AATAFOVS / A Nerd In The Band
Season 2, Episode 5. Preceded by Schooled
, followed by Through A Glass Nerdly
. See also The Red Story Gate comic arc, issues 61 to 82
The Vamp Benders portal in and end up inside a large wardrobe. Avatar and Sue push at the door, but it's firmly locked. Nerdly suggests going back to the base, but Avatar says no; here was where they received the message "See red to enter the next" from the Professor. Solo casually leans on a lever, and the door opens.
The Vamp Benders reach a habitation area, and Avatar notes that they are in very deep space. On the wall, they see written in blood, a series of ancient letters that state HEIL, NERDLY
scrawled on the wall below. Nerdly is frightened by the words, but is unable to translate the text into English.
Opening another hatch, the two are startled as they are confronted by three humans. Avatar greets them, and they respond by knocking the Vamp Benders out. They attempt to do so with Nerdly, but he escapes into the air ducts.
The Vamp Benders wake up in a prison cell. Three armed humans (or are they humanoid aliens?) enter the cell and demand to know what they are doing there. The leader, Kurt, is surprised to see the Vamp Benders, but there is no time for wondering — a voice on a loudspeaker warns them to go to the safety of the bridge. Kurt hurries everyone into the bridge and closes the doors.
Several other humans are present and look at them oddly. Kurt introduces himself; he is Kurt Shrieber, captain of the Deutsche Raumstation, the base the Vamp Benders have landed on. They are an expeditionary force on the planet 99817-GER. He introduces the others on the base — Ada, Hans, Klaus, Friedrich and Agnes.
Kurt explains they are an independantly funded research group dedicated to observing meteors. Avatar notes a collision on one of the screens, in which a meteor rather spectacularly slams into another one. The crew clap politely, but Kurt looks at him suspiciously. He says the station must be locked down as they are being attacked by hostile aliens called La Mal, and the doors to the bridge close.
La Mal attack the base, clawing at the walls. Three enter the complex. Two of them fall afoul of auto-turrets, but one escapes into the ventilation ducts. Kurt curses, and begins issuing orders to flush the air out of the ducts. Sue reminds him that Nerdly escaped. Kurt coldly replies that the Vamp Benders are still prisoners, and that Nerdly should have come quietly. He gives the order, and Hans pushes the button to flush the ducts. Sue wails, and the air comes out. The La Mal creature flies out the window at the end of the base.
Kurt: I am sorry. That La Mal could have destroyed the base. Your friend may still be alive.
Avatar: No. He's dead. Absolutely dead. There is no possible way for him to be alive.
Solo: Yeah. Not even Nerdly could get out of that one.
Fluffikins: He's very dead.
Sue: Did anyone else just hear my cat talking?
Hans: You're changing the subject. We were talking about your friend. The certainly dead one.
As it turns out, Nerdly is alive. He had gotten out of the ventilation ducts, and was looking for a way back to the others when when the La Mal attacked. They breach the wall and run towards him, but he blacks out. Hours later, he wakes up in the same room. The La Mal are dead, with the words ICH MAG DICH, NERDLY
written on the wall in blood. Terrified, Nerdly runs out of the room, not noticing the blood on his hands...
The Vamp Benders are released once they tell Kurt what they are doing there. Kurt says the base has had visitors from alternate universes before. He says the base is three million miles from the nearest habited planet
, and they have been sending messages out to it in hope of rescue for several months. Supplies are running thin, and he tells the story of another crewmember, Helga, that suffered in silence and remained optimistic until Klaus accidentally ate the last chocolate biscuit, sending her into a murderous rage.
Solo: How did you get rid of her?
Friedrich: We trapped her in the airlock and flushed the air out of it.
Avatar: Do you do that every time something goes wrong?
Ada: It's regulation.
Solo: Don't you need that air? I thought you were low on everything.
There is an uncomfortable silence, where Kurt suggests they all go to bed. Everyone gets to sleep, but Friedrich is woken by a noise. He gets up and goes to investigat. They awake the next morning to find Friedrich gone. Written on the walls in blood are the words VERBINDE MICH, NERDLY
, followed by more splashes of blood. Ada scans the blood, and decides it's Friedrich's.
Kurt remembers Nerdly and demands to know why he is mentioned. Solo tells him they don't know, but insists Nerdly is not capable of such acts. Kurt tells him he didn't think Helga was capable of such acts either, and suggests they split up into groups of one. Avatar suggests groups of two
, and the rest of the crew agree. Kurt glares at Avatar, who takes the lead and instructs the crew where to go. He hands out walkie-talkies, although Klaus warns the Vamp Benders that they often fail, although the crew don't know why.
Nerdly wakes up again in a completely different place, confused. He is lying down in a circular room near a very deep hole; he looks down, and sees nothing but darkness. He gets up and looks for an exit, but stops when he sees a Story Gate generator, turned off.
Nerdly: What is that?
It is much bigger than a normal Story Gate, and looks older. Upon the Story Gate generator is an inscription; FUR DAS REISEN ZU UNBEKANNTEM UNIVERSUM
. Nerdly looks at the buttons and begins to realise he can speak the language!
Meanwhile, the crew and the Vamp Benders are looking for Nerdly. Cleo remembers she forgot to put on pants when she woke up, but her partner Klaus insist's it's far too late to go back.
Kurt has been paired up with Avatar. Still angry at him because he's taken control of the ship, his eyes glow red and he stops walking.
Kurt: ICH TOTE DICH.
Kurt jumps at Avatar, trying to stab him. They struggle, but eventually Avatar fights Kurt off and kills him. He tries to call the others on the walkie-talkies, but the signal fails. Cursing, Avatar walks back to the bridge of the base. He notes that the screens are still on and transmitting, and boredly stares at them for a while. Suddenly, he sees a meteor slam into another meteor on one screen - the exact same image he saw the previous day.
Avatar immediately looks around the screen. Looking under it, he pulls it out to reveal a VCR - the meteor was just a tape!
Upon this realisation, there is a ghostly, low, rumbling laughter.
Laughter: He he he he he.
Solo: (to Hans) Do you hear that?
(Klaus remains still.)
Every crewmember of the base goes mad and attacks the Vamp Benders. They are quickly subdued, although not before Klaus seriously tears Cleo's shirt
. The Vamp Benders run to meet up with Avatar in the bridge, but at the last second La Mal begin to attack the base again. The doors to the bridge automatically close and Avatar is trapped inside. The Vamp Benders shout and scream, but they are trapped in the base, with La Mal clawing to get in and the currently unconscious crewmembers.
Nerdly carefully activates the Story Gate. It glows a demonic red. Horrified, Nerdly moves to deactivate it but is kicked back onto the ground from the Gate. A leather-clad, elaborately muscular man comes out of the gate. He wears two enormous monocles and a tall Prussian military helmet. Nerdly gasps as the man smiles.
Man: Hello, son!
—To Be Continued