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Just Read the Instructions, a Sequential Art fanfic

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In a parallel reality or perhaps just another continent home to grease-soaked, heart-stopping sandwiches, IKEAS that stock everything from DIY AI kits, eons-old eldritch artifacts, and time machines to spirit communicators and surplus Soviet Bloc military hardware,  the War of ‘03 between angry alien cephalopods from afar and a giant robot car, and Unfortunate Cookies, a man by the name of Noam Crichton was mortally wounded during an IKEA shopping trip by a minor in-house machine uprising and returned with inexplicable engineering powers conferred to him by a future humanity to stop him from burning a grilled cheese sandwich which left unchecked would eventually lead to a series of events that would result in the destruction of the Sun.

That’s right, the Traitorous Coloni-I mean, the Fatass Collectiv-damn, I’ve almost got it-the United States of ‘Murica! Specifically, Jersey. Or Austin.  Perhaps a bit of both.  But no matter, I have come bearing stories and stories shall I give.

——


In the Nearest Convenient Parallel Dimension

“...and you really never know what might decide to fall out of the sky on a whim, now do you? Even broke my second best lawn gnome right in half, so the least it can do is be put to use.”

Kat glanced up at the battered purple case clamped firmly in the center of a large, ramshackle torus of sorts overflowing with loose wiring, switchboards, and toggle-boxes that dominated the rather spacious basement. She knew from experience that such devices usually resulted in the blacklisting of their home by all emergency services within a hundred-kilometer radius by nightfall, and decided not to bother.

“Is that a Pink Pony lunchbox? Hey, I think I might have had one as a kid.”

Noam tapped the welder’s helmet perpetually donned atop his head thoughtfully. “Well, this Dasi Board I bought from the IKEA on Knotsford and 98th told me it was positively brimming with hatred, rage, and jealousy, so I decided to go ahead and see if it could be repurposed into a viable power source. Nothing good yet, but I’m keeping at it.”

She shrugged and made for the stairs. “Well, have fun with that.”

—-


Meanwhile in Yet another Parallel Dimension, but Slightly Different

Hilary took in the vast woodland surrounding her as she stepped into the ornate wardrobe, clotheshangers in hand. She was fairly certain that most items of furniture weren’t supposed to do that, but to be fair you never really did know with eBuy.

“Lotta space.”

—-

Now Returning to the first Convenient Parallel Dimension

The torus lay toppled over and dashed to pieces in the center of the room, and a small fire had sprung up in one corner. Suits of baroque armor marched in lockstep out of the festering tear in reality that had once been the pantry door, volleys of arcane bolts coming thick and fast blasted from their gauntlets clashing with the continuous, buzzing roar of the twin XM214 Microguns bolted to the odd contraption resembling a second skeleton that partially encased the shooter.

“YOU BASTARDS! I WASN’T FINISHED WITH THAT! I HAVEN’T CURED MY NONEXISTENT HEAVY METAL POISONING OR EVEN CREATED A NEW ELEMENT FOR THE EVENING! DROP THE BOX RIGHT BLOODY NOW, I SAY!”

A solid burst of armor-piercing rounds sawed the nearest suit cleanly in half with a screech of punctured metal and a shower of sparks. It was completely empty. The thing didn’t even have the courtesy to quit fighting.

Arcane energy pinging off his powered exosuit’s plating prompted Noam to dive for cover behind a large pile of toaster ovens. He thought for a moment - where had he seen these before? Certainly a book of some sort. The Collections of Narnica, perhaps? No, that couldn’t be right.

At least the impromptu invasion of antiques seemed to be falling back now. He fired off a final parting burst at the last retreating figure before the pantry door collapsed into itself just behind it, the normal fabric of spacetime smoothing itself over once more. Noam clumsily disengaged his exoskeleton, pieces of suit clattering to the ground around him as he ran towards the still-smoldering wreckage of his Rage Engine.

The Pink Pony lunchbox was gone.

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