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stories & literature


"Part II: The Eternal Void"

by Christofori

(The IRC Version of this story is also available. Also, you may wish to check out the Preview too! Also, be sure to read Part I of TimeScape, as it contains plot and character elements which are important to this chapter.)

* * *

The Time: 10:27 P.M. on January 29th, 2003 (well... of course, it is the 30th in some places already; however, where growl used to reside, it is still the 29th.)

Life without growl hasn't been easy for most of the #modarchive patrons. Growl has been missing since August 2, 2002; and no one knows where she is, or what has happened to her.

However, things had been going well in the #modarchive channel as of late. With all of the instability issues occurring on DALnet since late last year, Stary (the channel founder) had decided to create a more vast #modarchive channel on several IRC servers. While DALnet still hosted the channel in a way, most of the active participants had moved over to a smaller, less-known network called EsperNet.

Anyway, like mentioned previously, things had been going well in #modarchive for quite some time. Of course, there were always those few trolls who liked to try to break in and disrupt normal channel operations... and it was times like those when Stary truly missed growl.

You see, growl was always on top of patrolling the channel, and she had the quickest ban time of all the channel ops. But, as far as everyone knew, growl had simply fallen off the face of the earth; never to be heard from again.

So, one particularly quiet night in the channel, there were only a few people speaking of this and that (mainly talking about various kinds of trackers, and which one they each preferred). The main participants in the conversation were X-Acto, Goblin, HunterZ, and ExcelioN; while the idlers (who mainly just sit there all the time) were AcidSoul[LR], M0d[afk], and the infamous James-Bond. Anyway, all the tracking talk was going well, until....

Something strange happened.

Something very... well, actually, it was more peculiar than anything, really. You see, no one really knows what IRC actually looks like; they just think of it more as a chat system where you connect to a network with your favorite client.... Well, IRC itself DOES have a particular look to it. As fate would have it, that night -- January 29, 2003 -- IRC began to change shapes.

Normally, IRC was somewhat in the shape of a spiral-type galaxy. However, on this night, IRC began to shape itself into a vast, random filament of millions of tiny pin-points. Each pin-point was a server, which had (in itself) several users connected... well, anyway, let's just make it a shorter story by saying that IRC was becoming quite different.

At first, no one in the quaint little channel of #modarchive noticed anything out of the ordinary. Suddenly, however, people started vanishing into nothingness.

Well, at least, it looked like more of a netsplit; which was really uncommon on EsperNet (though not unheard of, of course...).

Before long, the only ones left were HunterZ, Goblin, X-Acto, ExcelioN, and James-Bond.

Then, as each of the remaining patrons of #modarchive hoped that they wouldn't be the last, it all stopped.

No one else vanished.

Several moments of strained silence passed.

The first to speak up was HunterZ.

"What the hell? When is X-Acto gonna disappear?" HunterZ asked. "I want a chance to get channel ops :P" he said, with a smirk.
"Oi, buzznads!" X-Acto cautioned. "I am the last remaining OP here, and as long as I am in charge, we will be okay."
"Riiiiiiiight," quipped in Goblin. "You're just saying that because you're afraid you're NEXT!"
X-Acto shrugged his shoulders (virtually, of course), indicating that he wasn't sure what would happen.

Several moments passed, and none of them disappeared. They became so complacent in their sense of security that they were soon talking of trackers yet again.

They had nearly forgotten about the strange netsplits, until....

Suddenly, they all heard a MOD begin to play.

"Wait.. I know this one!" shouted ExcelioN.
"It's 'Space Debris' by Captain," informed X-Acto.
"Dah, I KNEW that!" said ExcelioN. "You didn't even give me a chance!"

The patrons were soon busily trying to figure out how they were hearing a MOD through IRC, when -- suddenly -- something even MORE peculiar happened.

James-Bond changed color.

That particular event, in and of itself, isn't really that strange. However, as most IRC patrons know, IRC doesn't allow nicknames to be of any color.

Soon, James-Bond himself disappeared in a bright blue netsplit flash!

This time, the remaining patrons all felt a slight earth quake which coincided with James-Bond's rather odd departure.

"OMG!" they all shouted in unison.
"What the heck was that?" Goblin queried excitedly, thinking the world was on fire.
"What, you felt it too??" HunterZ asked, horrified.
"I think we all felt it, whatever it was," X-Acto informed them. "The question now is, what comes next?"

Suddenly, though, ExcelioN and X-Acto both disappeared, accompanied by a loud *THUD* sound and a more massive ground quake.

"OMG!" shouted HunterZ. "They disappeared!!"

HunterZ looked worriedly at Goblin's nick, and....

HunterZ realized that he wasn't looking at Goblin's nick.

He was looking at Goblin himself!

Goblin and HunterZ locked eyes in a bewildered and frightened gaze. They each stared at the other for several minutes. They could hear nothing. They could see nothing else than each other. It was almost... almost as if time itself had frozen around them, and they were somehow trapped in some eternal void....

* * *

graal was beside herself with envy.

Here she was, fighting in the crusades, with her trusty sword and her best knights riding along side her. Yet somehow, she appeared to be on the losing side!

Archers were letting loose throngs of flaming arrows. Spearmen and other foot soldiers of various specialized types were also busy doing their thing. All the while, minions from both sides were falling to the ground like flies.

graal bravely led her squad into battle. graal sliced and hacked at her enemies, with one thought in mind: kill. Kill them all.

She didn't know why she was killing; just that she was, and that is what was important.

She evaded thrown spears with ease. She laughed at swords struck in her general direction. She ducked, smiling, when arrows flew wildly overhead at blazing speed (blazing mainly because they were on fire). She....

Suddenly, graal stopped killing. She stopped running.

graal blinked a few times.

graal found herself standing in the midst of a raging battle!

She took but a mere second to gather her wits, gazing all around herself. She slowly looked down to see the bloody sword she held in her hand.

She dropped the sword.

"Damnit! Another war?!?" was all she said.

graal frantically searched through her pockets for the device.

She knew she had left it somewhere, after all, she could SWEAR that she had just had it!

Suddenly, graal's fingers closed around a small metallic object.

"There it is, the little bugger!" she cried with glee.

Just then, graal heard a *whoosh!* right next to her ear.

She looked up, only to see a large horde of archers moving towards her. Their collective gaze was locked on something -- or someone -- behind her, and they were firing arrows over her head like mad.

graal looked behind her.

"Dah!" graal screamed.

graal took another frenzied look at the archers, yet another behind her towards the other approaching archers, and then she ran as quickly as she could in a flanking direction.
"Damn the luck!" she exclaimed as she ran.

She looked down to the little metallic object in her hand. Quickly, she began mashing buttons like mad.

Her frustration growing to an extreme level, graal quickly became cross with the little object.
"Damn you! Why couldn't Toffee_ and MyztiQue have gotten you working before they sent me off on this wild goose-chase?!"

Somehow, something finally clicked with the little metallic object, and graal vanished into thin air!

A lone archer, whos concentration on the battle had somehow been broken, noticed graal vanish.

He stopped running, with a confused look on his face.

Suddenly, the archer fell backwards, dead; a large, bloodied spear now protruding from his daintily cracked forehead.

No sooner than his now lifeless corpse hit the ground, it caught fire and burned to a blackened crisp.

* * *

In the still night air, not far from their tribal lands, Burning Man and Hunting Soul were busy building a fire.

"No, you rub stick like this!" exclaimed Burning Man wildly, as he snatched two sticks from Hunting Soul with fury.

"Oi!" exclaimed Hunting Soul. "Me try make fire with those!" Hunting Soul angrily informed his compadre.
"No, you not know how, silly Hunter!" chided Burning Man.

Soon enough, though, Burning Man had a nice warm fire going.

The fire was comforting to both of them; so much so, in fact, that they had forgotten they were even quarreling.

They were about to settle in for the night, when Hunting Soul heard something in the distance.

"You hear that?" Hunting Soul exclaimed wildly.
"What? Me no hear nothin..."
"Shhhhh!" Hunting Soul hissed, as he put his ear to the ground.

Soon enough, Hunting Soul was apparently satisfied. He leaned back up.

"We go now," he said to Burning Man.
"No!" Burning Man said in disgust. "We have fire!"

Hunting Soul stood, and begin to extinguish the flames in a rather biological way.

Burning Man looked up curiously, wondering what the hell was going on.

Just then -- he, too, heard a faint noise.

It sounded something like a whooping crane crossed with a goat in heat.

The two natives looked at each other with shock written all over their faces.

"Skyscapé le Bris!" they both said in unison.

Quickly, Burning Man stood and joined Hunting Soul in extinguishing the fire.

The fire was out in no time, and the two natives quickly began to run of towards their tribe.

Suddenly, though, something made them stop.

On the horizon ahead, near the dunes, they noticed a bright light.

Curious as they were, the could not help but go investigate.

When they got to the dunes, Hunting Soul and Burning Man both crouched down to hide themselves, waiting to see what (if anything) had caused the light.

They were quite amazed at what they saw!

Ahead of them, between some dunes, they saw a strangely clad female stand up and brush herself off.

"Damn sand!" she said. Of course, somehow, Burning Man and Hunting Soul could understand what she was saying.

Burning Man looked at Hunting Soul in anticipation. Hunting Soul, however, remained motionless.

Burning Man began to stand up, his hormones raging out of control. However, Hunting Soul shoved Burning Man back to the ground with masterful stealth.

He looked at Burning Man, as if to say: "You fool!"

Well, the natives continued watching the strange female. They could hear her spouting some sort of obscenities, but they weren't quite sure what to make of her.

Suddenly, however, Burning Man made a grunting sound. He really didn't mean to, but he couldn't exactly help himself. You see, as Hunting Soul hadn't let him go take the female by force, as he'd wanted, Burning Man had resorted to a personal activity which shall, for now, remain unspoken.

The female heard the sound, though.

"Who's there? Show yourselves!" the female shouted. "I know tie-kwan-do!" she menacingly threatened.

Hunting Soul was confused, and started to look to Burning Man for some idea as to what "tie kwan do" was. However, Hunting Soul was soon disgusted, as he remembered what Burning Man had been up to.

Soon enough, the female had discovered the two natives.

"Well well well, what have we here?" she queried.

Hunting Soul got up, and greeted the female with the traditional indian greeting.

Burning Man, however, continued to lay on the ground where he was; with a somewhat sheepish look on his face.

"Okay, look, I'm out of time, so you'll have to excuse me," the female said.

She began to head off, away from the dunes.

Suddenly, Hunting Soul came to his senses. "No, wait!" he exclaimed.
"Whaaaaaat?" the frustrated female said, obviously miffed about something.
"You not go that way. Skyscapé le Bris there! He hurt all!" Hunting Soul said earnestly.

By this time, Burning Man had found the strength to stand, and he joined Hunting Soul and the female.

"Hmm, this 'skyscawpay' character, is he pretty bad then? Sounds kinda shifty..." the female said.
"Yes, he bad!" said Burning Man as he brushed the sand from his sheepskin loincloth.
Hunting Soul nodded in agreement.
"You come with us," the latter said. "We keep you safe."

The female shrugged her shoulders. "Well, I don't seem to be in any other mortal danger," she said to herself. "Perhaps hanging with these perverts won't be as bad as that 'skyscawpay' character..." she continued telling herself.

So, the three began traveling to the tribe's land at a rather quick pace.

Hunting Soul and Burning Man soon learned that the female's name was graal, and that she was a traveler.

"graal?" Burning Man asked. "That strange name!"
"Haha, well I guess it is," graal replied. "It's actually a long story. I used to be growl, but during one of my -- shall we say, more 'messy' travels -- I had to change my name because of an... erm... well, let's just say there was an unfortunate mishap which kinda tainted my old name. So I had to choose another name to avoid suspicion. Well, the new name kinda stuck with me, I guess!" graal said with a smirk.

The three shared a chuckle as graal continued telling stories of her travels.

You see, graal had been traveling for quite some time. As far as she could tell, she had been shifting through time, from one place to another. She couldn't control where or when she would show up. However, she had found that entering a certain combination on her remote control would cause her to shift to the next time, instead of her having to wait on the machine to send her on it's own (apparently random) timetable.

graal wasn't really sure how long she'd been shifting through time. She had, at one time, been trying to count the days she'd been gone. However, since the times were seemingly random at the places she was sent to, she had quickly lost track of how long she'd been gone. She hadn't seen her mother since that one fateful night, right after the original mishap.

Well, anyway, graal and the natives were busy talking about this and that, when they heard the dreaded noise yet again.

It was Skyscapé le Bris!

In the time it had taken them to travel however far they had gone, graal and the natives had somehow lost track of which way they were going, and had somehow started heading right towards Skyscapé and his raiding party!

"Oh, no!" Burning Man and Hunting Soul said in unison.

graal, however, finally got a chance to see this 'skyscawpay' face to face.

"Aww, he's not half bad. Hehe, he's kinda cute actually!" she giggled schoolgirl-ishly.

At that, Skyscapé le Bris cocked his head slightly. He was obviously pleased with graal as well, though he didn't exactly say anything. In fact, the look in his eyes was really starting to weird graal out.

"Sheesh, I'm outta here!" graal exclaimed. "Listen, you two wanna come with me?" she asked of the natives.

The natives didn't quite know what to make of graal's offer.

"Um, you two are gonna have to make up your minds quickly! That 'skyscawpay' fellow is really starting to freak me out!" graal exclaimed hotly.

Hunting Soul looked at Burning Man, who (in turn) was looking right back at Hunting Soul.
They both shrugged their shoulders, as if to say "Sure, why not?"

They both looked at Skyscapé.

They made a strange face, and then looked back to graal.
"Yes, we go," said Hunting Soul emphatically.

"Ah, good!" graal exclaimed. "I could really use some new companions," she continued, as she grasped her metallic object (remote control).

She began to punch in the combination which would send her away to the next time realm.

"Okay, you two," she said without looking up. (She had obviously had some practice entering the combination). "You, hold on to my arm; and you, hold on to his," she said, gesturing to each of the natives in turn.
"Whatever you do, do NOT let go!" she cautioned them.

The natives both nodded in understanding.

graal entered the final part of the combination, and soon, the three of them were whisked away to someplace else.

Skyscapé le Bris and his raiders were left, standing alone, in the wilderness. Skyscapé still had that strange, puzzled look in his eyes, too.

* * *

When graal and the two natives woke up, they found themselves in graal's room!

"OMG!" graal exclaimed excitedly. "It happened again!"

graal rushed over to her computer, almost knocking her lava lamps off of the nearby table in the process.

"I hafta see when it is!" she exclaimed madly.

graal began punching in some seemingly random characters on her computer, as it began to display some seemingly random information on the screen.

Suddenly, graal's shoulders slumped.
"DAMNIT!" she exclaimed. "I'm too late!!"

By this time, Burning Man and Hunting Soul were quite perplexed. They didn't quite understand anything they found themselves watching.

Hunting Soul was busy trying to figure out what graal had been trying to do.

Burning Man, however, had noticed the lava lamps, and was busy watching them do their thing.

Meanwhile, graal saw the date on her screen: March 18, 2185.
(Don't ask how her computer and house were all still there.... Just know that they were virtually untouched!)

graal sighed inwardly.

Hunting Soul went over to console her, asking what was wrong.

"Oh, nothing really... well, yeah, actually, I'm kinda sad. I've not seen my mother for a really long time, and I really miss her!" graal said.

She began to fill Hunting Soul in on the whole time travel story, and all about how Toffee_ and MyztiQue had gotten word to her that her disappearance had caused massive changes in the time-space continuum.

However, Hunting Soul didn't really understand everything about the story; he didn't quite grasp all of the details, as he and Burning Man were simple native men.

"So you see," she continued, "I have to get back and fix whatever went wrong. The whole internet is frozen; everyone is stuck at their computers. It's like time just stopped not long after I left!"

Hunting Soul finally began to grasp some of what graal was talking about.

"So you mean that box sends you back and forth through time, and you have to get back to when you left to fix everything?" Hunting Soul asked (somehow -- whether it be him having heard graal's story, or him being in the future -- somehow, something made him able to speak in complete English sentences).
"Well, kinda," graal nodded.
Burning Man adjusted the feather in his hair slightly. "I think I understand now, too," he said, still staring blankly at the nearby lava lamps.
"Well, good; though I'm still not sure how I'll ever get back to my own time," graal said. "I can't contact Toffee_ or MyztiQue, and they were the ones trying to get me back. Hell, they're prolly both dead by now... or worse -- frozen in time like everyone else!" graal sobbed.

"You must continue to try," Hunting Soul urged graal. "It is the only way now. You must return to your time."
"But what abaut you two?" graal asked. "I took you both from your own time, too... along with all the other people I used to travel with."

"You mean we're not the first?" Burning Man asked.
"Haha, don't be so vain, honey," graal joked. "Actually I'm not sure what to do. If I keep going, who's to say I'll ever get home again?" graal said, obviously frustrated.
"We will help you in any way we can," said Hunting Soul. "We may not be much, but if we stick together, we will prevail!"

"Aww, how sweet!" graal said. "You too, Burning Man?"
Burning Man shrugged. "Why not? I'm already here, might as well..." he trailed off, staring yet again at those perplexing lava lamps.

"Well, it's settled then!" graal exclaimed. "Tomorrow morning, after I fix you two the best damn breakfast you've ever had, we'll be off to god-knows-when!"
"Yes, and we shall hope that it will be to your own time!" Hunting Soul consoled.

And with that, dear friends, we leave our intrepid heroine and her two new traveling companions, as they settle down for a long and restful night.

The End!
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