When the white cat caught sight of the rat, the latter was rummaging
through the refuse again, looking for spare parts as enhancements.
"It's you again!" the English shorthair roared, and jumped at his
age-old nemesis. George, the rat, quickly ducked through the next gate
away from his attacker. Undaunted, Klimpen jumped right after him.
In the next room, they both weaved around around a group of garbage
collectors busy sorting through the waste of several days. The
collectors looked weird - it was a very mixed group, all working without
conflicts. Some of them were human, but the sight of one caused George
to stop, and he almost forgot that Klimpen was chasing him. His genetic
heritage made his hackles rise when he saw his racial enemy helping with
the sorting. They both knew that, after the inevitable 'nucular war'
that had been prophesied years ago, their races would probably fight for
rulership of the planet, but right now the moderator seemed oblivious
to George. George quickly ducked between the legs of the human-sized
roach, and hurried out through the next doorway.
As they dove through the door, a surveillance camera caught a fleeting
sight of them. The observer shuddered slightly, and hoped he had been
Along a hallway they both raced, and Klimpen had almost caught the
insolent rodent when George suddenly took a left turn into an open
doorway. The cyberrat didn't so much as look at the beings here, and
hurried out through the opposite door.
Klimpen, however, looked at the circle that had gathered in the room
and almost stumbled over his feet. All around a black altar, there was a
group of people in outfits that protected their secret identities --
sheets over their heads made sure no one could get a glimpse of their
identity. The only 'insignia' these sheet-heads bore were the letters
Epsilon, Rho and Beta embroidered on their chests. They were huddling
together around a scared human, mumbling arcane chants, gesturing
threateningly with obsidian knives.
The human in their midst was close to babbling incoherently. "I have my
First Amendment rights", he yelled, "you cannot censor me!".
"Oh, we cannot?", a sneering voice from one of the sheets replied.
"Just for posting some pictures of my grilfiend, and saying in my bio
that the mods and you guys are to stupid to catch me at it anyway,
that's illegal under the American Constitution!"
"Oh, but we are here in Sweden", came the retort.
Just as the scared yell of the poor sod cut the air like a knife,
Klimpen ran out through the door on the far side of the room again.
The observer shuddered again, but it was not quite clear whether it was
his reaction to the sacrifice, or to the wild hunt.
The door appeared to lead out into the open again, and into a small
village in the woods. Little huts stood along a main thoroughfare, and
hundreds of creatures of all sizes and races were milling about. They
didn't pay any attention to the rat and cat as they raced through the
village of Elftown, and finally turned into another doorway.
Finally, they found themselves in a less busy environment. Thousands of
pictures were hanging on the walls of what appeared to be a museum.
Hundreds of rooms housed the exhibits, each room having in way of a name
plate only a cryptic row of letters, digits and special signs. The hunt
turned into a giant hide-and-seek.
George found it difficult to keep ahead of Klimpen. Every so often,
when he tried to enter on of the rooms, a barrier would spring up in his
way, with a flashing sign telling him he wasn't allowed in there. Other
rooms were not thus protected, but George lost quite some time finding
the rooms that he would be allowed into.
Watched by the ever-present surveillance cameras, Klimpen inexorably
drew closer. As the invisible observer twitched more and more violently,
like a person afflicted by palsy, George realized that he'd have to go
underground again, and ducked into a ventilation shaft.
He didn't see that, right at that time, a mechanical arm descended from
the ceiling and grabbed Klimpen. 'Normal cats are not allowed in here',
a voice said, and dragged the protesting feline away.
The unseen observer also didn't notice this any more. He had
deteriorated into a state of involuntary twitching and shaking. The
Colonel, as he was called by the less literate of his subordinates, had
been almost reduced to a gibbering wreck.
His fright was pushed over the edge when one of his subordinates, a
daemon, approached him and said, 'Eh, Colonel, Sir...' The Kernel
panicked, and shrunk away into a corner to whimper.
And all over the world hundreds of users were staring at their screens
and groaned. "Great. Elfwood is down again!"