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Thread: The Never-ending Story Thread≤

  1. #1081
    The DarkEgo was wounded, and when ego is just about all one has, no physical wound can really compare. The DarkEgo brooded over its loss.

    The DarkEgo looks up--it does? What? Was it something I said?

    Looking to the side, the DarkEgo flashed a brilliantly dark smile.


    DarkEgo: Never would we have thought Loss could be such a gain...

    And then the DarkEgo disappears.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    While we wait for the DarkEgo to appear next, we turn to Gebohq, ID, and the others battling with the cakes.

    And by "battling" I mean everyone else watching as ID commits genocide on an apparent race of sentient sugary snacks.


    ID: OM NOM NOM!

    Sup: *cough* ID, you missed one. I think it went through that plothole.

    ID: ID GET CAKE!

    The ID charges through the plothole and back into the Haunted House of Heroes.

    Sup: Alright Gebohq, the rest of you, let's follow suit. That is, unless you want to stay here.

    Gebohq: Well actually--

    Cris B.: NOBODY IS GETTING ANY MORE DESSERTS!

    In an unusual display of fearsome gesturing, Cris herds everyone else, including a reluctant Gebohq, back through the plothole and back into a now rather crowded kitchen.

    Geb: Geez, what was all that about?

    Cris: We will never speak of this again.

    Geb: But I don't understand. What--

    Cris: Never. Again. Do. You. Understand.

    Geb: Uh...sure, ok. Just take it easy, no need to talk about anything.

    Sup: Except for the Ego, who will no doubt show up nearby very soon.

    Ben: Let me guess -- "story convention dictates it," right?

    Sup: ...sure. We'll go with that.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    Elsewhere in the Haunted House of Heroes, Ford and Voodoosnowflakes enter to find Young sitting nearby.

    Ford: Oh good, you're here. Where are Geb and the others, Young?

    [i]Young makes no response though, instead looking past Ford and Voodoosnowflakes. The two turn around, then begin backing up instinctively towards Young. Standing before them is a figure that resembles something of an angel of death, if the angel had been envisioned by Da Vinci.

    Tsolo, Loss Incarnate.

    The Avatar of Loss curls one of its canvas wings slightly inward, hiding its side from existence. It gazes at Ford, then turns to Young, looking down on her, before finally drawing its attention to Voodoosnowflakes. It approaches--

    DarkEgo: Stop.

    Tsolo turns to the side. Ford, Voodoosnowflakes, and Young follow Tsolo's gaze with their own vacant stares to see the DarkEgo.

    DarkEgo: We share a common goal, Tsolo. Join us, and we can achieve it.

    The Avatar of Loss turns away, obscuring itself from both the DarkEgo and the others sitting down. The two superpowers remain still for uncomfortably long moments.

    Ford then dares to look towards Young and Voodoosnowflakes.


    Ford: So--

    Tsolo begins to turn back around.

    Ford: Right, shutting up.

    But Tsolo does not seem to react to Ford. Instead, Tsolo moves to the DarkEgo, accepting the hand that the DarkEgo has offered. Reality itself seems to shimmer as an array of light and darkness envelopes the two superpowers, the paints and charcoals of existence redrawing around them. When the show is done, a new figure stands as an amalgamation of the two that stood before.

    Ford: OK, I think it's time for us to go now bye!

    Grabbing a hand from Voodoosnowflakes and Young to drag along, Ford bolts for the nearest exit.

    DarkTsEgo: Not yet.

    Ford, Young, and Voodoosnowflakes stop and stare.

    ----------------------------------------------

    Screams suddely ring throughout the Haunted House of Heroes.

    (NSN: I mostly just wanted to throw Tsolo in the mix, as that character was pretty similar as it was.)
    Last edited by Gebohq; 09-23-2009 at 01:09 AM.

  2. #1082
    Elsewhere, on a random road running through run-of-the-mill Romantic ruins, The Last True Evil and Amal continue driving in their corvette.

    Amal: So where are we heading next, sir?

    TLTE: Honestly, I was sort of driving aimlessly, figuring The Patriot would have been on me again by this point.

    Amal: I see... perhaps then we should visit our friends in the Eighth Dimension then?

    The Last True Evil ponders.

    TLTE: We'll see.

    Amal: We're not, are we?

    TLTE: I didn't say that!

    Amal: Not anytime soon then.

    TLTE: I didn't say that either!

    Amal: At least I'll be spending my last moments with you, sir.

    TLTE: Stop that!

    Amal: Yes, sir.

    The Last True Evil grumbles as they drive off into the distance.

  3. #1083
    TLTE furrows his brow for a moment, and ponders.

    TLTE: Amal...I thought we were just in the desert.

    Amal: And?

    TLTE: And yet as the Narrator and the visual evidence proves, we would now appear to be in the middle of some charmingly rustic Romantic ruins.

    Amal: What does 'rustic' mean, uncle?

    TLTE double takes, then smiles - suitably pleased at the new title.

    TLTE: Well, it - never mind. The point is, we've obviously been driving for longer than I thought.

    Amal: Yes. And you lost Losien again.

    TLTE: Yes. That was rather the point of that whole expedition, so I'm not too pleased about that. On the other hand, we've also lost the -

    He claps a hand over his mouth suddenly, shaking his head.

    Amal: What? What's wrong?

    TLTE: I nearly made a very junior Hero mistake, my boy. Take note - when a Hero is on the run from a villain, and then says 'phew, thank goodness we lost X', where X is the name of the villain, the NeS will contrive to drop that villain on the naive and rather deserving Hero's head.

    Amal: Why does it do that, uncle?

    TLTE pulls the corvette over, and switches off the engine.

    TLTE: Remember this lesson, Amal, when you're a rich and successful Hero, and I'm long gone - remember the words of TLTE: 'survival in the NeS depends on a Writer's sense of humour'. If you are of no use to them, the Writers - or the WriterGod, if he still exists - will write an anvil over your head. You have to be compassionate, sincere, virtuous -

    Amal: Rustic?

    TLTE: ...not quite. But you'll learn.

    Amal: Why are we pulled over?

    TLTE: Soon, we will turn around and continue our search for Losien. But for now, your instruction begins.

    !TEN MINUTES LATER!

    TLTE has removed his coat and is standing in the battle-ready position, his faithful officer's sabre in one hand, his trusty revolver in the other. Amal is sitting on the base of a toppled statue nearby, watching on with obvious delight.

    TLTE: Are you paying attention?

    Amal: Yes, yes!

    TLTE: Then observe.

    TLTE bursts into motion - a series of long, sweeping strikes with the sword, countervailing the actions of his gun hand, which draws a bead on unseen enemies with unerring accuracy.

    Amal: Wow! What is it?

    TLTE: This is my own form of martial art, developed over years of practice. It is the perfect marriage of pistol and sword - a combat style that can adapt and flourish in any situation. Against a melee attacker, the sword deflects -

    TLTE performs a broad stroke over his head, pirouetting on the spot -

    TLTE: - and the revolver attacks.

    TLTE flicks his other arm up and lets off two quick shots. Amal covers his ears, his eyes shining in delight.

    TLTE: Against multiple enemies, I close the distance with the revolver, and perform the wetwork with the blade.

    Amal: Why is it called 'wetwork', uncle?

    TLTE: Er...a lesson for another time, perhaps.

    Amal: Will I ever be as good as you?

    TLTE: [Smiling] Better. You will carve through the Eep, throw down Darkside, lay waste to Gebiyl...why, I bet you could kill the Patriot right now, if he were here!

    A villain-shaped shadow falls over TLTE's face.

    TLTE: Oh, borscht.

  4. #1084
    The Last True Evil whips around to face the villain-shaped shadow.

    TLTE: The Patri--wait...

    The shadow throws off its disguise and reveals its form.

    Rachel: Haha! Fooled you! Oh man, that was too much fun...

    As Rachel tries to keep herself from falling over laughing, The Last True Evil looks aside, troubled.

    Amal: I'm not sure I understand, uncle. I thought the Patriot would be here, not this woman.

    The Last True Evil faces Amal and attempts a wizened smile.

    TLTE: The NeS works in mysterious ways, Amal. Very mysterious...

    -----------------------------------

    In the Writer's Realm, TLTE the writer hovers over Gebohq the writer with a frown.

    Geb the Writer; What? Whaaaat? We can't have the Patriot fighting TLTE right now! Look!

    ------------------------------------

    Zip-pan to the Story Realm, where Judge is attempting to corral the fifty little Patriots together down a hallway.

    Judge: Why do I have to be the nanny?

    Dr. R. Deep: It's only until we can get a hold of the one that caused this and reverse the effects.

    Georgia Patriot: I wanna Coke!

    New York Patriot: I wanna see a show!

    The other Patriots continue to not use their indoor voices as they rally for attention.

    ----------------------------------------

    Zip-pan back to the Writer's Realm...

    Geb the Writer: See?

    TLTE the writer walks away with no visible response.

    Geb the writer: Well OK! I'll just keep writing then...

    -----------------------------------------

    A final scene swipe back to the Story Realm, where The Last True Evil and Amal are assessing their situation with Rachel.

    TLTE: Have I lost my espionage edge? Disguised or not, I should have at least known she wasn't a villain--

    Rachel: Hey, I can be a villain of I want to be now! A perk of being a Protector of the Plotfractal. Besides, the day I can't trick someone is the day I'm no longer Rachel April May Pi, April Fool's Day Incarnate!

    TLTE: What do you want?

    Rachel: Oh, just to make your life difficult, is all. Even if it wasn't my job now, a friend of Gebohq's is an enemy of mine.

    TLTE: So you know Gebohq then? And he has done you some grave wrong?

    Rachel: Yeah, you could say that... But enough chit-chat! Let's dance!

    The Last True Evil readies himself in a battle stance. However, Rachel seems to have taken her imperative literally, pirouetting gracefully towards The Last True Evil. She grabs hold of his sword hand and wraps his other arm around her, leading the two of them into a waltz.

    TLTE: I don't know what you're trying to do, but I--OOF!

    He is interrupted as Rachel steps on his foot hard, then spins him away.

    Rachel: Aww, I'm sorry. Can we still be friends?

    She offers a bouquet of flowers from thin air, then with a magician's wave of the hands, turns them into flying paint brushes. The paint brushes perform their designed tasks, adding streaks of bright colors randomly to the landscape. One draws a pink mustache and beard over The Last True Evil's real facial hair.

    TLTE: I hate magic-users...

    Rachel bows dramatically towards Amal, who in turn applauds.

    TLTE: Fine, two can play this game...

    Amal: Yay, a game!

    ((NSN: I figured I'd leave TLTE responding more competently to someone else... or maybe TLTE could just keep being made a fool of... poor TLTE.))
    Last edited by Gebohq; 09-29-2009 at 01:12 PM.

  5. #1085
    ((Most of this post is written by Al Ciao, who is writing his own side-story like his 1888 routine. I've made some edits and additions so that it would fit.))

    Meanwhile (NeS count: larger than ever-growing Ego), back in the Haunted House of Heroes, Gebohq and the others rush to the source of the screams. He and the others find Ford, Young, and Voodoosnowflakes standing in sheer terror as DarkTsEgo shows them the script to the NeS.

    DarkTsEgo: And our name is only going to get worse as we grow. But we must depart. We have others to consume yet first...

    With that, DarkTsEgo disappears in a streak of charcoal and painted brilliance. Gebohq walks over to Ford and attempts to comfort him with a hand on Ford's shoulders.

    Ford: So...terrible...

    Gebohq: It'll be alright...

    --------------------------------------------

    In the attic of the Haunted House of Heroes, formerly the ancestral Simon manor, there is--

    Ah-CHOO!

    --there is--

    Ah-CHOO!

    Whew! Well, ok, there is a lot of dust. A little Lysol should fix that right up. Yessiree... There, all better. Anywho, in the attic of the Haunted House of Heroes, there is an ornate cube lying on the floor.

    Strangely, no dust is on the cube -- Well, of course not, what do you think the Lysol was for? What do you mean, shaddup and read the lines?! What, what are you going to do, FIRE me? HAH! Who else you gonna get to do this stinkin' job? I--


    ***This broadcast has been interrupted due to Avian-Simian-Related Technical Difficulties.***

    ...

    Alright, I'm back. Where were we? Oh, yes. There is no dust on this ornate, Lysol-disinfected cube. Five sides each have the word 'OHQ' pictured on them in ancient runic lettering. The top side, however, has a concave circular depression set into it.

    It is this cube that currently holds the attention of the attic's only current occupant. This figure is a man -- if he can be called that -- swathed in midnight blue robes and standing at seven feet in height. His face is lost within the shadowy recesses of his hood.

    Morthrandur.

    There is a whisper of air as Mr. Stafford appears beside him.


    Mr. Stafford: Why do you wait?

    Morthrandur: Because someone must.

    Mr. Stafford: I can offer a position with the Company of the Damned. Anything you like. Let go of story conventions.

    Morthrandur: I cannot. It is the price I paid.

    Stafford is silent for a moment, then nods.

    Stafford: Very well. My door is always open.

    Morthrandur: You will not stay and watch?

    Stafford: No, I know what you will see, and seeing Fay again would be more than I could bear.

    Another whisper of air, and Mr. Stafford is gone. Morthrandur continues to wait. Suddenly, the air cracks apart in a dark flash of color, and DarkTsEgo is there.

    DarkTsEgo: Tremble, Sepulchral Phantom, for we have come to claim you!

    Morthrandur: Actually, your quest is futile. Firstly, no matter how many characters you claim, an arbitrary fiat by the writers can bring them back. Secondly, even if you did somehow succeed, you will have destroyed this entire story, and thus yourself.

    DarkTsEgo: ...

    Morthrandur: Plus, you don't seem to be catching much interest as far as this Never-ending Story goes.

    DarkTsEgo: ...we have things to do elsewhere. We didn't really want your sad spirit anyway.

    With that, DarkTsEgo vanishes. In the silence that follows, a soft ticking can be heard. Unseen gears within the ornate Lysol-disinfected cube whir and turn, marking off time. And then, an image appears above the cube, a magically projected hologram of an eerily familiar man. A guttural hiss is heard from beneath Morthrandur's shadowy cowl.

    Hologram: My name is Desmond.

    The thin skeletal fingers of Morthrandur clench into fists.

    Hologram of Desmond: I am the Hand of the Plot. If you are watching this, then it is about ten years after the birth of the Never-ending Story. *chuckles* I imagine I'll be watching this myself in a few years. But the Ancient One insists that this be recorded, in case something goes wrong; that way, those who come after us will know our story.

    Slowly, Morthrandur forces his hands to unclench as the hologram continues.

    Hologram of Desmond: One holocron message cube each will be put into the homes of the 12 Illuminohqi I am tasked to protect. And I'll be protecting them and their descendants for quite a while. If Magistarr is correct, his ritual with that mystic dust we found in Helebon's treasury will make me immortal.

    He smiles briefly, the smile of one who has no idea what horrors his already-come-to-pass future holds for him.

    Hologram of Desmond: But I digress. To get to the point of this message, the Ancient One threw a ball shortly after his arrival in our world...

    The 12,000 year old hologram recording continues on, oblivious to the hate of the one watching...

    -----------------------------------------

    Atlantis. Approximately circa 10,000 B.C.

    AncientWritertheWriter, henceforth known as the Ancient One, has recently arrived and claimed the loyalty of the Atlantean magocracy. Now he is throwing a banquet for the elite of the NeSiverse -- Wait a moment. Listen to all this crap. Is someone trying to make this story all uber-epic or something?


    Al Ciao the Writer: What? Why is everyone looking at me? Honestly, I'm not doing anything TOO epic here...

    The "elite of the NeSiverse" say otherwise.

    Al Ciao the Writer: Er... What if I change it to the DREGS of the NeSiverse? You know, bums and hobos and such. And then if we had some random bigshots in attendence... Please?

    Whatever. Beneath a white-domed hall, bums, hobos, and the occasional bigshot mingle. A midget devil and a beautiful angel converge on a goat-legged, barbed-tailed youngster: Helebon, his wife Ariana, and their son Satan.

    Helebon: Now look son, we let you move here to Atlantis after graduating Dis High School, but you haven't done anything except get a dead-end job at Evil Mattress Discounters. Why, even your best friend Farr enrolled in Atlantis Community College.

    Satan: *mumbling* Yeah, where he spends all his time drinking and partying...

    Ariana: Oh, Satan, if only you could be more like your older brother Darkside -- he's got his own firm now, Darkside and Jones, Attorneys at Law.

    Satan: Ah, jeez, Mom, why do you have to keep comparing me to Darky? I'll never be as evil as him!

    Helebon: Satan Tiberius Smithers! Don't you speak that way to your mother!

    Satan: This blows. I'm gonna find me a female hobo to hook up with. *stalks off*

    Helebon: *sigh*

    Ariana: Let him go, honey.

    Helebon: If only the Writer of Writers had accepted my petition for us to move back up to heaven... we wouldn't be in this position.

    Elsewhere in the banquet hall, Josephus -- inventor of the toilet and developer of the Atlantean sewer system, destined to found the Order of the Janitors -- is chatting up a tall brunette.

    Josephus: ...and that's how I unclogged the royal toilet! Say, I never caught your name.

    Brunette: It's ________'s Girlfriend.

    Josephus: I beg your pardon? Blank's Girlfriend?

    Girlfriend: _______'s Girlfriend. The blank hasn't been filled in yet, but that's my name. See, when I was born, the local oracle foretold that I had no destiny except to be the girlfriend of - and brains - behind some petty evil guy.

    Josephus: Petty evil guy? Let me introduce you to a friend of mine... YO, FARR!

    Across the room, Zeus and Hera (king and queen of the Olympian gods) are wondering where their son Ares went off. He is after all, only 288,018 years old. At the moment, the god of war is punch-drunk and talking the ear off a time-traveling, universe-hopping Highemperor. It is long after he forsook the throne of Armenia, for him, and long before he returns to the modern era; he still has the shoulder-length curls of his youth.

    Ares: *slurring his words* --an' fer shome reason I like ta evade snakes! S'weird, huh?

    Highemp: Kindly do not slobber on my cool red shoulderpad(TM). So, you say you like to dodge vipers?

    Somewhere, a random audience member is laughing at the irony of the pun.

    Highemperor: I'm not laughing. Super-epic powerplayers who take the story too seriously can't afford to have a sense of humor.

    Riiight.

    Let's see... A throne has been set up at a big table for the Philosopher-King of Atlantis. His son, the young Crown Prince Stafford, is sitting with his tutor Magistarr. Adai Theos is nursing a Tootsie Roll Pop, trying to determine just how many licks it takes to get to the center.

    The world may never know, for at that moment, the Ancient One stands up and calls for attention.


    Ancient One: Dignitaries, hobos, and Atlanteans, I have called you here to explain the nature of your world and my mission. As Magistarr has explained to most of you individually, we are in a story world. I am trying to secure our independence from the Editor and his tyrannical red ink quill. To do that, I must birth the Never-ending Story, and to do that, individuals with bloodink are required.

    HIghemp: *murmuring* Bloodink...?

    Ancient One: I am the first person with bloodink running through his veins. The first Ohq. But there are to be more of us. You see, long ago, the WriterGod blessed the founding of Atlantis, and remnants of that blessing survive in some as bloodink.

    And as an inexplicable need for exposition?

    Ancient One: I ask you to help us find them. My presence here is a catalyst that shall reveal the birthright of bloodink within the lucky ones. We hall be the Illuminohqi!

    Fine. Ignore me. Everyone else does. But can you ignore THIS--

    New Voice: Tremble before me!

    Everyone stares at this new voice booming through the hall. The words are not cliche, for this is the first time they have ever been used. Thus, everyone trembles as the room darkens and a figure swathed and obscured in black shadow appears.

    New Voice: I am The First Evil!

    Farr: Ah, just another damned soul destined for the Eighth Circle.

    TFE: Not so, for I am a new breed of evil -- I am a SUPERVILLAIN!

    And with that he strikes out and stabs the King of Atlantis through the heart, killing him instantly.

    Everyone: OH NOES!!

    Prince Stafford: Father!

    The First Evil laughs evilly, the first case of maniacal laughter in history.

    TFE: Now -- I will destroy you all, one by one, UNLESS you do exactly as I say! Give me *he puts a shadowy pinky to his shadow lip* ONE...MILLION...DOLLARS!

    There is silence for a moment.

    Magistarr: Er... what's a "dollar?"

    TFE: SILENCE! I will return in one hour. Have ready one million dollars...or else!

    For those who are interested, this is NOT the first use of "Or Else!" in history. That phrase has been used by frustrated parents to unruly children for eons.

    Adai Theos: Well, he's gone now, but he'll be back.

    Ancient One: Attention! Atlantis calls on you to defend her honor from this...supervillain! Who's with me?

    Random Hobo: Speaking for all of us guest -- if you can't even defend yourselves, why should we help you look for your precious Ohqs?

    Adai Theos: He's got a point.

    Ancient One: Drat.

    Magistarr: It's up to us Atlanteans...

    At that moment, a well-dressed young man pushes to the front of the crowd.

    Magistarr: Count Desmond, of the Atlantean nobility. Can we help you?

    Count Desmond: No, but I may be able to help you. I've made a study of the universe and its nature for some time -- a hobby of mine. Your revelation, O Ancient One, that we are in a story, makes a lot of things fall into place. You see, one of the facets of our world that makes it so hard for the Editor to tame it is its countless plotholes.

    Ancient One: Of course, I thought this world as such for exactly that reason.

    Desmond: But all those plotholes create a matrix of instability, meaning that reality becomes very malleable. In a very real way, perception creates reality. And The First Evil has successfully created a perception in us of his power and evil.

    Ancient One: So how do we change that perception?

    Desmond: I...I'm afraid I don't know.

    Adai Theos, who has remained quiet and thoughtful until now, ushers forth a young girl.

    Adai Theos: I know. We need an innocent child, whose perception and imagination are pure and uncluttered -- like Fay here.

    The child shifts her feet nervously, and it is at that moment that The First Evil returns.

    Random Atlantean Audience Member: Hey, wait! That short conversation couldn't have taken a whole hour!

    Er... Time flies when you're having fun?

    R.A.A.M.: Yeah, right.

    TFE: SILENCE! Where is my million bucks?

    Magistarr: Oh, it's bucks you wanted. Atlantis has plenty of male deer--

    Adai Theos: Magistarr?

    Magistarr: Yeah?

    Adai Theos: Shut up.

    The child Fay looks deep into the darkness that hangs over TFE like a shroud. Then her eyes widen and she giggles.

    Fay: You're not scary at all, Norman!

    The darkness falls away, and TFE is revealed to be a balding accountant who likes to collect stamps. Everyone laughs uproariously at him.

    Norman, The First (False) Evil: *blushing* NO! STOP!

    Prince Stafford: Take him away! Good job, Fay!

    Fay: Thank you, your highness.

    The prince and the girl are about the same age, and in that instant, young Stafford is smitten with a love that will endure even when she marries another and he becomes the first Forgotten...

    Ancient One: Why, this Fay -- I sense bloodink flowing within her! She is the second Illuminohqi! And you, Desmond...

    Desmond: Yes, my lord!

    Ancient One: Your studies and insight into the story saved us here. I now christen you the protector of the Ohqs -- I name thee Hand of the Plot!

    Desmond: Thank you, my lord. If I may make a suggestion... You and your Illuminohqi will birth and sustain the NeS, but we must make the perception of strength about them. We should create a group of heroes to be the Champions of Atlantis!

    Zeus and Hera walk up.

    Hera: Please take our ragamuffin son, Ares, into your group! We can't do anything more with him.

    Adai Theos: I too will join. This should be... interesting.

    Highemp: And I as well. You will have to tell me more about this... bloodink...

    Ancient One: Brilliant! Any other suggestions, Count?

    Desmond: Yes-- FOR WRITERGOD'S SAKE, use a breathmint or something!

  6. #1086
    While all that stuff was going on, Ares perused the snack table. There, at the end, was a delicious display of pigs-in-blankets. And only one left! Ares rushed for it, but just as he reached it, a hobo grabbed for it as well. Ares back handed the dirty thing away and snatched the snack.

    While Ares wandered off to be an *** somewhere else, that dirty hobo swore a solemn vow. Ares would pay. Oh how he would pay. Inside the hobo's head, three voices argued over how they would make Ares pay.

    Afterward, JM got a job and cleaned himself up and became a mildly successful banker. But he never forgot about that delicious snack denied him.

  7. #1087
    Two posts in a row? :|

    Somewhere between worlds, in the plane of forgotten stories, DarkTsoEgo broods alone. Doors swirl around him like gaping mouths, the worlds visible beyond them embroiled in flames. Destroyed. Consumed. Joined with the Ego.


    Ego : There must be a way.

    Tsolo : They are gods. It should not be surprising.

    Darkside : But even as gods, they are but characters like us. They still dance to the whim of the writers.

    Ego : Look what it took to defeat us. Look what the writers sent against us. Gods. Two Parthenons. These are not ordinary characters. These are not mere heroes. These are gods. The writers fear me.

    Tsolo : Fear US.

    Ego : They feat ME. What were you, Tsolo? You were nothing. You were ignored. You were not a danger. I am what they fear.

    Darkside : You are the newcomer here, Incalculable Ego.

    Ego : Don't forget the deal, Darkside, Tsolo. Don't forget your word. Alone, you were nothing. You were nuisances to the heroes. It is my power that makes us fearsome. When Ares is defeated, when this world crumbled under my foot, then I will depart and you may build what you wish from it's ashes. Until then, remember the deal you struck.

    Tsolo : Bickering begets nothing. It matters not why the writers have sent their best against us; it matters that they have. Ego is correct : There must be a way to defeat the gods.

    Darkside : They dance to the whim of the writers.

    Ego : What is as powerful as a writer, besides a writer? We will become a writer.

    Tsolo : Foolish. We are characters : We also dance to the whim of the writers. How can we rise to their plane, a plane where we literally do not exist?

    Ego : There is a writer here at this very moment. Darkside, what is our post count?

    Darkside : Nine thousand two hundred and seventy six.

    Tsolo : Impossible. That's more posts than there in the entire NES.

    Darkside : When ego absorbs a character, he gains their post count. If he absorbs two characters, and they appear in the same post..

    Tsolo : It counts twice. This is... writers, their post counts do not grow exponentially. We are more powerful than all writers combined.

    Ego : We would be, if we could but catch one. It is good that we already have. Reveal yourself, writer.

    As Ego had gone barking mad, Darkside and Tsolo decided their contract had ended..

    Tsolo : You don't sound like the usual narrator.

    Darkside : I think I'll stick around for this, actually.

    Uhhhh...

    Ego : Come out. I know you are there.

    JM The Writer : You cannot absorb me.

    Ego : Can't we?

    JM The Writer : No! I created you, of course you cannot. I am a real being, you are merely a figment of my imagination; you can do nothing of the sort.

    Darkside : Perhaps you are just a character created by an even greater writer above you.

    JM The Writer : ...I hadn't considered that.

    Ego welled up and reached through the fourth wall to sink his hands into JM The Writer, and pull him forward into the story.

    JM The Writer : Hey wait a minute! You too, narrator. I helped you, Ego! I created you! I have guided you through every step, I have fed you!

    Ego : I don't need you anymore.

    JM The Writer : What about Super Ego! And ID! I have pushed them toward your goal! Without me, they will stray!

    Ego : I am more powerful now without them, than I could ever hope to be with them. Do not forget, Writer, that you have also given the heroes the tools with which to destroy me!

    JM The Writer : But! But! That is my job! If I did not, the other writers would only accuse me of powerplay, and ignore my contribution! All we have worked for would have been undone!

    Ego : Only you are undone.

    Darkside : So this is what power tastes like.

    Tsolo : Let us deal with Ares immediately, as to end this farce quickly.

    DarkTsoEgo The Writer : Ha! Lets! Let the gods throw themselves against our pen!

    Somewhere, in what might be the real world, DarkTsoEgo The Writer presses a button that says 'reply', and begins to type.

  8. #1088
    In the realm of the Writers...

    Ben the Writer: Uh, guys? I think the dude who likes to write for JM just locked himself in an office and started laughing maniacally. Should we be concerned?

    Sarn Cadrill the Writer: Depends. Did he say anything about burning down the building?

    Ben the Writer: No?

    Britt the Writer: Hear anything that sounded like porn?

    Ben the Writer: Uh, ew? No.

    Britt the Writer: Hey, you never know.

    TLTE the Writer: Something about challenging the gods and ending the NeS?

    Ben the Writer: Yeah, I think it was something like that.

    TLTE the Writer: Yup, got another snapped writer on our hands.

    Britt the Writer: Don't we have a screening process for this sort of thing?

    TLTE the Writer: Geb takes care of recruiting most of the writers around here.

    Britt the Writer: Ah, that explains everything...

    --------------------------------------------------

    Back in the realm of the Never-ending Story, DarkTsEgo flexes newfound meta-fictional muscles and begins the process of rewritting.

    DarkTsEgo: First, let us set the stage. How about....

    The scene expands around the DarkTsEgo as the antagonist hovers over the rooftop of a citadel of blood. Which is on top of a volcano. In the middle of a thunderstorm, with tornadoes all around. Tornadoes on fire. The volcano erupts for good measure.

    DarkTsEgo: Hmm... no. Let's try something else....

    The scene alters to that of a colossal, flat platform hurdling against a backdrop of stars and strange-yet-dramatic phenomena.

    DarkTsEgo: Yes, this will do nicely for--what? It's booked? For the next 17 months? I'll just change that to--18 months? That's not what-- nevermind. We'll just let the NeS decide.

    The scenery changes to that of The Arena(tm)...

    DarkTsEgo: No. Definitely not. We'll just set the scene at the Dark Bridge of the Lost.

    What does the Dark Bridge of the Lost look like again?

    DarkTsEgo: .....

    Uh...right. The DarkTsEgo hovers over the Dark bridge of the Lost, a large, dark-gray stone bridge stretching across a misty heat rising from what appears to be a vast sea of dying embers.

    DarkTsEgo: Yes. Now to collect our cast of characters...

    Suddenly, the following appear on the bridge: Gebohq, Soriel, Benjamin Mahir, Al Ciao, Sup, Id, JMX01, Cris B., Ford, Voodoosnowflakes, Young, Ares, The Last True Evil, Amal, Rachel, Judge, Dr. R. Deep, Qhobeg of Hero Force One, and all fifty states of the Patriot. Possibly some other random characters too. After all, the DarkTsEgo just started learning how to storywield.

    Rachel: What the-- what kind of joke is this?

    Sup: It seems the Ego has drawn us together for his climax.

    Dr. R. Deep: And just exactly what does this "Ego" want with us?

    DarkTsEgo: You. All of you.

    The dark radiance of DarkTsEgo intensifies, and everyone is unable to do anything but stare in awe at the DarkTsEgo.

    DarkTsEgo: You are gathered here before us to witness our ascension beyond perfection. Our own brilliance will be a gift unto the Never-ending Story as we become its main players throughout its performance...

    The DarkTsEgo raises its hands like a priest presenting an offering. Each of the fifty Patriots then glow in the same manner as the DarkTsEgo, then dissipate upwards to become one with the DarkTsEgo.

    DarkTsEgo: Soon, no one will be tormented with just a glimpse of our incredible greatness, but fully realize the wondrous magnitude of our glory as we take your place in the story. Sing a chorus of praise as we rise you from the mere characters you were to serve and carry Your Excellence the DarkTsEGO!

    Silence. Then Sup steps forward.

    Sup: If you're so great, Ego, why do you need the help of the Darkside and the Avatar of Loss?

    DarkTsEgo: You appear to have mistaken us for Id, brother. I am not a selfish Ego -- I merely wish to have my glory recognized. Together, my wish can be fulfilled, and no one can deny us our destiny.

    Ares: Hey, you! I'll deny you all I want, and there isn't anything you can do about it, no matter how many characters you bum off from!

    The others nearby Ares quickly step away from him. Ares sniffs under his arm.

    Ares: I don't get it. Smells like the usual stench of the blood of my enemies to me.

    The DarkTsEgo flares in anger and shoots down towards Ares, pummeling him into the floor of the stone bridge. The others watch as Ares is violently and repeatedly choke-slammed to the ground, not having received such a beating since the first or fiftieth page of the Never-ending Story.

    Sup: Cleave the Ego now!

    JMX01 leaps towards the DarkTsEgo, wielding his Cleave-O-Matic. The DarkTsEgo looks up, but it is too late. The Cleave-O-Matic slices through the DarkTsEgo, and the Patriot -- apparently now one person again -- flies out of its form and lands elsewhere on the bridge. The DarkTsEgo turns to JMX01 to retaliate when Ares grabs the DarkTsEgo by the arm and punches it in the face. Its fury magnetized onto Ares, and the DarkTsEgo seems to be able to do little but continue pummeling Ares into a bloody and shameful submission as JMX01 continues to cleave characters left and right (though not all as cleanly "cleaved" as the Patriot). Finally, the Darkside and Tsolo themselves appear to be cleaved, leaving just Ego with its writer-powers.

    Id charges in and pulls the Ego away from Ares. The Ego, for all the greatness it still appears to possess, does little to struggle, apparently content for the moment that Ares can no longer move.


    Sup: Good job, my friends. The Ego's reign of terror will now be at an end.

    Everyone mumbles something of a cheer with confused optimism.

    Sup: Now the Ego is weak enough for me to control alongside the Id, and once I've absorbed them into myself, nothing can stop me!

    Everyone else: Fuq.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 10-18-2009 at 12:04 AM.

  9. #1089
    Yet I was not done with Ares. I, the most powerful and awesome writer who ever breathed life onto the page, sat in a plain room of middling proportions. A little folding table, square, occupied the center of the room. I sat at it. Ares sat across from me. A small plate of the most delicious cocktail wieners ever seen by mortal or godly eyes sat in the center of the table. Also there were little cheese cubes.
    "What is this?" Ares demanded. He tugged futilely at the thick metal shackles that held him to his chair. "Where am I? How did I get here? Why are you writing like a douche?"
    I smiled at him. It was not a friendly smile.
    "Yes, like that! Why is the writer writing in first person? And why from YOUR perspective."
    "My dear Ares," I said. "Why, it's for the same reason that your godly strength fails you."
    "That was my next question!"
    "I am the writer. And what greater perspective to write from is there, than my own? I understand why Gebohq encourages the disgusting and primitive writing style of this story. It must be withing the ability of the sort of disgusting and primitive writer he is capable of attracting. But now that I am in charge, it is time to write in a more sophisticated manner."
    "Now," I said, while I speared a cocktail wiener with a tiny plastic sword. "Do you see this?" I added a cheese cube to my miniature kabob. "Is it not delicious?"
    Ares quivered in his chair. His mouth watered. He struggled with his bonds, but could reach for that delicious morsel only with his eyes.
    "What the hades?" Ares demanded. "I did none of those things!"
    "Yes you did. I wrote them."
    "Uuugh..." Ares said. "Aaagh! Ooogh!" He continued to make similar sounds of torment as I devoured each wiener in incredibly awesome slow motion. His very soul was torn by the awesomeity of my awesomeness, and my delicious snacks. Beware ye who look upon the snacks of the gods, for you will despair at the awesome awesomeness of the awesome god of writers who snacks on the snacks of the gods.
    "Seriously what the flying ****!" Ares screamed.
    "Are you sufficiently tortured?" I asked.
    "By what? Your idiotic self indulgent writing, or the ****ing snacks?"
    "They are delicious, no? Your mouth waters, does it not?" In fact, it did. "Perhaps you will remember this next time you slap away an innocent hobo, and snatch from him the last delicious cocktail wiener?"
    "That was a pig in a blanket you incredible buffoon!"
    "Hey!" JMX01, who had just shown up, shouted at just that moment.
    "I said buffoon!" Ares squealed like a little baby. "Not baboon! Buffoon!"

    Super Ego : It is time, brother.
    ID : TIME SMASH?
    Super Ego : Yes, ID. It is time to smash. I see you have gained the power we seek, Ego.

    "I have become a writer god," I said.

    Super Ego : Christ, Ares is right. Stop with that crap. The time has come, let us recombine and rule this place.
    JMX01 : What? We are here to DESTROY the Ego!
    Super Ego : Foolish Monkey. The Ego cannot be destroyed.
    JMX01 : I AM AN APE!
    ID : GRAPE APE!
    JMX01 : No! Shut up, ID! You are by far the stupidest being I have ever met, and I have met Gebohq! I will not allow this EGO to destroy another story!
    Tsolo : We aren't too keen on it either.
    Darkside : Yeah, apparently we are also here and opposed to it!

    "You are fools," I said. "What can you do against me? You dance to the whims of the writers. You dance to the whims of me."
    Tsolo and Darkside agreed so vehemently with me that they went off to the corner and began to make out. It was unattractive, and got both their writers banned for making such lewd posts.
    Meanwhile, the entire cast of the NES gathered in a huge stadium. "Ego! Ego!" they chanted. After letting them wait just the right amount of time, I ran onto the stage. Their cheers echoed across the world like... like cheers. And I basked in their adulation.

    Super Ego : Yeah, do you really think any of them are going to do that even if you write it? Ugh. This is stupid. ID! Smash Ego!
    ID : SMASH!
    Ego the Writer : What? Wait. You can't smash me! What happened to my first person?

    What did happen to his first person? Hey look! It's me the narrator! ID smashed Ego good, smashed him flat. In a fit of rage, Ego reached out with his most basic attack... and absorbed ID entire.

    Egoid the Writer : LOOK WHAT YOU MAKE EGO DO! EGO FEEL DUMB ALREADY! EGO SMASH!
    JMX01 : No. No more smashing. Time now for dieing.

    The Patriot : Is this a climatic battle? And we aren't involved in it?
    TLTE : Uh. This is kind of boring actually.
    Sarn Cadrill : What amazes me is how everyone is here for some reason and we are just completely ignoring each other while they fight or whatever.
    JM The Writer : Yeah, sorry about that. It's just... well. I never bothered to actually read the NES. You understand, right?
    TLTE : Perfectly. But. Didn't that Ego fellow absorb you?
    JM The Writer : Yes, but JMX01 just cleaved me out. Weren't you paying attention? Look, right now Egoid is about to absorb Super Ego.

    Super Ego : I will rule you. Your power will be my power.
    Egoid : EGO THINK NOT!
    Super Ego : That's what the super ego does, numb skull.
    Egoid : GAOOOOO!

    And Sup vanished into Egoid's gaping maw. A mass of swirling light surrounded them. The very universe shook. Plot lines unravelled and ravelled again. Pages commenced, and arcs ended, and out of the blazing light walked Ares, with a handful of cocktail wieners.

    Ares : Actually these are pretty good.

    At last, after what seemed eons but was actually just enough time to microwave a burrito, the light vanished, and JM stood upon the stage. Not Ego. Not Sup. Not ID. Just plain JM.

    Ares : Oh great. Do I have to fight you now?
    JM : Meh. Anybody want to go get a pizza while we wait for the next story arc to start?

  10. #1090
    So, having no better ideas, everyone makes their way back to the Haunted House of Heroes and enjoys some time off eating pizza while they wait for the next story-arc...

    Al Ciao: Wait, where did TLTE and the Patriot go?

    Oh right. The Last True Evil and the Patriot split from the group prior to deal with their ultimate final terminal "for real" epic climactic showdown of the century of the week.

    TLTE: Actually, I'm back now.

    Judge: And where is the Patriot...?

    TLTE: He's been dealt with.

    Hero Force One Qhobeg: How suspiciously vague.

    TLTE: Perhaps it'll be recounted in a flashback, or maybe the details will be worked out some other manner.

    The Last True Evil stares down with the members of Hero Force One.

    Dr. R. Deep: If we find--

    TLTE: Yes yes, no need to bring that up here. We all know the protocol.

    An awkward silence falls for a moment.

    Ford: So, Geb! Good to see you're up and about again! Maybechild will be glad to hear that. She'll need all the help she can get rebuilding our group of heroes back at Cris's chicken place.

    Gebohq: Oh, yeah. Actually, I think it might be better if she did it without my help. There's a lot of stuff I need to work on myself first... before I go jumping back into things, you know.

    Ford: You sure?

    Gebohq nods.

    Voodoo: Uh, Soriel? Can you be more careful with your sword there? It keeps brushing up against my leg by accident.

    Fred teh Uber Blade: It ain't by accident, baby.

    Soriel grumbles.

    JM: I'm bored. Someone recount how awesome I've been.

    JMX01: You mean how you nearly destroyed all of existence with your power grab?

    JM: Don't forget how I dominated Ares with my awesomeness.

    Amal: Let's play a game!

    JM: Sure, whatever.

    (NSN: Feel free to move the story on without me. Either way, I'll try and move it myself in the near future.)

  11. #1091
    In a small corner of the Haunted Hall of Heroes, Sarn and Voodoo cuddle in a corner away from the others. And yes, they are only cuddling. Sarn isnít the Otter.

    Voodoo: I can still hardly believe that your back. It feels like youíve been gone for (p)ages.

    Sarn: I know what you mean. I feel like my writer intended my return for you to be more of a struggle. But then the Ego summoned the entire cast of NeS to cheer for him on stage... and here I am, all the temptation my writer tried to throw at me bypassed. Now we just need to figure out how to plug up the plot hole I came here in before it sucks me back to where I came.

    Cut scene to another room in the Haunt House of Heroes where we see Ford and Dr. R. Deep gathered around a plot hole that looks suspiciously like Sarn. Itís contained in wards for the moment, but given the whims of the writers there is no telling how long it will be contained.

    Ford: I still say we should just toss Chris into the thing. Itís not like anyone would miss him.

    Deep: That is an inconsiderate evaluation of his worth as a person... besides he has neither the mass nor the character depth to plug this thing. The Last True Evil on the other hand...

    Ford: Donít even think about it...

    Cut scene again to TLTE, Amal, and JM sit around a table in another room, drinking tea. And they are drinking tea; they told Amal it was tea and low and behold it became tea.

    TLTE: I still canít believe Losien didnít even tell us where she was going before rushing off like that. How can I return to here once Iím a true hero if I donít even know where she is?

    JM: Maybe you should focus more on being a hero and less on finding her?

    Amal: You canít talk to TLTE like that! Heís a great hero. Greater then Geb.

    JM: ...that last part didnít seem entirely in character.

    TLTE: Probably just the writers tying in the next cut scene... though if this entire post is going to be nothing but cut scenes, should it be something other than cut scene, mister narrator.

    Benjamin the Writer: Cut him some slack. You can all only speak as well as I can write, and eleven PM doesnít always equal a deep vocabulary. Narrator?

    Cut scene to Gebohq, Benjamin, Al Chio, and Chris are all standing in front of a fancy computer monitor. The monitor is currently displaying a live projection of Maybe Child.

    Maybe: Good to see you up and running Geb. And you too, Ben. Otter will be glad to hear youíre ok... once heís out of stasis.

    Benjamin: Stasis?

    Maybe: Donít worry. He finally hit sobriety, and the hangover that comes with it. MZZT built a stasis chamber out of one of the freezers so he can sleep it off rather than being tempted to hit the booze again.

    Geb: The Otter sober. Heh, what will the writers think of next. Anyway, will you be ok without me? I know itís sudden, but I kind of need to do something soul searching... possibly some grounds searching. The HHH is looking less like a house and more like a castle for some reason. Seriously, this place is getting larger by the second.

    Maybe: Weíll be fine Geb, though we could us some manpower since even when Otter wakes up it will only be three of us doing whatever heroes do. Al, Ben? Want to come over and lend a hand?

    Chris: Hey, what about me? Itís my restaurant youíre remodeling.

    Al: Not to ignore you Chris, but Maybe... shouldn't it be four? Where is Antestarr?

    And finally cut scene to the small Paris townhome that serves as the base of operation for Nyneve, the last NeSferatu. At the moment sheís quietly make some tea. Not for herself, but for one of the bitter poets she has locked upstairs in order to provide her with some form of nourishment until she can get to Geb.

    Suddenly , there is the sound of a doorbell. Raising an eyebrow, Nyneve answers the door feeling confident that it wonít be anything that will surprise her.

    Antestarr: Excuse me, is this the house of Nyneve, last of the NeSferatu?

  12. #1092
    (NSN: Once again, too lazy/pre-occupied to get around to pushing my own stuff quite yet, so instead, I'll do a little spin-off of something Ben just posted...)

    Ford and Dr. R. Deep continue to stare at the Sarn-shaped plothole...

    Ford: I don't think we have anybody here that's big enough of a character to fit this hole and yet not be missed...

    Dr. R. Deep: Well, who said it has to be filled in by someone?

    Ford strokes his chin in deep thought...

    ----------------------------

    Elsewhere, at the home of Alice...

    Alice: This plothole sure is starting to worry me--AHHHHH!

    She dives behind cover as the plothole suddenly spews forth pizza boxes, trash bags, several broken wooden chairs, a car battery, and a foot-trap for catching ghosts (with a ghost currently caught in it). The plothole promptly closes.

    Alice: I hate plotholes. And ghosts.

    trapped ghost: :'(

  13. #1093
    Days continue to pass by at the Haunted House of Heroes. Gebohq, the extroverted dork suffering from Protagonist's Syndrome, completes his backlog of taxes, helps the lovable street-rat Benjamin Majir shop for hero outfitting, and invents new ways of "gebbing it" (read: avoiding) his ex-fiancťe and April Fool's Incarnate, Rachel Pi. Wait, days?

    Gebohq: Geez, can't we have a break once in a while?

    You're a professional hero and you're part of a fictional story-world. Your livelihood depends on you fighting evil. Breaks tend to mean no money, and no audience.

    Gebohq: Point taken. Any of you guys notice anything in the "Help Wanted" section?

    He turns to three men sitting on a couch. The first is Soriel, a young, bloodthirsty sword-master, wielder of Fred Teh Uber Blade, browsing various websites on a laptop. The second is Al Ciao, also known more infamously by his powerplayer alter-ego, Highemperor -- the latter currently visible in his eyes as he seems to stare into something beyond the cover of reality. The last is, well, The Last True Evil, a former Soviet spy and destined Ultimate Villain of the Never-ending Story thread, currently holding a newspaper in his hand. All once mighty antagonists, now more-or-less fellow heroes and companions of Gebohq. The Last True Evil looks up at Gebohq.

    TLTE: Nothing in here, tovarish, except for the usual "Without Credit" calling.

    Al: That won't do at all.

    Soriel: Well of course you didn't find anything, old man. Newspapers are dead.

    TLTE: And you've had better luck on that "magical machine" you're using?

    The Last True Evil folds his newspaper and stares at Soriel. Soriel, in turn, spins the laptop towards him and the others as if it was a shield.

    Soriel: As a matter of fact, yes. See, look here.

    Gebohq: "Group of heroes needed to stop Zorbax the Insufferable from his Reign of Terror..."

    TLTE: No good. It says we need at least twenty in our group. Even if we rounded everyone up, we'd have what? Fifteen at best?

    Al: We could always turn villainous again.

    The three men on the couch ponder this.

    Gebohq: Uh--no--that's not necessary! I'm sure we'll find something if we just keep looking...

    -----------------------------------------

    Meanwhile (NeS count: more than you're making at your job), activist heroine Maybechild runs around, placing the finishing touches in her hero group's new headquarters housed in Cris B's Chikin Shack. She thaws out her second-in-command, former alcoholic British posh-punk The Otter, from his detox stasis.

    Otter: Bloody hell, is my detox time already done with?

    Maybe: No, but I need you out now. I did some advertising, and we should hopefully be getting some new recruits applying for hero positions for our newly-growing group. We'll need to prep for interviewing and testing them.

    Otter: What about Geb and the others?

    Maybe: Yeah... look, if they want to help, we'll have to put them through the same process. We can't have people free-riding off our work just because they've been around for a while.

    Otter: We can't?

    Maybe: Except for you.

    Otter: Oh thank God. You had me worrying there. So what job do we got lined up once we've got the new people on board?

    Maybe: I'm...still working on that. But we're in the Never-ending Story -- something's bound to come along.

    Otter: I feel more secured already...

    WILL OUR HEROES FIND JOBS? WHAT NEW HEROES, VILLAINS, AND OTHER CHARACTERS WE MIGHT CARE ABOUT WILL SHOW UP? IS IT BAD THAT THIS PREMISE HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE IN THIS STORY? FIND OUT, RIGHT HERE ON THE NEVER-ENDING STORY THREAD SQUARED!
    Last edited by Gebohq; 11-02-2009 at 06:45 PM.

  14. #1094
    In the Haunted House of Heroes, Soriel, Al Ciao, and TLTE continue to sit on the couch, while Geb stands. Benjamin Mahir walks into the room.

    Benjamin Mahir: Uh, Geb? Are you sure this is an appropriate hero outfit?

    Mahir is wearing a blue leather jacket, a light purple shirt with frills and ruffles underneath, green bell-bottoms, and six-inch platform shoes. He is also wearing a rainbow-coloured clown wig.

    Gebohq: Sure, what's wrong with it?

    Benjamin Mahir: Uh, well, it's just that when you offered to take me shopping for clothes, I kind of assumed you knew what you were doing...

    Gebohq: What are you talking about? You look great! Like a dashing hero of daring and mystery! Women will swoon when you walk into the room!

    TLTE (aside): Da, they will swoon from shock that anyone would wear such clothes in public...

    Gebohq: What? I didn't catch that TLTE, were you saying something?

    Benjamin Mahir: Yeah, uh, I think I'm going to go change now. This is--

    Suddenly, CRASH! Something smashes down through the ceiling with great noise and speed, impacting the floor with a great THUD! Plaster and bits of wood and dust are everywhere! The couch has been knocked over backwards, and TLTE has his pistol out, pointing at whatever it is, using the couch as a barricade! Soriel draws Fred Teh Uber Blade and wields it in the general direction of the hole in the ceiling! Geb is nowhere to be seen!

    The pile of plaster and wood shifts, jiggles, and moves. It's alive! Whatever it is, it's alive! The plaster slides to the side, and up from the very dramatic dust stands...


    Krig the Viking: GRAH! Blech. *Ptah*. Krig get crunchy dust in mouth.

    TLTE, Al Ciao, and Geb (poking his head up from behind an overturned table): Krig!

    Soriel and Benjamin Mahir: Who?

    In the midst of the rubble and the slowly drifting dust, stands a short, grimey, hairy figure, perhaps four feet tall. A shining Viking helmet, complete with historically-inaccurate horns, tops a head which is bottomed by a great bristly red beard, divided into two braids. He wears a dirty blue tunic, brown leggings, leather shoes, and a faded yellow cloak, while clutching a large, also historically-inaccurate, double-bladed axe. He looks as though he has not bathed in well over a month, and that was before he was covered in a thick layer of white ceiling plaster dust. His left eye twitches.

    Krig sneezes.


    Krig the Viking: HAT-CHOOO! *sniffle* What for supper?

    Geb: Krig! You're back! Where have you been?

    Krig: Huh?

    Geb: You know, what have you been doing? I thought you might be dead or something!

    Krig: Oh, Krig not dead. Krig having adventures.

    Geb: Okay, what kind of adventures?

    Krig: Krig have lots of adventures! Krig fight pie-rats, and nin-jaws, and then big bird come and Krig kill him and eat him, and then Krig help Pat Sajack save Christmas, and then fight man who smell like fish, and acheive ulty-mate enlightningment, and then watch T.V., and then smash Zor-bax man, and other mans give Krig money, and tell Krig not eat money, but Krig eat money anyway, but money not taste good.

    Soriel: Wait, you killed Zorbax the Insufferable?

    Krig: He smell like cheese.

    Soriel: Well great, there goes that job!

    Krig (turning to Geb): Who him? He dress like Krig friend Elvis.

    Geb: Uh, Krig, this is Soriel Thursday, and Al Ciao, and of course you know TLTE.

    TLTE: Krig. I am pleased that you did not die.

    Geb: Oh, and that over there is Benjamin Mahir.

    Krig looks over at the oddly-dressed Mahir. He looks at him for a moment, then two moments, and blinks.

    Krig: AAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHOHOHOHEEHEEHEEEE! HeeeeeeHAHAHAHA! O-HOHOHOHOHAHAHAHA!

    Krig rolls around on the ground, laughing, holding his sides, stomping his foot on the floor for emphasis. He stops, takes a deep breath, looks at Mahir, and then starts laughing again, harder than before.

    Benjamin Mahir: Um... Yeah... I think I'm going to go change now...

  15. #1095
    Back in the world of the writers, not to be confused with the world of the posters, and certainly not to be confused with the world of human being sitting behind computers across the planet participating in collective story writing over the internet...

    Britt the Writer: Who scripted this intro?

    Benjamin the Writer: Ösorry.

    Right, now... where was I? Oh yes, the world of the writers, where the writers even now gather to try and decide what the future plotline of Neverending Story Squared will be.

    Geb the Writer: Ok people, we still have a long way ahead of us till page fifty. Who has an idea for the next plotline?

    Cool Matty the Writer: Well thereís always the whole fusion reactor scenario Iíve been running.

    JM the Writer: The one with eight characters and tie-ins to the novel youíve been writer? No thank you, you can handle that mess on your own.

    Sarn the Writer: Well what about the return to Sarn to his one true love?

    Britt the Writer: You have been reading the story, right?

    Worried looks are exchanged between Benjamin the Writer and Gebohq the writer.

    Sarn the Writer: GuysÖ

    Benjamin the Writer: People were gathered together during the battle against the Incalculable Ego. It seemed like the perfect moment. I left you a way out but...

    Gebohq the Writer: So I donít like plotholes. What about you Ben? You appear full of ideas.

    Benjamin the Writer: More than you could imagine. I just donít want to control the storyline. Iíve planted the seeds but I was hoping someone else would decide which ones to germinate.

    Britt the Writer: Well why donít we just let the characters decide where to go?

    JM the Writer: That crowd of apathetic sloths?

    Benjamin the Writer: Wait, I donít think he means the heroes. In fact... this could work.

    ---------------

    And so, the only characters with the authority to shape the ploteline gather within the realm known as the 1337. The hands of NeS, Mayall and Bhac, are across from each other on a huge conference table. Along the sides of the table are the protectors of the plotfractal: Stafford, Rachel, and Gebiyl. ...well Gebiyl is technically a scarecrow in Gebiylís clothing, but you get the idea.

    Mayall: By the will of the writers, we call this meeting of the guiding forces of NeS to order. At issue of the next plotline of the Neverending Story. Protector Rachel, you wish to speak?

    Rachel: Yes, I move that the team up of Antestarr and Nyneve be the next plotline brought to the foreground of the plotfractal.

    Mayall: Is this a pure nomination, or is it tainted by your desire to hurt the Ohq?

    Bhac: Iíll second the nomination.

    Mayall gives Bhac a cold stare before addressing the table again.

    Mayall: Will any other plotlines be nominated.

    Stafford: Actually, Iíd really like progress The Next True Evil plotline.

    Mayall: For self centered reasons as well?

    Stafford: And altruistic as well. Blank slate clones canít sign binding contracts.

    Mayall considers this for a moment.

    Mayall: Very well, seconded. Anything else.

    Suddenly a JM Kirby bursts into the room.

    JM Kirby: Hey, boss! Big man upstairs is considering having JM be a villain since none of the other villains turned hero wants to step up to the plate.

    Bhac: A recommendation from a writer needs no recommendation. We now have three...

    Mayall: And with four of us present, that is the ideal number to prevent the one vote for everything. Register your votes now.

    Which plotline will the guardians of NeS vote to elevate as the next dominant plotline of the plotfractal? Will all this only further Thands predictions of destruction? Will the writers realize that they still need to make a decision since the characters canít speak without their scripts?

    Benjaming the Writer: ...crud.

    Tune in next time, for another installment of the Neverending Story Squared!

  16. #1096
    CM and gang, along with the gang from the "future", have just arrived at the facility containing testing apparatus for a fission reactor. We join them as they try to break in.

    Wai: You sure you can hack this? It's pretty thorough encryption from what I can see.

    Wai was talking to Michael, who was standing over the unconscious body of a guard at the front gate, attempting to gain access to the building via a computer terminal.

    Michael: For your time, yes. AES is difficult to crack with your old binary computers. Luckily where we're from, we've had a bit of an upgrade. Quantum computing.

    Wai: I see! I've heard about that particular issue, quantum computing really poses a threat to our encryption schemes. It'll be interesting to see it at work, though!

    Michael: Not much to see, it's already done.

    Michael pointed at the screen's gate controls, which were now enabled. He pressed the necessary buttons and the large metal gate to the reactor building groaned open.

    CM: Nice! Looks like you have some competition.

    Wai huffed and walked on in.

    Yukari: Seems pretty empty, good thing it's a weekend.

    Mimiru: Yeah, I don't think we could pull this off otherwise.

    Anna: There's still a few people inside, I can sense them.

    Yukari: Thanks for the heads up. I should scout ahead, I can move quick enough to keep out of sight.

    Yukari jumped ahead without waiting a second for a response. She reached the end of the hall in a blink of an eye, looked around, and waved them forward. The group scurried on, keeping their eyes peeled for danger.

    Yukari: Where next?

    They were facing a 4 way intersection, with stairs right in front of them.

    Wai: We go down. The control room is in the back on the basement level.

    Yukari once again flew ahead, down the stairwell. The rest followed behind, and at each floor Yukari waved them on. Finally they reached the bottom, and they found the control room.

    It only took a few seconds at the control panel before Michael noticed something alarming.

    Michael: This is not good...

  17. #1097
    In the Haunted House of Heroes, Geb, TLTE, Al Ciao and Krig regard each other fondly, with much back-slapping and hand-shaking. There is an awkward moment when TLTE offers a gloved hand to Krig, who instinctively chops at it with his axe, but eventually the faux pas is put behind them.

    Soriel: So you guys go back a ways, huh?

    TLTE: Indeed, young man. This is quite the reunion. In fact, I'm not sure we've all been in the same room together since...

    There is an awkward pause. Everyone looks agitated. Krig, unable to attack the awkward pause with his axe, tries to whistle. The resulting sound effect, akin to a pterodactyl with chronic hayfever coughing up a hairball, ironically makes things worse.

    Soriel: What? What is it?

    Al Ciao: Well, the last time we were all together was the final page of the original NeS. A nasty business, that was.

    Gebohq: Yeah...not a good time to be a hero.

    Krig: Lots of killing that day. Krig had great time!

    TLTE: Geb here must have stabbed me with the NeSword, what, ten times? Twenty?

    Gebohq: Well, you were possessed by a demonic force and trying to blow my brains out.

    TLTE: Touche, tovarish. But all that's behind us now. Best of friends and all that.

    Soriel: Really? Aren't you supposed to be, like, the Ultimate Villain or something?

    TLTE's face darkens. Gebohq clears his throat and laughs inappropriately. Krig fires up his Viking Whistle again.

    TLTE: I assure you, young man, that the venerable Master Arkng Thand has made an error.

    Gebohq: Of course, of course. TLTE has our complete confidence.

    Soriel: Oh, OK. Well, you're alright by me, I guess.

    There is yet another awkward pause. Everyone looks at the ceiling.

    Krig: Krig prefers beheading villains to cocktail banter.

    There is a collective murmur of "yes", "absolutely right", "spot on" as everyone starts trawling through the paper again in search of a fresh adventure.
    Last edited by The Last True Evil; 11-05-2009 at 07:29 AM.
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  18. #1098
    ((NSN: Just a short something because I wanted to give Ante's bit some love, but don't got much at the moment.))

    Nyneve: Well, isn't this a pleasant surprise.

    In front of a small townhouse in Paris, Nyneve forces a smile upon Antestarr.

    Nyneve: Why don't you step inside, and we can chat over a drink.

    Antestarr: I'll just opt for the chat. It'll be short.

    Nyneve: I insist.

    Her lips unveil to suggest the presence of fangs.

    Antestarr: Perhaps we can have our drink outside. It's a nice day.

    Nyneve: You haven't kept an eye on the weather forecast, have you?

    Just then, it starts to rain heavily.

    Nyneve: Now step inside, dear boy, before you get all diluted--I mean wet.

    Antestarr reluctantly steps inside Nyneve's townhouse.

  19. #1099
    Upstairs in the haunted house of heroes, Benjamin Mahir close the doors to one of the many unoccupied...

    Voodo: ...excuse me!

    Eep! Benjamin does a quick about face and hurries to find an unoccupied bedroom. Not a hard problem, the haunted house of heroes is mostly empty. Once heís in an empty bedroom heíll shut and lock the door. Exhaling, heíll take a moment to undress.

    RAM: Wohoo! Take it off!

    Benjamin quickly pulls up his pants, looking around to try and see where the strange voice came from. As the audience knows, though, they are completely hidden from the characters.

    Benjamin Mahir: Why the bloody [censored] is there a bleacher sitting on the fifth... wall... of aÖ

    There is a strange moment of silence while Ben and the audience stare at each other. Personally, Iím just thankful as a narrator I have a precedence of not having any body.

    RAM: Um... hi.

    Benjamin Mahir: Right... this room is occupied so...

    Benjamin exits the room, only to find that the strange fifth wall is also in the hallway, along with the same group of audience members.

    Benjamin Mahir: ...

    ---------------

    While Benjamin deals with his lack of privacy, Nick the self proclaimed god of peace has to deal with his father Ares the god of war/bloodlust. The confrontation takes place in the Ares Arena, with Nick center stage surrounded by selection of some of the bloodiest souls Ares could ship out of underworld with promises to Hades to return them the hard way.

    Ares addresses his son over the stadium loudspeaker.

    Ares: Now son, I know Iíve been neglectful with your upbringing, but you must realize that war is the dominion of all gods. Peace is a mortal illusion. I can think of nothing finer then gladiatorial combat to prove this to you.

    On cue, the souls of ancient warriors begin to draw in closer. Nick, simply crosses his arms.

    Nick: I shall not fall prey to your games father. As god of peace, I have the power to end all conflicts with the might of peaceís greatest weapons.

    Proving his point, Nick uncrosses his arms and reveals a single white dove in the palm of his hands. He points the dove in the direction of the one of the strongest warriors and lets it fly. The warrior makes quick work of the dove...

    ...only to be soon faced with two doves. Another few swift blows and it is four, then eight, and then sixteen. Pretty soon the entire arena is filled with cooing doves to the point that if the soothing sound of their song doesnít sooth the warriors, their sheer mass will smoother them.

    Ares: ...right. I think I must call father and ask for the aid of the hundred handers. But first, letís see if Morris has a thing for dove...

    ---------------

    Back at the Haunted House of Heroes, Benjamin walks back down stairs to join our heroes as they try and find a new job. Heís back to his normal clothing from before the whole Hero Force One incident. Geb, being the only one who isnít doing something productive, greets him.

    Gebohq: Hey Ben, managed to find clothing all right?

    Benjamin Mahir: Yep. Had the bloody time finding some privacy. Just when you think your alone, some blokes on bleachers kept on following me around with the strange eye straining fifth wall.

    The Last True Evil: You mean the audience? Normally we just ignore them.

    Al Cio: Truly. It makes it very difficult to get private business done if you acknowledge the constant ever present audience.

    Gebohq: Wait... if you were looking for privacy, how did you escape the audience?

    Benjamin Mahir: I couldnít. But I figured if they were going to watch, I might as well give them a show.

    Whistling innocently, Benjamin heads off towards the kitchen as he counts the fives in his waistband. The other heroes watch him go in disbelief. Gebohq is lost in thought for a moment.

    Gebohq: You know, I always wanted to be a...

    Soriel: Donít even think about it.

    Is Benjamin finally coming to terms with the story, or will he just pass this off as part of being in a Haunted House of Heroes? Will Nick defeat his father with his aggressive passive resistance? Will Geb hire out the attractive members of the heroes to strip clubs in order to pay for the groceries? To find out the answer to any or none of these questions, tune in again for another installment of the Neverending Story Squared!

  20. #1100
    Soriel: So, Krig, you like killing, huh?

    Krig: Ya! Krig like killing bad mans. Chop and smash.

    Soriel: I like chopping their heads off, how about you?

    Krig: Chop off head is good way. Sometimes Krig chop skull in half.

    Soriel: You can do that with your axe?

    Krig: Ya! Krig get new axe, very sharp! Chop through lots of stuff, see?

    Krig suddenly chops the couch in half. While Al Ciao is sitting there.

    Al Ciao: Ah! What are you doing?

    Krig: Krig chop couch in half!

    Just then, a bloody skeleton wearing a bathrobe and carrying a loofa saunters into the room.

    Skeleton: Oh, hello all, you haven't seen a bar of soap around here, have you?

    Krig: SKELATOM! KRIG SMASH!

    Skeleton: Uh, what?

    [i]Krig lunges at the skeleton, swinging his axe. The following noises are heard: SMASH! CRACK! CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUMP! Whump! SNAP! Wha-CLANG! SMACK! CRUCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH! Crunch! Crunch. Crunch.

    Krig stands on a pile of skeleton dust, panting, gripping his axe and staring wildly around the room.

    TLTE: You know, that skeleton was a decent fellow.

    Geb: Not really, he owed me fifty bucks. I'm pretty sure he was avoiding me just so he wouldn't have to pay. Tightwad.

    TLTE: Out of curiosity, Krig, how did you come to be falling through our roof?

    Krig: OH! Krig forget! Krig was fighting dragon, and fell off!

    TLTE: A dragon.

    Krig: Ya.

    TLTE: Where did you find a dragon?

    Krig: Oh, well, Krig was--

    Just then, a dragon tears the roof off of the Haunted House of Heroes. Our heroes gaze upward in surprise, as a the giant scaly green head of a dragon peers down at them from where the ceiling used to be.

    Krig: THERE DRAGON IS AGAIN!

    Geb: Oh, great, who's going to pay for that roof? And the whole upper floor?

    Oh my goodness it's a dragon! Whatever will our heroes do? Has there ever been a dragon in NeS before? Will NeS abruptly end with our heroes being burnt to a crisp by dragon fire? That seems somewhat unlikely, but you never know! Tune in next time to find out!
    So sayest the Writer of Silly Things!

  21. #1101
    Back inside the Parisian townhouse, Antestarr does his best to remain composed as Nyneve draws close to him.

    Nyneve: How about we continue where we left off those many years ago, my sweet?

    Antestarr: I think I'll pass.

    Nyneve: Do you not enjoy the company of a woman?

    Antestarr: Attacking my sexual preference, now? That's a low blow.

    Nyneve: You wish.

    Antestarr: Do you want to hear what I have to say?

    Nyneve: Why should I? I think I'd rather taste the salt of your character...

    Antestarr: Wouldn't you rather taste that of Gebohq's?

    She stops, then takes a step backwards.

    Nyneve: What's your game?

    Antestarr: Well Poker is always a classic, but admittedly, I have a soft spot for Go.

    Nyneve: And I have a soft spot for funny boys.

    Antestarr: Then with my help, Gebohq shouldn't pose a problem. He's not very funny.

    She giggles. The two walk in deeper into her home...

    ((NSN: I need to work on being funny again.))

  22. #1102
    TLTE: Ah-hah! A dragon - what a perfect opportunity for me to practise my new metaphysical powers!

    He waggles his fingers menacingly, and is immediately swallowed whole by the gaping maw of the dragon's mouth.

    Gebohq: TLTE!

    Krig: YOU ATE KRIG'S FRENEMY!

    Al Ciao: HE OWED ME MONEY!

    Soriel: I DON'T CARE AS MUCH AS THEM, BUT I'LL SHOUT FOR THE SAKE OF APPEARANCES!

    They all set upon the vicious beast with steel and spellcraft. Nothing makes so much as a dent. In response, the dragon sneezes out a bright burst of flame that completely incinerates the Haunted House of Heroes.

    The survivors (everyone) sit on the smoking ash of the HoH, covered in soot. Next to them, a skeleton in a bathtub covers his genitals, in what is obviously a residual instinct from when he had genitals to cover. And skin, for that matter.


    Gebohq: Well, that headquarters didn't last very long.

    Al Ciao: At least we didn't accidentally destroy an historical British monument this time.

    Gebohq: The day is still young, my friend.

    The dragon launches itself into the sky, its face a rictus of pain. Suddenly, a thin blade issues from the dragon's scaled breast, and TLTE cuts himself out.

    TLTE: Ergh. I am positively covered in dragon gizzards. This could not get any worse.

    At this precise moment - owing much to the inherent NeS appreciation for irony - TLTE realises that he is on top of a dragon carcass several miles high.

    TLTE: Oh, shi -

    He plummets.
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  23. #1103
    Gebohq: HANG ON, I GOT YOU!

    Gebohq steps forward, closes his eyes, and stretches out his hands in attempt to use the Metaphorce -- really? That's so bad on so many...whatever, anyway -- to keep The Last True Evil, and the dead dragon he is on, from falling with fatal force.

    Soriel: Uh... he's still falling.

    Gebohq: I got this.

    Soriel: It doesn't look like it to me.

    Gebohq: Have faith.

    Soriel: Why are you taking this risk? Just have Al use his super do-whatever-he-wants powers to save him! Then he could fix the house back up too to boot.

    Al Ciao: He makes a point there, Geb. Perhaps--

    Gebohq: No! I won't have one life saved at the cost of another! Give me time!

    Soriel: Time is not something we have! Stop making a big deal out of this and just let him help!

    TLTE: That won't be necessary.

    Soriel: What the--

    Soriel turns to see The Last True Evil standing alongside them. The dead dragon lightly flumps on the ground nearby.

    TLTE: The fall slowed down so much that I was able to hop off.

    Gebohq beams an idiotic smile.

    Soriel: Yeah, right, like you meant to do that.

    Gebohq: Didn't I? Or maybe you're just too amazed at the skills of a story-wielding master?

    Al Ciao: You sure it wasn't TLTE's kid?

    Amal: Tee-El-Tee-Ee!

    Amal runs and hugs The Last True Evil.

    Gebohq: Thanks for the vote of confidence. *grumble*

    JM: BOR-ING!

    Just then, the dead dragon's eyes flicker an unholy white glow and begins to rise. Everyone stares at JM.

    JM: I know, I'm awesome. You can thank me later.

  24. #1104
    Watches this entire mess is Benjamin, standing in just about the place the kitchen used to be. While the dragon does worry him he has at least some confidence in the heroes around him. At the moment, heís mourning the sandwich that went up with the blaze.

    Benjamin Mahir: ...

    Elsewhere around the remains of the Haunted House, people other than Amal are revealed to have been on scene for the destruction and survived it. Voodoo and Sarn are holding each other of course, Young is wearing a set of maternity jogging sweats, and Ford is taking advantage of being the last to be described by unleashing some arcane whoop *** on the dragon.

    Ford: Nwo ym sa erif ruoy mialc I, oppiZ tneicna fo rewop eth yb!

    At the completion of the spell it looks like the dragon is about to comedicly flame Ford... which is perfect timing since as those how know the art of saying oneís spells backwards would know, Fordís spell was designed to absorb the dragonís flames.

    Sucking up the last of the dragonís fire, Ford shuts the Zippo with a triumphant laugh.

    Ford: Ha! Letís see you burn us to a crisp without your flame.

    The dragon obliges by breathing lightening at Ford.

    Ford: ...medic.

    As Voodoo responds to Fordís call for assistance, Sarn joins the other main heroes while Young and Benjamin rush off towards the comparative safety of the forest.

    Sarn: Right, so... whatís the plan to defeat this thing.

    Al Ciao: Well it appear to be vulnerable to being sliced apart from the inside. All we need to do is get it to swallow one of us again and let him have it!

    Soriel: Not it.

    Krig: Kirg no like be eaten.

    TLTE: Well donít look at me, Iíve already taken my turn in the bell of the beast.

    Gebohq: Right. Time for some brilliant distraction to save the day then.

    Silence.

    Gebohq: New character to save the day?

    Silence.

    Gebohq: Obscure extra?

    Even more profound silence.

    Gebohq: Gee, story wielding is harder than it looks. How about at least a scene change to help us gather our thoughts?

    ---------------

    And so the scene changes once again to Antestarr and Nyneve, who are now finally sitting down and enjoying a nice cup of tea. Well, Antestarr is enjoying a nice cup of tea. Nyneve is enjoying a nice poet.

    Antestarr: You know Nyneve, we donít have much in common, but we can at least agree on the retirement of Gebohq as main character of the story.

    Nyneve: Yes, an unfortunate side effect of feeding. It makes it impossible to taste the same vintage twice. Still, you havenít truly make a convincing argument of why help me.

    Antestarr: The NeS canít thrive with a single protagonist. That, above anything else, is what prompted the battle against the EeP: an epic battle where the main protagonist must suceed or the story is over. Iíve already tried killing him, but in the NeS something so trivial wonít stick, even with epic weapons like Dark Foil. No... what we need is something more. Something connected Gebís own source of power.

    Nyneve: The Ohq bloodline. Though by your own logic, the story will pin the success of any confrontation with an Ohq on the success of everything. I want the blood ink, but I NEED the Neverending Story.

    Antestarr: Yes... this is going to take a very carefully charted plot to get him to fall without taking the entire story down with him. That is why we must work together. Your ability to manipulate the story conventions are great Nyneve, but you can only do so as a villain. I am still considered a hero by my peers. Thankfully they donít yet realize a true defender of this story canít wear that role...

    Nyneve: True. You can be where I am canít. Still, do you have a plan?

    Antestarr: The writers have a plan that could work to our advantage, but aside from being the product of the writers it would dull the flavor of all blood ink. No, what we need is one of the other blood inks to temporarily supplant Gebohq. Once theyíre in position, you can have Gebohq and I can deal with the new protagonist. The question is, who do we mold: Losien, or Amal?

  25. #1105
    Just then, outside the smoking ruins of the Haunted House of Heroes, a short, bespectacled man wearing a suit and tie walks up.

    Bespectacled Man: Uh, excuse me, I was told there were heroes for hire, I--

    The bespectacled man adjusts his spectacles and peers at the dragon.

    Bespectacled Man: Ah. I see you are... busy. I uh... I will come back some other time!

    The bespectacled man (okay, his name is Howard, can I stop saying "bespectacled"? I'm not even sure if you're spelling it right!) begins to slowly back away, and then turns to run away.
    So sayest the Writer of Silly Things!

  26. #1106
    Gebohq: Wow, I'm really good at stalling this epic conflict surely to come!

    Silence. Krig picks his nose.

    TLTE: So do you have a plan yet, fearless leader?

    Gebohq: Plan? Uh...

    He runs over to Howard, the two of them using The Last True Evil's unfairly-denied-an-award-winning pumpkin patch as cover.

    Ben: So... his plan involves talking to that guy then?

    The undead dragon hovers over the remaining not-so-heroic types.

    Soriel: I dislike you a lot, little viking.

    Krig: Krig can't help if dragon eggs be tasty!

  27. #1107
    TLTE and Gebohq approach Howard rapidly, feeling the breath of an undead dragon on their necks. This tends to have the effect of expediting any action an individual takes. The little man flinches instinctively and takes his enormous spectacles off, rubbing them with a well-worn handkerchief.

    Howard: Hello, there. I...er...was interested in being a NeSHero.

    Under ordinary circumstances, TLTE and Gebohq would have looked at each other, then burst into tears of laughter. But again, with the galvanising presence of a HUGE UNDEAD DRAGON, they feel inclined to take any help at face value.

    Gebohq plasters a cartoonishly large grin on his face, and tries to talk through his teeth.


    Gebohq: Of course! Of course! Need all the help we can get, young man!

    Gebohq realises immediately that this remark makes no sense - Howard is easily enough to be his grandfather's grandfather. To distance himself from the absurdity, he tries to smile even more broadly. TLTE claps Howard on the back, nearly bowling him over.

    TLTE: Howard, is it? Have you ever fought a dragon before, Howard?

    The dragon swoops down and snatches Gebohq up, flying high into the air. TLTE attempts to block Howard's view of the carnage.

    Howard: Oh dear...your friend is -

    TLTE: Shh. That's not important right now. Do you have any experience in dragon-slaying?

    Howard: Er -

    Gebohq: [distant voice] Any experience at all would be invaluable!

    Howard: Oh, I - I don't know. I guess I was just fooling myself...but...

    He leans heavily on his cane, as if deep in thought. Finally, capitulating, he stands up straight and pulls from the shaft of his cane a long silver rapier, encrusted with rubies and sapphires.

    Howard: Excuse me, please.

    Howard shuffles politely past an astonished TLTE. Then, with little to no warning at all, the wizened little man in his dapper suit launches himself into the air as if shot out of a cannon, beheading the dragon, catching Gebohq and landing in one spectacular arc. The twice-dead dragon falls to the ground noisily in a fountain of gore behind him.

    Howard: Dragons were a speciality of mine. Back when I was young, that is.

    TLTE's jaw drops, noisily, to the ground. Gebohq is still lying in Howard's arms, looking up at his saviour with something like love. Gently, Howard puts him down and adjusts his little suit.

    Howard: I'm Howard. Howard the Dragonbane, terror of Wyrmling and Drake-kin alike. I live on a diet of grapefruits and bran, and I expect all of you to be up by five A.M. sharp. We've got heroic deeds to do, youngsters! Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to take my third mid-afternoon nap.

    Howard shuffles past them, the soles of his church shoes squeaking as he does so. TLTE and Gebohq continue their astonishment routine.

    Gebohq: They made them out of sterner stuff back then, didn't they?

    TLTE: They certainly did.

  28. #1108
    A few hours later, dim figures in the twilight gather wooden debris from the remnants of the Haunted House of Heroes, throwing it onto a flickering fire. Howard, the freshly-anointed NeSHero par excellence, sits in front of it, looking much older and more dangerous than his outwardly benign countenance would seem to imply. TLTE watches him intently, amazed that he could ever have thought Howard to be a dithering old fool - in the iridescent firelight, he looks more like a coiled spring stuffed with dynamite and knives, waiting to pounce, explode and gut anyone unfortunate enough to look at him.

    Al Ciao: You know, I only knew this headquarters briefly, but I'm going to miss it. It had character, ambience...

    Gebohq: What, and Big Ben didn't?

    Al shrugs and throws more wood on the fire. The flames jump approvingly, hungry for sustenance.

    Howard: You shouldn't cry over spilled milk, youngsters. The hero's life is on the road.

    He jabs his cane accusingly at them.

    Howard: That's why everything's so darned topsy-turvy in this world! You let your heroism get on top of you! You scattered your forces to the ends of the planet, into different dimensions, battling through a dozen different heroic sub-plots...I mean, do any of you even know where half of your roster is right now?!

    The NeSHeroes look down, ashamed.

    Howard: You young folks are like tinned marmalade - only useful if you're smeared thick and plenty on something, otherwise everyone hates you!

    Soriel: You have a pretty intimate knowledge of the NesHeroes, old man.

    TLTE: Soriel, be silent.

    Soriel: No, no, I gotta know - has this old canker been casing us this whole time? Maybe he's behind the whole thing!

    Gebohq: Soriel, he decapitated an undead dragon that was unleashing a hellish inferno upon us.

    Soriel: That's just how these con games work. It's the oldest story in the book - a sweet old fella, his pet undead dragon - man, it's a classic.

    Howard: Enough!

    The cane whips across like lightning, delivering a stunning blow to Soriel's unmentionables. While the young antihero writhes in pain, struggling to recover his manhood from the brink of oblivion, Howard addresses the other terrified NeSHeroes with a withering stare.

    Howard: I didn't come here because I wanted to yarn with you. I came here because I need you all to get your patooties in gear. You need my help and you need it now - so where is he?

    Gebohq: Where's who?

    Howard: Antestarr. The NeScholar.

    Krig: What does toothy old man want Antestarr for?

    Howard: What do you think, Eric the Braindead? I need him to come with me to get Thand's treasure.

    The crackle of the fire cuts across an otherwise absolute silence.

    Gebohq: ...you know Arkng Thand? And Antestarr? But that could only mean -

    Howard: - that I'm a NeScholar? Caught up at last, my stars and garters. Yes. Howard the Legendary Dragonbane has been a NeScholar for eighty-two years. I was retired, until Thand killed us.

    TLTE: What do you mean?

    Howard: He killed the NeScholars, boy. Almost every single one of us, at the annual meet. There's only a handful of us, now.

    Howard gestures to the shadows, and a young man in a purple suit and a slanted hat steps forward.

    Howard: This is Matthias. He was my pupil. He was there.

    Al Ciao: But we don't even know Thand's intentions! I knew him for years, and he seems content to wax philosophical about literature and let the world pass him by in the Dreamstate.

    Howard: Ah yes, his vaunted Dreamstate. I don't know why either, youngster. But I do know other things. Like, for example, that he couldn't take possessions with him into that strange half-world. Everything he owns in there is made by willpower.

    Howard pokes at the fire with his cane, laughing.

    Howard: All those books, for example...when Thand decided to enter the Dreamstate, he had one hundred libraries' worth of books. Priceless knowledge, but he couldn't take any of them with him. So do you know what he did?

    He raps the cane on his head, grotesquely.

    Howard: He entered the Dreamstate...and copied them all out again. Every single book, rewritten in his hand, without a memory aid or assistant to help him. It was a labour of love, you see. Because he cared for those books. But some things he cared about could not be replicated.

    Howard stands up, leaning heavily on his cane. Matthias helps him to his feet, his hands crackling with energy. TLTE instantly recognises the magic potential of the boy, and begins to despise him.

    Howard: That's how I can help you, youngsters. As a trade-off for peace and solitude in the Dreamstate, Thand left all of his miraculous possessions back here, on Earth. In a temple on an island, not too far from this very location, is a shrine with all of his most valuable treasures. If you want any chance of surviving the pages to come - and believe me, as a NeScholar, there are fun times ahead - you'll need them.

    All of the other Heroes turn from the old man's words and look at Gebohq. Geb clears his throat, wipes the sweat from his brow and steadies his voice.

    Gebohq: When do we leave?

    Howard simply smiles, and beckons to the road behind him.
    The Last True Evil - consistent nobody in the Discussion Forum since 1998

  29. #1109
    As the valiant NeSHeroes walk into the unknown darkness towards whatever fate this road might lead, the less trusting NeSHeroes pause to consider their options.

    Soriel: So, fabulous treasure of the great Thand. All from a guy who claims to be a NeScholar. Seems a little fishy, but as long as I get to learn new and more effective ways to kill stuff in this story Iím all for it. What about you guys.

    JM: Meh.

    JMX01: My frenemy has a point.

    Soriel: WaitÖ frenemy?

    JMX01: I term I heard from the strong stout warrior. Itís a crude but effective description of my current relationship to JM, who is the fusion of both ally and enemy.

    Soriel: Öright. So what his point.

    JM: There is no point.

    JMX01: Exactly.

    Soriel: Ö

    JM: I know, Iím awesome.

    JMX01: Look at it this way my friend. JM is a former villain with the motivation of a sea cucumber. Iím a foreigner to this story who has no concerns for this world or its inhabitants aside from the JM here. What reason do we have to join in this adventure.

    Soriel: ...with the Haunted House of Heroes destroyed there is no longer anything for you to mooch off out here.

    There is a brief moment of silence where even Soriel wonders if he played his cards right. Thankfully the bloody killer has been learning his story conventions well, and soon JM is running off after other heroes, JMX01 in tow. Soriel continues at a more leisurely pace, whistling contently as he goes.

    ---------------

    Elsewhere in the eighth dimension we find two more of our Characters in a quaint log cabin, taking shelter for the night. Where a log cabin came from is anyoneís guess, but given the convenience of finding a haunted house in the middle of the woods it might be best to not examine the question too closely.

    Unfortunately itís hard to get one who doesnít believe in the story to follow story conventions.

    Benjamin: I still canít believe we found a cabin in the middle of the woods such a short distance away from the burnt remains of the Haunted House of Heroes.

    Young: Mother tends to take care of me. Particularly since Iíve been with child.

    Benjamin: ...who is your mother, a logger?

    Young: Oh no. Iím a child of the Neverending Story itself.

    Benjamin stares at Young for a good bit, wondering for a moment what depths of insanity has he stumbled across here. Not only does the woman in front of him believe she is in a story, but she believes that story is her mother. And that sheís taken care of by that mother.

    Ben, faced with this statement, does the only thing that has ever done any good with regards to the story insanity: ignore it.

    Benjamin: So how long do you think it will take for the others to find us? I canít imagine it would take too long. Though with the way they were talking to that old man rather than fighting the dragon breathing down their necks, I may be wrong.

    Young: Oh, it shouldnít be too long. Or rather, it will be as long as it needs to be as determined by the birth of my child.

    Benjamin: ...and you come to that conclusion how?

    Young: Well the birth of the grandchild of NeS will be a grand event. Mother would never let it overshadow another arc. So the others will find us exactly when the child needs to be born.

    Benjamin: This is going to be a long wait.

    Young: Not necessarily.

    Benjamin: Not what I meant.

    Will the new story arc lead to daring tales of adventure? Will Soriel gain the skills he need to become a villain to rival Totally Evil in the next story arc? Will Benjamin ever come to accept that he is a part of the Neverending Story?

    Benjamin: Not likely. ACK! Donít talk to the voices in your head. Donít talk to the voices in your head.

    Find out this and many other things in future installments of the Neverending Story Squared!

  30. #1110
    (NSN: This is in part to keep JM active. Please forgive me for some utilitarian parts of this post. Also, this post takes place before the one above.)

    Gebohq: Well, if any of you want to join us--

    Soriel: Pass.

    Gebohq: --uh... feel free to do so.

    Voodoosnowflakes: And here I'd have thought you'd jump at the chance to chop down all the adversaries that they'd surely encounter, Soriel.

    Soriel: I'd rather not have to dance with the nutcracker over there, thank you.

    Soriel glares at Howard who doesn't seem to notice or care. Ford steps forward.

    Ford: Well you and the others can come back with me to the new HQ. Maybechild can use all the help she can get in rebuilding our team of heroes.

    Fred: The adventure will probably be a giant sausage-fest anyway. Headquarters sounds like the place to find the hotties!

    Soriel grumbles.

    Soriel: I think I'll go with Geb after all.

    Fred: Cock-blocker!

    JM: Soriel seems the most likely to be interesting, so I think I'll follow along.

    JMX01: You mean blood-thirsty?

    JM: Same difference.

    Voodoosnowflakes: I think it'd be best if I went with Ford. Though I think some of us should look for Young first. Has anyone seen her?

    Some of those present seem to look around, but none seem terribly worried.

    Gebohq: Well geez, isn't anyone going to tag along?

    Soriel: Weren't you listening earlier?

    Gebohq: Excuse me, isn't anyone not psychotic going to tag along? No, wait, that doesn't really narrow things down with this crowd...

    TLTE: I will, tovarish. It's been too long since we've last fought together against the odds. We may yet learn more about Thand too.

    Al Ciao: I wouldn't hold your breath. Even in my highest moments as Highemperor, Thand's knowledge was higher still, and yet his wisdom rooted a foundation for it deeper and firmer than your--er... love for Losien, TLTE.

    The Last True Evil stares at Al Ciao the same way one stares at their spouse when they want to murder them.

    Al Ciao: But I too will join, if not for friendship and figuring out Thand, then for help from my friends to control my urge for powerplaying.

    Gebohq: Anyone else? Krig? Ben--did anyone see where he went? Oh, and is he coming with us, TLTE?

    Gebohq points to Amal, who seems all too eager to live in The Last True Evil's shadow.

    TLTE: Well--

    Howard: Stop dawdling, you fools! Time is of the essence! We'll miss the early bird special at this rate!
    Last edited by Gebohq; 11-17-2009 at 02:44 AM. Reason: fitting in with Ben's post above

  31. #1111
    Back at the psuedo-secret Siberian substructure where The Last True Evil project was once produced, a new True Evil project is being prepared for world domination...

    Romanov: So how is our new subject performing, commander?

    Masked KGB Commander: Very well. He's passed the writing exam with ease, his passion for our cause is without equal, and...well... he managed to somehow avoid taking the rest of the tests thusfar.

    Romanov: Excellent.

    Masked KGB Commander: Do you really think this Next True Evil will outperform our previous endeavors? I mean, what use will good writing skills have on the battlefield?

    Romanov: Have a little faith, commander. Still, this is why this project has spliced more than just the DNA of these Gebohqs. We have the DNA of Young, the girl who visited before, to help bond TNTE's genetic makeup and help adapt on the field. We have the DNA of the former Last True Evil project, to be better trained for our cause and increase TNTE's resourcefulness. And finally, we received enough funding to install a VCR tape player into the back of our project's skull and into its brain.

    Masked KGB Romanov: About that... The Next True Evil seems to have Highlander playing right now, and our technicians are having trouble removing it...

    A technician runs by, screaming for his life, with The Next True Evil running behind him with a crowbar.

    TNTE: THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE!

    The masked KGB commander yells down the hall the two ran down.

    Masked KGB Romanov: Make sure to set the clock to the right time while you're at it!

  32. #1112
    Leading the group onward as only the brave can, Gebohq and The Last True Evil catch up on the times passed.

    TLTE: ...and then I was confronted with a woman who calls herself Rachel. Do you know her?

    Gebohq: Yeah, it's a long story, but that's all water under the bridge! So what happened next?

    TLTE: Well, the two of us had a small fight with each other and--

    B.U.M.P.!

    TLTE: --it wasn't long before... Geb?

    The Last True Evil stops and looks around, finally finding Gebohq hiding behind JMX01. Gebohq peers around, then steps in view in a heroic pose.

    Gebohq: I was thinking I could lead from the rear!

    TLTE: *sigh* A large branch just fell in front of our path, is all.

    Gebohq: ...of course. Carry on, carry on.

    Al Ciao: Perhaps Gebohq is just perceptive of a danger we're yet unaware of at--

    Gebohq: No, no, just being a sissy coward! No danger! Just a BUMP!

    Howard: Be wary, though, for we're likely to face dangers beyond the experience any of your young lives have yet imagined--

    Gebohq: NOT HELPING!

    (NSN: Just a heads up, I won't be online for about a week, so keep things going while I'm gone!)

  33. #1113
    I did not edit it like I planned but I did run a spell check!

    The beast with the strength of ten men was in a box. Even with all his strength he could not break free of this box. The beast also had the intelligence of two and a third men, so he understood that despite his immense strength fighting against the box was futile. So he did not fight the box. The box had the strangely comforting familiarity of an old nightmare. The beast knew what would happen in this nightmare. It terrified him - but it could not surprise him.
    Something rasped outside the box. Something scratched at the box. Something terribly loud in the darkness of the box wheezed a little, on the other side of the thick metal door. The beast put his great paw against the door and felt the deep scratches left by his own frantic rage. This was not part of the nightmare. In this nightmare, he was alone! Alone forever in the box!
    "Jed Master," a low voice said outside the box. It was a voice of pure haughtiness. A voice so full of itself it made the beast think that the air trembled in awe, rather than merely from the vibration of the speaker's vocal cords.
    I am not Jed Master, the beast thought. And then, because he could not stand the idea that the voice could be coming from within his own head - as it must in a nightmare - he said it out loud. "I am not Jed Master!"
    "But you are. You are the Jed Master of your story, just as the Jed Master you know is the Jed Master of his."
    The beast wrapped his arms around himself and huddled in the corner of the box. Go away, voice.
    "It is not a name," the voice said. "Jed Master is not a name."

    The beast woke suddenly. He was in a small room in the more intelligent wing of the Haunted House of Heroes.
    "Mmmm?" JM said.
    The beast sat up in bed. Across the room, his frenemy stirred on a cot against the wall. "Just a dream," the beast said.
    "The box dream?" JM asked sleepily.
    "Yes. Yes. The box dream again." The beast was JMX01, a gargantuan genetically modified baboon. His only change of clothing, the low-gravity combat suit he had been wearing when Super Ego rescued him, hung over the bed post. The beast dressed, then he lay down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. The bed sagged under his weight.
    Eventually JM woke up properly and wandered off to the bathroom. When the beast looked at JM, he saw the egoful. That horrible monster that had come to destroy him and Lord Lozier. But he also saw ID - though perhaps that was merely because JM did not shave. ID had been the most stupid creature the beast had ever met, but he had been endearing, in a very smashing and innocent way. And Super Ego. Super Ego had been as evil as the egoful. On a cognitive level, the beast recognized that. But he could not think of Super Ego that way. He did not want to believe he had been fooled so easily.
    JM was all those things put together. By all accounts, he should be evil. Each individual part was itself evil, though in ID's case it was more about gleeful destruction than actually wishing harm onto others. JM's problem was a lack of motivation. He might be evil, but he was so lazy that it didn't really matter.
    JM wandered into the room, too lazy to shower. "So," JM said. "Plans?"
    "I thought I would stare at the ceiling for a while longer. And then perhaps I will go down to the kitchen and stare at a wall for a few hours."
    "Sounds like fun. I was planning on doing something similar."
    "You have a plan."
    JM shrugged.
    "I am not a fool, JM. I know you well enough to know you have a plan."
    "Yes, of course I have a plan. Want to tag along?"
    The beast might as well. He had nothing better to do. Nothing in this place engaged his intelligence. The beast followed JM through the dusty halls of the haunted house of heroes. The beast did not understand why the heroes called it that. He had seen no ghosts. Nothing to suggest the house was haunted, just cobwebs and general untidiness. Heroes, by and large, were not very neat people.
    "Hey," JM said. "You know how Geb hates spin offs?"
    "No," The beast said. He did not know that.
    "Oh. Well screw him."
    JM stopped in the center of an empty hall. Empty, of course, except for them, the torches hanging on the walls, the elaborate embroidered tapestries, the rugs on the floor, the pedestals with vases or statues; it was a very barren hallway in all other respects. JM tapped a finger against his chin.
    "Is this the wall you planned to stare at?" the beast asked.
    JM reached out his hand toward the wall. Then he frowned. "Do you have your cleave-o-matic? Open up this wall."
    Of course the beast had his weapon. He would never be without it, not in this universe. The beast turned the cleave-o-matic to it's lowest setting and fired three times into the wall. A triangular chunk of wall fall out into the hall. JM stepped through the smoky hole. The beast followed more hesitantly. He did not know what JM was planning, but this amount of effort was quite out of character for his frenemy.
    The room beyond the wall had no doors, though it now sported a strangely elegant triangular window. The walls were pale grey, and criss crossed by glaring yellow lines.
    "I knew there would be one," JM said.
    "One what? What is this?"
    "A default sector," JM said. "In all buildings there is some amount of wasted space. Little nooks and crannies the architect couldn't fill. Under stairs, in between closets. Architects put some effort into using every space. But level designers are not so careful. They leave big spaces. They do things that just don't make sense."
    The beast looked around the little strangely painted room. "And what are these.. 'default sectors' good for?"
    "Nothing," JM said. "Nothing at all."

    "It is not a spin off until other characters are in it," The Last True Evil said. "Even so, so far, it seems to be set in the very recent past. So you can always just tell Geb it's filler."
    "I do not think he will like that explanation," the beast said. They sat in the kitchen of the Haunted House of Heroes. The beast clutched a tiny mug of coffee in his massive paws.
    "Ah well. Nobody really cares what Geb thinks anyway. We mostly just keep him around to make fun of him."
    "You're right, though, about not involving other characters. It's not a spin off if it's just myself and JM." The beast considered. He decided that he would very much like some pie. "Tell me, you are The Last True Evil."
    "Uh. Yes," The Last True Evil said.
    "Destined to be the ultimate, final villain of this story."
    "Yes. That would be the premise of my very existence, yes."
    "Yet you are not evil."
    The Last True Evil frowned. The beast knew he was on the right track.
    "I think we have something in common, The Last. We are both fated to be something we are not. You must be evil, if you are not now, to fulfill your destiny. And that frightens and angers you. I know that, ultimately, I am like JM."
    The Last True Evil set his coffee down. "You are very perceptive, my hairy friend. You realize, of course, that with me in this story, your argument against this being a spin off is somewhat weaker."
    "I know," the beast said. "I know."

    That afternoon, the beast found JM lounging in the haunted living room of the haunted house of heroes. JM poked keys on his netbook. The beast had first seen that netbook in the hands of Super Ego. The beast looked over JM's shoulder. Super Ego had used that netbook for keeping track of the Never Ending Story. JM apparently used it exclusively for visiting random websites via stumble upon.
    "I have been back to examine that null space," the beast said. "I can not see why that is so important to you. Nor why, if it is so important, you have in no way acted upon it's existence."
    JM shrugged. "I told you, a default sector is completely useless. It's a starting point. But without the proper powers to apply to it, it will remain a default sector forever. I am a Jed Master. The Jed Master, I suppose, now. Lot of good it does me."
    It's not a name.
    "I'm an artifact of a time so ancient it only exists in flash backs," JM said. "I was an Atlantean Wizard. One of many. I belonged to an order of architects. Crafters, builders. We did not have blood ink. It certainly does not flow in my veins. The blood inks, they dealt with the characters, the plot. What most people think of when they look at a story. But the setting of a story is no less important. We built the settings. Since we are gone.. all except me, there is no one in this story to control the setting. That is why it has such random locations, like this house. If you want to call it that."
    "Powers," the beast said. "So you are A Jed Master. Yet you are also named Jed Master."
    "Yes," JM said. He looked up from the netbook and steepled his fingers.
    "You realize how ridiculous that is?"
    "Forget about it. We have a spin off to write."
    "Geboqh will not be happy."
    "Screw Geboqh. I can't get anything done in this story until I reclaim my powers."

    "You did not defeat me," the egoful said.
    The beast tossed in his sleep. He was in the box again, the darkness tight around him. He had defeated the egoful. Perhaps the egoful still existed, but it was trapped again inside JM. Trapped in much the same way the beast was trapped in this box. Just as powerful, but impotent.
    "You trusted Super Ego."
    The beast had trusted Super Ego. The beast had even considered the goth punk his friend. It was Super Ego that had come to him and rescued the beast from the Masserver. The egoful had been there just moments before, destroying them, and consuming them. Now the beast understood why the egoful had spared him.
    "You do nothing to stop JM now."
    Super Ego had used him. Even Super Ego thought the egoful was insane. So Super Ego used the beast, and his weapon, to cut the egoful back down to size. When the egoful swept through the beast's universe, absorbing everything, it had spared the beast, because.
    "You and JM are the same."

    "Greetings insignificant fellow characters," the beast said. It was morning again and he stood in the kitchen and addressed a haphazard group of characters just on the edge of the limelight, among them Benjamin Mahir and Krig the very large and very stupid viking warrior.
    "If Krig here then dragon destroy house!" Krig said.
    "Do not worry, we are going with an alternate reality," the beast said. "Also plot holes might prove beneficial. We are going on a quest to the mythical sunken city of Atlanta. If anyone would care to join us, we could use the help. We need to be back before Krig's dragon destroys the house and makes this storyline even more implausible. Also, rat boy, refrain from your usual story-skepticism. As someone who has come to this place from another story, I really cannot stand your continued denial of my existence."
    Ban and Krig exchanged glances. Being the only two characters in the room, beside the beast, who had been named, the beast was fairly certain that the writer intended these two to go on the quest to Atlanta. In fact, all the other characters left. Clearly they would prefer to sit around being bored.
    "The quest is simple. We will enter the sunken city and rescue an ancient book from whatever manner of fish now holds it captive. If you are both going, then we must figure out how we are going to get there."
    "Krig think we take airplane."
    "I do not think Atlanta has an airport," the beast said.
    "Why not?" Ben asked. "It's a major American city, isn't it?"
    "Yes, that's what I thought," the beast said. "But JM insists that it is sunken. He has requested ideas on how to acquire a submarine."

    Two days later a middle-visible spectrum submersible ship of war descended into the depths of the Atlantic. Benjamin sat on the map. Literally on. It was very crowded in the submarine, considering that both the beast and Krig were very large. Yet Benjamin refused to transform.
    "Krig know rat boy is rat!"
    "Let it be," JM said. "If you're writer was that mean to you, you'd want to hide it too."
    The beast pushed Benjamin off the map. The beast had drawn a big red circle around the city of Atlanta, Georgia. JM navigated without the map - the beast's frenemy simply pointed the sub at the center of the ocean. Using a variety of instruments and his cell phone's GPS, the beast indicated their current location on the map with his finger, which was, as would be expected by their course, much closer to the center of the ocean than to Atlanta Georgia.
    "Uh," the beast said. "Did someone move Atlanta?"
    "Whu?" JM asked.
    "Atlanta! The ancient city we are going to!"
    "We're going to Atlantis. I thought you were supposed to be smart."
    Ludicrous. The beast was not from this world, why would he know these things?
    "Hey," Benjamin said. "Remember how I knocked out that guard? Wasn't that awesome?"
    "Krig not care about yesterday! Where Atlanta?"
    "There," JM said. He pointed through the forward view ports of the little submarine. Pearly white spires appeared out of the deep blue sea. The murk settled around the submarine. The sun vanished from overhead. JM turned on the submarine's headlights and cast light down upon a giant city of crumbled stone towers and wide paved boulevards.
    "Couldn't we have just taken the stargate?" Benjamin wondered.
    The beast raised his eyebrows. If there was a simpler means than procuring this submarine, which took considerable time and effort, why hadn't anyone mentioned it before now? The beast pressed himself against the view ports and examined the city as they passed over it.
    "Krig wonder what happened to pretty city."
    "Someone flagged all the sectors as water," JM said.
    The beast exchanged glances with Krig and Benjamin. He had learned to ignore these sorts of comments from JM. His frenemy spoke a great deal of nonsense about sectors and adjoins and other things that didn't make any sense.
    The submarine touched down in what looked to have once been the great central square of the city. A huge palace overlooked the place from one side. The facade was so wide that either end vanished from sight, beyond the range of the submarine's lights. "Welcome to Atlantis," JM said.
    The beast fastened the helmet on his space suit. The others changed into bulky pressure suits. But the technology of his own universe was much more advanced, and when they got out into the water only the beast could move comfortably. JM led the way forward to the palace. The doors hung open.
    "Look at this place," JM said. "The banners and crowds have been replaced by fish and... fish."
    "Krig like fish."
    "Do you remember where this book of yours is?" the beast asked.
    "You are assuming I knew where it was to start," JM said.
    They went into the palace. Beyond the lights of the submarine now, they turned on their high powered submersible flashlights and threw light around every which way. Slimy eels darted away from their lights. Large stupid fish gave no reaction at all except to wander over to see if they might be food.
    The four of them followed a long hall down the center of the palace until they came to a large domed chamber with columns all around it. A very inconsiderate whale had broken the dome by swimming through it, and now it's skeleton decorated the floor of the place and general got in the way.
    "This was the grand hall," JM said, via use of intra-suit inter-com.
    The four adventurers probed deep into the submerged palace. JM pointed out places he recognized, and led them to a few likely places for the book of his to be kept.
    "Krig think this take forever."
    "I agree," Benjamin said. "Perhaps if we split up, we could search faster."
    "That's why I brought two muscle bound giants and two smart guys," JM said. "So you come with me Krig, and Benjamin, you go with his hairiness."
    "Does this mean I'm the smart guy?" Benjamin asked.
    "No," the beast said. "I am both the muscle bound giant and the smart guy."
    JM went left at the next intersection, Benjamin and the beast went right. They came to an iron gate that blocked their way.
    "Did Atlanteans keep books behind gates?" Benjamin wondered.
    "They might." The beast raised his cleave-o-matic.
    "Hey," Benjamin said. "All that destruction probably isn't good for this sort of ancient structure, you think? Besides, I can see a lever right there on the other side, that probably opens it."
    "Hrrm," the beast said.
    "So I'll just go over there and pull it." Benjamin went up to the grate and stuck his head through the grate, but despite the grates large opening and his diminutive size, Benjamin couldn't fit his shoulders through. Worse, when he tried to pull his head back, his transparent round helmet wouldn't come back the other way. Benjamin clanked against the crate a few times, back and forth, his shoulders then his helmet then his shoulders again.
    "Oh no," the beast said, dryly. "You appear to be stuck. Oh, and look, now your suit is leaking."
    "No it isn't."
    "No I'm pretty sure it is." The beast ripped open the back of Benjamin's suit.
    "Hey! Hey!"
    The beast reached through the grate and undid the seal on Benjamin's helmet. Immediately the helmet tried to seal itself again, by closing around Benjamin's neck. Didn't do Benjamin a bit of good. Until Benjamin popped into the helmet in rat form. The helmet fell to the ground with a clank, and the helmet sealed itself completely. Benjamin rolled around inside his helmet on the other side of the grate.
    "Can I cleave now?" the beast asked.
    "Yeah whatever."

    A while later the beast and Benjamin still hadn't found a damn thing. They had found a great many things, some of them quite interesting, but none of them were damn, nor were they the book.
    "I am not even the only JM," the beast said. "I am just a version of him from another universe. A much cooler universe, I might add."
    "Alternate universes I can deal with. But this nonsense everyone blathers about all this being a story I can't stand."
    "Maybe if you stopped denying it, you'd be more than a secondary character. Me, I'm the viewpoint character. You deny reality, and look at you. You are rolling around the lost city of Atlanta in a hamster ball."
    A door blocked their way. It seemed pretty solid, save for a hole in the ancient metal near the floor. The last time the beast cleaved something, the building shook for several minutes.
    "We can skip it," Benjamin said.
    "And miss it? The quicker we find it the sooner we can get out of here."
    "Still. Cleave it carefully."
    The best bent over to peer through the hole near the floor. "I have a better idea." He picked up the hamster balled Benjamin and peered at him through the clear acrylic. "When you get on the other side, I need you to feed me information so I can cleave through the hinges without hitting anything important on the other side. You think you can do that, ratty?"
    Benjamin nodded. The beast curled up the hamster ball and bowled it through the opening into the next room.
    "Hey fur faces," JM said. Via comm, of course.
    "Yes," Benjamin said.
    "What?" the beast asked.
    "Well there's a lot of books."
    "Oh good," JM said. "You found the library."
    "There's also a lot of eels."
    "Yes," JM said. "That sounds like the library."
    "There might also be some sort of giant angry metal man."
    "That would be a golem," JM said. "They prefer to be called 'flesh impaired'."
    Crashes echoed from inside the chamber. Dulled by the water, but no less jarring. The beast fired into the door, not caring what he struck on the other side, and cut a large octagonal hole. The piece of door did fall free, so the beast threw his bulk against it and crashed into the library. Benjamin rolled around the floor while a giant metal man tried to smash him with a giant metal hammer.
    The beast could not get a clear shot. There was too much chance that he would strike Benjamin. He considered firing anyway, but ultimately came to the conclusion that cleaving Benjamin in half would anger the heroes. They seemed to like useless characters like Benjamin and Geboqh. Instead, the beast charged in and wrestled with the metal monstrosity.
    The beast grabbed the metal man by the arms and struggled against it's immense strength. Metal and flesh groaned. "Desist! Desist! Desist!" the metal man shouted again and again. Little fish swam in and out of it's metal mouth. The beast forced it's arms back inch by inch, and kept pushing, far beyond the limit of a real being, until metal tore and springs and hoses burst from the metal man's shoulders.
    The beast gave the metal man a shove and he crashed backward into a shelf of books, sending wet and decayed pages drifting through the water.
    "Deal with that golem yet?" JM asked.
    "Look for a sealed chamber in the back of the library," JM said. "But don't open it, you'll just flood it. Krig and I are coming."
    The beast shoved shelves aside to reach the back of the library. Benjamin mostly just rolled around on the floor. JM and Krig arrived suddenly and violently. Krig smashed through the wall.
    "Book!" Krig shouted.
    "Yes, viking," JM said. "Books. Did you find the back yet?"
    The beast indicated the many shelves piled haphazardly around the room instead of standing in neat rows. "I destroyed the guard."
    "Shame about that. Ancient Antlantean artifacts are probably worth a big piece of change now a days. Now. We are looking for a book, so the last place we should look is the library."
    "What?" the beast asked. "In what world does that make sense? A library is for the storing of books. Of course we should look here first."
    "But what you're looking for is always in the last place you look, so if we look here first it won't be here."
    "Found a sealed door!" Benjamin said.
    "See?" JM said. "We'll come back here and look here last, and it'll be guaranteed to be in that room."
    "That's stupid," Benjamin said.
    "He has a point," the beast said. "Story conventions often follow these sort of obscure rules."
    "Whatever. Does it matter where we look then? Oh, I just looked over here. Now I can look in the sealed room."
    "I really doubt that will work," JM said. "Come on then, Krig and I found something promising."
    The beast picked up Benjamin's ball and ignored the rat's protests. He followed JM through a Krig-shaped hole.
    The Krig holes went in a perfectly straight line all the way through the east wing of the palace and into the north. They led to a big round stone slab marked with intricate writing and glyphs of ugly faces.
    Benjamin asked, "Is that Mayan?"
    "The Mayans stole it from us. We had a colony on the American continent. Of course we didn't call it America, Vespucci just stuck his own name on that awful map he drew. We called it 'New Atlantis'. We were going to all move there, what with our island so geologically unstable, but there was such an uproar that we decided to stay, and call the island 'Atlantis Classic'.
    "We had a colony there. A bunch of natives over ran it. They couldn't read Atlantean of course, and they couldn't replicate the intricate characters in any sort of meaningful way. But they apparently liked our glyphs. They gave them meanings to them and everything."
    "So what's this say?" the beast asked.
    "In Mayan, it's gibberish," JM said. "In Atlantean the ugly face glyphs mean 'this door is so tacky it's stylish'. Well lets open it, shall we?"
    Krig grabbed on side of the massive stone door, and the beast grabbed the other. Together they heaved at the door until it shifted a few inches. A giant air bubble gurgled out of the chamber beyond. They push, wedging their fingers into the narrow gap, until the door rolled slowly aside. The room beyond was perfectly dark. The kind of dark that fooled people into thinking they had gone blind.
    JM darted in without hesitation. Krig charged in, probably hoping for something to smash.
    "That's pretty dark," Benjamin said. "Why don't you leave me out here?"
    The beast grunted and carried Benjamin into the darkness. The beast was large and fearsome. He had the strength of ten men and the intelligent of two and a third. He was not afraid of the dark.
    "Light switch light switch light switch," JM said from various places in the darkened chamber. Something clicked. The lights did not turn on. "Hmm," JM said. "I wonder what that did."
    JM should not have spoken. The beast knew that immediately - the switch did nothing, until JM wondered what it did; and then what it did was cause the door to roll shut. The beast had just enough time to chuck Benjamin into the gap. It's a good thing Benjamin rolled through it, because his little acrylic hamster ball probably wouldn't have stopped the door as well as the beast hoped.
    Darkness closed around them. Yes, it had already been dark, but now there wasn't a big circle of light. There was nothing. Nothing at all. The beast clutched his helmet between his paws and turned in circles. Darkness everywhere.
    "Everyone look for the light switch," JM said.
    "Krig can't look!"
    "Feel then. You know what I meant."
    JM's voice was the same as the egoful. It was more bored than arrogant, but though it did not have the same emotion it certainly had the same source. Darkness all around. Like in the box. He was in the box. The beast was in the box again. The beast clenched his eyes shut against the darkness.
    The beast screamed. He roared. He would not be in the box again. The beast lashed out. He found shelves which he destroyed. He found boxes which he smashed. He found bags of coins which he broke into small pieces, which actually didn't accomplish much. The walls were solid steel. The beast smashed against them. He tore around the chamber, the roar from his throat as constant as his smashing fists.
    JM shouted. The beast didn't hear the words, just the sound. Strong viking arms grabbed at the beast, but the beast threw him off.
    "Hairy! Hairy!" a tiny squeaky voice shouted in the beast's helmet. "I found the light switch! It's okay! Open your eyes!"
    The beast opened one eye. He glanced around the very bright and very smashed room. Krig and JM stood in the far corner behind a pile of wrecked treasures. The room was a vault. All the gold of ancient Atlantis lay strewn about the floor mixed together with some ordinary soggy cardboard boxes and the odd tacky table lamp.
    "What was that you were screaming?" JM asked. "Box?" JM looked at the boxes lying about. "You're enraged by boxes? Interesting. Does anyone see any books? What about out there, Benjamin?"
    "No," Benjamin said. "But the smashing did attract some rather large fish. Hey, hey! Don't bite that! You'll crack my bubble!"
    "Okay, so it's not in the first place we looked. Not a problem. We'll go look somewhere else. How does the library sound? Everybody game for the library?"
    The adventurers followed the Krig shaped holes back to the library. They adorned themselves with all manner of Atlantean treasure. The beast wore a fine crown with dangling sapphires and emeralds. Krig fastened a plethora of golden bracelets around the horns in his helmet, and added a giant golden axe to his arsenal. Benjamin strung a series of bejeweled rings on his tail.
    The sealed door stood at the back of the library right where they had left it. It was no longer the first place they had looked.
    "I will search nowhere else," JM announced. "Why if it's not in there we will just go home."
    "What's that about?" Benjamin whispered to the beast.
    "He's just making sure the writers know that this is the last place we'll look. Consider it ensuring the proximity of our goal."
    "Hey, your hairiness, come open this door."
    The beast stepped up to the sealed door. It was round like the other, and covered in the same ancient runic script. No ugly glyphs, though. "What's this say?" the beast asked, pointing at the runic script.
    "No time for that!" JM shouted. "Open open!"
    "Nothing about ancient guardians? Maybe a giant mechanical kraken? That would seem to fit in with this place."
    "Open!"
    The beast grunted. He lay his shoulder against the door, and Krig pulled on the other side, and together they rolled the door aside. A great air bubble erupted from the chamber on the other side. Water flooded in and jumbled the contents of the chamber which had probably been neatly arranged, but now drifted more or less randomly about the floor.
    JM took a zip lock bag from his pocket and sifted through the soggy books. "Damn fine thing we had them laminated," he remarked. "Always a good idea when you live on and island. Solid advice. Laminate your books."
    The beast picked a book off the floor. "A complete history of Atlantis and it's colonies," he read out loud. He frowned at the book. "Wouldn't this have to have been written after the island sank? To be complete?"
    JM shrugged.
    The beast tossed the book aside and picked up another. "Star Wars : A New Hope : The Novel. Right."
    "It's a temporal library," JM said. "Not necessarily in chronological order. This one time, the blood inks invented a device that would catch every book that someone lost and bring it here. You know, like library books they never intended to return anyway, and books they had to buy for school but never actually opened, and things on elementary school reading lists that only sell because teachers say the books are full of 'lessons' when really they just like torturing children because it builds character. Caught a lot of books right up until it someone told the computer socks were books."
    "Amazing," the beast said.
    "Yes. Would have solved the sock shortage too, except that it only caught left socks."
    "Krig think this conversation is just foolish cover to the writer can skip searching for the book and just have JM find it suddenly."
    "Found it!" JM announced. He held up a thick book with a fancy symbol engraved in gold on the cover. It probably meant something in Atlante an but nobody actually cared. JM placed the book in his zip lock bag.

    They return the way they had come. Just as they reached the main chamber, a metal portcullis fell behind them.
    "This is going to be messy," JM said. Portculi fell over ever portal leading from the room.
    "What is it?" the beast growled.
    JM strode out to the center of the floor. "A defense system. Designed to trap thieves."
    "Hello!" a hologram that had just them materialized next to JM said. "What you are experiencing is a defense system, designed to trap thieves. If you are an Atlantean Wizard, please state your security deactivation code now, or step up to the scanner to confirm your identity."
    Everyone waited silently for JM to do something.
    "Ah.." JM said.
    "Did you not say you were an Atlantean Wizard?" the beast asked.
    "Yes. I 'were'. Past tense, see?" JM stepped up to the hologram and a beam of laser light shot from the hologram and ran up and down him.
    "Hello Jed Master," the hologram said. "Jed Master designation confirmed. Wait, you are a Jed Master, and your name is Jed Master? That is ridiculous. Wait a moment while I pull up your account."
    "It would probably be a good idea to get your weapons out."
    The beast unlimbered his cleave-o-matic. Krig flourished his great battle axe, which looked stupid when he wasn't underwater in a bulging pressure suit, and even more stupid when he was.
    "We-weapon?" Benjamin asked.
    "Ah," the hologram said. "Oh my. Why, it seems that you have been disgraced and forced to live as a hobo! Why! I can't authorize your removal of that book at all! Please try not to scratch the kraken's throat on the way down, he has not been feeling well lately."
    The building rumbled. Dust drifted through the water. The floor shook a little. The beast looked around uneasy. He did not know what a kraken was, but anything with such hard consonants in it's name must be a fearsome creature. The shaking stopped. Perhaps it had decided not to eat them. That recording must be thousands of years old, surely by now any sort of kraken would have died. Oh, no, it was just drawing back to strike.
    Tentacles burst from the floor. Shiny tentacles covered in metal plates, with great mechanical suckers that were also paper shredders. They whipped about through the air shattering walls and columns, and then crashed down into the floor and tore great gaping holes through the stone work. The intrepid adventures dove out of the way of the crashing tentacles and found themselves stranded on a little island of floor, surrounded on all sides by thrashing tentacles and gaping drops into the abyss. The non intrepid adventurers were also trapped.
    The beast fired his cleave-o-matic wildly at the tentacles again and again. Great slices of metal appendage rained down around them, but for every tentacle the beast turned into beautiful mechanical calamari, two more sprang from the abyss. Finally, as the monster from the deep must be getting rather annoyed by needing to regrow so many tentacles, the metal monster heaved the bulk of his body out of the pit and clung to the wall.
    It had a great metal beak with orange and black caution stripes around the sharp rim. It gnashed it's beam and screamed at them, it's tentacles floating around it like some horrible medusa. The beast aimed his weapon and fired. A beam of brilliant energy shot at the kraken, and struck it's highly polished side, and reflected off. The heroes ducked the reflected beam, or in Krig's case, stepped two inches to the side.
    "Great," JM said. "Monkey boy got nerfed. Any ideas?"
    "Krig smash with axe?"
    "It's way over there!" Benjamin shouted, even though everyone could here him perfectly fine despite the excitement, as they were using intra-suit inter-comm.
    The beast grabbed Krig and spun him around, and then flung him across the gap at the kraken. Krig howled and held his axe before him. The kraken opened it's beak, and Krig sailed through the opening and vanished inside.
    "Well," Benjamin said. "He was a very nice viking once you got to know him."
    "A true adventurer," the beast agreed.
    "How about we just Geb it then?"
    The beast pointed his weapon at the wall opposite the kraken and fired at a column. It fell and landed across the gap, creating a bridge which the three remaining adventurers scrambled across. The beast fired wildly at the wall to make a hole through which they could escape, and they found themselves outside the palace, several dozen stories above the city's main square.
    They panicked for a moment.
    "We seem to be falling quite slowly," the beast observed.
    "Something to do with being underwater, I bet," JM said.
    "Poor Krig," Benjamin said.
    "Krig not care about yesterday! No, just kidding, Krig is dead," JM said.
    After a brief conversation about how awesome stealing that submarine the day before was, and what a great job Benjamin did during the adventure, they settled gently onto the paved square.
    The three remaining heroes ran across the main square of the ancient city of Atlantis. Behind them, the palace shook. Cleaved a hundred times by the beast's gun. Holes smashed through walls by the very large Krig, God save his soul. Who knows what sort of things JM had done. Actually he probably hadn't broken anything. But then that kraken bursting through things. The palace had seen better days.
    Great chunks fell off the towers, releasing little puffs of trapped air. The walls vanished piece by piece. They couldn't really hear it collapsing. Under water, the pieces fell slow enough that they landed rather softly. A great many fish, rather annoyed that their home had just collapsed onto itself, swam about the wreckage and complained about how hard it was to find apartments in the city. One crab scuttled past the beast's feet and called him an inconsiderate snob.
    The mechanical kraken burst from the building behind them. They did not look back, but ran faster - or, in Benjamin's case, rolled furiously. If they had been wearing hats, they would hold them on their heads as they ran. But they didn't so they couldn't do anything nearly as cool.
    The kraken flailed around them with it's tentacles. It was amazingly adapt at flinging itself through the water, despite the fact that a giant metal kraken should actually be the opposite of buoyant. The kraken flung itself ahead of them, and smashed down on the submarine. It wrapped it's tentacles around the little yellow crash and squeezed. Air burst between seams in the submarine's metal places as great plumes. The kraken crushed the submarine into a ball, and smashed it down through the flag stoned floor into the abyss below. The kraken fell after it, vanishing forever.
    "For a minute there I thought we were in trouble," JM said.
    "You only know that quote because of Stargate Universe," Benjamin said.
    "Battlegate : Voyager," the beast said.
    "This again?" JM said. "Just because a show has some elements in common with another does not mean it's ripping it off. Well. We're stuck here then, get comfortable while I think."
    "You know Geboqh hates spin offs," the beast said.
    "What?" Benjamin replied.
    "He hates them. But I was thinking, perhaps if we post this entire thing in the thread itself, it will be like it's not a spin off at all, but just a really long post."
    "What?" Benjamin repeated.
    "Of course, people might be upset by the size of the post. It would be several thousand words. But I suppose it would be okay since we've just lampshaded it."
    "Got it," JM said. The water around them vanished. It did not drain away. It did not evaporate, or form some sort of giant air bubble. It was simply there and then it was not.
    "How did you do that?" Benjamin demanded.
    "Can't you mix it up?" JM asked. "Maybe something besides dialog he said, dialog he said dialog? Anyway. Sector flags."
    Benjamin cracked open his hamster ball. "Magic," he said. "Got it."
    "It's very simple. The world is made of convex volumes. These volumes have flags. One of them is 'underwater'." JM held up his book triumphantly. "With this I will regain all of my powers. And if I can find the right page I can get us home, too."
    "What about Krig?"
    "Who?"

    The water vanished from around the sunken city of Atlantis. The fish, angered by the collapse of their great palace, were suddenly much more angry. This time, however, they could not swim around sullenly, and instead flopped about in a most annoyed manner. Unfortunately for the three heroes who stood near where their submarine had been, the water had been a major source of support for many of structures, and it's sudden absence started a chain reaction.
    Buildings crumbled all around them. They spit of debris that crashed into other buildings, and made them collapse as well. The destruction radiated away from them in an undulating wave.
    "Guess raising the city is out," JM said.
    "Krig think that is wise."
    "Krig!" the beast shouted. "How did you escape from the kraken?"
    Krig charged at them across the Atlantean square while buildings collapsed around him. A giant dragon ran behind him, pounding the pavement with it's massive clawed feet and beating it's wings at the air.
    "Krig thank unmotivated enemy for removing water and allowing Krig to come out without drowning. Krig angry that unmotivated enemy also remove water and allow dragon to come out after Krig!"
    "By the end of this I'm going to be an expert Gebber," JM said. "Everyone follow me."
    JM flipped through the book skipping whole chapters at a time. He balanced it in one hand while they ran out of the square. The took to the narrow streets of the city, but with the collapsing and the dragon smashing along behind them, it didn't do them much good.
    "Doesn't this work out nice," the beast remarked.
    Benjamin, tucked under the beast's arm, squeaked furiously.
    "No, it does," the beast said. "You see, after the egoful gathered all characters to watch his display, Krig should logically have been there. But then he arrived at the Haunted House of Heroes pursued by an immense dragon. The very dragon which now chases us, I expect. This means that Krig's presence isn't a plot hole at all, but actually closes a plot hole that already existed."
    "Okay stop!" JM shouted.
    They stood in the middle of an alleyway. JM looked around and then ducked through a doorway. The building shook as the beast entered it.
    "Wait for Krig!" Krig shouted from far behind them.
    "Uh," JM said into the intercom, "We went left."
    "No we.." Benjamin's protest was cut off by the beast's big hairy paw.
    JM studied the book. "Okay," he said. "Back out the door."
    The view through the door way had changed. It didn't show the alley and the collapsing city, or a huge menacing dragon, but instead showed a circular room with plain white walls, and evenly spaced doors of various colors and styles. JM led the way through the door, and when the beast had passed, carrying Benjamin, JM slammed shut a wood Atlantean style door into the stone frame. A moment later the door vanished.
    "Where the hell are we?" Benjamin asked.
    The beast growled. "We are back in the plane of forgotten stories."
    "No," JM said. "That one has blue tiles. This is the nexus of active plot fractals. I think. It might also be the intersection of all alternate timeliness."
    "You know you're making it very hard for my writer to continue to have me deny that the universe is actually a story," Benjamin said.
    "Meh, so puke out some plot holes. Maybe we can use one to get home."

    "It is a title," the voice of the egoful said.
    The beast was in the box again. In his old nightmare. This was where he had been born. This box was like his womb. A terrifying womb, not the comforting warm darkness of a mother but something else again. He had been born of horrible pain. His first memories were of this box, this terrible dark box. In his nightmare, he never escaped the box, and for that he was grateful. But the nightmare had changed.
    "It is an honor," the egoful said.
    The door to the box hung slightly ajar. The beast stared at the narrow column of light. Freedom lay outside the box, but also pain. He had left the box many times before he escaped, and each time had been filled with the most horrible of pain.
    "It is a power."
    The door swung open. Outside the box stood the beast's tormentors. Men in white coats with masks over their faces. They carried poles with loops of wire on the end, and they thrust these poles into the box. They wrapped those wires around the beast's limbs and dragged him from the box. He struggled, but it was no use. He was just a monkey. An ordinary baboon, barely old enough to leave his mother's breast. He screamed and struggled, but he was a pitiful thing. They lay him on a table.
    "A power to shape worlds."
    The voice seemed to come from one of the masked men standing over. They secured the beast on the table, and paraded their instruments of torture before his eyes, taunting him. Scalpels and needles, metal prongs and clamps. The young beast did not recognize them, but the beast that dreamed knew them and knew the pain that would come.
    "A power to build them."
    Another man approached. The beast caught glimpses of the man's perfect suit through the screen of his tormentors. The masked men parted, so that this other man could stand at the table and look down at the beast. His stabbing eyes were ever judging. ******. His creator. And his destroyer. The beast had plotted long with Lord Lozier to ensure ******'s downfall. And at the moment of their triumph, the egoful came.
    "A power to RE-build them," ****** said.

    In the Haunted House of Heroes, JM sat at the table in the kitchen. The beast sat across from him, enjoying a bowl of cocoa pebbles.
    "Interesting," JM said. "Most interesting."
    "There is still something I don't understand. If you were a Jed Master already, would you not already know these things? Why do you need a tutorial to teach you again?"
    "Great mystery of the universe, isn't it? Well, when I was stripped of all my powers, they reset my file. That's just how the system works. I have to do all the tutorials again to unlock the power. It's a bit more complicated than that, even." JM turned the book around on the table. "Some douche went and wrote half of them in ancient Atlantean."
    "So?"
    "So I can't read that crap."
    The beast slurped a spoonful of cocoa pebbles out of his. Uh. Spoon.
    "Nobody can read it," JM continued. "We couldn't even read it then. It was like Latin. Everybody knows what it is, but do you know anybody who can actually read it? We all spoke and wrote English. We figured it would save you guys in the future some trouble when you had to write flashbacks."
    "So, what then? No incredible powers of world creation?"
    "'Fraid not. But don't worry, when the dragon destroys this house, I'll be able to build the heroes a proper base full of awesome things and secrets and deathtraps some of them might fall into and die horribly. I'll get on it right away."
    The it he meant was the couch, not the building of a grand new base. The beast slurped his pebbles. He would stick with his frenemy for now. Long enough to learn some of the powers that came with being a Jed Master.

    Benjamin : Hey, wait a minute guys.
    JM : What now?
    Benjamin : I never got to tell them that awesome thing I did when we stole the submarine.

    JM sighs.

    JM : Fine, ratty tatty, go ahead and tell them how you snuck out and hit the only guard over the head with his own rifle.
    Benjamin : I snuck out and hit the only guard over the head with his own rifle!
    JM : Yay. Will you stop bugging us about it?
    The Beast : I think it was quite impressive.
    Krig : Krig would like to remark how Krig's speech never had dialog tags in that entire thing. Also, Krig wonder if anyone actually stupid enough to read whole thing.
    JM : That's probably because you always speak in third person. "Krig," said Krig. How annoying would that be? At any rate, we need to let the other writers know that this long strange thing was only written because it's National Novel Writing Month, and there's a certain word goal that must be achieved.
    The Beast : It is basically a random collection of random things.
    JM : Whatever happened to that part where you cleave yourself in half?

    The beast shrugs.

    The Beast : Story didn't go where the writer thought it would. I could do it now if you'd think it would be entertaining.

    A mirror appears in the center of the room nobody has bothered to describe. The beast points his cleave-o-matic at the mirror and pulls the trigger.

    The Beast : Auuuugh!

    Blood and guts splatter everywhere! The beast falls, dead instantly, in two disgusting pieces! The other heroes present gasp in shock!

    JM>0.5 : No, just kidding. I've been turned into JM>0.5
    JM<0.5 : And JM<0.5!
    Together : We have the strength of five men each! And the intelligence of one and one third!
    JM : One sixth.
    Together : One sixth!
    JM>0.5 : Honestly I forgot what this was meant to accomplish.
    JM<0.5 : There was supposed to be some puzzle that would require two people to complete.
    JM>0.5 : Yes but then there were four of us there, so.
    JM<0.5 : And there was going to be a final climatic battle between us and JM.
    JM : Hey we can still do that. Lets have it. But, uh. Friendly and sporting, okay? No cleave-o-matics.

    JM and the split beasts stand in a giant cage. Random people gather around to cheer on the bulky tag team or the egotistical maniac. Who will you root for? You decide!

    Announcer : In this corner we have JM! The man with an ego about the size of his ego! And in the other corner, we have the dynamic duo! Lesser and Greater! The beasts!
    The Beasts : Smashing!

    JM rushes into the ring pumping his arms. He makes a few fake punches at the air. The first of the beasts (Please note that the writer will make no further attempts to distinguish them) rushed up to JM and grabbed him in his massive paws. The beast raised JM over his head and smashed him down onto the mat.
    JM : Ow!
    The other beast comes out of nowhere to slam into JM from above, squashing him against the mat! The beast rolls off JM and grabs JM by the legs. He spins him around and around then releases him. JM flies through the air, until his arc is brutally cut short by the other beast's closed fist!
    JM : Uuugh!
    The beast pummels JM, then grabs him by the head and throws him into the air! The other beast launches himself, and kicks JM while he is in midair! Now his partner, the beast, springs up and drives his knee into JM's face! The beasts pummel JM as they fall, and then they grab JM and use him to cushion their landing.
    JM : Augh! I did not expect this to be so one sided!
    Do not worry arrogant and lazy super villain! The writer needs only eighteen more words to meet his goal for national novel writing month, two thousand nine, and then this can all be

  34. #1114
    (NSN: My impatience and eagerness to write this post has me posting this now, rather than waiting for Ben. Hope this all lines up cool.)

    The Setting:

    A dark forest road, with no destinations in sight. It is very easy to be unable to see the forest from the trees here, in more ways than one.

    The Cast of Characters:

    Gebohq, heroic coward and leader of the heroes of NeS.

    The Last True Evil, former Soviet spy, a reformed antagonist of the NeS heroes yet still written to play the story's Ultimate Villain.

    Amal, a young man and apparent storywielder, effectively adopted by The Last True Evil.

    Al Ciao, known also by his powerplaying alter-ego Highemperor, aiming to strengthen his character while resisting the urge for ambition and appealing to his alter-ego.

    Krig the Viking, a stereotypical short and stout Viking warrior, what he lacks in apparent intelligence he more than makes up for in berserker levels of strength and strangeness.

    Soriel, a young, no-nonsense master swordsman and villain. Wields the legendary (and horny) Fred Teh Uber Blade.

    JM (or Jed Master), once an ancient Atlantean wizard with the powers over settings, is now an egotistical bum only seemingly interested in what might entertain him.

    JMX01, a giant beast of a baboon from another dimension that wields a giant Cleave-o-Matic and powers with the same potential as JM, wishes to learn to unlock his potential.

    Howard, an old NeScholar and famous dragon slayer, leads the way to Master Thand's treasury.

    Matthias, a young NeS scholar with apparent talents in magic, little is known of him other than that he has survived his last encounter with Master Thand.

    The ten walk down the dark road, talking among themselves about their recent past and various other things...


    JM: Krig!

    Krig: Huh? What ego-man want with Krig?

    JM: Ego-man want make you less annoying. Ego-man teach you good grammar.

    Krig: Gram-ar?

    JM: Yes. There's few things more annoying than someone who refers to themselves by their own name.

    Gebohq, The Last True Evil, and Al Ciao notice JM and Krig and smile at each other.

    Al Ciao: This should be interesting...

    JM: What do you say when you are hungry, Krig?

    Krig: Krig not say--

    JM: Stop! Say "I" instead of "Krig."

    Krig: Ah-ee?

    JM: Yes.

    Krig: Ah-ee...not say things. Ah-ee is what Krig use to see things, not say things.

    JM: No, that is "eye" -- ee-why-ee. You are "I" -- just the letter I.

    Krig: Krig... is you?

    JM: No--

    Krig: Is Krig eye?

    JM: No--

    Krig: Is Krig letter of alphabet?

    JM: NO!

    Krig: Ego-man not making much sense.

    Voice: Perhaps I can help.

    Everyone turns their attention to the side of the road, where they see a bearded old white man in a traveling suit and with a walking stick in hand.

    Master Thand.

    Most everyone stares stupefied at him. He stands with virtually no expression on his face, looking at each of the nine as if only to acknowledge that they existed. He makes no motion to act, and for a moment, neither do the nine. However, both Howard and Matthias begin to back away slowly and fearfully.


    Howard: Master Thand...

    Matthias: No... we must get away...

    Soriel: Like hell I will!

    Al Ciao: For the good of the NeS!

    Gebohq: WAIT!

    But it was too late. Soriel springs into action, unsheathing Fred Teh Uber Blade and charges. Al Ciao rocks his head like a heavy metal fan, and his hair grows and whips towards Thand like a tentacle. The Last True Evil instinctively pushes Amal behind him as he reveals his one-bullet revolver and aimed it towards Thand, attempting to fire with the powerful Last Bullet convention backing him. Amal, wide-eyed upon seeing Thand, does not resist, and in fact steps back, apparently unable to do anything more than watch. Krig raises his axe high and leaps at Thand. JMX01 is about to join the fray when JM holds his hand up to keep him back.

    JM: Hold on, I think I know him.

    Gebohq searches frantically in the chaos for an opportunity to do something. Master Thand, meanwhile, side-steps calmly as Soriel is about to swing, and trips Soriel with his walking stick. As Soriel falls, his swing ends up slicing Al's hair, cutting the Medusa-like attack just short of reaching Thand. The Last True Evil continues to shoot blanks at Thand as Krig plummets from his leap towards Thand. Swinging his walking stick from the long pile of Al's hair, Thand deflects Krig in between himself and The Last True Evil just as the revolver shoots the last bullet, which hits the horn of Krig's helmet and deflects the shot away from Thand's face. Krig rolls into the hair, guided from Thand's stick, and bowls into Al Ciao. The Last True Evil scowls and loads one more bullet into his revolver.

    Soriel stands up and unleashes a flurry of swings with his blade at Master Thand. Master Thand blocks and evades each of Soriel's attacks with the simplest of ease, apparently ignorant or ignoring The Last True Evil's attempts to shoot him. After the seconds that passed since the start of the fight, Gebohq runs towards Thand just as Soriel is knocked down.

    Thand turns as Gebohq closes in on him. The Last True Evil's shot fires, spiraling square towards Thand's chest, but the line of fire looks instead to likely strike Gebohq as he closes the gap. One slight turn from Thand could change the probable to a certainty and assure his safety, which Thand does.

    The Last True Evil's shot echoes in the forest. Gebohq stands with Master Thand staring at him. The Last True Evil stands a distance behind Thand. Gebohq looks down to see Thand's arm that had pulled him aside, and the blood wound that grew in Thand's torso. Master Thand had assured his safety -- Gebohq's safety.


    Gebohq: What...?

    Thand: It's not over yet.

    The Last True Evil walks towards Gebohq and Master Thand, loading one more bullet into his revolver. Gebohq steps around Thand, to use himself to shield Thand from The Last True Evil.

    TLTE: What are you doing, Gebohq?

    Gebohq: He saved my life. You...

    TLTE: I had him, and now he's pulling some trick! I don't know what, but--

    Gebohq: Give us some space. I need to take care of him.

    No space is given, though, as The Last True Evil and the others simply stand their ground, on their guard and ready to strike if only Gebohq was not in their way. Gebohq puts his hands over Thand's wounds, concentrating with no apparent result.

    Gebohq: I don't think I can heal this wound. I don't understand what the story--

    Thand: You've done plenty. This is not without consequence, but I'll be fine.

    TLTE: What do you want, Arkng Thand? Stopping us before we can succeed on our mission?

    Master Thand stares at The Last True Evil.

    TLTE: I haven't forgotten the words you said when we first confronted you. I know the marks of a villain, and you've shown them in spades. Your facade here won't fool us, Thand. We're the heroes. Good always wins -- you said so yourself -- and there's nothing you can do to change it.

    Thand: Do not--

    Voice: --what? Do not what?

    Master Thand turns to look behind him, almost before the voice even spoke, where Rachel is standing. Thand begins to move towards her with choreographed purpose when Gebohq dashes to stand between him and Rachel.

    Rachel: I can't have even the wise and wonderful wizard upset the balance of the story now, now can I?

    Thand: Of course not, Protector. And I can't stand idle by the side either, now can I?

    Rachel smiles pleasantly.

    Rachel: Of course not!

    Thand: Then I'll see you all a few posts down the road.

    --------------------------------------------

    Gebohq: Where did he go?

    Rachel: He just jumped ahead a bit in the story is all, dear. Don't you worry though. With me around, Thand can't hope to use any of his powers to hurt any of you. Not seriously at least, assuming none of you try to seriously hurt him. This is a comedic story, after all.

    Soriel: An old man just knocked the hell out of me, and now you're saying we can't resort to bloody violence?

    Rachel: Something like that.

    Soriel: Well forget you all then! I'm no fool. I can see I'll just be a whipping boy if keep sticking with you--*points at Rachel*--and you--*points at Howard*--and the rest of you half-heroes. I'm heading back.

    Nobody seems especially heart-broken as Soriel storms in the direction they came from. JM, however, appears to be in mild thought as he watches Soriel leave.

    JM: I think I'm going to keep him company. Come along, you big baboon.

    JMX01: If it's all the same to you, I'll be staying, at least for now. This Master Thand may be someone I could learn from, and this may be an opportunity I won't have again.

    JM: Whatever. See ya.

    JM exits the way the group came.

    Gebohq: I still don't understand what Thand wanted to do back there. He could have killed us at any point back there if he really wanted to stop us.

    TLTE: He didn't want to kill us, Gebohq, and now I know why. He planned to take that hit, to show you once again what's been evident since the start of this squared story thread.

    Gebohq: Show me what?

    TLTE: That we're the bad guys. You're with bad company, and this quest is not likely something we should do. And now you have to decide if you're going to keep walking down this road with us and...

    Krig: Get shinies?

    TLTE: Yes, Krig. Get the shinies.

    Krig: For being big eye, Krig not see problem here.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 12-16-2009 at 01:19 AM.

  35. #1115
    ((I told you that anyone is free to post, Geb. Itís just been a somewhat hectic week. In any case you didnít ruin anything for me. JM, maybe, but not me.))

    In a log cabin, hidden away in a small corner of the eighth dimension, Benjamin and Young are enjoying a quiet evening meal. A small fire is burning in a fireplace to warm the cabin while super is warming on a wood burning stove.

    Young is taking it easy, with the fact that she is with child obviously showing but the question of for how long still strangely undetermined. Sheís still in the country attire she was last described in, which actually looks appropriate given the rural setting.

    Benjamin is tending the stove. Years on the street hardly make him a good cook, but at the very least he can be trusted not to waste the food by burning it. The question of what food is being served is answered as Ben hauls a large stew pot to the table.

    Benjamin: Iím still not sure why the pantry had one dayís fresh food in it.

    Young: Doesnít it make sense for someone to keep their lauder stocked?

    Benjamin: Yes, but thatís not the point. Weíve been hear one and a half days, and the lauder has always been close to bare but with just enough food on the shelves for the next meal we were making. And always fresh...

    Young: Mother likes to provide for me.

    Done serving the food, Benjamin rolls his eyes as he puts up the pot and joins Young at the table. That has been Youngís excuse for almost everything so far. The discussions just keep on going in circles. It wasnít for the fact the silence would drive him crazy heíd have given up trying. Been down that road before...

    Just then, as Benjamin was sitting down at the table, a ring fell out of his pocket. Street rat instincts taking over, he bends down to pick it up instantly. He almost pockets it instantly, only to pause. Where did he get a ring? A bejeweled ring at that... one engraved with strange...

    Benjamin suddenly falls to the floor screaming. Memories flood his head; memories of an adventure with the knocking out of a guard, stealing of a submarine, rolling around in a hamster ball through an underwater city, and a strange white room he canít really recall too clearly...

    The flood of memories seem to last almost as long as adventure took to transpire, but in actuality it took just fifteen long minutes. Eventually Benjamin finds his perspective back at the present. Releasing his death grip on his own head, the wererat reaches into his pockets and pulls out three other rings. That makes it a total of four... through for some reason he thinks there should be five...

    Shaking the after thought from his head, Benjamin picks himself up. At the table, Young is sitting down polishing off her soup. She doesnít appear too concerned but at the same time sheís happy to see him up and about.

    Young: Youíre all done know? Your soup is getting cold.

    Benjamin: ...Iíve been sitting here on the floor screaming and youíve been eating soup.

    Young: Of course not. I came and examined you, but youíve been screaming for fifteen minutes. When I deduced you were receiving a retroactive memory change in nonflashback format, I went back to eating.

    Benjamin: ...and you deduced that how?

    Young: Iím the child of the NeS.

    Benjamin: ...of course you are. *sigh* Fredrick, what have you been doing with these people.

    ---------------

    Meanwhile, back on earth, Fredrick J Otter and Maybelle Child are enjoying some more intimate quality time in a booth in the middle of the currently closed Chris Bís Chikin Shack. Well, Otter is trying to have some quality time. Maybe Child is wading through a knee deep stack of application paperwork.

    Maybe: Honestly, with this economy almost anyone will apply for a hero job.

    Otter: Yeah, almost anyone. Wonder how weíre going to break it to them that this job doesnít pay anything.

    Maybe: Well itís not that bad. We still have bases cover as income.

    Otter: Yeah, though Iím not sure I trust the Robot Chris MZZT built to run the place. We havenít exactly had the best track record with robots in this story.

    Maybe: True, but Semi can look after him, and running the kitchen gives him a sense of self esteem while keeping him out of our hair. Honestly, what we really need is work...

    As if on cue, Ford chooses this moment to arrive Voodoo and Sarn in a fiery act of teleportation. Ford promptly collapses in exhaustion. Maybe and Otter quickly rush over to the new arrivals.

    Otter: Ford! Voodoo! ...Sarn? What in the world is happening in here?

    Voodoo: A huge dragon assaulted the Haunted Hall of Heroes. Burt the place down to ash. Everyone survived, but only because some elderly man showed up and killed the thing. He claimed to be a NeS scholar, and then promptly took everyone on a treasure hunt for a lost treasure trove of Arkng Thand.

    Maybe: So wait, so the others are off on an adventure with Geb? [censored] Weíre being degraded to secondary characters. We need to find some work and fast... oh, but first letís tend to Ford.

    Otter: I miss being a main character. I remember when it was just the five of us: me, you, Geb, Semi, and... where is Ante anyway?

    ---------------

    Antestarr can be found in of all places on a hill overlooking a small African villiage. As the last rays of the setting sun vanish, the last NeSferatu known as Nyneve joins the NeScholar in his vigil. Down in the valley below, the one they seek is busy helping mothers take care of their children in the valley below.

    Nyneve: This is the one weíll raise to temporarily replace Geboqh?

    Antestarr: Amal is still an option, but for now we can reach this one without risking the attention of the heroes he hovers around. Besides, of the two them, sheíll need the most pushing.

    Down in the valley, Losien quietly rocks a baby to sleep, completely unaware of the plans being hatched for her and her distant family.

  36. #1116
    Losien's face is a portrait of maternity as she cradles the small African infant in her arms. Slowly - and with some reluctance - she returns the baby to its mother.

    Losien: Look after him. He's fragile: more so than ever, now that the flu season is upon us.

    Losien stands up and looks out on the small village, marvelling at her own handiwork. Within a few bare days, the quiet and unassuming NeSHeroine had taken a war-torn and diseased tribe and nursed it back from the brink of total annihlation. Now, they had access to clean water, their hunters had begun securing food - the children had even, with great care, been tutored by Losien in the evenings, and were beginning to understand mathematics and basic philosophy.

    And yet...


    Antestarr: ...you can't shake the feeling that your achievements are worth nothing.

    Losien turns to see her old comrade-in-arms standing in the doorway melodramatically, the sunset filtering in behind him and making him seem somewhat prophetic. Next to him is a pale, hungry-looking woman that she does not recognise.

    Losien: Antestarr. What brings you to the mother continent?

    Antestarr: No one less than the mother herself.

    Losien: Are you talking about your new acquaintance here?

    Nyneve stands impassively, not saying anything.

    Antestarr: No, my dear. I'm talking about you.

    He strides into the hut, completely ignoring the bewildered African woman to whom it belongs.

    Antestarr: You, Losien. You are the mother. You fulfil so many important roles - to Gebohq, a brother; to TLTE, a paramour; - but most importantly of all, you hold together the NeSHeroes, the people that matter the most in this world. Surely you must have suspected that the NeSHeroes would not exist in its current form without you?

    Losien: The thought had occurred to me.

    Antestarr walks to Losien and grasps her by the shoulders. The gesture is mollified by Antestarr's friendly smile, but it is nonetheless paternal...and more than a little intimidating.

    Antestarr: We need you, Losien. The NeS needs you. The time will soon come when your brother will not be enough to keep this story going.

    Nyneve: We've detected a change in the narrative. It's a defect of some kind - the story will change in terms of main characters. This could even be tied in to the Armaggeddon event that Arkng Thand is predicting will occur on the final page of NeSquared.

    Losien: What...surely you don't mean...that Gebohq...is going to die?

    Antestarr: No, no. Nothing so horrific. But he may be...incapacitated in some regard. If he is, we need strong protagonists, identifiable, likeable heroes. None of this brooding antihero business that your boyfriend and the others seem so fond of. You are an eminently qualified candidate.

    Losien: You want me to be the lead character? Me? But -

    Nyneve: Yes, yes, you've always been a charismatic support - but this is the kind of opportunity that could make a star out of you, Losien. You have the blood of an Ohq flowing through you.

    Losien: I'm not in this to become a star!

    Nyneve: Nonetheless, statistics don't lie. The more well-liked characters are the harder to bump off.

    Losien: Surely that's not true.

    Nyneve: Well, technically it's fiction. But it's all the same to the audience.

    Antestarr: And you'll take less time to prepare than the other candidate -

    Losien: Which is who, exactly?

    Antestarr and Nyneve exchange glances.

    Antestarr: The other candidate is Amal. The young chap that TLTE has been mentoring.

    Nyneve: In time, he may eclipse Gebohq and even you as NeSHero material. The boy is handsome, gifted, a Wielder of the NeS - basically, he's Gebohq without the goofy flaws and obvious shortcomings. But he will need more training than you. Perhaps...perhaps you could even finish his training yourself.

    Antestarr: So what do you say, my girl? Ready to do your NeSHero duty?

    Losien looks out at the village one last time. A child is drawing a sand mural at the center of in her honour, cataloguing her achievements and contributions while decorating it with local flora. The likeness is crude, but beautiful in an odd way.

    Losien: Every time the action got too hot...or whenever TLTE got too dark...I'd just up and leave. Fly out here, do some humanitarian work like this and clear my mind. We spend so much time fighting killer robots and ever-ending monsters that we tend to forget a world exists beyond our headquarters. But...even as I quelled epidemics and fought for social justice...I knew, in my blood...

    Antestarr: ...you were running away.

    Losien: I was.

    Nyneve: You are Losien Ohq, a Hero. Not a blanket-stitcher or a speech therapist. Now get out there and start killing bad guys.

    Losien looks at the two of them, interlopers from her other life. She looks back at the simple, decent life of the village. Then she stands up and draws a deep breath, puffing out her chest and casting aside her worker's tunic to reveal combat fatigues and armour. She is instantly a different person.

    Losien: Alright. I'll be your God-forsaken lead character. What would you have me do?

    Antestarr's eyes narrow and he smiles thinly.

    Antestarr: You're going to lead the NeSHeroes into, and out of, certain death - all to recover the secrets of my former master's armory.

    Losien: The armory of Arkng Thand?

    Antestarr: The very same. And while you're at it, you're going to recover Amal from your precious TLTE, before he turns the boy into a pure wellspring of evil...
    Last edited by The Last True Evil; 12-10-2009 at 11:24 AM.

  37. #1117
    Losien: A wellspring of evil? Not from my love, The Last True Evil!

    Antestarr: Did you even hear what you said? His name hasn't just been for show, you know.

    Losien: But... oh geez, I hope I haven't gone over my head with becoming a lead character. Hold on while I gather my things, OK? I hope Geb won't mind if--oh what if I screw up?...

    As Losien runs to her residence, Nyneve shoots Antestarr a questioning look.

    Nyneve: We're bringing her to Gebohq and the others? What happened to "not raising the attention of the others?" Are you insane?

    Antestarr: Well sometimes I wonder if maybe I'm suffering from schizophrenia or if it's just the nature of being an educated being in a meta-fictional world... erm, but that's beside the point.

    Nyneve: What is the point then?

    Antestarr: That I'm insane. Is there a problem?

    Nyneve: Let me just make sure I understand you. First, we search for Losien because she would attract the least attention of our options, and now you want to stick her in the spotlight.

    Antestarr: I'd like to see what Master Thand is up to.

    Nyneve: And what do you expect me to do during all this?

    Antestarr: Not much. Perhaps do a dance of distraction.

    Nyneve: You're not making any sense.

    Antestarr: Making sense is a dangerous thing to do in this story.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Meanwhile (NeS count: forty-two dollars and no sense), Ben and Young are playing a game of twenty questions.

    Ben: It's your turn to guess now. Ask away!

    Young: Is it a sixteen-ounce prime rib?

    Ben: What the-- are you a mind-reader?

    Young: No. I've simply been reading the script.

    Young pulls out a bundle of papers from behind her and shows it to Ben. He snatches it and starts flipping through it.

    Young: Page seventy-eight, towards the bottom.

    Ben: Oh great, it looks like not only would everyone have me believe we're in some story-world, but that the "writers" are really bad. The stuff before it is missing all sorts of events and spelling errors and here -- here it just says "Ben and Young play twenty questions. Ben thinks of sixteen-ounce prime rib and Young guesses it. Young shows the script to Ben. Ben plays the part of the stupid straight-man in" -- stupid?! If they want stupid, maybe I should ham up the part. Durr!

    Young stares at Ben vacantly as he continues looking through the pages.

    Ben: And there's practically nothing after this! Where's my line that says "There's nothing after this" if this is a story, huh?

    Young: The writers are, well, how do I put this...

    Ben: Bastards that bastardize anything they write to their doughy *******-filled heart's content?

    Young: Yeah, the line you just said that they wrote.

    Ben: They didn't write any such--

    Ben looks down at the script in his hands.

    Ben: Aw damn it!

    Young walks over to give Ben a hug. She looks down at Ben with considerable worry and thought...

    -------------------------------------------

    Elsewhere (NeS count: who cares about elsewhere?), at the new NeS Hero HQ-slash-Chikin Shack...

    Voodoo: Well, we should really head back to search for Ben and Young, actually, and maybe salvage what we can, before looking for work.

    Maybe: Who and who?

    Ford: Ow... never going to try teleporting again...help...

    Voodoo: You know Young! Blue-haired little girl, went to save her from an evil villain wedding, looking to have a kid. And Ben, well, he's a new guy, but he seems nice enough.

    Maybe: Look, I'm sure they'll be fine, wherever they are. We've got bigger fish to fry.

    Ford: Like not letting me die from this pain--ow...

    Voodoo: So you're just going to forget them? We can't abandon them!

    Maybe: They're not going to be forgotten, hon! But we are, if we don't venture on something more exciting than whatever Gebohq is gallivanting about in now, and we've all know what that's like!

    Ford: Did everyone forget about poor Ford? Gah, my head...

    Voodoo: Somebody here must care about our friends we left behind! Ford, what do you think?

    Ford: WRAAAAAA!

    Voodoo: Oh, right. Oops. I'll take care of that...

    -----------------------------------

    Back at the now-burnt remains of the Haunted House of Heroes, Soriel storms into the scene, followed closely by JM.

    Soriel: Hello? Where did everybody go?

    JM: Presumably somewhere without you, leaving you here stranded with no way to follow. Oh look, seems there are some rather upset homeless ghosts hovering over our way. GET A JOB, YOU UNDEAD DEADBEATS! I hate bums.

    Soriel: ...fuq.

  38. #1118
    Brandishing his best bad-*** expression, Soriel unleashes his blade--

    Fred: That's me!

    --upon the ghostly fiends in an impressive display of destruction.

    ...well, it would have been destruction, were the undead spirits phased by his attacks. They continue to hover, glaring at Soriel.


    Soriel: Well I'm out of ideas.

    He deftly dodges to the side as one of the ghosts swings their arms at him. Soriel turns to JM as he continues evading their attacks.

    Soriel: CARE TO HELP?

    JM: That's alright. I think I'll watch for now.

    Soriel: THAT WASN'T A REQUEST!

    Fred: Ooo-ooo, boss! I've got an idea!

    Soriel: It better not involve fornication with the female spirits.

    Fred: ...

    Soriel: Honestly, they don't even have bodies!

    Fred: And I'm a killing tool with no genitalia. What's your point?

    Soriel: Don't you ever think of anything else?

    Fred: Well, I've been afraid to bring this up, but I think I might fancy the occasional man too, and you're not so bad-looking yourself, sir--

    Soriel: NEVERMIND I ASKED!

    Fred: Sorry boss.

    Soriel: I can't be done in by a bunch of two-bit ghouls!

    JM: I don't know about that. I think it might be funny, in a sort of dark, gory sense when they turn your insides out--

    Soriel: NOT HELPING!
    Last edited by Gebohq; 12-15-2009 at 01:57 AM.

  39. #1119
    Somewhere, on a desolate and winding road halfway between the annihlated Haunted House of Heroes and the mysterious location of Arkng Thand's mortal treasury, a stand-off is occurring. It is occurring between two sets of NeSHeroes: broadly speaking, the straight-laced, virtuous type of Hero stands on one side, and the more troubled, mysterious and multi-faceted Hero stands on the other.

    On one side is Gebohq, the blue-jeaned Everyman, pricipal character of the NeS, bearer of the NeSword and representative of the WriterGod on Earth. Standing at his side is loyal ally Krig the Viking; just behind him is his sometime romantic interest and resident easygoing gal, Rachel Pi.

    On the other side is codename: The Last True Evil, former Soviet spymaster, reformed evildoer and apparent ultimate antagonist of the NeS. Standing next to him is his occasional frenemy and indulgent powerplayer Al Ciao; behind him, NeScholars Howard the Dragonslayer and Matthias the wizard. Amal stands slightly in front of him, almost protectively.


    TLTE: Well, Gebohq? What's it to be?

    Gebohq: You know that I dislike splitting up the group, TLTE, but nor do I want us to do something...well...evil.

    TLTE: Evil?

    TLTE draws himself to his full height and tilts his head, obscuring most of his face in darkness. A finger that seems too long points accusingly at Gebohq.

    TLTE: You don't know anything about evil. Evil is more than a state of mind or a decision; it's a pervasive force. I would know if this path is evil, and I tell you, it isn't!

    Al Ciao: I have to defer to the Russian on this one, Geb. Master Thand played you like a violin back there - you seem more susceptible than most to his manipulation of the story conventions.

    Gebohq: I - but - we were shooting at an old man with a cane for no reason! He's never done anything wrong to us!

    Matthias: If I may, Master Ohq...

    Matthias removes his purple wizarding hat and plays with it absently. He looks pained to advance a controversial opinion.

    Matthias: Obviously, as a NeScholar, I hold great reverence for you as a Wielder. To a NeScholar, you're practically a living religious icon. However...Master Ciao is correct. As the holder of the WriterGod's sword, and the avatar of his will, Thand will be able to divert your attention from the real issues. At best, he will excel in disorienting and confusing you. At worst...

    He puts his hat back on and shrugs, unhappily. Howard groans and flicks him back with his cane.

    Gebohq: What? What is he talking about?

    Howard: He'll be able to control your mind, Gebohq. That's what he's trying to tell you.

    TLTE: How is that possible?

    Howard: Part of who Thand is, boy. He's not just an old man, he's...a bit more complicated. And his history is tied up with the WriterGod. If we get through this, I'll explain the rest to you.

    Gebohq sits down on a rock, looking suddenly miserable. TLTE walks over to him and gently pats his shoulder.

    TLTE: Are you alright?

    Gebohq: Yes. Well, no...this settles it then, doesn't it?! What use am I to you if Thand can get inside my head?

    Howard: We can help with that.

    Howard's cane raps against Geb's forehead.

    Howard: Right now, boy, this is a book to him. Wide-open, and easy to understand. But there's something in Thand's armory that we can use to lock your mind up forever.

    Krig: A shiny?

    Howard: One of the shiniest. It's called the Opaque Crown. A silver regent's headpiece. It was crafted by Thand in Sumeria during the 5th century, when he was still vulnerable to such attacks. While you wear it, no man or beast can read or control your mind.

    Krig: Oooh.

    Gebohq stands and looks at Howard.

    Gebohq: I can stop Thand's mind control...permanently?

    Howard: Easily. And that's just one of the many perks of raiding his vault. Now are you convinced?

    TLTE grasps Gebohq in an awkward but firm embrace.

    TLTE: Ha! Finally, our king will get his crown! I like this plan!

    Krig: Krig need better axe, too. This one notched from too many decapitations.

    Howard: What say you, Gebohq? We need you for this to work.

    Gebohq sighs heavily.

    Gebohq: We're still breaking and entering the house of an innocent man.

    Amal walks up to Gebohq and smiles at him.

    Amal: Don't worry, Mister Geb. I'm sure Uncle Thand won't mind if we borrow his crown. I even know where he keeps it!

    He starts walkikng chirpily down the road, leaving the rest of the Heroes looking at him, astonished.

    TLTE: "Uncle"?

  40. #1120
    The moment of silence extends for more than a moment before the adventuring heroes start talking again. When they do, their conversation is far more mellow than one might expect.

    Al Ciao: Amal... your Uncle, was Arkng Thand?

    Amal: Yep.

    TLTE: The same uncle that kept you in a room all by yourself for many years providing you with only food and books?

    Amal: Yep, though the chutes.

    Matthias: But if he provided all these things through chutes, how do you know it was him?

    Amal: Because he told me who he was when he put me there.

    Howard: But if you were… confined for all that time, how do you know where his armory is?

    Amal: Well where do you think I was?

    At this moment, the heroes splinter up into groups. Howard and Matthias in one corner of the scene whispering to themselves while Amal and Gebohq are momentarily distracted by the antics of Krig. Al Ciao meanwhile takes this opportunity to comfort his shell shocked friend The Last True Evil.

    Al Ciao: Are you ok my friend?

    TLTE: Yes, comrade... at least... I think I am. I had always assumed that Gebiyl was his uncle. It was his city, so who else would have been providing for the child?

    Al Ciao: Maybe, but it also makes sense for Gebiyl to make his city on the remains of Thand’s armory. Pity my reviews of the script says that the world outside the city had been reduced to desert, otherwise you and Gebohq would be able to guide us there rather than relying on questionable motives of NEScholars.

    TLTE: True, but... there was also a sort of comfort in assuming he was Gebiyl’s nephew. If he was his nephew, then that would mean...

    Al Ciao: My friend... does it truly matter?

    The Last True Evil redirects his attention towards Amal, who is standing next to Gebohq watching Krig single handedly devastate the local dire squirrel population. A small smile creeps across his fast.

    TLTE: No... I suppose it doesn’t.

    Howard and Matthias, meanwhile, finish their hushed whispering. Whatever they discussed will never be known... until a fiat by the writers decides to retroactively fill in the conversation. Meanwhile...

    ---------------

    ...elsewhere in the eighth dimension, a new day is dawning. What relationship chronologically this new day has to the rest of the groups is hard to tell. Time is an iffy thing in the NeS, doubly so in the eighth dimension, and triply in an area undergoing constant story manipulation by the story itself.

    Manipulation or not, a certain street rat still had chores to do. Or at least try to do. Waking up at the crack of dawn, Benjamin rises from his bed in front of the fireplace. Being careful not to wake up Young in her private room, the wererat heads outside.

    Once outside, Benjamin won’t waste much time. Taking up an axe he heads out into the woods and starts chopping wood. Thankfully the script asks for me to do something other than describe the tedious process of chopping wood. So...

    Here, for a short time only, get an in depth description of Benjamin shirtless in the woods. Oh yes ladies, he’s shirtless. Order now and you’ll also receive an unedited edition of Otter’s wet dreams. Just write your checks or money orders to... hey, what are doing? Put that down! Stop thAAAEEEH!

    Benjamin the Writer: Sorry about that folks. Last time I give the narrator leeway in the script. Now, you behave or you’ll get another round from mister cattle prod.

    *grumble* You beat up one bactch of security guards over some Lysol and they get a little touchy. Fine, back to the day job.

    Walking back to the log cabin, Benjamin deposits an armload of chopped branches into the firewood bin next to the door. Inside the door, Young is awake and watching him while she listens to the narration. She has a small look of concern on her face.

    Young: You don’t have to do that, you know. Mother will provide.

    Benjamin: Its bad karma to rely solely on hand outs.

    Young: But mother is everything, so everything you think you ear is a gift from her.

    Benjamin: ...

    Young: What, is there something on my face?

    Benjamin: Just wondering what kind of mother you’ll make when you consider you’re almost completely dependent on your own.

    Young is temporarily taken aback. This wasn’t a turn in the conversation she was expecting.

    Young: Well, what kind of mother should I be?

    Benjamin: Should? You should be kind and supporting while still preparing your child to stand on his own two feet. That isn’t the type of woman I see before me. I see someone who is still a child herself. Sure, you’re educated in the so called way of the story, but you also claim this story is your mother. How else are you going to care for your child other than handing it over to it’s grandmother?

    Young reels. She isn’t used to being treated like this. Mother cares for her. The other Characters are nice to her. Even with the whole abduction incident she was well cared for. And here this Character younger then herself calling her immature, scalding her verbally...

    ...all out of concern for her child. The child was a fiat by the writers, but one allowed by mother so there must be some good from it. But she was in the NeShattered when she got pregnant. Does that mean it was something bad? What is to become of her child?

    Questions abuzz, Young watches Benjamin walk out into the woods to gather more firewood. It’s at this moment where she realizes that while her name is Young, she is no longer the youngest character and hasn’t been for awhile. Characters like Benjamin and Soriel are younger than her, not a part of her creation. In some ways, she already the guardian of children.


    ---------------

    Finally, at another corner of the eighth, we check in on the other newbie to the NeS. While much more adjusted than Benjamin, Soriel isn’t having an easy time at the moment as he fights off a small army of ghosts. In this situation, though, Fred the Uber Blade might as well be a stick. All the mighty weapon can do is keep the ghosts on the defensive.

    Soriel: A little help would be appreciated!

    Soriel isn’t alone, of course. With him is the ‘almighty’ JM, who is currently studying his tome of atlantean lore. Not the most productive action under the circumstances, but at least he isn’t in the way.

    Soon there isn’t going to be anyplace but in the way, though, as Soriel is quickly reaching the point of exhaustion. Just as he’s about to reach that point, salvation comes from an unexpected source. A very loud pop.

    *pop*

    Startled by the pour quality sound effect, the battle ceases as all participates looks to see what just happened. What they see is a small building. The building is small, about the size of a trailer, and with a single arch style door in it. Topping it all off, the building is a horrendous shade of purple.

    JM: Hmm... I was aiming for royal blue. Oh well, live and learn.

    Jed Master returns his attention towards his tome to figure out what he did wrong. The ghosts, meanwhile, abandon their battle with Soriel and race into the house. A few drappiers and ‘haunt sweat home’ signs later, they’re all settled in.

    Soriel is less than grateful.

    Soriel: You’re just the kind of the anticlimax, aren’t you?

    JM: I know, I’m awesome that way.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 12-18-2009 at 08:47 PM. Reason: fixed coloring issue and changed NeSquared to NeShattered

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