Daffy’s Revenge by J E F Rose
“So who clobbered you?” Victor King asked later. “Tullii?”
“A possibility of course” Daffy replied. “Not the union because they want me to tell their story!” Daffy said. “And the chief union leaders are already dead. Ditto the supposedly AWOL guy who tried to escape across the desert. That was fabricated from day one. In fact over 30 people are dead. All of the so-called downsized workers who supposedly were fired and shipped off never reached their homes. In fact they never left Solar One. The two workers found in the service tunnel torn to pieces were merely the latest bodies and their bodies were found only because the monster eating human beings was frightened off and left it’s meal behind.”
Victor King’s mouth dropped open. “This is not a movie is it?”
“Yes and no Victor” Daffy said. “We can shoot as much as we want and believe me we will end up with one fucking exposé . In fact, we need to film the scene with me here in being bandaged up as the Crosser gang comes to check if why I am not dead yet! I will write out the scene! But! But I am here for King ADA to investigate mass murder as well as labor unrest which is merely the top of this inverted iceberg!”
“There really is a monster?” Victor asked. “I thought we were making that up to scare Tullii shitless. Crank the cameras as you shove him up a dark scary place to piss himself thinking there was a so-called monster and then crank the cameras as he runs for it screaming like a baby?”
“There really is a monster terrorizing Solar One” Daffy said. “And it’s name used to be Asterion Minnos. It is lurking in the maze of service tunnels that radiate under, and out, and around Solar One. The maze of service tunnels in general, and Service Tunnel One in particular.
A spur of honeycombed underground caves and tunnels and fissures of the Bone Mountains was bisected by the new Service Tunnel One which encloses the massive water mains that pump water from the river here to the plant. Service Tunnel One hit a spur or pocket of the labyrinth of natural honeycomb caves that extend from the Bone Mountains. Rather like cutting off the big toe of the Bone Mountains. The trouble is it was also like cutting off the big toe of the Dark Lord!
When I came with King ADA we toured the massive service tunnel and even went spelunking among a few of the honeycomb of underground caves. The underground caves extend all the way to the Bone Mountains which is all honeycomb caves of greater or smaller sizes. Thousands of caves and fissures. If we had been crazy enough we could have spelunker all the way up to the top of the ruins of the Palace of the Dark Lord himself, perched on top of the blood red ruins of the Fortress of Blood! But we were not that crazy! And we did not have Malian’s magic ‘crew’ of wool to unwind to find our way back! And anyways! Malians’ ‘crew’ was a clue of mirage unreliability!”
“So the monster is an Orc?” Victor asked nervy. Orcs were still bogeymen in the collective imagination of Zendula.
“No” Daffy replied. “That was why King ADA came. I came along to see the amazing construction but when King ADA heard about the service tunnel bisecting a corner of the honeycomb of underground caves and fissures he had to come and investigate to insure there was no danger to the plant from mythic monsters! And there are no apparent mythic monsters attacking Solar One! King ADA ordered a security barrier of solid concrete installed to block any movement into Service Tunnel One from anything that might potentially still inhabit the Bone Mountains. Orc or otherwise! Our movie of course won’t mention that so we can have a monster out of history terrorizing our power plant! Or not!
Our film is based on Doyle’s ‘The Terror of Red Gap’ and the reader/ audience is suppose to exit the movie great hall wondering whether or not there really is a monster or if the monster hunter is imagining it all and the plant administrator is using the so-called monster to hide labor unrest and corporate murder resulting from downsizing.
However, there is one monster here at Solar One! A real monster! And that monster appeared only five months ago when Asterion Minnos came home from the Wheel of Durham to visit his parents here and apparently had an ‘industrial accident’. He never returned to the university where he was studying industrial chemistry. To be exact: industrial mithril. And apparently it was an industrial accident with mithril.
I almost got Doctor Daeda to tell me about the mysterious industrial accident when the Minnos family in all of their demented and nefarious glory came to see if I was dead or not! Administrator Minnos must have been so unhappy to see I was still alive! But he had his little revenge! He smashed my wireless radio! We can’t communicate out unless and until our airship leaves the underground airport and flies out of range of this accurst place! So in a way we are kinda prisoners. We can’t call for help….”
“Wait a minute. Ignoring for a moment the ‘prisoner part’ what about this son of Administrator Minnos?” Victor sputtered.
“The deaths all started when Asterion Minnos apparently vanished off the face of the earth. And Asterion Minnos vanished here after an ‘industrial accident’. Over 30 people have died since that industrial accident! Minnos is downsizing to remove the corporate memory of the veteran workers. The new workers don’t know who Asterion Minnos is — was— or what happened. And as you can see the veteran workers don’t associate with the new workers. The two groups so hate each other they don’t commingle.
So Minnos is systematically downsizing the veteran workers to remove anyone who knows about Asterion Minnos and the mysterious industrial accident. Downsizing— as in murder! He is murdering the workers here at Solar One to cover up what happened to his son Asterion Minnos. 29 dead. 26 to go. 25 working people plus of course Doctor Daeda who must also be liquidated. Because of course she treated Asterion Minnos for his ‘industrial accident’ and then she wrote that secret letter to King ADA. King ADA asked me to come and investigate under the covert cloak of invisibility of making a movie. And we will end up with a movie one way or the other!”
“Downsizing! As in murder!” Victor sputtered. “Trapped here! No communications! A monster rampaging! The boss a mass murderer! Murdering everyone! Including us if this madman thinks we know! But what do we know?”
Daffy rubbed his aching head. “Both Raw mithril and industrial mithril derived from mining slag is highly, if erratically, radioactive. Raw and industrial mithril is worse in a lot of ways than radium or uranium. Triggers mutation. Does not kill. But it mutates living things like the Fiery Fissure. In fact, that was where the Dark Lord started his mutation experiments with mithril at his first fortress at the Fiery Fissure.
Orcs are mutations. The Orc Queens are mutations. The Fiery Fissure monsters were, at least some of them, mutations. Diseases hatched there are mutations. Other things …. a lot of things…. were created there and later at his last bastion of evil in the Bone Mountains at the infamous Fortress of Blood. And belated testing shows high readings of mithril contamination all around the ruins of the notorious Fortress of Blood. And no mithril would or should be found in the Bone Mountains! In the Fiery Fissure Ruins! Sure! Also the Maw of Madness in the core of the Mother Mountain of Ancient Arcadia! Sure! But not here! So mithril readings indicate ancient and modern contamination from highly radioactive mithril brought here. Brought here a thousand years ago by the Dark Lord. And brought here to Solar One to power the alchemy of modern solar power. And Asterion Minnos’ research for his degree at the Wheel of Durham was in industrial mithril. The Light Receiver of the Solar One Light House uses industrial mithril.”
“And the industrial accident involved industrial mithril which does not kill so much as it mutates people and things into monsters….” Victor said grimly. “Oh Daffy! Why did you get us involved! This is worse than a monster basilisk—- or is it a wyvern— reputed to be in 2nd Age sewers under Downtown Havens! Two blocks west of my new house in fact!”
“Wyvern!” Daffy corrected. “I think…” Daffy groaned and rubbed his very real bandage. “Well look at it this way Victor! Maybe we can shoved Tullii’s down Service Tunnel One and he can end up as dinner for a quite real monster!”
“Pickled asshole?” Victor replied. “Even a monster would not want to munch on Tullii! So what do we do now? Film a monster devouring one of us?”
“Well! We are stuck here in the middle of the desert in the middle of the Bone Mountains as far from civilization as is humanly possible! And all communications have been cut off! I guess we must confront the monster in the maze of tunnels. The question is how do movie actors and movie camera men and movie gaffers and a movie director kill a genuine monster lurking in Service Tunnel One other than using Tullii as human bait?….”