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Closure

Earlier...

The engine purred as he pulled into the hotel parking lot. According to Simmons, Vasquez's current residence was a few miles away, and one his pals owned this seedy roach motel. A seemingly inauspicious move to be in plain sight, not to mention driving the souped up beast which screamed competition, but what better place to bait the infamous I-95 courier.

With Simmons wanting to put a stop to the regularity of narcotics hitting his neighbourhood, and already convincing the locals to stay out of his territory, all that was left was to convince the tourists.

He killed the engine, popped the trunk and stepped out of the 'Cuda. Pausing to grab the Brownings and the SG552 off the seat, he made his way to the back of the car. Holstering the semi-auto's, he placed the combat rifle in the trunk, hoisted the duffels, and closed the lid with his elbow.

The ride down had been nearly uneventful, but he'd noticed a tail just outside of Cedon. Simmons hadn't mentioned suits, and the Lincoln Town Car they were driving stank of feds. Well, they hadn't outright stopped him, so he added them to the list of things to keep watch for.

Stepping into lobby, the proprietor tossed his latest issue of Swank under the counter and stubbed out his cigar. A balding man in his early forties, his beer gut was his most prominent feature. The grungy wife-beater he wore exemplified the ambience of filth that permeated the room.

"Best Western too good for ya?" he greeted the young man who had entered his abode.

"If I wanted to be a celebrity," the man known as Khai replied, "I'd stay there. I prefer my privacy, however."

"A'righ, a'righ, what'll it be? An hour or a nigh--" He coughed violently, phlegm ejecting from his lips onto the counter in front of him. Quickly wiping it up with a rag, he continued. "Sorry, that was for how long?"

Khai grimaced at the scene and withdrew his billfold. Extracting 4 bills, he placed them in front of the owner. "3 days. No questions."

The glint of greed filled the old man's eyes. "Sure, sure! I'll make sure no one bothers ya. 'Course, I'll have to ask ya not to do anything that'd bring the cops on me.'

Opening his jacket to put the billfold within, Khai let slip a glimpse of his weapons. "I said, no questions. I don't plan on having the law anywhere near me or this place."

"Fine, fine. Don't expect any room service or nuthin tho'." Grabbing a set of keys from the shelf, he tossed them to the new occupant. "Room's 9A. Down the right side, last one. No long distance calls and no pay per view without telling me first."

With a nod, Khai hoisted the duffels and walked out of the office. Continuing to his room, he realized, by chance, he had parked in front of it. Might've only shaved a minute or two off a getaway time if need be, but it's better than nothing. Opening the motel door, he made his way inside.

--

A voice answered the line with a calm voice. "Yes?"

"Um, uh.. I know I'm only sappose ta call ya in 'mergencies, but.."

"Hurry up, Holden. I don't have all day, and you're interrupting a very important meeting."

"S-sorry, sir. Uh, sir, do you have anyone working with your firm from New York? I may be mistaken, but he looks like he's involved."

"Understood. Do nothing until you hear from me again." Click.

--

-23:30-

Packing the duffels back into the trunk, he drove to an all-night diner a few blocks away. The text message on the cell phone had been simple enough. Boss meet n greet. Play cool.

Grabbing a seat near the windows facing the lot, he ordered a coffee and a slice of strawberry cheesecake. He didn't have to wait long, as the suits stepped into the eatery and took seat within the booth he was seated.

"Pardon me," Khai spoke. "I hadn't known I'd invited anyone to my table."

"Oh," the shorter operative replied, "I don't think we need your permission, scumbag."

"What Agent Devlin is eluding to," the other man commented, "is that when dealing with the dead, there are no formalities."

--

Elsewhere...

He dropped the speed down to 55, keeping tabs on the silver BMW 3 series sedan, which was five cars ahead of him. His own Lincoln LS kept up without difficulty. He'd found a Ford dealership willing to make a cheap sale in exchange for their lives.

Tommy had tailed Vasquez from Miami, and if his target suspected a tail, he wasn't reacting to it. Tommy's own philosophy was deal with the lead figure in the chain of command. If one of the prick's lackeys was mouthing off, a heart to heart with Vasquez himself should put an end to any bullshit.

--

The City

A flash of white light erupted from a wall near Simmons' chair, the lone figure stepping out lithely as it closed silently behind her.

"Angela?"

"Hello Al. It's been awhile." The freelance angel stood her ground, surveying the inhabitants.

"You know I don't have time to play," Al countered. "The truce is still in effect, is it not?"

"No worries, lovely hellspawn, I'm not here to take you down." She took a seat on a nearby crate, her luxurious red hair spilling upon her shoulders.

"Politics then? Don't tell me Heaven is aiming to curtail your wanderings.."

"Nah, nothing of the sort. I've got the beauty of being able to travel the Flux as I see fit. Therein lies the issue I've come to talk to you about."

"I've kept to myself lately, Ang." His cape fluttered about, its inherent dislike for heavenly creatures evident.

"Oh, it's not about you," she replied. "In fact, it has to do with someone you've recently had contact with."

Stepping out of the shadows, the glow from Cog's cigarette cast a dim light on his elderly features. "The boy."

"An a good evening to you, Cogliostro. I hadn't realized you were in the vicinity." She laid down her staff and placed a friendly peck on the old man's cheek.

"Cog will do. If we were to use age-defining terms based on our own existances," he spoke after taking a puff, "then I suppose you could call the boy merely an infant. He does have a name, however."

"Ah yes, Khai." She pondered the name for a moment. "It sounds a tad familiar, though I can't place it at the moment. Strange that it should be given to a mortal."

"Correction," Simmons offered, "former mortal."

"Semantics aside, " Cog insisted, "why is he of any interest to you, Angela?"

Brushing her hair away from her face, she smirked. "Not to me personally, Cog. At least not yet. Though I've a hunch that he may cause, or at least be a cause in a series of events about to unfold. The Flux, as you know, allows me to travel vast planes of existance, and within I see a common thread."

His boredom for trivialities showing, Simmons rose from his throne of bones. "Does this involve us or not?"

"Tch, you're cold-hearted at times, Al," she replied.

"Only when it's ripped out of my chest in subzero temperatures," he quipped.

"Fine then. I can always leave it up to your super-sleuthing abilities." She gathered her staff, but Cog moved to block her path.

"I certainly don't need the headache you two are producing," he said. "Al, shut up a moment and let the girl talk. If you will be so kind as to continue.."

"For you, Cog, I will." Glancing defiantly at the hellspawn, she told her tale.

--

Pat's Diner

He stopped to watch the news broadcast which featured what looked to be Disney under full assault.

"...police have yet to comment on the bizarre mishap which occured this afternoon, stating the matter is under investigation by federal investigators. Those hurt in the blast, which Disney representatives are calling a freak natural gas explosion, have been taken to nearby hospitals for treatment and..."

Heh, the fun never stops for you guys, does it.
Khai chuckled softly and looked at the man sitting opposite him.

"I'm not sure I heard you right, Mr.--"

"Agent Forrester."

"Ok, Agent. What's the deal with your partner?"

"He seems to be troubled, as I am, by who you are. Rather, who you appear to be, not to mention who you associate with." He opened his briefcase and withdrew a folder half an inch thick. "Your association with a creature who calls himself Spawn, a shadowy person who has, shall we say, talents, that keep trouble off his domain, unless its someone out to kill him. He goes after the mafioso and even the CIA when it pleases him. He meets with someone we don't know, gives this person a car and sends him packing to Florida. We know he's curbing the drug trade in his area, and this just reeks of a contract. What do you expect us to think?"

Khai chuckled softly. "It's not."

"You expect us to believe the word of a slimeball?" Devlin spouted.

Turning his gaze to the younger agent, he merely gave off an indifferet look. "Believe what you want. It makes no difference."

"Well," Forrester interjected, "this does." Taking four photographs from the folder, he laid them out on the table, facing Khai. "The first three photographs are surveillance photos. You'll notice they all have the same subject. They of course were taken to ascertain any new players into Spawn's game of chess. We sent them to Washington to find out who you are. The fourth photograph is actually a clip of the service record of someone who looks identical to you. We dusted your car for prints while you were in the motel, and apparently you are the man in this picture, even though we know it's physically impossible."

Khai glanced at the pictures laid out. Three were headshots of himself speaking with Simmons in New York. The fourth... "Right, that's me then. What's the problem?"

Devlin gave his partner and incredulous look. The latter merely collected all but the fourth and slid them back into the folder.

"You'll fogive me for feeling like you're treating us like complete imbeciles," Forrester spoke. "We know you cannot be the man shown in this picture. Lieutenant Stephen K. James of the Canadian special forces unit JTF-2 died 8 years ago. So, dead guy, what's the scoop?"

--

He'd been patient, and it was with a mild case of alarm that he watched Vasquez's car suddenly squeal its tires and head off as though he was being chased by the cops. He must've seen something in that diner they'd been parked at for the past 15 minutes. Noticing the cars, in the parking lot, he spotted the government-issued vehicle.

"Shit! Not, not, not what I need tonight!" Slamming the car into gear, he sped after his quarry.

--

"I regret to inform you you are mistaken in this matter. I am not Lt. Stephen James, and I certainly do not reside in Canada." He'd caught site of the BMW speeding away and knew time was of the essence.

"Listen, asshole," Devlin raged. "We've got fingerprint matches. We want some answers now or things will get ugly real fast."

"I'm sorry, I don't speak fed. Now if you'll excuse me--" Rising from the table, Khai heard the click of the handcuffs as its weight fell upon his wrist. "Ah now, this is unpleasant."

"We'll be taking you in for some questions at the field office," Forrester said. "If you have a lawyer, I can call him for you."

"Unnecessary, but thank you," Khai replied as they stepped out into the warm night air. "As well, I apologize."

"Apologize?" Devlin asked.

"For this, sir," Khai said as he slammed his fist into the man's stomach, the followed up with a resounding knee to the face. Devlin was out cold before his partner had time to react. Grabbing the man's gun, he pointed it at Forrester.

"Now we don't want to be hasty, James. This is definitely the wrong way to go about things."

Khai motioned Forrester to the back of the Lincoln Town Car. "Open the trunk. You pull your gun and it only gets worse." The trunk opened and Khai motioned the man to get in.

"You realize this only makes your life harder. Killing us would have every cop in the country after you and there are plenty of witnesses."

"Look, agent. I've no interest in killing you, nor evading you per se. I have a deadline, and you're cutting into it, simple as that. I'll call the diner once I'm far enough away to let them know you're in here. Please, just let it go. This Stephen James you mention is a dead man. Stop wasting my time and yours." Closing the trunk, he ran towards the 'Cuda, dropping Devlin's gun on the pavement.

Revving the engine, he peeled out of the diner parking lot, intent on reaching the motel before it too much time had passed.

The couple seated in a booth nearby to where the conversation had occured only went about their eating.

"Kat, what say you and me take a tour of somewhere less eventful," Lindsey said. "Like Idaho or something."

But his words fell on deaf ears. K'Trina's mind was elsewhere, deciphering the information she had overheard about the strange man and his would-be assailants.

--

"You're saying it's actually possible?" Spawn asked, the glow of the Flux surrounding the three of them.

"Anything is possible, dear," Angela said, "even a hellspawn rebelling against his own master."

"Touché."

"The fact of the matter," Cog spoke, "is that Khai achieving his goal could produce some longterm consequences. Funny that Elysium hadn't mentioned it to anyone."

Angela smirked at the arcane terminology for her former abode. "Heaven knows plenty of things, Cog, but it's a matter of processing that information quickly enough to be useful. Even then, it is possible that this is an unknown series of events on the multi-planar scale, reaching quietly under the nose of the Almighty One himself."

"So what's the plan then?" Spawn queried.

"Above all else, this info stays between the three of us for now. If we can arrive in time, we may very well be able to stop anything from occuring." She checked her watch. "Only another 20 minutes to go."

"If the Flux is an extra-planar transportation system," Cog mentioned, "why exactly does it take 45 minutes to get from New York to Orlando?"

"Planar laws of physics, plus a host of intergalatic affair bullshit," she replied.

"And by any chance does anyone know what happens if we don't reach him in time?"

The question went unanswered, and they travelled in silence.

--

Tommy Vercetti sat quietly, smoking the last bit of the cigar before tossing it out the car window. Vasquez was yelling at the owner over something while they ran in and out of the room near the right edge. Tommy didn't know what trouble Vasqeuz was in, but if it involved the FBI, it wasn't a good thing. Although he could barge right in at this point, subdue the motel manager and take matter into his own hands, instinct told him to hold off. Something stank here, and it wasn't the garbage dumpster down the block.

The scene was interrupted by the growl of a car engine. Tommy saw a black Chrysler 'Cuda pull into the motel lot, the driver's side car opening even before it had stopped. The driver got out, opened the trunk, threw two duffel bags across his shoulders and pulled out a fucking assault rifle! Spraying the motel wall with bullets, forcing Vasquez and the owner to the ground to avoid getting hit, the young man walked towards the two.

Grabbing his Tec9, Tommy opened his own door and jogged over to the ensuing nightmare. Christ, last thing I need is for this punk to kill Vasquez before I've had a chance to talk to him!

"HEY, YOU DUMB SHIT!," he yelled, hoisting the weapon.

--

Khai turned to see an angry Soprano wannabe pointing a submachinegun in his direction. Wonderful.

"For what do I owe this honor?" he said, keeping the rifle, with one hand, pointed at the pair on the ground, while his other hand pulled a 9mm from inside his coat and aimed it towards the visitor.

"Oh kid, this is surely some bad shit you're causing," the new arrival answered. "One of the men you're about to waste is someone I need to speak with first. I'm going to be quite pissed if you ruin that chance for me."

"I don't know you," Khai said. "I don't want to know you. If you want to speak with Vasquez, make it quick."

"Listen, I don't know who the fuck you are, pal, but messing with Tommy Vercetti is-". The sentence was left unfinished as Tommy fired 3 shots. Willing himself to become ethereal, the duffels upon Khai's shoulders, as well as the SG552-2 assault rifle and the 9mm, dropped to the ground. Hearing a thump behind him, Khai turned to see the motel owner slumping to the ground, blood pooling from his neck and face.

"What in christ, Vercetti?!"

The other man shrugged and pointed to the pistol in Holden's clenched fist. "Got him before he got anyone."

Walking towards Tommy, Khai felt his rage building. He knew the other man could see it as well.

"No you don't, you lousy prick," Tommy shouted, firing the Tec9 again. The bullets hissed through Khai's ghostly form and struck the motel door. "W-Wha-what the fuck is this?"

Khai's willl extended through his arms to only his hands, which phased back into physical space. Grabbing the weapon with one hand, he threw it to the ground. His other hand grabbed Tommy by the shirt, twisting it his own fist. "WHO TOLD YOU TO KILL ANYONE?!!!"

His tone changing from ultra decibel to a mere stern, cold, and intense vocal range, Khai glared at the self-made gangster. "I've seen more death to fill not only my lifetime, but your lifetime, and your fucking family's lifetime, and their friends' lifetimes. Unless you want to live some seriously unreal shit, Mr. Vercetti, I suggest you heed my next words. There will be no killing."

"B-But, didn't you plan on-" Tommy motioned towards the assault rifle.

"No, you dumbfuck. The rifle was merely-" Khai was cut off by the squeal of tires as Vasquez's BMW fired out on the street and into the night. "-a scare tactic, which you've now applied in a very different fashion than the one intended."

Sighing, Khai released his captive. Pointing to the bags, he continued. "The duffels contain 3 million bucks. Enough cash to make Vasquez think it'd be a great time to retire. A friend in NYC wants his courier business to stop."

Tommy eyed the bags then answered slowly. "Does your friend also realize the major bosses in the area would've found a suitable replacement, leaving the courier business intact?"

"Not for a couple of months, I imagine. My friend had planned a little incursion to ward off anyone stupid enough to attempt it." Khai lit a smoke and offered one to the mobster.

"Well, now," Vercetti spoke, lighting the smoke, "you've got a backup plan?"

"His house, of course. I imagine he's geting ready to get the hell out of the city, if not the state."

"Try country, pal. He's got a house in the Bahamas."

Khai retrieved the duffels and assault rifle, placing them back into the trunk. Grabbing the Browning 9mm off the ground, he holstered it. "Well then. Shall we change his plans?"

--

somewhere

It begins, child. We ease one pain, increase another, and turn the attention away once again.

"Yes, Almighty. I shall spin the first wheel." She wasn't used to the hissing voice of her new master.

proceeeeeeeeeeeeed

--

The 'Cuda sped across the streets, the roar of the engine scaring pedestrians from entering his path. Behind him, Tommy's Lincon LS kept pace with fervor.

Hope for the best, expect the worst. Hadn't that been his motto for ages now? Focusing on the street, a figure he recognized suddenly stepped into the street ahead of the car. Pulling the wheel hard to the right, he felt the 'Cuda's grip on the street falter. The front catching the ass-end of an old Pontiac Fiero, the machine flipped up into the air, spinning twice full circle before coming down hard upon the newly cut grass of a football field, flipping over several times. It finally came to rest upside down near the 30 yard line.

Tommy's Lincoln screeched to a halt. He stepped out and ran to the crumpled wreckage to see Khai climbing out, battered but alive. "Jesus, man. I don't know anyone that can say they lived through something like that outside of Evil Knevil."

"Still getting used to changing state at will," Khai replied. "Your concern is noted."

"What in hell where you doing. Actually, what are you looking around for?" Tommy had noticed his new acquaintance scanning the area.

"I-I saw someone. Someone that shouldn't be here, but is."

"More of your freaky friday friends, huh?"

"Don't start with m-" Khai paused as he caught sight of the figure walking towards them. "Tommy, grab the bags from the trunk and continue with the plan. All you have to do is convince Vasquez to take an early retirement."

"What, and leave you here?"

"Do it! Now! Go already!"

Without another word, Tommy did as instructed, leaving Khai alone with oncoming person.

"You aren't supposed to be here," Khai whispered.

"Ah, we knew that little mishap would get your intention."

"If not killing me in the process."

"Considering you're already dead, I don't see that happening."

"You can't be who I think you are." He glanced towards her features, taking sight of all he had wished for for so long.

"Why yes... love," she spat. "Your darling Rei has returned to you."

--

Flux

"Really, this thing could move slower," Simmons commented.

"Shut up or walk," Angela replied. "Why do you have to be such an ass?"

"Both of you keep it quiet," Cog said. He turned his head from side to side, listening carefully, attuning himself to forces unknown to mortals. "I think the cavalry may be.. late."

--

"Oh, but this is the cosmic jest upon jests, is it not," she spoke, the venom in her words piercing his soul. "We waited for an age, an eternity, each day a torture upon tortures. You said you'd save me, Khai. WHY DIDN'T YOU??!!" She paced back and forth.

"I-I tried, Rei.. god, I tried so hard."

"You lied to me! You said you'd do everything to be with me, and it. Was. All. LIES!"

"It wasn't, dammit! I did all I could to s-"

"You did nothing, except mourn a loss that had yet to fully occur."

"What was I to do, Rei? Not even God knew how to reach you! If He couldn't.."

"shutupshutupshutupSHUTUP!!" The anger in her voice was nothing he'd ever felt from her before. "I waited, I perservered through the pain and loss, only to find that my 'love' was dead."

"Yes, I did die bu-"

"Not you, moron. My love for you! HA, what an idiot I'd been to think that my Marty Stuart here could rescue me from the worst possible thing ever to exist through."

"W-what?"

"Enough. I've no time to waste on you or your pathetic half-existance. I've only come to deliver a package." With a wave of her hand, a crimson red portal opened beside her. With a yank, she pulled out the ragdoll form of another female. "Your.. sister.. kept hold of your vow. She never faltered, and you've been granted her life in return. I suppose you'd enjoy it more if you were alive. I bet the 'being dead' thing will be too strange for her to completely accept, but hey, at least it's better than nothing, eh?"

"Kat-Katarina?" He moved towards his unconscious sister.

"That's enough banter," Rei continued. "Consider your stupid 'search' completed. You got something out the deal." She stepped partway into the portal. "A last warning, Khai. Don't follow me. If I see you again, I'll kill you myself." She finished her ascent into the glowing tear in space, and it winked out of existance.

"REIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII !!!!!!!!!!!"

--

Moments later..

"Last stop, Grand Central," Angela joked. "Please wait until the doors have opened before proceeding."

The Flux evaporated around them, leaving them standing inches away from the Khai, huddled over his sister.

"She alive, Khai?" Cog asked. "Never mind, I can see her breathing.

Tears streaming down his face, Khai turned towards the three.

"Sorry, kid," Simmons spoke. "We only somewhat figured some things out a half hour ago."

Cog took his cellphone from his jacket and dialed a number. Stepping away from the group, he motioned them to keep talking.

Angela looked upon the girl. "She's unhurt, and her soul is intact. I take it this is your.. girlfr-MMPH!" her mouth was covered by Simmons' hand.

"Ang, look at the similarites in bloodlines. It's his sister, dammit!"

"Uh, ah shit, sorry."

Cog returned, ending the call. "Well, that settles it."

"Settles what, Cog," Khai said. "The fact that my sister is back, thank god, but that my love despises me to no end?"

"Sarcasm noted, and I don't fault you for it, son. A pissy situation if there ever was one." Handing a vial to Simmons, he continued. "I just got off the horn with Elysium. In light of recent events, they've granted an unstay of execution."

"What are you babbling about, old man?" Khai's anger was held barely in check.

"Simply put, we can't have you traipsing all over the Afterlife in your condition. Not with a sister to get back in touch with. Say goodbye, Khai."

"What are you- ungghhh" The needle was fast, Simmons hand piercing it into Khai's neck. He blacked out without a struggle.

"As the saying goes," Cog said, "life goes on. Now yours will too."

-FIN-

Means and Ends?

Yeah, I know. I asked permission to break the post-twice-in-a-row rule and, without waiting very long for an answer, am posting it anyway. Sorry if I'm overstepping my boundaries, but I can always erase it if it bothers anybody. Just comment to that effect.

And now you know... the rest of the storyCollapse )

Children are our future...

Mickey leveled his plasma cannon at Dusty. The now too-familiar whine began down in the barrel.

"Now," came the non-mousey voice from inside. "You will end your search or you will die here."

"Rather public place for an execution, isn't it?" Dusty asked, trying to cover Anita's mumbling of a spell. She could just stop the blast again... right?

"So what?" Morrigan asked, lapping up her ice cream. "Those are the best kind."

"There you are!" came a shrill voice aimed at them. Mickey and Pluto's character guard from the tunnel was marching towards them with five Security Officers in tow. "That's him! That's the guy that punched me and took my radio!"

A chuckle bubbled up from inside the Mickey suit and the nano-technology on Mickey's arm folded back in on itself until it was once more, just a simple costume. "I think you have other concerns."

"Crap," Dusty said as Anita finished her chanting. The guard and the officers froze in place.

"Awww..." Morrigan lamented.

"Oh, sh-" Mickey began before getting a gut punch from Dusty that sent him to the asphalt.

A 5 year old, walking with his mother nearby, stopped, clinging sadly to his mouse-ear balloon as his chin quivered at the sight.

"Muh... Muh..."

Anita saw it. Morrigan smiled at it. Dusty was too busy trying to pull the costume head off to notice the impending disaster. With a POP, Mickey's head came off.

The child wailed. "Mommyyyyyyyy!" Every mother in a ten mile radius turned toward the sound. Every park officer, every park guest, every creature of God great and small focused in on the helpless cry of the child, including Weirdbard.

A portal appeared just then and, in the split second it took for people to shift focus from the boy to the source of his anguish, he assumed his natural form, wrapped his four giant arms around Dusty, Anita, Mickey and Morrigan and yanked them into the portal with him. By the time the adults looked at the spot next to the open manhole cover, there was nothing there. ...a demonicus ex machina had whisked them away in the nick of time.

The child began to hyperventilate as his mother asked him what was wrong. He couldn't answer her, though. Instead, he silently stared in horror at the spot where he had seen his favorite toon and idol, Mickey Mouse, decapitated by the bare hands of the man in the fedora.

*****

"I understand that," Dusty said. "But I have to lay down a moral dissent on us taking prisoners and forcing them to lead us to the treasure. It's so... bad guy!"

"Now you begin to see," said the dark-skinned man on the bed. "Anyone seeking the fountain will always be the bad guy." He had been relieved of his costume with the secret weaponry and was now clad in a hotel bathrobe and surrounded by Anita, Morrigan, Reiko, Dusty and Weirdbard (back in his human form).

"Look," Anita said to him. "There is a cabal of evil wizards after the Fountain of Youth. We're trying to stop them!"

In a flash of silver sparkles, Sil appeared. "I was just on the other side of the door," she said. "But I SOOOO love this entrance better."

The man on the bed spoke patiently. "And how am I to know that you are, in fact, not the evil wizards that you speak of?"

"AAARRRRGGH!" Anita threw her hands up and sat down on the dresser.

"What would it take to convince you?" Wierdbard asked patiently. "We could use mind control or something if we wished, but we won't. We'd rather have your help."

"I cannot help you," he said. "I am responsible to a higher power."

"I'm a higher power," Morrigan offered.

"So am I," Sil chimed.

"Then you should have no trouble finding it on your own."

Reiko sucked her teeth and wished she had her pistol. "Maybe mind control wouldn't be such a bad idea."

"No," Dusty and Wierdbard said in unison.

"Well, here's what we should do," Sil said. "The baddies are looking for it and we're looking for it and we're all watching each other to see who turns up the next clue. If nothing else, we should all get back out there so as not to tip them off that we have..." she looked at the costume piled up in a corner of the room. "Mickey here."

"True enough," said Anita. "Dusty, you stay here and guard... I mean, keep our guest company."

"Me? But I have the next clue. I just have to decipher it. And what if you DO find something? I should be there!"

"And what if we run into some of these evil wizards? We don't need to be saving you while we’re fighting."

Dusty could only huff. "I bet they don't ALL have super powers."

The others looked around and nodded. Weirdbard opened a portal and they all went back to the park through it.

Mickey scooted up the bed until his back rested against the wall.

"You wanna watch TV or somethin'?" Dusty asked. "I think Justice League is on."

"No, thank you."

"You want a magazine or something? I've got Mad, The Weekly World News, Creative Screenwriting-"

"No thanks."

"I have a sketch pad with a few blank-"

"No."

"What? You'd rather meditate on the warrior ways of your people?"

"The Arawaks were peaceful people. They were farmers and fisherman. It was the Spaniards who brought war to them. And slavery. And extinction."

Dusty cracked open the mini fridge and took out a bottle of water. "Fishing poles were no match for swords?"

Mickey laughed. "There were no poles in those days. Men hunted with spears. But they were never raised against the Spaniards. They claimed to come peacefully. They offered us trade and women."

"The slavery."

"No. Women were revered by the Arawaks. They have the power of life and they were scarce among our people. There were times that it got so bad, the men would sail across the sea to steal women and bring them back. For only they could keep our tribes alive."

"Yeah, I dig chicks, too."

"We did more than dig chicks, silly white man. While men were our politicians and Butuous, our spiritual leaders, only a woman could become Caciques."

"...Queen?"

"Chieftain. Typically, you think in a Euro-centric style."

Dusty took a large gulp of the cool water as information clicked and a plan formed. "You're right. I was thinking like some kind of Celtic or Viking. Warrior cultures led by men."

"Precisely why we, in our wisdom, elevated women to the position of power."

"But she had to be controlled by the men. I mean they were more numerous, they were the politicians and the priests."

"You miss the point entirely. Even they respected the women for their power over life. Life must come before death, which was the power wielded by men. They caught the fish and slaughtered the farm animals. When we were attacked, our spears became our weapons. But, as you noted, once the deception of the Spanish was apparent, they were of little use there. We had been deceived and the women that we loved so dearly could not be defended..."

"You talk like you were there."

"My blood was there. Were it not for a few escapees, I would not be here today entertaining you with this story."

"Actually, I dig anthropology, on a purely scholarly level, almost as much as I dig chicks. This is fascinating stuff. And since we're not going anywhere..." he drank more water.

"I am pleased by your willingness to learn," Mickey said. "But do not think that I am going to help you find the fountain."

"Hey, man, that's other people's problem now."

"In that case, I will need one of those water bottles."

Dusty smiled. "What if we both switch to the little bottles under the bar?"

"Just water, please."

"...sure."

As Dusty reached into the fridge, he heard a familiar voice bounce between his ears.

"Get anything out of him yet?" Sil asked telepathically.

"Only that I've been decoding wrong," Dusty thought back. "There's no math involved."

"Oh. Well, that's a plus. ...hahahahahahah!"

Dusty groaned inwardly. "I think Bard's pun penchant is contagious. How can I contact you when I learn more?"

"I'll just tune in every once in a while... whoops! Gotta go!"

And gone she was. Dusty handed the bottle to Mickey. "So, let's talk about the villages. By the water, if they were fishermen, right?"

A polite knock popped at the door. A deep bass voice happily rolled out "Room Service!"

Dusty looked at Mickey. Mickey just shook his head sadly. Of COURSE he hadn't ordered room service. Whose room was this anyway? Bard's? Sil's? Not his. Whoever it was must have forgotten that they ordered.

Dusty peeked through the peephole and saw only a wide, muscled chest straining the starched uniform shirt of the hotel staff. Typically tropical waiter, Dusty thought as he unlocked the door. Working out all the time hoping to get with the tourist gals... not a bad idea really.

The door flew in and hit Dusty in the forehead, knocking him to the floor. A hulking brute of a man stood over him. Clean shaven, square jaw, impossibly buff.

"Gaston?"

A quick boot to the jaw sent Dusty sliding across the carpet and crashing into the entertainment center.

"AAAGH! Rug burn!"

Gaston quickly found Mickey, taking cover on the far side of the bed. "Come with me if you value your life," the hunter boomed.

"I don't think so," said Mickey. "You may be one of the evil wizards."

Gaston laughed and picked Dusty up by the neck. "Do I look like a wizard? Would a wizard have to do this to his enemies?" He punched Dusty in the stomach. "Or this?" He threw Dusty across the other bed to crash into a picture frame. They both fell to the floor.

"I'm no wizard," Gaston continued. "But I know a few who will be very angry if I don't bring you back to them right now!" He dove across the bed, tackling Mickey and sending them both crashing through the window of the hotel room.

Dusty clambered over the beds and looked out, ignoring the blood pouring from a gash in his forehead and the aches doubling him over.

The two had fallen fourteen stories from The Magic Kingdom Regency Luxury Deluxe Ritz Carlton and landed with a thunderous splash in the swimming pool.

"Lethal Weapon 2," Dusty thought. "Lethal Weapon 2" and he jumped out after them.

Screams and scrambling cleared out of the pool below him as he lost control of his arms and they flailed helplessly over his head. He watched the water rush up to meet him as though he could pick where he was landing. He was just glad the deep end was close to the hotel. He hit the water and, almost immediately, the bottom of the pool with his butt and his feet at the same time. He'd seen Gaston jumping out, towing Mickey, and immediately pushed up towards the surface to give chase.

LJ-Cut for your pleasureCollapse )

Ice Cream

Morrigan sighed, boredom had overtaken, she hadn’t gone on any rides yet. She didn’t care to. She watched the people walk by, in visioning how they would all die. “number of men's feet versus the number of women's feet is the exact number of women's feet in one ring out of the four. Seventy-two” she mumbled to her self, she had heard it off behind her somewhere. She had fallen into a zombie like mental state, it maybe have been the ahcole or the lack of sleep. Something that she suddenly needed and was not vary familiar with. The voice she heard reminder her some one she had gone to hell with.

"Well, we're in luck, then. That's my specialty."

Morrigan did however remember that voice. “Dusty?” she said turning to where she heard his voice. Dusty, apone hearing his name instinctively turned to see Morrigan “Dear god” Dusty said as if he had see something terrible “it’s her!”
“Her who?” Anita asked, trying to see what had terrified Dusty so much. She saw Morrigan, who had recently gotten her hands on a ice cream cone.
“She’s come for me! No! I’m to young to die” Dusty shouted, then fainted.
“Why does this always happen to me…” Morrigan sighed. “We should pick him up before some one steps on him” The two, Anite and Morrigan picked up Dusty and dragged him to one of the million near by benches.
“You know Dusty?” Anite asked Morrigan after they had gotten dusty seated.
“you could say that I… know a lot of people.”
“So you’ve known Dusty for a long time then?”
“You could say we’ve been to hell and back, yes”

----

“Well, this is an unexpected turn of events” Mozenrath said observing the three. “Why do you think she is here?”

“Impossible” Ursula said “I don’t think Morrigan is the type to sit about”

They watched as Morrigan licked her Ice Cream Cone, trying to see if their was some secret hidden message in her actions.

“Then we must assume that she does not know” said Mozenrath “And I better not get any Ass out of you and me jokes!”

There were a few smirks

----

“He looked like he had just stared death in the face” Anite said, fanning Dusty hoping he would come to.
“Well, you just might be right there.” Morrigan said with a weak smile.
Dusty woke with a grown and a “is she gone yet?”
“No” Morrigan said, then licked her Ice Cream cone again.
“I’m not dead yet then?” he asked
“I would hope not” Anite said
“Nope, still have…” Morrigan pasued
“Do I want to know?” Dusty asked
“30 seconds?” Morrigan said puzzled. As soon as she finished there was a loud crashing sound form under a man hole cover. Suddenly form under it popped Dusty’s dear friend, the Plasma gun wielding Micky Mouse.

“Well… shit” said Dusty.

----

Somewhere on the other side of the park Akira skipped along happily, She loved amusement parks, so many people to trick. She would have gone merrly along if it wasn’t for a little mini-demon who we all referred quite affectingly to as Imp 13 and everyone’s Favorite war God, Ares. You see, the Imp had the wonderful idea of standing in the path way of women hoping to grab them by “Accident” when they ran into each other. So far it hadn’t worked. That was until Akira came skipping along that the plan did work, and when it did work it was a Direct hit. The two crashed together with Akira laying flat on her back Imp 13 in human form on top. Ares laughed form a distance, Akira scowled at Imp 13.

“Get off me Demon” Her cheerfulness was gone.
“Demon, I’m not a demon” Imp 13 said with a big Smile
“No, you’re a…” Akira thought for a second “Rubber chicken”
“I’m not a rubber…” Imp 13 was cut short as he was turned into a Pink rubber chicken. Akira stood up holding Imp 13 the Pink Rubber Chicken and walked over to Ares.
“Is this yours?” she asked
“uh… well sorta” he said “Don’t I know you?”
“I’m her sister…” Akira Mummbled
“Oh!” Ares said, sounding alittle exited “A Fellow Goddess of war!” He rasied a Sword to the sky, where the sword came form was anyone’s guess.
“No” Akira Mummbled “The other one…”
“oh…” Ares was some what disappointed “Morrigan has two sisters?”
“Yes…”
“Are you going to turn my friend back?”
Akira sighed, reached down the throut of the rubber chicken and pulled out Imp 13.
“I told you” Said Ares “We should have stuck with giving things swords and shields and making them fight”
“It was your idea”
Akira sighed again and sat down on a bench, one of the many at the part, while the two argued.
“This place is sooo boring” Akira said with a sigh
“Indeed it is” Ares said sitting down next to her, Imp 13 moved to sit but Akira’s Glare made him think again.
“Weren’t you planning on going to the it’s a small world ride and giving everything Swords or something?” Akira Asked Ares
“How did you know?” Ares asked “Wasn’t the ride destroyed?”
“I’ve read the story up till now and It was rebuilt last time I was near it”
“Really…”

Attacks from Agrabah

Raina scanned the crowd from her crouched position on a shop rooftop, a serious look on her pretty face. “Wheretogo, whattodo.”

*Pick me up one of those Mickey ear hats.*

Raina blinked at Bobby’s 'voice' in her mind. “Geez, Drake, picking up a new power?”

A feminine voice filled her mind. *Just me and my amazing goddess skills. Worship now, I take tribute in--*

“Men, sugar and weapons.” Raina teased. “So Dite warned you, Sil?”

*Yeah, Cat dragged Rick back to the hotel to do some scans for any anomalies. But I’m betting nothing comes up.* Sil said. *JC is with me, and Dite went to find the others.*

“When isn’t Jean-Claude with you.” Muttered Raina. Before Sil could comment, she sped along. “Have you found anything?”

*Magic wise? Oh yeah. It’s everywhere. I could have told you that when we got here. Disney reeks with magic. Good, bad, neutral. You name it.*

Bobby interrupted. *I’m betting with all of it around, it makes it hard to find anything specific.*

*Bingo.* Sil said. *This place was built on a foundation of magic in the first place. Hence why so many people flock to it.*

*I always knew it had nothing to do with the mouse.* Bobby added dryly.

“So what’s the plan?” Raina asked. She realized she’d been speaking aloud the entire time and groaned. If she wasn’t on a rooftop, she’d have been seen as crazy.

*Keep looking around. I’ll keep a psychic link between us, so just call out mentally and one of us will hear you.* Sil told her. *I’ll start linking us up with everyone as soon as I’m done..*

Bobby frowned, mentally and no doubt physically. *Done with what?*

*It’s.. nothing. Personal. Don’t worry. We have more important things to do.*

Sil’s telepathic voice vanished, and Raina felt the link to her temporarily close. *Hmm..*

*What was that about?*

*Noidea, butwhateveritis, she’lleithertelluswhenshe’sready, ornot.*

*Great options.*

*It’sSil.* Raina smiled, shaking off her thoughts of her best friend’s problems momentarily. *Doyoureallywantahat?*

*Already have one.* Iceman chuckled. *Back to work?*

*Back to work.*

The link went quiet, until needed, and Raina, taking a quick look around to make sure no one was paying much attention, proceeded to leap onto another rooftop.

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

Mozenrath watched Raina leap across rooftops as easily as skipping at hopscotch, through a glowing orb in his hand. “There. That’s one of them.”

“Sure, a girl on the rooftops is naturally one of the interlopers.” Hades muttered.

“I know her.” Mozenrath hissed. “She and some blue haired child are what trapped me in this pathetic excuse for a world.” His eyes blazed with fury. He closed his hand into a fist and the orb vanished. When he opened it, an image of a fourteen year old Alli appeared. “The child. If you spot her.. Kill her.”

“And just what do you want us to do about the other?” Ursula asked.

Mozenrath’s face grew unreadable. “I want her.. Alive.”

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

Once more, Raina was getting desperate for action. Not that it was anything new, with her being such an action junkie. After abandoning the rooftops, she was back on the solid ground of the street, avoiding bustling tourists while keeping her eyes open.

She didn’t have to wait long. The super heroine froze as her instincts went on full alert.

Someone was watching her.

Raina glanced around, and her eyes rose to a rooftop she had been on just minutes before. With a quick and cautious look, she made her way to meet her watcher.

Once upon the rooftop, she found herself face to face with a man taller then she was, his arms muscular and menacing looking. He was pale, with a bald head, a five-o-clock shadow, and one of those ridiculous villainous mustaches.

Raina pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head. “Saluk. Shouldn’t you be out scaring children? Isn’t that what you get paid for?”

Saluk smirked proudly. “I see you know my name.” He raised his right hand, which clutched a golden claw, with three talons. “There’s been a change in job descriptions.”

He ran towards her, bringing his fist up to strike. Raina sidestepped, and grabbed his wrist as he missed. She twisted Saluk’s arm behind his back, holding him in place. He let out an annoyed grunt.

“Obviously, you aren’t an ordinary worker dressed as an Aladdin villain. What’s your game?” She hissed. Raina released him and hopped away from the thief as he swung his free arm back, trying to strike her with his elbow.

Saluk spun around, his claw aiming for Raina’s bare stomach. He missed again, and with a growl, kept on the offensive. Raina continued to dodge every attack, memorizing his pattern, seeing an opening, Raina grinned and sent him flying with a roundhouse kick.

Saluk fell over the edge of the building. He imbedded his claw into the wall and slid to the ground. Taking a moment to sneer at Raina who was staring down at him from above, he quickly disappeared into the crowd.

Raina tapped her foot as she pushed her sunglasses back onto her face. “Thatwaswayweird. Why the hell would someone do that?” She turned around in time to see a slithery tail vanish into the shadows.

Her lips formed a frown. “That.. No. Ohcomeon!” She sighed and her eyes widened as she cried out. Raina flew to the ground as she was bombarded by a blast of magic. She growled as she got to her knees.

Her attacker loomed above her. She was a catwoman with brown fur and black hair. She wore a red Egyptian style dress and her delicate claws were surrounded by magic. “Perfect. On your knees where you belong. Truly pathetic.”

Raina rolled her eyes. “What is this, an Aladdin villain convention? FirstSaluknowMirage?”

Mirage merely chuckled. “I see my reputation precedes me.”

“Well, you ARE the poster girl for getting cats spayed.” Raina smirked at her. She rolled out of the way as Mirage released another mystical attack. “Ohcomeon, youreallythinkthatcouldhurtmeanyway?” Raina lifted her hand and held it in front of her, palm facing Mirage.

Mirage’s eyes widened as she was struck down by a pulse of white energy rings, most made of her own magic that Raina had absorbed. “Aieeee!!!”

Raina rose to her feet and ended her attack. She placed a hand on her hip as she walked over to the wounded Mirage. “You’re going to tell me what’s going on around here. And I mean NOW.”

Mirage laughed. “I think not.” She snapped her fingers and vanished, leaving Raina alone on the rooftop again.

With a frustrated cry, Raina stomped her foot. “Whatthehellisgoingon?!!”

An Intimidating Specimen

Mozenrath tried to squeeze hard enough to bend the metal of his gauntlet. He couldn't, of course, he knew that. But the effort relieved his stress, somewhat, not that anyone in the room could tell that he had even been slightly put off by Xerces comment. His carefully controlled facade gave nothing away. It was a look polished in countless schemes while cavorting with criminals and double-deals with dark devils. It was a front as cold as a desert night and his command of it deflected any and all question as to how he was controlling the Greek god of the nether realm and leading this band of evil doers on this plane. Sheer force of will. It had gotten him everything he'd ever desired and it would hold him steady through this quest as well.

"How many?" he asked. He allowed one eyebrow to raise at his familiar. Control involved a little movement; restraint. To go completely poker-faced would give away that he was hiding something.

"I know of only the two at the moment," Xerces said, his voice quivering in the face of his Master's calm. "But there are reports around, on the little squawking boxes of the guards, that say mischief is afoot. They must be linked."

A velvet baritone voice slithered across the room. "We need to know how many there are and decide what to do about them. Just because they're here doesn't mean they've discovered us."

"Jafar, please!" Hades said, finally sitting up from lounging on a floor pillow. "They took out one of the Arawak bravos. Now the Arawaks think they're us! They're on alert! Whoever these 'magic beings' are, they've blown our cover! We've got to catch them all in their beds tonight. Maybe slip some cobras in on 'em, eh, Jafar? Eh?"

"Quiet!" Mozenrath commanded, yanking his glove backward and choking up on an invisible chain around Hades' neck. "I make the plans, Hades. You are here as a tool and nothing more."

"Yeah, maybe," Hades said, gasping for breath. "But I'm not the only tool around here. AAAAAGGGHHH!" Electricity shot through the chain and Hades.

Malificent, meanwhile, finally broke her trance. "I have someone who may be able to help us. He is a capable hunter and can certainly ascertain the threat these newcomers pose to us."

"I can just send Flotsam and Jetsam into the waterways," Ursula said, coiling and uncoiling her legs in a corner. "We can spot them from there."

"Everyone send out whatever eyes they can along with Malificent's hunter," Mozenrath said before somebody else decided they were in charge. "We can get immediate reports that way."

Hades rubbed his neck. "Can't I just make you a bottle of destruction, leave it with you and go home? MYAAAGCK!"

*****

He liked being taller than everyone else in the room. And broader in the shoulder and more narrow at the hip. He liked being manlier, tougher, stronger and, most of all, more handsome. Yes, it was good to be the best. It was good to be Gaston.

He walked up to the bar and put his arms around two women in day-glo shorts and tank tops. "Three summer blonde lagers!" he yelled over the music and din of conversation. "To match the honey hues of these fair maidens' fair hair."

The girls giggled and squeezed Gaston's massive forearms. "My my," he thought. "What impeccable taste these women have." Even if he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and white slacks.

Suddenly, he felt warm breath on his neck and the sweet scent of roses wafted to him. Before he even turned around, he knew that this was the most beautiful woman in the world. Which meant, of course, that he would have her.

The pale faced, raven-haired amazon beauty behind him took his breath away. Her long, loose locks danced across her shoulders and her tank top accentuated every single thing it claimed to cover. Wonderfully curvy hips, flawless legs and tiny feet... Finally deciding to check out the face of this heavenly creature, Gaston found himself smirking into unimpressed, heavy-lidded eyes; eyes that would, under any other circumstance, be sultry if they weren't perched over a wrinkled nose and snarling ruby lips.

"Force the blood back into your head, Gaston. You have work to do."

"Well, I see my reputation precedes me Miss..."

"Mal. Mal-e-ficient."

Gaston's face dropped and a cold chill ran down him. He shuddered involuntarily, knocking the two blondes away from the bar, spilling their beers in the process. They squealed, but Gaston didn't notice.

"Muh, mah, Malificent. I didn't know this was you. I mean... wow. But. No. I mean. Great big-uh, NO! Great disguise."

If it was possible for the evil sorceress to look any more disgusted, she made such evidence plain before turning and walking out of the Tiki Room. Gaston followed, envisioning snowy hillsides and icy baths with his naked grandmother.

"That did it," he said to himself.

"What?" Malificient asked.

"Nothing. You, ah... have work, you say?"

She hadn't planned to take him to the cavern, to face the group before he knew what he was in for, but she changed her mind now. Somehow, the idea of watching Gaston wet those slacks in sheer terror filled her with giddiness.

*****

Dusty pored over a guest map of the Magic Kingdom as Anita led him around by the shoulder. They were looking for the rest of the group. Or some of the group, at least. The idea of being isolated with a cannon-toting mouse after them didn't sit well with them, naturally. Dusty insisted, though, that they needed to decipher the column as quickly as possible before Mickey gathered reinforcements and met them at the next marker.

"I don't see anything like that anywhere," Dusty said. "Slow down. Stop for a minute."

"No way. As long as we're moving, we're harder to find. Besides, maybe you're wrong. Do you have any psychics in that group of yours?"

"We used to," he said off-handedly. H kept talking before he got wistful. "But I'm sure Silence can find four rings, seventy two feet apart from each other."

"Why would something like that even exist now? It's only been five hundred years, you know."

"The column was still here. And if this used to be swamp, then the rings were probably high points. Disney probably used them the same way it used that room."

"Well, that would be convenient. Not to mention easy."

"Yeah," Dusty said dramatically. "Too easy."

"Stop that."

"All I really know is that the number of men's feet versus the number of women's feet is the exact number of women's feet in one ring out of the four. Seventy-two."

"You started like you were going to tell me something, Lover, and then you spoke in a different language."

Dusty filed away the nickname for later reference. "The men only have enough feet for three rings. The women have enough feet to fill four. The difference is seventy-two feet."

"So what?"

"Exactly. So... what? Maybe there's some place here with four rings."

"Or seven."

"...Maybe."

"I'm reminded of an old story about a needle in a haystack."

"Well, we're in luck, then. That's my specialty."

Rollercoasters and Eels.

I watched Reiko as she walked ahead of me in Disney World. She had picked short levi shorts to wear and had a bright orange T-shirt tied just under her breasts so it exposed her perfect stomach muscles. Any normal man would have been prone to intense jealous fits if another man looked at his girlfriend dressed in that manner but I was confident in Reiko’s love for me.
So I only gave death glares to any male that dared to look at her twice.

Reiko was living it up playing the tourist and would stop every few feet to point out some new sights. Me? I was happy walking behind Reiko and enjoying the view.
I meant the views of the park. Sheesh! What kind of demon do you take me for?

At one point we were crossing over a bridge and Reiko leaned over the railing to point at roller coaster type ride. "Don’t you think that looks like it would be a thrill to ride?" She asked.

"Oh I know it’s thrill." I replied distractedly.

Reiko glanced back at me and caught me looking somewhere other than the ride she was pointing out.
It’s not what you are thinking either! . . . Oh okay, it is exactly what you are thinking.

Reiko turned away from the railing to face me and placed her hands on her hips. "Can’t you behave?" She asked me with a grin.

"Sorry. It must be the ocean air." I replied with a chuckle.

Reiko just laughed. "It’s a good thing that AIWL is an island then I guess. Now about that ride over there." She said, overemphasizing the direction by dramatically pointing.

Placing my arm around her waist I looked to where she was pointing. Glancing around to see that we were fairly alone on the bridge for the moment I whispered back. "Hun, you can fly, phase and teleport. How can a mere roller coaster compare to that?"

"Cause on a roller coaster I am not in control. And you said we could do all the touristy things."

I nodded my head. "Sure let’s go...." I paused as something just on the edge of my awareness took place.
Reiko well familiar with the way I acted noticed immediately. "What is it?" She asked.

"I detected something for just a moment." I replied as I tried to figure out exactly what it had been.

"You mean, like a disturbance in the Force?" Reiko asked me.

I broke off my mental train of thought and looked at Reiko. "You’ve been hanging around the Jedi classes at WBA too much." I said with a grin.

Reiko laughed but then asked me. "Well was it something like that anyway?"

I had to frown and reluctantly admit. "Yeah okay, it was something like that. Like a doorway to evil had been opened briefly and something came through it."

"A portal?"

I pondered for a moment. "If it was, it was not like any type I had ever felt before." Seeing Reiko frowning and glancing around the park I tried to put her mind at ease.
"Come on hun. It was probably nothing. Let’s go try your ride." I said and started down the bridge so we could head toward the roller coaster.

Reiko glanced around one more time and started to follow Weirdbard but stopped and did a double take. Just for a moment she could have sworn she had seen a flying fish dart under the bridge. Not your normal type of flying fish but it looked like a eel with big eyes swimming through the air. She shook her head and decided she was seeing things and raced to catch up to where Bard was waiting at the end of the bridge for her.

The flying eel Xerces breathed a sigh of relief under the bridge. The strange woman with the blue hair must not have seen him. He knew Mozenrath would have his hide if he allowed himself to be seen and gave away that something was going on but he just couldn’t stay cooped up in that underground cavern any longer.

Xerces was just about to try another dash across the crowded park to reach a food vendor when a hand snaked out of the darkness of the shadows of the bridge and grabbed him by the throat.

"Xerces! You idiot! Where do you think you are going?"

"Mozenrath!" Squeeked the flying eel. "Xerces was just hungy and thought I would look for a bite?" The eel added hoarsely.

"What a good idea Xerces." Mozenrath replied as he phased completley out of the shadows.

The eel brightened up and looked hopefully at it's master.

"Now where can we find a aligator to bite you?" Mozenrath added as if he was pondering.

He then snarled at the eel and threw it into the shadow gate and followed after it.

quick intro

*Note* These events occur halfway through GTA3: Vice City, so any 'but he's dead, or in jail' comments do not necessarily apply.

Gazing over the harbor, Tommy watched as the police boats caught another Cuban sailboat as it attempted to spirit away a shipment of narcotics. Good.. good.. so long as you keep on those pricks and leave my boats alone, I'm happy. His cell phone rang and he picked it up on the second ring.

"Yeah?"

"Hey Tommy, this is Avery. I'm still in negotiations with Eisner to build that new hotel in D-World, but I hear someone's badmouthing our operations and you personally."

"Oh really? I thought everyone knew better than to get on my bad side. Who's the chump?"

"I hear he's one of Vasquez's lackeys. Think a personal drop-by is in order?"

"I'll check it out. Meanwhile, keep on track. The sooner we have a new safehouse, the easier it'll be to take over, give or take a decade." Throwing the cell on the bed, Tommy threw on his bulletproof vest and grabbed the Tec9. No one badmouthed Tommy Vercetti.. no one.

Jan. 15th, 2003

You would imagine that travelling while a spirit is merely thought, if it could be called that. A wish to be somewhere else, a need to appear somewhere you are not. For Khai James, newly departed (compared to millenia that have passed), the wish exceeds his grasp, his need consuming him - different. For you see, Khai is no typical lost soul. By life, he was but an ordinary man, his only speciality a few gifts bestowed on him to assist in aiding his friends and allies. In death, he is no ordinary. Denied entry to the afterlife of his loved ones, he travels amongst the living in search of something he does not know how to attain... peace of soul and mind.
Only knowing that his loved ones' souls, Rei and Katarina, were lost amongst infinty, he struggles to not only one day be reunited.. but to co-exist with what he has lost... life.
In this, however, a change has begun. A change not noticeable on the ethereal scale known to the Gods, yet a change nonetheless. In his brief appearance in The City, Khai has met with another who defies the odds, a man who makes his own rules in the cosmos. Al Simmons, known as Spawn to most, and Cogliostro, Simmons' own semi-mentor, have temporarily adoped Khai in hopes not only to aid him in his own protection, but to also start him on a path that they hope leads to salvation. A good intention has left Khai the ability to become visible to mortals when desired, but who knows what pitfalls accompany this action.
Only time will tell if the journey yields Khai's wishes...


--

"So, for now, this should do you. What you're looking at is a modded '71 Hemi Cuda. Still has the original 426 engine in it too. Of course, I took some liberties with it." Simmons shut the driver's side door and beckoned Khai over to glance at the dashboard. "You've got yourself a 'trap finder' for when the state troopers are in quota mode. Just in case you're an idiot and decide not to slow down, though, I bulletproofed the beast. Sure it won't take a full frontal against a tank or anything, but it'll hold long enough for you to get outta dodge if need be, not enough to outrun a Ferrari, mind you, but whatever. Painted all black because it just looks better, and I replaced the radio with a 5 disc cd-changer, because without some tunes, you'll go out of your frickin mind."

A low whistle escaped Khai's lips as he gave the car a look-over. "Nice ride. By any chance does it come with Hell's seal of approval?"

"Funny. Now if you're done with your stand-up routine, I'll continue. The bulletproofing, yeah, that has quite the little magic touch to it. Everything else, done by my own two hands, and in less than 48 hours. You'll notice I've also installed a GPS. God knows I can't trust you to find your way, if your weapon knowledge is any indication. Jesus, if only I had 72 more hours..." A flash of light in his periphial vision caused Simmons to whirl about, guns drawn and cloak writhing.

"I'll give you points for trying, Al," Cog said, "but I think our new guest here may take offence to your taking the Holy Son's name in vain. Let me introduce Peter, Saint and usually the man who waves in the accepted into the Father's domain."

"I'll let it ride. As the saying goes," Peter stated, "we've got bigger fish to fry at the moment. Can I talk with you alone for a moment, Mr. Simmons?"

Sticking the guns back into his shoulder holsters and quieting the cape, Spawn followed the visitor away from the vehicle. Lighting a cigarette, Cog glanced at the vintage machine with amusement. "Ah, back to this again. You should've seen him on his 'antique cars' run a couple of months ago. Put together a few cars from the 40's-70's that'd make your head spin. '71 Cuda right? Classic car. Though I doubt the Sony 5-disc came stock." Taking a puff, he glanced in his company's direction. "Hey kid, you may want to know that Pete's visit may be slightly coincidental to your little meeting with Vasquez down south. Least, that's what I heard through the grapevine."

"Probably some info about the tabs I asked him to put out on some lost souls." Grabbing the pack from Cog, Khai lit his own smoke and blew out his own exhaust. "Amazing, I can actually somewhat feel the cancer working its own brand of joy. The hell are these things, man? Undead Light, for the non-breathing stressed out poor sap?"

Laughing, Cog shook his head. "Nah, just something I picked up from a former friend in the 5th gate of Hell. You know you're pooched anyway, why not add to the cause. Anyway, the deal is, you go down and get some info from Vasquez, get him back up here for rehabilitation, and we'll assist you in your hunt for you girlfriend and sister. Not tough, wouldn't you say?"

"While I'm not fond of playing errand-boy, the help is noted." Stubbing out the smoke on the warehouse door, Khai got into the driver's seat of the Chrysler vehcle and flipped through his list of cds. "Ah, here we go, perfect. The Cult should go well to mark the beginning of a journey, no?"

"Sure, if you have no fashion sense and love Miami Vice, Knight Rider, and other 80's shit. Me, I'm a 1492 type of guy."

"Big surprise there...."

--

2.5 hrs later...

The traffic, being its usual bitch of a self, had held him only to merge now onto I-95 after a considerable bout of swearing, 5 near-accidents and a half pack of what he called Undead Lights. With being visible now, he couldn't just flip the bird at anyone without a reaction. He had to compliment Al though, the car handled like a wet dream.

Still, his thoughts kept drifting to Peter's swift and cryptic message. The clue is life, but it is not the key. Seek what you can and Godspeed. Muttering about a possible violation of an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), Peter departed without fanfare. With the SG552-2 P sitting on the seat beside him, and the two Browning 9mm's under the seat (and screw Al for suggesting not to use them), Khai was prepared for whatever Vasquez could throw at him, short of an army, if the 'little bitch' (as Simmons had so eloquently called him) resisted.

With Matthew Good Band now playing on the cd-player, he only hoped that the trip would be worth it.

F.L.W.

The plasma cannon whined. A glow appeared down in the depths of the barrel.

Dusty and Anita both turned to run at the same second. They both tripped over each other's feet at the same time. Anita went down first, though, twisting and landing on her back. Dusty landed on top of her, barely keeping his face from crashing into hers.

It seemed like the time for some famous last words; something chiseled from wisdom; pithy and quoteable.

Instead, he said: "Lucky you, I'll be the last thing you see." He hoped his smirk was somehow endearing.

Anita's response was a garbled, but purposeful phrase that followed her outstretched hand over Dusty's back just as the plasma cannon's whine erupted into a roar.

Dusty kept his eyes on her face. Best to go out with a vision of beauty, he figured. Her features were stern and... moving. He blinked. He wasn't dead!

"Will you get up already?" she snarled testily. Dusty rolled over to see the plasma blast floating in mid-air and Mickey standing behind it, dumbfounded. Dusty rolled to his feet and charged the mouse. Mickey fired his net at him, but Dusty was too close for the thing to open. It thunked into his chest, forcing the air out of his lungs and stopping him dead in his tracks.

For a moment, time seemed to freeze. No one in the room moved. The steam even seemed to lose interest in wafting around.

Suddenly, Anita grunted. The plasma blast was creeping closer to her. Mickey turned and ran. Dusty finally managed to suck in a lungful of air and dropped to the floor.

Anita got up and stepped out of the path of the blast, then lowered her arm. The ball of energy slammed into the ground where they had been laying just moments before and broke apart. Chains of crackling energy scattered across the floor and found an enormous water pump. The machine fizzled and exploded, filling the room with steam again. A few other arcs of the plasma energy crawled up the decorative column Dusty had been trying to decipher. Just before the gouts of steam blocked his view of it, Dusty saw the column crack apart and pieces of it fall away.

"Come on!" Anita said, trying to help Dusty up. Breathing was agonizing and the idea of running made his ribs want to splinter (if they weren't already). They shuffled quickly out of the room, watching for Mickey as they went.

Behind them, the radio Dusty had taken from the character guard crackled again as the column crumbled and the room followed it to the floor. "This is an all-security alert. Repeat. An all-security alert. We have major damage to electrical and hydraulic systems. All maintenance crews are to report to central operations. Security is to keep all park guests calm and be on the lookout for abnormal activity- KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKSSSSSSSSSSSSS-"

*****

The three holy men and their wives looked around, bewildered.

"Well, we got clouds," said the Episcopalian minister.

"And there are the Pearly Gates, per scripture" the Baptist preacher said.

"And look," said the Lutheran minister. "There's a podium. But nobody's behind it."

The Baptist wife looked to the Episcopalian wife and choked down a sob. "Have mercy," she said. "Did we die? Where's the Winnebago? The traffic? Did we even get to Florida?"

"I remember a semi..." the Lutheran wife said, scrunching up her eyes. "It got stuck under the overpass right in front of us... we were right behind it..."

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLELUJIAH!

Jesus scuffed up the tops of the clouds as he ascended the podium and beheld a great book before him. It was closed.

"Peter, thine refusal to even leaveth open The Great Book of Life saddens me." He sighed and opened it, trying to figure out where Peter had left off. "Nay to bookmarks and dog-ears, too? The hand of my Father is to be inferred here." The Savior looked up to find six people standing before him.

"You... you're not Peter," the Baptist preacher said. "You're... Jesus H. Christ!"

"Thine eyes deceive thee not," Jesus said, pushing up his green peace glasses. "Though I am unfamiliar with the middle initial." Looking back down at the book, Jesus found the stories of the six souls before him magically printed up. "Ah," he said.

The Episcopalian minister threw himself down before Jesus. "Jesus!" he beseeched. "We have been in a terrible accident and were torn from our world prematurely. We ask that you look kindly on us and grant us entrance into the kingdom of God."

"Hmmmm," said Jesus, reading. "I know not, Preacher Wilson. The Book, which doth not lie, says that thee drank to excess on an almost daily basis."

"It's true, Lord, I am a sinner."

Jesus continued. "In fact, thou lovest to drink. More than anything else in the world. So much so that you married a woman named Sherry!"

The Episcopalian wife gasped, covering her mouth, but not blocking the sob of shame. "Harold!"

"I fear there is no room in Heaven for one who loveth the bottle over the Lord. I shall be merciful, though, and let your wife stay with you. Down thy goest."

And with that, a trap door swallowed the Episcopalian minister and his wife. The Baptist preacher was next in line and he was sweating bullets.

"Doctor Beauregard, thou harborest a terrible secret, even past the hour of thy death."

The preacher's head dropped. His wife screeched in shock and horror.

"Thou were a luster of money. A gambler. An embezzler. A tax defrauder. Thy love of money was so great, thy even stole from the Church and married a woman named Penny!"

"Yes, Jesus! It's all true! I beg you for mercy!"

"Then thy shall keep thine wife as well. Down thy goest."

The wife started: "But I didn't do anythi-", but the trap door swallowed them both up.

Jesus scanned ahead in the book and looked up over his glasses at the Lutheran minister, who simply nodded and spoke somberly to his wife.

"Well, I'm glad you're still dressed for a warm climate, Fanny, because I don't think we have a chance here."

*****

Dusty looked at himself in the restroom mirror. The general dirt and grime was gone. He pulled up his shirt, wincing as his traumatized muscles flexed upwards, revealing the steadily darkening discoloration in the center of his chest that would be an incredibly ugly and painful bruise by tonight.

A kid in mouse ears was standing behind him, holding a helium mouse-ear balloon and scowling at the bruise.

"Don't go on the It's a Small World ride," Dusty said. "Those little Holland people have real wooden shoes."

The kid blanched and ran outside. Dusty followed him a few moments later and found Anita waiting with a beehive of cotton candy.

"So, why don't you tell me who you really are and what we're really doing while I eat half of that," Dusty suggested, pulling off some of the candy.

"I'd rather not," she answered, filling her mouth with pink sugary sweetness.

"Yeah, I bet. But if you don't, I'm off this hunt and I'm taking everything I got off that column with me."

She sighed. Dusty couldn't read her eyes through her sunglasses, but maybe she was doing the same thing he was-watching the obtuse number of security personnel walk around nonchalantly, like there were always this many of them out in the park.

"Look," he said calmly, trying to give the general impression of don't look here, Mr. Officer, Sir. "I took a rocket to the chest for this. I think my ribs may be broken or splintered. If you have super powers you should tell me about them and use them more often."

She cackled at that. "Super powers? There are stranger things in Heaven and earth than are dreamt of in comic books."

"Like what?"

She looked around at the crowd and Dusty half-expected her to make some excuse about privacy... but she didn't.

"I'm a sorceress," she said simply.

Dusty answered quickly to keep her off-balance. "I guessed that already. Does this mean you're not from Cuba?"

"No. I am from Cuba."

"You don't appear to be in need of a Fountain of Youth."

"I'm not. But I have to protect it, wherever it is."

"I thought the Cartoon Jihad down there was doing that."

"They're no match for the people after the fountain. They're mortals."

"Yeah. With plasma-blasting nano-technology!"

"The people I'm talking about are more powerful than anything you've ever witnessed."

"Careful. You underestimate my have-seen list yet again."

"I'm not sure how they're doing it. Their activities are limited on this plane. They have mortal agents which those guys could take care of, if they even knew what the actual threat was... The bottom line is: we have to find the fountain before the... others."

"Immortals?"

"I didn't say that."

"Anybody who needs "mortal agents" to operate "in this plane" is an immortal. That, I know for a fact. Now are you going to tell me who these immortals are we're trying to stop, why they need a Fountain of Youth or, even better, who YOU work for?"

Anita opened her mouth several times, but nothing came out. Finally, she ate another mouthful of cotton candy just to re-center her thoughts. "I can't tell you," she said. "It's forbidden. I just can't. That's why I had to hide my powers up to now. I was hoping you'd be able to get us there without me having to use them."

"Well, maybe I could have if I'd known what I was up against."

Anita nodded. They ate quietly for a few minutes and watched Security bust a couple of potheads smoking behind the bathrooms. Dusty thought of imp #420 as Anita continued.

"There are other sorcerers working with them. They're mortal. There are gods among them, though."

A smile worked across Dusty's face. "That's okay," he said. "I know a few sorcerers, gods and goddesses of my own."

"Low-key," she cautioned. "I only went to you because we have to find it before we can defend it."

"They can be low-key. With an all-security alert out, they'll have to be, right?"

Now that, Dusty thought, sounded like famous last words.