"Better not take a dog on the space shuttle, because if he
sticks his head out when you're coming home his face might burn
CRONOS' ALTOGETHER RATHER ZARJAZ EXPERIENCES IN WONDERLAND
by Richard Karsmakers
Respectfully dedicated to the memory of Lewis Carroll, writer of
"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking
Glass". The story below is a perfectly faithful reproduction of
the first of the two books - of course after having been Cronos-
ed, extended, garbled utterly, compressed, manipulated, totally
screwed up and altogether made more fit for publication in ST
I hope you like it. I did.
The reason why this turned out to be a full-fledged novel is
that this is actually the twentieth bit of writing in which I let
Cronos Warchild appear (not counting the encounters with the
troll and Mel that Stefan wrote some years back as well as the
encounter with Fam that Martijn wrote elsewhere in this issue).
Cronos was born in 1988 and first appeared in the introductory
novel to Titus' "Fire & Forget". All his adventures have been
released in ST NEWS at one time or another.
I - DOWN THE KANGAROO CAVITY
Cronos was beginning to get very tired of sitting by a bozo on
the bank, and of having nothing to do; once or twice he had
glanced at the newspaper the bum used to wrap a bottle of liquor
in, but the pictures were faded and the text was written in a
language that didn't make any sense to him.
So he was considering in his own mind (as well as he could, for
he was getting slightly sleepy and his mind wasn't particularly
famous for considering things) whether the pleasure of killing
the drunk with one of his recently acquired killer gadgets was
worth the trouble of taking the thing out of his pocket in the
first place when rather suddenly a White Kangaroo with pink eyes
ran close by him.
Cronos wasn't particularly surprised of the fact that it ran so
close by him, nor of hearing the Kangaroo say to itself, "Oh
dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" It hopped by him at rather
astounding speed, then stopped. Panting, its chest heaving and
dropping faster than it should, it fumbled in its pouch and
retrieved from it a pocket watch that had a piece of broken chain
attached to it. Now Cronos was getting surprised, gradually - he
had never seen a Kangaroo that could speak, nor one that seemed
to be able to check the time on a pocket watch he had never seen
any Kangaroo walking around with before. Actually, he had never
seen a Kangaroo in all his life - but that's trivial.
Before Warchild managed to get to his feet, the Kangaroo had
continued running in the approximate direction it had been moving
before. Then, without much ado, it disappeared in a hole beneath
Cronos followed the track, surprised at the fact that such a
large animal seemed to have disappeared in such a small hole.
Even though he himself was even bigger than the Kangaroo, his
mind got the absurd idea to follow the animal into the hole -
which was evidently even much smaller to him. Our dear mercenary
annex hired gun, however, had never been one of high reknown
throughout the universe because of his intelligence - therefore
he wasn't even surprised when he found himself managing to get
through the hole and into a tunnel that dipped downward rather
all of a sudden.
He fell for a long time - a time that seemed long enough even
for Cronos to be able to calculate the square root of 2456.23. He
rotated and bumped, got tossed around by branches that stuck out,
got nauseated by the smell of earth and the crawling creatures
that probably lived in it. He closed his eyes to the overkill of
his senses and for a moment he thought he saw the Kangaroo again.
It changed into a pink ant. For a brief instant of time there was
a smell of honey. He continued to fall. He was beginning to
wonder if he'd end up on the other side of the world - Australia
perhaps, or Norway or Cuba - when thump! thump! down he came upon
a giant heap of sticks and dry leaves and the fall was over.
Already Cronos had quite forgotten what had happened. He looked
around him, dazed and confused, finding himself at the beginning,
or end, of a long passage at the other end of which, just where
it started to fade away in the distance, he saw the White
Kangaroo hopping off. Engaging his highly trained mercenary
muscles, he dashed after the marsupial (only he didn't quite know
he was chasing a marsupial, of course). He was getting close
enough to hear it say, "Oh my ears and pouch, how late it's
getting", when it suddenly turned a corner that seemed as if it
hadn't been there before. He could already smell it, virtually
touch its tail when it had turned around that corner. However,
when he turned the corner himself the Kangaroo was no longer to
He cursed a long sequence of miscellaneous words he guessed
carried some rude meaning, then started wondering about the place
he was in. It was a hall of considerable height. As a matter of
fact he could not see the ceiling - only the lamps that hung down
When he looked around him, all he could see were walls with
doors in them. He checked the doors instinctively, probing them
for the likelihood of hiding trained assassins that might leap at
him during a careless microsecond. All of them were locked,
however. Peeping through the lock holes, he saw nothing but a
rather intense sort of blackness that made him feel giddy for a
while - the kind of blackness that is so black it seems to carry
with it endless depth and infinite time.
How was he to get out of this wretched place? The doors all
seemed fairly solid - his razor-sharp killer finger nail was no
match for them for certain. He tried his American Express credit
card but it didn't quite work out like he had seen so often in
the movies. It just got stuck, and when he pulled it out it
looked as if it had just been shredded by a destructive money
machine. A weird sense of claustrophobia struck him. He looked
around in what he would never admit was a desperate way (but
which was nonetheless). He walked around, at a loss of what to
He suddenly stumbled across a small three-legged table of solid
glass which seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. It puzzled
him for a while - where had it come from? His mind ceased
puzzling within several nanoseconds, however, in the same way it
stopped puzzling soon after discovering, say, a traffic cop after
having driven through a red light with a corpse attached to the
There was a tiny golden key located on the glass table.
It didn't take long for Cronos to put one and one (or, rather, a
key and a lot of locks) together. He snatched the key off the
table rather unceremoniously and went around the hall, trying
to see whether it would fit in any of the locks. The locks were
too large or, he reckoned, the key was too small. He felt in his
pockets but there was nothing in them except for a mostly empty
bag of sticky liquorice and a killer gadget of the Telector-O-
Cute™ variety. His lack of resources and the sheer magnitude of
this problem baffled him for a while, at the end of which he
discovered a curtain. Behind it he discovered a tiny door; he had
to stoop to try and fit the little golden key in its minute lock,
but to his great satisfaction it fitted. The wee door swooped
open on its miniature hinges with as little sound as an ant
Behind it he saw a beautiful garden. Cronos had never really
been fond of gardens at all - he had never felt any warmth
towards flowers, and he had usually found trees useful only to
stop your car against when the brakes failed. A continuous flow
of gardening programmes on English television had once even
convinced him to move to a country where you couldn't receive
BBC. But in this particular case the garden meant a place to go,
freedom, the end of this strange claustrophobic sensation that
seemed to be gnawing at his innards.
Of course there was the problem of size. He would never be able
to get in. He tried his foot, but no way. He went back to the
glass table, hoping that it might offer something to help him out
of this slightly precarious situation. He hated being able to
smell something but not quite being capable of laying his hands
on it. There was still no way of getting out of this eerie hall.
He had to get out. Through that little door (which, by the way,
had closed and locked itself rather mysteriously and meticulously
when he had turned his back on it).
On the table he now discovered a pill. He looked at it
conspicuously lest it should be a poison of sorts. His mother,
Adnarim the Beautiful who was at the moment 22 million light
years away from him, had always warned him against strangers
offering him ice cream and against the eating of substances of
which he did not know the origin. But, he guessed, any pill which
had the phrase "EAT ME" printed on it could not possibly be
deadly - and this particular pill, remarkably, had these precise
words written on it. He put the gold key down on the table, took
the pill and tossed it in his mouth with the aim of an inebriated
retard in a public urinoir. Miraculously, however, it landed on
his tongue - as if proudly defying all laws of causality and
If anything, the pill initially tasted slightly of ink. Within
half a second after his powerful molars ground the thing to
smithereens, however, the taste became one of tobacco icecream
mixed with decayed gelding's gall - not altogether disagreeable,
Cronos concluded with some relief. After all, it might have been
The hall seemed to become gradually larger. The lamps which hung
from the ceiling removed themselves from him so it seemed. The
doors around him became bigger. It made him think of being locked
up in the middle of a mountain in an absurdly small room with
all exits jammed by rockfalls and a ceiling full of shiny
stainless steel spikes coming down slowly - only the other way
around, in a bigger room and without any of the pointed hardware.
Warchild noticed the table growing bigger, too. As a matter of
fact, the entire world seemed to increase its size for some
reason or another. He began sweating. What if his enemies had
grown, too? What if he could no longer carry with him even his
tiniest of killer gadgets because they had outgrown him?
Suddenly everything froze in mid-growth. By now Cronos reckoned,
to his considerable discomfort, that the world had at least
multiplied its size by a factor of ten. He glanced around across
the almost endless stretch of enormous tiles all around him. In
one direction, however, he discovered a door that seemed
accurately built for his size - the door that had previously been
too small, the door that had had the garden behind it.
He looked up, through the transparent table top above him, way
out of reach. On it lay a golden key.
A commonly used pseudonym for the action of human multiplication
passed his lips.
There was no way to get up there. The legs of the table were
smooth, insurmountable. He had no rope and no glue. His
American Express credit card had been shredded. He might as well
Even though the place where he was now stuck was about ten times
as big as it had been previously, even though he could barely see
the far ends of it, he still found an odd sensation biting
relentlessly at his stomach. He remembered, rather vividly, a
girl whom he had seen but briefly and whom he would rather never
in his life see again. Painful memories struck. His ego cowered,
his arm felt a stab of agony that accompanied the memory. The
feeling in his abdomen had been the same. His desolate sense of
loss and despair likewise.
He glanced up again. The key lay there, its gold catching rays
of light that seemed to come from nowhere, hurling them at his
eyes enticingly, enchantingly, luring him. But there was no way
he could reach it. He couldn't climb the table. He could do
nothing about it except for using a suppository that lay at his
feet, having appeared as if out of thin air. It had "SHOVE ME UP
YOUR ANAL MUSCLE" written on it in extremely small letters. Its
sudden apparation did not even leave him in the usual state of
perplexity, not even for the fragment of time known as a
As his mother had never warned him about the possibility of
poisonous suppositories he rather unceremoniously pulled down his
pants and shoved the small object where it apparently wanted to
If his rectum would have had taste buds, damn it, it would have
tasted Brussels sprouts.
II - A SEA OF SWEAT
"Unusual and unusualer!" Cronos said to himself. He quite forgot
how to speak his mother tongue properly when he discovered his
head removing itself from his torso as if his neck was a
telescope extending itself. It would be fair to say that today
was another record day in the field of bafflement intensity, for
it could certainly be claimed that he had never been this
flummoxed before. The mercenary annex hired gun had experienced
things with which his brain couldn't cope more often than any
rational number in the known universe, but never before had it
had such unheralded intensity. Had it not been for his entire
brain being fully occupied with getting to grips with whatever
was happening to him, it would certainly have instructed him to
drop into a coma out of which not even Penelope Sunflower's ghost
would have been able to awake him.
Time passed. It even tipped its hat politely.
When Warchild got his wits together, which he didn't have that
many so he succeeded rather more quickly than might otherwise
have been the case, he snatched the tiny golden key off the
three-legged glass table and dashed for the minute door. The
lamps were beginning to get in the way; by the time he reached
the tiny door he probably couldn't even stick his big toe in it.
A sense of defeat swept over him like a tidal wave. Fate seemed
not to want him out of this hall - which had in the mean time
shrunk back to the proportions it had when Cronos first entered
it. Possibly even smaller. A familiar feeling frayed his stomach.
He started sweating profusely. It dripped down in his eyes, it
made his sideburns cling to his square head, it wet his pants, it
soaked his socks, it even started to make the tiles slippery.
Out of nothing he suddenly heard large feet, or paws, slapping
on the tiles and coming towards him. It was the White Kangaroo he
had seen before, the White Kangaroo that was the fault of all
this. He heard the animal's voice coming closer, saying, "The
Mayor, the Mayor, won't he be cross when I keep him waiting!" It
sounded quite as if it was in a hurry, almost on the verge of
panic in fact.
When the marsupial was sufficiently close, Cronos cleared his
throat and ventured to start a conversation involving blame,
impending doom and a very short life span.
"Say, er...Sir," he began sortof threateningly, but the Kangaroo
did not heed him. Instead it dropped a keyring with a tiny Koala
attached to it, as well as a magnifying glass - both for no
apparent reason other than gravity. It then disappeared without
as much as a puff of smoke. Things were getting to be very
strange. They were getting sufficiently strange, indeed, to make
the mercenary annex hired gun lapse in a severe form of identity
"Zonk," the tiny Koala said.
"Who am I?" Warchild said out loud, actually starting to talk to
himself, "Surely not the man who has an immaculate grip on fate
and chance, surely not the Great Warrior who had yet to be
bested?" He cringed as he suddenly realised the beating he'd
gotten when he last thought he was the Greatest of Warriors. For
a second he heard a girl's name repeated in his mind, the f-word.
"Perhaps I'm Napoleon," he continued, his voice bouncing off the
walls and doors as if he was in an empty hospital corridor
painted frating green, "Now what would he do in a situation like
this? He'd probably stick his hand in his uniform - which I
don't, so therefore I am not him."
Cronos smiled. He might not be himself, but at least he wasn't
"Maybe I'm Al 'Bumkisser' Darcy, with whom I went to Mercenary
Academy," he proceeded, his voice now echoing through the hall as
if it was a candle-lit tomb at midnight, "He'd probably hide
under the nearest tile - which I don't so therefore I couldn't be
He sighed with relief, thoroughly glad he wasn't Al. Everything
was better than Al, even being Korik St...
Cronos nearly choked on his breath.
"Maybe I'm Korik Starchaser," he muttered, his voice failing to
amount to any strength and therefore echoing even less than the
sound of two feathers colliding in the vacuum of space infinity,
"There is no telling what he would do, really."
Warchild thought deeply. It hurt.
"So if you can't tell what he might do," he concluded, his voice
gathering volume as he progressed, "then I surely can't be him,
for I know what I am doing now; I'm sweating and feeling
Relief set in.
"Besides," he added, "I'm not that much of a wimp."
A grin appeared on his face, widening, triumphant.
"Zonk," sighed the Koala.
But why was everything so strange nonetheless? He was fairly
certain of being himself by now, if only because of the fact that
you'd have to be called Cronos Warchild to get in these sort of
situations. He decided he'd recite the song lyrics of Napalm
Death's "Dead", but somehow the word didn't come out like it
Maybe he was Korik after all. Or worse - Al. He began to sweat
fervently again. Things were definitely strange and altogether
not like he preferred them to be. He felt disoriented and
nauseated by the circumstances he found himself in.
Also, there was something very odd happening to him - or to his
At a rapid speed, he found his head removing itself downward
from between the lamps hanging from the ceiling. The doors grew,
the walls moved away. He was surprised to see that, somewhere
during his identity crisis, he had picked up the White Kangaroo's
magnifying glass. Somehow, it caused everything all around him to
grow - or himself to shrink, he added proudly to himself. By now
he was merely two feet tall and still shrinking. If it continued
like this, he feared, he might end up like an insignificant
little dot at the end of an insignificant line in an
insignificant mail order clothing company brochure.
"Zonk," the Koala intoned.
He threw the magnifying glass away, instinctively sensing that
it might be the cause of all this shrinking, or growing.
Immediately, both shrinking and growing stopped.
During the lucid moment following this event he ran to the
little door, but it turned out to be locked again (both
mysteriously and rather meticulously). Also, a glance over his
shoulder confirmed his worst thought: The gold key that fitted in
the door's lock had found ways of getting on the table again, as
if it had much a will of its own.
Things would have started to get pretty repetitive if he hadn't
dropped into an enormous pool of salt water at that time.
Cronos had had swimming lessons at Mercenary Academy, of course,
but he had hopelessly flunked (and sunk). All lower life forms,
however, have a built-in sense of survival. As the part of his
brain that was actually used was smaller than that of a
psychopath horsefly, Warchild could be classified as a lower life
form - which allowed him to find himself instinctively doggy-
paddling to keep his head above the water.
Where had this sea come from? The taste of it was not just salt,
it was something as indescribable as the smell that arises from
the armpits of Miss Fragilia Franatica, the second Princess of
the Zantogian Empire, just before they get their annual washing.
He guessed it must be the sweat he had excreted when he was still
tall, before he had somehow managed to pick up the White
Kangaroo's magnifying glass.
He was quite right.
Warchild looked around when he heard a sound of splashing and
spluttering homing in on him. At first he didn't get a good look
at whatever it was that was with him in the giant puddle. When it
came closer, however, he saw it was a Virgin. He had a way of
recognizing them, you see, which was probably caused by the many
looting and raping sessions he had embarked on during one of his
practical terms at Mercenary Academy. On top of that, recognition
was made painfully obvious by the fact that she had long blonde
hair, a look of naive-ish innocence on her face, and no clothes
on at all.
At first she didn't seem to notice him, or perhaps she was just
ignoring him. Maybe virgins also had built-in recognition systems
where mercenaries or other potential rapists were concerned.
Cronos felt a strange sensation in his lower abdomen, but this
time it seemed quite enjoyable. Things were looking better now;
fate seemed to be smiling - or at least grinning through its
"Er...hi," Cronos said.
The Virgin continued to ignore him. She was good at it.
Warchild held out his hand for her to take and shake it. He
nearly drowned. Now she noticed him, or at least failed at being
good at ignoring him.
"Good day to you," she said, her haughty voice sounding like
frozen icicles dropping on stratospheric glaciers.
"I'm Warchild," he continued, "Cronos Warchild." He plastered a
smug smile on his face that totally failed to bewilder her. When
he got no perceptible reaction from the Virgin, he added, "I'm a
mercenary, you know."
"Pray, don't!" the Virgin cried in a frightened voice that
seemed to come from a strangled throat, after which she
practically leaped from the water and dashed off, frenetically
swimming away from the source of her distress.
"But I'm sortof of a nice mercenary," Cronos said, his voice
almost faltering, as if close to being on the verge of crying,
"Don't you like mercenaries?"
The Virgin ceased swimming and looked at him, somewhat doubtful.
"Don't like mercenaries!" she said with a voice like a diamond
cutting through the perma-frozen body of an ancient mammoth babe,
"Would you like mercenaries if you were me?"
Cronos thought it over. He had never looked at it that way.
"No," he said finally, "I guess I wouldn't. But nonetheless I
wish I could introduce you to some of my mates from Mercenary
College. You know (he said more to himself than to the Virgin),
some of them got straight A's at all subjects involving violence,
assassination, raping of virg..."
He cut himself off mid-sentence, a truly remarkable feat for
someone as overwhelmingly dim-witted as himself. Nonetheless the
Virgin had already heard enough. The look of distress came in her
beautifully blue eyes again, her nails seemed to be poised,
prepared to ward off any infringements of her chastity.
"Beg your pardon there," Cronos said, blushing, almost ashamed
of himself, "We won't talk about mercenaries and...er...indecent
"We, indeed!" the Virgin retorted, her voice like an icy
avalanche crashing down on an igloo, "I've always hated them
and...er...it. My mother, too."
"Do you like murderers, then?" Cronos inquired, "Or perhaps
building contractors? I could tell you some great stories about
murderers (again he went off more to himself then to anyone
else). There was, for example, this case of Fak the Ruthless. You
know he's reported to have assassinated at least five dozen
people during his practical term, over half of which were
children or women. He was a guest lecturer at Mercenary College
for a year. He used to be great at looting and raping, too,
and... Hey! Why are you swimming off like that?"
All of the pool seemed to be in commotion now, what with the
Virgin trying to swim away from Cronos as quickly as possible.
"Please come back, Virgin," Cronos cried hoarsely, almost
pleadingly, "I swear I won't talk of mercenaries or murderers any
more. Not even of rape of virgins!"
When the Virgin heard the pleading sound of Warchild's voice,
she couldn't help but turn around, as if she sensed that the
mercenary annex hired gun didn't and couldn't possibly know any
better. She panted as she came closer, her complexion rather wan.
"Let's get out of this pool," she said, her voice having lost
most of its icy quality now, "and I will tell you why I hate
mercenaries and murderers and...er...indecent assaulters."
It was about time they left the pool for, rather
extraordinarily, it seemed to have filled up with other animals.
There was a large Ant, a Kaka, a Falcon and a rather large Koala.
Cronos, his instincts momentarily taking over, led the way and
dog-paddled to the shore.
"Zonk," the Koala uttered, as matter-of-fact as it could.
III - A SILLY RACE, A VIRGIN AND A TAIL (AND A TALE AS WELL)
After Cronos and the various other creatures had reached the
shore of the giant puddle, he looked around at them. Feathers
were clung to bodies, furs looked rather disfunctional, water
gleamed off a chitinous skeleton.
"Now how will we get dry?" the Virgin asked slightly irritated,
her voice like icy stalactites in a period of dew, "And how will
I get my hair in order again? I spent a fortune on it at the
hairdresser's only yesterday, you know!"
One of the animals, within the confines of its bill, muttered
something about not knowing and not wanting to know at all. The
Virgin looked around, her gaze as cold as frostbitten toes in an
Antarctican mid-winter night, but wisely decided not to react.
"Zonk," thought the Koala.
There was a brief silence, fragile like capillary glass tubes
and as vigorous as a Pitbull grinding baby skulls.
"I know how to get dry before we all catch some rabid kind
of pneumonia," the Falcon said, stepping forward, "I shall tell a
story. The driest thing I can come up with. Promise."
It had expected some visual support from the others, but none
such happened. It cleared his throat and stroked its pointed
beak, as if thinking of how to start.
"Once upon a time there was a Princess," it began, eyeing the
Virgin to gauge her reaction, "who was very beautiful indeed. Her
father, a grumpy old man, wanted her to marry an Evil Prince
called Elvis who was also rather frightfully fat and ultra ugly.
Her mother felt sorry for her, of course, but they just happened
to live in a kingdom where women's lib and that sort of thing
hadn't happened yet."
"Zonk," the Koala interrupted.
The Falcon cast a menacing glance at the fluffy creature.
"Zonk," it apologized.
"On the night of her having to wed," the Falcon continued, "she
was all dressed up in the most gorgeous gown that made all of the
castle maidens jealous. She also wore little glass shoes that
fitted her tiny feet exactly, and slightly above her upper lip
sat the Mother of all Moles. Her mother wept, and her father
drank another beer. She thought it was altogether rather silly
that she had to marry this prince whom she did not even love. She
shuddered at the thought of perhaps one day having to darn his
socks or something as mundane as that. Now the stable boy was
something totally different. He was a broad-shouldered hunk with
a hugely bulging..."
"Atchooo!" the Koala interrupted rather brusquely, therewith
instantly causing the Wrath of the Falcon to be turned upon him.
"Our fluffy colleague is right," the Kaka now interjected,
"We're not getting any drier at all. I propose we do something
else. Maybe we had better get physical."
"Zonk," the Koala sniffed in agreement.
The Falcon, though its pride was hurt somewhat, could do nothing
else but condescend, too. "I've been meaning to ask you, by the
way. What's a 'Kaka' and why do you look like the spitting image
of a 'Dodo'?"
"Elementary, my dear Falcon," the Kaka replied, "I am a Kaka but
one of my kin has once been mistaken for a Dodo. Basically a Kaka
is like a Dodo - only, well, different."
The Falcon pondered it over for a while. It decided to ask no
further. It was having troubles with it, but in the end it
"Let's run around in approximate circles like a bunch of mental
retards and see who wins," the Kaka decided when it was obvious
no more questions were going to be asked.
"Zonk," the Koala nodded, and everybody agreed.
They all ran around for about half an hour. Sometimes the
Falcon seemed fastest, but occasionally the large Ant overtook
it in a flurry of legs and the scent of honey. The Koala seemed
to tag along, as did the Kaka. Cronos ran to keep up with the
Falcon or the Ant, whichever was fastest at the moment. The
Virgin tried hard to keep up with Cronos, whom she considered
mentally and physically inferior to herself. Women's lib in the
Somehow, they actually seemed to get dry in the process. At the
end of it, Kaka rather unexpectedly signalled them all to stop.
"Who's won?" the Virgin asked, her panting sounding like snow
stars on frozen windows.
"Everybody has won," the Kaka said resolutely, "there's no
question about it."
There were some muted cheers.
"And," the Kaka added with emphasis, "of course, all of you
shall get a prize!"
"Zonk," the Koala now cheered with the others.
"Excuse me," Cronos interposed after this bout of happiness,
"but who is to give the prizes?"
"Well, you of course," the Kaka cried happily, "who else?"
All of a sudden all creatures' faces swirled to meet his,
eyebrows raised in eager expectation.
"Indeed, who else?" the Falcon interjected.
"Sure. Who else but he?" the enormous Ant now added, its multi-
faceted eyes rolling.
"There's no question about it, really," the Virgin agreed, her
voice like icecream in a hot summer day, "Or is there?"
"Zonk?" the Koala enthused.
"Prizes! Prizes!" they now all yelled rather too fervently.
Cronos fingered his pockets. Out came the most-empty bag of
sticky liquorice. He handed them to the Kaka, which he reckoned
was the Master of the Award Ceremony. The identical twin of a
Dodo pried them loose and handed them around. Just before
Cronos was to supposed to get his prize, however, the pieces of
liquorice that were left disappeared with a deft movement of the
Kaka's feathered hand - filed away for reappearance, no doubt, at
a later and probably more private occasion.
"What else have you in your pocket?" the bird inquired.
Cronos hesitated, but eventually took out his Elector-O-Cute™
killer gadget. Especially the Falcon and the Kaka looked at the
gleaming piece of hi-tech metalware with more than the usual
"What's it?" the Ant asked, its multi-faceted eyes looking
intensely scrutinous at the mercenary annex gun and about a
hundred other places within the wide vicinity.
"It's a thing with which I can electrocute people over the
phone," Cronos explained, "It's pretty ingenious, you know, and
it works regardless the distance. Moreover, you can..."
"Zonk!" the Koala cried. It seemed to go frantic, its tail
curling in an odd way and its entire body shaking much in the way
a doomed little friendly Gremlin shakes just prior to colliding
with huge quantities of water that it sees inescapably running
"Sounds much too savage," the Kaka said, eyeing Warchild with
suspicious distrust, "for having someone like yourself walking
around with it." It inserted a meaningful, contemplative pause.
"Nonetheless," it said as it snatched it from Cronos' hands with
a fell swoop, "I shall give it to you as your prize."
Cronos was about to get very angry but his poor brain instructed
him not to bother. Which was probably just as well.
"Anyway," the Virgin said, her voice filled with the weight and
purpose of an ice floe that knows it has to fill the biggest
river in the known universe, "I shall now tell you all the tale,
the sad tale, of why I hate mercenaries."
She cast a meaningful glance at Warchild. It was lost to him,
however, as he was examining his Elector-O-Cute™ killer gadget to
see if the Kaka might have damaged it. He put it in his pocket
after assuring himself that no corruption had been inflicted on
the thing. He made a mental note not to forget testing the
device once he'd get home. You never knew, and it was the only
way to be sure.
Warchild found it odd to hear the Virgin speaking of a sad tail
whereas A) It was no sad tail, and B) She had no tail. He was
fairly convinced of the latter, for when viewing her naked
splendidness earlier that day he was sure he had not found
evidence of a tail's presence, and he reckoned there surely was
no place to hide it.
Nevertheless the Virgin told her tale. Perhaps it should have
been called a poem, but that would have made this whole bit of
the story too difficult to write. Cronos was half wondering about
the tail, half listening to her voice like snowflakes dropping in
the sea, so to him the tale ran like this:-
"Once upon a time there
was a virgin and a
The virgin, of
course, was I.
They went along
to gnaw at the
it was one
of his most
speaking up that
spoke of rape,
sex and a lot
When the Virgin stopped her tale she caught Cronos deep in
thought, almost as if in a trance. To tell the truth, he had
actually found it necessary to go into a state not unlike
hibernation - for otherwise his brain would surely not even start
to understand what this tail was all about. Besides, he seemed to
have lost count of the bends. Had there been one one one one one
one? Or perhaps one more?
"You see?" the Virgin said to the others while deliberately
ignoring Cronos, her voice like the sound of a blunt icepick
attempting to cut through the North Pole, "Virgins and
mercenaries just don't rhyme."
Cronos pondered on, unperturbed, thinking about ones - too many
"Hey, dude!" the Virgin said rather well audibly to get Cronos'
attention, sounding like the Titanic on the night of April 14th
1912. The mercenary annex hired gun had apparently come to the
end of his comatose pondering and chose that moment to look up.
"Seven!" he cried, smiling rather triumphantly.
The Virgin said something like, "Ooof!", which sounded like a
thousand tons of liquid nitrogen being hurled in the mouth of an
erupting volcano. She ran off, all but stampeding.
"Come on, girl," Cronos said, like a mother addressing her
spoiled offspring, "What's all this running away for?"
The Virgin didn't answer. Her splendidly nude form ran off in
the distance, like a dog with its tail between its legs - only,
of course, she didn't have one. Cronos was still fairly certain
"Hmpf," he snorted, "Fak the Ruthless wouldn't have had any
problems getting her back."
"Zonk!" the Koala sniggered. With a small >plop< it disappeared.
"Er...hum," the Kaka said, "I think I left the gas on at home."
With those words he disappeared through a door that locked itself
The Falcon flapped its wings and heaved itself in the sky. "I'd
better be going too, pal," he said, "good luck to you." Within
seconds it was a dark spot growing even smaller, far away.
Leaving behind a vague scent of honey, the Ant had disappeared,
So Cronos was alone again. Alone with himself in this truly vast
hall filled with doors he couldn't open - except for one, to
which the key lay out of reach, on a three-legged table that was
too high for him to ascend.
"I wish I hadn't mentioned Fak," Cronos muttered sortof sadly to
himself, "Will I ever see Fak again, or any of my other Mercenary
Academy mates? Will I ever get out of here?"
The feeling in his lower abdominal area moved slightly up. It
also transformed from a rather nice to a somewhat nauseous one.
Sweat started breaking out from one or two pores, followed by
Then he suddenly heard the sound of feet flapping, coming
closer. Was it the Virgin that came back to throw herself in his
unmistakably masculine arms, to hurl her regretful tears at his
recognizably macho shoulder?
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.