This is it, this is the actual end of the story!
The Phantom of the Operating System
You might want to listen to some epic music.
The Final Showdown
Eventually everybody ends up in the main laboratory located in the sub-sub-sub-sub-under-basement, a fairly large and atmospherically lit space containing...
- Down the centre is a row of what can only be described as a cross between a surgeon's operating table and a pathologist's slab.
- Cubbyholes along one wall have pods ready to contain more cyborgs like Eric Golightly.
- Along the opposite wall are shelves/cupboards of equipment and a long workbench, along with a passageway to a store room.
- On the far wall is an enormous, very elaborate and ornate computer -- the actual Chandelier Project main interface.
Had I ever managed to build this, the whole lab would have had the look of a cross between Shelly's Frankenstein, Gibson's Neuromancer and the Matrix movies -- I refer to it as "Gothic Cyberpunk" and some people have said that it might be a similar feel to Warhammer 40K, but I don't play that so can't make the comparison.
I do have a sneaking suspicion that my attempt to describe it is making it sound more awesome than any attempt I could make to build it, unfortunately. So +1 to imagination.
The various people assembled (in separate groups) are:
- Doctor Medulla and Alison (who is unconscious, on one of the table/slabs).
- Eric Golightly and Felicia
- Two guards, with a captured Isaac and Major Tom.
There is a bit of a stand-off and Medulla chastises the guards for capturing the wrong man (Isaac) and pointing out the one they should have got (Eric). The guards are dismissed at that point, because Eric has returned to the lab anyway.
As this is going on a disheveled Anderson emerges from the store room, with Squidman following him! Medulla had arranged for Squidman to visit Eric (see episode #416).
At this point all hell breaks loose and there is a lot of talking over each other, confusement and shouting.
- Felicia demands to know if Alison is ok. She's also mad with Isaac for coming after her, despite her not asking for help - it's not that she's not grateful, it's just that... well, the situation isn't much better, and quite possibly worse.
- Major Tom is astonished to find Anderson (he wasn't privy to that top secret information).
- Eric has spotted Squidman and starts heading towards him.
- Squidman in turn starts screaming and running around the lab to escape Eric.
While this is going on, one of the guards slips back in to the room and removes his helmet to reveal that he is actually Semaphore still undercover. There was going to be a clue to this for the reader: the guards were going to be holding lightsabers, only Semaphore'a was going to the shiny kind, indicating that his was actually genuine (Hudson loaned it to him) instead of one of the dodgy black market ones.
Semaphore heads over to and reveals another genuine lightsaber (pretend minifigs have pockets) and whispers that he "liberated" it from the safe in one of the other rooms -- it's Anderson's original lightsaber. Obviously, they didn't allow him to keep it on him, Medulla isn't stupid!
Finally, Commandant Thalamus and his wife Cerebellum arrive, ready to start-up the Chandelier Project's first phase.
Semaphore makes his presence known and declares that this black market weapons business has to stop and that not only are the Space Police on their way, so are the local Cynaptix IV force.
He gets laughed at by Cerebellum who taunts Semaphore and the Federation for thinking on such a small scale. Did they really think somebody as grand as her husband would be satisfied with such a petty scheme and consort with such low-lifes as the Contralto family for a bit of black market business? Oh no, that was just a means to an end and they are not afraid of the Cynaptix IV police force - they've all been upgraded with cybernetic implants.
Felicia gasps because she realises what that means -- they will be under the control of the Chandelier Project as soon as it's activated. She starts talking, saying she knows what's really going on here and she's hacked into the servers to give Eric direct access and he can wipe it at any time.
Eric stops chasing Squidman and remembers his primary mission. He autolocks the doors to the laboratory, trapping them all inside and prepares his "blow 'em up" program.
Medulla quickly logs into the giant computer in the room and a countdown clock appears displaying: 00:10:00 - ten minutes until kablooeey!
Felicia is shocked, Eric lied to her about his intentions. Eric says something about the sacrifice of the few to save the many.
In one corner of the room, Medulla tells Thalamus and Cerebellum that there is a secret escape route behind one of the pods, through which they can slip away and lock it behind them. Thalamus says that is an excellent idea and immediately after it is opened shoots Medulla with a blaster and whispers in his ear as he dies "They will thank me in the Senate for foiling Doctor Medulla's evil schemes. I shall, of course, inform them of how I was too late to save the others from the explosion."
At this point, Semaphore and Anderson spring into lightsaber action and leap over tables to stop Thalamus and Cerebellum escaping... there is tentacle slicing action!
The clock is still counting down - 00:05:32
Everybody rushes to the escape route, Major Tom and Semaphore grab Alison and carry her with them. But as Squidman attempts to go, he gets grabbed by Eric who is enraged and blames him for all his misfortune! Squidman looks at him and says "I... I think you would have made a great viper pilot and... and your jokes were very funny. Cell division.... ha ha!" (see episode #269).
Stunned, Eric releases Squidman and just tells him to go. Eric then climbs into his own pod. Felicia shouts at him to come with them, but he refuses and closes his pod up.
Isaac then grabs Felicia by the hand and they follow the others through a tunnel to a ladder that leads up to the surface some distance away from the building.
A muffled boom is heard just as they climb out. The laboratory was deep enough underground, that the main building was barely damaged.
The Space Police arrive to clear up the mess - interview all the people who work in the building, arrest any Contralto family members milling around, and make sure all remnants of the computer and project are destroyed, etc.
Several Weeks Later on Tranquility Base
- In Hudson's Office
- Hudson is talking to her dad (Anderson), Admiral Slog and Semaphore. Apparently, when the clear-up team reached the laboratory, only the bodies of Medulla, Thalamus and Cerebellum were found. They did not find Eric Golightly's body -- and they searched the pod area thoroughly.
- Also, the ADU has been disbanded. Nearly all the black market lightsabers have been confiscated. They keep turning up occasionally, though.
- In the Engineering Department
- Squidman is reluctantly talking to Houston Texas, who has given Squiddie a job. As part of a deal not to return to prison, Squiddie has to work for the Space Agency doing odd jobs, obtaining hard-to-get items (no questions asked) and supplying information.
- In Isaac and Philip's Apartment
- Philip and Major Tom are playing computer games which Isaac is sitting on the sofa, holding hands with Felicia.
Somewhere Else Entirely... a rocky outcrop on a mystery planet
The silhouette of a man with machine-like appendages stands looking out across the landscape, with twin suns shining in the background.
Thank you for reading Tranquility Base comic.