Surreptitious Machinations

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This article is a stub and will be fleshed out as time permits. It also serves as a loose summation of a major story arc within the GPF archives. A full appreciation and understanding of the events encompassed in this story can only come from reading it in its entirety.

Start Date in Archive: Year Four, Surreptitious Machinations, November 4, 2001

Duration: 52 weeks (one year), 364 comics

Location: Various throughout the GPF universe (and beyond)

Surreptitious Machinations is the name given to the year-long "mega" story arc encompassing all of GPF's fourth year. It is the culmination of events occurring and alluded to in the previous three years and primarily centers around a temporal loop created by Empress Trudy in her attempts to ensure that her younger self would fulfill her destiny to conquer and rule the world. The consequences of this loop wreck havoc on everyone within the GPF universe (and beyond!), affecting virtually ever character represented in the comic to date. After the events of this story, GPF is literally not the same comic strip as it was at the beginning.

Chapter Summaries

Prologue: Rhymes and Ruminations (Nov. 4 to Dec. 1, 2001)

The Gamester and Mischief take special interest as the troubling problems first alluded to back in "Trudy's Phone Call" begin to take shape. They intently watch the events of the not-to-distant future, as freedom fighters Todd and Sydney Duncan race to Professor Wisebottom's hidden lab. Todd uses Wisebottom's aging time machine to vanish into the past, just as the oppressive Empress—none other than our favorite evil marketing witch Trudy—arrives to crush the rebellion. While the others are taken prisoner, Empress Trudy vanishes herself, leading from the prologue into the first chapter of this epic tale....

Chapter 1: Back From the Future (Dec. 2, 2001 to Jan. 12, 2002)

Nick and Ki's Christmas shopping is interrupted by two mysterious visitors: the time-tossed Todd and his mysterious pursuer, the Empress' secret weapon... the Fookinator! A harrowing chase ensues, ending at a nearby chocolate factory, where the Fookinator is ultimately destroyed. ("We don't have to worry about him any S'more.") Meanwhile, the Empress arrives at her destination, to have a little one-on-one with her past self! The Empress (the mysterious phone caller who has been feeding her information for years) reveals to Trudy her master plan, which the present Trudy must execute to ensure their world domination. Just as the Empress is about to issue a final warning, Todd arrives, threatening to kill both Trudys to ensure the Empress' evil empire never forms. A struggle breaks out, leaving the current Trudy knocked unconscious, while the Empress and Todd vie for control of the temporal remote and suddenly vanish back into the future....

Chapter 2: The Juggernaut Unleashed (Jan. 13 to Feb. 9, 2002)

The following day, Dwayne is working late at the GPF Software building when a supply closet suddenly catches fire! Dwayne tries to stop the flames, but is thwarted at every turn. The sprinklers don't work and the fire extinguisher isn't charged! He barely escapes with his life, just as Nick and Ki—picking up Fooker from the airport—happen to drive by. The four watch in stunned silence as the GPF building burns to the ground. The fire chief suspects arson, but that surprise doesn't compare to when Fooker gets arrested for the previous night's shooting spree! As the gang struggles to keep cohesion during this turbulent time, Secret Agent Geek is paid a brief visit from his superior, "Amadeus," who happens to be none other than....

Chapter 3: Trials and Tribulations (Feb. 10 to Mar. 23, 2002)

Before Fooker's trial, we meet Agent #12, a colleague from the U.G.A. who will represent him as his lawyer. The trial begins with several surprising revelations, including a replacement judge (the judge from Help Desk, who appeared in the Year Three "Ubersoft v. GPF Software" story) and an unexpected prosecutor... none other than Alan Sedgewikki, the Code-A-Holics Anonymous guy. The trial moves swiftly, with an overwhelming list of evidence and witnesses in favor of the prosecution. The defense makes a valiant effort, but Nick's testimony about the Fookinator (he's not going to lie under oath) is dismissed as "science fiction delusions." Worst of all, Fooker's neighbor Chuck takes the stand and surprises everyone by saying he knew Fooker was planning the attacks beforehand. (Could Chuck still be under Trudy's mind control?) Fooker is swiftly convicted. During the pause between the conviction and the sentence, Dwayne is surprisingly arrested for insurance fraud (for burning down the building), while Nick gets a mysterious phone call of us own....

Chapter 4: To the Four Winds... (Mar. 24 to Apr. 13, 2002)

Following Dwayne's arrest, Nick and Ki discuss Nick's new job prospects while waiting for Fooker's sentencing. Fooker is sentenced to several consecutive life sentences, and is carted away before any of his friends can say goodbye. Nick and Ki visit Dwayne, who convinces Nick to take the new job he's been offered. There's only one problem: the job is many miles away, leaving the possibility of a long distance relationship between him and Ki. Ki decides to pull up roots and follow her boyfriend, when an unexpected phone call shatters any plans the two may share. Ki's father is seriously injured in an automobile accident and on the verge of death. Ki flies out to comfort her family, while Persephone accidentally stows away in her purse. The chapter ends with a disturbing glimpse at the missing years between the present and the dreaded future, as the time-hopping Todd recovers one of Empress Trudy's time remotes....

Chapter 5: Random Threads (Apr. 14 to May 18, 2002)

Scattered by the previous chapters' events, the GPF Software crew begin to settle into their new lives apart from each other. Nick means his new team and runs into an unexpected surprise... Trudy is now working at the same company, same location. Meanwhile, Dwayne and Fooker are being transported to their respective prisons when a terrible accident frees them. Another old face from the past resurfaces, as Trudy's old boyfriend Trent was being transported on the same bus. The trio are not officially on the lamb, but hot on their trail is a U.S. Marshall, ala The Fugitive. Ki reunites with her family while attempting to get a new job... and failing miserably. She begins to investigate her father's accident and discovers than Chuck (Fooker and Trudy's former neighbor) is behind it. Confused and uncertain, she contemplates what to do next, when she encounters an unexpected visitor... Todd!

Chapter 6: Plots and Complications (May 19 to Jun. 15, 2002)

Todd comes back from the future (again) to reveal to Ki how Trudy comes to power. Her surreptitious machinations revolve solely around Nick, who is on the verge of an astounding discovery that will revolutionize the world's energy. However, Trudy uses her schemes to isolate Nick and keep his friends from stopping him. Trudy will eventually use Nick's invention to overthrow the world's governments and establish herself as supreme Empress. There is, however, a glimmer of hope as the GPF crew eventually will reunite to oppose her. However, as each old friend falls, Trudy's power—and her madness—grows. Overwhelmed yet willing to help, Ki agrees to Todd's challenge, and the two rush off to reunite the gang. Meanwhile, time is ticking away, as Nick's epiphany begins to take shape...

Chapter 7: The Tapestry Unravels (Jun. 16 to Jul. 13, 2002)

Armed with Todd's knowledge of future events, he and Ki race to locate and reassemble the original GPF Software team. Meanwhile, Fooker, Dwayne, and Trent are on the run and get a little unexpected help from a familiar furry face... Wallace T. Bruin, the talking ex-circus bear! Also meanwhile, Ki, Todd, and Prof. Wisebottom free Fred from his laboratory prison. More also meanwhile, Fooker contacts Sharon to try and get her help, resulting in a chilly conversation. Still more also meanwhile, the two paths converge, and finally the group reunites. Even still more also meanwhile, Trudy is moving Nick into position to spring her vicious plans, while Chuck shows signs of insubordination. Yet even still more also meanwhile, the rejoined GPF crew share and plan, readying a defense against Trudy's final move, which looms only a few weeks away...

Chapter 8: Wars and Confrontations (Jul. 14 to Oct. 5, 2002)

The final showdown! Everyone converges on unsuspecting New York City as C.R.U.D.E. delivers an ultimatum: The nations of the world must surrender to them, or New York will be destroyed. What follows is a multi-front battle from the streets of Manhattan to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, as C.R.U.D.E. storm troopers duke it out with U.G.A. elite soldiers. Everyone is split again to fight different fronts, but the most important conflict is for Nick's heart and loyalty, with Ki and Trudy in the center ring. Many surprises abound in this twelve-week grande finale... so don't expect me to give away the details. You'll have to read those for yourself.

Chapter 9: Loosening Up Tied Ends (Oct. 6 to Oct. 26, 2002)

With the Battle of New York behind them, the remaining GPF crew try to return to some sense of normalcy. Suffice it to say, I can't let that happen. Major changes in the strip occur here, which cannot be easily summarized here. Read on to find out for yourself.

Epilogue: You Knew There Had to be a "But"... (Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, 2002)

An epilogue with the Gamester and Mischief? Of course, you realize, this means something still isn't quite right....


See Also