Saturday, July 8, 1995, 8:05 AM
Lana placed the cardboard box she was carrying on the table. The Shallowayne family was having a yard sale. Three tables were set up on their front lawn. "Thanks for helping us out with our yard sale, Lana." Kristen said with a cheerful smile, taking the items out of the box and placing them on the table. Heather came by with another box and set it down. "Yeah, we really appreciate it." Lana smiled. "Glad to help." Ken walked out of the house and up to them. "So, girls, how's it going?" "I think it's a little too early, dad." Heather said. "We probably won't get a lot of customers until later." "I put some of my clothes and other stuff I wanna sell in boxes in my closet, along with a list of prices." "Thanks, dad." Kristen said. "Have a great day at work." "Thanks, Kristen." Kenneth Shallowayne kissed his two daughters on their cheeks, then got into his car and drove off. "Here, let me help you with that." Lana said, reaching to help Kristen with a heavy glass vase. Lana's hands touched Kristen's. Kristen looked up at Lana. Lana's eyes met Kristen's. Lana helped Kristen lift the vase out of the box and set it down on the table. Heather watched them with interest. "Thanks." Kristen said. She pulled her hands away from Lana's. "I'm gonna go and get my dad's stuff." Kristen turned and walked back into the house. Lana followed her. Heather followed them both.
Kristen was dragging a box out of her father's closet. Lana walked into the room and leaned forward. "I'll get one." "Me, too." Heather said, walking over to the closet. Kristen stood up with her box. "Thanks." Lana picked up her box and walked away. Kristen stared at Lana, a smile coming to her lips. "Nice ass." Lana looked at her in surprise. Kristen just smiled at her. Lana turned her head and walked out of the room. Heather was looking at Kristen, a grin on her face. "You like her." "You just figured that out?" Kristen asked. "You want to lick her hot body and give her a good tongue-lapping." Kristen nodded, then sighed. "Sadly, she's taken." "Too bad for you." Kristen faced her, grinning. "I didn't say it stops me from going after her." Heather laughed. "Correction: Too bad for her boyfriend." Kristen laughed with her. "Shut up. Here she comes." Lana walked back into the room. "C'mon, slowpokes! Let's get these boxes outside!" "Okay." Heather bent over and picked up a cardboard box.
The three girls set their boxes on a table outside. They began taking the clothes out of it. Lana checked the pockets of a suit to make sure they were empty before the suit was sold. Upon checking the left pocket of the jacket, she felt some objects inside. "Hey, there's something in here." Lana pulled two items out of the pocket. "What are they, Lana?" Heather asked. In the palm of her hand, Lana held out an identification card and a neon blue star pin. "Hey, those are my dad's." Kristen picked up the items. "Haven't seen these in a while." "You never figured out what they are?" Lana asked, recalling Kristen's story. Kristen shook her head. "Nope." "Well, now's our chance. Your dad will be gone all day." Kristen looked up at her. "Huh?" Lana took a warp zone opener out of her pants pocket. "Lana?" Kristen asked, not believing what her friend was considering doing. "What's going on?" Heather asked. "A magic show." Lana replied. "We'll explain when we get there." "Get where? What are you - " Heather suddenly yelled when a swirling blue warp opened up. "It's okay." Kristen said. "Follow me." Heather cautiously followed her sister and Lana into the vortex. The warp closed. From behind a tree, a man with a buzzcut was watching. He quickly took a device out of his pocket and opened up a warp of his own.
Kristen, Lana, and Heather emerged from the warp. It closed behind them. Heather screamed. "Oh, my God, I'm a cartoon!" "Heather, calm down." Lana said. "Kristen, what the hell is going on?! Where are we?!" "You're in Videoland." Kristen told her. "We're in Lana's universe." "What?!" Heather asked in bewilderment. "I'll explain on the way to the Conference room." Lana said. The three of them left the living room.
Rick sat at the head of the conference table. The other Videoland Club members sat in the other seats. Heather had pretty much calmed down and accepted her situation and was sitting with them. As usual, video cameras were recording the meeting. Rick was holding the identification card and the star pin in his hands. "Kristen, you're sure you don't know what these are?" Kristen nodded. "How about you, Heather?" "Just what Kris told me." "Obviously, my dad knows what they are." Kristen said. "I think we should confront him about it." Lana nodded. "I agree." "Do it on Earth." Rick said. "Don't bring him here. We don't want anyone else finding out about Videoland." Lana nodded. "Meeting adjourned at 9:15 AM." Rick said. Everyone stood up. Most of the people left the room. Lana gazed at Kristen's legs as she walked out of the room. "Lana?" Heather asked with a smile. Lana turned in surprise to face her. "Heather!" "She wants you, ya know." Heather said. "No crap." "And you want her." "That's a lie." Lana said. "She's so pursuing." "I saw how you looked at her, you lusty bitch." Heather said with a grin. "Don't worry. I won't tell my sister you wanna do her." "I do not want to do your sister!" Lana yelled. Mike poked his head back into the room and grinned. Lana stared at him. He walked away.
"And then the brunette girl, Lana, opened up a vortex." the man explained. "She what?!" the man behind the desk asked in surprise. "She opened up a vortex, sir." the buzzcut man repeated. "Then she and Shallowayne's kids went through it." The man behind the desk slammed his fists down hard on it. "They have the technology!" "Yes, sir, Director. It appears that way." The buzzcut man was afraid of the Director. He'd never seen his face. It was always hidden in the darkness of the dimly-lit office. "The next time you see them, kill them." the Director ordered. The buzzcut man nodded. "Yes, sir." He left the office.
That evening, Lana was standing in Kristen's backyard, looking up at the sky. Kristen walked outside and over to her. "What are you doing out here?" "Just looking at the stars." Lana replied. "It sure is a beautiful night." Kristen looked up at the black sky, dotted with specks of light. "Yeah." She looked at Lana. "I'm glad we're sharing it." Lana looked at her. "Kristen, I...well,...I - I kinda feel something for you, and...it's difficult for me to deal with this feeling." Kristen smiled. "You love me?" Lana began wringing her fingers. "I don't know if love is the word, but - " "Say no more." Kristen took Lana into her arms and kissed her on the lips. Lana returned the kiss, then opened her mouth and sent her tongue out, pressing it against Kristen's lips. Kristen allowed Lana's tongue into her mouth and let it caress her own. Kristen placed her left hand on Lana's right breast and gave it a squeeze. Lana pulled her lips away from Kristen's. "Kris. Krissy,...I don't want to lead you on." "You're not leading me on." Kristen replied, her voice husky, her lips yearning. "We're star-crossed. We're meant for each other." Lana replied by licking Kristen on the mouth. The two girls lost themselves in a sea of saliva.
Lana and Kristen walked into the living room. Heather was flipping through a stack of bills. "Whoo! We made a lot of money!" Kristen took a twenty-dollar bill from the stack. "Great. We can order pizza." "Make it pepperoni." Lana said, walking towards the front door. "Where are you going?" Kristen asked. "Your dad's late. I'm worried about him." Kristen shrugged. "Class probably went over. It's happened before." "Maybe, but I wanna go to the university to make sure." Lana said. "Can I borrow your car?" Kristen dug in her pocket and tossed Lana the keys. Lana went out the door.
Lana was driving down an empty street. It had started raining, so she turned on the windshield wipers. There was no sound except for the falling rain and the car. The near-silence was bothering her, so she turned on the radio. 'A Horse With No Name' by America started playing:
On the first part of the journey, I was looking at all the life. There were plants and birds and rocks and things. There were sand and hills and rings.
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz And a sky with no clouds. The heat was hot, and the ground was dry, But the air was full of sound.
Lana noticed that there was a car behind her. It had its high beams on, which were blinding her. She adjusted the mirror and continued driving in the rain.
I been through the desert on a horse with no name. It felt good to be out of the rain. In the desert, you can remember your name, 'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.
La, la, la la la la la La la la, la, la La, la, la la la la la La la la, la, la
Suddenly, Lana was hit from behind. The driver of the car behind her was ramming his car into Kristen's. Lana tried to maintain control; however, she was soon forced off to the side of the road. She was shook up, but otherwise unharmed. She managed to open the car door and get out. Lana raised her left hand and concentrated. Her Zapper warped into her hand. She walked over to the back, looking for the driver of the other vehicle. He was no longer behind the wheel. She heard a noise and spun around. The man was large, and he had a buzzcut. He struggled to get a rope around her neck, but Lana evaded him. She punched him in the stomach. He knocked her Zapper out of her hand. The song on the radio went into the instrumental break as Lana dove for her Zapper. The man tried to pull her away from it. Lana turned around and punched him in the face. Then she turned and grabbed her Zapper. The man came at her again. Lana turned and fired a laser beam at the man's chest, splattering his blood on the road. As he hit the pavement, Lana noticed a neon blue star pin on his right shoulder. She went into the driver side of his car and began searching. In the glove compartment, she found a floppy disk. She took it. The final verse started:
After nine days, I let the horse run free, 'Cause the desert had turned to sea. There were plants and birds and rocks and things. There were sand and hills and rings.
Lana went and opened the gas tank of the man's car. She then got into the driver's seat of Kristen's car and closed the door. She started the car and drove a short distance away, then turned the car around and stopped. She got out and walked to the front. She aimed her Zapper at the open gas tank of the man's car.
The ocean is a desert with its life underground And the perfect disguise above. Under the city lies a heart made of ground, But the humans will give no love.
She fired a single blue beam. The car exploded. So did the man's body. His guts decorated the pavement. Lana walked back to the driver side and got into Kristen's car.
You see, I been through the desert on a horse with no name. It felt good to be out of the rain. In the desert, you can remember your name, 'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.
Lana started the car and backed up, then turned it around and drove away from the flaming wreckage.
La, la, la, la la la la la La la la, la la La, la, la, la la la la la La la la, la la
The windows of the man's car were blown out. The roof was blown off and landed on the grass on the side of the road.
Ken walked in through the front door. Then he saw Lana, Kristen, and Heather standing in the middle of the living room, their arms folded over their chests. "Sorry I'm late, girls." Ken said, walking forward. "Class went over. Hey, I smell pizza." He noticed that the girls were staring at him. "What's wrong, girls?" "We need to talk, dad." Kristen said. "What about?" Kristen handed him the identification card and the star pin. Ken looked at them and sighed. "Where did you find these?" "In your jacket this morning." Kristen replied. "But I first saw them almost five years ago. What are they?" "They...had to do with my previous job. I'm sorry, but I can't discuss it." "Dad, what did you do?" Heather asked. "Your name wasn't on the employee list." "I'm sorry, Heather, but I can't talk about it!" Ken yelled. Lana got in his face. "You'd better talk about it. A half an hour ago, I went to check up on you. While I was driving, I was run off the road by another car. The driver attacked me. He wore a neon blue star pin - just like yours. The son of a bitch tried to kill me!" "Are you all right?" Ken asked with concern. "Yeah, I'm fine." "And the man that attacked you?" "I killed him." Lana replied. Ken became frightened. "Oh, man. We're dead." "Excuse me! What was I supposed to do - let him kill me?!" Lana asked. "Trust me, Lana, you'll wish you had." Ken replied. "Don't worry, dad, she scorched the bastard." Kristen told him. "The body - or what's left of it - is unrecognizable." Ken nodded. "But these people are dangerous, Mr. Shallowayne!" Lana cried. "You worked for them! Please, tell us who they are!" Ken sighed. "All right. Sit down." The girls sat on the couch. Ken sat in a chair. "I told you that I worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory." Ken said. "Well, that's not quite true. I worked on a research project semi-connected with the laboratory." "What do you mean?" Heather asked. "On the day I showed up for work at the lab, I was met by a man who took me to my real workplace. I was driven about 200 miles to a high-security complex in the New Mexico desert, near the place where they set off the first atomic bomb." Ken paused and considered whether or not he should continue. "The project is code-named 'Star Bright'. It has...something to do with a deep space probe." Lana thought that sounded familiar. Then it came to her. "Star Bright? I remember that name! Anubis Runes worked on it!" "Anubis who?" Ken asked. "Someone that really pissed me off." Lana answered. "He wore a star pin, too. He...said his job was to observe." "Anything else?" Ken asked. Lana nodded. "Yeah." She was silent for a moment. "Oh, crap! What have we gotten into?!" "Lana, what is it?" Ken asked. Lana faced him. "Mr. Shallowayne, this is very important. What is the exact purpose of the project?" Ken shook his head. "I was only an employee. I wasn't at the head of the project. My job was to test parts. I have no idea what the project is really about." "But yet you knew they were dangerous." Lana pointed out. Ken sighed. "It wasn't easy for me to leave the project. I nearly had to beg. That man that you killed, Lana, was our observer. He kept an eye on me and made sure I didn't tell my family about what I did. When the Director - the head of the project - finds out that he's dead, we're dead." Heather stood up. "How could you? How could you risk our lives, you bastard?!" Ken shook his head sadly, beginning to cry. "I didn't know at first. I thought it was an on-the-level government job, and I'm sure it was at first, but then I found out what kind of people work there, and I quit. Forgive me, Heather!" "It's okay, dad." Kristen said. She was mad at her father as well, but controlled her rage. "So, what do we do now?" "We need a copy of all the files you have from your Star Bright work." Lana told him. Ken nodded and stood up. "They're on my computer."
A tall man in a black uniform stood in front of the desk. He was holding a machine gun. "Go to Shallowayne's house." the Director ordered. "Kill him, kill his daughters, and kill Lana Deschain!" The man nodded and left the office.
Ken took a disk out of his disk drive and held it out to Lana. "Here's everything I have on Star Bright." Lana took the disk. "Thank you." Just then, the hitman burst through the bedroom door. "Get down!" Lana yelled. The four of them ducked as the hitman fired a spray of bullets at them. The bullets made holes in the wall. Lana concentrated, and her Zapper warped into her hand. She fired at the hitman and shot him. Kristen stood up. "God damn it, these people are psychotic!" Lana, Heather, and Ken got to their feet. Lana went over, checked the hitman's pulse, and was relieved to learn that he still had one. "I knew this would happen." Ken said. Lana took out her warp zone opener. Kristen shook her head. "Lana, not again." Lana opened up a warp. Ken was surprised. "What - what is that?!" "I'll explain later!" Lana said. "Hurry, before that guy wakes up!" Kristen and Heather ran into the warp. Ken followed them. Lana went last. The warp closed.
"And that's all I know." Ken concluded. Ken had joined the others at a meeting of the Videoland Club and was currently seated at the table in the Conference room. Rick was checking the disk Ken had given Lana on his laptop. "Well, from what I can tell, the parts you were checking were for space probes." Rick shook his head. "I need more info." Lana handed him another floppy disk. "Maybe this'll help. I found it in the observer's glove compartment." Rick ejected Ken's disk and put in the other one. After a few keystrokes, Rick frowned. "The information on this disk is encrypted." "Can you decrypt it?" Lana asked. Rick shook his head. "It'll take some time." "Please try, Rick." Kristen begged. "Looks like I'll be up late." Rick said. "Before we adjourn, is there anything else we need to discuss?" "Yeah." Lana said. She faced the Shallowaynes. "I think you three should move away until this situation is under control." "Where?" Kristen asked. "They'll follow us. There's no place on Earth we'll be safe in." "I know." Lana replied. Ken looked at his two daughters, who both nodded. He then looked at Lana and nodded. "All right. Thank you, Lana." "I'll help you move." Lana said.
Lana opened up warps in every room in the house, so that the Shallowaynes could move whatever they wanted to the N Team's house as quickly as possible. Currently, Kristen was pushing her video tapes into the warp in her bedroom. Lana was taking Kristen's clothes out of her closet. "Kris, aren't you taking a bit too much?" "Nope." Kristen replied. "When those bastards come back, I don't want them destroying or stealing anything. We're taking everything." Lana threw Kristen's clothes into the warp.
Lana and Kristen met up with Ken and Heather downstairs. "So, you got everything?" Lana asked. "Yep." Heather replied. "All my stuff is on the other side." "So is mine," Ken added, "as well as everything in the house that's irreplaceable." Lana nodded. "All right. Let's go outside and get the stuff from the cars." They all went out the front door. "I'm curious." Ken said. "Why's it called Videoland? It's a universe, not a land mass. Why not Game World?" Lana laughed. "Game World?! What kind of stupid, moronic name is that?!" They walked onto the driveway. Ken, Heather, and Kristen checked their cars. Lana opened up a warp near the street, since no cars were in view. The Shallowayne girls walked over to Lana. "We've got nothin'." Heather said. "Guess that's it." Kristen said. "Let's go." Ken locked the front door and closed it, then walked over to the girls. Suddenly, there was an explosion. The four people turned around, startled, and saw that the house was on fire. "Run!" Lana yelled. The four of them ran and dove. Then they turned and looked at what had happened.