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Author Topic: Return Of The Son Of The EH Round Robin  (Read 11277 times)
rowan_a._seven
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« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2004, 08:10:03 PM »

Quote
Yes, the current writer did have vague plans to write out the siege of the Mice Wearing Hats, and then a resolution of the Palace of Infinity story-arc, within this third topic, in order to bring the Round Robin to something vaguely resembling a conclusion (assuming Rowan and Andrusi were OK with this, and no one else jumped back in).


It's fine with me too.  I plan on continuing to contribute to this RR till it's over, but I'm really beginning to look forward to the end of this.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2004, 11:16:32 PM by rowan_a._seven » Logged
rowan_a._seven
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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2004, 11:17:08 PM »

A special thanks to Wayne for telling me how to adjust the Microsoft Word settings so that copy and paste works without producing the occasional jargon.




The Mice Wearing Hats' covert spy network had just reported the recent developments in Florestica and the fact that Jinnai had a new demon god to their superiors.  Their unfortunate messenger had then fled the room in a panic as Millie threw a tantrum at this newest piece of bad news.  She was now thoroughly in the midst of her rant.

"I tell you, it's a battle of brains!" she shouted angrily, pacing back and forth in front of King Gan-chan's throne.  "It's a cold war!  I need some kind of weapon that will completely terrify the Alliance!"

Parnasse, Ura, and Gan-chan exchanged a look, all of them suddenly worried about where this was going.

Unaware of her allies' premonitions, Millie continued her moaning.  "Demon _God_?  If _I_ had a weapon I'd at least call it ninja something or other."

Gan-chan inhaled sharply, and Millie turned to him, an inquiring expression on her face.  "Huh?"

"...It's nothing.  Go on, Miss Millie," the ruler of the Mice Wearing Hats replied anxiously, hoping his military leader would let the subject drop.  Unfortunately, he wasn't that lucky.

"Tell me," Millie ordered, boldly confronting Gan-chan as Parnasse and Ura looked on.  "You've got a weapon, don't you?"

"Yes, but it's too horrid to even think of!" Gan-chan retorted, a note of panic creeping into his voice.

Millie turned the full force of her spoiled brattiness on him.  "Are you siding with the Alliance?!  If you aren't, then say it!  I said say it!  Tell me about the weapon you're hiding from me!"  

******

In this time of peril and fear, Ifurita was standing on Rune's recently reconstructed balcony overlooking Florestica and moping.  An evening breeze lightly caressed her and ruffled her hair, but she remained unmoved.  For the first time in ten thousand years, she had no idea where her soul-mate was.  

"Oh Makoto, is this to be our fate?  Always apart, painfully longing for each other, only to spend a few bittersweet moments of joy together before being separated again?  Alas, I am the sad clown of-"

"You know, for a demon god who's taken more lives and destroyed more cities than I care to think about, you pull off the weepy, angsty look quite well," Princess Myuun commented calmly from the balcony's entrance, walking over to stand next to Ifurita.  

"Ah, I can see why Princess Rune Venus comes here so often.  The aesthetic beauty of this city is astounding, even when the capital is recovering from so many invasions.  It's also a rather...poignant reminder of one's duty, wouldn't you agree, Ifurita?" Myuun asked her, turning to look at the demon god with her cunning, captivating eyes.

Ifurita tensed, wondering why her sensors hadn't detected this woman's approach.  She cautiously tightened her grip on her key staff.  "You appear to have me at a slight...disadvantage.  You seem to know who I am, but you...you are a stranger to me."

Myuun laughed musically.  "Ah yes, I forgot to introduce myself.  How rude on my part.  I guess I've started taking people recognizing me on sight for granted.  I am Princess Myuun of Baron, Ifurita, and I know where Mizuhara Makoto is."

In the blink of an eye Ifurita had the end of her key staff pressed against Myuun's throat and was glaring at the secretive princess.  "If you know what's good for you, Myuun, you'll tell me where I can find Makoto immediately!"

Without showing the least bit of strain, Myuun smirked.  "No."

"Is that your final answer?" Ifurita replied impassively and coldly, charging her key staff as Myuun suddenly found herself staring into the eyes of an ancient, terrible force of destruction.  Despite herself, the Princess of Baron shivered, and for the briefest moment her smile wavered...but only for a moment.

"I won't tell you where Mizuhara is, Ifurita, because it is beyond even _your_ power to go there.  However," she added, raising her hands in a peace-making gesture, "I can tell you where he soon _will_ be.  It will...cost you, though."

Ifurita narrowed her eyes dangerously.  "I won't be a part of your villainous plans, Myuun.  Makoto would be upset if I sacrificed my principles simply to see him again."

"But he would forgive you, of course," Myuun countered persuasively.  "You know deep in your heart that your precious Makoto could never stay angry at you for long, particularly if what he's mad about was done for him.  Besides, who says my plans are villainous?"  

Without saying a word, Ifurita pointedly looked at Myuun's pale alabaster skin, her moonless midnight, lustrous dark hair, her shadowy, spider-silk, and ominously attractive black gown, her sly, sinister red eyes, her-

"All right already, I get the point.  My appearance practically shouts, 'Hey, look at me!  I'm evil!'  Still, that's beside the point, and exteriors can be deceiving...as you should well know, demon god," Myuun replied meaningfully.  "Regardless, your misgivings are misplaced.  I simply want you to owe me a favor, and I promise that, should I ever call it in, it won't be anything you'll find too...questionable."  Hoping to conquer the last of Ifurita's resolve, the princess added, "If it makes your decision any easier, Mizuhara's life and the fate of this entire world are at stake here.  You can either agree to my terms or continue to look depressed and gaze out over Florestica as El-Hazard comes crashing down around you."    

"...Fine," Ifurita agreed tersely, withdrawing her key staff from Myuun's neck.  "I agree to your terms.  However, if I discover you lied to me, Princess Myuun of Baron, I promise that you'll find out firsthand why I am known as the _legendary_ Demon God Ifurita.  Now, where can I find Makoto?"

Myuun smiled darkly.  "Travel east across the Holy River of God.  Deep within the mountains beyond the Bugrom Empire's destroyed hive capital is an arid valley of sand and stone filled with strange crystal formations.  In the heart of this land you'll find what you seek...provided you get there soon enough."

Ifurita rose into the sky and, sending Myuun one last, warning look, took off like a bullet.  She was soon merely a speck on the horizon.

Letting the breeze wash over her, the Princess of Baron leaned over the balcony's railway and sighed, a sound that was equal parts weary and sad.  In the valley forgotten by time, Ifurita's very existence would be threatened and quite possibly eliminated.  If her bond with Mizuhara was a strong enough to breach the dimensions, though, the love of the demon god and human wanderer could reunite and save them both.  If not...well, Myuun preferred not to think about that.  Pawns in this game of chess were too valuable to be sacrificed...yet.

******

"Demon Ninja Master Splinter?" Millie repeated as she walked alongside King Gan-chan who was sitting on a throne being carried (with much difficulty) by dozens of Mice Wearing Hats.  Behind them strode Parnasse and Ura.  The sounds of their progress reverberated throughout the tunnel.    

"Yes," Gan-chan replied solemnly.  "The legend of terror that is equal to the Eye of God."

"If that's true, then how come I've never heard of this Demon Ninja Master Splinter before now?" Parnasse questioned, successfully scoring another line.

Ura gave him a knowledgeable look.  "When Holy Wars ended...much forgotten.  Some things..._purposely_ forgotten."

Parnasse blinked.  "And how, exactly, do you know all this, Ura?  History lessons about ancient times are not something I typically associate with armor cats."

Ura smirked.  "Me smart.  Listen to Londs talk in sleep.  Mustache man say many things."    

"Excuse me, but you two are interrupting the flow of dialogue for this scene," King Gan-chan informed the human boy and armor cat politely before refocusing his attention on Millie and dramatically extending a hand to point out the ruins of a once magnificent city before them.  "The cheese capital of the Ancients in ruins, the grim result of the demon ninja's involvement in the Holy Wars with powers great enough to eliminate a civilization and the lands they lived upon.  One demon ninja brought all this devastation alone, and its name...Master Splinter."

"Nh?" Millie muttered, wondering about the fear and reluctance she sensed in her ally as she turned to face him.

King Gan-chan continued his monologue, caught up in a world of his own terror and turmoil.  "No...it mustn't be used...ever again."

"Why not?" Millie demanded to know, glaring scornfully at Gan-chan and intrigued by the potential for power she saw within her reach.

Almost sounding shocked that even after seeing this grave testament to the demon ninja's power Millie still wanted to continue upon this course of action, the king of the Mice Wearing Hats gave his answer.  "Though the power that it wields is invincible, Master Splinter's strength is born of pure fighting skill and the benefits that come with being an aged Japanese martial artist.  No mortal being could ever control such power!"

In response, Millie walked to the edge of the precipice they were on and swept her gaze across the ruined cheese capital.  Maniacal laughter eerily reminiscent of Jinnai's erupted from her small frame.  "Haha...geriatric fu, a good back-up!  At last, I'm holding the final trump card!  Hahahahahahahaha!!!"
 
******

In a valley forgotten by time, two demon gods and the forlorn wolfhound they carried descended to the arid, stony ground covered by sand and gazed in awe at the beautifully complex, nearly alien crystal formations of all shapes and sizes scattered all around them.  An ominous silence filled the air, hinting at dangers and secrets yet unseen and dire consequences for disturbing the valley's peace.

Paying no heed to this warning, a curious Kalia opened her mouth and began to speak.  One could almost hear nature writhe in shock and dismay.  "Are you sure this is the Great Outdoors, Ifurina?  'Cause shouldn't such a place be full of...well, trees and grass and stuff?"

Ifurina sweatdropped.  "Heh, guess we should've taken that left turn at Albuquerque after all!  Well, this place is kind of nice...in a creepy, ancient-evil-sealed-away kind of way.  What do you think, boy?  Do you want to answer the call of the wild here?" the demon god asked as she crouched down and patted Hector on the head.

"Ruff," the royal wolfhound replied firmly in the negative and in a tone of voice that seemed to ask if the inquirer of the question was completely sane.

"I guess we'll simply have to try again," Kalia commented as she leaned against one of the crystal formations which almost seemed to try to recoil from her presence.  "Any ideas how to get to the Great Outdoors from here?"

"Perhaps that young woman over there can provide assistance?" Over-Run suggested calmly, impressively managing to redirect Ifurina and Kalia's attention slightly to the right using only his voice.

Standing there was a woman who was virtually a mirror image of Princess Rune Venus at a younger age...with the exception that she was wearing black priestess' robes emblazoned with white question marks.  Humming a soft, nearly imperceptible melody, she went about mopping a rectangular slab of stone that was raised a little ways above ground level and miraculously free of sand.  At its center was a translucent crystal dome that was about four feet tall.

"Hey you!  Can you tell us how to get to the Great Outdoors from here?" Ifurina shouted, showing no concern for caution as the party of travelers drew nearer to the dome.

The girl froze and stared at Ifurina, Kalia, and Hector with wide, nearly panicked eyes before finally managing to collect herself.  "H-h-halt, trespassers of this holy land, in the na-na-name of the Priestess of the Ancients and ca-ca-caretaker of this valley!  The pen-penalty for violating the sacredness of this earth is...is...oh no, I forgot the penalty!" the Rune look-alike exclaimed nervously, holding her mop protectively in front of her and adding sheepishly, "You're the first trespassers I've ever seen."  

"Is it death?" Ifurina suggested helpfully as she levitated off the ground and joined the priestess on the stone slab.  "The penalty for breaking a holy seal seems to be death in a lot of cases, although Katsuhiko and I made out okay until he...um, died," she ended on a sad note, tearing up as she remembered her dear, beloved demon god.

"My name is Kalia!  Will you be my friend?" the resurrected demon god asked cheerfully as she took her place beside Ifurina, hands folded behind her back and a beatific smile on her face.

The priestess stared at the two demon gods in confusion.  "You...you want to be friends?  With me?  And not know about the secrets hidden in this valley forgotten by time?"

"Well sure!  That and where the Great Outdoors is!" Ifurina answered, sadness forgotten at the chance of forging a new friendship.  "My name's Ifurina!  The wolfhound um...marking his territory over there is Hector, and the key staff I'm holding in my hand is Staff-chan!  Say hi Staff-chan!"

"Hi," Staff-chan said emotionlessly.

"...Er, pleased to meet you," the priestess replied uncertainty, eyeing the trespassers distrustfully.  "I am known as the Priestess of the Ancients, and unfortunately I can't tell you where the Great Outdoors is.  I've lived here since I was a mere infant taken in by the previous Priestess of the Ancients who found me amidst the wreckage of a destroyed caravan.  She, bless her soul, passed away ten years ago, and I've served as the caretaker of this valley since then."

"That's so sad!" Ifurita exclaimed sympathetically.  "Having no idea who your parents were and then losing the closest thing to family you had!  You must've been so lonely these past couple years!"

"No, not at all," the priestess protested defensively.  "I wasn't alone.  I had my good friend Idel to keep me company!  Isn't that right, Idel?" she asked, raising her right hand on which she wore a cute dragon puppet.  

"Idel and I have been together for longer than I can remember," the Priestess of the Ancients explained, smiling warmly.  The dragon puppet bowed.  "He's the only link to my past that I have."

"Well, that's nice," Kalia said sweetly, drawing closer to the priestess.  "Out of curiosity, what's that dome behind you for?  It stands out quite a bit."

"That?  Oh, that's the Glyph of Infinity, a virtually unsolvable puzzle handed down through the generations and believed to open the path to the Palace of Infinity which I'm not supposed to tell anyone...about...Oops," she finished contritely, realizing that she had just made a big mistake and bowing her head in remorse.  "Oh teacher, I'm so sorry.  Please, forgive your apprentice.  I've never had to keep a secret before in my entire life, and actually talking with strangers is a new experience to me."

Kalia chuckled cheerfully.  "Don't worry, priestess.  We can keep a secret too and could care less about solving the Glyph of Infinity.  Right, Ifurina?"

"Pretty!" Ifurina commented as she pressed her hands against the dome which glowed various colors wherever she touched it.

Kalia and the Priestess of the Ancients sweatdropped.

******

In the heart of an ancient temple on a lost island, a door opened, and light flooded a room that hadn't been entered in ages.  Millie, Parnasse, and Ura cautiously entered the chamber, flanked by a platoon of Mice Wearing Hats.  An eager grin split Millie's features as she saw the demon ninja lying in suspended animation and its key staff which resembled a hard, wooden walking stick.  Laughing diabolically, she seized the staff, watched with pleasure as the demon ninja rose to its feet, and began to wind up her new weapon, blue electricity dancing around her.

"Boy, it sure was awfully convenient that you knew how to find this lost island," Parnasse commented as he watched Millie, a sick feeling in his stomach.

"Gah," Ura agreed as, for the first time in millennia, Demon Ninja Master Splinter awoke.  Millie's mad laughter echoed throughout the chamber.

"Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!"
« Last Edit: April 27, 2004, 11:40:31 PM by rowan_a._seven » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2004, 07:44:09 PM »

Well, I might as well jump in again. I'm feeling... dangerous.


************************************************

Millie continued her infernal laughter, thoroughly enjoying her Jinnai impersonation. "Arise, Demon Ninja! Arise and DESTROY ALL MY ENEMIES! MWA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA- OW!"

Millie's diabolical laughter was quickly cut off when Demon Ninja Master Splinter bopped her over the skull with his staff. The young girl rubbed her aching head for a bit before turning towards the ancient weapon and giving him a death glare. "You stupid rat! Why the hell did ya hit me- OW!"

"Silence!" Splinter turned his snout up in disgust at the girl, then turned away to behold the rest of the group. "Pitiful. Absolutely pitiful."

"What the hell are ya babblin about?!" snarled Millie. She strode up to the ninja master and poked him in the chest. "I am your master, and you will do as I- OW! Sunova-"

"I said, SILENCE!" Splinter's hand shot up, hitting Millie square in the chest and sending her flying backwards onto the floor.

"W-what?" The girl asked, her body stunned.

"Gah, I knew this was a bad idea!" squeeked the King. "We're doomed!"

Ura and Parnasse nodded in agreement.

"Shut up!" snarled Splinter. He narrowed his eyes on the four in front of him, his hands rubbing his furry chin in thought. "Such a pathetic bunch. But, oh well. I do what I must."

"Um, sir, hi... uh," Parnasse strode up to the giant mutant rat and gulped. "Sorry to interrupt, but, what are you talking about?"

"You, of course," said Splinter with a shrug. "Sorry, but you are not the usual caliber of student I am looking for. I usually get top-notch, well-trained, physically-honed warriors. Instead I get two kids, a mouse, and, ech... a cat. I think I rather teach four turtles!" After a bit of a pause, the ninja master suddenly burst out laughing. "Ha ha ha! I made a funny!"

"Uh, right..." Parnasse, as well as the others, sweat-dropped.

"Wait!" Millie shouted, but quickly lowered her volume after a glare from Splinter. "Aren't you an Ultimate Weapon of the Ancients? You're supposed to serve US and kick lotsa ass! What's all this crap about teaching and students?"

Splinter regarded Millie as a passer-by at a park would regard a pile of dog excrement, and sighed. "Stupid girl. You obviously do not know what my true puprose is, yet you yap nonsense about claims which are not true." He glared at the group before continuing. "It is true, that I was created by the Ancients. But, I am no weapon. Instead, I am a teacher."

"Teacher?" asked the King.

"Yes," Splinter smirked. "I teach others how to become  Ultimate Weapons."

"Whoa," Parnasse gasped. "You mean... ?"

"Indeed," Splinter nodded, then pointed his staff at the four. "Under my tutelage, you will become faster, stronger, more powerful than any normal warrior today. You will learn the ancient art of ratninjitsu; mastery of it would put you up to par with any Demon God. You will be unstoppable."

A moment of hushed silence decended upon the cavern. This was summarily broken by Millie, who suddenly shouted in joy. "AHA! At last, my luck is finally changing! No more relying on these stupid minions! I'll get to kick ass from now on! Mwa hahahah- OW!"

"Boy, you are loud, aren't you," muttered Splinter. The rat frowned when he noticed that his staff was getting dents in it. "Anyway, as you four are the ones that have awakened me, so you four I shall teach. First thing I must do is give you names."

"Names?" asked Parnasse. "But, sir, we all ready have names."

Splinter chuckled. "Yes, my young lad. But these names are your ninja names... they will speak truths about you, and having them will allow you to bring forth your true power from within."

"Ahhhh," said Milie as if she understood, which of course she didn't.

"You!" Splinter pointed to Parnasse. "From now on you shall be called... REMBRANT!"

"Um..."

"And you!" Splinter pointed to the King. "You shall be HOPPER!"

"Oh dear..."

"You!" The ninja pointed to Ura. "Let all fear you as ANDY WARHOL!"

"Nyah?"

"And finally, the loudmouth." Splinter turned to Millie. "You shall be..."

"It's gonna be stupid, isn't it?" asked Millie with a sigh.

"You shall be... KRAYOLA PAINT BY NUMBERS!"

"I knew it." Millie's shoulders slumped.

"Okay then," Splinter turned his back on his new pupils, addressing them as if he were addressing retarded children. "Know now that the art of ratninjitsu is a tough art to learn. If you are soft, and stupid, and girly, then you will not succeed."

Millie's shoulders slumped even lower.

"But if you perservere and rough it out, you shall be more powerful than God." He turned once more to face his students. "Now then, give me  ONE THOUSAND PUSH UPS NOW!"

Everyone groaned in agitation before dropping to their hands and knees.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2004, 08:09:38 PM by lord_god_jinnai » Logged


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« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2004, 12:12:59 AM »

"Approach, students," Master Splinter said.  "Close the circle at the feet of the Master.  You have come to me, asking that I be your guide along the path of Ti Kwan Leep.  But be warned!  To learn its ways, you must learn the ways of your own soul.  Let us meditate upon this wisdom now. So.  Ommmm..."

"Uh, sir?"  Millie snapped her fingers for attention.  "Sir?  Uh, um, sir?"

Without moving, Splinter opened one eye.  "Who disturbs our meditation, as a pebble disturbs the stillness of the pond?"

"Me!" Millie said.  "'Krayola Paint By Numbers'."

Master Splinter repeated her name, in recognition of her.  "Yes, Krayola Paint By Numbers?"

"Uh, no disrespect or nothin'," Millie asked, "but, like, how long is this gonna take?"

"Ti Kwan Leep is not a path to a door, but a road leading forever towards the horizon."

"So, like, what?  An hour or so?"

"No, no.  We have not even begun upon the path.  Krayola Paint By Numbers, you must learn patience."

Millie snorted.  "Yeah yeah yeah, patience!  How long will that take!?"

"Time has no meaning.  To a true student, a year is as a day."

"A YEAR?!" Millie yelled.  "I wanna beat people up right now!  I got the pajamas!"  This was true-- Millie was still wearing her favorite jammies, after her two angst-filled days in bed.

"Beat... people... up?" Splinter said, in obvious disbelief.

"Yeah, just show me all those nifty moves so I can start trashing Bugrom!  That's all I came here for!"  Millie began to make fake karate moves, in a way that was deeply insulting to the Master. "Yaaah!  Aaaah!  Daaah!  Daaah!  Shaah!  Pretty good, huh?"

"The only use of Ti Kwan Leep is self-defense," Splinter said patiently.  "Do you know who said that?  Kee Lo Nee, the Great Teacher."

"Yeah?" Millie said.  "Well, 'the best defense is a good offense.'  You know who said that?  Kyou, the comedy relief from 'Fruits Basket'."

Splinter blinked.  "Um...  'Ti Kwan Leep is the wine of purity, not the vinegar of hostility.'  Meditate upon this truth with us.  Ommmm..."

"Listen, shrimp!" Millie yelled.  "Are you gonna show me some fancy moves, or am I gonna start wiping the walls with you?"

Splinter sighed sadly.  "Krayola Paint By Numbers, you have failed to grasp Ti Kwan Leep. Approach me, that you might see."

Millie grinned as she stepped forwards.  "Alright!  Finally, some action."

"Observe closely, class...  Boot To The Head!"  WHOMP!!

"OW!!" yelled Millie.  "YOU BOOTED ME IN THE HEAD!!"

"You are lucky, Krayola Paint By Numbers.  Few novices experience so much of Ti Kwan Leep so soon."

Millie didn't feel lucky.  "Ow... ow... ow..."

"Now, we continue," Splinter said.  "Ommmm..."

Millie jumped back to her feet.  "HEY!!  Hey, I wasn't ready!  Come and get me now, shorty, huh?  Come ON!!  Are you CHICKEN!?"

"Boot To The Head!"  WHOMP!!

"OW!!...  Okay, now I'm ready!  Okay, now, come on, try it now--"

"Boot To The Head!"  WHOMP!!

"Mind if I just lie down here for a minute?" Millie asked weakly.

"Now, class, we shall return to our--"

Parnasse held up a hand.  "Master?"

Splinter sighed again.  "It is wrong to tip the vessel of knowledge, Rembrandt."

"Many apologies, Master," said Parnasse.  "But I feel Krayola Paint By Numbers is not wholly wrong."  Millie groaned, in tremendous pain.

"What do you mean?" Splinter asked, completely ignoring Millie.

"I want to boot some head too," Parnasse said.

"Have you learned nothing from the lesson of Krayola Paint By Numbers?"

"Yes, Master," Parnasse said.  "I have learned two things.  First, that anger is a weapon only to one's opponent..."

"Very good."

"...and secondly-- get in the first shot!  Boot To The Head!"  WHOOSH!!

"You missed," Splinter noted.

Parnasse gulped.  "Er, yeah.  Well..."

"You, too, shall be honored to learn a lesson."

"You know, I can leave, you don't have to, you know, I gotta be going--"

"Boot To The Head!"  WHOMP!!

"URRRRGHHHH!!" said Parnasse.

Master Splinter turned to Gan-chan and the Mice Wearing Hats.  "Can anyone tell us what lesson has been learned here?"

"Er, yes, Master," said Gan-chan.  "Not a single one of us could defeat you."

"You gain wisdom, Hopper," said Splinter.

"So we'll have to gang up on you!!  GET HIM, GUYS!!"

"Boot To The Head!"  WHOMP!!  WHOMP!!  WHOMP!!  WHOMP!!  WHOMP!!  WHOMP!!

A minute or two later, Master Splinter stood untouched, in the middle of a deep pile of groaning Mice Wearing Hats.

Splinter turned to Ura, the only other creature left standing in the room.  "And now, Andy, let us rejoin the mind to the body, and gaze into the heart of the candle in meditation."

"GAH!!" said Ura.

Master Splinter smiled benevolently.  "Very good, Andy."
« Last Edit: May 01, 2004, 09:46:40 PM by mrwhat » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2004, 09:54:29 PM »

Ifurina traced her hand across the Glyph Of Infinity, and laughed with delight.  "Oh, Kalia!  You should try this!  It makes such pretty colors when you put your hand against it."

Kalia flew to her friend's side.  "'Kay," she said with a sweet smile.  Before the Priestess of Ancients (or her dragon puppet) could protest, Kalia rested one hand against the Glyph, next to Ifurina's hand.

A narrow but extremely intense beam of pure energy, burning with a light brighter than the sun, erupted from the Glyph.  It thrust directly up into the sky, and shot into deep space with the speed of light.  Almost half of the planet of El-Hazard was illuminated by its sheer power.

Ifurina, Kalia, and the Priestess squeezed their eyes shut.  Their hair was blown straight back by the force of the beam.  If they had not been sweet and innocent type characters, their clothing would have been blasted away in a fan-servicey way.  Staff-chan was temporarily overwhelmed by the beam, and it powered itself down into a stand-by mode.

"Oh, crap," said the Great Priestess of the Ancients.  She didn't understand exactly what was happening-- she was a sweet girl, and wholly devoted to her duties, but she wasn't exactly the brightest crystal in the valley.  However, she quickly realized that this was A Bad Thing.

And she was not alone.



"oh Oh, crap crap," said The Other.

Yes, The Other had manipulated Peorth into bringing Kalia back to life for tasks just like this.  But this had happened too soon.  There were still so many detestable variables.  The Round Robin seemed to have taken a turn for the Uncertain, after the current writer had revived it.  In fact, The Other felt as Uncertain as a Schrodinger's Cat-Girl.



"Oh, crap," said Princess Myuun of Baron.

The intense light from the Glyph cast a dark shadow behind her, as she stood on the Floristica palace balcony.  Her true motives still remained unclear to the current writer.  But, regardless of whether Myuun was a dedicated public servant, doing her best to protect her native kingdom in dangerous times; a Machiavellian mastermind, manipulating others like pieces in a game of chess; a madwoman, brain burned out under the Mantle of God, and doing The Other's bidding in an indirect way; or just another deathly-pale art-goth babe for the current writer to pine after-- this did not please her.



"Oh, crap," said The Guide.

Everything was going according to the Guide's pear-shaped plans.  But the Guide was going to have to let events play out, unGuided, for a little while longer.  Multi-dimensional and nigh-invulnerable as the Guide was, that last and giantest boulder really, really hurt.



"Oh, ze crap," said Peorth and the Doctor.

After leaving Tina's coffeehouse, the two impossibly beautiful goddesses had come too close to each other, and they had somehow got their belts tangled up together.  They were both staggering through a Florestica palace-town alley, struggling with each other's belts, and bodies, in a way best left to the reader's imagination.



"Oh, crap," said Elmira.

She and her swarm of Happy Smiley Faces had been flying through the skies of El-Hazard, not too far from the desert valley.  The intense light from the Glyph destroyed most of them, like moths vaporized by a zap from a demon god's power key staff.



"Oh, crap," said Makoto's Ifurita.

She was now strangely reassured that her precious Makoto was still nowhere to be found in this dimension.  But, as she flew towards the Glyph, she prayed that he was safe and sound, and that the terrible light had nothing to do with his disappearance.  She knew her Makoto well, and she thought of how he would sacrifice himself, without hesitation, if need be, to save El-Hazard.

Ifurita blinked back hot sweet tears, and redoubled her flight speed.



"Oh, [CENSORED]," said goth-punk Ifurita-3.  Life sucked, and everyone was stupid, and no one understood her.  And her current persona was too tough to admit it... but she still wanted a pony.



"OH CRAP!!" said Afura.

One side-effect of Afura's apparently permanent transformation, into a seeker of fan-servicey punishments, was that she was no longer the brave warrior priestess that she once was.  In fact, Afura had become something of a girly nancy girl, as shown by her reaction to the intense light from the Glyph-- she glomped Ishiel in fear, in an Alielle kind of way, and began to cry like a little girl.



"Oh, crap," said Ishiel.

She and Afura had been enjoying a very late breakfast when Kalia triggered the Glyph.  And Afura, bless her heart, had flown across their table, glomped Ishiel in fear, and begun to cry like a little girl.  Yes, Ishiel enjoyed punishing Afura, but it upset her greatly to see her dear friend in genuine distress.

And besides that, Ishiel had been startled by the light herself, and she had spilled her tea.



"Oh, crap," said Ayeka.

Her pool of water, deep within the mysterious caverns in The Next Dimension, had erupted with light, in resonance with the Glyph-- mere seconds after she had lied to Makoto, and convinced him that she had no idea where the Palace of Infinity was.  But now, Ayeka might have to really get her hands dirty.



"Oh, crap," said Makoto.  He had no idea what the heck was going on.



"Oh, crap," said Tenchi Universe Kiyone.

The Round Robin seemed to be winding down, but Kiyone hadn't had a cross-over appearance yet.  Mihoshi, Sasami, Katsuhito and a gazillion other Tenchi Muyo! characters hadn't crossed over, either.  But Kiyone was the current writer's second favorite TM! character, after Ryoko.  And she had hoped to add a brief cross-over to her already-impressive Galaxy Police resume.



"Oh, crap," said one of Fatora, Gatora, or Hatora.

Balielle had just joined them at the seminary.  But there were still only two Alielles for three Fatoras.  Unless another cloning sub-plot produced a Calielle, one Fatora was still going to have to wait her turn.



"Oh, crap," said Jinnai.

Seeing the intense light from the Glyph, Jinnai realized that he had somehow failed to destroy an Ultimate Weapon, back when he was Demon God Katsy-Watsy.  And if there was one thing that burned Jinnai's bacon (besides that detestable Mizuhara), it was when someone besides Jinnai had an Ultimate Weapon.



"Oh, crap," said Schrodinger's Cat-Girl Jinnistacia.

Seeing the intense light from the Glyph, Jinnistacia decided that, if she was going to super-glue anyone around here before the world ended, she had better hurry up and do it.



"*mmmph mmmph*" said the Princess Rune Venus.

Schrodinger's Cat-Girl Jinnistacia had just flown up to Rune, glomped the lightly-dressed princess, pushed her to the polished stone floor, and completely super-glued Rune spread-eagled to the floor, for no good reason... as if there ever was a good reason for doing something like that.



"Oh, crap," said Queen Deva.

She had been absent-mindedly strolling through the palace, not watching her feet.  She had just tripped over Rune's super-glued right arm, to fall flat on her own face.



"Oh, crap," said Fujisawa.

The intense light from the Glyph shined through the window of the small shack behind the Fujisawas' rural hideaway.  It was clear to Fujisawa that the world was in danger once again.  And yet, he and Miz seemed to have been forgotten by the writers.  He and Miz hadn't been used since that throw-away creepy experimental fan-servicey joke with Ifurina and Staff-chan.



"Oh, crap," said Miz.

The intense light from the Glyph shined through the window of the small shack behind the Fujisawas' rural hideaway.  It was clear to Miz that the world was in danger once again.  But she had been enjoying some quality time with Fujisawa, and the current writer was going to stop right there, because this reply already contained too much creepy experimental fan service.



"Oh, crap," Wa Salli Alayhim did not say.  She had been expecting something like this ever since she had had that vision, back around Reply #20 in the second Round Robin topic.  That, and she was an ancient and dignified TRUE-True Demon God, not given to using mild expletives.

Although she probably thought something along the lines of "oh, crap" to herself.



"Rhoah, rhrap," said Hector the wolfhound, in a Scooby Doo kind of way.



"Oh, crap," said the current writer.

Yes, he was trying to bring the Round Robin to a conclusion of the Palace of Infinity story arc, or at least, to a more graceful resting place.  But he hadn't expected something like this to happen until after another couple dozen replies or so.  He decided that he'd better play for time, until the Mice Wearing Hats' long and terrible siege was further along.



"KALIA!!" yelled Ifurina.  "TAKE YOUR HAND AWAY!!"

"Oh, 'kay," Kalia said again.  She took her hand away, and the Glyph powered down.



"*whew*" a lot of people said.
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MrWhat
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« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2004, 10:04:18 PM »

OOC:  This contains gratuitous girly mushy stuff.  Reader discretion is advised.



Ryoko had returned to the isolated country-side greenhouse, in Ura-ohki's battleship form, after a quicker-than-expected trip to Floristica.  Dall was working elsewhere, but Bill and Alyssa came out of the greenhouse to greet Ryoko and help her unload supplies.

Alyssa noticed an unreadable expression on Ryoko's face.  "What news?" she asked.

Ryoko set down her first armload of supplies, frowned, and rubbed her neck, as she answered.  "Uh... Florestica is battering down to defend itself from another invasion."

Bill had been keeping up with the news of the day.  "Not again!" he cried.  "Who's invading this time?"

"Mice Wearing Hats," Ryoko said flatly.

She, Bill and Alyssa stared at each other, overwhelmed by the sheer silliness of the situation.

Ryoko finally sighed.  "Oh well.  I guess we'd better batter down, ourselves.  We can live off the land here indefinitely... but I was kinda hopin' to make us some roshtals..."

Then she noticed Bill and Alyssa's own disappointed looks.  "Whassup?" she asked.

Alyssa smiled sadly.  "Um... well, actually... we were hoping that we could go into town, sometime soon, and, um... get married.  I suppose it doesn't matter.  I mean, we're renegade Phantom Tribe, and a human marriage holds no real meaning for us.  But still... we're trying to fit into human society now, and it seemed like the right thing to do..."

Ryoko took a step back, crossed her arms, and regarded Bill and Alyssa thoughtfully.  And she slowly grinned.

"So tell me," Ryoko finally said.  "If you two could get hitched right here and now, wouldja do it?"

Bill held Alyssa's hand, in a heart-warming kind of way.  "Well, sure.  But how--"

Ryoko turned, stuck two fingers in her mouth, and whistled for Dall.  Then she turned back, and explained herself.  "The Victory Gardner is royalty, with all the powers and privileges thereof, including the legal authority to perform marriages.  He may be a fugitive, but per the terms of Creteria's negotiated surrender, the Alliance slash Bugrom Empire would have to recognize a marriage certificate with his signature.  We can file a copy of the certificate with Florestica when-- sorry, if things ever get back to normal."

Dall walked up.  "Whassup?"

The good news, for Ryoko and Alyssa, was that Dall had been doing some heavy work.  The big strong young man had pulled his shirt open and rolled up his sleeves, and frankly, he looked hot.  But the bad news, for everyone, was that Dall's heavy work had involved spreading fertilizer.

Ryoko winced and held her nose.  "Ngh... why don't you go down to the creek and wash up, while we lay in these supplies.  Then we'll all break for lunch.  And put yer 'glad rags' on, hon.  After lunch, you got some marryin' to do."



It was a short and simple ceremony.  But, in the midst of the hastily arranged flowering plants, in the quiet of the countryside greenhouse... it was beautiful.  Bill and Alyssa had left Kingfisher with only the clothes on their backs, but Ryoko had brought some fine robes with the supplies, just that morning.  Dall wore his finest emperoring outfit, and Ryoko (who served as witness, bridesmaid and "best man") wore that beautiful white outfit from the end of the second TM! OVA.

After the "you may kiss the bride" part at the end, Bill did just that.  Dall quietly closed his Creterian ceremony book, turned to Ryoko, and, to his great surprise, found that she was crying.

Dall smiled, but he was careful not to mock Ryoko.  "Why, Ryoko!" he said quietly.  "I didn't know that you cried at weddings."  He held one arm around her, and gave her a friendly squeeze.  With his free hand, he reached into his emperor cape, produced the box of tissues that Ryoko had given him for fan-service nosebleeds, and offered it back to her.

Ryoko smiled shakily, took a couple of tissues, and blew her nose.  Then she leaned against Dall, and answered him in a most un-Ryoko-like small sad voice.  "Yeah *sniff* an' if you ever tell anyone else *sniff* I'll punch you right in the mouth."



Later that same afternoon, Dall sat at an old table in an office room off to one side of the greenhouse.  He pored over a couple of textbooks, a pad of old-fashioned spreadsheet paper forms, an worn wooden abacus and an mechanical adding machine.  He was trying to teach himself some basic accounting, for the greenhouse business.

Ryoko drifted into the room.  She had changed again, into that simple long black house dress from the In Tokyo series that the current writer likes on her.  "Hey," she said quietly.

"Hey," Dall said back, without looking up.  "What are Bill and Alyssa doing?"

Ryoko giggled.  "You have to ask?"

Dall blushed heavily.  "Ah.  I withdraw the question."

He returned to his studies.  He heard Ryoko sit at the table, next to him, with a heavy sigh, but he didn't look away.

Then, a moment or two later, he heard Royko sigh again, more loudly, almost theatrically.  He looked up impatiently.  "What!?  Ryoko, I'm trying to--"

Dall cut himself off when he saw that Ryoko was almost in tears again.  "Oh," he said.  "Sorry.  What's wrong?"

Ryoko sniffed.  "Oh, don't mind me, hon.  Just feelin' sorry for myself."

"Why?"

"Dunno, really.  Here I am, an immortal True Demon God, with the power to destroy cities.  An' I got free will now.  But... promise you won't laugh?"

"Of course not."

"Seein' Alyssa, so happy, like that...  It made me jealous, ya know?  'Cause I could never get married, myself."

"Why?" Dall asked again.

Ryoko frowned.  "C'mon, Dall.  Don't tease me.  You know I could never be married, 'cause I'm a demon god."

Dall blinked.  "I'm sorry, Ryoko, but I really don't understand.  Why couldn't you get married, if you wanted to?"

Ryoko stared at him dully.  But then, her eyes began to widen.  "You mean... you wouldn't?... you would!?..."

"*I* don't see why it makes any difference," Dall said.  "And I am the freakin' Emperor in our world, and a fugitive in this world, so if anyone else had a problem with it... well, tough cookies--"

Dall was cut off again, when he was thrown to the floor by a tearfully happy Ryoko glomping.  But he suddenly realized that he might have said more than he wanted to.  "Hey, wait a minute!!  That doesn't mean I want to, uh-- that is, not that I wouldn't want to, sometime-- maybe sometime soon, but-- aw, nuts!..."

A giggling Ryoko stood up, and gave Dall a hand up from the floor.  "Aw, relax.  I'm not ready to go pick out curtains, or anything, myself.  But... every once in awhile, you say exactly the right thing."

Dall sat at the table again with a wry smile.  "Don't worry.  I won't make a habit of it."

"Well, that's enough heavy drama for one day," Ryoko noted.  "Guess I'll go take a walk through the woods, or somethin'.  It's a beautiful afternoon."

"'Kay," Dall said.  He was already engrossed in his studies again.

He gradually realized that Ryoko had not left.  He looked up, and saw her still standing beside him, with her arms crossed.  "Dall, hon...  This is where you say, 'yeah, it is a nice day, and if you don't mind, I'd like to go with you, and spend some time together with you."

Dall pushed his chair back, stood up, and took Ryoko's arm.  "Sorry," he said, as they left together.  "You can't expect me to get everything right."
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MrWhat
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« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2004, 10:22:58 PM »

OOC:  This is the last of three replies that I've just posted.  If you're reading the "most recent posts," please open this topic for The Rest Of The Story.  (Sorry if this one is a little rough-- I got a pretty bad headache while I was finishing it.)



Nanami, Shayla and child-Creterian-Deva sat in an improvised waiting room, in one corner of Crayna's seemingly bigger-inside-than-outside hut near the Damn Volcano.  Nanami was carefully studying the business section of the Floristica Pantagraph; chibi-Deva was learning an important lesson from "Goofus And Gallant" in the latest issue of Highlights; and Shayla was playing solitaire Pettan.

They had waited patiently all morning while Ibn Al-Zahad and Crayna Crayna performed near-magical acts of mad-science bio-engineering on the Spanish insectoid Kauru and the former evil clone slave Uruak.  Al-Zahad and Crayna's operating theatre was separated from the waiting area by a hastily erected sliding curtain.

Nanami and Shayla were doing their best to ignore the strange and disturbingly unpleasant crunchy noises coming from behind the curtain-- to say nothing of Crayna's nearly steady stream of ancient Frencharian curses.  And so it was that Nanami and Shayla were engrossed in their paper and cards, and they were startled when the operating curtain was suddenly pushed aside.

They looked up, to see Al-Zahad and Crayna standing at the open curtain.  The demon god and the retired priestess were illuminated from behind by intense surgical lights.  They both wore institution-green lab smocks, masks and hats, safety glasses, rubber gloves and plastic booties.  They were both perspiring heavily, and their medical garments were splattered with the requisite sticky semi-transparent goo.  Their safety glasses distorted their eyes, in a terrifying mad-scientist kind of way.

"AIEEE!!" said Nanami and Shayla.  They glomped each other in fright, scattering newspapers and Pettan cards, and squishing chibi-Deva between them.

"*eep urk*" said the squished chibi-Deva.

Crayna took off her glasses, pulled her mask down with an elastic snapping sound, and grinned at her younger friends.  "Sorry, kids.  Been a long mornin'."

Nanami and Shayla glanced at each other, and suddenly jumped away from each other, like electric magnets that had reversed polarity.  They both cleared their throats in embarrassment, while chibi-Deva gasped for breath.

"Was the operation a success?" Nanami asked.

Obviously pleased with herself, Crayna gestured behind her.  "See fer yerself, hon."

A whole, well, and fully-human Kauru Taurus emerged from behind the still-closed part of the curtain.  She wore only a skimpy paper hospital gown, and she was still cleaning some sticky semi-transparent goo from herself with a towel.  However, her elaborate hairdo was already perfectly brushed and primped in place.

"DEEEEVAAAA!!" said chibi-Deva.  With a happy cute little squeal, she ran at Kauru and glomped her in a heart-warming way.

Nanami and Shayla clutched at each other in fright again, expecting a flood of water.  But nothing happened.  In fact, Kauru gave chibi-Deva a loving hug in return, and cooed in her ear.

Al-Zahad explained.  "The operation was a resounding success.  We have taken the two Kaurus and combined them, down to the genetic level, to create the restored being you see before you.  The operation also produced three happy side-effects.

"First, as expected, we were able to eliminate the genetic code of the Northern Capitol weaponers.  Their sad heritage will not trouble Kauru, or any of us, again.

"Secondly, we were also able to eliminate Kauru's frankly ridiculous entomophobia.  As you can see, she no longer fears bugs or Bugrom of any kind, in any form."

"What's the third side-effect?" Shayla asked.

"We did not wish to sacrifice either of the two Kaurus' consciousness," Al-Zahad said.  "We have successfully merged them mentally, as well, allowing them both to continue to exist, as a single fused being.  But doing this effectively doubled Kauru's mental capacity."

Nanami and Shayla gasped.  "You mean--" Nanami said.

Kauru looked up from chibi-Deva, and spoke for herself.  "Quite.  I am no longer the, um, 'drip' that I once was.  My vastly-increased intelligence, in tandem with my advanced hydro-kinetic control techniques, should prove to be insurmountable to all imaginable adversaries."

"Un!-Be!-Lievable!" Nanami said.  "It's the most unlikely and inconceivable incarnation of Kauru Taurus yet!!  She's-- she's--"

"Yup," said Crayna.  "She's-- Kauru The Soopah-Genius!!"

Shayla grinned.  "Y'know, sometimes the jokes just write themselves."

"Indubitably," Kauru agreed.



"Look," Ayeka said to Makoto.  "I was hoping that I wouldn't have to get involved.  In fact, I was hoping that you'd forget this nonsense, and sweep me off my feet, and help me escape this place, and let me take you back to Jurai, where I could smother you with obsessive affection for the rest of eternity.  Why is it that all the good men already have soul-mates?..."

"Say," Makoto cut in.  "If you don't mind my asking... why are you here, in a suspended animation pool in the The Next Dimension?"

Ayeka reached into her robes, and nervously fingered a paper copy of a restraining order that Tenchi-sama had filed against her, in an out-of-character fit of exasperation.  "Yes, well-- never mind that!  Like I said, I don't know, um, exactly where the Palace of Infinity is.  And I can't accompany you on your quest.  But if you'll stand on your little flying carpet there, I can send you to the next wacky stop on your inter-dimensional cross-over quest to save the multi-verse."

Makoto took a few steps back, stood on his carpet, and gulped, as Ayeka began to make signs with her hands.  "Uh, where exactly is this next wacky stop?"

Ayeka winked.  "Can't tell you that, dear.  The current writer hasn't worked it out.  It's for me to know, and the next writer to write out...  Go now.  Be safe.  I know that I can rely on you, Makoto. I will carry you in my thoughts and heart till our paths cross again."

Makoto and his carpet disappeared in a brilliant flash of silver Ifurita-esque light.

Once again alone in her cave, Ayeka sighed.  She waded back to the center of the pool, and prepared herself to resume her indefinite hibernation.  Oh well, she thought.  I didn't get nearly as good a cross-over as Yume, but at least I helped advance the plot a little.



Londs came into the Floristica palace kitchen.  It was lunch-time, and he had just the thing in mind for a delicious and nutritious lunch.  But sadly, it was not to be.

Londs opened his personal larder.  His eyes widened in shock as he saw the large empty plate within it, with only a few scattered crumbs where his lunch had been.

He spun away from the larder, and bellowed out the terrible news to all within earshot.  "SOMEONE'S BEEN AT ME CHEESE!!"

And so it was that the long and terrible siege of the Mice Wearing Hats had begun.
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Andrusi
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« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2004, 12:17:26 AM »

At that point, a young boy by the name of Matthew was playing with his People Named After Food action figures.  To be specific, The Pizzanator was getting his, er, crust kicked by Captain Bacon.

Although nobody realized it yet, and the method would probably be extemely contrived and unlikely, Matthew was going to Save the World in about an hour.  This was because the current author felt really bad about his inability to contribute anything of value, and was throwing out something bizarre and somewhat vague in an attempt to feel like he'd accomplished something.

It didn't really work, though.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2004, 12:18:41 AM by andrusi » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2004, 10:55:56 PM »

In the next progression of a chain of events that had started when a cart of spherical fruit tipped over many posts ago, a single butterfly flapped its wings and flew off.  This action may seem innocent enough but...Nothing Good Could Come of This.

******

Princess Rune Venus of Roshtaria, having finally managed to extricate herself from her superglued position on the floor and realizing that between the siege of the Mice With Hats and whatever the source of that excruciatingly brilliant beam of light was her country was probably in extraordinary peril, did what she normally did in times of crises - angst on her balcony.  This time, however, there was already somebody on her balcony, and instead of angsting, this person was plotting.

"Hello Princess Rune," Princess Myuun greeted as she turned around, her bearing such that it made Rune feel like the intruder here, "Long time no see."

"...I have nothing to say to you, Princess Myuun.  While I can understand your reasons, you still betrayed the Alliance and your allegiance to Roshtaria, and you continue to jeopardize humanity," Rune replied, finding it oddly difficult to concentrate around the Baron monarch's presence.

Outlined by the cityscape of Florestica, Myuun chuckled softly, seemingly amused by Rune's response.  "Yes, you would think that, wouldn't you?  There's no need to fear me, though, Rune.  Other than a tenacious dislike for Princess Fatora, my intentions are pure."

"Then why have you usurped control of the majority of the Alliance forces?  For that matter, what are you even doing here, Myuun?  Surely Baron has its own crises you could be dealing with right now," Princess Rune inquired sternly, gazing evenly at the black-clad specter standing across from her.

Myuun's eyes narrowed in annoyance.  "Roshtaria's crises are Baron's problems as well, Princess Rune, and I'm here because _my_ people and nation require I do more for them than mope on a balcony overlooking a city that has been invaded more times in the past month than I care to think about.  As for why I'm _here_, well, I decided to do you the courtesy of letting you know that your sister is all right."

Rune blinked as Myuun stretched and headed for the palace's interior.  "What do you know about Fatora's whereabouts, Myuun?"

Stopping beside the ruler of Roshtaria, Myuun inclined her head to look at Rune and smirked.  "Plenty, but it was your _other_ sister I was referring to."  Leaning over to whisper in Rune's left ear, the pale princess murmured, "There is..._another_ heir to the Roshtarian throne."

******

*Achoo!* "Welcome to my home," the Priestess of the Ancients told her guests kindly, having decided that if she couldn't get rid of them she might as well lead them as far away as possible from the Glyph of Infinity in order to prevent any more powerful beams of light from shooting into the sky.  "Isn't it nice?" she asked, turning to Ifurina and Kalia and making an expansive gesture with her hands.

"It looks very comfortable...for a cave and all," Kalia answered slowly, looking around the underground chamber she'd spent the last 15 minutes walking to.  It was comfortably small in size with a low, arching ceiling that was remarkably free of stalactites.  The ground wasn't quite so fortunate, though, as the occasional crystalline stalagmite protruded up from out of the floor.  The walls were covered with a faintly glowing, blue moss-like plant that, with the exception of a muted lantern hanging from the center of the ceiling, provided the only illumination to be found.  A hammock was staked across the left-side of the room, and next to it was a plain wooden chest and a bookshelf filled with aging books and scrolls.  On the other side was a table with two benches for sitting, a cabinet, and a cloth map of ancient El-Hazard plastered against the stone wall.  In the very back was a narrow aperture from which the sounds of running water could faintly be heard, evidently indicating the presence of a nearby subterranean river.

"Wow, this is so neat, Miss Priestess of the Ancients!" Ifurina beamed, excitedly investigating every corner intently as the priestess looked on, an accommodating smile on her face.  "I wanted to live in a cave as a kid, but Mom said that I couldn't until I'd learned how to protect myself from cavemen with a giant club.  Unfortunately, the club was so heavy that I wasn't able to pick it up...Now that I think about it, though, doing so ought to be easy with my new demon god strength!  If only I had leopard skin pajamas...anyway, Miss Priestess of the Ancients, do you have a shorter name I could call you by?  Priestess of the Ancients seems rather...long," Ifurita asked, turning to the priestess with a slight frown on her face.

The Rune look-alike shook her head and walked over to the cabinet.  "Sorry, but I'm afraid I don't.  Names are unnecessary for my position, and while I was an apprentice my master simply called me 'apprentice' or 'hey you!'  Now then," she inquired, opening the cupboard, "would you two like anything to eat or drink?  I have a lot of water and some milk around here, and for snacks there's leftover fungi a la mold, mushroom casserole, or desert snake shish-kabob."

"I...um, think I'll pass," Kalia replied politely, trying not to look sick at the thought of eating whatever it was fungi a la mode is.  To her surprise, she found it wasn't.  "So...care to explain a bit more about that light?  It was quite pretty!"

The Priestess of the Ancients shrugged.  "Sorrow, but that information is sacred.  Under no circumstances am I supposed to tell you about its-"

Idel gazed at her pointedly, and the priestess sweatdropped.  "Oopsie.  I definitely don't want to finish that sentence.  Shall we drop this conversation and move onto other issues?"

"Such as?" Ifurina inquired curiously, adding, "Oh, and I'll try some casserole.  It looks good."  Her stomach rumbled, and Over-Run sighed, wondering if it would do any good to remind her that she no longer needed food.  He doubted it.

"Oh, what I should do with you two, for starters," the Priestess of the Ancients commented conversationally as she rifled through her cupboard.  "After everything you've seen, I can't very well let you leave and tell others about this place, now can I?"

"Why not?  Other than the light show and mysterious crystals, it's not like there's a whole lot to see here," Kalia questioned, face a mask of innocence.

The Priestess of the Ancients turned around to face her guests and slowly started counting off reasons on her fingers.  "Well, for starters, it goes against tradition.  This wouldn't be a valley forgotten by time if people hadn't forgotten about it, after all.  Secondly, there are secrets in this valley that must not ever be revealed for the sake of world peace!  Or at least that's what my master told me...Anyway, thirdly, I don't want to run the risk that some mad fanatic going around the world destroying ancient weapons would find this place.  Fourthly, this is holy ground, and it's forbidden that strangers should lay eyes on and defile this hallowed land.  The two of you being here is troubling enough, and I dare not imagine the anger of the Ancients should another stranger enter this valley."

As if on cue, Ifurita chose just that moment to enter the cavern, having detected lifesigns with her sensors.  "Excuse me for intruding, but I am on a desperate search for one Mizuhara Makoto and was told that he could be found here."

"Eek!  A trio of wanderers have pierced the mists of memory and violated the sanctity of this valley forgotten by time!" the Priestess of the Ancients decried dramatically.  "Oh, woe, woe upon us all and this age, that secrets best kept buried must awake!  The wrath of the Ancients shall surely fall upon all of El-Hazard now for this horrid desecration!  Is this-"

"Don't mind her.  She's a priestess," Ifurina informed Ifurita confidentially, apparently thinking it was perfectly natural for one of the holy order to rant and rave melodramatically, as the Priestess of the Ancients continued to do just that behind her.  Beaming, she added, "I don't think I've introduced myself to you yet, so let me do so now.  I am Ifurina, and my friend over there is Kalia.  Say hi, Kalia!"

Ifurita tensed at the mention of that name and cautiously inclined her head to look at the reborn demon god.  Kalia smiled warmly in greeting.

"Hi," she said in bemusement, overcome by a strange sense of déjà vu as she returned Ifurita's inquiring look.  There was something very...familiar about her.  She blinked, and in a flash everything came back to her.  "Welcome," she said again, smile morphing into a demented grin, "to your doom!"

In less than a microsecond, Kalia had taken to the air and charged at Ifurita.  The sheer force of her lunge drove them both through solid stone and outside as the cave collapsed behind them, burying Ifurina and the priestess in a cascade of rock.

******

From the doorstep of their home, Miz watched Fujisawa hoist his backpack on his shoulders and lift a pickaxe.  Slowly, he turned to his wife and delicately, lovingly clasped her hand.  "I'll try to come back soon, love, but first I must make sure my students are all right.  Between all the recent invasions, ancient weapons, and that giant beam of light in the sky, I fear for their safety."

"Take care of yourself, darling.  I'll miss you," Miz requested, gazing at her husband with affection.  "I'll keep a light on every night until you come home!"

Fujisawa smiled and gave his wife a good-bye kiss before embarking on his latest adventure.  Before he left the front yard, though, Miz's voice stopped him.

"Pick up a loaf of bread on your way back again, please?" she asked.  "Oh, and could you purchase a container of milk and a stick of butter too?"

Fujisawa sighed and looked up at the sky in exasperation.  "Honestly, hasn't this gag already been done before?"

******

"Surprised?" Kalia inquired sweetly as she flew around Ifurita's key staff and slugged her in the face.  Falling back, Ifurita reached out to grab Kalia's arm, but the crazed demon god was too fast and already behind her.  Knowing better than to let Kalia connect with her power interface, Ifurita used her downward momentum to accelerate and smashed into her startled opponent.  The demon god of legend followed through with a powerful roundhouse swing of her staff.  

"I'm more interested in how you survived and whether or not you have anymore incarnations," Ifurita replied tersely as the ever cheerful Kalia blocked her next blow with an energy shield and countered with a barrage of energy blasts at nearly pointblank range.  A trio of Light Hawk wings sprang into existence around Ifurita, protecting her from the assault.

Kalia laughed dementedly as the repercussions of her own attack knocked her about.  "The answers won't matter once I destroy this entire dimension!  Can you feel it, Ifurita?  This valley...it's hiding something greater and more dangerous than both of us, and _I'm_ going to find it!"

Screaming to the heavens and with raw power radiating off her in waves, Kalia's eyes burned with the fire of insanity as her own set of Light Hawk wings took shape.  Without so much as a care for safety, she flew straight at her opponent, grinning madly as their Light Hawk wings crossed.

KA-BOOM!

"Come on!  I know you can do better than this!" Kalia complained merrily, dusting herself off as a stunned and singed Ifurita hurtled backwards through the air.  "I want to have fun before I obliterate you!"

Collecting herself, Ifurita stopped in mid-air and assumed a cautious defensive stance.  "Play time is over, Kalia.  You're a ghost of the past that has no place in the present or the future, and when I'm through with you all you'll be is another bad memory."

"We shall see," Kalia said simply and smugly, extending her arm palm up and watching with delight as a sphere of energy formed above it.  "We shall see."

******

Nanami, much to her surprise, reappeared on the other side of the portal she'd just opened and fell flat on her face.  With an embarrassed 'oof,' she rose to her feet, closed the portal with her staff, and turned to the expectant Crayna, Al-Zahad, Shayla, Chibi-Deva, and Kauru.  "Wherever that beam of light originated from, it appears that I can't teleport there."

"As I surmised," Kauru commented, wearing a studious expression.  "Anything that powerful would likely have a defense shield of some sort to block unwanted teleportations.  You'll simply have to open a portal as close as you can to the source, and then we can travel the rest of the way by hover-car."

"Deva!" Chibi-Deva screeched anxiously, looking up with concern and a little bit of fear at Kaura.

"Don't worry," Kauru told the child queen reassuringly, reaching down to pat her on the head.  "I won't leave you behind."

"Are you sure that's wise, Kauru?  There's no telling what dangers await us, and I'd rather not have to worry about a child," Shayla piped up, eyeing Chibi-Deva skeptically.

"Trust me, Shayla, I know the risk," Kauru replied, looking behind her at the fire priestess.  "However, after everything Chibi-Deva has been through, I won't abandon her.  Besides, she's just _so_ adorable!"

Shayla and Nanami sweatdropped, but they were also pleased that at her core Kauru still appeared to be the Kauru they knew despite her new super genius status.

Crayna remained silent, not because she didn't have anything to say but rather because the current writer didn't want to anger any Australians with his horrible attempt at writing an accent.  Beside her, Al-Zahad sighed simply for the sake of sighing and because the current author was trying to end this scene so he could finish this post which was already two days late.

******
« Last Edit: May 14, 2004, 10:45:37 PM by rowan_a._seven » Logged
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« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2004, 10:57:24 PM »

"Are you all right, priestess?" Ifurina asked as Over-Run vaporized the last of the rock standing between them and sunlight.  She rose into the air, making sure to set the Priestess of the Ancients safely on the ground.  

"I've *cough* survived worse," the Priestess of the Ancients said weakly, frowning in worry.  "Compared to the training my master put me through, this is-aah!" she yelled, dodging out of the way of a deflected sphere of purple destruction.

Ifurina looked up and pursed her lips in concern.  Engaged in an aerial battle almost too fast to see, Ifurita and Kalia were brutally pummeling each other in a fierce exchange of fists, a staff, and energy manipulations.  Granted, it wasn't quite up to par with some of the other epic clashes this round robin had already seen, but it was setting new standards for sheer ugliness.

"Please, stop this!" the raven-haired demon god cried, tossing Over-Run to the Priestess of the Ancients as she took to the sky and stopped in between the two combatants, arms outstretched pleadingly.  "Please, don't hurt each other anymore!"

Ifurita narrowed her eyes.  "Get out of my way, Ifurina.  You don't know who you're defending.  Kalia is a ruthless weapon who brings only pain and suffering to those she meets."

"Kalia is also my friend!" Ifurina replied firmly.  "I don't know what's happened between you two to make you hate each other so much, but I say it's long past time you stop fighting and make up!  Kalia is a good person, I know it!  So please, give her a cha-gah!"

A purple corkscrew of gleaming elemental energy pierced through the bodies of both Ifurina and Ifurita.  Turning around and focusing her wide, innocent eyes on Kalia whose left arm was extended and glowing, Ifurina asked in a raw, betrayed voice, "W-w-why?"

Her only answer was Kalia's demented laughter as her former friend brought her fists together and swung them down in a powerful overhead arc.  Ifurina whimpered as her chest caved in and she collapsed, falling to the ground and landing on top of the Glyph of Infinity.  Unnoticed by those above, it began to glow again.  

"Monster," Ifurita branded, glowering at her opponent as her key-staff flashed with power.  "I vow that she will be the last soul you ever destroy!"

"Don't make promises you can't keep, Ifurita.  It doesn't...suit you," Kalia answered, laughing uncontrollably as what just might've been a tear fell out of her left eye.  "Everything dies.  Such is fate.  Every moment of life merely brings one closer to death, and the only question is where and when.  You can't deny this fact, Ifurita, anymore than I can help being what I am.  Doing so is pointless."

"Then allow me to hasten your demise," Ifurita growled, taking aim and firing her city-destroying attack at Kalia.  The crazed demon god arched an eyebrow as the wave of energy engulfed her but otherwise remained immobile, allowing the assault to wash over and soothe her with its beautiful song of death.

"Pathetic," an unharmed Kalia said as the wave passed, eyes alight with madness.  "Oh Ifurita, Ifurita, how you disappoint me."  In a flash, Kalia was directly in front of her and had seized her by the neck.  "Legend of terror?  Ha!"  She casually grabbed Ifurita's key-staff, wrenched it out of her hand, and tossed it to the ground.  "You should've remained in your crypt, you ancient, out-of-date, relic!"  A hum filled the air as Kalia began draining Ifurita's power.

Leaning over her adversary's writhing, struggling form, Kalia reached out with her other hand and softly placed her fingers on Ifurita's face.  "Embrace oblivion!" she shouted, cackling as she invaded the weakened demon god's mind.  

As the day fades and night covers the world, so did Kalia sweep across Ifurita's mind, ripping, tearing, and engulfing everything she came across.  She was a twilight of darkness that left only nothingness behind.  She was unstoppable, undefeatable, and irresistible, the caress and promise of ultimate, final peace until there was only one lonely, vibrant star still shining.  Inside it, memories of Makoto played endlessly, the solace and comfort Ifurita had used to survive her ten thousand years of loneliness.

^No.^

The darkness paused, confused and wondering what could possibly be left to resist it.

^No.  I won't let you...take Makoto away from me.^

Angry, the night reached out to crush this last mote of light but found it burned too brightly to be reached.

^Even if you...destroy my body and annihilate my mind...even if the entire world ends and there is nothing left...I will _never_ forget Makoto!^

"Ifurita!"

The demon god's mindscape was enveloped in an explosion of pure, white light.

******

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!" Kalia screamed in pain, letting go of Ifurita whose body plummeted to the valley floor.  Recoiling in horror and disgust, her eyes darted in every direction until they finally laid to rest on Makoto who was soaring towards her on his mechanical flying carpet, eyes a portrait of anger and determination and looking like nothing else than an avenging angel.

"You!" the demon god screeched in thousands of voices that were and were not hers.  "I hate you!!!"  Trying desperately to dodge but knowing that it was already too late, Kalia experienced a moment of panic as Makoto drew near and linked with her, his sheer force of will breaking through her defenses to the very core of her mind.  Directly below them, the Glyph of Infinity fired for the second time, cremating Ifurina's remains and rushing up to swallow Makoto and Kalia.

"It's time to end this, Kalia.  I won't let you obtain the vengeance you seek," Makoto said solemnly as he strolled through the alleys of an ancient, destroyed city that at one time could've been beautiful and full of life.  Now its ruins existed only in Kalia's mind.  Entering what remained of the city square, he saw a single, young girl with darkly tanned skin and white hair leaning against the rim of a dried out, crumbling fountain.  

"You are a fool," Kalia replied, voice low as she met Makoto's gaze with her sad, pained eyes that had witnessed more anguish and death than anybody should ever see.  She slowly stood up.  "It...this has never been about revenge."

"Then tell me, where does your wish for destruction come from?  Why do you want to destroy the world?" Makoto demanded to know, closing the gap between them.

"_Why_ do I want to destroy the world, you ask?  You have the impudence to ask me, I who have suffered more than you could possibly comprehend, why I want to destroy the world?"  Kalia threw her head back and laughed darkly, brokenly.  "You _really_ want to know, Makoto?  Fine then, I'll tell you the plain and simple truth.  I merely want...the pain to stop.  That's all.  Nothing more and nothing less.  I simply want to stop hurting."

Makoto's eyes widened in surprise, but before he could respond fire fell from the sky and set the entire city ablaze.  He could barely breath in the inferno Kalia's mind had become, but over the din of the roaring flames Kalia's haunted, hopeless laughter still rang clear as day.

******

When the newest beam emitted by the Glyph of Infinity passed, an unharmed Makoto found himself cradling a nearly destroyed Kalia on his undamaged flying carpet.  She had protected him with her own power and body.

"I...don't understand," Makoto asked, stunned, as he stared at Kalia's broken frame.  "Why did you save me?"

"You'll...find out...soon enough," Kalia promised with the last of her strength, smirking as her charred remains became too hot for Makoto to hold and he dropped them.  Her lifeless body joined Ifurina's ashes atop the Glyph of Infinity.

Unbeknownst to Makoto and buried so deep within his mind that not even the Other could find her, Kalia's consciousness smiled dangerously.

******

With a caw of triumph, the Guide extricated himself from the rubble of what used to be a boulder and glanced up at the sky as the newest beam of light faded away.  Everything was going according to plan.  Soon, the Creterian Eye of God would appear, pulled to this plane by the sheer interdimensional power behind the Glyph of Infinity's bursts and a few careful causal chains he'd initiated.  As a matter of fact, everything should converge in the exact amount of time it would take for him to fly to the valley forgotten by time.

With something less human than a laugh, the Guide spread his wings and flew.  After all, it wouldn't do for him to be late to the climax of his own masterplan.

******

Ifurina yawned, opened her eyes, and gazed up...and up...and up at a figure as tall as ten men and wearing a vaguely arabic robe.  Where its head should be was a crown, and on the crown's sides were what looked like thousands if not millions of faces.

"Greetings Greetings.  Allow Allow us to introduce ourselves ourselves.   We have been been called many names names, Ifurina Ifurina, but we are now now called The Other Other.  We We saved you from your fate, from death death.  To to take up a mind mind, to store that consciousness consciousness, without outside forces knowing knowing of our actions... that is not outside outside our our capabilities ies."

"Eep," Ifurina replied, eyes wide.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2004, 10:26:56 PM by rowan_a._seven » Logged
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« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2004, 11:16:35 PM »

As long as I'm able to contribute to this round robin, it will have an ending even if I have to write the entire conclusion myself...although I certainly hope it doesn't come to that.  ^^;  Please help me out here?  This story is nearly finished...I think, and we've come so far that leaving it as is just doesn't feel right.




Some people say that legends never die.

Mr. Fujisawa paused for a moment and, with an upheld hand shielding his eyes from the sun's piercing glare, surveyed the harsh, rugged desert he found himself traveling through and made a guess at how far he still had to go before reaching the source of that brilliant light that had burst forth from the planet and soared to incalculable heights earlier today.  Deep within his heart, Mr. Fujisawa knew that somehow Mizuhara Makoto, his best student, could be found at the center of this situation, and as his sensei he had a duty to protect him.  Why, just imagine the uproar it would cause at the next Parent Teacher Association meeting if it was learned that Makoto had been seriously injured by a mysterious beam of light on an alien world in an alternate dimension and he, Mr. Fujisawa, hadn't been there to do anything about it!  Granted, it was extremely unlikely that he would ever hear from the Parent Teacher Association again or that they would even learn out about this, but he wouldn't put it past those old codgers to find a way to monitor this world simply to find more things to nettle him about.  Honestly, just because a couple students had gotten slightly wounded the last time he'd led a mountaineering field trip was no reason to threaten to fire him!  Those bones healed in no time, anyway.  And then there was the time-!

What appeared to be a bolt of lightning suddenly struck the superhuman high school teacher, putting an abrupt halt to his mental musings.  Since Mr. Fujisawa is a superhuman high school teacher, though, he remained completely unharmed save for a few hairs on the back of his neck that were standing up.  Mr. Fujisawa frowned.

"That's odd," he commented, lowering his raised hand and squinting at the sky.  "There isn't a cloud in sight!  Well, inexplicable lightning bolt or not, nothing's going to stop me from reaching my students!  Hyper Fujisawa speed!"

Putting his great strength and unusually clean physiological systems to good use, Mr. Fujisawa darted off at superhuman speeds in the direction where the beam of light had last erupted, unaware that it was not lightning that had recently struck him.  Instead, it was the latest ploy by the Guide's unknown adversary who'd been seemingly inactive for quite a while now.  Unbeknownst to Mr. Fujisawa as he picked up momentum and left a trail of dust and sand in his wake, his unique power – granted by traveling through the dimensional barriers to this world – was changing...expanding...and growing stronger.  Soon he'd transcend his present limits and become...

QUANTUM FUJISAWA!!!

======

Instead, legends are reborn and told over and over again, inspiring those who hear them and giving them the power to dream of and reach greatness.

As war waged within the streets of Florestica, Bugrom and human united for the first time in modern history and valiantly resisting the fearsome onslaught of the Mice Wearing Hats, Parnasse gazed evenly at his opponent who was calmly staring back from the opposite end of the city block they found themselves on.

"Do you know," Parnasse began coldly, bitterly, "how it feels to be brushed aside and forgotten?  To be considered insignificant and second rate no matter what you do?  To be forever trapped living in somebody else's shadow no matter how hard you strive and struggle to break free and shine with your own light?"  

The resentful youth threw his head back and laughed inconsolably.  "No, of course not.  How could you?  You, always the popular one, the star in everybody's eyes who could do no wrong no matter how depraved and immoral you became.  Do you have any _idea_ how discouraging this was for me when I was trying to be a responsible, upright young man?  To see you get away with _everything_ and be liked because of it, while my own hard labors went unnoticed and unpraised?  You've always eclipsed me, and I could never bring myself to fall to your level even though later I became desperate enough to try.  Well, no more!  Today is the day when I will _finally_ defeat you and be seen as who I really am rather than a male look-alike of Alielle Ralielle!"

Alielle sighed sadly.  "Oh brother, I had no idea you felt this way.  Words alone can't express how sorry I am.  Normally, I'd suggest we talk about this, maybe schedule an appointment with Dr. Semimad, and resolve these pent-up emotions as a brother and sister should..._but_ since I'm still quite breathless from the recent effort I've put into...'serving' Princess Fatora and her accomplices, I'll simply have to settle for knocking some sense into you the DBZ way."

Closing her eyes, Alielle brought her palms together in front of her and concentrated.  A pink battle aura formed around her and began to grow, crackling with her well-developed hentai powers.

Parnasse shook his head condescendingly.  "You're not the only one who has a battle aura, sis.  With the lessons I've learned from Demon Ninja Master Splinter, you're going down!"  With a look on fervent concentration on his face, Parnasse clenched his fists, pumped his arms, and screamed at the sky.  His purple ki erupted around him, charging the air with his power and determination.

Twelve episodes later they both finished powering up.  ^_^V

With primal screams of grief and anger the two siblings launched themselves at each other, and the force of their meeting shook the city.  Moving faster than the eye could follow and relying on their honed battle senses, the two Ralielle's exchanged flurry upon flurry of blows.  The earth shuddered and split, and they took to the air, the sounds of their fierce, brutal combat drowning out everything else.  Florestica in its entirety became their arena as their battle collapsed buildings, scarred the ground, and permanently altered the face of the planet.  Ki blasts of frightening, devastating power collided and lit up the sky, adding a surreal beauty to the destruction around them.  

Unfortunately for Parnasse, though, he found that even with his recent training he was still no match for his sister.  With a cry of anguish and defeat, he fell to ground with an earsplitting, painful boom.  Alielle descended a moment later and set her feet gently upon the ruined earth, a victorious but tired smile on her face.  Looking up weakly through the agony his world had become, Parnasse saw the pitying, compassionate gaze of his sister who was once again standing triumphant over him, and it filled him with rage.  Rage at her for always outdoing him.  Rage at himself for his inability to outshine her.  Rage that combined with his sheer determination to give him the power and focus needed to launch one last, desperate attack.

"BOOT TO THE HEAD!" Parnasse shouted, flawlessly performing Demon Ninja Master Splinter's infamous technique.  Eyes wide in shock and dismay, Alielle was booted in the head and sent flying into the sky, a la Episode 13 of "The Alternative World".  

Exhausted but finally free from his sister's shadow, the young man fell to the ground.  Around him, humans, Bugrom, and Mice Wearing Hats alike all cheered.  Parnasse grinned victoriously.  He had finally-

SMACK!

"Ow!" Parnasse complained as he woke up from his lotus position on the floor.  "What did you do that for?!"

Demon Ninja Master Splinter tsked and shook his head.  "No sleeping during meditation, young one.  How can you hope to find clarity of spirit when your mind is in dreamland?  Seek not the path of the Sandman but rather pursue the trail of the blue dolphin-bear."

Parnasse blinked in confusion.  "What in Muldoon's name does that mean?!"

Demon Master Splinter gave Parnasse a long, stern look, and then smacked him with his staff again.  Ignoring Parnasse's shout of pain, the ancient weapon answered him thus.  "Meditate on it."

======

And so a new generation is inspired to make their dreams a reality.  Many try, some succeed, and a few live on to become legends in their own right, their stories now inextricably linked to the tales of their childhood that spurred them on in the first place.  Thus, continuity between past and present is established, and the doorway to the future is opened.

Makoto sat up, yawned, rubbed his eyes, and blearily noted that he was back in his laboratory.  Odd, considering that the last thing he remembered was leaning over a frighteningly motionless Ifurita...

"Oh no, don't tell me that it was all a dream!" Makoto exclaimed, eyes widening in horror at the thought that the reunion with his beloved demon god had merely been the creation of his subconscious mind.  Granted, much had occurred in the past week that he'd _like_ to be a dream, but none of that compared to the joy of being with the woman he loved.

Bolting out of his bed, the clearly alarmed and conveniently dressed young man began rummaging through the room in search of something to validate his hypothesis one way or another.  Finding everything where he'd left it before his abduction by Princess Fatora and Alielle which had started this whole mess, Makoto frowned.  It certainly seemed like his recent experiences had been a dream, but the bliss he'd shared with Ifurita...the feelings they'd exchanged...the memories they'd created...surely those _had_ to be real!  Besides, there was absolutely no way his subconscious was unstable enough to form such an insane, bizarre dream.  Only a total wacko would come up with something so demented.

With these reassuring thoughts, Makoto took a deep breath and prepared to do what was necessary to wake up from what had to be a dream world.  Eyes lingering uncomfortably long over the sharp, multi-pronged lab instrument lying on a nearby table, he extended his arm, opened his hand, reached out, and...quickly retracted the aforementioned arm and pinched himself in the side.

"Ow," Makoto muttered groggily, coming to for real this time and noticing with astonishingly little surprise that he was stripped down to his boxers again and firmly fastened to a crystal with rope bindings.  All things considered, he was getting disturbingly used to waking up in such positions.  He only hoped that Fatora wasn't behind this one too.

Fortunately for Makoto, whatever deity looked out for him answered his silent prayer.  Unfortunately, it was soon revealed that his newest abductor was the Priestess of the Ancients, whose eyes were twitching nervously and who appeared to be on the verge of a mental breakdown.  What this said about the previously mentioned deity's sense of humor is best left to the imagination.

"You!  Stay absolutely still, and don't say a word!" the Priestess of the Ancients (who, for simplicity's sake, was going to be referred to as Parvsys – an acronym for Priestess of the Ancients and Rune Venus' Secret Younger Sister – for the rest of this post by the current author and total wacko) ordered, voice shaking tremulously as she eyed her captive.  

Makoto, not being the best at following orders from harried, half-mad women, promptly disobeyed.  "Where is Ifuri-"

"No!  Not a word!" Parvsys repeated urgently, lunging at Makoto and silencing him by covering his mouth with her right hand.  "My master told me _all_ about you men before passing on!  She warned me that you'd speak sweet lies, knock me unconscious when I'm off guard, sling me over your shoulder, carry me off to a cave where we'd live in sinful pleasure for twenty some years, and then cruelly abandon me and our nine hungry children to find _another_ woman to knock unconscious and carry off to a cave!"

"Well, you won't fool me!" the young woman declared, pointing an accusing finger at Makoto with her other hand and, caught up in the heat of the moment, angrily pressing herself against him so she could look him directly in the eyes with as little distance separating them as possible.  "I won't be distracted by your chestnut brown eyes..."  The glare started to soften as Makoto's harem power began to take effect.  "Your soft, wavy hair..."  The beginnings of a dreamy smile crossed her features.  "Your rough, masculine physique..."  The accusatory hand lowered and began to trace gentle patterns across Makoto's chest.  "Your...gah!  Impure thoughts!  Impure thoughts!"

Recoiling as if a tear in the fabric of reality had just appeared before her, Parvsys leapt backwards and made frantic warding gestures at Makoto just as it sank in for the young man what had been pressed firmly against him.  This realization quickly resulted in the typical anime male's nosebleed and the subsequent unconsciousness from massive blood loss.  The sight of blood didn't help Parvsys' mental state any, and she too promptly passed out, finally overwhelmed by the day's events that had shattered her solitude, destroyed her home, and turned her very existence upside down.

"Humans," Over-Run commented from nearby where he was plugged into the still immobile Ifurita and attempting to repair the damage Kalia had done.  "I'm beginning to think I'll never understand them.  Concurrently, I'm beginning to wonder if I even want to."

======

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« Reply #26 on: July 18, 2004, 11:17:27 PM »

Time passes.  History repeats itself, and the legends of yore are remade and retold, daring another generation and another age to dream.  The circle is complete and begins again.

"What we need," Jinnai plotted out loud, pacing back and forth inside Florestica's throne room as Groucho, Diva, and Londs watched and Jinnistacia playfully boxed with her tail and performed the occasional, obligatory act of gratuitous cat-girl fan service, "is a diabolical doomsday weapon that will halt these Mice Wearing Hats in their very mousesteps and send them fleeing, thus lifting the siege.  So...what do we have for diabolical doomsday weapons right now?" he asked, giving Diva a look that plainly said if there was another legendary weapon of terror she knew about now would be a spectacular time to mention it and don't worry about the consequences because I'm a pure evil genius!

Groucho took out a pied pipe and started playing it.  Jinnai groaned, grabbed the pied pipe, smacked Groucho over the head with it, and threw it out the window.  "No you fool!  There's nothing diabolical and doomsday-ish about a pied pipe!  Now, what _else_ do we have in the way of ultimate weapons?"

It was Londs who answered him first.  "The Holy Priestesses Afura Mann and Ishiel Soel currently appear to be on our side.  _However_," he added before Jinnai could gloat at the opportunity to finally order around the Holy Order, "they were last seen holding hands and strolling through the royal flower gardens, surrounded by sparkles and pastel colors.  As they presently are, I doubt they'll be of much use to us."

"We also have Ifurita-3 in our service," Londs continued, quickly dashing Jinnai's hopes of controlling another demon god with what he said next, "but her mental condition is rather...unstable.  Doctors Schtalubaugh and Semimad have been working around the clock to return her to a functional psychological state, and she is now at the sleep-deprived, no time for anybody or anything college student stage which, although an improvement for her, is unlikely to benefit us during this siege."

Jinnai frowned angrily.  "Well, that's just _great_!  With ancient weapons popping up all over the place and the combined might of two armies, we still don't have anything other than a fan-servicey demon cat-goddess wearing, of all things, my frustrating sister's face to deploy immediately against the Mice Wearing Hats!" he shouted, waving a hand at the now salaciously stretching demon god.  "Honestly, what were you two doing to cause such disorganization in our forces while I was away?"

Seeing their blushes, Jinnai wisely decided he'd rather not know.  "Never mind!  Diva, are there any more legendary weapons of terror within walking distance that you're aware of?"  

Diva shook her head no.  "Alas, Mr. Jinnai, with the disappearance of the feared and terrible Mecha-Sonic two centuries ago and the deliberately lost and horrifyingly dreadful Cute-Girl-Next-Door-Who's-Also-A-Homicidal-Maniac Robot, I do not."

"...Londs?" Jinnai asked hopefully, turning to face the longtime royal advisor and military leader.

Londs scratched the bottom of his chin and thought for a long moment before finally shaking his head.  "Sorry but no.  Were we besieged by dancing pink hippopotamuses it might be a different story, but Mice Wearing Hats?  I can't help you there."

Jinnai growled.  "Darn it, I am _not_ going to let my moment of triumph and glorious destiny be stolen from me by a bunch of mice with hats!  Where's Princess Rune Venus?  Perhaps she knows something I can use to my advantage!"

"It's Mice Wearing Hats, not mice with hats," Diva corrected before answering Jinnai's question.  "As for my co-ruler, I last saw her angsting on her balcony, mumbling something about a long-lost sister and gazing forlornly out at Florestica."

Londs tensed at this, and a troubled expression fell upon his features.  "Is that so?  It might be...prudent for me to have a talk with Princess Rune soon about the past and what it might mean for the future as-"

"Enough with the dramatics!" Jinnai interrupted.  "This is the time to plot ingenious schemes that will eliminate all opposition to us, not soliloquize about hidden relatives!  Now, why don't we-"

A serving girl interrupted Jinnai's ranting by knocking on the throne room's door, opening it, hurriedly but gracefully walking over to where Jinnai, Diva, Groucho, and Diva were, and dutifully bowing before them.  "Pardon me, my lieges and lady, but the Mice Wearing Hats have sent an ambassador to see you and demand our surrender.  Shall I show him in?"

"Surrender?" Jinnai bellowed incredulously, eyes flashing dangerously.  "Never!  I've triumphed over those blasted harpies, conquered the decadent and oppressive Alliance, put my _vexing_ sister in her place, and finally _FINALLY_ bested that villain Mizuhara!  Show that ambassador in so I can tell him what exactly I'll do to his leader once I've overcome this siege!"

"Yes my lord, but-" the serving girl began to say.

"No buts!" Jinnai retorted, a dangerous and brilliant madness gleaming in his eyes.  "Every second is crucial now!"

Not wanting to risk Jinnai's wrath, the serving girl quickly rose, made a curtsy, and returned to the door.  Speaking with a twinge of nervousness and a close eye on her superiors, she spoke gave the Mice Wearing Hats' ambassador permission to enter.  "You may come in now, sir."

Haughtily, Ura boldly strode through the throne room's doors and stopped in front of Jinnai, Diva, Groucho, and Londs.  Standing proudly, the armor cat said seven simple, smug words.

"All your base are belong to us."

To which everybody else replied with, "Gah!"

Outside, a little boy who went by the name of Matthew and was destined to save the world in about an hour walked by, saw the pied pipe, and, after a cautious look around him to make sure nobody was looking for it, grabbed the musical instrument and resumed casually walking away.  Once he was a good block from the palace he took the pipe out and began trying to play it, unaware that as the notes rang out he was attracting a larger and larger following of Mice Wearing Hats behind him.      

======

And thus, we return to the saying that legends never die.  However, what does this mean in relation to this story?  What is the purpose behind this discursive dialogue?

Life in Florestica proceeded much as it normally did, wars and occupations having become so frequent for the populace that they almost felt commonplace now.  Threading through the relentless attacks and counterattacks of the Mice Wearing Hats and the Alliance/Bugrom coalition forces, Roshtarians went about their daily business, going to work, buying groceries, caring for their families, and pointedly ignoring the horrors and rigors of battle all around them.  If the smiles seemed slightly strained every now and then as a building collapsed, a street caved in, or the sounds of surprisingly ferocious humanoid/insectoid/rodentoid combat wafted over, it was only to be expected and was nothing to worry about it.  

The Creterian Demon God Ryoko and cloned armor-cat who through the wonders of science also doubled as a giant battleship Ura-ohki perched on her shoulder, however, were.  

Ryoko wanted to make a special meal celebrating Bill and Alyssa's wedding and the fact that her and Dall's business hadn't imploded just yet.  This, by itself, wasn't a bad idea.  Taking the demon god's utter lack of culinary experience into consideration, though, made the likely outcome of such an endeavor appear very...unpleasant.  Regardless, for whatever reason, there was one important ingredient to her feast that she was missing even after her earlier trip to gather information and stock up on supplies, and the demon god had returned to Florestica in order to acquire it.  Unfortunately for her, the item she desired to procure was in short demand right now.
 
"Got any cheese?" Ryoko asked the merchant whose kiosk she was standing in front of.  The merchant raised his eyebrows and frowned angrily, deeply offended.

"Cheese?  Madame, I am a cheese merchant extraordinaire!  I don't sell cheese.  I sell _cheeses_!" the merchant spoke haughtily, wearing a proud expression.  "My family, they have been in this business since ancient-"

"Yadda yadda yadda," Ryoko returned, obviously uninterested.  "Look, I'll take a pound of...um, tarentaise?"

"We are _out_ of tarentaise," the vendor replied rudely, noticeably less than impressed with his newest customer.

*sigh*  "Fine, how about chevre?" Ryoko inquired with an impatient tone to her voice.

"_Unfortunately_, we are also out of chevre," the merchant answered, giving the snooty French waiter from earlier a run for his money in the sheer amount of contempt he was managing to convey with words.

"Brie?"

"No, madame, there is no brie left."

"Gouda?"

"Sadly, our stocks of that particular delicacy are depleted."

"Provolone?"

"Sorry to disappoint, madame customer, but no."

"Gruyere?"

"Once again, no."

"You've _got_ to have some mozzarella!"

The vendor shook his head in the negative.  "Your assumptions are all distinctly wrong, madame.  I am not currently selling any mozzarella."

Ryoko growled.  "Then what, pray tell, _do_ you have for cheese?"

The merchant rolled his eyes.  "Please, madame.  _Cheeses_.  It's cheeses.  As for your question, we still have a single bar of cheddar remaining.  Would you be interested in purchasing it for...say, one hundred roshtals?"

"One hundred roshtals?" Ryoko shouted, dismayed.  "That's highway robbery!  I refuse to pay!"

"Do as you wish madame," the merchant retorted with an unconcerned shrug, "but would you care to tell me what a highway is?"

"Argh!" Ryoko exclaimed as she stormed off, determined to find another place to buy cheese.  An hour later she returned in defeat, shoulders slumped as she resignedly handed over the one hundred roshtals.  "This had better be the best gosh-darned cheddar I have ever tasted, or I will come back and pasteurize you myself!"

Smirking, the cheese vendor accepted the cash and turned around to acquire the cheddar from his stores.  "Please madame, there's no need for threats.  I'm merely running a business here.  Now, here is your bar of cheddar che-wha?" he mumbled, perplexed, as a Mice Wearing Hat divebombed from the air, grabbed the cheddar bar, and made a run for it.

"Hey, that's mine you little four-legged furry creep!  Give it back!" Ryoko demanded, incensed at having something she'd actually paid money for stolen from her, and, plan for a feast momentarily forgotten, she took to the air and angrily flew after the fleeing Mice Wearing Hat.

Somewhat nonplussed, the merchant took a moment to collect himself.  "Well," he finally said, trying to look on the bright side, "at least she didn't ask for a refund."

"Miya!"

Looking down, the vendor spotted Ura-ohki glaring up at him menacingly and with a very "straightforward" manner about him.

"Oh dear."

======

The answer?  Absolutely nothing.
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MrWhat
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« Reply #27 on: July 20, 2004, 09:54:49 PM »

Quote
This story is nearly finished...I think, and we've come so far that leaving it as is just doesn't feel right.

Meanwhile, back at the Satellite of Love...

Crow:  So, 'what' happened to Mr. What?  Pun intended.

Tom:  Yeah!  Why'd he start the third Round Robin topic, and then drop out?

Mike:  Well, you see, he was finally going to work on Hana Ni Arashi--

Tom:  I've heard that one before.

Mike:  Haven't we all.  Anyway, he wrote about half of one part of HNA, last month, and then another time crunch hit him.

Crow:  (winces)  Ouchie.  We all know how painful that can be.

Mike:  So Mr. What got fed up, and he dropped everything for a few weeks.

Tom:  Well, I guess that's understandable...  Hey, wait a minute.  Since we're here, now, does that mean...

Mike:  Yeah...  Even though he's still way too busy, he must have got fed up with being fed up, and--

CHINK!!

(Mike, Tom and Crow turn around, and see former-evil-clone-slave-Nanami's Plasticky Black Battle Axe Power Key Staff appear in mid-air.  The current writer emerges from an evil-clone-slave portal, wearing his politically-incorrect black trench-coat and black fedora.  He wields the black axe in one hand, and holds a can of Coca-Cola [symbol of Free West] laced with Vyvyan's Cure For Not Being An Axe-Wielding Homicidal Maniac in his free hand.)

The Current Writer:  HEEEEERE'S ERIC!!

Mike, Tom and Crow:  AAAAAIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!
« Last Edit: July 26, 2004, 11:48:18 PM by mrwhat » Logged
MrWhat
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« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2004, 11:50:28 PM »

Afura Mann, High And Mighty Great Priestess Of Wind, and Ishiel Soel, Rogue Priestess Of Earth and Lady Of Fan-Service, were holding hands, and strolling through the royal flower gardens, surrounded by sparkles and pastel colors.

"Um, Afura?" asked Ishiel.  "These rare Floristican daylight-fireflies are incredibly annoying.  Would you mind?..."

"Mmm," Afura said in agreement.  "They're bugging me too.  Hang on..."

Without releasing Ishiel's hand, Afura activated her lamp of wind with her free hand.  She summoned up a light breeze, and gently blew the sparkles and pastel colors away.

"Thanks, dear," said Ishiel.  "And there's one other thing..."

She held up her left hand, also without releasing Afura's right hand.  "Afura?  The next time you volunteer to be punished by Schrodinger's Cat-Girl Jinnistacia, I wish you'd leave me out of it.  Now that she's tested her new insoluble super-glue on our hands, we're going to be stuck together for about a week, until the glue wears off our skin.  We may be stuck for the rest of the Round Robin, seeing as how the passage of time usually isn't clearly demarcated."

Afura bit her lip.  "Oh... but I thought you'd enjoy being punished together with me, for once."

Ishiel went very red, and stammered.  "Yeah-- well-- that's not the point..."

"Anyway, we shouldn't complain," Afura said.  "I'm left-handed, and you're right-handed, and so we both have our best hands free."



As the current writer has previously noted in his stand-alone fan fiction-- the mind of a demon god is a peculiar thing.

However, the mind of Ryoko, an inhuman space pirate loosely re-interpreted as a demon god, with a faulty control circuit (and who knows how many other faulty circuits), and a predilection for coffee and donuts, straitjackets, and big-and-strong yet weenie pretty-boy royalty-- a mind like that is several different new and exciting kinds of peculiar.

As it turned out, one of the new and exciting peculiarities of Ryoko's mind was that Matthew's pied pipes had a peculiar effect on her.  When Ryoko suddenly heard the pipes, she forgot all about the Mouse Wearing A Hat that had swiped her cheese.  (The Mouse Wearing A Hat was also quickly entranced, and it completely forgot about Ryoko in turn.)

As Matthew turned a corner and came into Ryoko's view, followed by a happy squeaky rivulet of gray fur and cute little hats, a strangely happy and innocent expression came to Ryoko's face.  She ran up to Matthew-- and then she began to dance happily around him, in a childish innocent round-the-maypole kind of way.

Fortunately for the Mice Wearing Hats following Matthew, Ryoko was mostly dancing in air, using her demon-god powers of flight.  The mice would have been squished to death if Ryoko had danced on them with her full weight.  Even as it was, each time Ryoko's feet touched ground, a sad little half-squished squeak was heard.



Dall leaned into the main area of his greenhouse, and called out.  "BILL!!  ALYSSA!!  I can't find Ryoko anywhere!  Have you seen..."

He trailed off when he saw Bill and Alyssa.  They were holding hands, and strolling through the flowers in the greenhouse, surrounded by sparkles and pastel colors.

Dall sighed, and returned to his little office room.  Those rare Floristican daylight-fireflies are incredibly annoying, he thought.  And if Bill and Alyssa had come to enjoy being super-glued together, and they were doing it to themselves now, Dall wasn't one to judge-- but the super-glue jokes were really starting to get old.

Well, Dall thought, it isn't like Ryoko to leave me alone like this.  She hasn't phased up through the floor behind me, and scared the crap out of me, all day today.  I hope nothing's wrong...

Although Ryoko had openly declared her love for Dall, the young emperor had yet to sort out his own feelings.  But he was certainly quite fond of her, at the very least, despite how she liked to yank him around.  And he thought of the many times Ryoko had saved his royal pretty-boy butt, and he felt obliged to help her if he could.

And so it was that His Excellence, The Fugitive Great Emperor Dall Narciss the Third of Creteria, set out to find his faithful demon god, servant and guardian, and all-but-in-name love-interest, and rescue her, if need be, in a romantic damsel-in-distress kind of way.

Although Dall didn't know it at the time, Ryoko would, in fact, need rescuing.  And Dall was the only one to do it.

Dall was Ryoko's last, her best, her only hope.

Therefore, Ryoko was, in fact, in deep doo-doo.
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MrWhat
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« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2004, 11:55:45 PM »

Nanami portal'ed herself, Shayla, soopah-genius Kauru and chibi-Deva away from Crayna's hut, to take them as close to the Glyph of Infinity as she could do without getting "redirected."

And then, Crayna began to take off her clothes.

"If we enter the Damn Volcano, and travel by white-hot lava," she said to Al-Zahad, "we should come out at the Darn Volcano, not too far from where that beam o' light erupted."

Al-Zahad nodded sternly.  "Very well, Master Crayna.  I shall fetch your swimsuit and my red Speedo--"

A partially-clad Crayna draped herself against Al-Zahad, in a not-at-all modest way. She raised her face up to his, and smiled slyly.  Her eyes had a mischievous twinkle.  "Aw, c'mon, kiddo.  We've been together for awhile now.  We don't really need swimsuits, do we?"

Al-Zahad was just as unflappable as Crayna, and he had become accustomed to his current master's eccentric ways.  But he still raised an eyebrow in mild surprise.  "Master Crayna, we may face another climactic end-of-the-world battle.  I am inhuman and nigh-invulnerable, and I have no real practical need for clothing.  But do you truly wish to face the end of the world nekkid as a treefish?"

Crayna stood back from Al-Zahad, and defended herself.  "Well, look at it this way.  Given the current writer, there's an overwhelmin' probability that our clothes would get blasted away in the battle, in some ridiculously contrived way.  I don't know 'bout you, but I'd prefer to save the time and money of shoppin' for new clothes after the battle.  Besides, yer an impossibly handsome demon-god, and I'm still pretty hot stuff, if'n I do say so myself.  Why should we let the kids get all the fan service?"

Al-Zahad was bemused.  "As much as it pains me to say it, at least some of that makes sense."

Crayna grinned, in a deeply disturbing (and not entirely sane) kind of way.  "An' besides all that... there's nothin' like the thrill of facin' death and destruction... weaponless, naked and vulnerable... with only yer wits to save you.  Powerfully naked-- that's brisk, baby!"

Al-Zahad sighed.  "Forgive my stating the obvious, Master Crayna.  But if you and your friends, as a group, must rely on your wits alone, then El-Hazard is doomed."



Nanami, Shayla, Kauru and chibi-Deva appeared in a small quiet woodsland area just on the other side of a single mountain from the Glyph of Infinity.

Nanami sighed, and slung her Plasticky Pink Battle Axe Power Key Staff over one shoulder.  "Well, this is as close as I can bring us... say, what's that wonderful smell?"

"And that buzzing sound..." Shayla said.  She looked around at several small box-shaped hives thick with swarms of bees.  "Why, I think we're on a beekeeper's farm!"

"Deeeeeva," chibi-Deva agreed.

Meanwhile, Kauru found herself irresistably drawn to a nearby huge jar-shaped container.  With trembling hands, she opened the barrel-sized container.   She found that it was about two-thirds full of honey.

Shayla came up to Kauru's side...  "Whatcha doin', Kauru?...  Oh, I get it.  Flashback to Spanish-insectoid-Kauru, huh?"

"Mmm," said soopah-genius Kauru, a bit nervously.  "Something like that.  Although, I must say..."

Kauru turned to Shayla with a wry soopah-genius smile.  "It might induce a flash-back for you, as well, yes?  Given how you like to be smothered with warm maple syrup, and extra-sticky varnish--"

"WHAT!?"  In an instant, a furious Shayla was on Kauru.  She pinned Kauru to the ground, pulled Kauru's lamp off and tossed it aside-- and in another instant, she had stripped Kauru nekkid.

And then, Shayla dunked Kauru in the jar of honey, all the while shouting.  "SEE!?  NOT SO FUN BEING THE FAN SERVICE, IS IT!?"

"Oh dear," Kauru said to herself, in-between honey-covered splutters and gasps for breath.  "This is almost-- exactly like-- the nightmare I had-- back in the second Round Robin topic--"

A manically cackling Shayla suddenly heard a snarling sound behind her.  Still furious, she spun round, to find a very angry chibi-Deva behind her.  "Whad'ya want, kid!?  Buzz off, before I-- YEEEK!!"

Shayla had just attacked chibi-Deva's substitute mother-figure, and chibi-Deva didn't like it one bit.  Chibi-Deva's eyes had gone demonic-red, and she had brandished long razor-sharp teeth and claws.

In an instant, a snarling chibi-Deva was on Shayla.  She pinned Shayla to the ground, savagely biting and tearing at her, and quickly reducing her priestess uniform to barely-decent tatters.

"FER CRYIN' OUT LOUD!!"  Nanami shouted for attention, to no avail.  "KNOCK IT OFF, WOULDJA!!  WE'VE GOT MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO--"

She froze, as she heard the wail of a hover-craft with a police siren.  "Like defending ourselves agains trespassing and vandalism charges," she said to herself.



Kiyone Mabiki, dedicated Galaxy Police detective in another life, but a mere rural constable in the Round Robin, looked up from her rural jail-house desk, and sighed.

Four obviously insane people looked back at her, from the other side of the desk.  Well, three.  Chibi-Deva had gone all cute and chibi again.  She was humming to herself, and playing cat's-cradle with a loop of yarn.

But the other three...  One of them was holding a giant plastic pink axe to herself.  Another one was clad only in barely-decent red tatters, and muttering darkly to herself about those damned Creterian bugs.  And the third one was buck nekkid and drenched with honey.

Kiyone set down her quill pen and paper forms, and reached for her tea, while complaining out loud.  "Are you people just trying to give me a hard time?  Do you realize the snide remarks I'll have to put up with, when I file this report?--  Oh, drat these budget cut-backs!  There's no sugar left for my tea!"

"Oh," Kauru suddenly said.  "Allow me."  She held up one bare honey-drenched arm, shook it gently, and dripped a generous portion of honey into Kiyone's tea.

Kiyone sweat-dropped.  "Uh... thanks."
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