"How Ace found Pandimonicon, And What it Did to Him"

A Note from the Author: This story I wrote for several reasons. At the time, FanTek and TechniCon security had an entire communications link to each other via a small, two-way headset radio. At one of their conventions the head of security insisted people go by coded numbers, and much confusion resulted. When I started my readings at conventions, this was my most requested story. It goes better when you have different voices do different parts, and at the peak of its popularity, it was a skit for The Prune Bran Players. It has seen several versions, but this is the first web version. I hope you enjoy it as much as the rest of my fans do.

"My name is Ace. I am from the United States of America," said Ace, in response to the question the Registration Girl asked him. He couldn't believe he was here, at the PandimoniCon World Science Fiction Convention in Blunibia. He hardly remembered the plane trips to this small island nation, being excited and all.

"Let me see your passport, proof of pre-registration, any pre-con forms you may have filled out, proof of housing and/or hotel accommodations of your stay," she replied without even looking up from her computer terminal, "... and proof of return passage to your home country."

Ace fished into his duffel bag and produced the documents that was requested. The girl, with a badge that said, "Ellen Meador, Registration Officer, Fourth Class" grabbed the documents absently with the routine precision of constant repetition. She scanned them and handed all back but one called "PandimoniCon Pre-Convention Registration Activities Form," a form which she looked over and made check marks at certain intervals. As Ace looked at the huge hotel, he couldn't believe that there were so many people already who showed up. He was in line for his hotel room key for an hour, and then had to stand a half-hour in the pre-registration line. He was glad he pre-registered, since the people who decided to get their badges at the door were in a line so long that it was causing runway traffic delays at the airport 2 miles away.

"Mr. Phenora, I see that this is your first science fiction convention. Here is some reading material." Ace read the covers of some of the little booklets with titles like, "So This is Your First Con, Eh? Oh, God...," "Do's and Don'ts for Virgin Congoers," and "How to Avoid the Psychic Leech, a Must-Have Survival Manual." He was about to open one of them, but Ellen continued talking like a high-speed language tape, "Now some of the activities you have sighed up for have been cancelled. To note which are the Clay-o-Rama Tournament, the Make-Your-Own-Moon-Colony Contest, and the Dance of Post-Apocalyptic Violence Workshop. You have signed up for The Vampire Live Action Role Playing Game, so after your pledge please immediately go to the pre-game set up room is down the hall, to the left, down some stairs, and in the Rama Ballroom. If you get lost, follow the yellow line. All of your documents have cleared, and your badge is being generated at the end of this table. Now please raise your right hand." Ace did so, and the girl said even more rapidly, "Adalai Ronald Phenora, hereby know as your con-name Ace, do you solemnly swear to..." Ace cringed at his read name being read aloud to this huge crowd of people while the girl read from a huge list, "Abide by all Pandimonicon Rules, smoke only in the designated smoking areas, eat only in the designated eating areas, exhume bodily functions only in their appropriate places, and do what any PandimoniCon Officer tells you to do unless it violates your sense of well-being in the universe as defined by the exemption laws in your program book?"

"Uh, yeah, I guess-"

"Do you, Ace, promise NOT TO: get drunk publicly, use or sell illicit drugs, vandalize anyone else's property, quote episode numbers of any television show, brag about past gaming episodes, act in the manner of a psychic leech, have a girlfriend who recites depressing poetry, or generally make a fool of yourself for your nationality, race, religion, or PandimoniCon's selection process?"

"Uh... ok."

"Thank you, Ace. Here is your membership packet." Ellen then game Ace a huge box filled with flyers, books, buttons, stickers, free samples, and a program book so thick, it could be used as a booster seat for a small child, "Welcome to Pandimonicon The 1995 World Science Fiction Convention in Blunibia. NEXT???"

Ace was pushed aside by a young teenage girl with a tee-shirt that said, "Jamicon 58: Solid Gold Dancer" who then proceeded to yell at Ellen. "You were told to inform me if Mike was here, and now I find out that my supplier for 16 crates of potato chips is missing! Dammit, Ellen, work with me here! This party is going to hell, and it hasn't even stared yet! Now about this Blunibia permit for a Moose License..."

All Ace heard before the force of the Badge Pickup Line pushed him away was, "Well, he was rushed to Medical Area One. He was carrying this huge wicker-rattan chair and then a dachshund came along..."

The Badge Pick-up Line was another half hour, and filled with exhausted people carrying their membership packets like deadweight on a march to the Hanoi Hilton. Ace passed the time by reading his small pamphlets. He had read about this convention in Omni Magazine, and decided that he would spend his vacation meeting a handful of other people who liked speculative fiction, so he had already gotten an idea of what to expect, but never knew so many people also liked to read the stuff he did. Ace was just about to get his badge, when the most drop-dead gorgeous woman he had ever seen suddenly was in front of him, smelling of the sweetest perfume and exotic shampoo that Ace had even had the delight of being near. She was wearing a soft pastel tee-shirt that was stretched evenly over two perfect breasts, and some high-cut shorts in a Hawaiian floral print exposed long creamy legs that ended in a pair of smooth ankles thrust into white canvas shoes. A badge on her chest said, "Helen D'Troi, Volunteer Office, First Class" and a sticker that said, "Recruitment team."

"Hey, you hunk of He-flesh, you..." she said slowly, with a voice that sounded like rose petals and Swiss chocolate, "How would you like to impress me...?"

Ace was spell-bound. His heart was beating so rapidly that when the blond bombshell clipped the badge on his chest, it jumped like an exhaust flap on a semi. Her lips were so close to his, he nearly fainted when her sweet breath smelling like an forbidden mix of mint, roses, and a citrus cola wafted across his lips. A sigh escaped and shuttered from his chest that sounded like a mix of shock and ecstasy.

Her eyes fluttered like the most delicate and precise moves of a computer-generated butterfly. "Well, hon? How about it? You would really impress me by helping me out..." she pouted like a seductive child, straightening Ace's collar like she was an expert in Ikebana. "... by helping little ol' helpless me out... in security...? Hmmm...?" She softly grabbed Ace's arms and massaged them with her fingers.

Ace had no choice. Despite several pamphlets training him not to volunteer for anything no matter what, his heart and voice leapt into his throat and he managed to squeak, "Yes..." despite advice from others in line like, "Don't fall for it!", "Don't do it!", "Take it off, wooo!"

Helen sighed like she had just gotten the dream wedding proposal from the one and only Price Charming himself. She tucked her soft and plump arm under Ace's, and took him down the hallway, forever looking into his eyes like a puppy in love. "This hallway is paved with good intentions, Acey-Wacey..."


* * *


"Well, so much for logic!" Ace screamed for only about the 400th time and he tossed his hands up and let them land with a slap on a laminated notebook. Ace had arrived at the convention only ten hours ago and already he had been recruited as security captain for the entire west wing and right now he was just trying to figure out where everyone was. He flipped though the large three-ring notebook and stared stupidly at the rules he was reading.

PandimoniCon Security Rules
(Page 1051)
587 2.0b: In whereas stated in the last section about the following effects caused by said security risk [Section 228 18.4b "Trekkies Carrying Serrated Grapefruit Spoons and Other Violent Fruit-Related Utensils] will be escorted to aforementioned hedonic effect icons and told to assume positive stomatic arches in simile to the icons themselves. If a breach is so noted before opening hours of the Video room on the second day of the con, all offenders shall be escorted to a non-working elevator shaft and let gravity do its justice unless William Shatner is present, then by code 100 31.1r ["Guests Can Do What They Want Rules"], he can do it himself.  
Ace tossed up his arms again, almost like he was trying to start a wave at the security table, but lacked the rest of an audience to continue it. "Code 100 31.1r? William Shatner? What is all this?! I just want to find out who I've got!" Ace was mad, and nobody could hardly blame him, since he been awake for almost 48 hours straight. The plane trip was grueling enough, but ten hours of tracing dozens of volunteers by a small two-way headset radio was a painful labor of precise need amid vague demands. "I had a feeling that no one would follow the security rosters. Now where the heck is everyone?" Flipping though his notebook wasn't giving him any answers, since it was apparently written by someone who was attending a different convention all together.

Alex, his sidekick, and the sidekick of every other head of security that went insane, lay at Ace's side against a wall and offered him some advice along with a cold chicken wing from a fast food bucket. Alex was from England, and was dressed in a tie-dye jogging outfit. His long hair kept getting into his mouth, and his scraggly beard was threatening to become more interesting than he was. "I think that they had their own plans for organization before we came along." He said, waving a drumstick in the air like a philosophical conductor of life's orchestra.

Ace was trying to replay the past events again, as if doing so would prove his predicament didn't exist. "I was minding my own business when some chick came along and said, `Hey, you hunk of he-flesh, how would you like to impress me and help out with security?' I said `sure' and next thing I know, I have to find half a dozen patrols on a flimsy two-way headset radio."

"Life is a shit sandwich, man, eat it or starve; and speaking of starving, have some food."

Ace looked at the offering and wrinkled his nose, "What is it?"

Alex picked up the bucket and looked at the side. "Dunno. Local cuisine."

Ace took a large bite out of it and rolled his eyes up in thought. "Needs ketchup."

"So did the cola. But that's all gone." Alex spit out a chicken beak and peeled a claw from the crust of another piece.

Base Alpha? Is anyone at Base Alpha?

Security was monitored by a series of two-way radios on headsets passed out to patrols throughout the hotel. In order to talk, you had to push a button by your ear, and hope who you wanted to talk to was in radio range. The only other option was to switch to "VOX", a helpful feature that would pick up your voice automatically and transmit when you spoke. But not only did it pick up when your voice (and sometimes you didn't want transmit your utterances) but it would also pick up your breathing, sneezing, and other less mentionable body noises over the entire network. Ace had to establish a "no-VOX" rule right away after the hotel restaurant started serving Mexican food. And what made running security a living hell was that it was all volunteered by people who, although loveable people by their own right, had as much idea of what they were doing as a lump of clay. Mix incompetence with bad technology, and add a science fiction convention full of weirdos, and you have a recipe for chaos.

Base Alpha? Is anyone at Base Alpha? came the voice from the darkness of a foam earpiece again.

Ace grabbed the tiny comlink in dangling front of his face from the headset. "This is Base Alpha. We read you, over."

Base Alpha? This is Unit Delta. We have a code red by the merchant's room. Request solution.

"Code Red. Code Red. That is..." Ace looked though his

guide. "That is... Medical Emergency. MEDICAL EMERGENCY??!!" Ace didn't want to know, but quickly asked anyway, "What the heck happened?"

There was a long pause. Did I say Red? I meant Blue. Code Blue! Sorry.

Ace breathed a long sigh of relief. "OK. You need a water break, right?"


"OK. Then go take a break." Ace saved the day again. He turned to Alex, "That wasn't so hard."

Alex just shrugged. He wasn't impressed with the new head of security at all, not because Ace was American, or didn't know what he was doing, it was just that Alex was the assistant for three head of securities so far, and the last two were recovering in the Mental Ward at Medical Base Three.

Base Alpha, this is Unit Gamma on floor nine.

For the first time in hours, Ace leaned back in confidence. "Yes Unit Gamma, I read you. How can I assist?" 

Base Alpha, we have two Punk Rockers in heavy romantic congress in front of the elevator shaft on floor niner. Request solution, over.

Ace's confident look slipped off his face like hot runny cheese. A code flesh violation could involve the local authorities. He looked at Alex and shrugged in frustration.

"Unit Gamma, we suggest you hose them down."

Negative. Fire hoses off limits to non-flaming personnel.

"Um... sell tickets?"

There was a short pause.

Roger. Unit Gamma requests back up.

Alex smiled, "and you said you didn't know what you were doing." But Ace could not hear the compliment, since he was holding his own head and sighing.

Base Alpha, this is Unit Omega. We have a bunch of rowdy pre-teens in the Con Suite on the Plaza level. Request permission to beat the snot out of them.

"Great..." Ace said, remembering this yesterday's incident with a herd of sheep during a battle demonstration. "Unit Omega, this is Base Alpha. Violence will only cause trouble...ah, suggest you calm them down with rational conversation."

Alpha? This is Chi backing up for Delta in the merchant's room. We have a -hold on- There was a pause, and then slightly off-mike, Ace heard, NO! I do not think that dagger is worth 30 dollars. Pakistan steel and a plastic handle?! Come on!

Whomever was wearing the headset certainly had his priorities. "Unit Chi? What is your problem?"

Hold on, Alpha... no! I will pay five dollars! Sold? Ok, good. Do you accept traveler's checks in US Dollars?

If he didn't get to the bottom of this soon, Ace figured he never would and this guy's bargaining was taking up valuable air time. "UNIT CHI?! What is wrong? Put down that knife and talk to me!!"

Alex, who was not on a headset, dropped the bucket. "Knife? God, I never thought security would get this violent!" Alex paused, and then added, "... at least, this early in the day."

Hold on, I gotta talk to Base Alpha... OK... We have a code purple in the merchant's room!

"Purple?" Ace flipped though the book, which unfortunately had only primary colors in it. "What the hell is that? I forgot if that was break for lunch or take hostages..."

Alex answered with, "It is a combination of Code Blue and Code Red. It means that there is a slight medical emergency that requires water. Someone must have fainted. Or is drowning. It depends what shade it tends toward. Here, " Alex handed him a system of overlapping cardboard discs of many colors. "This Dial-A-HUEmergency color wheel will help you a little."

Ace twisted the dials, but it only confused him further. "Did this help the last guy who ran security?"

"No," Alex admitted with no sign of remorse.

"Unit Chi? Could you tell me if the Code Purple is sort of..." Ace paused, turning the overlapping disks this way and that, "... sort of tending towards a Code Magentish or more of a Code Navy-Bluish?"

But Chi was off-mike again with, Wow! An original cast photo? How much, considering it is torn here and here?

"Screw it," thought Ace, "I'll Get back to you, Chi..."

Unit Alpha? This is Unit Iota guarding the Lobby Fountain. Man, I drank too much Zulu Cola at the last poetry reading? Can I take a Code Yellow?

Unit Gamma, this is Unit Pi. We are in the Costume room trying to confirm a request for chairs on floor nine.

"Hold on, Iota. Unit Pi? This is Alpha. I don't know about the chairs, but could you tell me where unit..." Ace flipped though now useless patrol rosters, "... Unit Tau is? She has some equipment some people are looking for."

Alpha, this is Omega in the Con Suite. These kids really deserve to be smacked...

"Hold on Omega."

Is this headset on? Testing one, two. Testing one, two.

"Oh, God," Ace moaned to Alex. "It's that guy again."

Is this headset on? Testing one, two. Testing one, two.

"Get on with it! We can hear you!"

Uh, yeah! This is Unit Rho in the game room calling Base Alpha, this is Unit Rho in the game room calling Base Alpha. Do you read me? Over.

"Yes, we read. Get on with it!"

This is Unit Rho checking in. All clear here!

Ace rolled his eyes up in complete exasperation, and said as subtly sarcastic as he could manage, "Thank you Rho..."

A goofy female bubbly voice suddenly said Base Alpha? Hi, this is like, Tina.

"Tina? What sort of Greek letter is Tina? Are you on the rosters?" He flipped through the chaotic notebook. He never agreed to the Greek letter rule, but when he took over from the other guy, the patrols were already used to it, and would rarely respond to anything else.

No, silly. My name is Tina. But the masking tape on the side of this cute headset says ...ah's a egg with a line through it...

"That's a..." Ace tried so hard to remember Fraternity slogans back at college, "... a Theta. You are Unit Theta. Please call yourself Unit Theta until you give back the headset."

Okey dokey, boss!

"Ok. Here you are." Ace wanted to test how far off the roster was, "According to my notes... you signed on two hours ago, and you are doing the Art Room. Am I correct?"

There was a long pause, Oh, sorry: what?

"I asked how things were in the Art Room."

How should I know? I'm on the fourth floor.

"Unit Theta? You should be on the Plaza level in the Art Room, over."

But, like, there is this really wild kind of party up here... Some guy with a moose is dancing with this girl, right? And, like, they're doing this striptease thing for a WorldCon bid...

Ace would have none of that on the airwaves. "Report to the Art Room now, Theta," he said with a stern voice.

Roger, Said a completely different male voice, This is unit Beta going down to the Art Room.

"Theta! Not Beta!!!" screamed Ace. "Jesus, Alex!" he complained to his grinning so-called assistant, "You'd think the Greeks would have had letters that didn't sound so much like each other."

Alpha? This is Unit Mu in the Video room. We WANT Beta, not VHS. We have VHS players and Beta tapes. We do need Beta! For Chrissake, over an hour ago we sent up that message with Unit Tau-

"Mu? This is Alpha. Where is Tau?"

Alpha? This is Iota. Look, I have been guarding this darn gushing, squirting, and oooh... wet fountain for hours now, and I really need to find RELIEF, get my drift? Can someone keep these people out of the fountain while I go an perform an act most urgent?

This is Unit Sigma with the group of guest authors escorting them to the Opening Ceremonies. Request that you stop sending chairs to floor nine so there is room in the elevator for our guests...

"Hold on, guys." Ace turned to Alex and wiped beads of sweat from his brow. "Do you want to take over while I sort some of this out?"

Alex laughed like a raven over its prey, "Not a chance." Alex followed with a shocked look like how dare Ace to even suggest such a thing.

Ace looked at the front of one of the notebooks. "Who's running this con? Anybody know?"

Alex stroked his scraggly beard thoughtfully and gained a faraway look in his eyes. "That, my friend, is one of the Great Mysteries of the Universe..."

Iota calling... please, guys?

"But who do we call for assistance?" Ace looked through the book in vain hope of help, "Surely there must be... AHA!" Ace stabbed the book like Sherlock Holmes, "Here it is, in small print below the Jell-O Party Rules: For EMERGENCY Assistance, please call Unit Lambda to contact the Great Profitmaker, The Grand High Head Cheese of ConCom... Operation Hours: Weekdays, 10-10:15 am." Ace shook his head. "Well, I'll try them anyway. Base Alpha to Unit Lambda? Come in please? ... Unit Lambda?"

There was a long pause before a small voice asked: Hello?

"Hello? Is this Unit Lambda?"

Um.... yeah-sort of! Wait. Who is this?

"Base Alpha. We need some help with-"

Hold please! The weasel-like voice said, and Ace was put on hold.

"Can you believe it?" Ace asked Alex, who was picking the remains of chicken feathers from his teeth, "Their headset not only puts you on hold, but has Hold Muzak to accompany it!"

This is Iota again. Please, I beg of you people who live in a world of relieved bladders to take pity upon my poor soul and find it in your hearts to get me a temporary replacement or something, ANYTHING, even a cardboard cutout so I can find bliss at the nearest urinal? I spend every waking moment in poetic thought dreaming of a stream of yellow that will be my savior in a cruel world of pressured torment and light-colored jeans. Oh, the irony! If only I hadn't drank that Zulu Cola--

Alpha? This is Beta in the Art Room. There is a mother with six kids who seems to have no idea that they have just added sticky fingerprints to a Hildebrant original.

Ace couldn't be bothered with this. "Alpha suggests rounding them up in a tight circle and locking them in the nearest closet. Does anyone know where Unit Tau has got to?"

Base Alpha? This is unit Eta.

And this is Unit Nu.

We're Eta and Nu. And we're bored. The last guy made us guard the laundry room since 10 this morning. Nothing is happening. I repeat: Nothing is happening!

"Consider yourself lucky.."

Base Aleph? This is Unit Samekh in the Lobby. I have found the Shofar and I am trying to locate the scrolls for the conclusion of Yom Kippur.

"Sir? You are with the Jewish High Holy Convention in the Shangri-La Ballroom. Either that or you are with one heck of a weird Live-Action-Role-Playing Game."

Alpha? This is Unit Sigma. As per your instructions we have rounded up all the authors and locked them in the nearest closet. But they weren't too happy. We had to knock some of them out.


Then came a weird sound that sounded like, Click... click... click... click...

Ace looked towards the heavens for possible divine guidance against the stupid. "Will the Unit with their VOICE ACTIVATION switch on please turn it off? Every time you breathe, we can tell you're alive, thank you..."

This Eta.

And this is Nu.

We're Eta and Nu, and we're still bored. Can we do something else? My comrade here is becoming hypnotized by the washing machine afore us like an evil spiral... just spinning... spinning... spinning...

"Okay, sheesh! Go guard the hallway or something!" Ace turned to Alex. "What are these Eta and Nu guys anyway?"

Alex sat up. "I hope you gave them something really boring to do? Something to occupy their time pointlessly?"

Ace grimaced. That look on Alex's face was not good. "Uh, maybe?"

Alex leaned back against the wall. "It's not my fault this time. You'll be sorry..." and then he went back to his bucket of chicken.

Iota in heap pain. Iota must pee. Understand, kemosabe?

The next transmission sounded like it was coming directly from the L.A. Riot. This is Unit Omega still in the rapidly depleting Con Suite. One of the pre-teens has a sword and is using it to redecorate the Con Suite Zorro style. We are holed up under one of the remaining tables. Request back up in large, violent quantities. Repeat: LARGE, VIOLENT QUANTITIES! Rational conversation a non-plus at this point!

Ace was at a loss. But he had no time to think.

Base Alpha? This is Unit Psi near the basement pool. There is something really weird going on here. We sent Unit Tau in there a while ago and they haven't come**********t. We would like to have some ********* for the fog that******* getting thick.

"Unit Psi? This is Alpha. You are carrying a lot of static on your transmission. Please repeat! Did you say you saw Tau a while ago?"

******** for the last ******** think they may******** send some more of*******.......

"Unit Psi? Psi?" Ace tapped his headset and cursed. boom boom YEEEEAAAAHHHHH boom booom...
"Who is the idiot who still has their Unit on VOX??!! You are now in some sort of huge and very loud dance party! Stop it! I hate heavy metal!"

A very annoyed voice cut into the airwaves dripping of patronizing sarcasm. This is Mu in the Video Room! We have Heavy Metal on Beta, but we only have VHS Players! I keep telling you to send Beta Tape Players! What am I going to do with the angry audience?

"Wow them with a impromptu dance number!" Ace turned to Alex. "Stop nursing that Zulu Cola and help me out." Alex didn't even look up.

This is Unit Omega in the ruins of the Con Suite. The dance idea is not working. We have lost one of our members to a pre-teen with a coffee urn. Request all you've got to be sent down here immediately!

Unit Omega, this is Unit Pi. I am on my way.

"Yeah, you do that, Pi." said Ace, not even caring at this point. "And when you pass Medical Base One, get me some aspirin... laced with valium!"

This is Eta.

And this is Nu.

We're Eta and Nu, and the hallway is boring. Only some guy with lots of chairs and trying to sell us tickets to something that sounds very naughty.

"Shut up, you two. Just look for anything suspicious."

Alpha? called in a male voice so handsome, that could have sold chapstick on TV with a ski chalet background, This is Unit Upsilon from the Lobby. I have located the VOICE ACTIVATED offender and restrained her. You should have no trouble. I am also signing off for the night.

"Thank god," said Ace crossing off the Upsilon row in the notebook. "Thank you, Upsilon. Turn in your headset to the security table."

Then came the voice that annoyed the airwaves themselves, This is Tina-whoops! I mean Unit Theta and I am also signing off for the night.

"More good news," thought Ace.

Thanks guys!............oooooh, Upsilon, be gentle with me...

Ace stood bold upright, "For Gods sake, Theta! Turn your headset off!!"

This is Beta, signing off as requested...

"No, wait! I said Theta!" Ace collapsed in frustration.

Base Alpha? This is Unit Rho in the game room again. Is that Theta girl a slut or what?

Suddenly, a new, angry female voice shouted, Unit Rho? This is Zeta! I am coming to make you eat those words followed by my fist!!!

"No violence! Please?" Ace quickly covered his comlink and turned to Alex, "Who is Zeta?"

Alex took the book from the table and flipped through the loose-leaf binder and smirked at the entry. "Zeta is known as Hilda, The Queen of Pain in Yellow Spandex! She is a woman lady wrestler, and that's only her hobby..."

"Great..." grumbled Ace, "Just friggin' great!"

This is Eta.

And this is Nu.

We're Eta and Nu, and we have come across a brown puddle. Requesting back up.

"Shut up, Eta!" Ace shouted.

This is Beta. I am already shut up! I'm just staying online so in case you need me, I'll be here. Please don't be so mean to me.

Alpha, this is Delta in the lobby. Some Christian people are here with guns and they want to talk to the "Grand Demon Against Holy God". Just where do I send them?

"Great... religious righters here..." thought Ace.

This is Samekh again. We are unable to locate the scrolls. Does your convention have them?

Ace envied this Samekh guy. Samekh's problems seemed so simple compared to his own. "Samekh? Have you tried the ballroom?"

Delta sending them to the Ballroom as per request...

"No! Wait! The Jewish High Holy Convention! I don't think... ahh, forget it." Ace plopped into his chair and did a good basset hound impression with his hands pulling his face.

This is Rho in the Gameroom. Someone has stolen the props for my game and replaced them with a rolled papers. I can't see what they say, I think they are in Hebrew...

"Rho? I think you should send them to the Ballroom. But be careful, there are two religions-" Ace paused a second, thinking about Zeta, "No, on second thought, you'll be safer there!"

This is Eta.

This is Nu.

"We're Eta and Nu. The brown puddle seems to have gotten larger. We are using a chemical spill clean-up kit. The kind that comes in a huge orange container. Nu likes to play with the foam blocks.

Yeah. Eta has the coolest stuff. Uh, oh. Eta?

You got some on you? Emergency! Emergency! My best friend Nu has been contaminated. Nu, I am afraid I must burn all of your clothing.

"No, wait! Don't you think you guys are over-reacting?"

"Eta and Nu, huh?" asked Alex with a knowing grin.

This is Omicron on floor nine. There is a strange amount of chairs at the elevator shaft, and some guy with a headset is selling tickets, and... oh my god, there are these two Punks that are... well... can they do that?

Ace suddenly remembered. "Oh, great. Unit Gamma? Unit Gamma?"

This is Unit Gamma. Hold on. 120, 140, 160...we're in the money.... we're in the money....

This is Unit Omega where the Con Suite used to be. We thank you for the back up.

Ace had almost forgot about them. "What back up?" he asked, dreading the reply.

A large woman in a yellow wetsuit just rushed though here and scared the pre-teens to death. She kept going towards the game room. All under control.

"Zeta? To the game room? Oh my god, RHO! RUN!"

This is Mu in the movie room. We would appreciate it if you refrained from telling everyone that we are doing re-runs. We only have one VHS tape with Dangermouse dubbed in Latin, but that is because we still haven't received the BETAS!!!! Now, do I have to go up there and slap some sense into you like I did the last guy for sending me the wrong patch cables?

I implore you, all kind, and good sirs! PLEASE, I HAVE to PEE! If I hold it anymore, I shall explode. The pain is so intense, I am loosing feeling in my limbs. Should the paralysis spread, I fear I shall have a containment spill of my own! I have already lost the ability to stand straight, and the very job I have been empowered to do is fragmenting as I cannot function to 100% of my abilities--

This is Unit Rho leaving the game room with the scrolls, I will log back on as soon as... hey wait! There is some girl in yellow spandex who is running towards me very, very fast. I am going to -ERK!

Zeta's voice of fury filled Ace's headset. Call me a slut, will you!? Well take this!! There was a huge slamming noise, and then the sound of electronics breaking.

This is Unit Beta in the Art room. I know you want me off line, but some security guy with a bunch of scrolls just crashed though the hotel partition and landed in a Vicky Wyman Salute to Elvis display.

Rho's shaken voice gasped back on line, as his crushed headset gave out its dying transmission, ...Alpha... this is -ooh- Rho... I have now transferred myself to the art room. But first, a nap

There was a thud, but it wasn't just Rho's sudden concussion-induced nap, but Ace's head hitting the table in more frustration.

Alpha? This is Sigma...

"Oh, now what?" said Ace, rasing his bruised head from the table, with eyes bleary enough to be a Junkie poster-boy.

The guests we locked up have escaped. We couldn't stop them! Hal Clement had a gun!

Mayday! Mayday! Iota has reached capacity! Rupture of bladder eminent! I repeat, rupture of bladder is on countdown cycle! Must... get... out... ....Must... empty.... bladder!

This is Eta.

And this is Nu.

This is Eta and Nu. I have burned all of Nu's clothing, and gave him a chemical shower. The spill turned to be of neutral contamination. It was a spilled Cola. MMmmm! Did you know that Cola is the world's most common soft drink? It is also good to give female dogs if their genitals are infected with--
Ace stood from the table. No more. He should have listened to the pamphlet, and not that girl. Never volunteer. Never volunteer. "Alex? I am going down do the pool room to give Psi some new batteries and see if I can locate Tau."

"And leave this?" Alex asked in mock surprise.

"I need to see where Tau went. Last she was seen, she had the Beta Players. And it seems the pool downstairs is on fire. Well, you're head honcho, now. Wish me well!"

"I wish so well, I will wish you Orson Wells!" Alex sarcastically blew him a kiss.

This is unit Phi on the 8th floor. I am reporting "All Clear"... hey! It's Hal Clement and Vicky Wyman. Hello guys, enjoying the convention?... now, Hal... Hal, put down that gun... Hal? Hal?... no, not another lecture on Florosilicate life forms, Hal! No...NO!!!! AGH!

Ace walked down to the lobby and waited for the elevator. He might as well have been waiting for a PBS Pledge break to end. So to pass the time, he listened in, feeling detached in that sort of schizophrenic way. After all, these voices WERE in his head...

Beta? This is Sigma! The guest authors have broken free and are heading towards you to the art room. Vicky might not like Rho catnapping in the Elvis display. She's mad enough already that I whonked her with a monkey wrench. This is a code BURNT UMBERISH WITH A TOUCH OF ORANGE SIENNAISH! Hal Clement is armed!

This is Unit Gamma..., show, has just, um, climaxed and the Punk Rockers have retired to the dance floor. I need someone to help remove these chairs. Tell Base Alpha we made $740 on that idea of theirs with the Punks, but they found out about it and are heading down to their floor to talk about royalties... or maybe a sequel... I don't know but...

This is Delta in the Lobby. An elderly man wearing an old blazer with a gun just ran towards the Opening Ceremonies.

This is unit Mu in the video room. Does anyone know if Dangermouse's assistant is a hamster, or a mole? And if it occurs to anyone....SEND ME A GODDAMN BETA PLAYER!!!!!

This is Unit Lambda in the Staff Suite. I know there is a rumor that we are supposed to be running the convention, but we deny all allegations to the aforementioned. You all have fun now...

This is Unit Kappa in the opening ceremonies. You really won't believe this, but Hal Clement just shot S.P. Somtow. The Thai Prince just dissolved. He wasn't real! He was just a colony of sentient dollar bills...

Blissfully, the elevator door opened. Some people who had significantly aged during the journey down had already formed a "We-Will-Get-To-The-Lobby" religious support group.

 This is Iota. I no longer need to go pee. May I have a towel instead? And some new pants?

Ace stepped into the elevator and descended to the basement.

When the door opened, fog rolled in. The last thing Ace saw was a huge hand reach in and grab him.
* * *
It was a Gronk Fiction Convention on planet Vloondor. Goolu had just teleported in and already he was head of a multi-continental police force of the Convention.

His new friend, Plaagfoop, handed him a drumstick.

"What's this?" Goolu asked.

"Dunno." Plaagfoop looked at the box, which looked curiously like an old elevator. "Local Quisine."

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