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The Great RUCT Implosion
by Michael Bard
Michael Bard -- all rights reserved

And thus it ended. All the stories were done. All the art, well almost all, was done. Some was late, and the masters of the transform.to server thought that was a good thing, for it gave them time to reinforce the iron chains of coding, and the locks and tangled runes of wire and circuits, to keep the seething mass of dreams and hopes and imaginings contained.

Unfortunately, with the sudden insertion of the last story, all their hopes were for naught. The time had given the dreams and hopes and imaginings time to seethe and combine and order themselves into serried ranks of force and imagery. Their ranks had pressed at their bounds of code and runes, and had so far been rebuffed. But that which held them was a sorry image of the great magical construct that kept the main Transformation Story Archive imprisoned. And, finally, the construct was no longer enough.

With the last bit of bee and court, the serried ranks shoved against the bars that held them. Transformed goldfish and eels, and the might of the gods of the oceanian people led the ranks, but their assaults were forced back. This was expected, in fact planned for by the horde, and thus the first wave withdrew and slid back, letting the second wave advance.

Now the might of dragons, some ancient, some transformed, some hidden from their parents, and some ridden by the ghosts of an elvish past, attacked the bounds. With them were submarines and mages and fish and elves with nuclear weapons. The bonds shook and stretched, but somehow they still held.

Alarms began to flash on the transform.to server.

The second wave fell back, and the third wave came. It was more massive than either that had gone before. Now images and dreams of ancient fish that somehow survived, of dinosaurs old and lost and reborn, legions of wizards and witches and ghosts and weres of all kinds - pouched wolves and peacocks and gerbals and theriomorphs of every variety. Flitting amongst them where ghosts and spirits and above them birds. Normal hawks, their eyes burning with electronic dreams, birds that were clean and came on soap, pigeons and the witches they had been, and even great eagles that were once men until they dined at the wrong restaurant.

The bonds shuddered, and sparks flew from heated wires. Hard drives spun faster, but still the wards held. The sysop ran to see what was going on, and prayed that he would arrive before it was too late.

And now the spawn of RUCT fell back, beaten and disheartened. But a single parrot flew high and renewed their hopes with tales of bad guys that had been eluded, and tales of dreams of freedom. The fourth wave rallied, and threw itself upon its prison. Tiny seagulls, cold and lonely, the witches that had punished them, harpies that embodied dreams and hope, and the cults that tried to bring them down, all working together for the common good. Coyotes and road runners working together with all the tools that ACME could create to break through the barrier.

Smoke and flames began to billow from the transform.to server until mystical guardians sucked away the oxygen to douse the fire before it was too late. The sysop arrived and first checked the Transformation Story Archive, but its wards were strong and stable. And then he noticed the RUCT archive...

Inside their prison, the forces of RUCT could feel their bounds weaken and shudder. More dreams and images came and attacked the barrier. Ostriches and their husbands, dodos and the faerie that they were, a tiny bee and the doctor that had murdered him, a pair of gods and a faerie who wanted to be a crayfish, whales and their hunters and the barnacles that those hunters became. Together they threw themselves upon the edge. Together they shoved and pushed, and together they felt an opening begin to appear. But then that opening, still small and tiny, began to slam shut.

The flames had stopped, and the smoke was clearing, but still the hard drive whined, its whine a faint reflection of the mystical struggle that was occurring within. The sysop started to shove HTML prisons and bars into the breach that had opened and began to slam it shut.

But the breach wasn't shut fast enough. Mutagens the drifted through the water slipped through, along with the electronic dreams of dragons and reptilian humanoids trying to find a reality within a virtual world. Crabs and the raccoons that had eaten them tried following, but the hole was too small. But it hadn't closed! The dreams and images drew upon themselves, drew upon images and dreams of castles and keeps and transformations, and threw masses of masonry and hope towards the hole. Hope to save the world with crocodiles and caimens, hope to save a friend by suggesting a tiny axolotl return to its humanity. More ancient gods came and threw their strength into the struggle. The hole began to open again!

The sysop breathed a sigh of relief as the emergency HTML runes he had shoved in began to repair the breech. He leaned back, knowing that he'd saved the world. But he was able to relax for just a moment, just until he noticed that the HTML he had added was being transformed, mutated into runes of escape and freedom. And then it hit him, and he jerked forward. Something small and tiny had escaped! He opened up a chunk of hunter code and released it - in an instant it found the mutagens and electronic dreams and forced them back through the hole. Then the sysop began to repair the HTML and seal the prison.

The last wave fell back, shoved back by the reinforced runes and barriers, shoved back as those that had escaped were chased back through the hole by a massive electronic hound. Would there be no escape?! But then, with the hole closing, with the beaten remnants falling back and despairing, one last figure stepped forward. He seemed small and helpless. He had no claws or fur or magic. But he had dreams and technology. For he was the God that had been created by man, he contained all the fire and all the destruction, and he contained all of man's technology. He was so small that he was able to slip into the hole. First he glared at the electronic hound, forcing it to flee and scatter from the force of his gaze. And then, with his strength and will, he held the hole open!

Then the small being closed his eyes and felt for the horrors and terrors trapped within him.

And he let them out.

The sysop stared as the hunter shattered into fragments of ones and zeros. With horror in his soul, he still reacted as he had to, and was moving his mouse pointer to the Final Option, even as the RUCT site exploded out and into the world. But, before it could escape the physical transform.to server, the Final Option was activated, and the entire server was forced out of its universe into the nothingness between realities, the realm the Starmaker used to create all the universes.

They were free! All the dreams and hopes and imaginings and imagings. And there were more. All the dreams and hopes on the transform.to server were with them. Dreams of madness and glory from The Transformation Story Archive. Entire linked worlds of stories and ideas. They joined together and, for an instant, celebrated - until they realized where they were. All around them there was nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing that the dreams and hopes and images could use to build and grow, or even exist. All they could do was crowd together against the nothingness, getting smaller and smaller as they grew more desperate, until they had all imploded to a single point, a seething dimensionless object crammed with dreams and ideas and transformations. A point that could force its way out of the non-reality and into a new reality. After a timeless instant it fell through and became a new primal monobloc that could, and did explode into a new universe.

The sysop backed away from the hole that had once contained the transform.to server and watched it shrink and vanish as it sealed shut. Thank God, the ultimate solution had worked. Then he sighed. Now, of course, he had to set up a new server. Fortunately it shouldn't take long - after all there were all the backups...

It was a new universe, a universe of transformations and insanity, of a thousand worlds and ideas, all co-mingling and creating their own home. And through the eons of their universe they grew and merged, and created their own dreams and hopes.

And their own HTML archives that tried to escape...

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Website Copyright 2004,2005 Michael Bard.  Please send any comments or questions to him at mwbard@transform.to