All is quiet on the ground level of the Excelsior building. The three elevators leading up to the various floors of the structure sit closed, waiting to be called into service. An elegant but worn sign reading: THE EXCELSIOR hangs above the pulleys.

Alter-Ego is the first to arrive on the scene. He confidently strolls up to the metal doors whistling with a happy-go-lucky bounce in his step. He pushes the “up” button on the wall panel and waits.

With a pummeling gust of wind, Zip is the second to arrive. Alter-Ego remains calm against all the chaos that Zip’s super speed brings. He’s more than used to it by now. “Hiya A-E!” she cheerily greets him, narrowly sliding to a stop across the slick lobby floor. Alter-Ego flicks a half salute with his right hand and smiles.

Following Zip’s arrival are Mouse and Bolt, both emerging at the same time from opposite directions. Mouse appears well put together and in a pleasant mood. Bolt, on the other hand, looks like a zombie who had a rough night. Everything from his visor to his armor is askew. He grunts hello, indicating that he is not a morning person. When the elevator arrives they all hop on together.

Upon entering the upward traveling box, Alter-Ego places his palm flat against a glass panel embedded into the elevator wall. With a flash of white light, the smooth surface reads his hand print. An electronic tinged female voice responds: “Sixth floor, POW! Entertainment. Welcome, Alter-Ego.”

As the elevator begins to move, Mouse warily broaches, “Sooo… we should probably talk about what happened last week.” They glance at each other, not wanting to be the first to speak. Finally, Zip volunteers.

“You mean that whole thing with all the computers in the office coming to life?” Zip inquires.

“Yes, that ‘whole thing.’ What are we walking into right now?” Mouse responds.

“You didn’t take care of that last week!?” Alter-Ego questions with his mouth agape.

“Hey, it was 5 p.m. on a Friday. What else could we do but lock up for the weekend and figure it out on Monday?” Bolt groggily mumbles and shrugs.

Just as Bolt finishes his sentence the elevator doors open to the POW! Entertainment offices, but it might as well be an alternate reality. The entire office has been transformed into a society of walking, talking computers!

The sentient machines have used the office furniture and supplies to build a rudimentary, yet impressive city for themselves within the confines of the workplace. Cubicle walls have been used to build shelters, mail carts are rolling around as their transportation, and pens and staplers are being deployed as deadly weapons. They bustle through their office-city, going about their business, building, and preparing for war.

All four elevator occupants’ jaws hit the floor. They stare in shock, not immediately noticing Stan Lee to their left. He is tangled up in power cables and hopping up and down on his one free foot.

Beneath Stan are a small hunting party of laptops. They swing computer mice like lassos and jab at Stan with pens tied to the ends of rulers, all while chanting in monotone electronic voices: “BRING. DOWN. THE. GIANT. TONIGHT. WE. DINE. ON. BRAINS.”

Stan looks to his employees. “Nice of you to show up! I’ve been fighting off these calculators for twenty minutes!”

How do you think Stan will be freed from the computers’ clutches? Find out during Chapter 2 this Thursday!

You’ve reached the end of this chapter.