About The Kulture Vultures
(and the Plot to Steal the Universe)
“Only five people can save the world. But there’s a problem. They’re dead.”
In the black of the cosmos, the Combine rules over entire planetary systems with an iron fist. Having harvested and destroyed the culture of billions upon billions to ensure that they, and only they, are the dominant form of entertainment in the universe, the Combine maintain a monopoly over hearts and minds everywhere with their terrible sitcoms.
Just so happens that the best pirated culture comes from Earth. The human monkeys might not be smart, but damn if they aren’t entertaining. Earth’s biggest fan, a lowly intergalactic cab driver named Zel, joins a few not-so-loyal companions in a race to prevent humanity’s extinction – by resurrecting Earth’s great pulp writers and scientists. The only ones with enough creative craziness to figure out how to stop the Combine.
The cab took off like a beautiful, high-speed special effect.
The acceleration was tremendous. Mind-blowing. If it wasn’t for the Zelda’s inertia compensators, Vincent would have turned into paste.
Gravity’s a bitch like that.
But instead, Vincent found himself in the greatest car chase ever. Steve McQueen in a Mustang couldn’t touch him. For a heartbeat, the city was there. Then it wasn’t. It was replaced by non-Euclidian lines and angles. Then, even that was left behind. There was just a tunnel. Colors and sights enveloped him. He thought he could see forever.
For the first time, Vincent understood Kubrick’s 2001.
It was when they decelerated to Mach I over Germany that someone tried to shoot them down.
“Fuckin Germans,” Zel muttered.
“Well, they didn’t start it this time,” Vincent said.
“We’re cloaked. They shouldn’t be able to see us.”
“Are we leaking something? Exhaust or fumes?”
“No. No way anyone on your planet is going to pick up on tachyon drive emissions. It’s a short trip so I’m not using the Alcubierre drive. And I have a muffler that de-phases the tachyon particles as they’re expelled. Disperses them naturally. Invisible. Unlike some clumsy ion drive. Even the Combine has trouble tracking it.”
“So what then?”
Zel shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter. We’ll survive the blast without a scratch. Zelda’s force field can take us through a star and it wouldn’t matter much.”
Vincent said, “The attention we draw matters. We have to stay unknown or life will get hard. Every goddamn person on the planet is gonna get real curious about a magic ship that slowed down to Mach I and survived a missile.”
Sprosty opened his window and looked out. “Uh … we’re on fire.”
“No we’re…” Zel examined the instrument panel. “Holy dicks. We are.”
“Well that’s how we got spotted. Fuck,” Vincent said. “What happened?”
Zel started to laugh. “There’s a pigeon stuck in the rear wheel. Actually about a dozen. They’re half-in, half-out of the statis barrier. The shield. They must’ve slipped in when I was turning the barrier on.”
“Rats with fuckin’ wings.”
“Yeah, well, they got cooked. Been cooking.” Zel flipped a switch on the dash. The charred bodies of a dozen burned birds tumbled away from the cab. “Now they’re gone.”
They watched as the missile dove for the hot pigeon remains. It exploded in an enormous fireball. Somewhere in Deutschland, a military man with a chest full of ribbons was screaming at an underling about why a million bucks had been wasted on a flock of birds.
They landed outside the Munich Waldfriedhof without further incident. They cloaked the cab and walked into the cemetery.
They passed through stone frames and the iron gates. Two grey chimera with human faces sat watch. The forest cemetery was gorgeous. Trees. Nature. The sunlight was filtered through a billion leaves. As a home for the dead, it was serene. If there was a place to find peace, this was it.
They checked the graves. They didn’t speak among themselves. They kept their eyes on the stone markers. Waldfriedhof had too much of a powerful sense of itself to run off at the mouth. None of the three were religious, but something about this ground demanded respect.
They found Heisenberg’s grave without too much difficulty, thanks in large part to a map of the graveyard that Zel popped up on his holopad.
Vincent dropped to his knees. He parted the light overgrowth and tried not to damage the flowers. “It’s a family plot. The whole lot of them is here. August. Annie. Werner. Elisabeth.” He sighed. “We’re really gonna dig him up, aren’t we?”
“He’ll understand,” Zel said. “He’s a scientist.” He scanned the gravesite with a thin red beam from his holopad. He punched the pad with his fingers and brought up a three dimensional representation of the area. “Werner’s down there. Intact.”
“It’s daylight. And we don’t have any shovels,” Vincent said.
“Don’t need em,” Zel said. He handed Sprosty the datapad so the four-armed monster could watch their progress. Zel yanked a thin metal tube from his vest pocket. It telescoped and became a thin needle about twelve feet long, resembling a syringe. He drove it into the ground. Twisted it when the soil got too tough. Threw his weight behind it when he hit the casket. Broke through. Hit flesh, then said, “Watch this.”
Zel pressed a small red button on the hilt of the telescoping syringe. It drew chunks of skin and flesh from Heisenberg’s corpse. It vacuumed it up and deposited it in the handle of the tool.
“Lickety quick,” Zel said.
“That’s it?” Vincent asked.
Sprosty tossed Zel’s datapad back. “Being an alien is pretty awesome, innit?”
Vincent couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah. Seems to be. Who’s next?”
“Let’s go get Dick,” Zel said.
Sprosty laughed like a child.