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PostPosted: Thu Sep 3, '09, 12:02 am
Episode VI: Chock Full of Gastric Delights

"...How exactly did I wind up carrying you again?"

"It's simple, really!" Shir looked down at Rolf, smiling at him, as she continued, "You lost our race, so you're buying lunch!"

"I know that," Rolf explained, adjusting Shir's weight on his back and shoulders. "That didn't answer my question, though. How come I'm carrying you?"

"I, uh... I got lazy? ^_^"

Rolf sighed. "Shir, that's the worst excuse I've ever heard, and Kain's told some pretty big whoppers."

"Maybe you're afraid of the Gold family army," Shir replied, sticking her tongue out at Rolf.

"Isn't the family army just three guys with those cheap katanas I could buy at a flea market for thirty Meseta?"

"One, they're nodachis, and you should know the difference. And you're forgetting the one guy who knows Feeve," Shir added. "Don't forget him."

Right. Don't forget the big Motavian whose psionic knowledge is pretty much 'Paladin's Mercy,' the blue-haired man thought as he finally managed to catch up to Hugh and Amy. Setting the green-haired thief down, Rolf grumbled, "I have to work out more."

"You seem pretty strong to me," Hugh replied, watching as Rolf rotated his shoulders.

"When it comes to swords, yeah. Carrying, though, not so much..."

"Are you saying I'm fat!?" Shir demanded. Turning towards Amy, she continued, "Amy! Please, tell me Rolf's just being a jerk! I'm just fine weight-wise, right?! ;_;"

Amy sweatdropped, took a breath, then said, "You're just fine, Shir. Of course, I'd have to professionally diagnose you, but you seem perfectly healthy enough."

"See?! Amy thinks I'm just fine," Shir told Rolf. "So you're just being a jerk. =p"

"I told you, I'm not good carrying anything," the blue-haired agent replied, sighing. "I can't believe I'm buying lunch for four..."

"Rolf, if it helps," Hugh started to offer, "I'll cover Amy and myself."

"Nope! Rolf cheated in the race, I said he's buying for all of us!"

"It's all right, Shir," Amy added. "Really." She motioned her over, then whispered, "Besides, my mother always said if you have a boyfriend, he should pay for lunch."

"Wh-what?!" Shir's jaw dropped, and she practically petrified on the spot, falling over by Rolf's feet. "He... he's not... boyfriend... whaaaaaa..."

"Amy? What did you do to Shir?" Rolf asked, sweatdropping.

"Nothing," the redhead replied, hugging Hugh and smiling. "Just gave her some money-saving advice."

"She looks like she needs Alshline..."

"Hmm." Hugh knelt down to examine Shir, scratching his chin in thought. "To see somebody instantly petrify like that... either remnants of Dark Force's power-"

"No! It couldn't be!" Rolf said. Amy sweatdropped as he continued, "We killed Dark Force, remember? Well, you might not, Hugh- you were bleeding all over the place..."

"...Or, as I suspect, Shir's been told something she doesn't like." Smiling, Hugh continued, "Like the Meseta's fallen considerably."

"Don't joke like that!"

With a loud grunt, Shir broke free of her petrification, shaking loose pieces of gravel out of her hair. "That'd make my Meseta less valuable, so I'd have to steal more. Actually, that keeps me working, so... yeah, either way, I win! And speaking of winning, Rolf, let's hurry up and buy lunch! I want a burger!"

"Sounds fine," Rolf said, thinking, Especially because my wallet's a lot lighter, thanks to Kain.

"And I want it just like the song!" Shir continued. As the group of four entered a line at a burger shack, the green-haired thief sung, "♪ I like mine with lettuce an' tomato/Frotz 57 and french fried potatoes/Big kosher pickle and cold glass beer/Good God Almighty, which way do I steer, for my-"

"No beer today," a dark-haired man grumbled. "Some scoundrel practically bought out the whole boardwalk's beer supply."

A young woman in a bikini replied, "How inconsiderate! What if I wanted a cold one with my cheese steak?! Non-alcoholic beer sucks!"

"Rumors have it, that this is a Palma person with curses and swear words, by jove," a Motavian man explained, his traditional robes loosened to allow air to flow through the garment. "Most displeasing, yes. I worry he might make my chums and I ex-Mota people if we liberate his stock."

This is an omen, Rolf thought, hanging his head as the line advanced towards the shack's counter. No beer, hot sun, Shir's acting crazy, and I'm low on money and evidently buying food for four. This is a great big 200 point bold flaming neon pink sign: There is a God, after all, and He really hates me.

"It'll be fine," another Motavian, this one dressed in Palman swim trunks, chimed in. "Simply the Hut of Tiki is sold out of beer, and only one brand! The boozemohol and libations are still in ample supply in Oputano, by jove! The Palm people and the Mota people can liquor up in abundance equally!"

"See? Now I can get lunch, just like the song," Shir replied.

Twenty minutes, most of which were filled by a litany of blasphemy, profanity, implications, and suggestions directed towards Sega Enterprises, "Dynamite" Duke Togo, the arcade's owner, and God that was so creative in its obscenity even Anna would have applauded, had she been there to hear him. It had taken Kain that long to finally bring down Dlagon Ree, confirmed by Sonic the Hedgehog's "He's too slow! TKO!" Letting out a loud whoop, the teal-haired man popped open another bottle of beer, chugging half of the contents in a second.

"Excuse me, Sir!"

"Huh? Whu- who the?" he asked, nearly dropping the beer bottle back into the cooler. "Oh, it's you, from th' bar. You gots mah stuff?"

The young man who approached Kain checked a clipboard, resting on a dolly loaded with two foam coolers. "Let's see... Joshua Kain ordered four cases of Dark Star, that's forty-eight bottles, and the note here says... 'Plenny 'f ice, iffin' y'can spare it.' The transliteration's a bit... off, but that's what Mary thought you said on the phone."

Mary's a dude? Kain wondered as the man unloaded the beer shipment. "Heya, listen. Ya gots anythin' a bit... a bit..." The words struggled to find their way to him, but he finally managed to blurt out, "Whaddyagot that mixes with oranjuice?"

The worker sweatdropped, partially from Kain's alcohol-laden breath, but mostly from the training montage playing on the arcade game's screen: Small Rob was being brutally horsewhipped by his trainer, who was screaming all the while about how Rob's mother never loved him. Trying not to think about the brutality of the scene, he said, "We've got Quadruple X Premium Vodka, Mister Kain."

"Too many Xs," Kain grumbled. "Souns lika tic-tac-tot-toe match."

"Well, there's always Auto Blotto. A real steal- 3000 Meseta for 1.75 liters!"

Kain offered his debit card to the man, unhesitatingly telling him "Fill 'er up."

"Err, Sir?" The worker winced, watching as Small Rob was crucified with barbed wire into an upside-down position. "How much have you had to drink?"

"Sssh. This's th' good parts."

Kain chuckled as the trainer tied Small Rob's cross to the back bumper of a landrover, then started driving it across a field of broken glass. "Hehe... sorry. Whaddya askin', again?"

"Err... never mind, Sir. I'll bring you five bottles of vodka-"

"An' don' forgetthe juice!"

"...Riiiiiiiiiiight. We're out of orange juice, though, Sir. I hope you like pomegranate juice!"

If Kain heard the worker, he made no indication of it. The worker scurried off, desperate to get away from the slightly drunk young man (and deliver his drink order, in hopes of getting him more drunk, and thus, he reasoned, more money.) Meanwhile, Kain pushed the start button on his arcade game, bypassing the "PASSWORDS ARE FOR BABIES! BABIES SHOULDN'T PLAY" screen.

"Heya, Mister!" a little girl called, drawing him away from the game. Looking down, Kain saw the girl, as well as a similarly-featured older boy. "Hurry up! We wanna play the boxing~!"

"Y'gets it when Ah'm done with it," Kain replied, opening another bottle of beer.

"You smell like cheese."

"What's all this, Mister?" the boy asked. "Is it soda?"

Not wanting to deal with the children, Kain leaned towards them and said, "It's Jesus Juice! This's th' stuff yer daddy drinks when he wants Mommy t' shaddap! Now git!"


The two children disappeared into the crowd in the arcade, tears running down their faces. Kain laughed at them as they left, then returned to the game. "Max Morgan?" he questioned, seeing a giant man who looked as if he had been on a weeks-long steroid binge approach his boxer. "Looks like some washed-up wrestler from th' Seventies."

The ritual began anew- bell rang "Ding!", Sonic said "Fight!" *keeeeeee!* roll out of ring, brutally one-sided whomping commenced, Small Rob gets carried out of boxing ring by the spongeful. Kain wasn't particularly interested in this- his attention was taken instead by four figures in the game's audience, fourth row center, cheering (he presumed) Small Rob on.

"Huh," he said, leaning closer to the screen to get a better look. "That's... why, tarnation. That's Lutz! And next t' him... huh. Cle-ver, Sega. Cleeeee-ver. Puttin' th' heroes wha' killed LaShiec into th'game."

He continued marvelling at the sprites of Lutz and the three others, watching them cheer as Max Morgan performed a German suplex on Small Rob. When Morgan set up a table to throw his boxer through, Kain returned his attention to the controls.

As he struggled to avoid certain defeat, Kain swore he saw one of the heroes, a tall blonde man who nearly resembled Rudo, rise from his seat and begin singing, his baritone voice sounding out a tune that almost sounded like Frère Jacques.

"♪ Tairon Tyler, Tairon Tyler..."

Then another sprite, a brown-haired woman with a very pleasing figure, rose and continued, her voice like that of an angel's: "♪ Al-i-sa, Al-i-sa..."

The cat next to the woman bounded onto the large man's shoulders, chiming in the third verse: "♪ With Myau the Musk Cat, With Myau the Musk Cat..."

Then Lutz rose from his seat, finishing the song with a cultured "♪ And Lutz, too! And Lutz, too!"

Max Morgan swung a folding chair into Small Rob's head, wrapping it completely around as he crumpled to the canvas. Kain wasn't bothered by the fact that this particular twenty-five Meseta had lasted barely a minute. The singing from out of nowhere, however, did, as the giant man's singing started again: "♪ Tairon Tyler, Tairon Tyler... Al-i-sa, Al-i-sa (Then the hot brunette joined in: ♪ Tairon Tyler, Tairon Tyler)..."

Sweatdropping, Kain looked at the two coolers of beer, wondering if the barman was right- maybe he had too much to drink, after all. 16-bit sprites of long-dead heroes didn't just come to life and start singing, right?

Right? he wondered.

"(Lutz singing) ♪...And Lutz, too! And Lutz, too! (all four, in one voice) Tairon Tyler, Tairon Tyler, Al-i-sa, Al-i-sa..."

Baaah, screw it. Time fer another beer, then Ah'm gonna whomp that MWF reject through 'n through!

Anna: Windmill 1, Pinball 1, Fans 1, Hamburger 1, Carpet 2, Walls 2, Castle 1, Anthill 1, Energy
Rudo: Windmill 6, Pinball 6, Fans 6, Hamburger 6, Carpet 5, Walls 6, Castle 1, Anthill 6, Energy

The blonde woman looked up from the scorecard, watching as Rudo made a gesture towards the final hole. "After you," he insisted. "Ladies first."

The ninth hole of the golf course looked like a typical mad scientist's laboratory- fake glassware and beakers as they had expected, then, like everything else about the golf course, there was a bizarre twist: Laser emitters, glowing diodes as big as loaves of bread, neon-lit Tesla coils, and various other trappings that seemed reminiscent of a B-movie Anna might have caught on television late one night.

Dropping her golf ball onto the course, Anna surveyed the laid-out machinery. Well, it looks like they put out all the stops on this one. Let's see... bounce off the Disei conduits, roll along the satellite dish, hope that laser doesn't hit me...

"You know what your problem is, Anna?" Rudo asked, disrupting Anna from her concentration. "You take too long to aim a golf shot."

"Precision, Rudo," Anna countered, adjusting her sunglasses. "That's what's important. Golf balls, boomerangs, all the same thing- precision and finesse." Disei conduit, satellite dish, black box up there, and ricochet it between those IC and resistors. Hell of a shot, tho-

"And another thing. You only use two boomerangs. If you had a rifle, you could get thirty shots before you need to recycle ammo, at least. Boomerangs, though, you gotta wait until they come back."

"You're just saying that to get me mad," Anna replied.

"It's true. I mean, I wasn't there with you when you fought Mother Brain, but I've seen you fight- you just gave up throwing the boomerangs and..."

For a moment, the golf course disappeared, replaced by warning klaxons. Lights flashing, people screaming in anger, the sounds of footsteps marching in unison.

Death rattles, Earthmen dying by the dozens- Shir's thrown daggers disappearing into a man's heart, Rudo and Kain laying down a grid of covering fire. Charred flesh. Warm blood.

Noah disappeared, but the sights and stench lingered on as Anna found herself once again at the miniature golf course. She could hear Rudo continuing on, "-since I was twenty-one, and I have never seen combat that intense."

Closing her eyes, she raised her club, ready to hit her golf ball for another easy hole-in-one. There was a warm thud as her motion was interrupted halfway, accompanied by Rudo's sudden uncomfortable wheeze.

"Oh, crap."

She dropped the golf club, turning around to see Rudo, his eyes rolling back involuntarily, clutching his groin as he sank to one knee. He winced in agony as Anna sweatdropped.

"Rudo, you all ri-"

"BuwaaaAAAaaaAAAaaaaAAaAAAAAAAA~! _)*^$*!"

The giant man collapsed into the fetal position, still holding himself as he groaned. Anna only watched as he writhed in pain on the ground, his golf ball and club abandoned. "I think I just wet my pants!" he shouted.

"Total accident, I swear," Anna managed when Rudo's groans lessened.

"...That wasn't what you were supposed to hit..."

With a sigh, Anna replied, "Maybe you shouldn't have been standing so close to me."

"I think you crushed them..."

"Oh, hush. You'll live. Want me to call Amy?"

"No! No! Too embarrassing!" Rudo blurted, in between heaving gasps. "I'll be fine!"

"Good. Now, let's see..."

Again, she raised her golf club, swinging at the blue ball on the tee. Exactly as Anna aimed, it bounced off a series of heatsinks, rolling onto the edge of a large satellite apparatus, then hit a massive power switch.

"Wow," Rudo said, giving a low whistle as he watched the blue ball progress through the course. "Nice shot."

"Think you can do better?"

"Maybe." Rudo dropped the red ball onto the tee, then added, "That's what I've been saying for eight holes now, isn't it? Now..."

"No fair repeating!"

Anna's call surprised Rudo, and he accidentally released his grip on his club. It soared forward, bouncing off a large prop Bunsen burner, and returned, striking him where Anna's club had before. Once again, he doubled over in pain.

"...I... hate... Guardians," he whined as he collapsed.

Shaking her head, Anna jotted down their scores, then helped Rudo up. "I gave you another six," she said. "Thought I'd spare you the trouble."

"This isn't over, Zirski... oh, that hurts." Rudo shook his head in an effort to clear some of the pain away, then continued, "Not yet. Best four out of seven."

"I'm game. What did you have in mind?"

Rudo grinned. "Something to help take the pain away. Drinking contest."

"You can't be serious. That sounds like something stupid Kain would say."

With a shrug, Rudo said, "Yeah? You're just scared you'll lose."

"I am not going to lose to you, Rudo Steiner."

"Well, then! Let's prove it!" Rudo grinned, then put an arm around Anna's shoulder. "There's a bar a bit down the boardwalk- a bunch of my squadmates and I used to drink there when we were recruits..."

"Hey, Rolf?" Hugh asked. "No offense, but, uh... don't you want some burger with that chili?"

Rolf rolled his eyes as he looked at the paper plate he set on the table. A load of spiced french fries, still sizzling, sat on one side of the plate while a cheeseburger, its innards laden with chili, cheese, and what smelled like hickory sauce dominated the other half. "It's good, what can I say?" he replied. "Besides, it's a lot better than Shir's."

"Well, Shir's burger is a little better for your heart, Rolf," Amy said, looking up from her basket of fries. "But you can fit yours into your mouth..."

"C'mon! They're good like this!" Shir took a large bite from her burger, strained to swallow it, then washed it down with a sip from her beer bottle. "Goes great with beer, too!"

"I wouldn't know," Amy said. "I don't drink, remember?"

"You're missing a lot!" Shir told her. Rolf shook his head, mouthing, "You're not missing much."

"I'll take your word for it- I don't have as much experience as-"

Amy was interrupted by a worker at the burger shack shouting, "Number 71! Two medium, one with lettuce, one with bacon, two fries!"

"Oh, that's us, Hugh!" the redhead realized, standing up. "I'll be right back."

"It's all right," Hugh replied. "I'll get it."

"I'm already up. I'll just be right back!"

Before Hugh could say another word, Amy had already left the table, giving him a smile. His gaze lingered on Amy for a second before he sighed and asked, "Isn't she wonderful?"

"I guess, but I kinda like women a little more..." Rolf hesitated, trying to phrase his sentence so it didn't end "Like Shir." After some thought, he finished, "...A little more dangerous."

"Like me. ^_^" Shir replied, stealing one of Rolf's french fries. Rolf only blushed in reply.

"So! How goes what we talked about before?" Rolf asked.

"Huh? Oh, that! Umm..." Hugh sweatdropped. "We're going to look... for an apartment tomorrow."

"You are?! That's great news! Way to go, Hugh!" Shir cried out. "Now go propose already and make her happy!"

"Wh-what! How the hell did you know I was going to-"

"Hugh?" Rolf asked. "She's Shir. She knows. It's evidently in her DNA."

"I saw the ring box tucked into your scarf, anyway."

Hugh sighed again, then said, "Yes. You're right." Clenching his fists, he rose from the table. "I'm going to propose to Amy right after lunch!"

"Umm... maybe not right after," Shir said. "Your breath's gonna be all garlic-y from these fries. Yummy. =p"

"You need the right atmosphere, too," Rolf added. "Right here on the boardwalk's not it."

"I know! It's just... God, I hope she says yes."

"Umm, Hugh?" Rolf asked.

"I know, I'm starting to go back into my shell, with all my doubt coming out-"

"Hugh, you might wanna stop talking right now..."

He hadn't heard the green-haired woman, continuing on, "But I don't want that to happen! Amy's perfect, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her! And now that we have a world free of Mother Brain, what better time to ask for her hand in marriage than today, right?!"

"....." "....."

Hugh tilted his head, looking at Rolf and Shir. Raising an eyebrow, he asked ominously, "...Amy's standing right behind me, isn't she?"

"Yup." "Mm-hmm."

"...She looks like she's about to cry, isn't she?"

"Oh yeah." "Big time."

Slowly, Hugh turned around, bringing himself face-to-face with Amy, her blue eyes ready to swell with tears, as a stunned expression showed on her face. "Hugh..." she managed to let out. "I..."

Oh, damn it, damn it, DAMN IT, DAMN IT! he thought. Way to $%!* up, Hugh!

"I don't know what to say, Hugh... I..."

Grabbing their lunches in one hand, Shir took Rolf's arm into hers and dragged him away from Hugh and Amy. Rolf let out a small cry in protest as he was led off, leaving them alone.

"We'll watch right here," Shir said, plopping Rolf into a chair far away from Hugh and Amy. "This way, they can't say we were spying on them."

"But we weren't-"

"Sssh. This sounds like the good part."

They saw Hugh take Amy's hands into his, leaning close to her to whisper something. Neither of them heard what Hugh whispered, but the reaction was clear- the tears started to stream down Amy's cheeks.

"Aww, look at that!" Shir said, finishing her burger in one gulp. "He's wiping her tears away!"

"You didn't have to drag me all the way over here..." Rolf replied.

"Hush! I can't hear what they're saying!"

A sweet, warm, loving smile. Amy stood on her tiptoes to kiss Hugh, nudging her hat behind her head. She buried her head into his chest, then whispered one word.


Next Episode Preview: Shir flirts with Rolf some more, Rudo teaches Anna what drinking on a military discount is like, and Kain continues his descent into madness!

Rolf: Only in the summer, huh?
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