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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, '09, 6:00 am
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Episode V: Amy Might Want to Start Learning Regen. Like, Now.

"Nine! ...Ten! It's over! It's over! KNOCKOUT! *keeeee!*"

Staring dimly at the arcade game's screen, Kain took a second to realize that he had finally defeated Don Gangsterelli. Whooping loudly, he reached into his cooler for a beer bottle, popping the cap off and taking a long gulp.

"Yeah!" he said once he drained the bottle. "That'll teach you bad'un gangster-type! Who's next!? Which of y' 16-bit no-goodnicks is man enough t' take me on?! 'Cause Ah'm Joshua *#&!in' Kain, the Nei Shot-packin' Man! And a HALF!"

The crowd of arcade gamers and families might have been more impressed with the young man's bravado if he weren't visibly drunk. Most of them ignored Kain, while a few guffawed derisively.

"Baah, yer all scared'a me." Dismissing the crowd, he returned his attention to the game's screen. "Next opponent! Bring it on, Mister Referee Sonic!" Kain shouted.

As if in response to Kain's challenge, his new opponent- a wiry, agile-looking dark-haired man- appeared on screen. With a grunt, he swung a series of test punches, then approached Kain's boxer. Stopping in the center of the ring, the opposing boxer screamed in a foreign language.

Or maybe Ah'm jes' too drunk to figger out what he's sayin', Kain thought as the fight started. Dlagon Ree's nice 'n slim, so head punches. Here we go-

Kain's boxer threw a single punch. As soon as it came into contact with Dlagon's head, the entire game screen went black-and-white, as golden kanji appeared on either side of the two boxers. Heroic trumpet and rock guitar music started blaring from the game's speakers as Dlagon Ree shouted, "Za... WORUDO!"

"Whut th'!?"

There was a rapid-fire series of punches, kicks, headbutts, and elbow butts, accompanied by Dlagon's near-psychotic "Mudamudamudamudamuda@(&)*$^%)!" With each impact, pieces of Small Rob splintered off into red mist, cracking and breaking like wood. Naturally, no matter how much Kain tested the game's controls, his rapidly-disintegrating boxer would not respond.

Just when Kain thought enough was enough, Dlagon Ree leapt away from the trunk of Small Rob's battered body, throwing his hands behind his back as a blue energy ball started to form. "Kame-hame-hame..."

"Oh, now that's gotta be against the rules!" Kain protested valiantly, watching the energy ball increase in size and potence. "Where th' hell's that damn hedgehog!"

"...me-hame-hame-hame-haDOUKEN!"

For a second, the only thing on the game's screen that wasn't monochrome was the massive pillar of sky-blue energy that slammed into Small Rob, reducing his body to dust in the boxing ring. More kanji appeared over Dlagon Ree as color returned to the screen, the triumphant guitars and trumpets reaching a crescendo as Sonic rolled into the ring to count out the ash pile.

Kain's face fell. "What?! WHAT?! Kick him outta th' ring, Sonic! You damn bribed ref!" he shouted, as he fished his Visiphone from his pocket. He pushed the phone's redial button, then raised it to his ear.

"Yeah. Bartolo's Tiki Hut? ......Joshua Kain talkin'." He knelt down to put more money into the machine. "Mm-hmm, very good beer, indeed. Listen, Ah'm-a gonna need more, tho. ...Uh-huh. ...Ah was thinkin', mebbe another case. ...Yuh-huh, Ah am quite cogniz... cognisa... KNOWLEDGABLE about public intox... intocksi... public drunkenness laws. ...Uh-huh. Ah assure you, Ah'm sober as a judge. ......Two cases, then, plenty'a ice, iffin' y'can spare it. Same place as th' last one, charge to th' same debit card." Kain looked up at the screen, not realizing that his inattention caused Dlagon Ree to reduce Small Rob to pulp on the boxing ring's canvas. "Right. Volume discount, too? Thanks kindly, see ya in fifteen."

The phone disconnected, and Kain put it back in his pocket. "Ah think Ah'm gonna haveta borrow more money from Rolf," he grumbled as he dropped another quarter into the machine. "Heey, Miss Shir's from a rich family. Mebbe she'll loan me a few hundred Meseta."

-=-=-

Shir's so cute when she teases me, Rolf decided. When she's very ticked off at me and chasing me down a beach... not so much.

The sand was slowing them both down a bit, he knew that. He also knew Shir could run faster than he could, so he was gambling on his longer stride to even things out. So far, it seemed to be working- he was keeping ahead of the thief, slowly putting some distance between them.

"Rolf! Stop running so I can punish you, you tease!" Shir shrieked, only thirty feet behind him. "My daddy knows people, you know! I can have the Gold family private army capture you, and then-"

"You haven't spoken to your dad since the Seventies!" Rolf called over his shoulder, dodging around a woman sunbathing.

"My momma knows people, you know, Rolf Eushys!" Shir leapt over the sunbathing woman, then started sprinting towards Rolf, his lead suddenly starting to disappear. "The Gold private army's gonna give you the once over, and then you're mine! Do you hear me!"

"Gotta catch me first!"

Shir's brow furrowed as she began making some quick calculations. Sprint a bit, step on that towel there... yes! Perfect! "Here we go!" she shouted at her blue-haired friend.

"Bring it!"

With a grunt, Shir leapt towards Rolf, her arms outstretched, bellowing a psychotic "Wheeeeee!" at him as she soared through the air, rapidly closing the gap between them. Hearing Shir's scream, Rolf gulped and started hustling, desperate to get away from her.

He was too late. Shir's arms locked around his chest, and she swung her legs around his waist in a takedown tackle. It would have worked, had the green-haired thief not forgot one vital thing- Rolf was stronger. Forcing his heel into the loose sand, he skidded to a halt as Shir's momentum sent him spiraling, forcing him to dig his other foot into the sand. Finally, the two came to a halt.

"Yes! YES!" Shir cried, wiggling triumphantly as she clung to Rolf. "Iiiiiiiiiiiiii got you!"

"You all right, Shir?"

"Sssh. Victory dance. Bwa-diiiiiing! o/`Bum ba ta tum, bwa na ta tum..."

He recognized the song- an instrumental he heard once or twice on the radio last year, called "Movement." Rolf sweatdropped as Shir sung the song's flute part, wondering if his friend was really all right. "Hey, Shir, really," he started to apologize. "If you really wanted-"

"-bum ba tum, bwa wom wom wom... doo doot do doooot! (Dinga-ding-ding!)"

Rolf sighed, waiting for Shir to finish her song before he asked, "You okay?"

"I'm fine! I ran harder than that when I was younger, remember?!"

Shir pressed down on Rolf's shoulders, shifting herself around him so they were face-to-face, moving her hands behind his neck for balance. She continued, "Always the fastest, too! Someday, Rolf, even you can run a mile in six minutes!"

It was about here Rolf's education started kicking in; long-suppressed lessons about blush reaction and psychology of sexuality subtly reminding the agent that there was an athletic woman dangling off his body, supporting herself only with her hands and legs. A deep blush crept across his face as he put his arms around Shir's waist to help take some of her weight.

"Y'know, Rolf," she said, her face suddenly going red. "This was the poster for some old movie from the Forties, wasn't it?"

"Huh?"

"Guy and a girl on a beach, just like us, only they're..."

"Please tell me they're wearing clothes," Rolf replied.

"No! They're kissing!" Shir laughed, trying not to notice Rolf's cradling arms. "Oh, no, you don't. Don't you dare, Rolf Eushys!"

"Do what?" Rolf asked, feigning innocence as he tightened his grip on Shir.

"You steal another kiss from me, and I'm gonna-"

The green-haired thief's threat was cut short as Rolf brought his lips to hers again, pulling away after a second. Shir's eye twitched involuntarily as Rolf grinned at her.

"Gonna do what?" he asked.

"I'm gonna kick your-"

Another of Rolf's kisses interrupted the thief, and she glared at him angrily as he pulled his arms from around her waist.

"You keep saying you're gonna do something," Rolf said. "But you never finish, Shir."

"I'm gonna get you, Rolf!"

Shir raised her hands, ready to manifest a zero-range Na Zan on Rolf, but quickly found herself tilting backwards, with only her legs to support herself. A series of cracks and pops came from her back, and Rolf looked at her uncomfortably for a few seconds.

"Hey, Shir? You okay?" he asked.

"I don't think I need that chiropractor visit anymore... x_X"

With a grunt, Shir hoisted herself back into a sitting position, then put her arms around Rolf's shoulders again. Smiling at Rolf, she continued, "Wow, that's pretty good for your back."

"You sure you're ok-"

Perfect payback. Shir brought Rolf into a kiss, pulling him close to her with as much weight as she could, taking her time to enjoy Rolf's nervous squirming. Once she pulled away from him, she whispered, "Brace yourself."

"Huh?"

"I'm getting down. Brace yourself."

Rolf grunted as Shir's elbows dug into his shoulders, and he shifted his weight as she climbed off him. "There we go," she said once she was back on the sand. "Rolf, you tease."

"Wha- who's the real tease here?!" he demanded. "You or me?!"

"Wellll... you did kiss me," Shir replied.

"After you did that whole 'I wanna get a piercing so my best friend can kiss it and make it better' deal!"

"Right. You started it by kissing me, so you're the tease. ^_^"

Rolf sweatdropped as Shir stuck a pose in front of him. For a second, he considered walking towards the ocean and swimming all the way around Motavia just to get away from the thief. This feeling disappeared as Shir winked at him, poking his nose gently.

"But hey," she continued. "No hard feelings, eh?"

"...Right. No hard feelings," Rolf replied. "That was kinda fun, though..."

"Wanna beach race?!" Pointing at some faraway volleyball nets, Shir added, "There and back, Rolf! Loser buys lunch!"

"Uh-"

"Too late! The race has already started!"

And with that, Shir immediately broke into a full run towards the nets. Sighing and rolling his eyes playfully, Rolf followed her.

-=-=-

I am so lucky to have you.

Hugh sighed happily as he looked just to his right. Amy still had her arms around him, her head gently resting in the nape of Hugh's neck. The young woman's eyes were closed, and a smile crossed her face as she lay on the sand, just happy to be with Hugh.

Gently, he pulled the redhead closer to him, enjoying the delighted sigh she made with the movements. In response, she gave Hugh's neck a gentle kiss, her smile growing ever-so-slightly.

The couple's moment of serenity in the jetty's shadow lasted for all of twelve seconds before Shir dashed past them, kicking up a miniature tornado in her wake. Hugh grunted in confusion, disturbing Amy as he avoided the tornado.

"Huh? What's wrong?" Amy asked, confused.

"Shir just ran by."

"Oh, no... please tell me she's not running away from a police officer. She's here to relax, not steal."

Hugh leaned away from the jetty, looking downbeach. His eyes widened, and he jerked back just in time to avoid getting kicked in the face by Rolf as he chased Shir. The blue-haired agent shouted a hasty "Sorry!" without breaking stride.

Hugh and Amy both looked at each other, sweatdropping. "Rolf's off today," Hugh said.

"And he'd never arrest Shir."

The two looked over to Rolf and the rapidly-diminishing dust cloud Shir was kicking up, watching them recede down the beach. Confused, they looked at each other for a few seconds, before Amy finally said, "They're racing! They're just having fun- Shir's not in any trouble!"

"Not that we know about, anyway," Hugh added. He raised an eyebrow as Rolf suddenly spun back on his heel, turning himself around without even breaking his stride, while Shir and her dust cloud circled around a volleyball net. "...That sly dog," he said.

"Hmm?"

"Shir went further upbeach. Rolf just turned around now." Crossing his arms, he looked over to Amy. "I think he's cheating."

The redhead thought she could see a surprised expression on Shir's face, followed by grim determination as she started outright sprinting towards Rolf. "I think she just noticed," she told Hugh.

Shir slung her arms behind her, hunching over in an attempt to catch up to Rolf, easily closing the gap between them in seconds. Rolf looked over his shoulder, gulped, and started sprinting, forcing himself to start running faster.

"Rolf, watch out!" Hugh called out. "Shir's right behind you!"

"Be careful you don't trip over the rocks!" Amy added.

It was all the incentive Shir needed. She leapt once again towards Rolf, landing on his back and wrapping her limbs around him. This time, he wasn't ready for the sudden weight, and he stumbled, splaying himself to the side in order to support himself. The blue-haired man grunted and cried out during his movement, veering towards Hugh and Amy.

"Uh-oh! Rolf, we're gonna crash!" Shir realized.

"Get off me, Shir! >.<"

Rolf took a few more awkward stumbles before finally catching his foot on a weather-worn black rock half-buried in the sand. Shouting in panic, Rolf tried to tuck himself and Shir into a ball, and the two wound up rolling into their two friends.

All four of them lay scattered on the beach, groaning in varying degrees of pain before Shir finally stood up. Walking over to Rolf, she touched the tip of his nose with her finger.

"You know what they say, Rolf!" she said enthusiastically, as the wind billowed her hair around her. "Cheaters never prosper! You'rrrrrrrrrrrrre... disqualified!"

"...What."

"That was a little more dangerous than I was expecting," Amy sighed, as her boyfriend helped her to her feet.

"Is everyone all right?" Hugh asked.

"I think... hey, Shir? How'd you get Amy's hat?"

Sweatdropping, Shir reached up, taking off the straw hat that somehow found its way to her head. "I... I dunno," she said. "I guess it fell off Amy's head when we got into that tumble, and I rolled right into it. Kinda cool if that's what really happened."

"Oh. May I have it back, please, Shir?"

"It's just a hat, Amy. I look good in it, don't I?"

"Perhaps, but Hugh bought that hat for me on our fourth date. It reminded me of a hat my grandmother used to have."

Shir raised an eyebrow, considering Amy's story. She glanced at the hat, then over to Rolf, then to Hugh. "Hugh, a hat? Really?" she asked. "You didn't buy Amy jewelry or something? Just a straw hat?"

"Amy rather liked it," Hugh explained. "Please, give it back to her."

"Oh, all right," the thief grumbled, handing the hat back to Amy. As she set it back on her head, Shir looked over to Rolf and said, "You got disqualified, so you know what that means, Rolf!"

"I... weren't you joking?!"

"When have I ever joked about money?"

"Rolf, what's going on?" Hugh wondered.

With a defeated sigh, Rolf hung his head and said, "Whoever lost the race buys lunch."

"Yep! Wanna join us, guys?! Rolf's got you covered, too! ^_^x"

Hugh and Amy looked towards each other, quietly considering Shir's invitation. Hugh said, "Lunch sounds good, Shir."

"Thank you so much, both of you."

"Since when was I buying lunch for four people!?" Rolf demanded.

"Since you lost the race!" Shir replied.

As Hugh and Amy headed back towards the boardwalk, hand-in-hand, Shir turned to Rolf and grinned at him. "Carry me, Rolf!" she said, offering her hand.

"No."

"But you lost the race!"

Sighing, Rolf said, "Shir, I'm buying you lunch. If anything, you're carrying me."
-=-=-

The Hamburger Hole. Putt it somewhat hard, aim for the ketchup bottle...

Anna glanced over at the obstacles between the tee-off area and the hole, thirty feet away. Leaning on her golf club, she continued, At that angle, it'll bounce off the ketchup, roll down the french fries, knock against the milkshake, and, God willing-

"Hurry up, Anna!" Rudo called, standing with a red golf ball in his hand. "There's another group getting ready at the Windmill Hole!"

"They can wait," the blonde replied, setting her club against a blue golf ball. "Aiming takes time."

"Not if you're any good at it," the large man replied. "You gonna putt or what?"

"Patience."

Anna closed her eyes, picturing the hole's layout in her mind- drawing her ball's path across the oversized food and condiments. Her muscles tensed as she brought her club back slowly, then tapped the ball.

Now nothing to do but keep my eye on it.

Just as she predicted, the little blue ball bounced off the giant ketchup bottle, rolling towards a large sculpture of french fries. The ball ricocheted off of the sculpture, rolled along the base of an enormous milkshake, then rolled into a giant hamburger. There was a second's wait before her ball reappeared, coming to a halt dead-center in the hole.

Rudo's jaw dropped as Anna casually ticked a 1 off on their scorecard. "Another hole in one for me," she said, retrieving her ball. "Think you can top that?"

"Let's see."

Rudo dropped his ball on the teeoff, then looked over the course. There was a quiet cough from Anna, who prompted him, "Remember- no fair doing what I just did."

"If I remember right, you copied me at the Windmill Hole."

"'Go through the windmill.' Big choice there, Rudo. Now hurry up and putt."

Groaning, Rudo surveyed the hole. His brow furrowed as he looked over the sculptures, thinking, Go for the mustard? ...Who puts mustard on a burger?

"Today, Rudo. That group behind us is almost done."

"Shut up and let me putt!"

After some thought, Rudo readied himself for his putt. As soon as he brought his putter back, he heard a voice gently chanting "Ruuuuuuuuudo. Ruuuuuuuudo."

With a grunt, he swung, demolishing part of the model grass at the teeoff. Anna chuckled slightly as she told Rudo, "You're the only person I know who could put a divot in a mini golf course, Rudo."

"Stop distracting me!"

"God, I'm just joking around. Think of your blood pressure, Rudo."

He swung again, this time landing his ball near the hole. "Are you saying I'm old, Anna!?" he demanded. "How old are you, anyway?!"

"That's classified." Anna replied. "I'll give you a hint, though."

"That's a start." Rudo swung again, botching his shot- the red golf ball landed near the giant burger, and he sighed in frustration. "Let's hear that hint."

"The year starts with a 12. You're a smart guy, you can do the math from there."

"That didn't help at all! >_<" Rudo shouted, swinging again. He badly overswung, and his golf ball landed out of bounds.

"It's plenty of help. And that's... five strokes so far. Six stroke limit, Rudo."

"Are you gonna be like this all nine holes, Anna?"

With a noncommittal shrug, Anna looked over the scorecard again. "I might. Let's see... Anna. Windmill 1, Pinball 1, Fans 1, Hamburger 1. Rudo... Windmill 6, Pinball 6, Fans 6, Hamburger 6. Next hole's the Magic Carpet. You use latent Technical Energy to guide the ball in the marked areas, the guide says."

"Damn it. You've got the advantage there," Rudo replied. "Metapsionic cortex damage, remember?"

"You've been up against robots, biomonsters, and Dark Force. I think you can take on one woman with a golf club." Crossing her arms, Anna gave the giant man a rare smile, peeking over her sunglasses. "Unless you're not up to the challenge?"

"You'd better believe I'm up for it!"

"Then go on. The Magic Carpet awaits."
-=-=-

Next Episode Preview: Rudo and Anna continue their duel of titans at Bartolo's Tiki Hut, while our two couples take some time to enjoy lunch on the beach. Meanwhile, Kain continues his one-man battle against Motavia's best boxers, aided by his unorthodox supply of gamer fuel: 36 fluid pounds of Dark Star beer!

Anna: Summer days are always a thrill a minute, aren't they?
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