Join Date: Jan 2006
Under the green dome, Panda-man was staring at the many walls of his inner sanctum, perplexed. The screens showed either empty areas of the zoo, or pandas all apparently heading in the same direction.
"What's happening? Where are all the pandas going?" he muttered to himself. He reached for his control console, and started pushing buttons. "Report! Report! Where are the pandas? What's going on?"
Abruptly, a screen changed to show an operative, in full panda makeup, standing near the beach. The pandas were visible behind him, with more passing him and heading towards the rock outcropping at the beach. "I've found them, sir," the operative said. "They seem to be a bit agitated, but other than that, they're not doing much of anything..."
"I'm coming down," Panda-man announced at once. "Stay there." The operative looked like he was about to speak, but before he could get another word out, Panda-man had cut off the channel. He quickly grabbed his white sport-coat, checked his makeup, and dashed out of the inner sanctum without another word.
An unused taxi was parked outside of the green dome, and Panda-man jumped inside and kicked the accelerator, leaning forward for speed as the golf cart took off at a trotting pace. A few minutes' travel brought him down to the beach, and he abandoned the taxi when he reached the sand. Ahead of him were what looked like every panda in the zoo, all milling about, and occasionally lifting a small electronic device to their faces, then milling about some more. Even the huge uber-panda was there, sitting on the sand and watching the rest of the pandas expectantly.
"Miles! What's going on?" Panda-man bellowed, as he approached a group of operatives that were watching the pandas from a low rock. The operatives looked about at each other in confusion, until one of them, the one addressed as Miles, finally addressed Panda-man.
"You mean... so this isn't one of our experiments? We thought maybe--"
"No, it's not one of ours, dolt!" Panda-man cut him off. "Why would you think it was?"
"I don't know," Miles backed off, and in a moment, held out one of the PDAs that were being handled by most of the pandas in evidence. "It's just that it looked like one of... uh, like something we might... er, uh..."
Panda-man abruptly snatched the PDA from Miles' black-gloved hand, and gave him a final disgusted sneer before looking down at the device. The moment Panda-man grabbed it, something in the device triggered it, and it came on. Although it was originally designed to do only two things, it had been modified (by the simple expedient of changing an internal DIP switch from the "zero" to the "one" position, something fairly common with electronic devices, as it turns out) to do a third thing: Play videos. And when it came on, it immediately began to play a video loop of two pandas fornicating, on a cheap-looking stage that included a backdrop of the beach they were standing on, the angle highlighting the jagged outcropping of rocks nearby, for easier pinpointing of the spot.
Panda-man stared at the mob of pandas in shock. They all seemed to be searching around, like a bunch of high-schoolers looking for some action.
"Stupid clone pandas!" Panda-man spat. Then he turned on his operatives. "Where did these pathetically-produced panda porn-loop PDAs come from?"
Miles shrugged, trying not to blink at all the spittle Panda-man's alliteration had thrown his way. "I don't know. They were just everywhere this morning... the pandas just picked them up all over! Amy said she was going to collect as many as she could, for evidence--"
"Wait!" Panda-man stopped him. "Amy? You've seen her?"
"Yeah," Miles replied. "He and Bob were heading towards headquarters with--"
"Bob? Bob who?"
Miles' eyes went wide. "New guy?"
Panda-man stared at him for a moment... then his own eyes went wide. "Back to the dome, men!" He shouted, and they all turned to head back from the beach. Panda-man paused a moment to spin back upon Miles, who skidded to a stop behind him. "You're relieved of duty, idiot! You're confined to quarters!" Then Panda-man turned and ran off.
Miles stood there a moment, shocked and confused... then a smile crept across his face. "Oh... aye... thank you, sir! Now I can catch up on me technical manuals!"
Panda-man took the taxi, driven by an operative. The other operatives ran alongside. They all reached the green dome at the same time. Panda-man bounded out of the taxi and raced for the door... and was taken by surprise when it did not open for him. He ran headlong into the door and bounced off, colliding with a half-dozen operatives and sending them all tumbling into the grass beside the stoop.
"What the--?" Panda man goggled at the door, then clambered to his feet. H erushed up and pounded on the door, shouting, "Let me in! What's going on in there? Let me in!"
"I'm sorry," a voice emanated from a wall-mounted speaker, "but this publishing house is under new management. Do we know your agent?"
Panda-man blanched (not an easy thing to recognize under the white makeup). "Amy?"