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Thread: The Never-ending Story Thread²

  1. #1961
    Virgin Fleet Admiral

    Page 50 - The End is Nigh!

    There is a whoosh of displaced air, as a van appears from seemingly nowhere.

    Mecha Lou: Here we are - page 50! Oh wait, we're just a tad early.

    Cyclonus: Ugh, my head...

    Mecha Lou: Jumping again!

    The van disappears once more.


    The Second Ragnarok: Breaking the Seals

    The Last True Evil has, once again, turned heel and seeks to break the seals of an ancient prophecy to unleash The End upon the Never-ending Story2. He joined in an unholy alliance of Communism and Capitalism with Darth Vice. The NeS Heroes themselves have become prisoners of the most sinister of capitalist traps - a shopping mall. Having travelled to the Isla de la Morte in pursuit of TLTE the group were split up and met with two new faces - the mysterious man named Dagger and the seeming narcoleptic girl named Newb. After some missteps, fights, and traps, the heroes are now traversing the island to Vice's HQ. Unbeknownst to the heroes, both Newb and Dagger are actually newly recruited spies by Darth Vice for some unknown plot. To make matters worse, it seems Darth Vice may have recruited NeS Hero Amal to his schemes. Others involved include The Patriot, the rival to The Last True Evil and now newly resurrected as God's Advocate, and Polly Simon, the mother of Losien Simon.

    The NeS Heroes

    Losien Simon
    The Main Character and moral compass for the team. Losien Simon has long struggled with confidence issues, believing herself unworthy and inferior. However she was then made Main Character after her brother, Gebohq Simon, relinquished the role so that he could pursue love. Since becoming Main Character she has experienced a surge in confidence and displays the ability to lead the team, even at their most unwilling. She can keep a cool head even at the most desperate of times and her charisma and passion keeps her team mates on side. She is currently wearing Fred teh Uber Blade at her side and Carlotta the Cape around her neck after inheriting them both from the now deceased swordsman Soriel. Fred is able to improve Losien's fighting prowess in fencing with his own movements and directions to the wielder. She is, technically, the "father" of Chronos, who may visit the group, and is daughter of Polly Simon. Losien has also experienced a strange split with her spirit, which seems, at times, to wander free and can even interact with the world. Though this hasn't happened for some time, the phenomenon still resides within her.

    Al Ciao
    Al Ciao has become resident 'comic relief' largely due to idiocy. However he is also more than capable in a fight due to his recently upgraded cyborg body at the hands of Mecha Lou, though often his machine parts must be triggered in silly ways, or he has no idea how to trigger them. He is married to LightSide who is currently at the Hall of Heroes with their daughter Lior. He has other daughters too, including team member Iriana Emp. Al Ciao adores Iriana but he's often unable to focus his priorities and continues to neglect her, which led to their estrangement in the first place. Despite having many daughters already, Al Ciao desires to continue procreating and having more of them, much to Iriana's frustration. Al Ciao was once known as "Highemperor" but that aspect to him was long ago separated and now roams the universe with a vast and powerful empire. Al Ciao is what is left from that separation.

    Amal is a young man that was raised by Arkng Thand, kept hidden from the world with only books and a young girl named Apple as his friends. However he was discovered by The Last True Evil who adopted the young boy and became "Uncle TLTE" to that boy. Amal, however, grew expediently and soon the child was a man and independent of both his guardians. He expected by Thand to become the Main Character of the NeS, putting him into contention with other possible Main Characters including both the Simon siblings. He has, however, developed a deep, unrequited desire for Losien Simon but he has never been able to act upon this love because Losien was with his uncle. Amal has recently come into his own, having once been a blank character, but is constantly swaying between right and wrong due to the influences of those he trusts most. He wields the alternative NeSword, given to him by Gebohq as a token of goodwill and trust. Amal's Potential was recently killed by TLTE, leaving a hollowness deep inside Amal but also a degree of freedom that he never had before.

    Evil G
    The man nicknamed "Evil G" is sometimes known as "Shattered Gebohq" as he originated from the NeShattered universe, which is an alternate dimension of our own NeSiverse. Being that world's Gebohq Simon counterpart, Evil G was the world's villain and tried to use Young in his nefarious schemes but he ultimately fell in love with her when he married her. They were separated after she became pregnant with his child, but he was able to break out of NeShattered to return to her. She later gave birth to their child, Chance who now resides at the Hall of Heroes with Young. Evil G understands most about the impending doom of the Ever-ending Plot as it had already consumed NeShattered, the world he once controlled and he escaped from the darkness to come to the NeS. While he looks like Gebohq, he is far more abrasive than NeS counterpart but also far more intelligent and world-wise. He wields a sword named the NeverSword and, also like Gebohq, he can use Story-wielding to manipulate the story to suit his needs or desires.

    Frank Smith
    Frank Smith is a Time Cop for the T.E.A. and has joined the NeS Heroes after being sent back in time by Chronos, the head of the T.E.A.. He has been going through a mid-life crisis and left his long-term partner for a younger man. Since then he's been on the prowl for young, attractive men. He is able to travel through time at a moment's notice, though he tries to avoid it if it's unnecessary as time travel can be dangerous. To time travel he uses his watch, which contains the artificial intelligence unit CynthAI Mk XIV who, though quirky, is usually keen to aid Agent Smith and keep him alive at all costs. Frank will try to stop the NeS Heroes messing up time if e can help it, but on occasion he has been known to bend the rules himself.

    Gwenhwyfar is the Potential Character of Losien Simon, so she looks remarkably similar to the team leader of the NeS Heroes. Unlike Losien, however, Gwenhwyfar is sterner, rougher, meaner and far stronger physically. She wears a heavy suit of armour and uses a lance as a weapon. She also has a cataphract she can call upon. Although she originally intended to belittle and victimise the NeS Heroes, she later rescued Losien from a Plot-Hole and has since been readily accepted into the team despite her past. She is mostly ill at ease with Polly Simon, her "not-mother", and still views Losien as being too weak to lead the heroes. Yet Gwenhwyfar seems to admire something in Losien's charismatic draw and that keeps Gwenhwyfar on side. For now.

    Iriana Emp
    Iriana Emp is the supposed Queen of Armenia and heir to Atlantis as she is the daughter of Highemperor/Al Ciao. Her father has long been inattentive of her and she filed for emancipation from his care, which was granted. Now, at sixteen, she has joined him and the NeS Heroes seeking some kind of bond between them. At times it seems that connection can be reached as Iriana admires and loves her new step-mother, LightSide, but her father's lust and desire to have further offspring is a major issue of contention for her as she feels he will be just as irresponsible and inattentive towards them as he was towards her. She also yearns of that attention but his priorities don't match hers. She is often guided by outmoded and peculiar ideas of what a princess must be and do, including the subject of marriage to which she has recently discovered she may well be homosexual and therefore unable to commit to her princessly duty. She often knight people around her, including Gebohq Simon and Miss Fire. She has developed an obsession for tea, thanks to the influence of Emperor Pi, and can use various forms of tea to give her different extraordinary abilities, from speed to super strength. Even when in extreme danger, Iriana is rarely without a cup of tea in her hand.

    Miss Fire
    Miss Fire is one of the longest-running Characters for the NeS and is the resident kick-ass, name-no-names action hero. Shoot first ask questions later, Miss Fire is a pro with any kind of gun you can think of and is more than happy to use them. She was, however, gravely wounded and had to be put into stasis. When the Haunted Hall of Heroes was burnt to the ground by Nyneve and the [url=]NeSferatu[/url=, the heroes had to find a way to save her as the stasis pod would run out of power without the HHH. Eventually Mecha Lou was able to help save the woman's life by replacing her heart with a new one. The new heart, however, need electricity to keep it going - any sudden jolt of power. Without electricity to charge her up, Miss Fire will begin to slow down and eventually die. On the plus side any sudden jolt of electricity gives her an incredible surge of adrenalin, giving her sudden strength, speed and determination.

    Subaru Yamamoto
    Subaru Yamamoto is most handy with her powerful axe and is more than willing to use it at a moment's notice. Feisty and with a very short-fuse, Subaru is one of the most destructive members of the NeS Heroes. Despite this, she is also one of the only members able to heal the others using her limited magical powers. These powers also allow her to use some telekinesis in combat. Using these supportive powers is still strange for her and she has nowhere near fully developed them, instead preferring to solve situations with violence. Her axe, however, was recently lost to Brittica who disappeared with it into the NeShattered. She was dating Antestarr until he left her and the team, however he still harbours a deep desire to turn her into a NeSferatu, but she refuses. Since then she has been unable to completely drop her feelings for him, which may leave her open to weakness should he come for her.

    Tracer often acts like a 1950's detective cliché, complete with self-narration and unusual 1950's dialect and his own brand of sexism. He does, however, respect and admire Losien Simon as team leader and he will often abandon all to ensure her safety. He encapsulates the very essence of "man of mystery" and he tries to remain aloof and hidden in the shadows whenever possible. He will also perform action in the extreme even when unnecessary, such as riding on the outside of a plane when everyone else rides inside the plane. He is something of a super spy when it comes to action, crossed with Matrix-like bullet-time. He has recently been exposed to a fragmented portal that caused his Character to be broken between alternate dimensions that follow the same time-line that he does. He is at risk of being lost to he NeS forever should he be in another dimension when that time-line deviates from the NeS'.

    The New Heroes

    Dagger is a mysterious character with a sordid past of crime and violence. Sentenced into reformative service, Dagger must work for Darth Vice and his capitalist schemes or face worse punishment. He has joined the NeS Heroes, but has so far lied about who he is and his past, going instead by the name "Sketch Drawing" or just "Sketchy". He is an expert ninja style character and adept with his name-sake weapons, daggers.

    Newb is a young woman that has forgotten her past as a KGB spy and, as a result, may lapse into resurfacing memories at any given notice. She barely knows herself but she has found herself in the employ of Darth Vice after being conscripted to service by TLTE. She has joined the NeS Heroes, befriending Iriana Emp quickly, and tagging along with them. Unlike Dagger she barely has to lie about herself as she doesn't know anything, though she has kept her involvement with Darth Vice to herself thus far and hasn't told them about the resurfacing memories.

    The Villains

    The Last True Evil
    The Last True Evil was a reformed villain that joined the NeS Heroes and sought to be worthy of the love of Losien Simon. However it was revealed that his love for her was a fabrication he created for himself as a means of keeping himself tethered to the path of good. When she became Main Character he could feel their love dwindling and being hindered and so he set out to replace her as Main Character with Amal. The plan backfired and she caught him at it and they broke up. Without Losien to keep him straight he went headlong into corruption and set about breaking the seals to contain The End of the NeS, including the murder of Amal's Potential. When acting for himself, TLTE is the most ruthless villain the NeS Heroes could face. As he has been one of them for many years he also knows them like no other villain could, making them susceptible to plots and schemes to infiltrate them, gain their trust and lead them down the wrong paths.

    Darth Vice
    One of the many TLTE clones in existence, Darth Vice is the capitalist TLTE and wields capitalism like a weapon. He once faced off against the NeS Heroes before but was forced to come to an agreement with them until now. Instead he has now formed an unholy pact with TLTE, the communist, to defeat the NeS Heroes. He seeks to recruit new Writers to write in the destruction of the heroes for him. To this end he has already hired two people to infiltrate the NeS Heroes; Dagger and Newb and has forcibly hired Amal.
    The Sub-plots

    The Potentials Versus Highempress
    Featuring: Highempress, Gwenhwyfar, Orochi, Midas, Venedite, Nyktelios, The Nega
    The Potentials of several characters were summoned by Soriel, before his death, to battle against the Powerplayer Highempress who arrived to the NeSiverse from another universe. Since then she has declared herself ruler of Earth. The Potentials have mostly, however, been focused on their unPotential counterparts. Yet their task still remains. Several Potentials have been killed but some remain. Gwenhwyfar, Potential of Losien Simon, joined the NeS Heroes. Orochi, Potential of Subaru Yamamoto, and Midas, Potential of Couchman, joined Nyneve. Nyktelios, Potential of Iriana Emp, is the only Potential dedicated to taking down Highempress as she, herself, is also a powerplayer character. Venedite, Potential to Maeve, is currently Hand of the NeS alongside Gebohq Simon after killing the previous two. Highempress is with Venedite in the l33t. The Nega, Potential of The Otter, continues, unlike the others, to hound the NeS Heroes and seeks to demoralise them.

    Rulers of the World
    Featuring: Maeve, Nyneve, Arkng Thand, King Krog, Emperor Pi, Mr Nine, Jim7, Iriana Emp, Highempress
    Several Characters have risen up as rulers of Earthly locations and seem to be preparing for a great calamity. Queen Maeve of Great Britain also has the Remembered Forces, once the Forgotten, to work for her and they are mostly engaged in mopping up the remaining demons inhabiting England. Empress Nyneve first took control of France and was later voted as Empress of Europe. With her are Orochi and Midas and her powerful NeSferatu followers. Arkng Thand has become President of the U.S.A. in a strange move of openness for him. Working for him is Thrawn42689, who has been using social media to brainwash the American people for some unknown purpose. On Earth there is also Emperor Pi, the secret ruler of China. King Krog, under the name of his son Krig, rules Switzerland under Nyneve. Iriana is, though in name only, the Queen of Armenia (currently also controlled by Nyneve). Mr Nine rules Canada as part of Hell, while Jim7 rules Burundy as part of Heaven. Highempress, however, lays claim to the entire world.

    The NeSorcerer and the Nexus
    Featuring: Cool Matty, Mimiru Kizumaki, Nyneve, Merlin
    Although much of this plot is being carried out in the Hero Force One (Story) and The Pantheons of the NeSiverse, it affects characters used commonly in NeS2. The mantle of NeSorcerer is one that is fated to be passed down from magic-wielder to magic-wielder until it was prophecised that Cool Matty would take that mantle. Nyneve, the current NeSorcerer and ruler of Europe not only stole the mantle from Merlin, she trapped him in Stonehenge where he eventually died and became a ghost. She refuses to simply give the mantle to Cool Matty and vows she will fight for it. Merlin has taken Cool Matty under his guidance in England. To make matters worse, magic has been seriously hampered on Earth due to a terrorist attack against the magical nexus by the Trans-Terra-Terrorists - limiting the abilities of magic-users and the amount of magic available to use. With The Rift in place, magic is now seeping away from Earth and into the world known as Albion, which requires Earth's magic to exist. It has been pointed out that the NeSorcerer must sacrifice herself to repair the magical nexes of Earth, and Nyneve is suddenly a lot more willing to part with the mantle, however.

    Featuring: Antestarr, Gebohq Simon, Brittica, The Cult of X, Arkng Thand
    After a gigantic Plot-hole appeared over Athena's Colosseum and sucked up both Gebohq Simon and the current Seer for The Cult of X, Brittica X, many have been conflicted about their well-fare. Brittica X was actually Britticus, the Main Character for Britt:The Legend, in possession of a cloned body of the cult's Seers. He, and his murderer Antestarr, conspired together in a plot to defeat the Writers and grant Britt his own Story again - Britt would make himself avatar for the Ever-ending Plot. Gebohq stopped Brittica, but they both wound up falling through the plot-hole and into NeShattered. Since then, Antestarr has successfully entered into NeShattered himself to rescue Brittica, hoping to continue their anti-Writer scheme. He has affirmed that he will inform Subaru Yamamoto of the NeS Heroes about his progress. The NeS Heroes understand they must deal with TLTE before they can try to rescue Gebohq though.

    And now, the story continues...


    There is another whoosh of displaced air, as a certain van containing a certain robot and cyborg witch appears again.

    Mecha Lou: Okay then - page 50! It's not much to look at yet, is it?

    Cyclonus: I must protest this abuse of my person! You wouldn't treat a HUMAN this way.

    Mecha Lou: I just told ya, I definitely would!
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 06-22-2016 at 09:34 PM.

  2. #1962
    Virgin Fleet Admiral

    Cool Matty's Destiny

    Mimiru, the wife of Cool Matty, is filthy rich by inheritance. She has a Platinum credit card with unlimited credit. Her net worth makes Fort Knox look like pennies. Bill Gates only wishes he could be as rich.

    But there are some things money can't buy. Nor even MasterCard. Such as a loving husband, who isn't after her money.

    Mimiru: Look, I know this NeSorcerer deal is important to you, Matty, but can't it wait? We finally had some alone time to relax together, here at the cabin.

    The 'cabin' is a palatial manor sprawling across a dozen acres, with grounds even larger.

    Cool Matty: I know, Mim, but there's gotta be some reason Nyneve is so eager to train me now. Right?

    He looks pointedly at the centuries-old NeSferatu, who is sitting in the darkest corner of the room. Her ruby red lips curve into a thin smile.

    Nyneve: Guess you're not as stupid as I originally thought. Maybe you can save the world after all.

    Mimiru: Another save-the-world mission? Don't you have Hero Force One for that? America and Britain might be their biggest funders, but I know the other European countries contribute a fair bit too.

    She makes a fair point, as in addition to being a vampire and sorceress, Nyneve is also duly elected Emperor of Europe (sans Britain).

    Cool Matty: Some things only a mage can do.

    Mimiru: Hero Force One's GOT a mage. Two of them in fact.

    Nyneve: But neither of them is the NeSorcerer.

    Mimiru: Right. YOU are. So why don't YOU go save the world?

    Nyneve: Because I intend to keep on living.

    Cool Matty: Afraid of a little danger?

    Nyneve's eyes flash red for a moment.

    Nyneve: Don't condescend to me, mageling. For all your power, you are barely more trained than an apprentice. This situation necessitates a sacrifice, and I refuse to be the one to make it.

    Cool Matty: Wait, what?

    Mimiru: Oh, no. No way. We just got married! We're young, we're-- we're gonna raise a family together. You're old as dirt! You should be the one to die!

    Nyneve: Even if I were willing - which, once again, I should note that I'm not - it wouldn't work. It requires raw power the likes of which only your young husband possesses.

    Cool Matty: What...what sort of sacrifice is required?

    Nyneve: The it-kills-you kind. It's the only way to restore the magical nexes of Earth.

    Cool Matty: That's... definitely important, but...

    Mimiru: But it's not worth your life! So what if there's less magic in the world? It's too bad and all, but I want you alive! I need you alive!

    Nyneve: It seems that you and I hold different estimation's of his life's worth. Regardless, there is more. You may recall at Stonehenge, Merlin's talk of Albion?

    Albion is a fairy dimension, connected to Earth through a Rift at Stonehenge. It feeds on Earth's magic to sustain itself.

    Cool Matty: Uh-huh.

    Nyneve: Earth no longer has any nexes producing magic. Not a single one. Albion will slowly, over the next few months, strip away all remaining magic on the Earth. Then Albion will die, and Earth will wither.

    Mimiru: But-- But-- how will Earth wither? We don't NEED magic.

    She looks hesitantly between the two of them.

    Mimiru: Do we?

    Cool Matty: Hermes Trismegistus taught me this at the Magium. In some parts of the universe, including many if not most places on Earth, magic is so closely tied to reality that we can't fully exist without magic. Things like color and sound and emotion, will all be muted, if magic is drained from the world.

    Nyneve: He is correct. A great deal of the Earth - I can't say how much, but certainly more than half of it - would turn into a gray limbo. Not to mention another entire world, Albion, will completely vanish into oblivion. There's no other way to create a nexus of enough strength to save us - all the surviving master mages have tried. It has to be him.

    Mimiru's face is drained of color. Her eyes are red, and it's clear she's holding back tears. Cool Matty's visage is pale, but determined.

    Cool Matty: I have to do this, Mim. There's no other way.

    Mimiru: It's not fair.

    Nyneve: No, it isn't.

    Mimiru: But, Matty, I... I'm pregnant.

    Cool Matty: I know.

    Mimiru: You do?

    Cool Matty: I could tell.

    Mimiru: Are you calling me fat?

    Nyneve: Yes.

    Cool Matty: NO!

    He glares at Nyneve, who smirks.

    Cool Matty: The way you glow when you're speaking, the dreamy looks you've been giving me... I knew. I'm so happy. Even though I'm going to die.

    Mimiru: I... I'll train him in the ways of magic, to follow in your footsteps.

    Cool Matty: Or her.

    Mimiru manages a sad smile. Cool Matty then recalls his disastrous attempts at teaching his wife magic.

    Cool Matty: On second thought, perhaps you should take him or her to Hermes for training.

    Mimiru snorts a laugh and punches his shoulder, and he hugs her.

    Nyneve: Enough sappy nonsense. Say your farewells in a montage, then we've got to go.

    Cue montage, followed by Nyneve taking Cool Matty to Stonehenge. The ancient megaliths are in ruins from the recent explosions and attack, but they are still large and imposing, and magical discharges still occasionally crackle and pop.

    The other surviving master mages are here: Taliesin, enlightened sage; Mustang Aurelius Ford, undead wizard; Dr. R. Deep, esoteric scholar and mystical sword-mage, on leave from his duties at Hero Force One for this occasion; Hermes Trismegistus, god and super-mage; and Merlin, ghostly paragon.

    Nyneve: We ready then? Let's do this.

    Cool Matty: I wish Magistarr were here...

    Taliesin: He is.

    Cool Matty: What?! I thought he died when the Magium exploded!

    Taliesin: Listen.

    Cool Matty obeys, and he hears the ethereal whisper.

    Magistarr's Voice: Cool Matty... I am pleased you have arrived.

    Cool Matty: Where are you? How did you survive?

    Magistarr's Voice: In a way, I did not. My magic was drained by the reality-warping device, my body was destroyed by the bomb...but my mind survives in a plothole. It is... difficult... for me to communicate to the Earth plane, and I can exert no force of any kind. But I can advise.

    Magistarr was once the Archmage of ancient Atlantis, the first NeSorcerer, and the greatest mage in history... until Cool Matty, according to prophesy.

    Cool Matty: So how is this gonna work? I mean, don't I need more training first?

    Merlin's Ghost: Not for this. Your raw power is the catalyst. The NeSpell will channel its path.

    Cool Matty: The whatnow?

    Taliesin: The NeSpell. It is the essence of what it means to be NeSorcerer. A matrix of mystical and narrative power, handed down from NeSorcerer to NeSorcerer through the long ages.

    Cool Matty: Great. So where is it?

    He looks pointedly at Nyneve, who rolls her eyes.

    Nyneve: It is contained in the mind, and expressed as a monologue. By me saying it, and you hearing it, it is transferred from my mind to yours.

    Cool Matty: Then won't the other guys also get it?

    He gestures to the other master mages.

    Mustang: No. It can only exist in one mind, given to only its intended recipient - in this case, you.

    Cool Matty: I'm ready then. Let's do this.

    Nyneve begins, reciting the words of the NeSpell. It is a masterpiece of literature - which is to say, long, complex, and tedious. Magistarr, Taliesin, and Merlin's Ghost are filled with memories as they watch, for all three were once NeSorcerers themselves, and recall both receiving it from their masters and passing it on to their successors.

    And a measure of sadness fills them, for they are witnessing the last passage of the NeSpell. It will die with Cool Matty, who will never have the chance to pass it on. The words might be recorded, and repeated, but they will not have the same power.

    As Nyneve speaks, she is slowly exhausted. The transferral of the NeSpell is wearying for anyone, but for a NeSferatu, who thrives on narratives, the loss is felt the more keenly. Cool Matty is wearied by it as well, for it is as arduous to receive it as to give - but his phenomenal inborn reserves of magic sustain him, and he stands unbowed, without slumping.

    Nyneve: ...there you go then. Too bad you can't appreciate it for the delicacy it is.

    Merlin's Ghost: Be nice, dear.

    Nyneve: I'm not your 'dear' anymore, honey.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Stop fighting. Like an old married couple, you are.

    Cool Matty: Wow. I... wow!

    He is attuned to the narrative fabric of the world closer than any living being, seeing the threads of character and plot weaving out around them. High above, the constellations of the zodiac and planets of the solar system achieve an intricate and harmonious alignment, which will persist for the entire Page, the likes of which has not been seen nor will be seen again for thousands if not millions of years.

    Magistarr's Voice: It is time.

    Cool Matty: Wait. There's still one thing I don't understand.

    The master mages all turn towards him, expectantly.

    Cool Matty: Why do so many of our names begin with M??? Matty, Magistarr, Merlin, Mustang...

    Everyone rolls their eyes.

    Magistarr's Voice: Now, Tsukasa, the process is actually relatively simple. The NeSpell provides the blueprint. Your inborn strength provides the raw energy. You must only apply your intent - to create a nexus, to restore magical stability to the Earth, to save two worlds. Your intent must be strong and unwavering, however...because your survival instinct will war against it.

    Hermes Trismegiust: A difficult task, if simple, but we will aid you.

    Dr. R. Deep: And we salute your sacrifice.

    Cool Matty nods, and blinks back tears. It was easy to be brave in front of Mimiru, but now... He pushes that thought away. It has to be done. Instead he thinks, Restore the nexus. He empties his mind and body of all other thought and feeling, save that.

    The other master mages form a circle around him, raising up their hands. Taliesin intones a melodic chant of druidic power. Deep makes slashing gestures with his fingers, slicing the air with purple streaks. Mustang mumbles arcane gibberish under his breath and makes complex and exacting gestures as he extracts spell ingredients from his pouch, which puff into into sweet-smelling smoke as they are consumed.

    Complex sigils formed from silver light erupt into the air around Hermes Trismegistus, who appears not to have moved, using his super speed to cast dozens of unimaginably potent rituals in a split second. Nyneve pricks her palm and spreads droplets of precious blood upon the soil, where they explode into glitter in the starlight. Merlin's Ghost makes no sounds nor gestures, casting his magicks through sheer force of will.

    The Runekeeper - god of all magic in the NeSiverse - appears overhead, looking down upon the gathering and lending his approval. He was barred from Earth till recently, victim of a pact between entities more powerful even than himself, and now he attends the restoration of his domain.

    None know, but it was in fact the Runekeeper who was indirectly responsible for the destruction of Earth's magical nexes, hoping to bring its mystical forces under his control. Now, in being part of this ritual, he is in fact achieving some measure of success.

    Yet it is Magistarr's voice, the last remnant of the second greatest mage in history, who makes the greatest magical contribution to Cool Matty's spell.

    Magistarr's Voice: Remember why you do this. Remember for whom.

    Images flood Cool Matty's mind, of Mimiru. He remembers her scent, her favorite food, the way she laughs, the way she kisses. Memory after memory cascades through his attention. And then the future spills into his awareness, though whether prophecy or imagination he does not know: Mimiru, pregnant. Mimiru, cradling a baby. A boy, laughing as he plays with Mimiru. A young man, listening to Mimiru earnestly as she tells him stories of his father.

    And he smiles.

    Cool Matty: Restore the nexus.

    Though his words are only whispered, the intent behind them is loud and wild and ferocious. Magic rips through him, wrenching his body up into the air to hover, and explodes from him. Fire, harmless to organics and invisible to non-mages, surges through the world, racing through ley lines and renewing their strength.

    Throughout the globe, weather patterns turn to chaos, as wind and precipitation whip about frenziedly. Colors everywhere turn momentarily brighter and more vivid. Magical phenomena pop up everywhere - objects animating and dancing about, saplings growing into large trees in seconds, toddlers conversing fluently in ancient and lost languages, ink pens writing by themselves.

    Ley lines crackle and snap about, like severed electrical wires, as they reconfigure. Raw magic whirls about, seeking a place to coalesce. Sparks of pure mystical energy start catching fire, seeding a new nexus.

    Cool Matty's eyes blaze fiery blue, and his veins glow bright azure, as the torrents of power keep pulsing from him. An unending cry emanates from his throat, of both pain and pleasure, of triumph and despair.

    More, more, the newly seeded nexus needs more. It craves nourishment, needs sustenance, or it will die stillborn. Cool Matty's power fills it to the brim, and beyond, expanding it to a full and complex nexus, and still it keeps growing. Its force of expansion is more akin to an explosion than growth now. A nexus, a supernexus, then finally a truly singular ultranexus, as was Atlantis at its height.

    The new ultranexus surges into overwhelming life, as the ley lines fall into place, a new tapestry centered around it.

    Cool Matty is already dead, but his body remains for a few moments more, before the last remnants of his unimaginable power disintegrate it with their leaving, fueling the ultranexus's birth.

    Magistarr's Voice: It is done.

    Then Magistarr's voice fades away. Global weather patterns settle once more, the temporary magical phenomena die down. But mages everywhere can once again touch magic with greater vigor than ever they have known before. The master mages cease their magicks, and begin casting new divinations, tracing the ley lines to their new source, seeking the location of the new ultranexus.

    High above, the Runekeeper smiles, his divine vision discerning the new ultranexus's location instantly. He vanishes in a flash from Stonehenge.


    On the Isla de Morte, Darth Vice receives a phone call.

    Vice: Mm-hmm. Yes. I see. You've done well.

    He hangs up and turns to TLTE.

    Vice: I don't know where you got your information, but you were correct. Magic has once again stabilized.

    TLTE: I knew it would. That fool mageling couldn't do anything else but the heroic thing.

    Vice raises an eyebrow.

    Vice: You sound pleased. I thought you introduced the Latter-Day Greys of Memnoch to the Trans-Terra Terrorists precisely so the magical nexes would be disrupted.

    TLTE: I only cared about that, so that they would be restored. For in the restoration, our enemies the NeS heroes have lost both one of their number, and any aid the NeSpell could give them...


    In an apartment on the 42nd floor of a high-rise in Seattle, USA, ordinary blue-collar man Bob Roberts is sitting on the john, reading the newspaper. He is humming tunelessly, when suddenly a mystical explosion occurs in the U-bend, sending torrents of water up to soak him.

    [b]Bob Roberts:[b] ARGH! What the hell!

    He angrily gets off the toilet and strips his clothes, drying off before grabbing a mop. He mutteries invectives against toilet manufacturers as he does so, when the doorbell rings.

    Bob Roberts: That had better be the plumber.

    Setting aside the fact that he hasn't even called a plumber yet, Bob Roberts throws on a fresh pair of overalls and answers the door. A grand-looking man with an ornate tome chained to his wrist is there.


    Bob Roberts: Bah. I don't have time to deal with you Jehovah's Witnesses.

    He slams the door. The Runekeeper looks flummoxed. Before the deity can think of a new course of action, the door opens again.

    Bob Roberts: Say, you don't know anything about plumbing, do you?

  3. #1963
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The Final Phase

    On the Isle de Morte the NeS Heroes are all huddled around the prone figure of Newb. Evil G nudges her with his shoe.

    Evil G: "Y'know, this time I think she really might be dead."

    Iriana: "No! Can't we use CPR on her!?"

    Evil G shoots her a look.

    Evil G: "If you'd like!"

    Al Ciao glowers at Evil G.

    "Let me try."

    She falls to her knees beside the girl and removes her gauntlet. She then gives Newb a firm slap across the face.

    Gwenhwyfar: "WAKE UP!"

    Evil G: "Yeah, good luck with that Ms Macho-pants."

    Gwenhwyfar slaps her again, harder.

    Gwenhwyfar: "WAKE UP!!"

    "She's unconscious, not hysterical. You only slap a broad when she's hysterical. Calms them down."

    Subaru: "Or pisses them off more! You slap me, bozo, and you'll get an axe to your ankles! Or you would if I still had one. ******* blonde bimbo, stealing my axe..."

    Gwenhwyfar slaps Newb even harder.

    Gwenhwyfar: "WAKE UP!!!!"

    Losien: "I don't th--"

    Losien jumps forward and grabs Gwenhayfar's hand before she can smack Newb for a fourth time.

    Losien: "That's really not working, Gwen."

    Gwenhwyfar concedes and gets back to her feet, slipping her gauntlet back onto her bare hand.

    Gwenhwyfar: "I fear this is no ordinary sleep..."

    Al Ciao: "You mean magic!?"

    Sketch kneels down beside Newb and cradles her head.

    "Or it's conditioning..."

    A memory surfaces in Losien's brain.

    "I think I remember TLTE telling me how the KGB would condition their agents to forget everything should they be compromised. Obviously it wouldn't work on all agents, just those susceptible. Maybe someone did something similar to Newb?"

    Tracer: "You're saying she's a Ruski?"

    Losien rolls her eyes.

    Losien: "Not necessarily. Who knows who else conditions people. Could even be our own government. CIA? FBI? NBA?"

    Evil G: "Did you just compare the NBA to the CIA and FBI?"

    "You do know most of us aren't American, right? How many times have I said that now?"

    Iriana: "What about a kiss of life!?"

    Evil G: "Go ahead, Iriana."

    Al Ciao glowers at Evil G again.

    Sketch: "She has a pulse. She really is just sleeping again."

    Evil G:
    "Look if there's not going to be any hot lesbian kissing can we please just leave? I'm tired and I'm bored of this stupid island. We just walked, like, twenty miles to get here! And now we have this jerk hanging around."

    The Doctor looks offended.

    The Doctor: "Pot calling the kettle black, much?"

    "Is there anything we can do, Doctor?"

    He shrugs.

    The Doctor: "Well I tried to help her regain her memories. It could be working. That's why she's like this."

    Evil G: "So we can just leave her here and we can get a move on."

    Losien: "We're not leaving her behind."

    Evil G: "Why, oh, why do we have to drag around this girl we barely know?"

    Gwenhwyfar leans down and hoists Newb up in her arms. Sketch watches the motion with some concern clearly visible on his face. Gwenhwyfar looks around at their surroundings and takes in the mountainous terrain. She spots an even patch and moves towards it. She then whistles.

    There's a loud braying on the wind and they look up to see the pegasus cataphract come racing on the sky towards them. It's massive black-feathered wings beat upon the air and its hooves gallop in a descent. It lands and clops along several paces as it comes to a slow. Gwenhwyfar lifts Newb up and tosses her, roughly, upon the saddle. The pegasus tilts its armoured head, as though curious about its unusual passenger. The sunlight glints off of the silver-white armour as the steed starts to slowly walk after Gwenhwyfar. Losien smirks triumphantly and turns her eyes upon her wayward alternate-dimension brother.

    Losien: "Got anything to say now?"

    Evil G: "Yes."

    He turns to her matter-of-factly.

    Evil G:
    "I really want a chilli dog right about now. You know when you just get that craving--?"

    Losien: "I'm going to push you down this mountain..."


    Polly: "The Eye of Horus, what a lovely piece!"

    She and Frank Smith are wandering through a long museum that Darth Vice has set up within his skull-castle. Polly, being an 'archaeologist', is in her element. She puts the amulet down and picks up the gun next to it.

    "Oh wow! A genuine Martian KA-74! Very rare these days. Most Martian weapons were destroyed after the humans conquered the planet."

    While all of this is history to Polly, to Frank all of this could be the present reality in the press of a few buttons on his time-travelling device. He idly looks at a few unusual pieces that he is certain are extraterrestrial but otherwise he has little interest. The concept of worth due to age had been beaten out of him during training and he remembers how a few cadets always had that gleam of profiteering in their eyes. They were quickly weeded out.

    CynthAI Mark XIV pipes up with her synthesised voice.

    "Agent Smith there are many objects in this room that break several laws of time."

    Frank Smith: "I had noticed one or two, CynthAI. We'll call it in once we've found the man in charge."

    CynthAI: "Might I advise you collect a sample, Agent Smith? The quasar blaster from the Ninnian Collective looks quite destructive-- I mean suspect..."

    Frank Smith: "I'm not going to start blowing up the place, CynthAI..."

    CynthAI: "What about that laser pen from Apple? You could blind a few people with that."

    Frank Smith: "Does that violate any time laws?"

    CynthAI: "Didn't you know, Agent Smith? Apple have been stealing their ideas from the future for many years. Ever since the iPod."

    Frank Smith: "Now that's one case I'd like to be on!"

    CynthAI: "Job's taken, Agent Smith. You get lumbered with the boss' grandmother."

    Polly: "I wouldn't call myself 'lumbered with', wristwatch."

    Frank Smith: "Please don't start a shouting match with my A.I., Ms Simon. She'll not shut up for hours."

    "I do resent being referred to as a mere wristwatch. I am--"

    Frank Smith:
    "I'm taking the quasar gun. Will that make you happy, CynthAI?"

    CynthAI: "Sincerely."

    Frank Smith:
    "What about you, Polly, do you need to take any... thing?"

    He's turned around to see Polly toss a golden headdress into an already overstuffed swag bag. She looks at him, then the bag, and back again.

    Polly: "It's for a museum..."

    Frank Smith: "We're in a museum."

    "A reputable one."

    Frank Smith:
    "One you work for?"

    Polly: "... maaaaaaybe?"


    Evil G: "I guess this must be the entrance?"

    They look up to see a big welcome sign.

    Sketch: "I'd say so. This is what I saw the other day when I was up here at least."

    Evil G:
    "What were you doing up here anyway?"

    "Uh... looking for... something to paint. See that view? It's great, right?"

    Turning away from the entrance they can see a grand vista of the island and the ocean quietly marking the horizon.

    "Sounds legit. So, Doctor, will you come with us?"

    The Doctor: "Actually I think I'm already late for an important date."

    Subaru: "Don't you travel through time?"

    The Doctor: "Yes! And yet I'm still always late. Funny that."

    Iriana: "Oh, how I'd love to journey with you Doctor! To travel across the stars! I always wanted my father to take me with him to see the galaxy but he never did."

    Al Ciao: "But--"

    Iriana: "He had more important things to do than to spend time with his own daughter."

    Al Ciao: "But--"

    Iriana: "I had nothing but a single, solitary island for all my young life while he got to explore multiple worlds and civilisations."

    Al Ciao:

    Evil G: "Someone has an axe to grind."

    Miss Fire slaps Al Ciao on the back and looks seriously into his face.

    Miss Fire:
    "Frankly I think you deserve all the guilt she's eager to lay on you."

    Al Ciao nods meekly.

    The Doctor: "Sorry, I'm travelling alone these days. I'm doing my moody phase because I lost a companion."

    Iriana: "Pity. Thank you anyway, Doctor."

    The Doctor turns on his heel and marches off. The wrong way.

    Losien: "Best leave him to it. I'm sure he'll find his way eventually."

    Miss Fire: "In the meantime we go in!"

    She unholsters her pistols and moves in. Losien draws Fred, draws a breath, and enters after the taller woman. Into the den of vice.


    Somewhere above Darth Vice clasps his hands at the small of his back and watches the NeS Heroes enter his domain at last.

    Darth Vice: "And so the final showdown begins. You may tell your associate that he can make his call now."

    Taxman: "It will be done."

    The automaton turns and skulks out of the room.

    Darth Vice:
    "He will return for your friend arrive. The Taxman is crucial to my plan for them."

    Amal: "I don't think I can be a part of it..."

    Darth Vice:
    "You will be. You have no choice now. Fate has bound this meeting."

    TLTE: "I will leave before they arrive..."

    Amal: "You're leaving again?"

    Despite his condemnation of TLTE, there's still the tone of sorrow in Amal's voice. He didn't call him uncle. He won't. Not this time.

    TLTE: "Da... I have work to do. I am thinking we will be meeting again, Amal..."

    Darth Vice: "Condemning me to a loss already, Communist?"

    TLTE: "I have faith in Amal."

    Amal: "I thought you wanted me to work with Darth Vice?"

    Darth Vice: "Ha! That is the way of the Reds. Socialism. Pah! This is Capitalism, boy. In this domain you excel as an individual or you are trampled by your betters..."


    A great action sequence later, which has been cut due to budget constraints, the NeS Heroes have met up with Polly Simon and Frank Smith and arrive at the final hurdle to Darth Vice's Inner Sanctum.

    CynthAI: "Do we get to use the big gun now, Agent Smith?"

    Frank Smith: "Indeed we do!"

    Evil G: "Perfect opportunity for a big dick joke and you miss it. I'm ashamed of you, Smith."

    Frank Smith: "I'm satisfied in the length and girth of my tackle, I don't need to make jokes about it."

    Subaru: "Ha! Burned, G! Totally burned."

    Evil G scowls.

    Evil G: "Just blow the door already."

    Frank Smith: "Never on the first date, dear."

    Evil G reels in horror while Subaru roars in laughter.

    Frank Smith pulls the trigger on the alien weapon and it fires a stream of super-heated yellow plasma that melts the door. And the walls. And the floor. They shuffle towards the edge of the hole Frank has just made and peer over. Down below they see the plasma has gone through the next few floors as well.

    Frank Smith: "Oops?"

    CynthAI: "That was most exhilarating, Agent Smith."

    Miss Fire: "I'd say so! It ain't been a complete day without at least one door being blown open or melted down! Let's get in there and blow this guy away!"

    Frank Smith:
    "Don't force me to make two blow-job jokes in one day."

    Miss Fire leaps over the gap and finds herself in the inner sanctum. There is Darth Vice himself, decked out in his suit and well-groomed beard. At a large table in the middle of the room is Amal and at the head of the table is the Taxman.

    Darth Vice: "Was it really necessary to melt the door?"

    Miss Fire: "Got your attention didn't it?"

    Darth Vice: "A knock would have gotten my attention too."

    Miss Fire: "Alright, numbnuts, let Amal go or we use Mr Melty on your face."

    Darth Vice doesn't move.

    Miss Fire: "Or how about your favourite car. You CEO types love your cars, right?"

    Losien appears at Miss Fire's side but starts flailing as she stumbles back. Miss Fire, without taking her eyes and gun off of Darth Vice, snaps her right hand out to snag Losien by her cape's toggle.

    Carlotta the Cape: "Oh my! I'm not used to being so roughly handled by a woman! I think I rather like it!"

    Fred teh Uber Blade: "Now we're talking!"

    Losien: "Pull me up, Miss Fire!"

    Fred teh Uber Blade: "Oooh! I like where this could be going!"

    Miss Fire yanks, again without otherwise moving, Losien into the room.

    Miss Fire: "You're lucky I train my right hand as well as my left or you'd have been a pancake down there, Losien."

    Fred teh Uber Blade: "Wonder what kind of training she does..."

    Losien: "Thank you, Miss Fire. Pancake is not a state I think I'd enjoy much..."

    Gwenhwyfar comes next. She falls heavily into a crouch, her armour clanking as she does so. She looks up from her position and sees Darth Vice. She doesn't wait for permission to move, she lifts her glaive and stomps towards him.

    Darth Vice: "Violence from you, is it? You might be a Potential, Gwenhwyfar, but--"

    Gwenhwyfar is suddenly stopped in her tracks and sparks strike her. As she becomes more determined through the onslaught, more sparks rage around her.

    Darth Vice: "The more aggressive you become, the harsher the pain will be, Gwenhwyfar..."

    Gwenhwyfar tries to push through again but is forced to her knees by the overwhelming agony.

    Amal: "Stop! Stop hurting her! Please!"

    Darth Vice: "I'm not. She's hurting herself."

    Losien rushes to Gwenhwyfar.

    Losien: "Gwen. You have to calm down. Stop."

    "Won't... let... him... win..."

    Losien: "He won't. But I don't want to win without you standing with me. Calm down... come on... relax..."

    As she does so the sparks dissipate and Gwenhwyfar is allowed to move. At first she seems gravely injured but it doesn't last long before she shrugs it off. The others have all entered the room now, including the pegasus who manages to take up a lot of space with his wings even when they're folded.

    Darth Vice: "Quite a motley crew you all make. Losien. Your seat."

    He gestures towards one of the seat opposite Amal.

    Miss Fire:
    "What kind of trick is he trying to pull?"

    Darth Vice: "No trick. This is the ultimate capitalist showdown. We will do battle with our monetary wits."

    Losien approaches the table hesitantly.

    Amal: "Sorry about all this, Losien."

    Losien sits down.

    Darth Vice:
    "And we will need a fourth."

    "There's already four of us."

    Darth Vice: "The Taxman will not be operating on the table. I believe my secret agent, The Dagger, shall join our table."

    Evil G: "GAH! I bloody knew it!"

    Dagger looks sullenly at the NeS Heroes, then the unconscious Newb and then his employer. He becomes confident and self-assured in an instant and marches across the room.

    Al Ciao:
    "You traitor!"

    Dagger sits at the table and, finally, Darth Vice joins them.

    Darth Vice:
    "Taxman shall act as banker for the duration. Everyone... pick your piece."

    Losien: "Piece?"

    The table, in true supervillain fashion, rotates at the centre and reveals a large, square board. Darth Vice places pieces at the centre of the board for the players to choose.

    Darth Vice: "Thimble, top hat, battleship, shoe, dog, racecar, wheelbarrow or cat?"

    "There's no cat in Monopoly!"

    Darth Vice:
    "It's the newest added token of the game, replacing the iron. Don't you keep up with your Monopoly news, Dagger?"

    Miss Fire: "You're actually going to just play a board game...?"

    Frank Smith: "To be fair, I remember family wars erupting over games of Monopoly..."

    Dagger snatches up the battleship. Amal hesitantly takes the cat and Losien, eventually, takes the wheelbarrow.

    Darth Vice: "Interesting choices. I believe a Monopoly pieces tells much of a person."

    He picks up the top hat.

    Darth Vice: "Are you all prepared to be defeated?"


    Far from the riveting action on Isle de Morte the Hall of Heroes is a scene of family bliss. If that family had a shattered portal, ghosts and live weaponry all contained within the same room as babies...

    Rachel: "I was tempted to draw a moustache on your baby but decided against it in the end..."

    Lady Lightside: "Am I supposed to say thank you?"

    Rachel isn't wearing her usual Chinese, slinky dress and is, instead, wearing loose clothes that are decidedly more comfortable around the stomach. She's not very pregnant yet, barely showing at all, but she isn't keen on restricting her belly in any way. Her clothes are actually Gebohq's as so they're much too large for her. Sweatpants, blue shirt and a pair of blue converse trainers she's borrowed from Subaru's stuff.

    MZZT: "And I didn't appreciate you signing me up to every porn hub you could find in an hour...."

    "You love adding spam to your junk mail list, admit it."

    Lady Lightside: "I don't think Chance should be allowed to play with Lior anymore..."

    "What? Why?"

    Lady Lightside: "I saw him strangling a doll and staring at Lior... like he hoped it was a voodoo doll or something."

    Young: "No no! He's fiiiiiiiiine~!"

    Ghost #1: "Yeah! Sure he's fine! He's just a little possessed! That's all!"

    Lady Lightside: "Your sarcasm isn't lost on me."

    Ghost #1:
    "Good because that kid creeps me the hell out!"

    Rachel: "What bothers me is when they both start screaming for milk in the middle of the god damn night."

    "You'll have to face that for yourself soon, Rachel."

    Emperor Pi then sweeps into the room with a tray of small china cups and a teapot.

    Emperor Pi:
    "I sense tea is required."

    Everyone eagerly gets to their feet. Even the two babies look keen.

    Emperor Pi:
    "I have chamomile tea here. It'll soothe your nerves."

    Rachel: "Thank you daddy-- I mean, honourable father."

    Emperor Pi: "By the way, you have a guest. He was at the door so I let him in."


    Rachel: "Shout at my father again, MZZT, and I'll do a lot more than sign you up to porn sites!"

    A figure enters the room. He's another automaton, much like The Taxman, his face projected before his mannequin head. On that head is a trilby and the bulky body is wearing a sheepskin coat.

    The Debtcollector: "Pi Xue Jing. You have a debt to pay and I am here to collect."

  4. #1964
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Darth Vice is not the type to crow in triumph. Instead a sly smirk of satisfaction crooks his mouth as his top hat lands on the Boardwalk, and he doles out the money to the Taxman to purchase it. Everyone groans as he takes the deed and adds it to his side of the table.

    Losien: How much do you want for that property, Vice?

    Darth Vice: I will let you have it for free, my dear - so long as henceforth you never charge me rent for any of your properties that I might land on.

    Losien scowls.

    Darth Vice: That's what I thought.

    Al Ciao: Wait, I know how to convince him to part with that deed. Go go Gadget slick sales pitch!

    A TV monitor pops out of his chest, to display a slick salesman standing in front of a gorgeous beachside condo.

    Salesman on TV: Hello there! I'm L. Ways Cheatham, and I'm here to tell you about this great oceanfront property in Switzerland for sale, which you can get for the low, low price of 100 grand!

    Vice doesn't even bother to comment, as the other heroes groan. Iriana pulls the cell phone out of her father's hand before he can call to purchase the faux property. Then Vice's own cell phone rings, and the Dark Aeon clone takes it out to answer.

    Darth Vice: That was fast work, Debtcollector. I expected her to put up more resistance than-- Oh? She said-- Well, yes, that was technically a term of our agreement, but-- I see. Psychological damage. Hmmm, she has a point. I disagree, but a court of law would not. I suppose that means "your first born child" is also out? Yes.

    Mystified, the heroes watch as Vice rattles off a number of items, all of which seem to be rejected one at a time. Each item is less and less grandiose.

    Darth Vice: Ugh! This is impossible. What if she vacuums my castle for a week? WHAT? You can't claim THAT would cause psychological damage to your fiancé-- Fine. Put her on the phone please.

    He then turns away and cover his mouth, speaking quietly and quickly into the phone. The heroes strain to overhear without LOOKING like they're trying to overhear, and are unsuccessful in both hearing and appearing that they're not try to eavesdrop. Finally, Vice turns back to them and hangs up, seeming satisfied.

    Darth Vice: Now then, where were we?


    At the Hall of Heroes in Big Ben, Rachel hands the Debtcollector's cell phone back to the automaton, then produces a small box the size of a pack of a cards to hand to the Debtcollector.

    Rachel: There you go.

    The Debtcollector marches out. The other heroes stare incredulously at her. Even Chance and Lior seem interested, having stopped crying to watch.

    MZZT: Well, that was bloody brilliant. Refusing every favor Vice asked for on the grounds that it would hurt Geb psychologically. What did you finally give him?

    Rachel: A pair of weighted dice.

    Lady Lightside: You have one of those?

    Rachel: Well, I am the incarnation of April Fools. I also have whoopee cushions. Speaking of which, don't sit there--

    A loud fart noise accompanies Lady Lightside's sitting on a chair, and everyone laughs. Lady Lightside looks disapproving for a moment, then manages a chuckle.

    MZZT: I wonder what he wants a pair of weighted dice for?

    Rachel shrugs.

    Rachel: No idea, but there's nothing too bad he could do with that. Maybe swindle some poor sap in gambling?


    Shortly, the Debtcollector walks into the Monopoly room and hands Vice the small box.

    Darth Vice: Thank you, Debtcollector. And you, Taxman, for enforcing that which I am owed.

    Taxman: Gratitude is not required. It is our function.

    The Debtcollector walks off.

    Amal: What's in there?

    Darth Vice: That would be telling. Now then, I believe it's my turn again?

    He slips the box into his coat pocket, and picks up the dice from the board, rolling them. A pair of doubles pops up - he gets to move again! After collecting $200, he rolls again, and gets another pair of doubles, which lands him Chance card which costs him all of that newly earned dosh, and then some. A third rolls sends him to jail. He groans.

    Losien: That's more like it!

    She snatches up the dice to take her turn. She lands on a Chance space, and draws a card that lets you advance all the way around the board past GO, collecting $200, to land on a railroad, which she gleefully buys.

    Taxman: Hold a moment.

    Losien: What? Give me my deed! You're supposed to be neutral, not Vice's stooge.

    Taxman: I am neutral. And I detect that your dice are weighted.

    Losien: What? These are the dice I was handed.

    Taxman: No, these are a new set of dice. They are weighted. They were not weighted before. Therefore you have clearly switched them out for your own gain.

    The NeS heroes bristle, ready for a fight, but Vice's finger hovers over his mysterious restraint field button, warning them off.

    Losien: But I didn't--

    Taxman: Therefore you are disqualified from the game.

    Losien: Vice! This is your doing, somehow! You won't get away with this!

    Vice hides his smile. He has the original dice in his coat pocket now, which he had used for his own rolls, and had subtly put the weighted dice on the board for Losien to roll and implicate herself.

  5. #1965

    The Death of Arkng Thand

    Within the Oval Office of the White House, Arkng Thand waits alone. Nobody disturbs him at this hour of the night, and so he draws his pipe. He flicks a match alight, and lights the pipe, its dim embers exaggerating the lines of age on his face. Colbalt smoke rises from his pipe, ever-so-slightly disturbing the stillness of the room. He pulls an ornate pocketwatch from his immaculate three-piece suit, its hand approaching completion of its final 'hour' -- page 50. He exhales the smoke, his eyes closed in contentment for a brief moment before snapping the pocketwatch shut.

    Arkng Thand: "What do you want now?"

    WIth no doors having opened and no apparent magicks having been cast, The Negotiator stands now before Arkng Thand.

    The Negotiator: "To collect on your end of the deal."

    Arkng Thand: "You've yet to complete your own end."

    The Negotiator: "Do you truly wish for all of humanity to fall mindless? For not even a single, heroic soul to defeat this plot so that your kind might rise once more?"

    Arkng Thand: "Do you truly wish for my life in exchange?"

    A sly smile spreads on the Negotiator's face.

    The Negotiator: "I wish only to complete my contracts. Have I upheld my side to your satisfaction?"

    Thand draws in a breath from his pipe, then extinguishes it before setting it down.

    Arkng Thand: "Yes. You must forgive me if I cannot ask the same for your benefit."

    The Negotiator: "Your faith in my word is all I need."

    Arkng Thand: "Make it quick."

    The Negotiator: "Rather snippy, are we? Though I should expect as much. Normally, this is when I'd escort you elsewhere, for someone else to do the job, but I must confess that, in this instance, I'd prefer to seal the deal myself..."

    From apparent thin air, the Negotiator draws an ancient Chinese blade from his side.

    The Negotiator: "I have to say, you accepted all this much easier than I expected."

    Arkng Thand: "As our King's hand falls, I answer its calls."

    The Negotiator: "Noble, if overly-poetic, and I suspect there's a more personal reason."

    The old man, showing his age more apparent than ever, holds to the side of a chair, as if life's burden bore too heavy.

    Arkng Thand: "My wife... would want me to do this. To let the story pass on."

    The Negotiator: "Yes, I imagine she would."

    Raising the blade level with Arkng Thand's neck, The Negotiator smiles a strangely warm smile.

    The Negotiator: "Any final words?"

    Arkng Thand: "Thank you."


    Arkng Thand falls to the floor, his head rolling off to the side, and blood collecting in the carpet. The Negotiator sheathes the blade back into thin air.


    Somewhere, in an undisclosed location in South America's Patagonia region, a location that is on the exact opposite end of the planet from the Siberian site, a device sits, spinning. This device consist of twenty strange solids the shape and size of books, ten white and ten black, placed in an alternating pattern on a circular, mechanical track with a diameter of approximately twelve meters. The device does not look crude, but nor does it look complicated. A dense, spiraling tapestry of mystical dark and light weaves into itself as the device spins.

    A blinding flash both bright and dark eminates.

    The book-like objects fall and disintegrate.

    The device sits still and empty.


    The next morning, news outlets around the world would normally be breaking word that the President of the United States had been assassinated, and that the Vice President would be sworn into office. However, the vast majority of Americans only stare at their phones, long ago enthralled by Thand's plan, and the majority of the world sleeps, their minds equally shut out from influence. The few on Earth awake and aware now begin to face a much more pressing matter, and even Heaven and Hell prepare for the Second Ragnarok, paying little attention to the new souls pouring into their domains. For the Plot draws to a close as The Last True Evil moves to break the final seal and unleash The End...

  6. #1966
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Retreat from Isle de Morte

    Dagger: "BINGO!"

    Darth Vice fumes.

    Darth Vice: "You don't shout bingo when you win at monopoly..."

    Dagger: "But I did win, right?"

    Darth Vice gives a prolonged sigh and removes his blazer, as though finally getting down to business. His blue-striped shirt is marked by two red braces while a fancy Parker pen sits in his breast pocket. He purses his lips for a moment then nods slowly. Only Dagger cheers.

    Darth Vice:
    "I may have lost the battle but my side has won the war. Well done, Dagger."

    Amal: "I'm kind of glad I didn't win, actually. I don't know what I'd become if I had..."

    Darth Vice:
    "A better man, I assure you."

    Amal just looks to his friends sheepishly.

    Amal: "You came to rescue me, right?"

    Evil G:
    "Pffft! We came to kick his butt!"

    Losien: "Of course we came to rescue you, Amal."

    Darth Vice whips out his Parker pen and a cheque book.

    Darth Vice: "I suppose you'll be wanting your reward, Dagger? Your freedom from prison and... how much money? How many zeroes did we agree on?"

    Though Vice is putting on a high lilt to his voice Dagger knows he's entirely disingenuous. He glances over to the NeS Heroes who are glaring at him. He can sense what the outcome of this is going to be. He may have won the battle but he's certainly lost the war to Vice. Vice won the match with Dagger's victory but Dagger himself is about to be sacrificed to an angry mob.

    Dagger, however, smirks.

    Dagger: "Actually, I don't want either."

    Darth Vice falters and frowns.

    Darth Vice: "What?"

    "I don't want either freedom or money. I want something else."

    Vice purses his lips again and scrutinises his spy. He then forces out his next sentence;

    Darth Vice: "And what do you want?"

    Dagger: "I want the NeS Heroes to go free."

    Vice snorts.

    Darth Vice: "You must be joking? What is this martyrdom? You've obviously spent too long around them."

    Dagger: "That's my reward."

    The heroes glance at each other, some feeling guilty that Dagger will be imprisoned for their freedom. Others feel a sense of respect for his honourable sacrifice. Others... well, specifically Evil G, couldn't care less.

    Darth Vice sighs again and shrugs.

    Darth Vice: "Then I shall enjoy watching you rot in prison, Dagger."

    He looks up at the heroes.

    Darth Vice:
    "You are free to leave my island whenever you please."

    Losien: "Where's TLTE?"

    The capitalist smiles.

    Darth Vice: "He has gone. Long, long ago. And you have spent all this time indulging me... what a shame."

    Tracer: "Where? Where did he go!?"

    Darth Vice starts packing away the monopoly game. The Taxman is sorting out the paper notes.

    Darth Vice:
    "You think he would tell me? We may have allied against you but we are not sharing our dreams, hopes and desires just yet."

    Subaru: "So we're back to square one. Damn it."

    Miss Fire: "What do we do with Vice?"

    Darth Vice looks up briefly from packing the game away.

    Darth Vice: "What does that mean?"

    Miss Fire:
    "Some stupid board game doesn't mean we'll just let you go!"

    Losien: "We should have him put in prison!"

    Vice puts down the cards he was holding and leans back in his executive chair, his fingers steepled.

    Darth Vice:
    "On what crime would you have me lawfully imprisoned?"

    The heroes glance at each other, then the ceiling or the walls as they try to come up with something.

    Subaru: "How about being an evil S.O.B.!?"

    Darth Vice:
    "That's not a crime."

    "It should be!"

    Darth Vice: "Wearing red and yellow socks should also be a crime. But it isn't."

    Frank nods.

    Frank Smith:
    "I have to agree with him. That's a fashion nightmare."

    Evil G: "Stop being a gay stereotype and help us come up with a crime to arrest the lout! Isn't there some time laws he's broken?"

    Frank Smith: "No, sorry."

    Al Ciao: "You know, come to think about it, we don't arrest many villains, do we? Why is that?"

    Losien: "Because they always escape. But not this time! You will be punished, Darth Vice!"

    Evil G cracks his knuckles.

    Evil G: "Time for some vigilante justice, methinks!"

    Tracer: "You can't. Remember that device he has? It'll stop you from harming him."

    Losien: "No harming him. We're going to arrest him. We know the best lawyer in the world, remember? Krig can find some way of getting Vice convicted!"

    The NeS Heroes shrug in appreciative agreement at that realisation. Darth Vice looks a little nervous. He stands up, his chair scrapes noisily against the marble floor.

    Darth Vice:
    "As much fun as it would be sitting in a courtroom with your bearded midget friend, I have an escape to make."

    "See!? They always escape!"

    Miss Fire:
    "He hasn't escaped yet!"

    Darth Vice: "Dagger, expect the police to come calling soon..."

    Dagger grins and puts his feet up on the desk, hands behind his head.

    Dagger: "I don't think so. I'm a free man!"

    Darth Vice: "You are not a free m-- oh. I see. Well played, Dagger. Well played."

    Losien: "Uh... I don't see?"

    Dagger: "I'm a NeS Hero, remember!? You guys accepted me straight away! So he said the NeS Heroes are free! Includes me!"

    Evil G:
    "Can we revoke his membership?"

    Darth Vice: "I have no time for this."

    "No time? Do you have a plane to catch?"

    Darth Vice: "A helicopter, actually. But I'm pressed for time because the island is going to blow up in approximately twenty minutes. Adieu!"

    He turns and walks swiftly from the room. The heroes make to give chase but salesmen suddenly dive in their path, led by The Taxman.

    Losien: "Bugger to this. Run away!"

    They all turn and run.

    Except Gwenhwyfar, who mounts her cataphract pegasus and charges straight at the salesmen, Newb still sleeping in her lap. The pegasus bashes through them and out the other side. Then she crashes out of a huge, circular window (one that several posts again a former Hero Force group had crashed through). She sails out of the skull-mountain while the other heroes wrestle their way out, half falling down the long staircase.

    The skull mountain itself starts to tremble and crumble.

    Evil G:
    "What!? Why!!?"

    Dramatic action sequence?

    Rocks rain down upon them.

    Losien: "Out the window!"

    She dives at the window and crashes through it. Fortunately they're near to the bottom of the mountain else they'd have one very dead leader on their hands.

    Losien: "I knew that. You think I jump out of windows as a habit, Narrator?"

    I believe the term is defenestration.

    Losien: "Stupid."

    "What's happening!?"

    Losien: "Who-?"

    Losien turns to see the mermaid they had rescued earlier. Tracer comes charging up behind Losien and skids to an embarrassed halt when he sees the beautiful mermaid lying on the riverbank.

    Mermaid: "It's me! Haukea!"

    Losien: "Actually, I don't think you told us your name last time..."

    "Beautiful... I mean-- what a beautiful name!"

    Evil G: "Screw the mermaid!"

    Tracer: "WHAT!?"

    Evil G:
    "I didn't mean like that! For once. I mean we have to go! Before the island blows up!"

    "The island is going to blow up!? Oh no! Quickly, follow me! This river will take you to the ocean where the boats are docked!"

    She slips into the river and starts swimming away. The heroes rush after her, following along the riverbank. They trip and stumble over brambles and roots as they go.

    Frank Smith: "I think I'll jump ahead in time and check if you all survive, eh?"

    Polly: "You are not going to leave the rest of us to die. If we die, you die with us!"

    Frank Smith: "Such a romantic sentiment..."

    Polly: "Yes, well-- WATCH OUT FOR THAT OBVIOUS TRAPDOO--! Too late."

    Polly's keen tomb raiding sense may have spotted the trapdoor but poor old Iriana didn't. With a squeal she topples down into a hole, dragging Tracer and Miss Fire with her. Al Ciao runs to the edge in panic.


    Subaru: "Oh, so now you care about her? Shame you didn't care about her when she was a little kid!"

    Tracer: "Is this the time for that, again?"

    They then hear her faint voice come up to them.

    "It's awfully dirty down here..."

    Al Ciao: "SHE'S ALIVE!"

    Losien: "They're alive..."

    Al Ciao: "Uh, yeah. Them too. I'll go down and get them!"

    Subaru: "Knowing you, you'll wind up blowing yourself up instead of rescuing them, Al."

    Tracer: "We're fine! We're in the tunnels! I think these are the same tunnels we took to get here! I should be able to lead the dames out of here!"

    Losien: "Okay! Good luck!"

    Al Ciao looks conflicted.

    Al Ciao: "I'm trusting you with my daughter, Tracer! Don't let anything happen to her!"

    But they've already gone.

    Losien: "We need to get down the river faster, then we can backtrack up the tunnel to find them."

    Al Ciao: "How about this! GO GO GADGET RUBBER DINGHY!"

    From his back inflates a big, yellow, rubber dinghy. Everyone is actually pretty shocked that worked.

    Then there's the tell-tale deflating sound as the dinghy farts itself to death.

    Subaru: "Of course. Al Ciao and success is an oxymoron."

    Al Ciao:
    "Did you just call me a moron!?"

    Subaru: "No. But now I will. You're a moron."


    His hand falls off and a puncture repair kit slips out. While Frank and Losien start trying to patch up the inexplicable holes, Al Ciao impairs their attempts by constantly trying to reattach his hand and dropping it. Eventually the Three Stooges hijinx are over and they have an inflated boat to sail after Haukea. Al Ciao finds himself plunged into the water, being attached to the bottom of the dinghy.

    Al Ciao: "Who invented this!?"


    Mecha Lou: "I feel my ears burning..."


    Al Ciao starts paddling underwater - after go-go-gadgeting himself an oxygen tank - and watches the fishy tail of Haukea wiggling away from him. In the boat the other heroes actually have the audacity to relax.

    Frank Smith: "A small miracle we all fit in this thing, actually."

    Polly: "How long was that countdown?"

    Losien: "Twenty minutes. I think we have fifteen left."

    Subaru: "Wow. Things have gone surprisingly well then! Fifteen minutes is loads of time!"

    Dagger: "On a scale of one-to-ten on how jinxed we are, what do you think we scale?"

    Subaru: "Crap--"

    There's the sound of violent whirring from above. They look up to see Vice's helicopter come screaming down through the tree, its rotor carving them up, until it plunges straight into the river - right ontop of Haukea!!


    Evil G: "Oh no, that person we hardly knew..."

    The helicopter bubbles and groans as it sinks into the river, its propeller slapping lazily round and round in the water. Then the blonde head of the pretty mermaid peeps up from the side of the dinghy.

    Losien: "Oh wow. I absolutely thought you were dead. You know who's writing this post!?"

    Her large eyes blink with lack of comprehension but she speaks anyway;

    "Al Ciao, your robot friend, he pulled me under your boat just in time! Such a heroic man."

    Evil G: "I'd call him many things but that isn't one of them."

    Subaru: "He probably just wants to get laid."

    Losien: "Even Al Ciao wouldn't stoop so low at a time like this!"

    Under the water Al Ciao nervously chooses to side with Losien... no one will ever know otherwise!

    Evil G: "Unless they hear the Narrator."

    Al Ciao: "Fuq - blub!"

    Haukea drags up something from the water.

    "I also found your other friend."



    In the tunnels the three separated heroes and stumbling and crashing into everything thanks to the complete and utter darkness.

    Iriana: "Perhaps we should have waited for father, Tracer?"

    Tracer: "Toots, I'll save your skinny legs. Trust me. Trust me like you'd trust the stocking you wore on your wedding night--"

    Iriana: "Wh-what? Wedding n--??"

    Tracer: "Trust me like the warm embrace of your most secret of lovers--"

    Iriana: "I-- I don't have--"

    Tracer: "Trust me like--"

    Miss Fire: "Trust me when I say Imma punch you in your stupid face if you carry on."

    She starts fumbling with her utility belt until she grasps something long and hard.

    Miss Fire:
    "Narrator, you're next on my hit list of annoying *******."

    Her torch flickers on, firing a beam of bright, white light down the tunnel. She slides it from one side to the other, seeing nothing but rock. She swings it back.

    Skull Man:

    The three of them scream in terror.

    Skull Man: "OOPS. MY BAD."

    "I think I peed myself..."


    Tracer: "Can you lead us to the ocean?"


    Tracer: "See? Always trust a man to get you out of a bind, dolls."

    Miss Fire: "Is he a man? I can't tell looking at his bones..."

    Tracer: "I meant... Tsk. Ungrateful dames. Dime a dozen."

    They stalk after Skull Man, who starts waffling on;


    Iriana, Tracer & Miss Fire: "No."

    Skull Man:

    Iriana: "Well, I am glad that you're okay, Mr Skull... Mr Man... uh..."


    Iriana suddenly stops still with panicked eyes.

    Iriana: "WAIT!"

    They stop and turn to stare at her.

    Iriana: "If the island explodes then... what'll happen to Mr Skull!?"

    The two adults look at each other with knowing, pitying expressions.

    Skull Man:

    Iriana holds his bony hands and tears well up in her eyes.

    "How can we get you off of the island!? It's still daylight!"


    "Nooooo--! We have to be able to save you! Miss Fire!?"

    Miss Fire shrugs and shakes her head solemnly.

    Iriana: "Tracer...?"

    Tracer can't look at her teary face. He stares at the ground. Iriana glares at them both, appalled that two of her own personal heroes have given up on saving the life (or existence anyway, the life was lost long, long ago) of their friend. Of anyone for that matter.

    "Fine! I'll find a way to save you, Mr Skull!"

    Skull Man:

    She grasps his hand and tugs him down the tunnel.

    "We'll find a way!"


    At the end of the river the other heroes have finally reached the ocean. The mermaid points enthusiastically towards a dilapidated fishing trawler.

    "My husband's boat!"

    "I was wondering where he'd gotten to."

    They can see many people fleeing the island, what with it shaking violently and the mountain crumbling, tourists and salesmen alike. They see the Taxman scuttle aboard an especially fine looking yacht.

    Darth Vice:
    "You'll never have me in jail, you know?"

    Losien gives him a smack.

    Losien: "You have no device to save you from a good hiding, now, Vice. So I suggest you shut your trap."

    Darth Vice: "You have developed a lot of confidence haven't you, Losien? I remember--"

    Evil G gives him a smack too.

    Al Ciao continues to doggie-paddle the dinghy to the boat and everyone climbs up the ladders, followed by Al Ciao at last. Al Ciao shakes himself off like a dog, spraying water over everyone else. Darth Vice smacks Al Ciao.

    Al Ciao:

    On the beach lands Gwenhwyfar, her pegasus kicking up clumps of hot sand. When she sees that the heroes are aboard a fishing boat and sails back into the sky to lurk overhead. Darth Vice glares up at her.

    Darth Vice: "Accursed wretch. She owes me one very expensive helicopter."

    "There's the others now!"

    He points and they see Miss Fire appear at the entrance to the tunnel. She has to clamber up some rocks to escape the dark passage and she stops at the top of the pile. She waves to the trawler but then looks back down into the tunnel.

    There's some commotion going on when Miss Fire jumps back down into the tunnel.

    Losien: "What're they doing?"

    Frank Smith: "There's seriously no time for this..."

    Al Ciao climbs onto the side of the trawler, as though being as close to the edge of the boat would somehow get him so much closer to his daughter.

    They see Miss Fire struggling to drag Iriana out of the tunnel.

    The island starts shaking all the worse.

    Amal: "Why won't she come out? What's going on?"

    Losien is about to call up to Gwenhwyfar to go over there when Darth Vice chuckles.

    Darth Vice: "Time's up."

    The island explodes in a ball of fire. Sand, trees, rocks, all scatter off into the sky. The trawler rocks, knocking several of the heroes over to the floor. The island is gone. Tracer, Miss Fire, Iriana... are all gone. Al Ciao runs to the side of the boat and tries to climb over the railings but Evil G and Amal restrain him.

    Al Ciao: "NO! NO!! NOOOO!!!"

    Losien stares. Numbed. Too numb to cry out. Too numb to move. Al Ciao's screaming echoes in her ears so loud, so desperate, that she barely hears the ominous groaning sound behind her...

  7. #1967
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Death of the NeSiverse

    The TARDIS doors swing open and Peter Capaldi bursts out, looking quite angry. He turns as Frank Smith exits the TARDIS after him. He points a finger at him.

    The Doctor:
    "Don't ever do that again."

    Frank Smith: "Sorry. Needed your box."

    The Doctor grumbles and shrugs helplessly.

    The Doctor:
    "Needed my box. Needed my box. It's called a TARDIS."

    Frank Smith: "Which you stole."

    The Doctor raises a finger in protest.

    The Doctor:

    He looks back at the TARDIS and shoves the doors open.

    The Doctor:
    "Come on. Out."

    Miss Fire peeks out.

    Miss Fire:
    "It's... bigger on the inside..."

    The Doctor: "Yes, yes, yes. I know. Out, out, out."

    She exits the TARDIS, followed by Tracer and Iriana Emp. Iriana looks miserable.

    Al Ciao runs over to her and throws his arms around her. She's whisked off of her feet and swung around, splashed by Al's tears.

    Al Ciao:
    "My girl! You're okay!!"

    He lets her down and she taggers sideways from dizziness.

    Iriana: "Daddy. Honestly."

    Al Ciao:
    "I thought you were dead!"

    Iriana: "No... I'm not..."


    Back in time.

    Iriana Emp, Miss Fire, Tracer and Skull Man have reached the end of the tunnel. Light streams in from the sun outside and Skull Man is careful to stand back so as not to vanish into oblivion for the rest of the day and, thus, forever when the island is gone.

    Miss Fire clambers up the rocks to look outside.

    "Iriana, toots, you next."

    "Not yet. I need to think of a way to save Mr Skull!"

    Miss Fire calls down from atop the rocks.

    Miss Fire: "There's no time, Iri. I'm sorry..."

    Iriana: "I'm not leaving!"


    Strangely the skull manages to smile weakly - despite having a permanent skull-grin anyway.

    Iriana: "But-- we're the heroes! We save people! Right!?"

    Miss Fire hops down the rocks.

    Miss Fire:
    "You're right. And right now I'm saving you."

    She grabs Iriana's arm and tries to tug her from the tunnel but she fights to stay with Skull Man. The Skull Man, seeing she isn't going to go of her own volition, starts towards the light. He'll vanish - then she'll leave.

    Iriana: "No! Don't!"

    David: "Seems I'm right on time!"

    Iriana turns to see David, the Georgian ghost that she met a day ago. He floats just above the ground in all his aethereal glory. He wears a soft, sympathetic smile. Iriana glances around her to find that Skull Man, Tracer and Miss Fire are frozen in time.

    "Dave! Are you stuck on the island too? You know it's going to blow up!?"

    David nods sorrowfully.

    "I know. Pity really. It's a lovely island. I'll be... moving on. Actually I came here looking for someone..."

    He glances over Iriana's shoulder towards Skull Man.

    David: "Time for us dead fellows to become... well, dead."

    Iriana: "You mean..."

    David nods and clasps his hands about his stomach.

    David: "So. I'll say goodbye. Thank you for talking with me, Iriana. I'm sure he thanks you too."

    He motions toward Skull Man. Iriana manages to nod meekly.

    David: "Don't be upset, my lady."

    The a slight bang and a fizzle, like something that ought to have been very grandiose but manages to be little more than a poor effort. The bang came from the shadowy wall and a young woman steps out of it. Or rather she stumbles out of it. She wrinkles her nose, as does Iriana.

    Aire: "Ew! That's a nasty stink this brimstone teleporting does! Oh, hello. You must be my three o'clock!"

    David bows dramatically and Iriana isn't sure if this is the genuine bow of ancient aristocracy or if he's exaggerating.

    David: "Indeed, it's me! And the skeleton chap over there."

    Aire looks at the two frozen humans and then Iriana.

    Aire: "Did I walk in on a... moment?"

    "Of sorts, yes. But it's quite alright. I'm ready to go with you."

    Iriana looks from David to the purple-haired girl. She's very short and her hair is very deep purple, long down to her stomach. Her skin is deathly pale--

    "Deathly pale. Honestly..."


    Aire: "Oh, sorry. Yes. I'm here to collect these souls. You may want to take a step back, Miss..."

    She looks at Iriana.

    Aire: "Iriana Emp. Now is not your time. According to this anyway!"

    She hefts up a massive hourglass from her bright white robes and waggles it at Iriana. The princess notices her name stamped on the hourglass.

    Iriana: "Is-is that-- are you--!?"

    Aire: "Yes. And yes. Actually I'm rather new, I have to admit it. I got lost on my way here. Wound up scaring the pants off of as bunch of people in a lift in New Amsterdam. That was embarrassing. For some reason, someone thought it would be oh-so-dramatic for me to teleport round with brimstone. It just causes a stink and I end up stuck in lifts."

    Iriana: "But... shouldn't you be like..."

    She points a dainty finger at Skull Man, trying to not offend either Aire or Skull Man.

    Aire: "Why should I look like that?"

    Iriana shrugs.

    Iriana: "Is that just... what people expect?"

    Aire pouts.

    Aire: "I don't think it matters what I look like! Dead's dead! So anyway! These two have been long, long, long overdue! Ghosts. Honestly. There ought to be a law against such a thing."

    David: "Well I can't help it if I enjoyed living so much!"

    Aire: "Hush you. Okay now."

    She whips out another object, far too large to exist within her robes. This time it's an oversized jar.

    "If I were a Ghostbuster, this'd be my ghost trap!"

    David: "That doesn't sound very nice..."

    Aire wafts her hand dismissively.

    Aire: "Don't worry! It's fine! I'm a professional! Trained and everything!"

    David: "Uh. Death had to be trained?"

    Iriana: "I can't believe Death is so cute..."

    Aire looks at Iriana with mild surprise and Iriana instantly buried her blushing face into her hands.

    Aire: "Well, I'll sort these two ragamuffins out while you get back to your real-time adventures, Iriana."

    "But-- aren't I going to die on this island? Is it too late to get off?"

    Aire: "Nope! You saw your hourglass! Plenty of time left! Toodles!"

    And then she's gone. Along with both Skull Man and David the Georgian. Iriana stares blankly at the wall where Aire had been.

    Miss Fire: "We're too late! We--"

    There's a loud wheezing groan as the TARDIS appears and from its doors emerges Frank Smith.

    Frank Smith: "Quick, quick! He's going to be really pissed."

  8. #1968
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow France

    The fishing trawler trawls across the ocean. It chugs clumsily along, outperforming its own parameters seemingly for the sake of getting the NeS Heroes back to dry land.

    A random plank of wood, which was probably taken from some very important section of the little boat that the heroes' decided not to care about, has been set up on the side of the boat and currently standing upon it is Dagger, formerly known as "Sketch". As few of the heroes are all crowded around the plank and are goading Dagger into hopping to his demise over the edge.

    Evil G:
    "Into the drink you go, you scurvy-dog!"

    Dagger: "Come on, don't do this! You, you used to be a villain too! And you, Gwenhwyfar!"

    Gwenhwyfar: "This isn't about good and evil, Dagger, it's about betrayal. I've never betrayed anyone. But you... you lied and betrayed us."

    Evil: "The lowest depths of hell are reserved for liars and betrayers!"


    In the lowest pit of hell;

    Mr Nine: "Aha! A whole new lowest pit of hell! I'm very impressed with this work! It's exactly what we need for the lowest of the low!"

    Devil's Advocate: "And who are these lowest of the low, Sir? The liars and betrayers again?"

    Mr Nine: "What? No! It's for wielders of spatulas as offensive weapons!"

    The Devil's Advocate blinks a few times as he tries to compute the words he has just heard. He takes a deep breath as he considers his next reply carefully.

    Devil's Advocate:
    "...spatulas, Sir?"

    Mr Nine nods with all of the grim determination of 'a man who has been there'.


    Dagger: "It was only a little lie! A white lie!"

    He makes a tiny gesture with his fingers.

    Subaru: "Someone push him off!"

    Tracer: "You lied to us once, Dagger, how can we possibly trust you again?"

    Dagger: "I helped you in the end, didn't I? Come on, I saved you!"

    Tracer: "And yourself..."

    Dagger: "Sure! Of course! I saved us both!"

    Tracer takes out a cigarette and lights it, flipping out a silver metal lighter with some kind of special engraving on it that would link to some dark, traumatic past of a friendship bitterly ended. Because that's just the kind of sentimental trinket Tracer the P.I. would have. I could be making it up though. He probably just bought it down at the local Wal-Mart.

    "I feel like someone is trying to undermine my integrity..."

    Dagger: "Uh, not me!"

    No, that'd be me. Sorry.

    Tracer: "Dagger may be a no-good dirty rat..."

    He puffs out a long trail of smoke.

    Tracer: "But he is our no-good dirty rat..."

    Evil G: "Aw, c'mon!"

    Gwenhwyfar: "He did save us, I suppose that counts for something..."

    Subaru just groans.

    Subaru: "Fine. I didn't think we'd go through with it anyway."

    Evil G: "You're backing out!? Spineless--"

    Evil G sheathes his sword and sulks as he stalks off to find a deckchair in which he can glare aggressively at the sun.

    Dagger, looking like he is walking on the most solid of land, skips back down the plank and hops onto the deck.

    "Glad you changed your mind. I thought I was going to have to kill you all for a moment there."

    Subaru: "What?"


    On the fore of the boat Iriana is standing with her arms spread and wind blowing in her hair, while Losien watches and Miss Fire licks batteries.

    "Do you... have to do that?"

    Miss Fire: "I need the energy to keep going, remember?"

    "Can you do it less suggestively?"

    Miss Fire: "I wasn't do-- aha, Freudian slip of your mind there, Losien! Seeing what you want to see!?"

    Losien blushes and straightens herself, quick to change the subject.

    "What? No! I, uh-- look! There's Gwenhwyfar's pegasus!"

    Polly: "Losien, my dear, where are we going?"

    Polly saunters over from the rear of the deck where she'd been entertained by the possible murder of Dagger but, seeing he was released, became bored and decided it was time to go and have a chat with the daughter.

    Losien: "We'll be stopping at a port in France, mom. After that, not really sure. We have to get on the trail of TLTE again?"

    Losien frowns at her mother.

    "Don't give me that face."

    Polly: "What face!?"

    Losien: "That smug face."

    Polly: "I don't have a smug face!"


    "I mean, it's not my fault I was proven right about him!"

    Losien: "I knew it! Don't even--!"

    Losien glares at her mother.

    All her life she had done as asked by her mother, never wanting to disappoint, until she met TLTE. He was the one person that gave Losien the strength and determination to want for herself and defy her mother's wish that she find a more 'stable and suitable' man. And, ultimately, her mother being right, all along, shakes Losien's confidence in all of the decisions she has made since meeting him. All of the decisions she has made counter to what he mother wanted.

    She deflates, her defiance instantly deteriorates.

    Losien: "I know..."

    Miss Fire eyes Losien sidelong, obviously unimpressed with her leader's sudden subservience to her mother but doesn't say anything. She just keeps licking her batteries.

    Polly: "Could you stop that, Miss Fire?"

    Miss Fire: "I need the energy."

    "Could you stop licking them so suggestively?"

    Miss Fire: "Your mind's in the gutter, Mrs Simon."

    Polly sudden wears the same colour flush as her daughter had. Amal arrives to save further embarrassment. He wears a concerned a expression, one that also suggests personal failure.

    Amal: "I couldn't wake her up..."

    Losien frowns, hands on her hips.

    Losien: "Newb and sleeping... what is with her?"

    Amal: "A coma like this... I think she needs to be in the hospital, Losien."

    "I suppose you're right. We'll take her there when we arrive in France."

    Amal: "What about Unc-- TLTE?"

    Losien is grateful that Amal is here to share her personal sense of failure and betrayal at the loss of TLTE. She knows taking comfort in someone else's misery isn't very pleasant but shouldering the burden entirely alone would have been impossible. Everyone was friends with the Russian but she and Amal had considered him their family. From family to enemy, he now stands as the greatest threat to the Never-ending Story.

    "We'll start searching once we hit dry land. He can't be that far ahead of us. We can catch up to him once we know where he plans to go nex--"

    Tea suddenly splashes the four of them.

    Losien: "Was Iriana just trying to drink tea in the wind...?"

    Polly: "Evidently..."


    Sometime later;

    "Sometime later? That's not very specific..."

    How should I know how long it takes to get from a made-up island to somewhere south of France?

    Amal: "You don't even know where we are!?"

    The Narrator checks a map on Google.

    Searched for 'French port cities in the south of France'. There. You can be in Cannes.

    Amal: "Okay..."

    Do you feel more informed now? Is it so important what random city you happen to be in?

    "It makes it more immersive!"

    Knowing that I just randomly chose some random city nobody cares about makes you feel a greater level of immersion?

    Amal: "...yes."

    He sulks.

    Evil G:
    "Actually they have the Cannes Film Festival and that's pretty awesome."

    Losien: "And these beaches are gorgeous!"

    Sometime later they've travelled more inland and are in some other random French city... want me to detail this one too!?

    Amal just sulks.

    So after visiting several towns and cities that would, if I named their exact route, bring zero additional immersion into wherever they're going the heroes have realised that the majority of the population appears to have fallen into a deep sleep. Most are in their beds, safe and sound, while others didn't quite make it all the way there and have fallen asleep at their breakfast tables or in the local cafés. Well, let's face it, this is France so a lot of people basically live in their local café anyway, so maybe that is their bed.

    Miss Fire: "This is creepily weird."

    "It's like Sleeping Beauty..."

    Polly: "Except they're not beautiful, they're French."

    "Great. Racist jokes, mother."

    Polly: "It's not racist if they're French! Nobody likes the French."

    Amal: "I like--"

    Polly: "Nobody except imbeciles likes the French."

    Amal sulks.


    Amal: "Why am I being bullied so much in this post?"

    They make a quick trip to the hospital but all the patients are sleeping in their beds and the nurses and doctors are in several patients' beds too.

    Frank Smith:
    "I suppose bringing Newb to the hospital isn't going to help her after all. What could be causing this?"

    "Do we have time for this mystery? TLTE is getting away!"

    Subaru: "Would there be a point to saving the world if everyone just sleeps forever?"

    Dagger: "I think I prefer people this way. Easily to slit their throats..."

    Subaru: "What?"

    Dagger: "Just saying people are easier to deal with when they're asleep. No arguing or fighting."

    Subaru: "I suppose that's true."

    Dagger: "And they can't scream."


    "Nothing. I guess we'll have to take Newb with us then."

    Subaru thinks Dagger looks quietly pleased about this but she decides not to press the matter. If Dagger has fallen for the girl then that's his business.

    Gwenhwyfar: "I think I know who might have some answers..."

    They turn to see Gwenhwyfar standing before a large poster of Empress Nyneve with the slogan 'support the empire and donate blood'. Smaller posters around bear images of the new Foreign Secretary Orochi and Finance Minister Midas. As well as a small mention of the Minister of Tupperware Tony.

    Subaru: "Did we step into a bizarre dystopian future?"

    Al Ciao: "At least we've not been conquered by squirrels."

    Subaru doesn't even bother to look at Al Ciao.

    Al Ciao: "Squirrels are eeeeeeeeeevil..."

    Losien: "I guess we're on our way to Paris then."

    Frank Smith: "Great! I love Paris!"

    Iriana: "Oh! I've wanted to travel to Paris ever since I learnt about the world beyond my island seclusion!"

    Everyone glares at Al Ciao.

    Al Ciao sulks.

    Amal: "Yes, it's not me this time!"

    Subaru: "Worst. Father. Ever."

    Frank Smith swipes his arm around Iriana upon discovering they are kindred spirits.

    Frank Smith: "Iri, my sweet, you will love it!"

    Iriana: "Because of the fashion!?"

    Frank Smith:
    "Yes! But not just the fashion!"

    Iriana: "The cuisine!?"

    Frank Smith:
    "Yes! But not just the cuisine!"

    Iriana: "The art!?"

    Frank Smith: "Yes! But not just the art!"

    Iriana: "The--"

    "He means the gay boys."

    Iriana chokes.

    Frank Smith:
    "And gay girls."

    "Except I guess they'll all be sleeping, just like here."

    Evil G: "Surely that just makes it easier to--"

    Losien slaps Evil G.

    Losien: "Just vile."

    Evil G shrugs with a sly smirk.

    Evil G: "But am I wrong?"

    He gets slapped again.

    Frank Smith: "I was married in Paris, you know?"

    Iriana: "Oh really!? How romantic!"

    Frank Smith: "Actually it was Neo Paris on the planet Mars, four hundred years from now. But still. Same atmosphere. Sort of. They terraformed the planet and pumped a load of happy-inducing drugs into the atmosphere so everyone was constantly giddy. But still. Basically the same."


    After travelling through another bunch of oh-so-immersive towns and cities--

    Amal: "Okay, okay."

    The crew arrive in Paris. They'd stolen a bus--

    Losien: "Borrowed."

    They'd borrowed-without-permission a bus--

    Miss Fire: "The driver was sleeping!"

    They'd borrowed-without-permission-from-an-incapacitated-driver a bus and drove it all the way across France in less than an hour.

    "It was a fast bus."

    Upon arriving in Paris they find that while many are sleeping here too, there are also a lot of people awake. Apparently everyone in all of France figured, like the NeS Heroes, that the Emperor of Europe would have the answer to the sleeping illness that has swept across the entire planet.

    As they approach the newly erected government building - a monstrous golden edifice - they become aware of NeSferatu guards stalking them from the shadows or from the rooftops. Apparently they're not asleep.

    Frank Smith: "Why do I get the feeling we're not welcome?"

    Dagger: "If I was going to murder us, I'd ambush us just as we reached the atrium to the administration building."

    Losien: "Did you just say murder us?"

    "I said capture us."

    Losien: "Right... so do we go in trapwise or try to infiltrate the building some other way?"

    They have stopped just short of the entrance to the Golden Palace.

    Al Ciao:
    "This is a palace I can approve of! But there's no statues of the emperor! I'd fire someone for that!"

    "Honestly, something tells me this thing wasn't Nyneve's idea. She's usually more introverted and all cloak and dagger-esque."

    Dagger: "Now that's a woman I can approve of!"

    "Besides, father, as ruler you are supposed to aid the people that you serve! You shouldn't be wasting the peoples' time and efforts on self-aggrandisement! How selfish that would be!"

    Al Ciao looks shiftily around.

    Al Ciao: "Yes! You're totally right! I was just testing you, oh-daughter-of-mine! You will be a wise, wise ruler!"

    "I'm glad this apple fell a long, long, long way from the tree."

    "Oh! But a statue dedicated to tea! Now that would be most beneficial for the people!"

    "Ayaa. Not far enough!"

    From the entrance emerge several NeSferatu. At their head is Tony, a pan on his head and an evil glint in his eye.

    Losien: "Hard to take an evil glint seriously when he has a pan on his head..."

    Tracer: "Looks like they stole our option of infiltration."

    Dagger: "If I were them, I'd prepare a sneak assassination from the rear while we're focused on the leader."

    Losien: "Did you say assassination?"

    Dagger: "I said sneak attack."

    Losien: "Right. Al Ciao, watch the rear."

    Al Ciao: "On it!"

    Dagger: "Good idea. Let the chaff provide the meat shield."

    Al Ciao: "Did... did someone just say meat shield?"

    Dagger: "I said impenetrable shield."

    Al Ciao:
    "Oh. Damn. I thought meat shield might be someone on the Cris B Chikin menu."

    Subaru: "That does sound pretty awesome, actually."

    Tony: "Are you ladies done having your little chit-chat? I was sort of hoping to attack you."

    Evil G: "Come and try it, random-pointless-peon-dude!"

    Tony: "Oi! No need for such meanness!"

    Suddenly a bunch of NeSferatu leap from the shadows at the rear of the group. Fortunately Al Ciao had pushed aside thoughts of a shield of chikin for long enough to notice them.

    Al Ciao:
    "Incoming attack!"

  9. #1969

    Writing Themselves into a Corner

    In the Writers' Realm, Gebohq the Writer continues scribbling down notes from the wall of story text into even taller towers of notes, forming a prison to trap himself within.

    Gebohq the Writer: " TLTE hunts wizards on page 5, and Highemperor says that nobody can kill TLTE without killing the NeS before that, and Highemp's creation of NeShattered is said to irrevocably damage the NeS by the end of NeSquared..."

    Britt and Al Ciao the Writers approach Geb the Writer, a mix of curiosity and concern ebbs and flows from their faces.

    Britt the Writer: "Hey, what's going on around here?"

    Gebohq the Writer: "Oh, just the usual 'end of the thread' wrap-up."

    Britt the Writer: "This looks suspiciously like work."

    Gebohq the Writer: "Wha? Nah, just...tying up some plot points, is all..."

    Al Ciao the Writer: "Oh no, it's happening again!"

    Britt the Writer: "What is?"

    Al Ciao the Writer: "Plot! It nearly killed off the NeS before, and it just might succeed this time!"

    Britt the Writer: "I think you need to remember the importance of professional distance. Clearly, Geb's just being a good writer for once. So how long are we looking to bang out the end of this thread?"

    The two look at Geb the Writer, waiting for him to answer, but he's quite distracted with his note-taking.

    Britt the Writer: "Well?"

    Gebohq the Writer: "Hmm?"

    Britt the Writer: "How long is this ending going to take to write?"

    Gebohq the Writer: "Well, the last time was six months maybe? A year?"

    Britt the Writer: "Bloody hell!"

    Al Ciao the Writer: "And that was back when we had a decent team of others chipping in, with Krig the Writer co-writing with Geb--"

    Britt the Writer: "You old-timers really knew how to slack around, didn't you? With my help, we'll have this done by dinner."

    Al Ciao the Writer: "Maybe if we just write blindly and furiously, we won't get trapped in--what are you doing?!"

    Enthralling wonder sets over Britt's eyes as he leafs through some of the notes on Geb's desk.

    Britt the Writer: "I figured NeS to be little more than random antics, but I can see now that there's a rich and complex plot just waiting to be shown to the world -- a writer's magnum opus!"

    Al Ciao the Writer: "Not you too! If I can bring back some of the other writers--"

    Gebohq the Writer: "Al, there's at least four ultra-epic battles to play out here -- wanna wring those details out?"

    Al Ciao the Writer: "Ultra-epic battles, you say? I suppose I could do at least that much..."

    All three writers join Gebohq the Writer in zombie-like fashion of building their own prisons of plot points...

  10. #1970

    The End Upon Hopes And Dreams

    Within the realm of 1337, Venedite, the Potential of Dreams and current right Hand of the NeS, sees something stir within the Dream-state of the Never-ending Story. A realm without rule, where memories and prophecies of destiny alike stage the story's past, and future and where the aspirations of the heart of the NeS -- its characters -- dwell and swell.

    The End stirs, even here.

    Above all, Venedite cares for dreams, moreso certainly than her station as Hand, which quite frankly, has been cramping her style with its responsibility. She told herself, though, that The End grew to overwhelm 1337 itself, and that she would need to pass the mantle to another to keep the power of the Hand of NeS from being consumed. She waves her hand in the direction of Paris before willing herself to confront the threat within the Dream-state, a threat she wasn't even sure she could do on her own...


    In Paris, France, Evil G suddenly spins from the force of an invisible power.

    Evil G: "Did I just get *****-slapped by God? Oh... I see."

    He smiles with evil glee.

  11. #1971

    A glimpse into the past

    Newb lies in her comatose state, the sound of repetitive beeping, echoing her heart beat and the slow and steady whoosh of the ventilator startlingly loud in the sparse room. Her mind was sluggish, murky, she couldn't move, couldn't speak, couldn't even open her eyes. But she could dream.

    Newb: Sire, the mission is complete. Case 200 is terminated.

    Sire: Very good Anna, your 200th kill, congratulations.

    Newb: Thank you Sire, your approval is appreciated. Does this mean I can move on from Assassination to Covert Operations?

    Sire ponders this for a moment. Anna was one of his best, he would be sad to see her leave the department of Assassination but she was right; 200 kills meant promotion.

    Sire: Yes Anna, I suppose it does. Though you will be greatly missed here.

    Newb: What do you mean ''missed'' Sire?

    Sire could not keep eye contact, one of the most enforced rules in the company meant that once you're promoted from Assassination to Cover Operations, you're memory was wiped. Obviously this is a secret otherwise, well who would willingly go through that? But the fact of the matter is Covert Operations means undercover, and if the spy is caught they know all the company secrets and that just cant be risked, so their memories get wiped.

    Sire: I'm so sorry Anna, I'd grown fond of you.

    Newb: Wait Sire what do you mean!? Where are they taking me .... SIIIIRREE

    Two men in black tactical gear had her cuffed and were dragging her away, whilst another 2 held her at gunpoint. Sire watched her be dragged away, the look of betrayal in her eyes stayed with him long after her screams subsided. He truly had grown fond of her

  12. #1972
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The Scheme

    Evil G: "Ho ho ho! So now I'm the Left Hand? Fancy giving a super-powerful-awesome guy even more power!"

    Venedite is floating just an inch from the floor wearing a new brand of torsolette of white - looking like bridal lingerie. Her neon pink hair is swept over one shoulder and her lips are similarly painted pink. She puts a hand on her hip and shrugs her shoulders dismissively.

    Venedite: "Only chose you because you're a copy of the real Gebohq."

    Evil G glares at her.

    Evil G: "What?"

    "Gebohq has gone awol, outside of the NeS and so we're minus one Hand. While I'm not big on sharing, turns out that the NeS has its own ideas. So for things to work, we need him... but, since he ain't around, with a little trickery I can replace him with you. So yeah, congratulations on being sloppy seconds."

    Evil G: "Way to make a guy feel needed... not that it matters... I can't go using all my power anyway."

    He half says this to himself rather than to Venedite.

    Venedite: "I know what you're talking about. This... Never-mending plot--"

    Evil G: "Ever-ending... though actually never-mending sounds just about right."

    He glances back at the others. They're all embroiled in a fight with the NeSferatu; too busy to notice what he's doing. He looks sullenly back at Venedite.

    Evil G: "I haven't told anyone what's really going on. Not properly anyway. I think they realise Eep is coming, they know it's dangerous, but they don't realise yet just how hopeless it is."

    Venedite: "So much for the big, bad Gebiyl."

    Evil G: "Yeah, well, you ain't seen what it's done to my world..."

    Venedite: "When there's a will, there's a way, and all that! But we can't stop this thing if we're all fighting amongst ourselves--"

    She nods towards the fighting heroes and undead.

    Venedite: "And I'm thinking I could make use of the Dreamstate to better keep the inky-black-crap at bay. Kind of stuck being a Hand though... So! I devised a scheme! I do love scheming, you know!?"

    Evil G: "Actually, so do I!"

    They both chuckle evilly for a moment, though Evil G's brand of evil would usually revolve around stealing a guy's money and his lands while Venedite's brand of evil would be stealing his wife.

    Venedite: "I can relinquish my role as Hand and the NeS will choose another to replace me. Since he's technically been chosen already, that's Gebohq. You might hate him but you know you and he can work perfectly together to stop the Eep, am I right?"

    Evil G begrudgingly nods and gives a shrug.

    Venedite: "Alright, but he's not here. So if I quit, the NeS is going to choose someone else pretty sharpish. So that's where you come in. You can actually pass on the mantle, yourself, to him. So find out where the blighter went, go there and poke him. Just like I did you."

    Evil G: "Seems simple enough but... I reckon I know where he is and I don't ever plan on going back there."

    Venedite: "Man up, you big jessie!"

    Evil G: "You didn't see what it does."

    Venedite: "And we're all going to see what it does soon enough if you don't get your act together. Comprende?"

    Evil G:
    "... ever thought about putting some clothes on?"

    Venedite: "My milkshake brings all the girls to the yard!"

    Evil G: "What?"

    Venedite: "And their life is better than yours--"

    She starts dancing...

    Venedite: "I could teach you, but I'd have to charge."

    Evil G: "I'm going to leave now before Young regrets marrying me."

    Venedite: "Pah! In your dreams, snowflake! Actually I could literally put me in your dreams, but I'd rather not. That'd be gross. In fact, I'm going to check on you, matey, and make sure you ain't dreaming about me!"

    Evil G: "Go play with your milkshake. I have things to be doing."

    Venedite: "Actually, speaking of which, there is one powerplaying goddess I have to get out of my bed. I tell you, you show a little attention and they've moved in! Toothbrush and all! So, tatah for now."

    She vanishes in a puff of pink smoke and sleepy glitter sparkles.

    Suddenly a NeSferatu grabs Evil G by the shoulders and lunges his fangs down towards his neck. Instinctively Evil G tosses the creature over his shoulder and plunges his NeverSword into the guy's heart. As he stands triumphant he looks up to the upper balcony of the golden palace to see more NeSferatu staring down at him. Many of them.

    Evil G: "Feck..."

    One of them steps forwards.

    Nyneve: "You have disturbed my sanctuary! I am glad, however, to finally have the NeS Heroes here, all together, ready to be exterminated. At last."

    As the NeS Heroes huddle up, back to back, they look up to see hundreds of NeSferatu jump and drop down to the ground floor. Evil G backs up with them.

    Losien: "Nice of you to join us."

    Evil G: "All the girls want my attention, what can I say?"

    "I can take them all on alone. You should all flee!"

    Subaru: "Like Hell!"

    She hasn't got her axe anymore, but Subaru is never without the ability to kick arse. The Pegasus Cataphract still carries the unconscious Newb on its back at the centre of the group.

    Newb: "Sire. Oh Sire. No!"

    Subaru: "At least one of us is having a good time."

    Frank Smith: "I wouldn't mind being her right about now..."

    Iriana Emp: "Perhaps if I offer them some tea...?"

    Tracer: "Tea can't solve everything, sugardoll."

    Iriana Emp:

    Polly Simon: "Losien, I think you should escape now while you can. I won't let my only daughter--"

    Losien: "I was about to say the same about you, mom. You're too old to be..."

    She looks at her mother, suddenly remembering that Polly Simon had cheated age and given herself a new lease of youth.

    Losien: "Old in spirit..."

    Frank Smith: "I'm back!"

    They glance at him.

    Losien: "What?"

    Frank Smith: "No worries. I sorted it."

    They look around, still seeing NeSferatu everywhere.

    "What're you talking about, Frank?"

    Frank Smith: "I figured how long it would take some backup to arrive, travelled back in time and asked for help. Should be any minute now."

    Subaru: "... who did you ask?"

    There's a sudden explosion of gold as one of the walls shatters and breaks. The NeSferatu flinch in panic of the sudden destruction while the heroes all draw a breath of anticipation. From the hole emerges a figure.

    It stumbles.

    The Otter: "Never fear, chaps and chappettes! Your saviour... is 'ere!"

    He spreads his arms, expecting a round of applause. Instead everyone panics more.

    The Otter: "Oh ye of little faith."

    From behind Otter suddenly comes the Forgotten Army with Twin Suns himself leading the charge. He leaps over the rubble, which had been caused by the powerplaying Arbiter, and instantly engages in battle with his swords whirling. Ping_Me digitally materialises before the heroes and gives them his best smile.

    Ping_Me: "Nice to see you again! Frank said there's someone dozing?"

    They make room for the pegasus to move and fly Newb out of the golden palace and away, towards where the Forgotten Army have camped in a park elsewhere in Paris.

    Ping_Me: "They'll try to wake her up. This sleeping curse can be broken sometimes, depends on who. I don't know if there's a pattern to it or not, so it's all down to luck."

    Evil G: "HUH! I should have asked that Venedite chick about it while she was here. Dreams woman and all that. Oops!"

    Losien eyes him with contempt.

    Losien: "Why didn't you think!?"

    Evil G: "I had more important things on my mind. Like her ****! Wow."

    Losien: "Ask the army to stop, Ping! I need to feed my obnoxious not-brother to the vampires!"

  13. #1973
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Headline: Stoned Robot Pours Chlorine on Banana

    The purple and gold robot named Galvatron stands in the middle of the Remembered Forces camp alongside the mage named Ford. They're both generally being idle, doing little except remark on the things they see around them.

    Ford: "There's that Banana-boy again..."

    They watch as the weird banana-shaped boy scuttles through the camp, chugging a bottle of pure chlorine. Ford grimaces in disgust while Galvatron just leans back against a fence post around the medical tent. Galvatron isn't even able to drink liquids that a human might like, nevermind the ones humans wouldn't like. Or coil up on the ground writhing in agony. Either way, he had not much to say on the matter.

    The banana-shaped creature continues to scuttle by on invisible legs, while chugging the flask of chlorine with its invisible arms. More than once Galvatron has wondered if, in fact, he's completely stoned and has imagined all of this Remembered lot and he is, in fact, in the middle of a park where he's talking with trees and bushes. Then again, nobody has tried to arrest him yet so perhaps it is real.

    As they continue people watching, Ford pulls out a cigarette and lights it with his zippo-lighter. Ford makes a quiet remark at the zippo lighter before returning it to his pocket carefully. Galvatron's metal mouth worms its way around in a circle and he chews further on the possibility that he is inebriated and that Ford may well be too. At least that would mean Galvatron can share the embarrassment of watching himself, after being uploaded to Twitter by strangers, on viral videos - "Stoned Robot Pours Chlorine on Banana" the title would read.

    A little fairy flutters by.

    Galvatron's glowing eyes slowly sidle towards Ford to see if he saw the tiny woman too. Since Ford seems to be more interested in the banana, Galvatron decides it's best not to remark about seeing fairies lest he add flames to the possible fire of humiliation already brewing.

    Sarn Cadrill bursts from a tent, looking as normal and as human as anyone else that Galvatron has met. At least, finally, there's something sensible.

    Galvatron: "Yo, Sarn!"

    Sarn Cadrill: "TO INFINITY--"

    He poses.

    Sarn Cadrill: "AND BEYOND!"

    Sensible is overrated anyway.

    Ford: "I thought Sarn was freed of that space hero complex?"

    Galvatron: "Honestly, I've just about given up trying to make sense of this place."

    Ford: "Uh... can you see a flying horse?"

    At last, confirmation! They're stoned.

    Galvatron chuckles but looks up anyway.

    Galvatron: "...I don't see that heavily armoured flying horse with a girl on its back. No."

    Ford: "Seriously?"

    Ford look at his cigarette, evidently wondering if someone had slipped something into it.


    Newb is whisked into the medical tent where she's laid on a gurney (which had been stolen earlier in the day from a hospital - nobody would miss it since they're sleeping on the floor) and the fairy that Galvatron thought he'd imagined is hovering over the young woman's head. The fairy is wearing a blue nurse uniform and a little white hat. Adorning the white hat is a delicate blue flower. Her wings are small, dainty and beat like a jack-hammer so she can keep aloft.

    She rubs her little white chin and then, from hammer-space, she whips out an injection needle that is bigger than she is. She whacks it into Newb's arm with a horrifying thunk.

    Flutterscotch: "Well, she ain't faking it."

    "No she isn't."

    Flutterscotch the fairy is very old, even if she looks as spritely as if she were still two years old. Now, at ten years old, she's seen a lot in her long, long life. She has never, however, seen a barely-clothed human appear from thin air. Unless she's been chomping on those special mushrooms that grow in Cascading Meadow of Albion.

    Flutterscotch: "Who the blooming heck're you?"

    Venedite shrugs innocently.

    Venedite: "Just an interested party."

    The woman floats as any fairy might but Flutterscotch cannot sense that pervasive magical aura that surrounds wizards and mages and the like.

    Venedite: "This... Sleeping Illness, do you magical folk know anything about it?"

    "Only that it's not magical."

    While the human has a fairly sultry voice, steeped in traditional received pronunciation of Britain, the fairy has a squeaky little voice with a regional accent that would place her somewhere in the north of England.

    Venedite: "This one though... she's something interesting."

    Flutterscotch: "That creepy smile of yours doesn't assure me."

    Venedite glances up at the fairy and wiggles her finger before her, playfully.

    Venedite: "Don't worry, you're more my type anyway!"

    Flutterscotch chokes with horror.

    Flutterscotch: "That's just unnatural!"

    Venedite: "Wow. A little homophobic fairy! That's a first!"

    Flutterscotch: "What? No! I mean because you're human and I'm a fairy!"

    Venedite smirks.

    Venedite: "That just means it'd be exotic!"

    Flutterscotch: "That's a creepy, creepy smile you have."

    Venedite: "All the better to seduce you with, my dear!"

    Flutterscotch: "No thank you."

    Venedite: "Well, I don't have time for that anyway. I'm more interested to see what's going on here."

    She looks down at Newb again.

    Venedite: "I've long dealt in dreams but only now am I more aware of their mechanics... Through all these sleepers I might just be able to get what I want."

    Venedite then glances up with sudden concern.

    Venedite: "If a Powerplaying maniac woman shows up here, you never saw me, okay?"

    Flutterscotch: "You mean Arbiter?"

    Venedite: "No? Whoever that is. I mean a woman who thinks she runs the world."

    Flutterscotch: "Pretty sure there's a few of those, but if any of them show up I'll keep stum. Just don't try and hit on me again."

    Venedite: "I can't promise that."

    She laughs a little.

    Venedite: "But I will try my very best."

    There's a bamf of pink dust and sparkles and the strange woman is gone.

    Flutterscotch: "Funny though. She looked a lot like the queen..."


    Ford puffs on his cigarette while he and Galvatron continue to watch people.

    Galvatron: "Oh look there's that Little Lesbian..."

    Ford: "Pretty sure it's Little Little not Little Lesbian."

    Galvatron: "No way. I'm sure she's a lezza, I tried it on with her already!"

    Ford: "Right... but I'm still sure that's not her name. That'd be a bit on the nose, right? Like I'd call myself Magic Straightguy."

    Galvatron: "Uh... do you see that suspicious van roll in here?"

    They watch as a white van, complete with a big satellite dish on the top, roars into the camp. For a moment Galvatron wonders about the procedures of this army, allowing just about anyone to come screaming into the camp, but then remembers that none of this is probably real and it would be asking a lot for a bush to demand a van not enter the park.

    The side door of the van sweeps open and another robot, coloured blue instead of Galvatron's purple, hops out. Galvatron grins his robot-faced grin.

    Galvatron: "Cyclonus!"

    Then the drivers' door opens and Galvatron is less impressed. He quickly snatches the cigarette from Ford, throws it to the ground and stamps on it - all despite Ford's protests.

    "It's my mother! Don't do anything stupid!"

    The two of them straighten up, like two lazy itinerants trying to not look like lazy itinerants.

    Mecha Lou: "Finally found ya, Galv! We've been lookin' everywheres for ya!"

    The woman is a cyborg - entirely human, except for the parts that are not. She has bright, blonde hair that is bunched up around her shoulders in large curls, while atop of her hair is a broad-brimmed, purple, witch's hat. Complete with droopy point. Both of her legs at metallic, looking like armoured boots, while her right forearm is also metal, like a gauntlet. To many, a diminishing feature to her beauty is the half-mask of metal that divides her skin between the bronze tan and the silver metal plate. Her one eye is joined by the blue, glowing orb of the metal plate.

    Her loincloth drapes down, purple with some intricate gold embroidery, while her bust is likewise supported by a purple strap of material, albeit less extravagant than the loincloth. As she walks, her legs thump against the earth audibly.

    Mecha Lou: "How's my little Galvy-walvy?"

    She pats his cheek with a clang of her metal palm against his metal cheek.

    Galvatron: "I'm fine, but what're you doing here, ma?"

    Mecha Lou: "Can't I just come to see you?"

    "No. You never just come to see us."

    Mecha Lou:
    "Pah! Fine. We travelled all the way across an entire page just to find you. That's how worried I was."

    Cyclonus just shakes his head resignedly.

  14. #1974
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

    Venedite finds herself in a long corridor. The carpet is blue, the walls are white and lines of doors are found on either side. The lights are flat and hidden mostly by the ceiling tiles. If ever there was a iconic image of the word 'corporate' this must be it. Venedite slowly floats down the corridor looking for signs of life when, suddenly, a woman bursts from a door.

    She's quite young, raven-haired and wears a serious expression on her face. She's wearing clothes that are just off-black, a colour better for hiding in the dark in. The jumper is a turtle-neck with long sleeves that end in fingerless gloves. She looks at Venedite with surprise before she lashes out with a lethal strike.

    Venedite poofs out of existence and back in again further down the corridor.

    "Hey now, chill your beans, eh?"

    The ninja-thief-assassin-type woman doesn't speak, she just runs down the corridor at Venedite. She performs a cartwheel that ends with a leg strike. But once again Venedite is too quick on the poof.

    Venedite: "Not sure what I ever did to you but this--"

    A door opens behind Venedite and another woman steps out. This one is also young but has blonde hair tied back into a tight bun and wears thin-rimmed glasses on her face. She looks over the glasses at the two women in the corridor.

    Blonde Woman: "What on Earth are you two doing here? I think I'd better call security."

    She then looks more carefully at the dark haired woman.

    Blonde Woman: "Do... do I know you?"

    Dark Woman: "No."

    Venedite: "Great! So now we're all on talking terms, lets make friends!"

    Blonde Woman: "You're welcome to try and make friends with security, if you'd like, but I am a very busy woman."

    Venedite: "Ooooookay. So. This is an unusual dream. Who are you two meant to be anyway?"

    Of course 'unusual' was 'normal' in dreams. While 'normal' would be considered 'unusual'.

    Then something happens. The building trembles and for a moment Venedite though there'd been an earthquake. At the end of the corridor, however, the wall suddenly blasts apart and, from the smoke, they see a hulking monstrous beast. Its skin warps and shifts as though it cannot take a solid shape. It stands ten feet tall, its head brushing against the tiles in the ceiling, and its body is clothed in scraps of material as though ripped apart when this beast burst out of its original human host. The blonde woman squeaks and turns to run. Venedite and the dark haired woman look at each other first, as though deciding if to trust each other in their mutual escape, and then also make a run for it.

    The blonde woman struggles along in her heels and she stops to throw them off as the raven-haired woman speeds by without a backward glance at the plight of the office-worker. Venedite flies down the corridor instead of idly floating. She scoops up the retreating blonde in her arm and whooshes on. She soon catches up to the dark-haired woman and decides to keep pace, not sure where this dream is headed.

    Blonde Woman: "Turn right!"

    Both Venedite and the dark woman do as bid without question.

    Behind them the monster screams with rage as it ploughs by the turn and smashes through the wall to an office. It doesn't slow it down by much as it rips apart the remains of the wall to continue its pursuit.

    Blonde Woman: "Left! And through the barrier doors! Lock them!"

    They pass through a circular door and the dark woman grips the wheel of the circular, metal door and swings it shut. She's instantly turning the wheel while Venedite backs into the vault-room. Inside there's a lot of strange trinkets that don't seem to be worth very much. A pencil, a gun, a dress on the wall, a painting of someone's grandmother.

    Blonde Woman: "Are you going to put me down?"

    "Only if you want me to..."

    She smirks.

    Blonde Woman: "I do."

    Venedite lets the woman to her bare feet. She then straightens her pin-stripe suit and adjusts the cravat that hangs from her neck. She has a pencil skirt and tights on her legs.

    Blonde Woman: "You two had better explain yourselves!"

    Dark Woman: "Pretty sure you should tell us what that thing is!"

    Blonde Woman: "Gertrude."

    Venedite: "Wow, your parents actually named you that!?"

    Blonde Woman: "What? No! Not me! I'm Emilia. The monster is called Gertrude. She obviously sensed you two were here and came out to catch the intruders. Nuisance that I got caught up in your affairs though! I will write a full report to my superiors as soon as security arrives!"

    She puts her hands on her hips defiantly.

    Emilia: "And what's wrong with the name Gertrude anyway!?"

    Venedite: "And you?"

    She looks at the dark-haired woman.

    Dark Woman:
    "Just call me The Raven."

    Emilia points excitedly at The Raven.

    Emilia: "Oh! Oh! You-- you scoundrel! Thief!"

    Then a third woman's voice echoes into the room. It sounds very bored, but also very calculating and ponderous.

    Gertrude: "Come out.... come out.... little mice..."

    Venedite: "The monster is more eloquent than I'd expected."

    Emilia: "She's not likely to write the next best seller, but she's cognitive enough to speak adequately, yeah."

    Gertrude: "I promise it won't hurt... I'll kill you quick! Snap of the neck. No mess..."

    Emilia cringes but tries to remain composed. The Raven appears unperturbed however.

    The Raven: "Guess I'll have to find us a way out."

    "We're in a vault. There is no way out."

    Venedite knows she could change the dream, take them elsewhere or cause Gertrude to vanish, but she wants to see where the dream will take her. Better to sit back, enjoy the ride and see what answer unveil themselves. It's always easier to get to the knowledge she needs willingly rather than forcing it.

    Yet another woman's voice then fills the room, this time it sounds muffled by the speaker in the panel by the door.

    Security: "Yo, yo, yo! Sounds like there's trouble up in there?"

    The thick New York accent, mixed with casual slang, doesn't give the most professional of impressions. Emilia dashes to the panel and pushes the button to speak back.

    Emilia: "Yes there is. There's two intruders and Gertrude is on the loose!"

    Security: "Ah, got it! Guess you'll be wantin' some muscle up there, am I right?"

    Emilia: "Of course!"

    Security: "Okay, okay. Chill your beans. We gotta finish our cawfee first. Then we'll be right up ta meet yous."

    Emilia: "You must be kidding me!?"

    Security: "Listen darlin', we live busy lives here, ya know? I can't go up there without fillin' up with a cuppa joe first!"

    While Emilia continues to verbally battle with the security woman, The Raven is searching for hidden panels along the walls and the ceiling...

  15. #1975
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    In Big Ben, MZZT sits before his many-screened supercomputer. There's a ring at the doorbell.

    Lady Lightside: Could you answer that please?

    MZZT: I'm busy. Heroic affairs and all that.

    Lady Lightside: So am I. Nursing Lior.

    MZZT struggles valiantly not to stare at Lady Lightside's ample, exposed breast, and mostly succeeds.

    MZZT: Can't one of your blighters do it?

    There is no answer and he looks all around him. To his surprise, all the ghosts and skeletons are gone, taking advantage of Halloween night to spook as many people as they can without any ghostbusting squads to be called on them. Only Lady Lightside and young remain, each nursing their babies. He mutters a curse under his breath and gets up. Children in costume greet him.

    Children: Trick or treat!

    MZZT: candy, sorry.

    Children: Awwww!

    MZZT: How did you even get up here anyway? The elevator goes straight to the Chikin Shack on top.

    Children: The stairs!

    MZZT: You mean, the stairs protected by padlocks, motion detectors, and laser turrets?

    The children nod. MZZT throws up his hands in exasperation.

    Young: There's candy right next to you, MZZT.

    To his surprise, there is indeed a bucket full of candy. Mystified, he takes it and doles it out.

    MZZT: I don't know where this came from...

    Young: Oh, I just asked Mother for some.

    MZZT bids the kids goodbye and takes the bucket of candy back to his supercomputer, sitting back down and scarfing chocolate.

    MZZT: Okay, it's Halloween. Let's watch a scary movie!

    He pulls up NeSflix and types in 'horror'. A page displays with a bunch of titles he's seen before, and he sees a button that reads, 'See movies your friends have marked as Scary.' He interestedly clicks on that.

    MZZT: Of course, Geb's scariest movie is the "The Donut Shortage". Ooh, "Demon Baby" sounds interesting; it must be scary to scare the ghosts around here--

    Young: Those are home films of little Chance. Why do the ghosts find that scary?

    MZZT rolls his eyes. Daft ghosts.

    MZZT: They're trolling, probably. Or else being dead makes you go funny in the head. "Getting Snipped" is the movie Al finds scariest - no surprise there - but why does Dr. Evil find Care Bears so frightening?

    Lady Lightside: Because rainbows and sunshine triumph, dear. Darkness thinks quite differently from light, after all.

    MZZT remembers hearing about Lady Lightside's millennia trapped within Darkside's soul, and shudders.

    Young: Why is Dr. Evil on your friends list?

    MZZT: I dunno. He sent me a friend request one day, and it seemed rude to refuse... Oooooh, this should be good. Movies that the Big O finds scary.

    Lady Lightside: The Big Who?

    MZZT: That's his username. No idea who he is, but we both like-- Let's just say we share an appreciation of certain arts.

    [I]He forbears to disclose that this mutual interest is in tentacle porn.

    MZZT: So what movies does he have marked as scary... Oh! 'Maniac Writers'! I can certainly relate. Putting this one on!

    The credits begin rolling, a dastardly tale of Al, Britt, and Geb the Writers, who dash dreams and destroy destiny with abandon...

  16. #1976
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    In the sewers beneath Rome...

    Ex-King John: The sewers? Really? We had to regroup HERE?

    Darkside3000: Sewers are a traditional lair for villains!

    Ex-King John: Maybe for bourgeois villains! I should be in charge, then we'd all live in palaces! Golden palaces!

    Qhobeg #1: You're planning to march on Paris?

    Ex-King John: What? No! Wait-- Paris has a golden palace now?

    Stalin's Clone's Ghost: Yeah. The European Imperial Finance Minister Midas can apparently turn anything into gold.

    Dollar signs appear in Ex-King John's eyes.

    Helebon: Hold up there, mortal. We have more far more concerns than petty worldly wealth. I will lead us to true dominion!

    Darkside3000: Sorry, dad, but you've been in charge before, and all it got you was a 12 thousand year exile in the Tenth Hell.

    Helebon: The WriterGod was replaced by that half-breed ******* Jim - I can take him easily!

    Qhobeg #1: I dunno. All reports I've heard indicate him as being very savvy.

    Vashuko: Besides, wasn't the majority of your power drained when you were defeated in Atlantis?

    Ex-King John: Right then! Since flaming midget here isn't fit for the job, I am clearly--

    TotallyEvil: Whoa, wait a second, you have no powers at all, at least Helebon still has some evil super powers.

    Qhobeg #1: Well, it's not like you have powers either.

    TotallyEvil gives him a sweet and sinister smile.

    TotallyEvil: That you know of.

    Qhobeg #1 gulps.

    Stalin's Clone's Ghost: Why do we even want to unite anyway? We've never united before Highempress corralled us together, and she's gone AWOL - something about hunting down a vicious backstabbing ***** who dumped her. I didn't catch all the details. Why stay together?

    Qhobeg #1: It's page 50. A crucial plot node. We have to!

    Helebon: There is the taste of destiny in the air...

    Darkside3000: And fresh souls for the taking!

    TotallyEvil: See, that's why you shouldn't be leader either, Marky-boy. No one wants to obey the orders of someone who is as liable to eat their souls as look at them.

    Darkside3000: Just, discriminate against me just because of my tastes...

    Vashuko: And you think YOU would make a better leader, human child?

    Before TotallyEvil can angrily retort, Stalin's Clone's Ghost butts in.

    Stalin's Clone's Ghost: I have a suggestion that we might all agree on for leader.

    The other villains eye the ghost curiously as he munches on a fried chicken leg.

    Stalin's Clone's Ghost: Chris T. Badguy

    Qhobeg #1: T?

    Vashuko: Stands for "the".

    Qhobeg #1: Right.

    Ex-King John: Him? He's a peasant!

    Vashuko: No wait, I see what the communist apparition is getting at. A figurehead, weak-willed, whom we can manipulate as we see fit...

    The other villainous leaders nod in understanding, and before long Chris T. Badguy is hailed as the new leader of Villainy United!

    Villains: Hail Chris T. Badguy! Long live Chris T. Badguy!

    Chris the Badguy is wearing a slightly stupefied grin on his face, and has donned a Burger King paper crown.

    Chris the Badguy: My first order is this--

    Ex-King John: March on Paris!

    Helebon: Take back Canada from the usurper!

    Chris the Badguy: --ransack Cris B.'s Rotating Chikin Shack. The man has the nerve to have the same first name and last initial as me!

    Ex-King John, Helebon, Vashuko, TotallyEvil, Qhobeg #1, and Darkside3000: ...what?!

    Stalin's Clone's Ghost: Awesome! Plenty of fried chikin for me!

  17. #1977
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Villains ho!

    Not only do all roads lead to Rome but also, as it turns out, do all sewers. And since sewers are always a surprisingly efficient method of getting around incredibly quickly the evil villains of the NeS have managed to worm their way through the smelly tunnels of Europe to get from Rome to Paris in a single post.

    Chris the Bad Guy: "Huzzah!"

    Stalin's Clones' Ghost: "I thought we were going to London, comrade?"

    Chris the Bad Guy: "Why would you think that?"

    Stalin's Clones' Ghost: "The Rotatin' Chikin Shack is there, isn't it?"

    Chris the Bad Guy:
    "Pretty sure Cris B is a franchise."

    Stalin's Clones' Ghost: "So you're saying there must be at least one in Paris too?"

    Totallyevil: "Someone remind me why we're actually following him? I thought we were going to manipulate him into doing what we want?"

    Moments later and they're topside. Chris the Bad Guy shoves the manhole cover aside and clambers out first, the rest of the villains scramble out after him one by one. King John's eyes bulge as he looks up at the magnificent golden palace - seat of the Empress of Europe. It towers over them with beautiful renaissance architecture, curved towers and long flowing banners of white. Any ruler worth their salt would be envious at such a thing.

    King John: "It's... it's... the most beautiful thing in the world..."

    Helebon: "What would your wife say if she heard that?"

    King John: "I have no idea. I left her in prison."

    Totallyevil: "In prison!? What for!?"

    King John: "Failure to pay marrital tax."

    Qhobeg: "Smooth..."

    Buck Takes: "What in tarnation is that spinnin' thinga on top-a that thar golden castle?"

    King John: "It's a palace you backwarda--"

    Chris the Bad Guy: "It's a Cris B joint! I knew there'd be one here somewhere!"

    Totallyevil: "On top of the Empress' Palace? Her standards must be pretty low to let that--"

    King John: "Actually that would provide a steady income stream straight into the coffers! I bet there's one of those... little shops. You know? The gift shops! Always a healthy profit with those!"

    Stalin's Clones' Ghost: "Plus it's a gold chikin shack!"

    King John drums his fingers in a steeple.

    King John: "Indeed..."

    Stalin's Clones' Ghost: "Do you think they sell golden chikin!?"

    Totallyevil: "You mean figuratively or literally?"

    Buck Takes: "Son, you can't eat chikin made-a gold!"

    Totallyevil: "Actually he can't eat anything. He's a bloody ghost."

    Stalin's Clones' Ghost: "How rude! I'm corporeally challenged!"

    Demogorgon, one of the ferocious demons that follows Helebon, smashes up from the sewer - unable to squeeze through the manhole - and lands behind the group with a snarl and a lick of flame from his jaws.

    Demogorgon: "Too much talking, not enough killing."

    Helebon: "Agreed. Let's get this over with and then we can get back to the real task at hand--"


    A hole blasts open from the golden palace and a rain of tiny golden flakes showers down on the villains. King John starts trying to collect as much as he can into a sack, with Qhobeg, his lackey, forced to help by utilising a pair of tweezers.

    King John: "Who's blowing holes in the side of my palace!?"

    They look at him.

    King John: "The soon-to-be-mine palace!"

    Chris pouts at him.

    King John: "Fine. I'll let you have the chikin shack on top."

    Chris the Bad Guy: "Huzzah!"


    From the new hole in the palace they can see a girl come tottering out, holding a little china teacup daintily in her hand. With a mild expression of anxiety - as though she's just realised she left the washing out in the rain - she moves away from the hole and to one side. No sooner has she moved than a handful of NeSferatu blast out of the hole, propelled by some unseen force from within. The NeSferatu land at the feet of the Helebon who looks down and grins.

    "You're with me now."

    One of the NeSferatu manages to nod sheepishly.

    NeSferatu: "Absolutely, mister demon guy! Those Forgotten hero people are battering us every which way."

    Helebon: "We'll soon sort that out, won't we?"

    Even when using his 'nice voice' Helebon sounds about as nice as a sack of tar. An oozing sack of tar.

    Losien: "The NeSferatu are retreating through that hole Arbiter just made!"

    Evil G jumps over a fallen golden pillar and slashes a fleeing NeSferatu, severing his head. The vampire-like creature explodes with a poof of smoke and a screech.

    Losien: "Evil G! What're you doing!?"

    He kicks another down and jabs his NeverSword into its skull. Another puff of smoke and a scream.

    Evil G: "What does it look like I'm doing!?"

    Losien: "We're the good guys! Let them run!"

    His sword freezes mid-swing and one of the NeSferatu he'd been aiming for freezes too, wild-eyed and certain death had been about to claim him just a second ago. Not wanting to tempt fate, the NeSferatu stays there coyly eyeing the sword-wielder.

    Evil G grumbles and lowers his sword.

    Losien: "Good."

    She turns away as the NeSferatu slinks by Evil G, thanking whatever gods he prays to. But while she isn't looking Evil G hoists up a gold brick and tosses it at the NeSferatu's head as he flees, knocking him sprawling to the ground. Satisfied that his evil cred isn't completely done for he watches the rest of the NeSferatu make their run. But even as the dust begins to settle he sees another large group of figures headed his way...

    Evil G: "Oh fuq."

    Above him, on one of the upper floors of the palace, the battle continues to rage. One woman, one powerhouse, ploughs her way through the hordes of snarling NeSferatu. They're high on the cloned ink blood, making them better, faster, stronger; and yet she is no ordinary woman. She is a Potential. The Potential of Losien Simon, at that.

    Gwenhwyfar kicks one of the NeSferatu and she falls off of the balcony and tumbles down through the floors towards the ground where Evil G is staring out of the gaping hole with his own gaping hole - his mouth.

    Gwenhwyfar then lances two NeSferatu with her glaive. She pushes hard, forcing the two of them to stumble backwards with the long glaive pierced through their stomachs.

    "This is what happens when you leave kids to do an adults job..."

    Tony: "Does that mean I can leave and not get my head cut off?"

    Nyneve: "Does it bollocks. Get in there and die, cannon fodder!"

    Tony sulks and pads towards the incoming knight in shining armour, his own armoured frying pan looking all the less shiny.

    Amal: "Give it up, Emperor Nyneve! The battle is won! Your NeSferatu are running! It's just you!"

    Tony stops in his tracks and glances back at Nyneve, eyes filled with hope. Nyneve is strong but not that strong. She has her NeSferatu powers, her magic powers and boundless minions. But taking on an entire army alone would be dumb. Even if she could win and manage to escape, it's a big risk and she hadn't survived as the last of her kind by taking dumb, pointless risks. It's always better to run away and fight again another day.

    She turns and leaps through a window.

    Tony stands, dumbfounded. His master has just ditched him and he can't fly out of windows. He turns to the incoming heroes; Gwenhwyfar, still with two of his friends skewered like a shish-kebab, Amal, with his own sword poised, and Subaru, a very small yet annoyed Japanese girl. He throws his hands up, almost knocking his pan off of his head.

    Nyneve lands on the ground, pretty irritated that she's been driven out of her own palace. From the gaping hole beside her her coven and fleeing the battle. At least there's enough of them to keep building up their numbers. She looks down one of the long streets, which has been vacated by the senisble people of Paris since the first explosion went off, and see finally sees her backup. The French military.

    Midas: "Maybe I should turn those tanks to gold? Gold tanks would be a very impressive symbol!"

    Nyneve turns to see Midas has appeared, having run from the battle too, and looks at her eagerly.

    Nyneve: "The time for symbols is over, Midas. I'm already the Emperor. What I need now is true power. The power to remain as Emperor."

    Midas: "And the power to fight the incoming cataclysm?"

    Nyneve: "Yeah sure, that too."

    Midas: "Uh... are they friends of yours?"

    Nyneve turns with some hesitation. The sound in Midas' voice didn't sound like she'd enjoy whatever he is pointing to.

    Nyneve: "... I think they just might be, Midas. I think they just might be."

    She smirks at the sight of Helebon and the other villains. Now it's time to turn the tide back in her favour.

  18. #1978
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    In Paris, everything suddenly goes still. NeSferatu are frozen in mid-leap. Gwenhyfar and her glaive are frozen in mid-swing. A bird is frozen above Evil G, its droppings frozen only a foot over Evil G's head.

    Iriana blinks in surprise, and sips some tea to steady herself. She appears to be the only one not frozen into stasis.

    Iriana: What's going on?

    Highemperor: Iriana, dear.

    Iriana whirls to see her father, the Highemperor, floating down from the sky. She whirls her head to the side to see Al Ciao - also her father - frozen in stasis as he punches an evil minion.

    Iriana: You can't be my father. Who are you?

    Highemperor casts a dismissive eye upon Al Ciao, before looking back at Iriana.

    Highemperor: I cast him off from me. He was everything weak that was still contained within me. The strong and noble and good remain with me.

    Iriana: And where the bloody hell have you been then?

    Highemperor: I have been creating my domain, the High Empire, to make a worthy home for you, and all my other wives and daughters.

    Iriana almost chokes on her tea.

    Iriana: Other daughters...other WIVES? What about my MOTHER?! Have you forgotten all about her?

    Highemperor: Indeed not. She lives at my side, resurrected to full life and vigor and immortality. And she misses you.

    Iriana blinks back wetness in her eyes.

    Iriana: That's not fair.

    Highemperor: ...what?

    Iriana: Emotional blackmail, is what that is. Has it ever occurred to you that I don't WANT to be lost amidst a sea of daughters and...and wives? That I want love and attention more than wealth and luxury?

    She stabs a finger towards Al Ciao.

    Iriana: He needs me. You don't. I'm just a, a, a trophy in your palace, for you to say, 'Another fine example of what my seed has wrought!'

    Highemperor: Iriana...that's not true. I love you dearly. My first, eldest daughter.

    Iriana: You left me! He--

    She points again to Al.

    Iriana: --came back. You didn't.

    Highemperor: I am back now. And I've explained that I was waiting until I had a worthy home for you!

    Iriana: I didn't need a palace. I only needed you. And it's too late for that. He may be a fool, but he's been better to me than you ever have. He's my father, not you.

    Highemp's face hardens to conceal any emotion or disappointment in his features.

    Highemp: Very well, Iriana. I will take my leave for now. But there is soon to be a glorious war, at the end of which I will ascend to true Godhood. Everyone will love and worship me for my glory, and you will beg to join me... and I shall graciously accept you.

    Iriana: You sicken me.

    Highemp vanishes, and the time-stasis relents, as motion surges around her once more.

    Evil G: AUGH! Bird poop in my eyes!

  19. #1979
    Everything starts to defreeze now. The following story happens during the break of the glorious war. Iriana is still mad at Highemperor’s words. She walked back and forth, grumbling and mumbling.

    Evil G heard a female’s voice speaking. He quickly runs off to where the voice came from.

    Iriana: Palace? True Godhood? Said to me a few bunch of words and just disappeared again? What kind of father do I have??

    Evil G: Hey young lady, you got a tissue?

    Iriana: (Reached out to her purse) Here you are.

    Evil G: (Wiping his eyes) Thanks. Hm, it smells nice.

    A little girl with a large school bag is walking on street, holding a kitty in her arm. Its eyes are tightly closed, which makes it look like a ball of fur, soft and warm. However, when she passes by Iriana, the kitten suddenly jumps to the ground and runs towards Iriana’s purse.

    Its front paws keeps hitting her purse in turn, and a cluster of blossoms falls down. After sniffing it for a few seconds, the kitten lay down on the ground with it eyes wide open.

    Little Girl: (Her voice sounds gruff) Bro, you’re hooked on Mary Jane again.

    Iriana: Is he ok? What happened? Did my flower kill him?? No! !!! Tell me this is not true!

    Evil G: (Put his right hand in front of its nose) No, relax, he’s still alive.

    Iriana: Does this flower I picked earlier have some sort of magic? Who would’ve thought a flower almost killed a cat?

    Little Girl: No. Relax, ma’am. This is Nepeta, or catnip, my furry little friend gets excited and crazy about it. Well, I’m Kapil Anniruddha, fortuneteller and time traveller. Let me make this up to you—what would you like to know about your past or future?
    (taking out piles of papers)
    Last edited by Asteroidea; 01-19-2017 at 11:07 AM.

  20. #1980
    Tea-sipper, character-killer


    The palace shakes from a sudden blast from outside, dust and debris falls from the ceiling. Kapil's pet cat leaps into her arms in sudden fright.

    Evil G: "Okay, why don't you two kids go play fortune-telling while I do grownup work, eh?"

    Both Iriana and Kapil glare up at him and Evil G shrinks back. When innocent looking girls give you a cold stare, it just makes them incredibly creepy. Evil G slowly walks away, but glances back to make sure the creepy girls aren't trying to eat his soul or something.

    Iriana: "Well, Kapil, maybe we should keep out of the way? You know there are some terrible people outside. Why don't we have a cup of tea?"

    Iriana whips out a cup of tea from somewhere and hands it over to Kapil.

    Kapil: "You know, I might be able to read your fortune from this..."

    The girl looks inside the mug for a moment.

    Kapil: "You're gonna die."

    Iriana: "What!?"

    Iriana blanches.

    Kapil: "Heh heh heh. I was just joking."

    Iriana is still white and staring.

    Kapil: "Seriously, I was just joking. Look there aren't even any tea leaves in here--"

    Iriana: "Run! Run!"

    The princess grabs Kapil's hand and starts to drag her away from the entrance of the palace.

    Kapil: "What? Why?"

    She looks back over her shoulder and sees a massive hulking figure charging towards them. Demogorgon is a huge demon with a bull's head, yet runs on its feet and knuckles like a gorilla. It snorts fire blasts as it comes at them.

    Kapil: "I did not foresee that thing coming after me today!"

    When Kapil sees the demon coming at them, she starts to run even faster than Iriana. She has her cat tucked under her arm, who looks quite perturbed at all the commotion - probably doesn't help that he's stoned.

    The two girls scramble up the stairs of the palace and the demon skids along the floor as it tries to stop running and chase after them. They run into the closest bedroom and slam the door shut behind them.

    Kapil: "Great. Now we're trapped."

    Iriana climbs into a wardrobe and closes the door behind her, leaving Kapil standing in the room alone. From behind the door she hears grunting.

    Hurriedly, yet quietly, like a mouse, she scurries across the room and opens the wardrobe. Iriana moves over obligingly, since Kapil isn't complaining. The wardrobe doors sling silently shut and the two girls, and a cat, crouch there, barely breathing.

    They hear the door to the room creak open and they tense in horror. Iriana begins to whimper but Kapil forces a hand over the girl's mouth to shut her up. There's the sound of movement in the bedroom.

    The cat, in its catnip induced stupor, suddenly yowls. Instead of grabbing Iriana, Kapil grabs the cat. In response the cat meows even louder. Kapil, in her mind, vows to kill the cat after this.


    The two girls pin themselves to the back of the wardrobe.

    There is a long, long second of sheer panic.

    The doors swing open, the wardrobe floods with light.

    Kapil and Iriana scream with all that their lungs can manage.

    A third scream joins them.

    A screaming match begins for a good thirty seconds until the two girls manage to calm down and Al Ciao, who opened the doors, stands there still screaming by himself.

    Iriana: "Dad!"

    He stops screaming.

    Al Ciao: "You... really scared me."

    Kapil: "You've got to be kidding me..."

    Iriana: "There was a big massive demon monster! Didn't you see it!?"

    Al Ciao: "No? I saw you come in here so I--ARGH!"

    The huge, clawed fingers of the monstrous Demogorgon lashes out and grabs Al Ciao by the neck and hoists him off of the floor. The two girls start screaming again.

    Outside of the golden palace the French tanks, all coloured blue, roll up in front of the palace to deter the mob that has gathered there. Sitting between the evil villains and the palace doors, turrets primed.

    Nyneve: "It's okay. I'm still emperor in these parts. I'll tell them to back down--"

    One of the demons from the group steps forward and raises his hand. A pillar of wind blasts up from beneath the tank and sends the French military vehicle singing into the sky. Nyneve watches it go with frustration.

    Nyneve: "What did you do that for!? I was going to convince them to attack the people inside the palace!"

    The demon is six foot tall and well built, like a wrestler. His skin looks like a slab of lapis lazuli, azure in colour but craggy and streaked like paint. On his forehead are two small horns but from his scalp extend many, long, thin horns that resemble hair. His fingers end in rough nails and his teeth are the traditional pointy variety that looks impossible for such a human-sized maw. He has a white robe, trimmed by gold, over his body but open at the front to expose his muscular chest. The sleeves are also cut short, showing off his arms, while the trim has ancient demonic writing sewn into it. Sheathed at his side is a demonic blade, crafted by another demon lord name Baal.

    Vashuko: "Didn't you get the memo, we're the villains here."

    He has a satisfied, smug tone and then turns to the rest.

    Vashuko: "Feel free to play, everyone. No holds barred in this little game. Free entertainment for all!"

    Stalin's Clone's Ghost: "Great! There's a chikin shack up there with my name on it!"

    Totallyevil: "I thought it was Cris B on it?"

    Stalin's Clone's Ghost: "It does!? I thought it said crispy chikin! I've been duped all this time!"

    Totallyevil: "..."

    Stalin's Clone's Ghost: "Well if you're going to take everything I say literally, I'll do the same to you."

    The ghost sticks out his ghostly tongue.

    Heleon: "The NeSferatu should go first. NeSferatu, attack!"

    Nobody moves.

    If anything the NeSferatu have taken several steps backwards, having been in there once already they're not thrilled about going back without support.

    Helebon: "Wimps."

    The former ruler of Hell turns to the villains.

    Helebon: "Then it is, as always, up to the best of us! Demons!"

    There's a tumultuous roar and the demons surge forwards, straight towards the French tanks.

    The tanks, naturally, promptly turn tail.

    Helebon: "Quelle surprise..."

    Then, as though offended by Helebon's insult, the tanks stop. Intrigued, Helebon watches them.

    Then there's a screaming out, like a jetplane blasting its way through the sky. Only it's getting louder and louder. And coming from straight above them. Helebon looks up.

    He manages to jump out of the way just as a massive human figure comes screeching through the air and smashes into the ground. The burly man's fist strikes the tarmac with such force that the road splits and cracks all around him, knocking over many of the villains.

    Stalin's Clone's Ghost watches Totallyevil land flat on her backside with mild amusement as he chomps on a piece of chicken.

    Qhobeg #1: "There's that cool superhero landing..."

    The villains glare at him.

    Qhobeg #1: "What? It was!"

    The man, now crouched in a ring of destruction, slowly rises.

    Qhobeg #1: "There's the cool telephoto."

    His coat, all stars and stripes, is picked up by a rogue breeze. He straightens his large top hat and stares around him.

    The Patriot:
    "Where is he? Where is... TLTE?"

    Helebon: "What did you think you could achieve coming here alone, little man?"

    The Patriot: "A lot. But as it happens..."

    Once again from above there's incoming noise, this time it's a vehicle. A transport helicopter, its bays open, from which The Patriot had dropped. In the open doors stand several other people.

    The Patriot: "I'm not alone."

    Hero Force One, united with The Patriot, take to the offence. Seraphim is first as she drops from the helicopter. Her wings unfurl as she falls head first and and swoops over the heads of the enemy, causing some of them to duck, some of them to stare at her barely concealed figure.

    Flax Hyperon, from the helicopter, starts firing down into the crowd with his blaster to provide cover while Magick Snowflakes and Ffion Heul both jump out of the vehicle and land on the ground. Ffion's ruhand, a sword created from her very soul, flares to life coloured white with just a hint of a pink halo. The sword comes down on the closest demon, splitting it in half like.... well like a beam of energy on mere flesh. Magick casts a wave of icy mist that that spreads like a flamethrower.

    Nobody notices a rat also drop from the helicopter, which quickly disappears into the crowd and scuttles off towards the palace...

  21. #1981
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Time Team

    The Demogorgon hurls Al Ciao behind him, like he's discarding waste paper, and the NeS Hero smashes through a window where he plummets two storeys down to the ground outside. The two girls watch him go and then turn back to the horrible creature that looms over them.

    Demogorgon: "Dinner time!"

    Kapil: "Wait! H-How about I, uh, read your fortune?"

    The Demogorgon's eyes bulge and his head lowers closer to Kapil. Drool slathers down his lip.

    Outside Al Ciao weary gets to his feet, wondering where he is and who he is and what underwear he put on this morning if any.

    Frank Smith:
    "Man knows how to make an entrance!"

    Al Ciao turns to see Frank Smith kick a beastie in the face, rendering it unconscious. Around the Time Cop are several other unconscious foes. Further out he can see that the villains have engaged with friendly forces - The Remembered, the other NeS Heroes, Hero Force One and the French. Although the last group seem to be mostly running away or bashing people with baguettes. Huzzah for national stereotypes.

    Gebohq the Writer:
    "All British people have bad teeth, have terrible food and live in mansions."

    Britt the Writer: "That's just stupid."

    Gebohq the Writer: "And you're all commies because you have free health care."

    Britt the Writer: "That's even more stupid but fine. Point taken."

    The French are fighting valiantly as possible against the terrible mass of villains. Albeit still with baguettes. Because baguettes make excellent weapons!

    Gebohq the Writer: "They do?"

    Britt the Writer: "They do now!"

    Britt the Writer proceeds to bash Gebohq the Writer with a baguette. In the meantime, we'll get back to the Story World.

    Al Ciao: "I think it was more of an exit than an entrance..."

    Frank Smith: "Still, a fine man on his back and legs akimbo--"

    Al Ciao: "I really have to go now!"

    He aims his arm at the window he was thrown out of;

    Al Ciao: "Go go gadget grappling hook!"

    A missile blasts out of his elbow and crashes into the crowd of combatants behind them.

    Al Ciao: "Oops?"

    Frank Smith:
    "Honestly, why is there a rocket in your elbow of all places?"

    An armada of rubber duckies, a coat stand, a signed photograph of Donald Trump (actually signed by Boris Johnson who couldn't tell the difference between his own photo and that of his blonde, shaggy-haired American counterpart) and a set of pen lids without the rest of the pen all lie on the floor before the grappling hook finally fires with a blam and and a whistling screech.

    Kapil: "So now that we have filled in the information about your birth, I need to know the history of your family and your current relations."

    Demogorgon: "This is taking a long time."

    Kapil: "Getting an prediction is all about the paperwork, my demonic friend. I don't want to get your future mixed up with an ancestor of yours by the same name! Instead of reading your future as winning a game of soccer, I might read it as being eaten by a school of herrings. And, you know, these future readings always seem to have a habit of coming true."

    Iriana: "I rather expect that's the point."

    Suddenly a grappling hook smacks into the back of Demogorgon's head. He groans and grabs the offending object. Something outside starts to tug on the hook and the demon yanks it back.

    Kapil: "I predict you're about to get your ass whooped!"

    Lest anyone think she was referring to the impending arrival of Iriana's father, you'd be wrong. Instead she grabs the lamp beside her when the demon has his back turned and, well, lamps him with it. The demon staggers and lets go of the hook.

    Al Ciao: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!"


    Demogorgon turns and snarls.

    Demogorgon: "Your prediction... was wrong."

    Iriana then punches the monster straight across the jaw. The strike was so incredibly powerful that the three of them in the room stare with shock, including Iriana.



    Demogorgon roars and rears up, ready to chomp on Iriana's head.

    Iriana leaps off the ground and, mid-backflip, kicks Demogorgon's chin up, snapping his head back suddenly. The motion knocks the monster out completely.

    Unfortunately Iriana doesn't manage the graceful landing one might expect and lands flat on her back side.

    Kapil: "Don't worry. Only I saw your utter humiliation. And I won't tell anyone except maybe everyone I meet..."

    Iriana: "So you mean--"

    Kapil: "Don't you worry your little cotton socks, my pudding! You just saved the day, even if you ended up looking like a pillock on the floor! Thank you, Iriana was it?"

    Kapil helps the other girl to her feet.

    Kapil: "That tea of yours... what is it?"

    Iriana, who performed all of this whilst managing not to spill a single drop of the tea in her hand, takes a sip.

    Iriana: "Kenyan Bold."

    Kapil: "... Not filled with steroids is it?"

    Al Ciao: "I'm-I'm here to-- save the daaaaay!"

    Al Ciao falls from the window sill where he's finally managed to clamber his way back in. He lands on his head. Face mushed against the floor, he whines;

    Al Ciao: "Ooooow..."

    Frank Smith looks up and watches Al Ciao climb into the window.

    Frank Smith: "Dat ass..."

    Losien Simon: "FRANK LOOK OUT!"

    Frank turns just in time to have a razor claw impaled into his gut. He cries out with anguish and drops to his knees. He looks up at the demon about to hack at his face.


    A bullet kills the creature outright and Polly Simon blows the smoke away from her ancient blunderbuss. She uses the butt of the rifle to crack an incoming NeSferatu in the face. Frank Smith reaches for his watch.

    Frank Smith: "CynthAI... emergency extract!"

    There's a crack and a bang and he's gone.

    He wakes up in a hospital bed. He's back at the TEA, the Time Enforcement Agency. After a quick argument with the nurses about moving around, Frank goes off for a debriefing.

    After that he puts his briefs back on and goes off for a meeting with the Mysterious Person that owns the TEA - Frank being one of the few Agents to actually know her as Chronos. In the room Chronos is sitting at her desk, feet up, and playing Pokémon - as always. Two other Time Cops are seated to the side of the desk.

    Chronos: "Yo, Frankie!"

    Frank Smith:
    "I hate it when you call me that."

    "How's my dear old daddy?"

    Frank Smith: "She's fighting for her life right now against all of the Earth's supervillains."

    Chronos grumbles.

    "I trap all the villains of the world and then they go and let them all out again. What did they expect to happen? You solve all of the world's problems only for everyone to be ungrateful, you know?"

    Frank Smith: "It was The Last True Evil, he let them all go."

    Chronos: "I suppose it's for the best since I accidentally trapped India in there too. Well, I guess you'll be going back? Tell daddy I love her."

    Frank Smith: "I will."

    Chronos jumps from her chair and tosses her Nintendo 3DS onto the table. She's already 'caught 'em all' in Pokémon anyway. Time for a quick jaunt.

    Chronos: "Actually, I think I'll come with you. I do like to surprise them with my visits. Nana always likes to see me. I do love them."

    She snaps her eyes on Frank.

    Chronos: "Don't tell them I admitted that though."

    Frank throws his hands up in surrender.

    Frank Smith: "Scout's honour."

    Chronos: "Pull the other one, you were never in the scouts!"

    Frank Smith:
    "I was! For a day. I was kicked out for trying to hit on the other boys."

    Chronos: "And then you got married. Whatever happened between you and your husband anyway, Frank? This mid-life crisis of yours--"

    Frank Smith: "I can't help it if all the boys are drawn to my yard."

    Chronos: "..."

    Frank Smith: "No? Not funny?"

    Chronos: "Can you teach me?"

    Frank Smith: "I'd have to charge."

    Frankie Burton: "That. That was awful."

    Frank looks at the other two Time Cops; Frankie Burton and Rain, two of the most legendary of officers. In fact they were two of the first Time Cops hired and he's a little perplexed that they're still alive in this day and age of the future. Then again they could be from a hundred years ago since time around Chronos never, ever plays out in a straight line.

    Frank Smith:
    "You're just jealous of my milkshake, honey."

    Rain snorts a laugh and tries to suppress it, going back to her shyness. Frankie wears her own variant of the Time Cop uniform - she has the black shirt but she has a fanned out skirt and instead of the usual bright red tie she has a red cravat. The heels on her boots have been described as 'wickedly tall'. Rain, on the other hand, is dressed just like Frank Smith - black shirt, trousers and the signature red tie. Her hair is cut in a bob but it coloured bright purple. Frank has always found that dye job to be particularly questionable.

    Chronos: "Let's go team. HA! We're the Time Team! Yeah!"

    Frankie Burton has a thick Scottish accent;

    Frankie Burton: "You do realise that there's only one British Writer that's gonna get that joke, chief?"

    Chronos: "Well the other Writers can bloody well Google it!"

    Frank Smith: "You know Google tried to stop people using google as a verb, right?"

    Chronos: "Google can bite me."

    Frankie Burton: "Their lawyers might."

    Chronos: "Or the Copyright God. Anyway--"

    The office around the four of them fades to black. Time Cops usually burst from timestreams with loud bangs of time tearing apart to accommodate them. Their watches are rudimentary devices and aren't always accurate, unless the time vessels they often use to escape the TEA itself. With Chronos, however, the experience is like hot, melting butter. She flows through time as though she was always meant to be there.

    Paris fades into view, sounds once muffled become clear.

    Frankie Burton: "I ain't ever been to this time before. It smells like a hippo's backside."

    Frank Smith: "You sniff a lot of hippo's bums do you?"

    Frankie Burton: "Don't you be commenting on bum-sniffing after the rumours I've been hearing about you."

    Frank Smith: "How rude."

    Polly: "You're alive then?"

    Frank Smith:
    "Oh! Yes. Yes I am. I forgot I was almost murdered. That was so many weeks ago now."

    Polly looks at him dubiously since it has only been a matter of seconds for her. Losien rushes over.

    Losien: "Frank! You're okay! I thought we'd lost you..."

    Chronos: "Good luck with that, I've been trying to loose him for years but he just keeps showing up like a bad smell..."

    Frank Smith: "Heeeeey..."

    Frankie Burton: "The smell of a hippo's arse to be exact."

    Frank Smith: "What is this? Pick of Frank day?"

    Losien: "Apple, why are you here?"

    Chronos pouts.

    Chronos: "Can't a daughter just want to see her father?"

    Losien: "Please call me mother..."

    Chronos: "I gave birth to me so I'm mother."

    Losien: "Please at least call me Mom 2 or something?"

    A cannon ball lands between the group, much to the surprise of everyone. Fortunately it had lost most of its inertia and landed with a thump rather than a bang.

    Losien: "Did you distort time on your way here? Don't tell me there's pirates here too!?"

    Chronos: "No..."

    Polly: "But there are definitely ninjas here. Maybe they killed all the pirates once and for all?"

    Another cannonball flies past them and slaps against the golden wall of the French Imperial Palace. It drops unceremoniously to the ground leaving just a crack in the hard wall. They turn to see a villain taking aim at them again, a cannon strapped to his arm. He takes his time, heaving the heavy metal cylinder and sets the fuse alight. He stands, poised and the time team--

    Chronos: "Yes! My Time Team joke pays off!"

    --watch him curiously. Until the cannon finally fires. None of them have to move as the metal ball flies completely off course and goes through the third storey floor where Al Ciao had gone.

    Al Ciao stands up.

    He's then hit by the cannonball and flies across the room in absolute agony.

    Kapil: "Your father is a glutton for punishment."

    Iriana: "You didn't see him getting spanked by LightSide, his wife. That was traumatising..."


    Iriana: "She had a paddle..."

    Chronos: "Could someone tell this inept loser to stop firing--"

    Bad Guy Boose: "Inept!? Inept am I!? Just you wait!"

    The big, bulky man starts setting up his arm-cannon again. He wears a pirate outfit, but it appears to be bought from a fancy dress shop rather than the genuine article. His hat drops from his balding head and he tries to get the new cannonball into the cannon. After some struggling to get both the cannonball inside and his hat back on his head he aims, lights the new fuse and fires. The cannonball flies up into the air because he was trying to keep his hat on his head.

    Bad Guy Boose: "Uh..."

    The cannonball whizzes up and back down.

    There's a crack.

    Frankie Burton: "That was... predictable."

    Frank Smith: "Death by his own cannonball. Not a great way to go."

    Losien: "Maybe I should help him..."

    Frankie Burton: "I think it's a wee bit late for that, love. His head's gone. Replaced by a cannonball..."

    Rain: "This war is a pretty horrible one..."

    Polly: "Actually, I'm glad you came, Apple. I want something from you."

    Chronos: "I'm not going to become queen of Jupiter, nana."

    Polly: "I don't want you for that..."

    She glances at Losien who instantly grows suspicious.

    Losien: "What are you plotting?"

    Polly: "I need to see your father."

    There's a silence between them.

    "There's a new one."

    Frankie Burton: "So we're now stuck in the middle of a family feud?"

    Frank Smith: "Welcome to my life, Frankie."

    Rain: "Why did you two have to have the same name? It's very confusing."

    Frankie Burton: "I refuse to be called Francheska. Besides, at least we have proper names. You're named after the bleeding weather."

    Rain: "Should we go and fight some of these villains, chief?"

    Chronos: "Nope. No time laws are being broken."

    Losien finally speaks.

    "What for?"

    Polly: "He sent me a text message telling me he's gone off to be Earth's ambassador somewhere."

    Losien gasps.

    Losien: "He-he has!? But he was in the hospital--!"

    Polly: "He was. He got better."

    Losien: "For how long?"

    Polly: "He says he's cured. Of what I don't know. It's not like he ever had just one disease. I... always knew he was hiding something from me. And now... well. I have to go and see him."

    Losien: "I can't believe he just sent you a text to tell you all this..."

    Polly: "I ignored his calls..."

    Losien: "Mother. You are terrible to him."

    Polly: "I don't remember you calling him recently..."

    Losien looks guilty and doesn't reply.

    Polly: "So, Apple, are you going to take me to your grandpapi?"

    Chronos: "Absolutely. I haven't even met him before. It'll be great!"

    Losien: "I want to--"

    Polly: "You wanted to play the hero, dear."

    She points at the crowd of villains.

    Polly: "I never wanted you to do this work, I never even liked your brother doing it. But you both ignored me and now you have to do your duty. You can see your father when you're done. I'll tell him you want to come and see him."

    Losien nods meekly.

    Polly: "By the way..."


    Polly: "There's a mutated moose coming to get you."

    Losien turns just in time to see a horribly grotesque moose-like creature charging in her direction.

    Moosewonk: "Mooooooooooooosewonk!"

    Losien: "What in the name of Zeus' beard is that!?"

    She turns around to see the Time Team is gone, save Frank Smith, along with her mother, Polly Simon. Frank jumps to Losien's side, ready to fight this Moosewonk creature.

  22. #1982
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow KABOOM

    The short man is hunched with a feral snarl on his face. Protruding from his knuckles are incredibly sharp claws that Amal is sure will slice through his clothes in a matter of seconds.

    Freak Guy: "Ho ho ho ho ho! Are ye scared boy? Scaredy scaredy scaredy little booooy!"

    Amal tries to avoid eye contact. He isn't sure if he's afraid of the claws or the loopy more. Freak Guy, as he introduced himself, bounces about on the spot, working up a sweat, and then lunges at Amal. The young hero dives to the side and Freak Guy whizzes by but lands like a cat on all fours. He barks at Amal.

    Amal: "Wow. You really have lost every last marble, haven't you?"

    Freak Guy: "You-- you found my marbles!!!? WHERE ARE THEEEEEEY!?"

    Freak Guy leaps at Amal again. This time, however, he manages to snag Amal and slams him down to the earth. His claws, however, have retracted and his big, ugly face leers down at the boy.

    Freak Guy: "Where... are... my... MARBLES!?"

    Amal: "I don't know!!"

    Freak Guy tears up and roars at the sky. His claws snap out.

    Amal: "But I can help you find them!?"

    Freak Guy looks down at the young man pinned beneath him. Then nods energetically.

    Freak Guy:
    "Okay great! You have an honest face so I'll trust you. I think someone must have my marbles in their pockets... but who?"

    He hops off of Amal as though he had never tried to murder him at all and starts scanning the crowd of fighters. Amal hesitantly gets up, keeping an eye on Freak Guy's wrists.

    Amal: "Well, bad guys are normally stealing stuff. Try them?"

    Freak Guy: "But bad guy's are my friends!"

    Amal: "Bad guy's only pretend to be your friend to steal your stuff."

    Freak Guy: "They... lied to me!? They... STOLE MY MARBLES!?"

    Freak Guy leaps at the very first villain in his vicinity, which happens to be a very unfortunate Chris the Bad Guy, and starts shaking him by the shoulders vigorously.



    Then, from the sky, several cylinder shaped pods come flying down from above the clouds. As he look up Amal can see that there appear to be spaceships high above the world in orbit. One silhouette passes by the sun, casting a striking visage. The pods themselves smack into the ground, sending crowds of people flying in all directions from the impact and probably squishing someone.

    Amal: "Who...?"

    The pods open to reveal amazonian women - all breasts and dominance. As soon as their pods open the woman dive into the fray and start smashing the closest individuals. They don't take any side and instead start beating on heroes and villains alike. Amal watches as one of the women punches Seraphim, who falls down to the ground to Amal's surprise. The Patriot retaliates on hie friend's behalf by grabbing the woman and throwing her into the air as though she weighs nothing more than a tennis ball. The woman, however, transforms into what Amal thinks is a pterodactyl and swoops back down upon the all-American hero.

    Amal: "That... was weird."

    Another pod comes straight at him from the sky and he's forced to make a run for it. Freak Guy stands there and looks up at the pod.

    Freak Guy: "YOU! GIVE ME MY MAAAAAR--"

    The impact is far too grotesque to describe. Luckily for Chris he manages to avoid being turned to paste, unlike his marbleless attacker. Amal actually feels sorry for the poor nutcase. Maybe in death he is reunited with his marbles. But not his dignity... if he ever had any.

    The pod opens and Polly Simon steps out, looking a little perturbed by her trip in a device meant to plummet through the atmosphere from space. She collects herself and marches over to Amal when she spots him.

    Polly: "Where is my daughter, young man?"

    Amal taps his Power Rangers watch and a communication is sent through to Losien telling her that her mother wants her. Amal and Polly stand in a very awkward silence while they wait for Losien to come crashing through a crowd of random minions.

    Losien: "Mom! What's happening? Are those Jovians you've brought down? They're attacking everyone!"

    Polly: "We've come to rescue you my dear! All princesses need a good rescuing once in a while!"

    Losien: "I don't need saving, I'm fine. And even if I was I can save myself!"

    Polly: "I know you can, Lossy, but--"

    Amal: "Lossy? There's an awful pet name..."

    Polly: "--sometimes it's the principle of the thing. You're a strong Jovian woman who can take care of herself. But a princess must also know that she can rely on her people to help her."

    Losien: "I don't have any people, mom!"

    Polly: "These are your people!"

    Losien: "What do you mean? I already told you--"

    Distant explosions resound in the air as, above the chaos in Paris, new spaceships enter orbit and start to attack the Jupiterian ships. The prominent wedge shapes tells Losien all she needs to know about the situation developing up there.

    What Losien, and most of the people embroiled in kicking, biting and scratching each other, Void Rangers have just landed on Orbital One where they intend to form a plan to defend the Earth from these would be alien invaders. Orbital One, the spacestation headquarters of Hero Force One, makes a perfect staging point for assaulting these spaceships. Lobo Ono takes it upon himself to lead the Void Rangers since he is more familiar with the station than the others.

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "I'm pretty sure you lot don't have authorisation to be here..."

    Despite the chaos outside, the doctor has no intention of leaving. She has followed the group through the station, guided by the station's A.I. named CynthAI, and now persists in nagging them about getting off of private property.

    Lobo Ono: "You know we do have authorisation to be here from Hero Force's DelpAI?"

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "Never heard of it."

    Lobo Ono: "It's a super secret part of Hero Force that even more of Hero Force itself doesn't know about."

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "..."

    Lobo Ono: "Yeah, I realise how unconvincing that probably is now that I say it."

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "You should all be wearing surgical masks. I have a very sick patient onboard this station and I don't want you spreading your alien germs all over the place."

    Lobo Ono: "You're not wearing a mask..."

    Dr Alexis Thrain:
    "I don't have alien germs."

    Lobo Ono: "But you are an alien, you're not from Earth!"

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "Don't you start trying to argue with me! You're the intruder that needs to get off my lawn."

    Lobo Ono: "There is no lawn."

    Dr Alexis Thrain:
    "My metal lawn. Get off it."

    Lobo Ono: "We could stand on the table?"

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "Oh, so now it's table standing is it? How about I come to your place and stand on your tables? Would you be happy with that? I think not!"

    Irritated beyond belief, Lobo Ono turns to the other handful of Void Rangers and points one of his siz arms in the vague direction of the alien vessels.

    Lobo Ono: "The plan is get on the biggest ship and cause trouble. If you have any objections you can take them up with our esteemed host here."

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "If I'm a host, you're an aardvark."

    Lobo Ono: "Please, let's go quickly."

    The group files off towards the hangar bay with Thrain stalking them the entire way.

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "You come in here. Steal our buscuits--"

    Lobo Ono: "Seriously, who ate one of the buscuits? You're just trying to provoke this woman aren't you?"

    Void Ranger with a Mouth Full of Buscuit: "Sorry Lobo."

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "Even CynthAI doesn't like you and she likes everyone."

    CynthAI: "I like them just fine, doctor."

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "No you don't."

    CynthAI: "I don't?"

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "No you don't. They don't like you. So you don't like them."

    Lobo Ono: "Never said we don't like your A.I.."

    CynthAI: "I do not like them."

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "See? She doesn't like you. Now go on back to whatever void you rangers are meant to be ranging."

    CynthAI: "Doctor. Your friends are here."

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "They're not my friends and I already know they're here."

    "I distinctly remember you calling them your friends and requesting that I inform you whenever their spacecraft arrives within the solar system... I am rarely mistaken. I find it is humans that often forget these de--"

    Dr Alexis Thrain:
    "You mean The Hopeless is here?"

    CynthAI: "No."

    There's a pause.

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "The Hopeful."

    CynthAI: "Yes."

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "Clear is here. You lot are all going to die."

    Lobo Ono: "What!? Who is this Clear person? Is he really so dangerous?"

    Dr Alexis Thrain:
    "She is about as deadly a force of the universe as a supermassive black hole. Go go, get off my station and embrace whatever doom is about to fall on you all."

    The rangers actually hesitate now that they're all in the hangar bay.

    Lobo Ono: "Didn't you say Clear is your friend? You're friends with a supermassive black hole?"

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "She doesn't kill people. Death just happens whenever she's around. Like a curse. And I don't believe in curses because I'm a scientist. Yet. I believe in this one."

    Lobo Ono: "Isn't The Hopeless the ship that Ciel went to?"

    CynthAI: "There is no ship named The Hopeless in the solar system. Also that would be a terrible name for a spaceship. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence does it?"

    Lobo Ono: "We'll leave this Clear in the hands of Ciel. We have to stop the most immediate threat. Rangers, roll out."

    A massive motorcycle pops into existence and Lobo Ono straddles it, landing heavily upon its smooth leather seat. The other rangers all get their own individual mounts, ranging from a starfighter to a mystical disk to a unicycle. Thrain stares at them all as though they're all mad.

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "I must have stepped into an alternate reality where madness reigns."

    Lobo Ono: "More than you'd suspect, doctor."

    He turns to his mates.

    Lobo Ono: "We'll take down the largest of the Jovian ships first. That's going to be the biggest threat here today. Without that ship we'll even the odds."

    The rangers blast off into space. The motorcycle of Lobo Ono revs and roars out, pumping fumes from its exhaust pipe. Thrain watches with some astonishment as the various unlikely modes of transport seem to actually work in space - even the unicycle's pedals are wheeling around merrily.

    They head towards the large tree-like craft. It's long and sleek and appears to be polished wood for the most part, though many areas are raw bark and sprouts are sticking off of the bulk all over. A large dome rests both above and below where Thrain can just about see decks inside, the Jovians running about their wartime duties within.

    She watches for a while, wondering what she's going to do. She doesn't consider herself to be a coward but she's also not very brave and proud of that fact. She doesn't intend to get herself needlessly killed. However she's also convinced that the spacestation is the safest place for her to be unless she can be magically transported to the other side of the galaxy. Then, something happens.

    There's a very narrow beam of light that appears straight across Thrain's field of vision. It's so narrow that she wouldn't have seen it except that it's bright pink against a black backdrop. Thrain wonders what it until, suddenly, the large Jovian ship implodes. The ship physically pulls itself inwards for a brief second and then explodes outwards, propelling pieces of itself in all directions. Fire erupts into space but then quickly draws in on itself as the oxygen from within the ship is quickly used up. Thrain stares, dumbfounded, at the sudden, mass destruction of this powerful alien warship.

    CynthAI: "It seems you were right about your friend..."

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "W... What?"

    CynthAI: "The Hopeful just opened fire and destroyed the enemy Jovian craft and all of those nice Void Rangers all at once..."

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "I... I really hate being right..."

    She stands in silent horror. How could The Hopeful have fired like that? The mystical planet killing beam was there after all and now it's finally unleashed. But she knows Clear would never have fired that. Nobody in Clear's crew would have done it and only a small selection of people even have biological access to the firing room. Unless...

    Dr Alexis Thrain: "Was that...?"

    Thrain runs through the station towards the medical bay. Towards the most powerful psychic in the galaxy - Judge.

    The air is cold so high up into the upper atmosphere. Not that she allows herself to feel it. Instead she wills herself warmth and even wills a pleasant fragrance into the air around her to help settle her nerves.

    Highempress has been in the L33t for quite some time now and wonders if it was because she enjoyed being with Venedite so much or if she was hiding. Hiding from the Potential of this dimension's counterpart to herself. Hiding from Nyktelios. But with Venedite gone, Highempress couldn't keep stalling from the battle that is to come. Now she waits.

    Down below her is France. Though no human could make out any kind of detail from this great height, Highempress' Powerplaying powers allow her to see every minute detail going on below. She watches the villains, that were once under her command, as they do battle with heroes of all shapes and sizes. All of them weak.

    She spots Iriana Emp.

    For a brief moment Highempress is extremely jealous. Iriana is there with her friends, she has her loving and doting father with her and she's such an important part of the Narrative of this dimension while she, Highempress, has none of those things. She has no friends. She has no father. And she is a footnote of the Narrative.

    The Potentials were called to action for one purpose - eliminate Highempress. This she knows because she wants to know it. If the Potentials had actually banded together to achieve this goal they may well have succeeded by now. Instead, however, the Potentials went off on their own personal vendettas. Even Nyktelios, while fulfilling the mission, only hunts Highempress down for her own personal goal of overcoming her greatest adversary. Nyktelios may be on the side of good this day but she has no passion, no emotion in her actions. Highempress only wants to enslave mankind to her every desire but she, at least, enjoys herself doing it! Nyktelios is like a robot! A single-minded instrument of Highempress-killing efficiency. Highempress can't take the anxiety any longer and actually has to will calm upon herself. She hasn't been this nervous in centuries of her own dimension. And, for a moment, she misses it. There she was admired, respected and in control. Here, she is not. She had managed to claim control of the planet until she was defeated by Nyktelios and forced to retreat into the L33t with Venedite.

    She feels, however, that even when she claimed to rule the planet nobody was listening to her except those in her immediate vicinity. Everyone carried on and ignored her ruling like she was never in control. This universe just doesn't seem to bend as she wants it to - at least not long term. It's as though some forces in the universe work against her.

    As if to prove that point Nyktelios suddenly comes hurtling out of nowhere and slams into Highempress at such a speed that she is instantly accelerated from a stationary point to breaking the sound barrier in a second. She whips through the air, passing over France, and comes to an unsteady wobble over the landmass of Great Britain as she manages to get control of herself. The willpower of Nyktelios is just as strong as her own, so she is unable to simply cast off any of her rival's hits. She sees Nyktelios hanging in the air over France and gears herself up for ramming speed. Nyktelios does the same.

    They collide above the planet with such a force that they might have caused earthquakes had they been on the ground. As it is their connection causes the air to blast apart with a loud crack. The two women are repelled away from each other by sheer force but they don't stay apart for long as they both some whirling back around for another test of strength. Slam! And again. Slam!

    Highempress changes tack and fires off a stream of white energy from her hands. The beam sweeps through the skies and actually strikes Nyktelios, who had been gearing up for another punching match. Even as Highempress wills the beam to disintegrate Nyktelios, Nyktelios wills the beam to do zero damage. The other Powerplayer is courteous enough to allow the obligatory knockback that is expected of a powerful blast.

    "Surely this is going to devolve into a die, no you die match!? We could call it quits now, Nyktelios! We could even rule together! The NeSiverse couldn't stand up to both of us together! Even Highemperor of this dimension would surely bend the knee to our combined power!"

    Nyktelios: "I am the ultimate powerplayer... why should I share with you or anyone?"

    Highempress: "You are not the ultimate powerplayer! I am!"

    Nyktelios: "And that is why we cannot share. Powerplayers are always the best or they are not Powergaming! No die!"

    Highempress: "No you die!"

    They match wills.

    To the rest of the NeSiverse the two women are standing completely still in the air, eyes pinned on each other. But what nobody can see are the torrents of forces acting upon each other - constantly barrages of death and expelling death over and over. As one demands the NeSiverse be the way they wish it to be, the other counters and counter demands.


    Britt the Writer:
    "I think it's about time we ended this."

    Al Ciao the Writer: "B-But--!"

    Gebohq the Writer: "There, there. Have a cookie."

    Britt the Writer:

    Al Ciao the Writer: "You kill my Characters and you steal my cookies!?"

    Britt the Writer: "Actually I made them both. And Geb made the cookies."

    Al Ciao the Writer:
    "But- but- they're based on my--"

    Britt the Writer:

    Gebohq and Al Ciao the Writers frown at Britt the Writer who blinks at his own action.

    Britt the Writer: "Sorry I was meant to type that..."



    Unable to maintain the strain of these two powerplaying hooligans, the NeSiverse overloads and the two women suddenly explode. Their mutual impact upon the atmosphere results in a sudden, terrible storm that creeps along the skyline with thick, dark claws. There's no rain, just aggressive thunder and lightning. Always at its most dangerous when its dry. Fragments of the powerplayers' wills causes mini-explosions through the sky, like artillery fire, that slowly begins to descend upon the world below.

  23. #1983
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The Lazy Chicken's Hideaway

    As most of the fighting has now moved outside of the palace, the Remembered Forces have been given a moment to breath and collect themselves. The straggling NeSferatu are being dispatched by various Remembered people while the NeSferatu that surrendered are being taken to cells back at the camp.

    Seeing at this is a golden palace filled with a lot of very expensive things belonging to someone else, The Otter is wandering around filling his pockets.

    The Otter: "Ooooo, a golden nipple tassel! I've always wanted one of those! Yoink!"

    He works his way to the top of the palace where he finds a gold elevator. Who can resist a gold elevator, honestly?

    It takes him up to the Cris B. restaurant that is stuck to the top of the palace.

    Cris B: "Welcome to the Gold n Cris B Chikin Shack!"

    The Otter: "Golden crispy chicken shack? Great! Uh, as long as that means the shack is golden, not the chicken..."

    Cris B: "It means whatever you want it to mean, Sir! Please come and enjoy a window seat where you can watch the battle outside and have your oh-so-reasonably-priced chikin!"

    The Otter: "Reasonably priced? You mean free, right?"

    Cris B: "Free!? You've got to be--"

    The Otter whips out a pair of flint-lock rifles he'd apparently managed to stash down the back of his trenchcoat.

    Cris B: " --be our very special guest! Yes! Free... free..."

    He grumbles and orders the staff to get Otter his chicken. Otter goes to the window and looks down at the battle below. Remembered Forces are starting to go out there and collide with the super villains. It's an absolute mess. He's sure heroes will end up slapping each other in the confusion.

    He decides what he and his allies really need in a base of operations. And the Remembered camp doesn't count because that's... not a place that Otter can claim without getting *****-slapped by Twin Suns.

    Cris B dumps a basket of chicken on the table.

    Cris B: "Hope you enjoy it. Jerk."

    Otter snatches a chicken leg. He quickly inspects it for spit or other fluids the disgruntled staff may have thrown on it. He then decides he doesn't actually care whether there's spit on it or not and scoffs it regardless.

    The Otter: "You know what I've decided?"

    He swings the chicken leg around and talks through a mouth half-full.

    Cris B: "That you do want to pay?"

    He says hopefully.

    The Otter:
    "I'm going to commandeer this place. You lot! Out!"

    The staff look at Cris B. Otter growls.

    The Otter: "Don't look at him! Look at these!"

    He wiggles one of the rifles he has in his free hand. The staff quickly run for the lift. Cris B backs away, unsure if he's allowed to go or if he's some kind of hostage.

    The Otter: "Hold on... weren't you a villain at some point?"

    Cris B: "Um... what answer gets me out of here?"

    The Otter: "Confessing that you were a villain. That'll get you out of here."

    Cris B: "Then yes! Yes I was! Absolute, whole-hearted truth. I was a villain. Still am if it helps! My villainy is purely chikin based these days but still-- villain is a villain, right?"

    The Otter nods and chomps on the last of the chicken meat. He points it at Cris B.

    The Otter: "You know what? You're absolutely right! Once a villain... should never have trusted that bloomin' TLTE. You wanted out, right?"

    Cris B: "Definitely."

    The Otter: "Then out you go!"

    Mark and Knear, a couple of red shirts with the villains, are desperately trying to stay alive in the midst of the scuffle. It's strange that every conceivable death blow seems to head in their direction and they're doing their utmost to avoid all of them, whether it's a random blast from some hero or a nasty claw swipe from someone on their own side.

    "You know, I'm beginning to think we should have stayed in the Bahamas."

    Knear: "Then you shouldn't have spent all our ill gotten cash on that boat."

    Mark: "It was a great boat."

    Knear: "Lemme rephrase. You shouldn't have sunk that boat."

    Mark: "There's something about our red shirts, you know? I think they make us stand out or something."

    Knear: "We've survived this long, despite everything! I'm beginning to think we're actually fated to survive every--"

    The words of Knear are suddenly cut off as both he and Mark are killed by the falling body of Cris B who was promptly given his exit through a window just moment ago by The Otter. As though all of that built up karma is suddenly unleashed, the bodies of the two red shirts are suddenly incinerated by fire, sucked up by a demonically possessed vacuum cleaner and then exploded, along with the vacuum, all over the place by a random missile fired from a French tank.

    Frenchman #1: "Hey! I finally hit something!"

    Frenchman #2: "You hit a bloody hoover! It doesn't count!"

    Frenchman #1:
    "Hey, why are we speaking English?"

    Having agreed to help MaybeChild look for The Otter, fearing that The Naga may have gotten to him, the NeS Heroes squeeze into the golden elevator. It may be a nice, spacious lift usually, but fitting the entire group of heroes into it all at once leaves faces in armpits.

    Evil G: "Lucky Krig isn't here or it'd be face in butts."

    "It's a near thing for me... Frank, move your ass. Why'd the short girl get stuck next to the tall guy?

    Frank moves his ass.

    Al Ciao: "Not near me!"

    Frank Smith: "There's only so many places I can put it, Al. You'll have to put your homophobia on hold for now."

    Al Ciao: "I am not homophobic. I'm just Frankophobic!"

    Frank winks at Al. Al tries to shrink away.

    Subaru: "Frankophobic? You're racist towards French people?"

    MaybeChild: "A new team roster later and NeS Heroes are still talking shi--"


    The heroes fall out of the lift into a heap.

    The Otter: "Welcome my friends! This is The Lazy Chicken's Hideaway!"

    Losien manages to get out of the people pile first.

    Losien: "The Lazy Chicken's Hideaway? Isn't it the Chikin restaurant?"

    The Otter: "It was. Now it's my pad."

    Losien watches as removal teams are swapping out the restaurant tables and chairs and replacing them with sofas, shag carpets and a pool table.

    "And how did you pay for all that?"

    She grumbles as she climbs off of Al Ciao, who whines with pain.

    The Otter:
    "There was some money in a safe in the back."

    Maybe: "I'd say thank you for not stealing the furniture but you went and stole the money for the furniture so that's not good."

    The Otter: "The guy doesn't need it anymore! And he was a villain!"

    Maybe: "What do you mean he doesn't--"

    Otter waggles a chicken leg towards the Cris B shaped hole in the window.

    Amal: "Why are you up here, Otter? There's a fight downstairs, you know?"

    Amal watches as the installation guys test the new dimmer, bringing the lights up and down. At Otter's request they leave a dim light that gives the place a bit of a seedy vibe.

    The Otter: "That, mon ami, is exactly why I am up here."

    Otter throws himself onto one of the super soft sofas and, after kicking his boots off, puts his feet up on the poof provided.

    Amal: "I think that's terrible. We should be helping defeat the bad guys!"

    He turns to the others for support.

    Losien and Frank are already playing pool with the others placing bets. Maybe, next to Amal, is lighting some incense.

    Maybe: "It's going to take a whole lotta incense to get the smell of grease out of this place."

    The Otter: "Maybe, you know what we really need here?"

    Maybe: "Kombucha tea?"

    Iriana is suddenly at Maybe's side as though she had always been there. She stares up at Maybe with wide, admiring eyes.

    Iriana: "Oh yes! That would be exactly what we need!"

    The Otter: "No no no..."

    He whips out a thin, white paper tube stuffed with some pleasant smelling, dried leaves.

    Maybe: "Now that is what we need!"

    A short time later and the room is filled with smoke, both from incense and from other, less legal, substances. Losien tries to take a shot at the pool table. The ball misses the pocket. It actually misses the entire table and goes flying off and smashes through the window.

    Losien: "Ooooooops!"

    She splutter-snorts-laughs and faceplants the green mat.

    Frank pokes her with the butt of his pool cue.

    Frank Smith:
    "Heeeeeeeey... geddoff the table."

    Subaru: "MO4R CHIKIN!"

    She emerges from the kitchen with another tub of chicken that an evil oven has been cooking up. Despite being evil, it certainly is generous with its chicken, though it claims its taking over the world by killing every last chicken on the planet. Then what will puny humans do without their favourite food?

    On one of the sofas, a stoned Gwenhwyfar has tossed aside her heavy amour and is sitting around in nothing but Tracer's trenchcoat. And it is Tracer whom she is currently sitting very close to on the sofa.

    Gwenhwyfar: "You know... I shouldn't say this but... I think I quite like you."

    Tracer: "You can say that, doll. You can say it as many times as you like."

    Gwenhwyfar: "If you call me... doll ever again... I'll say a lot more... and you'll be squealing like a two year old that has been locked in a dark room with Michael Jackson."

    Tracer: "That's really specific. And horrifying."

    Gwenhwyfar: "Good!"

    Evil G: "So when do we get to the hardcore stuff, yo!?"

    Maybe glares at him.

    Or she looks at where she thinks he is through bleary eyes with the best glare she can manage.

    Maybe: "Ah-ah! No way, maaaan. We don't do that kinda thing round here. We're the good kids. We just want to live in peace and have a good time!"

    Evil G: "You're talking to the cheese plant."

    Maybe: "Oh right."

    She turns.

    Maybe: "We're not gonna get into that stuff, man. It's nasty sh--"

    Evil G: "Now you're talking to Otter."

    Maybe: "I am? Hey baby!"

    She clumsily pats Otter's unconscious face.

    Maybe: "Who's my Otty-Wotty?"

    Evil G: "Words I hope I never ever hear again..."

    At one of the original restaurant tables left by the removal guys, Kapil is reading Iriana's fortune with NeS tarot cards.

    Kapil: "We should be allowed to smoke just like they are."

    Iriana: "We're underage. It's illegal."

    Kapil: "It's illegal anyway!"

    Iriana chooses one of the cards and Kapil sets it aside. She reshuffles the deck.

    Kapil: "Besides, I'm not underage."

    Iriana: "But you're younger than me!"

    Kapil glances at Iriana then back down to the cards and quickly drops the subject. Iriana chooses her final card and Kapil turns the tarot cards over.

    Kapil: "You are.... going to drink tea.... and.... drink more tea.... and more tea.... and... okay, I think you need to cut back on the amount of tea you drink, Iriana."

    Iriana gasps in horror.

    Over by the Cris B hole in the window Miss Fire, Subaru, Dagger and Adolf Hitler are throwing chicken pieces down into the crowds of people fighting.


    Miss Fire: "Aim for the big guy giving orders."

    Dagger takes a piece of fried chicken, aims and throws. The battered chicken whirls down through the air and whacks Helebon on the head. The demon lord growls and looks up. The four pests giggle and hide themselves quickly. Miss Fire peeks round the window to see Helebon has gotten back to fighting.

    Adolf Hitler: "Totally hit zat guy again!"

    Dagger: "On it."

    He gears up to lazz another chicken when Subaru stops him.

    Subaru: "Waitaminute. What're he doing up here?"

    Dagger: "Uh. He isn't with us?"

    Subaru: "Hitler!? No!"

    Adolf Hitler: "Aww, come on! I didn't escape ze Hell just so I could play lackey to Helebon up here on ze Earth! Smack him with ze chicken again!"

    Dagger shrugs and throws the chicken. Helebon roars in anger and the four of them dive to the ground again. Tentatively Miss Fire looks out.

    Miss Fire:
    "Ah! He's still looking!"

    They keep hiding and waiting. Finally she checks again.

    Miss Fire: "It's clear."

    The four of them get to the window again and look down.

    Next minute, Dagger grabs Hitler by the back of his uniform and throws him out of the window; creating a new Cris B-Hitler shaped hole.

    Adolf Hitler: "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeil!!!"

    The three heroes watch him go.

    Subaru: "Wow. He totally landed on that red shirted guy."

    Dagger: "Seems to be a lot of them down there. Where do they keep coming from? Like a red shirt guy factory?"

  24. #1984
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Al: Paris, the city of love, is gloooowing... true, that's because it's on fire!

    Kapil: Gawd, your dad has a terrible singing voice.

    Iriana: It's a Disney song, way better than that off-color song about the virgins.

    She shudders. Kapil looks horrified.

    Kapil: A Disney song? But Doctor Evil has been strictly enforcing all his copyrights--

    At that moment, Totally Evil crashes in through the skylight. Goofy Troopers rappel down after her.

    TotallyEvil: I've received an alert of an infringement on sovereign Disney creative territory!

    She looks malevolently at the heroes.

    TotallyEvil: And I'm more than happy to rectify this.

    Maybe: Heeeeeey, chill, girl. Have a peace pipe.

    She passes it to TotallyEvil, who looks at it, before snapping it in two.

    NeS Heroes: :O

    TotallyEvil laughs wickedly.

    TotallyEvil: You always seem to forget...I am TOTALLY evil! Now prepare to die!

    Maybe: WOOHOO!

    TotallyEvil blinks, nonplussed by Maybe's reaction. The Goofy Troopers look uncertainly at each other.

    Maybe: About damn time the Writers got on the bandwagons; drugs aren't inherently bad or evil! Hence the evil people wanna get rid of them!

    TotallyEvil facepalms.

    TotallyEvil: Okay then...I'll take your GAMECUBE!

    NeS Heroes: :O

    Rachel: Actually, General Qhobeg and Disney's very own Doctor Gebiyl took it (p)AGES ago. If you wanna steal it back from them, that'd be great.

    TotallyEvil: Why the hell are there so many damn Geb clones???

    Zip-pan to Canada, aka the Ninth Circle of Hell.

    Mister Nine: Okay, we have to help Sera and the others against Helebon! He's hugely dangerous!

    Devil's Advocate: Actually, the cosmic devil Memnoch is far more dangerous, but as he doesn't seem to have a vested interest in taking us over, I suppose I should agree with you.

    Majordomo: I'm afraid that our demons are still in short supply. More than half of our legions are in comas, others have defected to Helebon, and still others are still discorporated from dying in recent wars, such as in Rome versus Helebon and London versus the angels.

    Mister Nine: We need allies then. And surely we have other resources than just your ordinary demons.

    Devil's Advocate: We have a shaky alliance with Dr. Evil and his evil Disney empire. And I suppose reaching out to Burundi - ahem, I mean Heaven - wouldn't be totally unreasonable. They hate Helebon as well, and Jim would be amenable to a hellish cause, seeing as he was one of your predecessors.

    Majordomo: Actually...there IS a particular resource we have rather a lot of - Qhobegs. Clones of Gebohq.

    Mister Nine and Devil's Advocate: o.0

    Mister Nine: Why are there so many damn clones of that guy?

    Majordomo: Mister Four instituted a secret cloning project a couple of decades ago. Rumor has it that he had hoped for the original, but some sort of contract forbade him, so he instead he tried clones as a backup plan. Jim - Mister Seven - revived parts of the project for his own reasons, but we have tens of thousands of clones in suspended animation, just awaiting activation.

    Mister Nine: Do it!

    Zip pan back to Paris.

    Jupetrooper pods continue to rain from overhead as turbolaser discharges brighten the sky from the orbiting spaceships. Hero Force One continues to wreck face with NeSferatu and Helebon's cronies, but they are still vastly outnumbered.

    Ffion Heul: We need backup!

    Seraphim: If I know my fiancé...backup's already on the way.

    Perhaps Seraphim is subconsciously aware of story convention, because no sooner does she speak the words than the sky darkens with more flying armies inbound. Angels swoop overhead, led by the Archangels Bertwick, Michael, Samael and Serapharch, along with the current God - Jim Seven on his flying go-kart (due to attached angel wings).

    Hellsworn demons (those loyal to the current ruler of Hell, Mister Nine) and Qhobeg clones march up, in formation or driving hellish tanks. Elisabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess, is barking orders from atop a palanquin borne by demonic ogres.

    Magick: Um....just because Acidspitter worked out a deal with Mister Jim Seven...does that mean the angels and friendly demons will get along?

    Aire: That's what I'm for.

    A new figure, a seemingly teenage girl, appears among them.

    Aire: Hi! I'm the compromise for joint leader of Burundi and Canada's allied forces. You can call me Death.
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 02-28-2017 at 08:14 PM.

  25. #1985
    Tea-sipper, character-killer


    Magick: "Death!? As in the Death?"

    Aire: "One of, I think would be more accurate. I mean actually my father is named Death I just sort of use it as a moniker. But anyway! Nice to meet you."

    Magick, without thinking, holds out her hand. Aire looks at it.

    Aire: "You probably don't want to do that..."

    Magick: "Why? Oh! Like the touch of Death or something!?"

    Aire: "No. My hands are just very, very cold."

    Ffion Heul nudges Magick aside so she can get a look at this 'general of the forces'. She looks the purple-haired girl up and down with a frown of confusion.

    Ffion Heul: "So what makes you qualified to to lead that army?"

    Aire holds up a finger as though to respond then snaps her mouth shut and pouts with consideration.

    "Actually nothing. In fact I feel that my being here is incredibly contrived. I have no idea what an army is even supposed to do. Mostly they seem to run at each other and scream something about vengeance, blood or their opponents' mothers. Then I have a busy time cleaning up afterwards."

    Magick: "I wish you meant actually cleaning up and not cleaning up... what I think you mean."

    A nearby demon pounces on an angel prompting Aire to, apparently, attempt to do her current job.

    Aire: "Excuse me."

    The demon and angel ignore her.

    Aire: "Ahem!"

    The demon manages to kill the angel and the heavenly being poofs in a little wisp of light. The demon looks up at Aire with an incredibly satisfied grin on its face.

    Aire: "That wasn't very nice, was it?"

    An angel lampoons the demon, who dies with a squelch followed by a burst of flame.

    Ffion Heul: "Who in the name of my aunt Betty's wig decided to give you this job?"

    Aire: "Well... at least their souls go straight to their respective domains! No need for my help on that!"

    She sighs with relief.

    Aire: "To be honest I don't really like confrontation. I'm actually surprised with myself for telling that demon off like that. Deep breaths Aire... deep breaths."

    Magick: "It's okay. There's no helping some people."

    Aire: "Well at least my real job can be done while I'm here! Seems there's a lot of people in red shirts going to die today. I wish I could say that was a surprise, but since coming to the NeSiverse I think over eighty percent of souls were wearing red shirts..."

    Magick silently vows never to wear red again.

    Aire pats down her spooky, black cloak in search of something and looks miserable when she realises it's missing. She looks at the two humans.

    Aire: "I don't suppose you have some kind of container on you? Anything will do. Preferably a ceremonial urn would be best though."

    Magick pulls out half a packet of crisps.

    "No urn but I have this."

    Aire takes the packet and tosses out the crisps.

    Aire: "That'll do just fine. I'm sure most souls won't really mind sitting in here until they reach their respective afterlives."

    Ffion Heul: "You're going to put souls into a crisp packet?"

    "Well, usually I'd use something nicer. Actually I always forget that something nicer and just use what's at hand to be honest..."

    Ffion Heul: "If you come for my soul with a crisp packet, I will kill you."

    Aire: "Um..."

    Ffion points determinedly at Aire.

    Ffion Heul: "I will find a way."

    Aire: "Okay, I promise I'll do my best to remember something nicer. Water bottles are far more common anyway--"

    Ffion Heul: "No water bottles!"

    Aire: "Damn."

    There's a sudden scream as an unfortunate red shirt is mauled by a pack of demon squirrels. A scythe poofs into existence in Aire's hand and dark mist suddenly emanates from her cloak. For a brief moment she looks everything Death ought to be.

    Then she gives them a shy smile and waggles the crumpled crisp packet.

    Aire: "Off to work I go."

    As the two humans stare after Aire, who seems to glide rather than walk, a demon leaps at Ffion. With sudden panic she manages to extend her ruhand just in time to skewer the creature and ends its current existence on Earth. She pants.

    Ffion Heul: "Wow. We have to really be careful."

    Magick: "We almost died!"

    Ffion Heul: "It's not dying that scares me. It's ending up in that crisp packet!"


    Products of the mind created and fashioned during a time when the body and brain needs to recharge and file away the information from the day. Yet dreams must come from somewhere. They must be created from something.

    Each mind briefly enters the Dreamstate where the dream energies are used to produce these dreams for the visitors. Most enter and leave, often unaware that they were ever there. A brief few can attempt to enter the Dreamstate deliberately, whether through direct means or through backdoors like states of transcendence. A lot of Buddhist monks are frequently up here in their own imagined zen gardens.

    But next to no one has the power to control the Dreamstate. To control and create dreams. Most people will underestimate the power of dreams, thinking their power is tethered only to the Dreamstate and cannot influence the Realms beyond. And yet, dreams can have profound effects upon a person. Dreams can effect feelings and emotional attachments. Dreams can inspire or they can create seeds of doubt.

    Venedite likes to give people happy dreams. Dreams that are usually filled with jelly babies, crayons, milk, strawberries and the colour pink. So much pink. This is what happens when The Raven manages to find a lose panel in the wall of the vault that Venedite, Emilia and The Raven are trapped in - with Gertrude, the beast, outside. The initial darkness from behind the panel suddenly threatened to envelop the room and Venedite wasn't about to let that happen. Darkness in the Dreamstate can lead to comas in the Story Realm by trapping the conscious mind within a prison of darkness. Whether this darkness was the threatening sort or just the 'fearful dream' sort she didn't take the time to speculate.


    The three of them tumble into a world of pink. The floor is just a mountain of pink pillows and a hot spring of milk sits in the middle. Strawberries bob of the surface of the milk while kittens hop about playfully.

    The Raven: "I feel sick."

    Emilia: "How wonderf-- I mean! How did we get here!? I need to get back to work!"

    The Raven: "There's more to life than your duty to your employers."

    The Raven pokes at a bobbing strawberry wearing a stony grimace.

    Emilia: "Tell that to my paycheck."

    Venedite: "I wonder if everyone on the planet is having a dream like this? Nobody will ever want to argue again after they all wake up."

    The Raven: "We're arguing because she doesn't know who she really is."

    Emilia: "And you do? Ms Mysterious Hood?"

    The Raven:
    "I don't have to know. I have something to do and so I do it."

    Emilia: "You just said there's more to life and now you're saying do your job? Please!"

    The Raven: "I didn't say job, did I? You do what you want to do. And what I want to do is..."

    "What? We're all ears?"

    "Find a way to wake up? That'd be my choice right now."

    The Raven: "Kill. Steal. Profit."

    Emilia rolls her eyes.

    Emilia: "Just great. Right."

    The Raven: "Respect. Admiration. Jealousy. Excitement."

    "Those are the benefits of being a murderer are they? How about respect and admiration for your duty?"

    The Raven: "Sure... if your bosses give a crap about you. Do they?"

    Emilia grumbles and turns her back on Raven.

    Emilia: "Why am I even talking to you? Where the Hell is security?"

    The Raven: "In case you haven't noticed, we're not exactly in Kansas anymore."

    The dream around them quivers as that stroke of logical rejection descends upon the mind of Newb. Seeing this world of pink oddity doesn't seem to make sense. But the world holds. Dreams, even when illogical, can seem real. What doesn't make sense is soon ignored.

    Emilia: "I don't care where I am. I just want to be away from you."

    Venedite: "I don't think that'd be possible."

    Emilia: "Why are you here anyway? You said you're not with her!"

    Venedite: "Show me to your inner lesbian and I could find a reason..."

    Emilia: "What!? I'm not-- What are you talking about?"

    Venedite smirks.

    "Look at her face."

    Emilia: "I have."

    Venedite: "Isn't it familiar?"

    The Raven: "I hope not."

    Emilia: "No."

    Venedite: "Stupid brain. Okay. Exposition time because I don't know how long we actually have. You two are the same damn person."

    Emilia: "Are you mad?"

    The Raven: "I'm not hearing this."

    The Raven turns away and starts marches across the pink land of cushions towards the distant darkness. Venedite shakes her head and looks at Emilia. At least this part of Newb's mind is promisingly curious.

    Venedite: "I reckon you're part of the superego. Or the ego. I dunno. Maybe you're part of some other theory. I'm no psychologist. The real you seems to have lots of identities--"

    She sweeps her hand and from the darkness a line of Newbs appear, hanging in the air like marionettes. They each look completely different - blonde, brunette, ginger. Even skin tones are different - pale, white, tanned, heavily tanned.

    Emilia: "Who--?"

    Venedite: "Disguises. Doesn't really matter so much. I just need to figure out why you're sleeping."

    Emilia: "I'm not--"

    Venedite: "You're dreaming. How often do you find yourself in a pink cushioned room like this?"

    Emilia: "Well I suppose there is that. And there's the strange woman in her underwear..."

    Venedite: "Actually I'm this sexy even outside of your dreams."

    Venedite winks and Emilia shudders.

    Venedite: "So. Somewhere in your mind I can find the answer. Why are you sleeping?"

    Emilia: "How should I know? You should have asked that ninja. She could sneak around easy enough. I just do my job and try to make my bosses happy."

    Venedite: "Sounds miserable."

    Emilia: "I didn't ask for yo--"

    There's a crash from behind them. The room shakes for a moment then silences. It then pounds again. And again. Cracks of light behind to form in the darkness as something tries to break into this little dream room.

    Venedite: "Looks like the beast is back..."

    Emilia: "Gertrude! I thought you said this dream is filled with just me?"

    "It is..."

    Emilia: "Gertrude is..."

    Venedite: "A part of you believes that... you are a monster."
    Last edited by TheBritt; 03-21-2017 at 11:16 AM.

  26. #1986

    The Seventh Seal: Cover the Plot

    In the former Cris B. Chikin Shack, many of the NeS heroes press on in their legendary levels of shirking responsibility, goofing around while the world as they know it approaches the end. Even TotallyEvil, failing to get a rise from the NeS Heroes, slumps in a nearby seat, staring out a window to reexamine her life choices. The Otter, arguably the current ringleader of returning the NeS Heroes back to their old ways, spots a TV remote in a drawer, and finds the matching TV for it on a wall.

    The Otter: "Hey, I wonder if we're on the ol' tele these days."

    As he turns it on to what happens to be a BBC channel, though, only the empty news anchor desk shows.

    The Otter: "Those slackers! Who just ups and doesn't do their job?"

    Maybechild: "You mean apart from the 99% of the people in the world under a magical sleep command? And us, for that matter?"

    The Otter: "I didn't want to watch the news anyway. Depressing stuff. Maybe I can find Die Hard--"

    Losien: "Wait! Don't change the channel!"

    The Otter: "But they're not showing anything, love."

    Losien: "Yes they are. Look."

    She points to the TV. Sure enough, rummaging can be heard, and the background begins showing clips of events around the world. Clips of large populations fast asleep. Clips of droves of Americans stumbling about like zombies on their smart phones. Clips of the Taxman and toastinators and Trans-Terra-Terrorists, of NeSferatu, of Jupetroopers and Jupiterian spaceships engaged in space battles, of the Remembered both Dusted and not lead by Twin Suns, of the hordes of villains led by Helebon and Vashuko and Darkside from the year 3000, of various Potentials dead or dying, of Hero Force One, of the forces of Heaven and Hell and Disney... all fighting in what could be described as a Second Ragnarok.

    Then, a familiar Russian man slides to sit in front of the images and behind the desk.

    The Last True Evil.

    TLTE: "This just in! The end of the world as you know it is once again upon the human race, and quite likely, even existence itself. The scenes you see before you are the signs of that, and I, The Last True Evil, have been working diligently to break the seals of this new apocalypse. I set free the world's villains loose upon everyone. I drove the breaking the Jupiter Empire and the heart of my love, Losien... I broke the potential of a boy who was a son to me for my own gain... I brought forth the Forgotten, and their vengeful wrath will surely be Remembered. I beckoned Darth Vice and the Trans-Terra-Terrorists to crush what hopes there may have been to stop AND NOW..."

    The Last True Evil clicks on a nearby PC mouse, and the images behind him turn to one larger image of a London alleyway, with thin tendrils of puss-filled masses of blood and ink seeping from behind a large magical door, lined with explosives ready to go off.

    TLTE: ", as I break this story, I cover the plot itself. Soon, I will blow this whole thing open, both figuratively and quite literally, allowing the Ever-ending Plot to pour forth with all its might into our world."

    He cracks a smile.

    TLTE: "This glorious end to all is thanks entirely to the NeS Heroes, who time and time again ran away from problems when they still could have been stopped, who set into motion the very cataclysm seen before you. Yes, you, Losien and your friends. I know you all are the only ones who would be bothered to be watching television instead of trying to save the world even now, and even as the Plot pours forth, everyone else will be too busy to notice the real threat, the Ever-ending Plot, pulling their strings towards their self-destructive ends, living forever in an existence of ends."

    The Last True Evil holds up what appears to be a detonator.

    TLTE: "Let's now go live to the action!"

    With a click of the detonator button, the explosives on the magical door go off. When the smoke clears, the door no longer stands, and a dark sky hangs beyond where the door once was. The pus-filled masses of blood and ink pour forth from all sides of the opening and out across the alley walls.

    Losien and the others glance outside, and in the twilight sky, they seem to see the stars themselves bleeding ink, and the ground below turning slowly to charred paper. They look back at the TV.

    TLTE: "For further news updates, catch me as I go to the source! Until then, good night, and good luck."

    He takes a pistol to the camera and shoots it. The TV now displays static.

    The NeS Heroes stand stunned.

    Evil G pops open a champagne bottle.

    Evil G: "To the end. We had a good run, eh?"

    He starts chugging the bottle.

  27. #1987
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Evil G finishes the last of the bottle and smashes it.

    Evil G: Let's get this over with.

    The door swings open, and in steps--

    Losien: SORIEL?!

    Everyone is aghast to see none other than their onetime comrade, who had merged with his Potential, Arkng Thand, and thereby effectively ceased to exist.

    Soriel: Sorry, but we don't have time for a reunion. I must leave once more.

    Highemp: I'll be staying, however.

    Everyone gasps as Highemp steps into the room after Soriel.

    Al Ciao: No!

    Highemp eyes his powerless alternate self coldly.

    Iriana: Does this mean your little 'epic war' didn't go well? I don't see anything about the universe being righted, as you claimed.

    Highemp: A mere setback.

    Losien: But how--?

    Soriel: Fine, I'll explain.

    Maybe: If we don't have time for a reunion, then we certainly don't have time for exposition.

    Soriel: Narrative convenience. We have all the time we need. Still, with the EeP coming, best not to dally. So here's the short version...


    Quote Originally Posted by Gebohq
    Somewhere, in an undisclosed location in South America's Patagonia region, a location that is on the exact opposite end of the planet from the Siberian site, a device sits, spinning. This device consist of twenty strange solids the shape and size of books, ten white and ten black, placed in an alternating pattern on a circular, mechanical track with a diameter of approximately twelve meters. The device does not look crude, but nor does it look complicated. A dense, spiraling tapestry of mystical dark and light weaves into itself as the device spins.

    A blinding flash both bright and dark eminates.

    The book-like objects fall and disintegrate.

    The device sits still and empty.
    In the mists of time and space, Soriel and Highemperor are wandering: Soriel before he ever joined the NeS heroes, Highemp before he ever founded the High Empire.

    Soriel: SILENCE, BLADE!

    Highemp: You know, as kooky as that is, it's not bad for a catchphrase. I need a catchphrase.

    Soriel: I thought you already had one.

    Highemp: "Bow before me, peasants!" isn't as catchy as I want.

    Soriel: Oh. I like it though.

    Highemp: ...really?

    Soriel: Yeah, it always leads to bloody slaughter when they refuse.

    Highemp: *sigh*

    Suddenly, two blocks - one black and one white, each the size and shape of a book - reintegrate in midair above them. Visually, it looks the reverse of disintegration, and someone privy to such things would recognize this as the receiving end of a teleportation. Gravity takes hold, and each block bops one of our erstwhile 'heroes' on the head.

    Soriel: Ow!

    Highemp: WHO DARES ASSAULT MY DIGNITY-- oh, it's just some random debris.

    Soriel: A little structured for debris. Doesn't look like any material from around here.

    He picks up a black block, and Highemp picks up the white one.

    Highemp: Hmmm, you're right. There seems to be some sort of narrative essence infused with these. I wonder-- WHOA!

    Both blocks disintegrate, and the two wanderers holding them disintegrate as well.


    In the wilds of Patagonia, where a certain device sits still and empty, two blocks - and the two wanderers holding them - reintegrate.

    Highemp: I despise unannounced teleportation.

    Soriel: I don't mind, it usually means there's someone to blame for it that I can decapitate.

    Highemp: Not this time, I'm afraid...

    He looks curiously at the device in front of them.

    Soriel: *hopefully* I don't suppose this is going to come to life and attack us?

    The two blocks in their hands poof into dust, and the dust flows into the device, which flares brightly for a moment. And then, standing before them, is a second Soriel. Albeit one without his trademark sword or cape.

    Soriel #1/Past Soriel: What the hell?

    Soriel #2/Reborn Soriel: Hmph. I suppose I should have expected this.

    Highemp: Timey-wimey work, I should think.

    Reborn Soriel: You two are the timey-wimey ones, I should think. I'm in my present time, after all. Your presence--

    He gestures to Past Soriel.

    Reborn Soriel: --here at this device has reawakened me. Resurrected me, you might say, from the ashes of my Potential. Of COURSE Thand would foresee his own death, and have this in place.

    Highemp: Thand? Arkng Thand?

    Reborn Soriel: One and the same. He is my Potential, and the two of us could not coexist, and therefore I...ceased to exist.

    Highemp: So...he's dead now?

    Past Soriel: Bah, I hate it when people die before I can get to them.

    Reborn Soriel: Hard to believe I was ever so... single-minded.

    Past Soriel: Hard to believe I ever become so boring.

    Reborn Soriel: Fine, go back to slaughtering things. There's nothing keeping you here now that I'm back. But you - why are YOU here?

    He is looking pointedly at Highemp.

    Highemp: Your little device brought me here. Same kind of block as Soriel's. Uh, Past Soriel's.

    Reborn Soriel: Not my device. Thand's. But it would only transport someone here who's future self was--

    He stops suddenly.

    Highemp: Dead. You were going to say dead.

    Reborn Soriel: Not necessarily dead. Removed, at least, in some fashion. I was not dead per se, but I was annihilated from the narrative.

    Highemp: And I will be too, hm? So why hasn't a reborn me stepped forth?

    Reborn Soriel: This device is attuned to Thand, not to you.

    Highemp: So I need to find something attuned to the me of this time then...


    Reborn Soriel: And that's how I've returned.

    Otter: Wait, you skipped the part where Highemp got reborn or whatever.

    Reborn Soriel: Well, it's not relevant to this thread, more to Pan--

    Reborn Highemp: Are you REALLY saying you want to hear something by Fun Highemp Expositions, Int'l?

    Otter: On second thought, not really.

    Reborn Highemp: You're in luck, I'm more interested in rebuilding my empire better than ever, now that I'm freed from the time lock my epic war ended in, than in explaining things to lowlifes like you.

    Losien: But Soriel - it's great that you're back! You can help us! The EeP--

    Reborn Soriel: I already know. And I can't help you.

    Losien stares at him in surprise. Reborn Soriel smiles thinly.

    Reborn Soriel: That's precisely why I've come back. I need your help to unleash my Potential again.

    Losien: Wait, you mean--

    Evil G: He wants to bring Old Man Thand back.

    Losien: No! We just got you back, Soriel, we can't--

    Reborn Soriel: We have to. Or the EeP will win.

    Reborn Highemp: Look, I very much want to get back to the business of rebuilding my empire (and my harem), so let's get on with this, yeah? Just cuz I'm doing this so my homeworld doesn't get demolished, doesn't mean I want to dilly-dally. Let's go. Someone wake Maybe up from her stupor.

    Losien: ...okay. Maybe. Maybe, come on!

    Maybe suddenly jerks awake, to see Losien and the other heroes staring at her. Soriel and Highemp are nowhere to be seen. Evil G is standing over the shards of his broken bottle, looking at her in disgust.

    Evil G: Just great. I emphasize a dramatic statement with bottle smashing, and at the EXACT SAME MOMENT, she lapses into a drug-addled stupor and snores like a train.

    Maybe: Not drugs! Flowers!

    Evil G rolls his eyes. Maybe looks around blearily.

    Maybe: Uh...where are Highemp and Soriel?

    The others look at her concernedly.

    TotallyEvil: I always knew you NeS hero types were crazy, but I never expected one of you to drug yourself into amnesia.

    Losien: They aren't here, Maybe. Soriel 'merged' with Master Thand, and Highemp-- well, you remember. You were dreaming. Now, come on, let's go!


    NSP: TL;DR: April Fools!
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 04-01-2017 at 09:38 PM.

  28. #1988


    Losien's spirit halts in place, and Losien herself yanks backward in sync with her spirit, turning to realize that most of the NeS Heroes chose not to follow her. Only Al Ciao and Amal seemed to have stepped with her, and it's clear that even they have their reservations. For a moment, Losien seems discouraged, and then she musters up a surprising level of command.

    Losien: "Now's the time to make our heroic comeback, everyone! Let's show them how we do things!"

    The Otter: "You mean screwing more things up? Die in the face of our certain end? Or worse yet, live due to no merit of our own? Thanks, mate, but I think I'll sit this one out, this time."

    Most of the NeS Heroes mutter in agreement.

    Losien: "I don't believe that, and I don't think you do either. We've messed up a bunch, sure. TLTE and everyone else would have us believe we're not capable, that we're not strong enough, and this is our chance to prove them wrong!"

    Despite her impassioned speech, though, most of the NeS Heroes don't seem convinced. Gwenhwyfar, Losien's Potential personified, steps up in front of Losien, and Losien once more feels the immense weight of "what if" and "what could be" bearing down on her, a presence she seems to still fail to hold up to and overcome. And yet, she still stands even as her Potential stares down at her.

    Gwenhwyfar: "But we're not strong enough, Losien. You are not strong enough..."

    Losien starts to buckle in her resolve as Gwenhwyfar raises her pole-blade up and in front of her, and Losien shuts her eyes as Gwenhywfar grips her weapon with both hands. Losien flinches as she hears a THUD, but as she opens her eyes, she sees Gwenhwyfer has only planted her weapon in front of her, apparently under her own inner conflict.

    Gwenhwyfar: "...and yet, neither will I, a vast Potential, be strong enough. No Potential will be. I could see in The Last True Evil's eyes that he has consumed Qho Anima, and I can see how even us Potentials may not be enough in the face of the Ever-ending Plot. But more importantly, I was not even strong enough against you. For all your inability and weakness, in spite of that past that by all accounts should limit you, you've persisted in the face of certain failure, even turning your luck around when you let yourself go... And for all my skill and power, in spite of my limitless nature, I'm ready to give up in the face of my lesser. Not just give up, but want to even protect, and help you. Nobody's Potential has ever been anything other than their adversary, a vast possibility to live up to and overcome, or to die failing."

    Taking a deep breath, Gwenhwyfar stares into Losien's eyes, and Losien stares into hers, locked in compulsion to retain their will.

    Gwenhwyfar: "You are far from able to rise above the Potential that stands before you, and I am far from able to stop the realization before me. We are indebted to each other's lives, and we both stand against an impossible future. Therefore, we must do the impossible..."

    The Potential falls to one knee in front of Losien, as if pledging her service to her. Losien looks around, confused.

    Losien: "Do you want knight you?"

    Gwenhwyfar: "What? No! For crying out loud... get on your knee. I'm going to merge with you."

    Losien: "To what?! I swear, that time with Maeve was a one-time deal--"

    Gwenhwyfar: "With your spirit! I can't believe I'm doing this... Your soul, or at least what could be called one, has been half-attached and aimlessly fluttering every which way the wind blows it. When I merge with it, I'll live on as your soul, to be the fastened sailcloth to your boat and the hidden strength in the shadow of your form. Neither of us will be the same as we once were apart, and together, we may ascend into entelechy."

    Losien: "Uh...what was that about not being the same as I was before?"

    Fed up with Losien's inaction, the Potential pulls Losien down to her knee, level with her, and then locks Losien's hands on the pole-blade with hers.

    Gwenhwyfar: "Now, think of everything you ever wanted to be. Every unachievable desire, every aspect of life you've wanted to explore, every person who've you've wanted to be and every person who's stood in your way. Focus on those things, and believe with all your heart that you'll surpass it all."

    Losien: "But--"

    Gwenhwyfar: "DO IT!"

    Losien grits her teeth as she puts her mind to the task. A small glow grows from their hands.

    Gwenhwyfar: "Yes, that's it. Keep at it! Think bigger! Believe yourself beyond the reach of any force or god that dares to limit you! Conceive the inconceivable! Find flaws in the flawless, as I find strength in the strengthless! We can do this!"

    The light flickers in intensity, threatening to snuff out of existence, when it suddenly flashes bright. When the other NeS Heroes recover from their temporary blindness, they see Losien kneeling alone.

    The Otter: "Did you just kill your Potential?"

    Evil G: "No, she didn't... look."

    He points to her shadow as she stands. What had once been a pale and fluttering silhouette cast to the ground now shimmered with a spirited strength. Still in a state not quite herself, Losien's shimmering shadow performs a roundhouse kick, to which Losien herself follows, and then she punches to the other side, which her shimmering shadow follows behind, both exuding an intense power behind the actions. Losien then seems to "wake up" in some confusion.

    Maybechild: "Woah."

    Amal: "Now are you all ready to do as she says?"

    Before anyone can answer, though, Losien's mother, Polly Simon, bursts into the room, with a unit of elite Jupetroopers behind her.

    Polly Simon: "There you are! Troopers, escort the new Queen out and detain the rest."

    Still off a bit of a high, Losien holds herself back from full-on flipping out when two of the guards approached her, yet she still sends the two flying back. Losien snaps her attention to Polly.

    Losien: "Mom, why are you doing this?"

    Looking between Losien and what looks like a similar woman of her own age (and not a generation older), Maybechild blinks a few times.

    Maybechild: "I'm starting to think I should lay off the flowers..."

    Polly Simon: "You wouldn't understand, Losie-dear--"

    Losien: "Don't 'Losie-dear' me! You're talking down to me, just like you always do. I'm not going to be queen, or take any part in whatever scheme you're plotting!"

    Polly Simon: "I'm trying to protect you! Protect you from the evils of both my world and your father's!"

    She holds up a hand to stop the Jupetroopers, and they fall back, apparently coordinating some tactic over their communicators.

    Polly Simon: "Your father and I loved each other because we were not like most of our kind, you know. He saw in me a passion for life when I saw only my kind's coldness, and I saw in him a love of peace when he saw only his kind's cowardness. I abandoned my people to be with your father, even after he told me the secret of his dark pact. I didn't believe him you know, not really. I thought maybe if I assimilated enough into his world's culture, to take such backward practices as taking his family name, that'd he'd lower his guard and reveal what he was really hiding. And when you and your brother came along, I knew you two would be our everything. I couldn't let you two come to harm, especially not my first-born daughter! And when your father fell to his apparent illnesses... look, I'm not asking for sympathy. I'm asking for understanding.... understanding that your mother has your best interest at heart. That she's looking out for you! Just... come with me, and let Mommy handle things, OK?"

    Losien examines her surroundings. She could see Jupetroopers now blocking all the exits, several with jetpacks now outside the windows, and more peering down from a skylight. High above them, Losien spots the space battles between the Jupiterian starships and other, non-Earth forces. She turns back to her mother.

    Before she can say anything, though, the noir-detective, Tracer, steps to her side.

    Tracer: "She ain't comin' with you, you crazy dame, and I'll be the rock to shield her if it's the last thing I do."

    He snaps his fingers, and a portal to London appears behind them. Tracer cocks his pistol, his whole being fizzling like static on an old TV, and turns to Losien.

    Tracer: "I hear your brother needs your help and your ex needs your hell."

    Polly Simon: "STOP THEM!"

    Evil G: "My cue to skip town!"

    Before the Jupetroopers even pour in to advance, Evil G slips through the portal, and as they do advance, Amal and Al Ciao each grab one of Losien's arms to drag her through the portal.

    Tracer: "Don't worry, beautiful, we'll always have Paris."

    Losien: "Tracer, no--"

    But it's too late, as the portal fizzles out. Defeat washes over Losien.

    Amal: "We've got to get moving, Losien. We've got a lot of alleys to search through."

    Evil G: "Actually, just one, and I know the way."

    Al Ciao: "Why are you helping us now?"

    Evil G: "I've... got a score to settle. Come on, this way."

    Losien takes one last look at where the portal had stood before turning to march with the other three.

  29. #1989
    Virgin Fleet Admiral

    An Old Friendship

    Dr. R. Deep whirls through the battlefield outside the golden palace in Paris. His purple katanas - formed purely of mystic energy and summoned by his will - slice and dice efficiently through NeSferatu and demons with ease.

    The voice of one of his compatriots comes into his earpiece.

    Ben: Deep - The Last True Evil just aired a broadcast to the world, declaring his evil intentions!

    Patriot overhears with his enhanced hearing, and tosses away a giant demon named Bleeding Eyes (nephew to Helebon).

    Patriot: Where is he?! I'll tear his body apart!

    Deep: Triangulate his location. So much for the redemptive power of love...

    Many pages ago, Deep had given Losien a chance to redeem TLTE with her love. This chance has clearly been wasted.

    Ben: London. He's in--

    He doesn't have time to finish, for the Patriot is already leaping high into the air, traveling cross-country Hulk-style.


    TLTE is striding quickly through the back alleys of London. There are a few people shuffling mindlessly about, staring unblinkingly at their mobile phones, but most are fast asleep, wherever they are, thanks to Thand's dying bargain with the Negotiator.

    He pauses, ear cocked. There is a slight whistling of air. TLTE tenses, going very still, then rolls away at the last second. With an almighty slam that punches a hole into the concrete and cracks the pavement all around him, the Patriot drops out of the sky to land where TLTE had been standing just a moment ago.

    Patriot: Now, Commie, your time is up.

    TLTE: I've been expecting you.

    He draws a submachine gun from his trenchcoat and opens up. The Patriot advances, grinning menacingly as the bullets glance off ineffectually. When the gun's clip is emptied, TLTE tosses it aside and draws dual pistols, emptying their chambers into the Patriot is well. Then he tosses those aside and pulls a flamethrower out of his trench coat and douses the superhero in fire.

    The Patriot is unharmed, and his hand shoots out to grab TLTE by the neck and slam him back against a wall, bodily holding him up.

    Patriot: Any more useless toys you want to try on me, you filthy commie?

    TLTE smiles tightly, and the Patriot feels the barrel of TLTE's signature Smith & Wesson pistol against his chest.

    Patriot: Another peashooter?

    TLTE: This one is loaded with special tear-soaked bullets, that can pierce anyone who is evil...and only anyone who is evil.

    Patriot: Ha! Use it on yourself then, and save me the trouble. You know that won't work on me.

    TLTE: But what is evil? Is it objective, or subjective and defined by perception? Half the world views America as evil, you know. And you do have many, shall we say, undesirable traits. Xenophobia, homophobia, anger, judgmentalism.

    [b]Patriot:[//b] Your Red propaganda is ineffectual.

    There is a click as TLTE unmoors the safety on the pistol.

    TLTE: Your boss used to be the Devil.

    There is a BANG, and Patriot backs away, disbelief writ large on his face, dropping TLTE as his hand goes to his side, where a bloody stain is spreading through his uniform. TLTE lands smoothly on his feet. He holsters the Smith & Wesson and draws his Russian officer's sabre, which is unbreakable and capable of cutting through nearly anything, thanks to its time in multiple narrative loci while wielded by its owner.

    The Patriot snarls and reaches out a hand aggressively to TLTE--


    Al: TLTE!

    Al, followed by Losien, Amal, and Evil G, arrive in the alleyway just in time to see Patriot fall lifelessly to the ground beside his severed head. TLTE coolly wipes the blade off on a cloth and sheathes it before turning to his onetime compatriots.

    TLTE: Tovarish. I expected more of you to be here.

    Al: It doesn't have to end this way.

    TLTE: Doesn't it? Maybe not, but I choose this path.

    Al: I am your friend, TLTE! Let me be a friend to you now.

    Losien and Amal are silent, faces drawn. TLTE's betrayal still scrapes across the raw wounds of their heart more than the others.

    TLTE: Would you follow me into the darkness?

    Al: If need be...yes.

    TLTE: And what of your wife? Your child? Your newborn babe?

    Al looks conflicted for a moment, but nevertheless determined.

    Al: I made a bargain with Thand once, you know.

    TLTE: Only once?

    Al: It was for Geb. I wanted for him to be happy with Rachel. Thand knew a way. He confided that way to Geb. And now they're together. Happy. Expecting a child.

    A flicker of something that might be hope flits across TLTE's eyes, and then it is gone. He barks a cruel laugh.

    TLTE: And you wish to reconcile me with Losien, do you? I never loved her. It was all a lie I told myself. Running from my destiny. Trying to be someone I was not.

    He casts scornful eyes at her, and Losien's jaw sets.

    Losien: I don't love you either. Not anymore.

    Al and Amal's jaws both drop. Evil G rolls his eyes.

    Evil G: It was pretty obvious, even before he turned on us. Always wondered why.

    Al: What?!

    Losien: I don't know why. But one day the love was just...gone.

    Amal: I sense plot meddling here, Los.

    TLTE: Yes, the Plot. The Ever-ending Plot. It shall end all our stories, once and for all.

    Al: TLTE...

    TLTE: If you want to be my friend, then help me. Destroy your companions while I unleash the EeP. I will still betray you and destroy you as well, along with everyone else.

    Al: You know I won't do that. They're my friends too. You may be villainous now, but...they're double-parkers. And I still am loyal to them.

    Amal: What? I've never double-parked in my life! Actually, I don't think I've ever driven at all...

    Losien has a slight shamefaced look.

    Amal: Los?!

    Losien: It's true. Nearly all of us NeS heroes have double-parked.

    Evil G: The horror, the horror...

    This said mockingly.

    TLTE: Your point?

    Al: And I am still their friend. Just as I am still your friend. No matter what you do. I cannot let you destroy the world, if you choose to go down that path, but neither will I leave you alone while you walk in darkness.

    Evil G: When did you become eloquent, Al?

    TLTE: Double-parking is one thing, tovarish, but I've done far worse. I've committed the cardinal sin. I have stolen your GameCube.

    The heroes gasp in shock.

    Al: Go go gadget GameCube!

    A slot in his chest opens, revealing that it's empty. Al yelps in horror.

    Al: No!

    TLTE chuckles cruelly and withdraws the GameCube from his trenchcoat. Then he drops it to the ground and smashes it with his boot. Al faints.

    Evil G: Ah, that's the Al we know and hate.

    Amal: Why, TLTE? Why do you do it? Why become evil again? Why fight against good once more? Do you believe you're fighting against something? For just your survival against death?

    The frustration is evident in Amal's voice, as is the hurt.

    TLTE: I need not answer you, boy.

    Amal: Are you even able to tell me what it is? Do you even know?

    TLTE: Amal...

    This is a flicker of doubt in his eyes. Not because Amal's words are having an effect, but because a shred of his heart still feels for his one-time protégé, who continues his passionate plea.

    Amal: Is it freedom from responsibility? Or a sense to stay true to your appointed role as villain? Are you fighting to keep conflict going in the NeS? Yes? No? Could it be you hate that much?

    Al groans in his unconsciousness, starting to stir again.

    Amal: Fiction, TLTE. It's all a matter of perception, a certain point of view. The temporary constructs of a ******* writer trying desperately to justify a suspension of disbelief. And all of them as fictional as the NeS itself, although only a writer would have a character act out of hate. You must be able to see it, TLTE. You must know it by now. You can't win if you're a villain. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, TLTE? Why? Why do you do this?

    TLTE remains silent for a moment, but Amal has run out of steam, breathing heavily as he stares at his onetime mentor. TLTE's gaze flicks to Losien, who looks back with anger and sorrow writ on her lovely face.

    TLTE: Losien's hair is black.

    The others blink, both at the bald lie of his statement, and the incongruity of it.

    Evil G: Are you color-blind? It's orange-ish auburn, same as mine.

    TLTE smiles thinly. Losien and Amal shift uncomfortably.

    TLTE: I have been told this before. But it has always, always appeared black to me. Even in my highest, proudest moments, when I had convinced myself I was a hero and in love...I saw darkness. The world painted itself black before my vision. The tresses of the loveliest, best woman in the world, to me, is and always will be black to me.

    He says no more, but turns and sprints away.

    Evil G: He's almost to the portal!

    Losien: After him!

    This, Losien can handle. She can deal with action and fighting and chasing, and so subsumes her emotions and turmoil. Amal shakes Al wake, who groans, clutching his head and slowly regaining consciousness.

    Then, in a fashion similar to the Patriot's landing several minutes ago, a gigantic mech smashes onto the pavement outside the alleyway. Massive gun barrels cock, and the face of a lanky young man sneers at them from the cockpit.

    Arnie: So there's the b*stard who stole my girl and got her knocked up.

    Arnie, former Dockmaster of a mech base, once dated redhead Mia, who dumped him and dated Al, before dumping Al and killing him.

    Losien makes a split-second decision.

    Losien: Amal! Stay with Al! I have to keep going after TLTE!

    Amal: But Los--!

    Losien and Evil G have already run around the corner, and with a heavy heart, Amal knows he can't leave the semiconscious Al unprotected. He turns to face the looming mech, standing between the vengeful Arnie and Al...

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