so long that several authors have fallen asleep. This is unacceptable. In order to correct this problem Karr and I would like to challenge the rest of the inhabitants of the Lair to a race. A race in order to obtain food for our failing authors as soon as possible. The contest will start in fifteen minutes. All contenders should be present at that time in front of Moonbeam’s Secret Lair. Rules and regulations will be read at that time. Thankyou for your consideration.”
The Lair remained silent for all of two seconds, before erupting into yet another uproar. Several characters dashed from the room, while others turned to the tired authors to check their condition.
It took only a few moments, but the Lair was mobilised into action.
Several miles away, a Scarren half-breed stared up from a monitor screen into a set of glowing eyes and grinned.
This was going to be too easy.
To Be Continued...