By Hunter (Skull Man)
(There you are, gentle readers. Good.
I have a question for you : have you ever been betrayed by your memory ?)
? : Ugghh ... Shouldn't've mixed up everythin' with Russian Maalox last night...
(A paper due for this morning that you could swear on your mother's head was for next week ? Picking up your kids when you are a hundred percent sure it was your mate's turn ? It happens.)
? : *stands up* Head feels like a goddam cement mixer ... *looks up* No offense.
(But ... what if it truly was for next week ? What if some outside force changed reality, and only you remember the original way things were meant to be ?)
? : Well, y'know th' thing to do when ye feel bad ? Fight fire with fire. *grabs a bottle and chugs it down*
(Don't be silly. This kind of thing doesn't happen in your cushy, normal reality.
But here, where stories are weaved for characters to play out ... Anything can happen.)
? : *wipes his sleeve on his mouth* Can't feel my lips. Must be a strong one.
(I changed a little thing in our friend's life. Let see how he finds out...)
? : C'm'on, Geoff. Time ta make th'world shine. *looks in his mirror* Bwhuh ?
(For one thing, our submarine companion is shorter than usual, yet retains his jacket. But the armour he wears is not what it used to be.)
? : *feels his face* Holy ...
(It could be said he aged a few thousand years.)
"Pharaoh Man" : I'm in Stink-Lady's body ! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH- *stops to catch his breath* Wait. *looks down on himself* Hmm ... I don't see th' Two Powerful Ones, so ... what did I do t'piss Kalinka off, and why did she put me in Jade's body ? And where did she find th' corpse ?
Drill Man : *from outside* Geoff, you here ? We have a meeting in ten minutes, remember ?
Pharaoh Man : Uh, comin'. Guess I have a big surprise fer you.
Drill Man : What ? Your Illuminati masters finally relented and told you to stop playing me for a fool ? Great !
Pharaoh Man : No. *opens the door* What did y'think of this ?
Drill Man : *looks up and down* ... New jacket ? Stopped smoking ?
Pharaoh Man : How could I smoke with this junk ? *points at his mouthplate*
Drill Man : The way I eat ?
Pharaoh Man : ... Crap, Paranoid got a point.
? : Let us through, quartermaster ! An admiral should always look after the well-being of its crew !
Pharaoh Man : *suddenly fearful* Oh crap. Is that ...
Dive Ma'am : Indeed ! It is we, Admiral Dive Ma'am of the Neo-Russian Navy, First Extradimensional Fleet ! *salutes with left hand, then with right hand* Did ... did I put the hand right this time ? Better salute again for good measure.
Pharaoh Man : STINK LADY HAS STOLEN MY LIFE ! *runs away screaming*
(And so he runs away ... maybe to find something to help him hold onto his memories.)
Pharaoh Man : *entering Kalinka's lab* Doc ? You here ?
Kalinka : Ah, Geoff. What brings you here ?
Pharaoh Man : Okay, I got it, I'm a jerk ta th' stink-mummy. Big deal. Now, could ya stop with th'freaky necromancy and put me back in my true body ?
Kalinka : Your true body ... ? What do you mean ?
Pharaoh Man : Kid, I knew ya when y'were old enough ta worry about yer college grades, so don't try to bullshit me : I. Am. Dive. Man. Not th' new freeloader of Jade's old body !
Kalinka : I'm confused. You don't remember the day I reactivated you all ? When you nearly tried to scorch my face off until I threatened you with a lead-filled mouthwash ?
Pharaoh Man : (That does sound like me...) And what about Stink-Wrap ?
Kalinka : You'll have to teach me what you can wrap with a submarine. But regardless, there was a malfunction when reactivating Jade, and ...
Pharaoh Man : Jade ? As in, "Pharaoh Man" Jade ?
Kalinka : As in "Dive Man" Jade. What kind of alcohol did you soak your brain chips in last night ?
Pharaoh Man : But - I mean - What ... Y'know what, we'll deal with this as a Team. Call th' rabble here. Meeting's ajourned, and the new one is : "figure out this mess" !
(But it won't go smoothly. I do think I will enjoy this.)
Pharaoh Man : Everyone here ?
Skull Man : Toad Man was last seen emptying the fridge. At the same time, he was wondering who puts the light off when he closes the door.
Pharaoh Man : Lemme rephrase. Anyone with a bit'o'brains here ?
Bright Babe : So, what's gotten into you, Geoff ?
Pharaoh Man : A simple matter. Since when am I th' local Mumm-Ra ?
Dust Man : Ever since you joined, of course ! You joined after the former Pharaoh Man was murdered by Kryptoman-
Drill Man : Hold on. Wasn't that Wraithman who did it ?
Kalinka : I remember Papa telling me it was Omni. Or Ballade. Depended on whether he had met Jay and Bob earlier.
Pharaoh Man : (I don't really remember that one... Whatevs.) Anyway. Jade. Did magic, right ?
Drill Man : Of course. Looking back, it's quite a suspicious ability for a Robot Master. Maybe the Aglet Mob gave him prototype weapons...
Pharaoh Man : Suspicious for a sub, ya mean ! How could he do magic without being th' ancient wisdom guy ?
Dust Man : You don't remember ? Jade told us repeatedly that he was one of the surviving mages of Atlantis. It stands to reason that this created an affinity for his Dive Man body.
Pharaoh Man : (Fits neatly. Too neatly.) How about ... How about th' War ? That Aleksandra bridge in St Petersburg. Couldn't have blown it without Dive Missiles, right ?
Kalinka : I can answer that. *types on a computer console* There, the damage report post-War.
(Said report indicated that all major bridges had been destroyed through high-energy attacks. The kind of damage associated with Pharaoh Shots.)
Drill Man : You tried to cover up your civilian-murdering by claiming it was a Siege Joe sneak attack.
Pharaoh Man : (That does sound like something I'd have said...) Wait, wait ... What about th' day Mumm-Ra an' Skeletor sneaked inta here ? I don't remember havin' been kidnapped.
Skull Man : Supposedly, they expected Jade's magic to see through their plan. Yet, it failed in the end.
Pharaoh Man : And no one batted an eye at havin' two o' me around ?!
Drill Man : *shrugs* You didn't either. And besides, we all knew something was up. Even me ...
Pharaoh Man : And ... th' underground mob I ran with ol' Kermit and Mr Jack here ? "Davy Jones' Racket" ?
Bright Babe : Funny, I remember you calling it "the Three New Plagues of Egypt". More fitting, I'd say.
Kalinka : *sighs* Everyone, go. Geoff, stay here, please.
Dive Ma'am : Very well, Great Admiral ! All hands on deck, report to starboards break room ! Wait - keel ! The ... the one on the left.
Ring Man : Starboard.
Dive Ma'am : Y-yes, Ensign LifeRaft ! Good show on that nautical test ! *walks away, followed by Comrades*
Kalinka : So, Pharaoh. What would it take to convince you your life is the true one ?
Pharaoh Man : I dunno. Have a recording ?
Kalinka : I may. *types on her keyboard* There. An old security footage from ... back then.
(An interesting video. Dating from about twenty years past, it shows the interior of the old Citadel, and Robot Masters from various Teams sporting various degrees of wear and tear. Pharaoh Man walks in, and looks up.)
Record Pharaoh Man : You havin' a good look, Gen'ral ? Yeah, I guessed you'd attack. Sooner or later. So, while yer reviewin' footage of what and who ye missed, howsabout ye review THAT !! *turns and moons at the camera*
Record Skull Man : *off screen* Geoff, come here ! Briefing for Rothenburg is upcoming.
Record Pharaoh Man : Coming, Creeps ! *turns to camera* Oh, and if it's you, Crorq, who does the watchin' ... hope you enjoyed th' watch.
Kalinka : *stops record* These old security records were pretty much impossible to tamper with. That's how we spotted who had vomitted on the carpet every time.
Pharaoh Man : ... It's ... It's true ...
Kalinka : Geoff. I don't know what went into your head, but we're all here to help. We're all family. ... Even Flippy.
Pharaoh Man : ...
Kalinka : Why don't you take the day off ? Go to Murmansk, have a beer or three with the Fatal Five ... You get on pretty well with Warpman, I heard ?
Pharaoh Man : Yeah ... I could do that. *walks off* So, th' whole "terror o' the seas" was a dream ? Pretty good one, but felt like life...
Toad Man : *walks near* Oh hey, Dive. Nice costume.
Pharaoh Man : Whatevs. Guess I'll hafta get th' hang of boiling my drinks with Pharaoh Shots and - WAIT. *runs and grabs Flippy* HOW DID YA CALL ME, KERMIT.
Toad Man : Well, Dive. That's your name, right ?
Pharaoh Man : And fer Sister Linen - fer Avi ?
Toad Man : The one who always says I'm a mini-sentry ? She's the Pharaoh-boss-thing, I guess ?
Pharaoh Man : I knew it. I knew it ! I. AM. DIVE MAN !!! *nearly kisses Flippy in joy*
Toad Man : But ... I want to be a prince ! And then I'll colour my Acid Rain purple, and sing "Violet Shower" !
Pharaoh Man : *slaps Flippy* Come wit' me ! We have ta grab th' two persons who can help me now !
Toad Man : The Three Stooges ?
Pharaoh Man : Nah. Someone who can think, and someone who can act...
(A bit later, on the way of the other meeting...)
Pharaoh Man : Yo, Ringo ! And, er Admiral ?
Dive Ma'am : Ahoy, Ensign Egypt ! What is your request ?
Pharaoh Man : I, ah, kinda need yer help both. A lil' project fer th' fleet.
Ring Man : *shrugs* Always ready to help, Geoff. But ... why me ?
Pharaoh Man : Well, it's a project that needs some logical thinkin'. And since Davie Jones here is kinda involved...
Toad Man : Yay, swimming buddies !
Dive Ma'am : That sounds, er, great ! Always ready to help a servant of the seas ! *to Drill Man* Shall you hold this meeting, captain ?
Drill Man : *salutes* Sir, yes sir !
Dive Ma'am : Then off we go ! Aventure, hooooo !
Drill Man : *as they leave* Perfect... Now that the interloper isn't here, we can hold a significant meeting.
Bright Babe & Dust Man : *groan*
Drill Man : Here it is ! *launches a slideshow* Interpol ! It's infiltrated by ninjas, ever since Ronald Reagan, in the "Bad Dudes" affair, got himself kidnapped to raise his public ratings !
Skull Man : There is a hole where my yearning for death would be. But I must endure for the Team.
(Meanwhile, the final person Geoff was looking for gave him the weirdest answer he heard so far on this day.)
Ring Man : Wait. You believe his whole story ? Just like that ?
Over-1: I only accept it's a possibility, but I've heard and seen weirder. I mean, do you really know ?
Pharaoh Man : Weirder'n'me waking up in a bizarro reality ? Shoot.
Over-1: I've once investigated a temporal anomaly which made me revive December 6th, 1991 for two years, and I came back a second before I left. And as for the whole "alternate reality" thing, I've met the whole range of clones of me : evil ones, good ones, well-meaning-but-misguided ones ... Hell, I've even been kidnapped and replaced for three weeks by my morally-ambiguous twin before anyone spotted him.
Dive Ma'am : How so, Extra-Dimensional Brigade Captain ?
Over-1: He felt so-so about going for pizza. And the weirdest yet ... I've been in contact in a world where life on Earth was mechanically-based, and the "Robot Masters" were creatures bio-engineered by Science Units L1-GHT and W1-LY. I still feel queasy when I remember Oxidation Unit, Tracking Unit, and Waste Unit.
Ring Man : What's so bad about ... Oh. Oooooh. Looking like this world's version ?
Over-1: Yes, but human.
Toad Man : Too bad they weren't graced by MY presence !
Over-1: So, yeah. Geoff, what's your idea behind this predicament of yours ?
Pharaoh Man : I dunno, Boa-Boy. I thought ye were th' experts on weird stuff and investigatin'. But still, th' fact is that when I went ta sleep -
Dive Ma'am : - No doubt after a series of exercises to keep your sailor mind sharp !
Pharaoh Man : Nah, after gettin' piss-drunk. But fact is, I went ta sleep as Dive Man. And seems only th' green disgrace remembers it.
Ring Man : So, we have a witness. Flippy, is Geoff Dive Man ?
Toad Man : Yes. *munches on Avi's coat* Oh, admiralicious !
Ring Man : Flippy, are we on the Moon right now ?
Toad Man : Yes ! After all, that's what Battle-Toads like me do !
Ring Man : Sorry, Geoff, but that's not good enough for me.
Pharaoh Man : Waitaminit. Flippy, what do you remember 'bout th' meal I gave ya yesterday night ?
Toad Man : A knuckle-and-sewage sandwich, as you had to go and fetch me in the sewers. Turns out playing underwater-hide-and-seek doesn't work with non-aquatic robots. Oh, and also during meeting.
Pharaoh Man : Y'know how th' creep is when it comes ta food.
Ring Man : Point taken.
Over-1: We'll go and cover various possible answers for your problem. First one : you're dreaming.
Pharaoh Man : Pshah. Stinkyweed here isn't half as ugly as in my dreams, so no.
Dive Ma'am : I'll make a note to the Master of Discipline later for that, Sailor Egypt. Do we have a Master of Discipline ? Well, of course, in any decent fleet there's one, but I can't set the name...
Ring Man : I have an idea close to that one. You're trapped in an artificial reality.
Pharaoh Man : *shrugs* Explains some things.
Ring Man : But it's weird ... I have some vague idea you should be some kind of robotic monkey.
Over-1: *stares at Flippy* Could be worse.
Ring Man : And I should be ... something armoured. A giant insect ? Some kind of armadillo ?
Pharaoh Man : Hmm ... Nah. Too far out.
Dive Ma'am : Some rogue element wishing to undermine the well-being of our fleet ?
Over-1: *nods* That might be the ticket. So, Geoff, did you piss off anyone who could bend reality recently ?
Pharaoh Man : Well, lessee ... Kalinka mighta locked me in th' VR thing, Crorq too, Skeletor and Mumm-Ra are missin', Karasû is too weak fer that hocus-pocus, and ... Hmm. I have an idea.
Toad Man : Please, not the bird man !
Pharaoh Man : Mebbe Kachen.
Toad Man : AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAahhey wait I totally beat him at gaming last time.
Ring Man : If anything, he'd rather have revenge on everyone of us. Or go after Hunter and Flippy, since they beat him at mind-games.
Over-1: An idea to keep in mind. But something about Geoff disturbed that daemon. Could it be his comment on faith was true ?
Pharaoh Man : Whatever th' reason, we have a bird ta punch ! And if he's behind this, so much th' better ! Now, how ta get ta his place ? Purple kid ?
Over-1: Usually, I'd get Warpman's and Karasû's help, but I fear they are on RPD business right now. *types on a nearby console* Yep. Busting a SA-grade tech smuggling ring.
Ring Man : But you have a backup plan, right ?
Over-1: I was built to have back-ups. Now, follow me.
(Interestingly, he didn't lead his visitors to the underground teleporter, but what seems to be a private library.)
Over-1: Cultists always leave grimoires behind. I keep them hidden so as people like Crorq don't get their hands on them.
Toad Man : Ooooh, a pop-up Necronomicon ! I want it for Christmas please please PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE
Over-1: ... or other people as a whole.
Dive Ma'am : And so, one of these books will lead us right into the enemy harbour ? Then, go and calculate our trajectory, Navigator ! ... Wait, isn't that a thing for a helmsman to do ? Then go, Navigator-Helmsman !
Pharaoh Man : If there's any chantin' ta do, I have this one song ready. It's about travellin' through France and meetin' this broad...
Over-1: I'll ... handle that part. Now, which book ... ? Ah, yes. *grabs a book*
Ring Man : "The Tome of Corruption" ? Sounds ... iffy.
Over-1: In hindsight, what we saw last time Kachen toyed with us lined up with the content. There should be something ...
Toad Man : Oooh, a book written with jam !
Pharaoh Man : Yeah, human jam. Heh-heh.
Over-1: There ! A ritual to transport us to Kachen's lair. Content isn't wholesome, but I should adapt it easily.
Pharaoh Man : If ya have ta sacrifice virgins, I have th' perfect pick here. *pats Flippy on the head*
Toad Man : I'm important !
Over-1: Nah, thanks. I've worked with Karasû on a way to use magical denominators. Basically, it's about using easy-to-find and just as powerful equivalent for spell components. Can't go around carrying powdered rhino horns whenever wanting to throw fireballs when a Zippo and some coal work, right ? ... Alright, give me two hours, give or take, and we travel first class.
(As their interdimensional expert was preparing the travel, our poor Geoff was confronted with the hardest task of his day : conversation with his usurper of sorts.)
Dive Ma'am : Ensign Egypt ... Geoff ... there is something I must ask you.
Toad Man : Booo-ring. I'm gonna help Over-The-Line ! *scampers off*
Ring Man : Oh no you don't ! *chases after him*
Pharaoh Man : (Geeze. Thanks, guys.) Yeah, what ?
Dive Ma'am : In the world as you believe it were, where I am not Dive Ma'am but Pharaoh ... Ma'am ? Lady ? Woman ?
Pharaoh Man : Th'latter.
Dive Ma'am : A fitting name. So, as Pharaoh Woman ... am I as good a leader as here ?
Pharaoh Man : Well, er ... Ta be honest ... I mean ...
Dive Ma'am : Out with it, sailor !
Pharaoh Man : ... I can honestly that yer as good a leader there as ye are here.
Dive Ma'am : Oh.
Pharaoh Man : I mean, we're still around, fightin' Crorq's good fight, and we ain't too shabby. So ... thumbs up !
Dive Ma'am : Well, thank you, ensign.
Pharaoh Man : (Wait, did I just compliment her to her face ? I'll need an extra drink.)
(And after an excruciating time of exchanging banalities...)
Over-1: And there we are ! Ready to plunge into a dimension of madness and despair made physical ?
Pharaoh Man : Ye say that as if it were new.
Ring Man : Yeah. I mean, we have breakfast with Flippy every morning.
Toad Man : *eating a goat skull* Who's the omnivore now ?!
Over-1: *sighs* I always manage to forget that. Anyway, on we go.
(Whatever they expected to find in this Realm, did not prepare them for this...)
Ring Man : Over-1, when you had to rescue everyone else from this dimension, what kind of place did you see ? A valley full of horny monsters, and a place that made its visitors lost, right ?
Dive Ma'am : *shudders* Try ... not to mention the valley, Ensign Lifesaver.
Ring Man : And what are we supposed to look at, exactly ?
Pharaoh Man : Looks like Crazy Frog here binged on vodka and Crayola sticks an' threw up all over.
Toad Man : That's exactly what I thought. Are you in my mind ? ... Are we visiting MY MIND ?!!
Ring Man, Over-1, Pharaoh Man and Dive Ma'am : *look at each other and scream*
Toad Man : *focuses hard* ... Huh. False alarm, everyone.
Over-1: How can you tell ?
Toad Man : Tried to think of a pepperoni and battery-oil sundae, but it didn't appear. So it's not my mind.
Pharaoh Man : Ya know yer day is messed up when ya trust Flippy. Anyway. Big swirly thing around us. Where do we go ?
Over-1: In this matter, trust your instincts. Since you seem to repel these things, that might dispel whatever illusions they put on the path. Else, you get first go at them.
Pharaoh Man : Works fer me.
(And the travel took them through a place of madness. Landscapes built out of raw emotion, canyons shaped by betrayal, trees grown out of colours, castles with bricks made of cooked hubris ... And always, skittering at the edge of their perception, gibbering forgotten secrets, local denizens keeping track of their moves. Not creatures of flesh and blood, but beings of pure magic, yet significantly less powerful than their host-to-be.
After what seemed both a few minutes and untold eons, they reached a spire of cerulean glass. And waiting in front of it...)
Kachen : ... An unwanted foe.
Toad Man : AAAAAAA THE BIRD ATE THE NARRATOR ALL ALONG AAAAAAAAAA
Pharaoh Man : So. Izzat yer mess ?
Kachen : My handiwork, to be sure, but a mess ? I would not say so.
Pharaoh Man : Fix. It. NOW.
Kachen : Ah-ah-ah, my dear guests. One of the few rules respected in this place is hospitality. And seeing your throats parched ... leaving you without refreshments ... I'd be the laughingstock of that place !
Pharaoh Man : It's what I'll do with that staff o'yours that'll make ya a laughingstock.
Kachen : Come inside, and make yourselves comfortable. I guess it'll be Vodka for one, and tea for the three others ?
Over-1: You forgot someone.
Kachen : You mean ... that loathsome batracian ... will enter my abode ?! NEVER !!
Dive Ma'am : Hold it right there ! As Grand Admiral of the Neo-Russian Navy, I would have to make a report on you breaking your own rules ! We can't have that laxity of discipline around here, right, people ? Right ?
Ring Man : *chuckles* Ready for an encore of that Game of yours ?
Kachen : He will enter. I do not have to do more for hospitality.
(Time to have a proper narrator... Though, I don't think the Comrades should accept any gift from that daemon.)
Over-1: *staring at his cup of tea* We won't touch that, you know.
Kachen : Oh, I expected it. You little paranoid things always believe everything is out to kill you on purpose. As if you were this significant. *sips from his own cup*
Ring Man : And what are you drinking ?
Kachen : Oh, merely distilled Mana. This particular blend can turn a man ravingly insane -and inside out, might I add- by getting splashed with a mere drop. Do you want to try ? *moves his cup towards John*
Ring Man : I'm good !
Kachen : You don't know what you're missing.
Pharaoh Man : And what yer missin' is my fist between yer eyes. So, fess up !
Kachen : What, that I turned your life upside down this morning ? You reached that conclusion without my aid, I gathered.
Dive Ma'am : What we want to know is how and why, you ... you rogue element !
Kachen : For the how, it was very simple : I picked your mind and switched it with another version of yours, Geoffrey.
Over-1: Wait. A switch of minds between universes ? How come my sensors didn't pick that up ? The energy deployed-
Kachen : -was incredible, I can assure you. But when you put your mind into it, even such things can go undetected. And believe me, I have a strong mind.
Ring Man : Wait. How come Flippy knew that Geoff was Dive Man ? He's from our reality, right ?
Kachen : That ... thing may have hitched a ride, so to speak. Ever a thorn in my side. So full of entropy and filth...
Toad Man : *eats Over-1's cup* Tea-licious ! *makes a grab at Kachen's robe to wash his face*
Kachen : *whacks Flippy away* Begone !
Pharaoh Man : Yeah, yer a big-ass wizard. Yippee. So, why ? Nothin' on TV ?
Kachen : I partly wanted to test you. See how you'd resist to being flicked in a strange yet familiar world. Watch how much I'd have to push before you fell.
Pharaoh Man : (Went close, too, had it not been fer th' batracian ... Ugh.) And so, that's it ? Gotta tap my heels and say "there's no body like Dive's" ?
Kachen : On this subject, I have an offer. Why would you merely be Dive Man when you can be more ?
(The Lord of Change waved his hand into the air, summoning a multifaceted screen. On it, several versions of Geoff appeared, with bodies known and unknown.)
Kachen : A submarine ? I could make you harness the powers of electricity, master the arts of explosives, raze battlefields or control plant life ! You could be a master executioner or an electric powerhouse, in a body with technology decades ahead of now !
Pharaoh Man : ...
Kachen : If you even want that, I could make you a Captain, or a General. I think these terms hold special meaning in your world, don't they ?
Pharaoh Man : And ... the kicker ?
Dive Ma'am : Geoff, no !
Kachen : A price to pay ? There is none ! Everything will be as if it was always so. Just like this morning. All I need ... *extends his claw* ... is a handshake.
Pharaoh Man : ...
Over-1: And what happens to the other side ? The Geoff you switched him with ?
Kachen : He will fit. I will make him fit, and his colleagues will not mind. After all, he will always have been the Geoffrey they knew.
Pharaoh Man : Yeah, I'll take that offer.
Over-1, Ring Man and Dive Ma'am : WHAT ?!!
Toad Man : *snores*
Pharaoh Man : *grabs Kachen's claw*
Kachen : I knew you would see reason. What is your dream ?
Pharaoh Man : My dream ?
(Suddenly, he pulls, and punches the unbalanced daemon right in the throat.)
Pharaoh Man : *beats the ah-hah, hell, out of Kachen* Turn. Me. Back. To. Dive. MAN !!
Kachen : I can give you empires ! I can give you power !
Pharaoh Man : Yeah ? What I want is my reg'lar life ! *kicks* A true life, with people I know and care about ! Ya had no right ta take it from me !
Over-1: You have a deal, Kachen. Fulfill it, and we'll let you go. After Geoff gets his anger out of his system.
Kachen : *teleports away* Pfah. I see I offer gifts to the unworthy. Try to deal with yourselves... *disappears*
(Reality, for lack of a better world, rotates, revealing our group has gotten extra members...)
Ring Man & Ring Man : Whoa.
Over-1 & Over-1 : Seems like the other Geoff had the same idea.
Dive Ma'am : By the beard of Lenin !
Pharaoh Woman : By the scepter of Thoth !
Toad Man & Toad Man : Oooooh. *poke each other*
Pharaoh Man & Dive Man : *look at each other, confused*
Pharaoh Man : Damn. Didn't notice I looked that big ta others.
Dive Man : And didn't really see how th' old headdress impressed people.
Ring Man-A : Hold on a moment. How did you arrive here ?
Ring Man-B : Same way you did, I guess. Crossed through a magic portal -
Ring Man & Ring Man : - travelled a land full of craziness, and had tea with Kachen.
Over-1-B : Perfect synchronicity. Did he try to offer Geoff a deal too ? The whole "live in the universe you want" bit ?
Over-1-A : Exactly. Hmm. Parallel universe superposition. Never knew I'd live to see that.
Pharaoh Woman : But how does it fit in the plan of Sammun-Mak, god of contrived coincidences ? If that's an actual god. I mean, it is.
Pharaoh Man : Calm yerself, Stink-Lady. ... Wow. I missed that.
Dive Man : Didn't have fun with th' Seaweed Collector ?
Pharaoh Man : Hard ta be snipin' when yer freaked outta yer mind, pal. Boa Boys, any ideas ?
Over-1-A : Mind-transfer machines ? I don't think I have that on hand.
Over-1-B : You sure ? Look through sub-locker 13Z. I think we might get something interesting if we combine it with a trinary computer.
Over-1-A : Hey, that might work. Good idea, me.
Dive Ma'am : Surely, the skill of a fleet is quadrupled when its members are squared. ... Take note, Ensigns Lifesaver ! We shall write a motion to alter the shape of the crew's bed-bunks !
Ring Man & Ring Man : Not it.
Toad Man & Toad Man : *ransack Kachen's pantry*
(And after a few minutes of work...)
Over-1-A : *hooks up wires on Pharaoh Man's head* There.
Dive Man : Explain how that thing works, again ?
Over-1-B : *points at a monitor* Trinary computer. Works on a superior level. The set of wires ? It's partially magic-infused.
Over-1-A : When I say go, you focus as hard as you can on being in your actual body, and that should do it. Praying might help.
Ring Man-B : And if it fails ?
Over-1 & Over-1 : *prepare their weapons* R&D testing time.
Ring Man-A : Me ? Remember not to cross them.
Ring Man-B : That day has been extremely confusing.
Over-1-A : Ready ? Go ! *presses a key on the laptop*
(Arcane energies light up the room, and ephemeral streams seem to travel from one hard-drinking Cossacker to another. Until...)
Dive Man : *wakes up, feels his face* A mouth ! I have a mouth ! *looks through the room, spots a mirror* YEEESSS !!! Dive Man's back in town, baby !
Pharaoh Man : Good end ta a good day. So, gonna part ways now ?
Dive Man : Looks like it. So, gonna mention this to th' Drill-Boss ?
Over-1-A : And let him know there's a universe out there where's he's basically the same ?
Ring Man-B : I thought we had a "don't fuel the paranoia fire" policy.
Dive Man : Point. Anyway. Slime-Bag ?
Toad Man & Toad Man : Huh ?
Dive Man : Th' one who recognized me.
Toad Man-B : Comin' !
Over-1-A : Are you sure about this, Geoff ?
Dive Man : He thinks he's th' right man. Not gonna break his dreams.
Dive Ma'am : And thus, we have to depart ! *salutes twice, with both hands* Keep your crew steady !
Pharaoh Woman : And may Horus guide you through your hurdles ! *tries a handsign, knots her fingers instead*
Over-1-A : And back to home we go.
Ring Man-A : You know what ? We'll hit a bar. First round's on me.
Over-1-A, Dive Man, Pharaoh Woman, Toad Man-B : Yeah !
(And the morning after, in ... what seems to be another place...)
? : Ugghh ... Shouldn't've mixed up everything with Maverick Brew last night...
(I think we've already seen something like this. Can't say for sure, someone bird-like stole my narrating seat.)
? : *stands up* Head feels like a goddamn cement mixer ...
(But if we're still with the Cossacks, I'll eat my hat.)
? : C'm'on, Geoff. Time to light up the world. *looks in his mirror* Bwhuh ?
(Since when was Geoff a primate ? Literally, I mean.)
(Spark Mandrill : AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-Hey, wait.
Flame Mammoth : *walks in* What's the matter, man ?
Spark Mandrill : Oh, AM. I don't know. I had this weird dream ... remember those old 20XX movies ? Well, I was Dive Man, only, I was in Pharaoh Man's body, and I was the only one to notice it.
Flame Mammoth : *sighs* Geoff, what did I say about Maverick Brew ?
Spark Mandrill : "Ten gallon should be a hat size, not a drink size". I know. But it seemed so real... Like ... like memories.
Flame Mammoth : Huh. I get that sometimes. Anyway, wanna help me wake up Cyros ? That shell of his always needs a good shock to start.
Spark Mandrill : *grins* You know the way to my heart.
Flame Mammoth : And then, we'll go and wake up the others. Apparently, that neurotic lizard has scavenged something unusual...
Spark Mandrill : If it's a hangover cure, I'm number one on the customer list.
(Will we see these people again ? I don't think so. 21XX is a long time away. But I have some questions...)
Kachen : To me, I'd wager.
(Yes. So, we know why you tested Geoff, but how did you handle having twice the same conversation simultaneously, and in the same spot ?)
Kachen : Please. I've handled millenia-lasting plots that depended on details like the way a grain of sand fell. I can surely handle existing more than twice at the same time.
(More than twice ? Did we miss something ?)
Kachen : Nothing that you would be able to handle.
(And on that cryptic note, we end our tale. See you next time, same site, for more Cossack stories ! Where, hopefully, everyone's in his correct body/universe.)
AM as Drill Man Sean as Dust Man Geoff as Dive Man
Jet as Bright Babe Hunter as Skull Man
John as Ring Man Avi as Pharaoh Woman Flippy as Toad Man