Vampires from Space!
Mr. Jennings signed his name with a flourish.
"You know, Mr. Black," the Krawk observed to the Grarrl near his desk. "I sometimes think it is a pity I have such long working hours."
The Grarrl cocked an eyebrow. It was indeed well into the night, but Mr. Black had so rarely seen his employer sleep that the idea of his exhaustion had never even crossed his mind.
"In fact," Jennings continued, "Sometimes I even consider it a pity that self-appointed dictators such as myself do not have a union. If we did, I could petition for shorter working hours, a better pension, or something along those lines. Though I imagine people would be happy rather than inconvenienced if we decided on strike action... on balance, perhaps it's not that good an idea."
Black wrinkled his brow in confusion. Sometimes, late at night, Mr. Jennings did not make quite as much sense.
"Never mind, Mr. Black," Jennings sighed. "Probably just the coffee talking. But, that is the last of today's work."
He placed the stack of papers he had been working through neatly into his out tray. For a moment he thought of asking Mr. Black exactly how his out tray was emptied, as Jennings had never seen anyone perform the task – but he eventually decided it was far too late in the night for such philosophical questions. It was better to just be thankful that such things were taken care of.
"I feel that perhaps I have earned some recreational time," Jennings continued. "Would you mind bringing in the Neovision set?"
"Yes, sir," Black replied, before walking off, leaving Jennings momentarily confused as to whether he did mind or not.
Regardless, Black soon returned from the office beyond with a Neovision set which he deposited on his employer's desk.
Jennings fiddled about with the knobs that controlled the channels until at last he found the one he was looking for. The emblem of Channel 9 News was just fading from the screen as the program ended.
"You know, I've hardly even watched Channel 9 since I purchased it," Jennings considered. "What's normally on about now?"
"Late night feature film, sir," Black informed him. "I think it's the classic science fiction season at the moment, sir."
Dramatic music came from the speakers as the title ' Captain Buck Atom in... Vampires from Space!' appeared on the screen.
Jennings forcefully hit the side of the Neovision set.
"The colour appears to be broken," Jennings complained.
"I believe it's meant to be like that, sir," Black commented. "It's an old one, from when they still used black and white film."
"Ah," Jennings said with a small hint of distaste. "Though, we can't hold age against it. It could be a fine example of historical cinema. Let's at least give it a chance."
He turned the volume up and leaned back in the chair as the film began. Mr. Black moved uncomfortably; he didn't imagine Mr. Jennings was going to approve.
(The scene begins on the spacious bridge of a rocket ship, filled with consoles that flash and whir in needlessly flashy and whirring manners. There are two occupants of the rocket ship. One, a Shoyru dressed in rocket gear, is Captain Buck Atom, saviour of the universe and champion mini-golf player. The other, an Acara dressed in a shiny and largely impractical jumpsuit, is Buck's sidekick, Carl Gates – intrepid and award winning space-reporter. The deep booming voice of the Narrator greets the viewer as the title is displayed on screen.)
NARRATOR: Captain Buck Atom in... Vampires from Space! The continuing adventures of adventurous cosmonaut and intergalactic saviour, Buck Atom, and his battles against the nefarious and fiendishly evil Emperor Xin!
When we last saw our hero, he and intrepid Neopian reporter Carl Gates had just escaped from the Caves of Terror onboard their rocket ship, when an ionic hurricane forced them off course and straight into the path of Emperor Xin's Deadly Doom Ray!
Will our heroes survive their flight? Will Buck Atom rescue his secretary, Felicity Goodwill, from the evil clutches of Emperor Xin? Find out in this latest thrilling instalment: Vampires from Space!
CARL: That was a narrow escape, Buck. Radar shows that the ionic hurricane is heading off towards the Frigian Nebula. We should be safe for now.
(A dial on Carl's console begins to bleep more than usual.)
BUCK: What is it, Carl?
CARL: Sensors are picking up a massive energy discharge heading our way, Buck!
BUCK: Evasive manoeuvres!
CARL: Too late! It's on a collision course! Brace for impact!
(The screen shakes from side to side as the duo are thrown around the interior of the rocket ship by the blast. With difficulty, they manage to get back to their consoles. At the front of the cabin, a view screen turns on, revealing an elegant Blumaroo with a long moustache. He is the evil Emperor Xin, ruler of Planet X and Buck's sworn enemy.)
XIN: Good evening, gentlemen!
BUCK: Xin! I should have known it was you! Carl, prepare the Quantum lasers!
XIN: Not so fast, Atom! Before you think about firing upon my fortress, you might want to meet my guest.
(A glamorous Cybunny appears on the view screen – Felicity Goodwill, Buck's secretary.)
FELICITY: Oh, Buck! Please save me!
XIN: You see, Atom, it would be unwise to fire on my location. Now, surrender yourself to me, and Miss Goodwill will be freed.
BUCK: I'll never surrender to the likes of you!
XIN: So be it. Charge the Doom Ray!
(The view screen goes blank, and a few moments later the scene is rocked by another impact. Buck and Carl are once more thrown from side to side in a needlessly overacted manner.)
CARL: That last one took out our engines! We're going down!
BUCK: Prepare for an emergency landing on Planet X!
CARL: Atmospheric boosters are offline! Looks like this is going to be a bumpy one, Buck!
(The film cuts to a scene outside the rocket ship, where a badly made model on visible strings flies across the barren rocky landscape of Planet X. It crashes behind a mountain, creating a large explosion. The film then cuts to a scene at the crashed rocket ship, which has seemingly survived the explosion with only minor burns damage on the outside. Unscathed, Buck and Carl emerge out into wilderness of Planet X.)
BUCK: That was a close one, Carl.
CARL: The engines are fried, Buck. It'll be hours before we can repair them.
BUCK: The repairs can wait, Carl. Xin has Felicity, and his Doom Ray is operational. We need to get to his fortress and stop him before he can use it to take over the universe!
CARL: But his fortress is impenetrable, Buck. The lightning bubble that shields it could only be broken by the rocket ship's Quantum lasers, and they'll be out of action until we can get her back in the air.
BUCK: We'll find a way, Carl. Follow me!
(The two adventure forwards across the wastes of Planet X, which looks surprisingly like an abandoned quarry near Altador – an apparently common appearance of alien and outlandish planets, given that it also looks similar to the Caves of Terror, the Wastes of Asteroid M, and the outskirts of the ruined Proto-City. Eventually they come across Emperor Xin's castle on the horizon, a great fortress perched on the crest of a mountain. A large bubble of energy surrounds the fortress, the lightning bubble. As the pair watch, the lightning bubble is disabled, and the large Doom Ray mounted atop the fortress fires off into the cosmos. A moment later, the lightning bubble returns.)
CARL: Who do you think he was firing at?
BUCK: I don't know, but I wouldn't like to be in their position right now.
CARL: Buck! Look there!
(Carl points off into the distance. There, suspended on visible strings, are dozens of rocket ships that are heading towards the fortress.)
BUCK: Reinforcements for Xin's army, no doubt. He's planning something, Carl. I don't like the look of this. Let's get back to the rocket ship and plan our next move.
(The two return to the rocket ship, and the scene changes to the interior. Carl makes his way over to a console.)
CARL: Buck! We're getting a space-telegram! It's a priority message, from the President of Neopia!
(Buck rushes to the console and picks up the small strip of paper that the console is printing out.)
BUCK: Buck Atom urgent, stop. Neopia attacked by Xin's Doom Ray, stop. Thousands dead, stop. Please give assistance, stop. Cosmologists observe Chiropteria's fleet moving, stop. Use caution, stop.
CARL: Stop, Chiropteria?
BUCK: Queen of the Space Vampires. Those must be the rocket ships we saw. Xin must be planning to ally with her and attack Neopia! We have to stop him!
CARL: But how? We can't get beyond the lightning bubble!
BUCK: We'll find a way, Carl. We'll find a way.
(Scene change to the interior of Xin's fortress. The Emperor sits on his throne as his minions deal with his scientific contraptions. Felicity Goodwill is tied to a pillar nearby. Through the entrance to the throne room, a delegation of pale space vampires arrives. At their head is an elegant but harsh looking Xweetok. She is Chiropteria, Queen of the Space Vampires. Xin rises from his throne to greet her.)
XIN: Chiropteria! I am so pleased you accepted my proposal!
CHIROPTERIA: It was such a dastardly plan, equalled only by its fiendishness. How could I have refused?
XIN: Then you will agree to ally with me?
CHIROPTERIA: Of course, my Emperor. I have brought my fleet of Blood Ships; they are ready to strike on your orders.
XIN: Excellent! I have already tested my Doom Ray on the people of Neopia; it was very effective if I do say so myself.
(Xin makes his way over to Chiropteria and takes her by the hand. Together, they gaze out to the wastes of Planet X as they consider the future.)
XIN: Soon, my sweet, soon. Once our enemies have been crushed, there will be nothing standing in our way. We will rule the cosmos, together!
(The pair begin to laugh in particularly maniacal ways. The scene freezes as the words 'To Be Continued' appear on the screen.)
NARRATOR: Could it be? The end for Buck Atom? Will the dastardly duo champion over our hardened heroes? And what of Neopia? Can it survive the invasion of the Space Vampires? Find out in the exciting conclusion of Captain Buck Atom in... Vampires from Space! Same Atom-time! Same Atom-place!
Jennings stared blankly at the screen.
"I thought you said it was a film?" he questioned Black. "Why has it ended in the middle?"
"They used to serialise films in old cinemas, sir," Black explained. "For television, they just splice the parts together into a single film. It should be starting again soon."
"Oh," Jennings said with a hint of disappointment, as if he'd been hoping for the film to end.
On cue, the familiar black and white titles appeared on the screen again as the dramatic music picked up where it had left off.
NARRATOR: Welcome back, Atom-fans, to the thrilling conclusion of Captain Buck Atom in... Vampires from Space! Previously we saw Buck and Carl shot down by the nefarious Emperor Xin and his Doom Ray. Trapped on Planet X, they observe Xin firing on the defenceless Neopia. To make matters worse, Xin allied himself with Chiropteria, Queen of the Space Vampires. Together, they may have enough power to overwhelm the universe. Can Buck stop them before the invasion begins, and save his kidnapped secretary, Felicity Goodwill? Find out as the tale continues!
(The scene opens on the interior of Buck's rocket ship. Buck and Carl are busy finishing off repairs to the consoles.)
BUCK: I think I have a plan, Carl.
BUCK: Once we have the engines repaired, the Quantum lasers will be able to fire on Xin's fortress. We'll probably only get one shot before we're shot down again, so it will have to count. We'll have to separate. I'll infiltrate the fortress, while you stay here in the ship. Once I'm inside, I'll disable Xin's lightning bubble, and then you take your chance to fire the lasers. A direct hit should take down the Doom Ray for good.
CARL: But what about the Space Vampires in the fortress?
BUCK: I'll find a way to deal with them, don't worry.
CARL: How are you planning on getting into the fortress, though, when it's protected by the lightning bubble?
BUCK: The lightning bubble is only on the surface, Carl. Don't you remember the Caves of Terror?
CARL: You think there are caves under the fortress?
BUCK: Xin would be foolish not to have an escape tunnel, and those can be used both ways.
CARL: And what about you? If I fire on the fortress while you're inside, you might get caught in the blast.
BUCK: It's a chance we have to take, Carl. My safety is less important than the survival of Neopia.
(The scene changes to the interior of Xin's fortress. In the throne room, Xin and Chiropteria are inspecting the Emperor's equipment.)
CHIROPTERIA: So this is the fabled Doom Ray, is it?
XIN: Yes, my Queen. It is of course my own design, as are all of my contraptions. Capable of destroying entire moons in a single blast. And over here is my mind-table, that can be used to probe the memories of my prisoners to discover their secrets. And this is the generator for my lightning bubble, which keeps this fortress safe from any attack.
CHIROPTERIA: Very impressive; you must be an astounding scientist.
XIN: Like no other the cosmos has ever known!
(One of Xin's minions, an overweight Skeith, enters the throne room.)
XIN: Fargold! Report!
(Fargold salutes in a dramatic manner.)
FARGOLD: The Doom Ray's batteries are fully charged, my liege, and the Space Vampire Army has been outfitted with your ray guns and thought grenades. We are ready to begin on your command.
XIN: Excellent! Begin at once!
XIN: What is it, my Queen?
CHIROPTERIA: My... my vampires need to wait until the moon is full on planet Neopia. It will increase our space-powers so there can be no resistance.
XIN: I thought it was Space Werewolves that were affected by the moon?
CHIROPTERIA: Of course... but we are affected to a lesser degree. Of course, my warriors are capable at any time, I only seek to maximise our power. After you have gone to so much trouble, I would not want to let you down.
(Xin takes Chiropteria's hand.)
XIN: You could never let me down. Fargold, delay the invasion until Neopia's moon is full.
FARGOLD: That could take many days, my liege. We could use the Galactic Manipulator to speed up the moon's cycle. It would only take a few hours.
XIN: Excellent, Fargold! Do it at once!
(Chiropteria opens her mouth to protest, but thinks better of it. Fargold salutes and leaves.)
XIN: Soon the cosmos will be ours!
(The scene changes to another part of the fortress, where a single guard is patrolling a corridor. As he passes a doorway, Buck emerges and hits him over the head with a sizable boulder. The guard falls to the floor, and Buck takes his ray gun before hiding the body in the passage he had just emerged from. Readying his new found weapon, Buck makes his way down the corridor, clinging to the wall to avoid detection.)
BUCK: Hold on, Felicity. I'm coming.
(The scene changes back to the throne room, where Xin and Chiropteria are still inspecting the equipment. Felicity is tied to a pillar at the back of the room, behind the throne, while Fargold and another minion go about their work on the Galactic Manipulator, a device near the mind-table. Buck enters through the throne room door, firing two blasts from his ray gun before anyone can react that hit Fargold and the other minion, both fall to the floor in overacted deaths.)
BUCK: Freeze, Xin! Your scheme is over. Deactivate the lightning bubble generator!
XIN: Captain Atom! What a pleasant surprise, I thought I killed you and your meddlesome sidekick.
BUCK: Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!
XIN: They won't be for long, Captain.
(Xin presses a button on his wrist, and Buck is surrounded by a column of light that holds him in place. His ray gun clatters to the floor near Xin and Chiropteria.)
XIN: The containment glow rings, my newest invention. Your survival is a mistake I intend to rectify, Atom! But first! First you shall witness the destruction of your precious Neopia!
(Xin makes his way to the Galactic Manipulator and checks the controls.)
XIN: The change to Kreludor's cycle is complete; the moon is now full on Neopia. It is time to launch our invasion, my Queen!
CHIROPTERIA: Not so fast, Xin!
(Chiropteria holds Buck's fallen ray gun at Xin.)
XIN: What is this?
CHIROPTERIA: You really thought I would join you? A dictator who has destroyed his own world in his quest to rule others? Step away from the controls to the Galactic Manipulator and let Buck go.
XIN: You're working with him!?
CHIROPTERIA: He saved my life once when we were both marooned on the frozen moon of Haborth III.
XIN: Traitors! I'll have my revenge for this, Chiropteria, mark my words! No one crosses the Almighty Xin and lives to tell the tale!
CHIROPTERIA: I told you to release him. Do it.
(Xin reluctantly presses a button on his wrist that deactivates the column of light holding Buck. He rushes over to Felicity to free her, and then makes his way to the lightning bubble generator, which he deactivates.)
XIN: I offered you the universe, Chiropteria!
CHIROPTERIA: And in another life, I may have accepted it. I have no desire to kill you, for you have been kind to me. For this reason, I will spare your life if you allow us all to leave.
(The scene cuts to a view of the outside of the fortress. Buck's rocket ship, piloted by Carl, approaches the fortress as the lightning bubble fails. Carl fires the rocket ship's Quantum lasers, which look suspiciously like flashlights, aiming straight for the Doom Ray. The scene cuts back to the interior of the fortress in the throne room. The Quantum lasers impact on the Doom Ray, causing it to explode. Chiropteria, who is stood nearby, is thrown to the floor by the blast. She accidentally fires a single blast from her ray gun as she falls, which hits Xin. The Emperor makes a lengthy gurgling noise as he clings to various pieces of equipment, before finally falling to the floor. Bits of masonry begin to fall from the ceiling, which bounce suspiciously on the floor as if they were in fact made of polystyrene.)
CHIROPTERIA: I... I didn't mean to...
BUCK: There's no time for that, we have to get out of here before the fortress collapses!
CHIROPTERIA: I could have been his Queen!
BUCK: We have to go now! Chiropteria! Get to your ships!
(Chiropteria looks up to Buck, and nods sadly. They untie Felicity, and the three of them leave the throne room, escaping mere moments before the entire fortress collapses down the mountain it was built atop. The scene changes back to the interior of Buck's rocket ship, where Buck, Carl, and Felicity are on their way back to Neopia. At the front of the ship, the view screen turns on. An image of a suited Lupe is shown.)
BUCK: Mr. President!
PRESIDENT OF NEOPIA: I just wanted to give you my personal thanks, Captain. Without your help, Neopia would once again have been doomed. Emperor Xin has been stopped forever, and the galaxy is safe once more. The universe could use a few more people like you.
BUCK: Thank you, sir!
(The view screen goes blank, Carl turns to Buck.)
CARL: What about Chiropteria?
BUCK: Her Blood ships have returned to the Vampire Planet for now, and she'll be mourning over what she did to Xin for some time, I should think. But her debt to me is now repaid; there's nothing holding her back from doing whatever she wants.
CARL: You think Neopia is in danger?
BUCK: It might be, in the future. But if it is, we'll still be here, Carl. Protecting the weak, and saving the universe!
(Carl and Felicity nod in agreement and the screen freezes.)
NARRATOR: And so Captain Buck Atom once again saves the universe. No doubt there'll be more adventures to come for our heroic saviour, but for now, it's the end of this tale.
(The screen goes black and the words 'The End' appear. After a few moments, a question mark at the end appears.)
NARRATOR: Or is it?
XIN: You fools! You think a being such as me can be dispatched so easily? Death holds no fear for the Almighty Xin! I will return, and I will have my revenge! Mwahahaha! Ahahaha! Ahahahahaha!
Mr. Jennings leaned forwards and turned the Neovision set off as the credits rolled.
"Well, that was... illuminating," he observed.
There was no reply from Mr. Black.
"I know I own the channel, but do I own the production company that made that film?" Jennings asked the Grarrl behind him.
"I believe so, yes, sir," Mr. Black answered.
"Good." Jennings nodded. "Remind me tomorrow to have them all sacked."