Moon Knight 2099UGR #5, Volume 2

Moon Knight 2099UGR Volume 5, #4 - November 2006



Moon Knight 2099UGR

Issue #5, Volume 2

"Training Manual"

Written by Jason McDonald

Chief Edits: David Ellis


Marq (Edward Somerset)
Moon Knight

Rebecca McBride
Lachryma

Jeremy England
Fix-it

Emmanuel


 


Ghosts in the machine.

Fragmented, lonely sections of code in the matter stream, clustering about one another, shaping themselves back together at random. Creating form out of formlessness. Creating purpose out of nothing.

All the sophisticated technology that drives your life eventually fragments. Pieces of the original design become unusable, or go unused.

Files from computer hard drives can supposedly be deleted, but all that means is that the save file's emptied. The space is still there.

Defragmentation programs just drop off separate files into empty spaces, creating new connections in the spider web weave of easy-click access. There is still data about the old connections, the forgotten passageways. Like tombs waiting to be discovered, awash with old history.

Even cell phones retain old files. Racy e-mails about corporate love affairs, or plans for hostile takeovers can still remain buried in your hard drive even after you supposedly 'delete' them from the cell. All you've done is make it a bit harder to access.

Even old VHS tapes still have the 'memories' of times gone by. Tape a show. Tape over it. Tape over that. Tape over that. Sooner or later, the tape becomes unwatchable and unusable, because all the old programs you 'taped over' are showing up from beneath the surface.

The ghosts are coming out to play.

Obsolete sections of code drift about in cyberspace, unseen and unknown, with all the time in the world.

Some postulate these lines of code trickle about, seeking other broken sections and fractured sets of binary, randomly manifesting their will in unpredictable ways.

Laptops freeze. Hard drives crash. Cell phone pictures self-delete. DVDs "pixelate" and freeze at certain damaged sections.

Why is that?

Could it be our technology has secrets of its own; artifacts from the past waiting to be uncovered?

Flash forward a hundred years. Virtual reality. Cybernetic implants. News by the millisecond. Cyber-surfing digital avatars, custom-made to your specifications, further modified by their users.

Millions of teraquads of data being deleted, shuffled, de-fragged, rearranged for crystal clarity and digitally re-mastering that will stay in style for three minutes max. Until the new trend comes along, crushing the obsolete in a tidal wave of tween criticism and MST3K-style mockery.

With technology that makes us look like cavemen painting on walls, you gotta wonder:

What kinds of ghosts are their machines hiding?


Marq and Lachryma tiptoed quietly along the abandoned sewer, dodging muck and garbage strewn throughout the damp corridors. The stench of stagnant filth clogged their very pores and choked their lungs; but they pressed on. They simply had to.

Lachryma had given him the low-down earlier, but as they cleared better-left-unknown debris, the powered-down knight felt it was better to fill the toxic air with conversation rather than palpable muck. It was a semi-pleasant distraction, at least.

“So…who is this “Mr. Fix-it, again?” Marq managed in-between tears from the noxious vapors rising to meet his eyes.

“Well, he was this guy I defended one time when I was a laywer, back in my warm life.” the slim vampire began, weaving a slender white hand through her raven hair, “One of the indie corps wanted to make an example of him, trying to frame him for ‘stealing the designs of their nanite machines’. I proved he had created those designs two years prior, and had synthesized working prototypes in his own lab even before the corporate think-tanks had even dreamed up the specs. The only reason they were setting him up was to make it clear that corporations had exclusive rights to technological innovation. Which is absurd, if you think about it.”

Marq shook his head, “Typical corporations.”

“No doubt about it,” Lachryma agreed, “So after the trial, Fix-it was pretty much off the hook, though he felt it was safer to go underground. I kept in touch with him for a bit, just to see if he was okay. Last I heard, he was holed up down here.”

“How long ago was that?” Marq asked.

“Few weeks before I died.” Lachryma said, “The trial was a month or so before that.”

“Think he’s still here?”

“I hope so,” Lachryma bit her lip, scanning the old-style pipeline with her eyes, peering into the darkness ahead, “Cuz I don’t think that Jenny girl you mentioned can help with this kinda problem.”

Marq glanced down at his hands, devoid of the gleaming silver trappings he’d grown so accustomed to. Ever since the genetic nanotech armor had tried to override his motor functions and force him into becoming the assassin the corporation designed him for, Marq had to keep the suit under wraps, firmly tucked unconscious beneath his pores. Luckily, the suit hadn’t healed enough from his last battle to take over his body again, but Lachryma and Marq knew it was only a matter of time. “Yeah. Unfortunately, nanotech isn’t quite Jenny’s area of expertise. Fixing ancient computers with spare parts and overriding state-of-the-art corporate tech are two different things.”

“I’m just glad we found some clothes I could wear on the way over.” Marq gestured to his newly-pilfered T-shirt and worn jeans. “Even if they’re a few sizes too big. Feels like I’m swimming, almost.”

Lachryma grinned, “Hey, as long as I don’t have to look at your birthday suit all the way there, I’m happy.”

Marq chuckled, shaking his head. They rounded a corner in the pipeline, swishing the brown water at their heels in their wake.

“Heh. You looked.”

“Liar.”

BRREET!

Lachryma and Marq tensed in unison, looking around for the source of the sounding alarm. They gazed around them in a circle, adrenaline buzzing, primed and ready for an attack when a mechanical whirring sounded in front of them. Their eyes darted forward, only to see seventeen horizontal red lines appear in front of them out of nowhere. Burrowing her gaze into the shadowed walls and following the neon lasers to their source, Lachryma could make out the mysterious movements of more than three dozen different creatures crawling along the walls in front of them.

The black shiny robots appeared to move like tiny mechanical spiders as seventeen more lasers, vertical this time, appeared in front of and behind the first seventeen, cementing a fiery grid pattern in front of them within seconds. Lachryma felt the heat from the deadly laser-grid across her cool, pale midriff. She lowered her stance a bit, letting her once-slender fingers lengthen into razor-sharp tips; her dull canines sharpening to daggers. Marq put up his fists in similar fashion, tensing his muscled frame into a self-defense posture he didn’t remember learning while a similar laser-grid formed ten feet behind them.

Marq and Lachryma glanced about, the tunnel suddenly abuzz with mechanical whirring and cybernetic activity. The noise was almost deafening. The ambushed pair darted their worried gazes around to the source of an even louder sound of clicks, whirs and noisy molecular motors beyond the background noise of the spiders. In the black muck, they could make out the movement of a dozen more spiders, assuming triangular positions around them.

“Shit.” Marq gumbled.

“Nothing new here.” She replied.

The duo recoiled as thirty tiny beams emanated from the hyperactive robots, diving out of the way as the red lights coalesced at a point not a foot from their previous position. As the duo landed in the muck, the neon lasers became a giant oval grid hovering a few feet in the air in front of them.

Lachryma rose to meet the new challenge when she felt a pinch in her arm. She drew it back, smelling the scent of burnt flesh as she drew her gaze up to meet the laser grid that cut off the rest of the tunnel.

“Hazardlight, folks,” a disembodied voice said in crystal-clear surround sound, “the lasers are in fact, deathly hot.”

The singed vampire and her companion both brought their eyes up to meet the giant red oval, which was slowly dissolving into a face. The spiders began emitting more lasers, this time even finer strands with a thousand hues of blue and green, eventually resolving with the intense reds to form the picture-perfect, flesh-colored image of…

“Fix-it.” Lachryma growled.

“Mr. Fix-it, at your service.” The hologram smiled. “So, tell me why I shouldn’t let the spiders chop you into a hundred cauterized little pieces again?”

Marq and Lachryma noticed that the grids in front and behind them were now joined by grids on either side. A fiery trap from which there would be no escape.

“We need your help.” Lachryma pleaded through bared fangs.

“Listen, sweet-cakes, I don’t do charity cases,” the smug holo continued, “so if you’re done…”

“Not by a long shot, sweet cakes” She emphasized every syllable with obvious irritation, “First of all, it’s a matter of life or death --”

“Not my problem,” Fix-it interjected.

“And second,” Lachryma said forcefully, “You. Owe. Me.”

Fix-it laughed, “What exactly, ‘do I owe you’?”

Lachryma said nothing, staring down the hologram as her features subtly changed. Her skin flushed, her lips reddened. Her raven locks subtly became browner; more alive. Her face remained more or less the same, but her gaze became infused with warmth. With life.

“Listen. Hot Lips. Not telepathic, so cut it with the…” the hologram trailed off, his high-res lips tripping over themselves as the recognition slowly crawled across his face. “What the---? You serious? You -- you can’t be serious.”

“Try me.” The now flesh-toned vampire tilted her head, fangs retracting into everyday teeth.

“Ms. Rebecca McBride herself.” Fix-it chuckled, “The lawyer that saved my ass. Though…waiiitasec. How do I know you’re not a shape shifter?”

“I am a shape shifter.” Becka pointed out.

“Uh. Not exactly helping your case.”

“You wanna talk cases. Fine, we’ll talk cases.” Becka McBride began, pacing around the hologram feverishly as a trained lawyer would pace the jury during an opening statement. “The case of Jeremy England versus the Paradigm Corporation. April Seventeenth, Two Thousand Ninety-Nine. The defendant, Jeremy England, alias ‘Mr. Fix-it’ is brought up on charges of copyright infringement, plagiarism, and fraud. Case dismissed when attorney Rebecca McBride, that would be me by the way, proved to the jury that the evidence in question, certain breakthrough nano-technological designs the defendant was to have stolen from Paradigm Corporation, had been developed by Mr. England a full two years prior to the published works of said corporation. Case further debunked by unpublished, controversial documents obtained from the corporation’s archives by…extralegal means.”

Marq whistled, impressed.

Fix-it was breathless, taken aback by Lachryma’s performance. “Whu…uh…extralegal…means, what does that…?”

“The defendant, as I remember, ‘hacked the living shock out of those pusbag’s archives.’ ”

Fix-it smiled, waving a hand through his spiked, green-and-yellow-highlighted hair, “Yeah, that was one primo job, if I do say so myself.”

“You have.” Lachryma rolled her eyes, “At length. Despite my greatest efforts.”

“You do sound like Rebecca,” Fix-it admitted, “but that still doesn’t prove…”

“The defendant, as I recall,” Becka interrupted, with a playful grin in her eyes, “seemed to be praying during the trial. What he was actually doing was weeping under his breath for his mommy like a little girl. And petting the nano-tech drug-inducers in his hands, which sent nerve impulses to the pleasure centers of the brain. So when the defendant looked like he was shaking in terror, he was actually suffering from multiple involuntary orgas—“

“Okay, okay!” Fix-it held up his holographic hands in acquiescence. “Okay. Even if I believe you, which I don’t…”

Lachryma smirked defiantly.

“…what the hell happened to you? I mean, did you have these powers the whole time or what?”

The flesh color disappeared out of Lachryma’s face, “That…is a bit complicated. Look, we don’t have time for this. I can explain it all later, but right now, we need your help.”

Fix-it’s lips trembled as his hologram stared at Lachryma’s strong features.

“Okay, just…” He stammered, “--just don’t do the lawyer thing again.”

Lachryma glanced sidelong at Marq, smiling a calm and cool smile.


Marq gaped at the hideaway in awe.

He suddenly felt very small as he peered at the archways in the ceiling, a good forty feet above him. Enormous, yet dusty, chandeliers hung at regular intervals in the keystones along the arches. The ancient lights filled the room with a hazy incandescence that was a relief from the biting bright of neon, lending a dream-like quality to the scene.

The whole room had been a subway station, a long time ago -- before Old New York had been abandoned. Only now, instead of trains, there was now a nanotech-constructed laboratory from which Mr. Fix-it was able to continue his work with nanotechnology in secret, away from prying corporate eyes.

It was this laboratory space that Marq sat in at the moment, arm exposed and waiting for the syringe to take the blood sample.

PRICK

“Ouch!”

“Sorry,” Fix-it muttered to the de-powered knight, taking the blood sample over to a lab table. “Not a doctor.”

The young nanotechnologist placed the blood sample under a high-powered microscope as Marq placed a napkin on his wound to cut off the bleeding. Fix-it fiddled with the range of adjustments on the microscope, deeply infatuated with the image he was seeing. Marq stood up, steeling himself for the bad news.

“Yeeeup. You’re pretty shocked up, alright.” Fix-it said idly while staring through the lens, “I don’t know a great deal about blood cells, DNA and that crap. But I do see nano fiber-optics crawling along something that looks like a double helix DNA strand. But I mean….Great Baldur, who designed this stuff?”

“Stark-Fujikawa.” Marq said with a twinge of hate.

“Ah. Major corp there. ‘Splains why this stuff’s advanced, even for me.”

“Is there anything you can do?” Lachryma asked, arms crossed over her chest.

“First you break a tinker-toy, then you get impatient with the guy trying to fix it. Gratitude for ya.”

Lachryma’s eyes narrowed at the hunched-over scientist, “I was going to die without fresh blood. I had no idea this kind of thing would happen!”

“Can’t believe I let a shocking vampire into my home. I’ll bet you got all hot and bothered when I took that blood sample.” Fix-it chimed, turning away from the microscope and looking straight at the chalk-white vixen.

“Remember Fix-it,” Lachryma said flatly, bringing her golden pupils up to meet his cocky stare. “I can’t tolerate Marq’s blood. But yours, I can just feel pumping hard through your carotid. I could use a snack right about now. Care to make a donation?”

“Ahem.” Fix-it smirked, turning back towards the work. “Anyway, there ain’t a problem I can’t fix. Thing is, this stuff is too integrated with his DNA. I could try using a nano-virus to re-program it, or use my nano-assemblers to re-write the coding from the ground up. But I can’t guarantee I won’t short circuit the fleshy parts if I cut the power to the cybernetic.”

“So the suit can’t be deactivated?” Marq asked.

“Not from out here, no.” Fix-it shook his head.

Marq sighed with relief. He’d grown accustomed to having the suit and using its features to help the people of Downtown. Being able to fight back against the corps was a definite plus, and he’d only remove the armor as an absolute last resort.

There had to be another way.

Waitaminute…

“What do you mean, ‘not from out here?’ “ Marq questioned.

Fix-it stole his gaze from the equipment, smiling an evil smile toward the knight. “We’re going to have to go in.”

“In? In where?”

“In you.”

“…what?” Marq shook his head with confusion. Whatever the shock Fix-it meant by that, Marq knew he wouldn’t like it.



“AAAAHHHHHH!!!!” Marq screamed uncontrollably, tumbling end-over-end through the void of cyberspace. In the real world, Fix-it grabbed at his audio headset and yanked it off, reeling from the feedback of the screaming knight.

“Jammit.” He heard Lachryma curse under her breath from the discarded headset. Fix-it watched her pilot her cyberspace avatar after Marq.

Marq, once again clad in a glittering digital simulacrum of his Stark/Fujikawa-designed Moon Knight armor, twirled through racing vertical strips of streaming binary code. Ones and zeroes raced past his head, buffeting him in floods of information, which sent him flying toward geometrically-perfect skyscrapers made entirely of ever-shifting polygons. Vector equations drifted in and out of existence around the knight as he bounced off the building and crashed into a pool of soupy modem static.

Lachryma – her thoughts having shaped her avatar into a giant anthropomorphic vampire bat – flapped her well-toned leather wings and let the electrical currents floating about in the matrix carry her towards the static pool. Chattery ‘water’ reverberated with concentric circles of electrostatic distortion and signal lag from the flailing knight’s impact.

Fix-it watched the both of them flail about in cyberspace on two enormous flat-panel displays from the safety and comfort of his real world laboratory. The display showed four separate perspectives at the moment – something like the old X-Box four-way split screens, if anyone still knew what an X-Box was anymore. The upper left screen showed Lachryma head-on, the upper right showed her from the back. The bottom two splits showcased an aerial view of Marq struggling in the modem pond as well as a close-up on the wavering bits of modem traffic the pond was comprised of.

The nanotechnologist pouted for a moment. Lachryma had changed from a sexy vampire woman into a giant bat. The upper-left view, which had for a few seconds given him a solid view of her beautiful behind, now showcased an enormous tuft of fur where her shapely curves had been.

The shameless voyeur sent a mental command through the wireless neurojack in his neck at the console in front of him. Instantly, the view on the screen changed to a behind-the-shoulders view of the vampire bat. He was now watching c-space from what was more-or-less her perspective – the previous shot of her backside no longer needed. He pouted once again, tapping his finger rapidly against neon-colored sideburns.

Fix-it had decided that the best way to get at the nanotech program was to have them go inside Marq’s genetic code manually, via a connection through cyberspace. Their minds piloted digital avatars throughout the unreal world – they were antibodies to the virus raging within the knight.

Naturally, the minute Fix-it had gotten their avatar signals inside, things went straight to hell.

Typical shockin’ amateurs.

Fix-it tore his gaze from the flat panel screens, glancing backwards at the two inert bodies lying on freshly-conceived nanotech beds. Marq and Lachryma were both stone silent with neon VR goggles attached to their faces. Fix-it grinned at the two comatose heroes, basking in their ‘amateurness’ as far as the cyberspace ether was concerned.

Fix-it sighed. It felt good to be the only one in the room who knew what he was doing.

He tore his eyes back to the screens displaying the cyberspace world. He dialed down the volume on the headset and refined the audio connection, feeling the need to say something constructive to the man drowning in a pool of symbolic modem connection chaos.

“Marq, you silly newb! Your c-space archetype responds to your brainwaves. Just think about flying – or swimming maybe would be better for you at the moment – and your archetype will do it for you!” Fix-it laughed through the audio link.

Fix-it helplessly watched Marq struggle about in the chattering pool of swirling broadband and thoughtspeed connection calls. Dense router information swirled along the knight’s legs and began pulling him deeper. Fix-it shook his head in aggravation.

But before Marq could be overwhelmed by the modem signal traffic, Lachryma scooped him up out of the soup and carried him through the matrix with a pair of firm shiny black talons. After he shut his eyes for a time, Marq finally managed to stop screaming. Fix-it rubbed the bridge of his nose, relieved and not a little irritated that Marq could not do a simple thing as ‘surf the Net’. His ears perked up as Lachryma’s voice sounded through his wireless headset.

“I’ve had nightmares better than this,” Lachryma muttered on the other line, the duo soaring into the half-dismantled horizon. “Why the hell’s this environment so wrecked up?”

“Looks like the programming was never finished,” Fix-it said through the intercom on the headpiece with sheer fascination, switching a bottom screen to showcase the shifting polygons and twisted pathways of the environment. ”Not only that, but back when you guys were fighting one another, Marq re-directed that energy blast back into his own armor, as you well know. And when he did, it wrecked the suit up a lot. So, thanks to that little stunt…”

“’That little stunt’ saved my life.” Lachryma interjected.

“Well, no one’s perfect,” Fix-it said smugly, switching to a wider view of the landscape. “Thanks to that, and the fact that a lot of the code’s still incomplete, you are going to be surfing through some really inhospitable sectors.”

“Wonderful.” Fix-it watched Lachryma grimace on the top screen and grinned at her, despite the fact that she had no way of seeing it. Suddenly – on the bottom two sections of his screen – he noticed an enormous patch of three-dimensional gridlines spurting up in front of the vampire bat out of green-hued nothingness in the background, flashing shades of jade, indigo, gold and crimson colors shimmering along the vertical and horizontal lines. It was as bright and as beautiful as a morning sunrise. Just then, it shattered into a cloud of fine powder; like a wine glass having an intimate chat with a steam shovel.

Watching this display made Fix-it feel like he was a child of ten again – surfing the badlands of cyberspace for the very first time.

God, he loved the wonders of cyberspace.

Without warning, the fine cloud of dust engulfed the vampire bat before she knew what was going on. Fix-it sat up in his hovering chair, watching her and Marq begin to writhe within the puff of smoke that had a mind of its own.

Suddenly, the twenty-something nanotechnologist noticed the tiny patches of blood issuing from his silk and her fur. Green eyes widened in horror as he began switching perspectives on the screens in front of him in a nervous frenzy, trying to get a clear view of them through the cloud. The injured duo finally emerged through the very top of the fine stratus cloud of dust – apparently made out of a million microscopic glass shards.

He sighed in relief. The green-and-yellow headed nanotechnologist rubbed his chin with his index finger and eyed the different perspectives of the recovering heroes. The last viewscreen was fixed on the roaming cloud of dust, shimmering and sauntering off calmly into the void.

On the top left, he watched the cloud drift away from them lightly, off to rebuild itself into something infinitely more complex. He coalesced the perspectives on the flat-screen display back on the injured pair.

Marq cursed like a sailor over the comm., terror and adrenaline creeping into his voice. “Odin’s eyes! What the flying shock was that?”

“Yes! What the shock was that just now?” Lachryma’s delightful little chirp.

“One sec.” Fix-it panned over to the traveling cloud of dust, zooming the camera in on the off-white stratus until the shape became a swirling mass of red, blue and green ones and zeroes orbiting one another. Streaming the binary of the cloud, Fix-it concentrated hard on the numbers, eventually discerning a common pattern.

“Looks like…a portion of your connectivity grid. It’s rebuilding itself.”

Fix-it panned out of the microscopic view, grinning stupidly at the new image on the screen, noting the way the rendering on the cloud gave it sort of a shimmery look to it. “There’s hope for that wrecked suit of yours yet.”

“What?” Marq yelled incredulously, “That looked more like a part of the atmosphere exploding, turning into a cloud and then proceeding to cut us with switchblades. A million tiny switchblades! What the shocking hell is going on here?”

Fix-it stammered over the intercom, “Well, like I told you going in…”

“You told us we were going into my programming to manually correct the test program that’s making me into a corporate killing machine and instead, we almost get killed by a cloud of shocking dust? What. The. Shock. Is. Going. On. Here??”

Fix-it reached for a dial on the keyboard and turned it all the way to the right. The duo on the four screens reeled as static in their audio receivers jumped tenfold, blanketing their entire realm of hearing in nothing but resounding, echoing white noise. They yelped, quieting their panicked protests a few moments after Fix-it dialed down the noise on the other end.

“CHILLAX!” Fix-it yelled over the intercom. “Just…chillax. Lemme speak for a sec.”

“Just start explaining.” Lachryma said through the semi-static connection, flapping her wings, keeping the duo aloft in the environment of hostile code.

“And don’t ever.” Marq added, “Do that. Again.

Fix-it smirked. “You forget that cyberspace is symbolic. Everything that you see and hear in there is a figurative representation of something that’s happening in his suit’s binary code. For example, maybe a connectivity matrix will symbolize itself as an electrical grid, or a bust of the human circulatory system or something. Maybe a security system shows up in there as a bunch of armed guards or something.”

“Or a bunch of nanotech spiders.” Lachryma commented.

“Oh, ha ha.” Fix-it sneered. “When we’re up against a hostile takeover or a reprisal, you’ll thank me then.”

“Oh, I’m sure.” Sarcasm bled out of her voice.

“So, everything we’re seeing right now is just a representation of something going on in my armor?” Marq asked.

“Yeah,” Fix-it replied, “Exactly. Cyberspace is basically just a three-dimensional environment that allows users to interface with the software, or hardware, they’re connecting to. Everything renders itself symbolically, so the interface is easier to deal with. Otherwise, you’re just reading about a billion lines of binary code.”

“So how do you know what’s happening inside this place?” Marq questioned.

“Because I can zero in on the binary coding that shapes every object in c-space. Like a zoom lens on a camera.”

“Didn’t you tell me binary code is just a bunch of ones and zeroes?” Marq asked, “Does that mean anything?”

“Well, this particular bunch of ‘ones and zeroes’ lets me read what’s going on in your cyberspace environment, and understand the rationale behind the symbolic representations.” Fix-it smugly replied, “So that I can direct you guys to where you need to be, so you’re not just flailing around in the dark.” Fix-it switched to a wide angle of the digital environment, bringing up a tiny schematic of the area on the lower right portion of the screens.

So then, where are we off to?” Lachryma questioned.

“No sweat, babe. Just keep going straight and I’ll tell you when to –“

A shudder in the digital environment. Very familiar. Very bad.

“OH SHIT! Move! Move!”

Lachryma and Marq barrel-rolled to the left when, out of nowhere, an enormous black hole – in all its shimmering, wavy translucence – opened up to the size of a small football field within seconds and began sucking up the random sphere and cone and pyramid shapes into itself. Dizzying surges of adrenaline pounded through Fix-it’s brain as he used the screens to put the black hole under a microscope. The ones and zeroes told him everything he needed to know.

The black hole was a manifestation of a broad-parameter deletion program, programmed to remove and destroy any damaged code it was pointed at.

It was pointed at the tract of environment Marq and Lachy were currently traveling through.

And they hadn’t gotten outside the suction perimeter in time.

This was very, very bad. If the deletion program knocked out their archetypes while their minds were downloaded inside, they would wake up permanently brain-dead. Fix-it poured through possible escape strategies in his mind.

The vampire flapped her wings hard against the portal, barely able to counteract the commanding grip of the vortex.

“Fix-it!” Lachryma screamed over the din of the black hole. “We need out, NOW!”

“That’s actually mega-hazardous with that black hole on your–“

SHOCKING NOW!

“Okay, okay!” Fix-it moved toward the keyboard, untouched till now – the retrieval commands too complex to quick-and-easy enter over the wireless neural network. He began typing the commands into the computer when a blinding light flashed on one of the upper left screens, followed by a scream of terror over the intercom.

“Oh shock me…” Fix-it breathed out.


CONCLUDED IN TWO MORE LUNAR CYCLES!

Previous Issue: "Deuce Ex Machina"


Welcome back to Knight Visions, everyone!

We've got two things up on the discussion block today. First off is a question I'm sure is on everyone's mind: Why isn't this issue the finale to the "Ghosts in the Machine" arc?

Well, good question. Here's the answer: It's Litany's fault.

I had this Litany/Metalscream story stuck in my head for the past few months, and I chose this month to finally get it out of my skull. Of course, as with all my stories, it expanded from maybe, a small six-to-nine pager into nineteen.

So I fell a little behind with Marq and co. All for the better, I suppose. Not cramming everything together in this one issue will allow #6 to be more streamlined. All the players are already introduced. The stage is set. And I can let the play unfold as it will, and not worry as much about the length.

So, perhaps it is a blessing in disguise after all.

Litany/Metalscream will be out this month (December), and Moon Knight #6 will be delivered to your awaiting orbs next February. I know it's a long wait, and it's been a loooong storyline, but it'll definitely be worth it!

As for the second thing on the discussion block, a fellow fanficcer has recently posted a review of Moon Knight on the HEROES Mailing List. You all know him. He's the man responsible for the superb Spider-Man short story over in 2099UGR Unlimited #8. He's crafted the fine tale of Marvel super-villain inmates politics in The Vault over at the Marvel 2000. He's opened up the new fanfic site DC Secret Origins with partner-in-crime Bowie Sessions.

Without further ado, I'll let David Golightly take the floor:

Title: Moon Knight 2099
Author: Jason McDonald
Site: 2099UGR

2099 is a year I'm quite fond of. Peter David weaved an intricate world that caused a cult following, myself included. One of the many reasons I think people enjoyed the 2099 universe was because of how tight the sci-fi elements were. Jason McDonald doesn't miss a beat with his Moon Knight series. Anyone who even vaguely knew about the 2099 comics should be reading this book. Hell, even if you have no idea what I'm talking about you should be reading it. The writing is top-notch.

Tons of action and suspense coupled with an intense mystery. Who is Moon Knight? We get some hints about who the character is but his past remains shrouded. Even after we're given a lengthy explanation about who he really is, Jason pulls a 180 and tosses everything back up in the air. The point: don't believe what you're being told and don't trust anyone. This kind of storytelling is something I feel is missing in most fan fiction. It's hard to keep things fresh but Jason does it well by keeping the reader in the dark up until the last moment (even though hints are dropped here and there). There is some foreshadowing but not enough to give the whole plot away.

The characters are very well developed and its obvious that Jason spent a lot of time creating them. Even background characters that only appear for a few paragraphs seem to have a certain level of depth to them, making their dialogue unique.

My only compliant after reading is that there seems to be a lot of unnecessary name-dropping (moreso in the first miniseries; not so much in the ongoing). I know that hardcore Moon Knight fans may love this but since Jason's main character doesn't seem to have any relation whatsoever with the original Moon Knight it seems a bit too coincidental. I understand that this is to add to the homage, I just didn't think it fit very well. The 2099 characters, as a whole, worked better as completely seperate from their original templates and the name-dropping feels like a forced connection. A minor complaint of my own opinion that I realize most readers won't agree with.

Consider this title close to the top of my Must Read List. I can't wait to see when Steven Rogerson, Lachryma, and Emmanual will pop back up (even if it's only in a flashback).

Wow. I don't know what to say. Thanks so much for the review, Dave!

I've been enjoying the hell out of crafting a whole world for Moon Knight to play in. The mystery of his origin is going to be a thread that will weave in and out throughout the series. And despite the flashbacks of his previous life he's been having, he's bound to slip up every once in a while interpreting what they mean. It's like he's putting together a 500 piece puzzle, except without the picture on the box it came in to guide him and maybe 30 odd pieces to work with. Doubtful he's able to figure out the big picture very quickly. But Marq will continue getting pieces of the puzzle every once in a while, and that will lead him on a long, hard road to the truth, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. And who knows what he'll uncover about himself as he walks along the path?

As far as the world of 2099 in which Marq has awoken in, I've always loved the fact that PAD and Joey Cavilieri and all the other architects of the original 2099 universe were able to break the mold of the typical 'alternate future'. This world goes far beyond the stereotypical 'dystopia', where a rag-tag group of freedom fighters would always battle amongst the charred remains of Earth against some cruel despot with armies that had swept the globe ages ago.

2099 could be a utopia if it wanted to. Easily. Flying cars. Nanotechnology that could cure hunger. Advanced genetic manipulation. And yet, it's all controlled by corporations whose sole purpose in life is economic growth. Why use nanotechnology to make free food for everyone, when you can grow food that will make you addicted, so you'll keep buying more product? It lets you play with the idea that: 'Technology is neither good nor evil. It just can be used for good or evil ends.' And it complicates matters, and I'm a sucker for complicated stories.

As far as the characters go, I've been trying to pretty much make every character you meet interesting and engaging in some way. From the inter-relationships between Gale, Vonvargas and Jenny, and how Marq is impacting their lives. From Amanda to Cecilia to the Specialist to Takayashi. When I write these guys, I try to get across not just what they do, but why they do what they do. And why they are who they are. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure these things out. Hopefully, I'm doing a good job of getting that across.

As far as the name-drops, I admit there were a great many, especially in the mini-series. The Khonshu-class transport ship. The main character of Marq. Spectre Division. I hope they didn't come off as too cheesy. Even though Moon Knight 2099 is a completely different animal than Moon Knight 2006 would be, I just couldn't resist shattering the fourth wall for a moment and winking at the audience. But of course, each of these things has a rationale.

The Khonshu-class mini-ship is in fact, named after the Egyptian God Khonshu. I figured, if the Norse Gods like Thor and Odin are in the forefront of public worship, why can't Khonshu be worshipped by these people of the future who desperately need something to have hope in?

Marq, if you read the mini, is Gale's father's name which she gave to Moony in issue #2 before he had found out that his name was Edward Somerset. Moon Knight decided to keep the moniker after feeling that blindly searching for his own past with only a few fragments of memory to guide him was too dangerous, at least until he got more pieces of the puzzle together. "Edward Somerset", doesn't quite fit for him yet.

And Spectre Division? Yeah, maybe a bit corny. But it is the name of a top-secret, need-to-know subdivision of the Stark-Fujikawa R&D labs. They are figuratively a "specter" in the corporation. So that's where that comes from.

Anyway, enough of my babbling. Thanks a lot for reading, and for the fine review! And Emmanuel will definitely be showing up again next issue. The time crunch kinda kept him out of this issue, unfortunately. But when he does show up again, he will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.


The fun's just begun.


Next issue:

It’s the finale you’ve all been waiting patiently for:

The mystery of Emmanuel, the digital construct.

Lachryma and Marq’s final fates.

And the comatose Gale Nocturne’s desperate fight for survival.

It all comes to a close (Really and truly this time!) with the heart-stopping, pulse-pounding, adrenaline frenzy I can only call “Demons in the Dark”!

See you next time, ladies and gents.

Jason McDonald
12.01.06


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