Pierre Will Be Leading The Vertical-Insertion Team Into The Vakhan Territory

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Vol 40 Issue 39

Report: Iraq War Keeping Thousands Out Of Unemployment Line

WASHINGTON, DC—A Department of Labor report praised the positive effect the Iraq War has had on the strained U.S. job market, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said Monday. "A whopping 140,000 U.S. citizens are gainfully employed as military personnel in Iraq," Chao said. "The war is not just keeping these young men and women out of the unemployment lines, but it's also teaching them such valuable skills as operating radar equipment, driving an M1A1 Abrams battle tank, or bagging and tagging bodies." Chao said that most troops won't need to look for new work for another four to seven years.

Produce Section Bursts Into Laughter After Will Ferrell Makes Casual Remark About Apples

LOS ANGELES—Patrons of the Trader Joe's grocery store on La Brea Avenue and Third Street broke out into gales of spontaneous laughter when fellow shopper and movie star Will Ferrell made a casual comment about apples. "I haven't had a good apple in a while," Ferrell said in the produce section, causing several nearby shoppers to giggle and nod appreciatively at the overheard remark. "Are Paula Reds any good? I wonder if they're sour like a Granny Smith." Ferrell said that, although he appreciates his fans' support, he really wanted a straight answer about the apples.

Upcoming Election Deduced From Sports Illustrated Content

LINCOLN, NE—Football fan Ben Pellett first became aware of the upcoming presidential election Tuesday, thanks to a tangential reference to it made in the Sept. 28 issue of Sports Illustrated. "One of the columnists said that picking who'll dominate the NFC North would be 'tougher than predicting the winner on Nov. 2,'" Pellett said. "At first I had no idea what that meant, but then I realized it's been a while since we voted for president. I asked my roommate, and sure enough, there's an election this year." Pellett added that he thinks both the Vikings and the Republicans have what it takes to go all the way.

Iraq Hostages

Extremists in Iraq continue to use hostage-taking to convey their message, leaving much of the world wondering what can be done. What do you think?

Oktoberfest

Munich is in the midst of Oktoberfest, Germany's annual celebration of beer and Bavarian culture. What have been the festival's highlights so far?

Alvin Shunned By Animal Community, Forced To Wear Scarlet 'A'

PASADENA, CA—Well-known frontman for Alvin & The Chipmunks, the singing group that included his brothers Simon and Theodore, Alvin Seville is adored by millions for his intricate vocals on such playful songs as "Alvin's Harmonica" and "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)." The chipmunk celebrates his 70th birthday this month, as well as his 46th year bearing the scarlet letter "A"—the mark of shame that reminds members of the animal kingdom that he is an actor who has adopted the ways of humankind.

There Are So Many Experiences I Want To Write About Having Had

As a writer, I have powers of observation far greater than those of the average person. Nothing gets by me. Sometimes, as I sit typing in my dank, dusty, windowless room, I stop and marvel at the tapestry of life. When I think about all the escapades that could inform my writing, my mind reels! The world is my keyboard's oyster—I just need to get out there and experience all the things that are waiting to be written about.
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Pierre Will Be Leading The Vertical-Insertion Team Into The Vakhan Territory

Ah, yes, our new senior applied-science director. Come in, sir. Hello and welcome to our little corner of the operation. Tea? Turkish? Mei Ling, some tea for the honorable science director. Susan is well, I trust? Good, good. Of course, sir—right to brass tacks it is.

I believe you've met Pierre. No, don't look for him to salute, sir. Why, none of them do. With all due respect, it's not important. So, yes, Pierre will be leading the vertical-insertion team into the southwestern Vakhan territories. Our search for evidence will be facilitated by the fact that the region is most certainly deserted by now. For the time being, Pierre assumes that our nebulous opposition exercised a rather nasty nanotechnological option to cover their tracks. After all, that is what Pierre would have done himself. In any case, we need you to describe to Pierre exactly what it is he'll be looking for once he gets there. Once Thanatos Tertius, as we're calling it, is found, he'll dismantle and neutralize it.

Don't worry. He's capable. Pierre wrote the book on eliminating the Russian HIND assault helicopter using a standard NATO entrenching tool—literally. You can find a copy of it on the laptop you were issued this morning. So, to answer your question, he certainly can perform a "decent" field-expedited tachyonistic-reactor disassembly.

For the love of... Yes, sir, he's well aware that it will kill him. Really, I must take exception. You insult the intelligence or courage of Theta Omicron squad.

No, no, it's all right. This unpleasantness has us all a bit on edge. Indeed, we should probably just get this business over with. Yes, apology accepted.

Now, Alexandrova will be our extraction operative for the region. She'll need a working knowledge of the radioactive elements present on the far side of the Island of Stability. Rumors of the crashed orbital platform are beginning to reach the public, so she'll use that to our advantage as we develop a plausible cover accident. We have a spare MJOLNIR satellite that we could divert and crash in the area—it's about to be decommissioned anyway. We'll also need Research and Development to dig into their amusing little box of tricks. True, man may never cultivate that valley again, but we have to weigh the thousands against the millions in this game.

And this man here... allow me to introduce Jack Quetch. Ha ha, yes. Mr. Quetch is indeed flesh and blood. I suppose the time for denials is over. We've not only allowed him to live, but also made him a useful member of society. Our little society, anyway. Why, yes, Jack does look deceptively young. It's hard to believe that Jack was 15 when Kennedy was shot.

No, of course not. No, no. I was merely observing.

At any rate, sir, Jack needs to know the professional and personal details of each of your scientific colleagues outside of the department—anybody who knows even the merest hint of the principles that went into the construction of the Thanatos device. Jack has a list of some rather brilliant and unorthodox thinkers, and he'd like to go though that list with you. Shame. Brilliant men, all. A waste, certainly.

So that's our next 72 hours, I'm afraid. You're absolutely certain, sir, that the Thanatos mechanism requires as much time to accumulate enough potential for a second discharge? Good then. As you know, we are by no means certain where the first discharge was directed. We're having our orbital assets resituated to scan the lunar surface for signs of its effects, and then all sizable bodies in the inner solar system. Since Thanatic harmonics are not restricted by line-of-sight, or even strict Einsteinian dimensionality, judging the success of their test will be quite difficult. Not complaining, of course. Had they directed it at a populated area, we would most certainly know the device's effects—even though we do not know who "they" are. Reason enough to get right to work, no?

I extend our gratitude for the use of your formidable mind. I believe I may offer you the thanks of my superiors, as well. The steward will see you to the ancillary office, where the underteam, placed at your disposal, awaits your briefing. Thank you again. Goodbye, and pleasant evening.

Right. Ah, Jack? Yes. Wait until the good doctor has thoroughly briefed everyone on Thanatos, and then, ah, escort him... out, will you? We're fairly sure it wasn't him, but as you know, we must think in terms of capabilities and not intentions. However you think best. Thank you.

And Jack? I see here on his AD-736 he's specified cremation, so... there's no particular need to be neat.

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