Temple of Kraden News:
"And so Lucina, who, if you'll recall, was still on edge and hadn't slept in probably three days by that point, hears the guy talking about the cart and she just goes over to it and begins chopping it to kindling. Well, we finally figure out why -- she thinks he said that the Cart was one of the Risen. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that sleep deprivation takes the sense out of even the sharpest minds." Kyrax had begun laughing again, right about when I mentioned Lucina chopping the cart up. I don't think he got that it wasn't a joke, but rather an unusual story meant more to cast light on why we should be worried that Grusja wasn't sleeping than to amuse.
"So what you're saying is, be even more careful than usual around her," said Susie, ever the sharp one. I nodded.
"And speaking of Pharaoh," said Elysia, nodding to the door. Grusja was dragging something behind her. Something headless and wearing a fine suit.
"I told you to keep the headless abomination with you. I found it trying to distract our driver. Keep an eye on it of I'll make you sleep with it!" She turned around and stormed out.
"Rrrrrrr!" Agnew mimed something that I couldn't figure out. Fortunately, Elysia could.
"He says he was trying to get her to sleep. He's probably as worried as you are, Graeme."
"Rr!" Agnew gave a thumbs-up in agreement. He growled some more and made more motions. Elysia tilted her head sideways.
"What's an 'Ambien' and why do we need to give her a cocktail with one dissolved in it?"
The Ship's Bar
"Never be appointed security, Jorlen. It'll ruin your life. I'm so tired I'm practically falling asleep in the middle of the room. So... you got anything for me?" Grusja looked like she'd spent four days awake, and she smelled a bit like it as well.
"No, nothing yet," replied Jorlen. "We're almost there, though. I don't think you need to be providing quite so much security."
"For the team, maybe not. But what about for the band?" Jorlen arched an eyebrow. "Susie got some of the fighters together, they're a band for now, she's on lead guitar and lead vocals, then there's Link on drums and that angel on bass and I think she roped Elysia into being Other Guitar. And she wants to perform. On the train. For everyone." Grusja's head hit the table. "If it weren't such a good idea, I'd have vetoed it immediately. Instead I've been... training mooks. Filling out requisition forms. keeping an eye on Grim. It's all just so much, I've run myself ragged."
"You know," said Jorlen, "I could take care of the paperwork and the band security, so long as they don't need much more training."
"Don't worry, they turned out to be almost pre-trained. And if you're willing to do this..." The mumble faded before being replaced by a massive snore. Jorlen laughed, pulling her off her stool before dragging her to her room and carefully lifting her into bed. Jorlen shut off the light and closed the door.
"Sleep tight, Boss," he said, turning his attention to the fighters peering at him from the other end of the hallway. He raised a hand in a thumbs up, and whoever it was (it looked like Susie) seemed to sigh in relief before ducking back, probably to tell the others.
"Is she still asleep?" asked Guardian Graeme. "I mean, we're almost there. She should probably be awake for our arrival."
"She's not asleep," replied Grusja from the doorway. She was dressed in clothes that had obviously been thrown on at the last minute: a Grim Riffer tour T-shirt and a pair of pajama bottoms. "Ladies. Gentlemen. Agnew. I'm feeling much better now. Someone mind getting me a cup of coffee?"
TIC Enterprise, Serial Number VM-19091
Sergeant Garth was the first one to press the intercom button. "Sir, there's a... creature... on deck five."
Captain Samson, the captain of the Enterprise, sighed. "I don't need to be hearing this, Sergeant. Has the diplomatic ship arrived?"
"Yes, sir, and the creature is near it." Samson sighed.
"Well, it's about eight feet tall, green and scaly, somewhat reptilian in the mouth. Bipedal, but it's got claws on its hands and feet. And... um... sir..." Captain Samson was dreading the next words, but he kept his tone even.
"It's wearing a Federation uniform."
Samson managed to keep his cool for the whole of the next phrase. "Sergeant, that's the diplomat. Bring him to the negotiation room." After turning off the comm circuit, Captain Samson stood up and punched the control panel "...What in the hell is the Federation doing sending a Kylathian as a diplomat?! WHO IN THE HELL DO THEY THINK THEY'RE DEALING WITH?!"
The Kylathian was bigger than the Sergeant had said. Nine feet tall, built like a brick outhouse, and carrying a goddamn hand cannon on his hip, I could see the barrel of an anti-particle cannon, one of those models with more recoil than any gun from the projectile era ever had. I didn't see evidence of a tripod, either, which meant there was only one Kylathian this could've been. "...Kyrax Kressev, I presume?" The Kylathian nodded. "...This way. Ambassador Ford will speak with you shortly."
I led him into the room where Ambassador Ford would be joining him, then waited for the Ambassador. Fortunately, it wasn't a long wait. "Mr. Ambassador, the Federation has sent Kyrax Kressev to be their diplomat." Ambassador Ford never dropped his serious expression.
"Very well. You may leave us. Mr. Kressev may be many things, but the one thing he is not is one to break protocol." Captain Samson nodded, leaving for the moment.
"And so then he falls off the horse!" I laughed loudly. Millard Ford was probably one of the most hilarious diplomats in all of humanity. "Ah... anyway. What can we do?"
"Millard, all I'm really here is telling you that we'd really appreciate it if you'd sign the treaty. You know the one, the arms regulation treaty where we outlined the shared stockpiles of Fifth-Isle elements and limited their use to electricity production and ship fuel only?"
"Senate's scheduled to take that one up. I think we can expect it to get ratified, unless the Galactic Readiness Party manages to build enough support."
"And then the Emperor will sign it into law?"
"Yes. The Emperor will sign it into law, and then we'll join you in dismantling our Fifth-Isle weapons. The Alliance on board yet?"
"The Alliance won't join until the Confederacy joins. The Union, on the other hand, has already joined us."
"Good, good. Well, better than nothing, at least." It was at that moment that the communicator in the room went off.
"Ambassador Ford, there's someone transmitting. They'd like to talk to Mr. Kressev on a secure line. I figured we ought to let you know."
"All right. Kyrax, are we done here?"
"Should be, Willard. I'll talk to you later."
The secure line in the Federation vessel was probably being listened to by the Imperials, not that I really gave a damn. "Kyrax Kressev. Who's calling?"
"This is Mr. Seonsil calling about your application. You're in. I've got a teleport set up." Without warning, a portal appeared in midair that led to a room with what looked like a dusty old human corpse that had begun to move again sitting in a chair. The corpse's lips moved as the voice of Mr. Seonsil said, "Any time you're ready." Turning off the communicator and turning the autopilot to send the shuttlecraft to the nearest Federation Base, I stepped through the portal into an office of sorts. "Ah, good! Kyrax Kressev, welcome to the Grim Patrol... and welcome to the Rumble."
The Following Takes Place On The Starflight Express Between The Hours Of 10 And 11 AM
"...just saying. Your little 'stunt' back there nearly made it so I don't have a healer. You're lucky this kid is capable. But... uh... what the hell is that thing on his hip?" Grim and Grusja were sitting in the fourth carriage discussing things.
"Pistol. Firearms are fairly early on in development in his world, he's one of the ones who's pioneering their use in war."
"So you grabbed an active duty soldier?"
"Kind of. It's not like the war is going to be won anytime soon. From what I was able to glean, it began as a border dispute that one demon lord bet another he could turn into a war that would kill off the entire planet. So far it's looking like the one who made the bet is the closer one to winning." Grusja shrugged uncomfortably. "There's not much information on that for rather obvious reasons. Plus nobody really cares anymore. War's become the new normal for them."
Lich Grim laughed. "Well then! This ought to be a good break for him! Tell me... have you informed him yet of the rules of the tournament?"
"He already knows the most important one."
"Oh? And what might that be?"
"Don't do anything so stupid it almost kills the tournament organizer."
"THAT WAS ONE TIME!"
Jorlen was surprised to learn that the blue-haired girl was around his age. Susie, he thought she was called. "So you're 18?"
"Yeah." She looked him over. "You look a hell of a lot older than sixteen. And that war mask at your side --"
"Gas mask," interrupted Jorlen. "You need them, fighting on the battlefields where I've fought. Alchemical warfare is a truly nasty thing... only disease warfare is worse in my experience. Alchemists you can shoot. Trench fever you can't, unless you like dead bodies that spread trench fever." He sighed, and Susie put a hand on his shoulder. "I just... I have a feeling my world is my dad's pet project, and it just makes me so angry to see so many lives wasted."
"Why? Who's your dad?"
"At'ab. God of War and Disease. He has his worshipers, but I'm not one of them. I just... How do you worship someone whose entire goal is to spread disease and death as far as he possibly can?" Susie frowned.
"I wouldn't know. I grew up hero-worshiping my dad and sort-of-worshiping his goddess, the Muse. But even she has a destructive side."
"A destructive side isn't the same as being entirely destructive." Jorlen carefully took Susie's hand off his shoulder. "Anyway, at least I'll be able to do some good for someone being a healer here."
"They told me it'd be a ship called the 'Starflight Express', a big golden train. I told them don't be late, they said OK. They said 10:30. It's 10:31. Where are they?"
"Look behind you, Mr. Conrad." A person somehow older than the Professor stepped off the ship. "now I want this to be kept under wraps. No telling anyone else where he's gone or what he's doing. If anyone asks, it's... I don't know, a retreat or a space massage or something."
"Nobody's going to buy that."
"I know. I know, I know, I know, just... Here. Wire transfer papers for a three billion dollar transfer to Planet Express corporation. Signed by me. Now load the body on to the train before anyone gets suspicious."
"Why is there a corpse without a head making a mess in the kitchen?"
"That's Agnew. He's one of our fighters this round."
She was darker-skinned than I thought she'd be. I know it's odd that that was my first thought, but it was. "So... you hunt monsters?"
"Yeah," she said. "They get a bit large. I've fought some that are as big as I am. Bigger, in fact. Biggest one I've killed solo is a Royal Ludroth, almost fifteen and a half meters long." My eyes widened, and she laughed. "Yeah, that was... certainly tough to take down. But when you need materials for new weapons, well..." She looked at the plate in front of her. "So... what is this?"
"Grusja calls it 'drunken noodles', says she learned about it at the last Rumble. Apparently it's from a place called 'Tie Land', wherever that is." I took a bite, and almost instantly regretted it, as the heat burned almost through my tongue. Alexa, on the other hand, seemed to wolf it down like it was no big deal.
"Nice flavor," she said, wiping her lips on her sleeve. "Bit of heat, too, which is nice." She looked at my plate. "...A bit hot for you?"
"So I'm used to Vaultic cuisine, so sue me." She grabbed the plate and practically inhaled the portion Grusja had made for me. "I'm going to find Link, I hear Hylian food is more in line with my palate." Alexa laughed as I stood up and walked away.
It was about an hour later when I saw Susie again. "And?" Her face was once again twisted in disgust, although this time some of the red had gone out of it.
"Apparently Hyrule loves to cook things in pure salt." I laughed again.
"Here. Let's get Stella to let us off near Moga Village. I know someone there who'll be able to give you a purr-fect meal."
"Ah... no. Your job is to fix everyone up. Healing and such. Unless you'd prefer to fight?"
"It'd be better than sitting here doing nothing."
"You only do nothing after total victories and bye rounds. Please, say you'll do it."
"Hmm... no, I think I would prefer to be a healer in my current position. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Tsar to influence." And that was the first applicant. Well, on to the next one.
"I'm going to have to decline. If I don't know what the impurity is, I doubt you do."
"No, I'm sorry." And that was request number five shot down.
"The problem with that is he's not an actual doctor, they just call him that."
"...oh for [radio edit]'s sake." Off the list went number nineteen.
"I don't care if you did a successful nose transplant, you're not coming back to this team!" He wasn't even on the list this time, why was he bothering me?!
"Nope. Veterinarian." Off the list went number thirty-six.
"OK, what the hell kind of doctor dresses like that?"
"I do cocaine."
"...get out." Number seventy-four was also out.
"All right. I'm going to be honest with you. I know you've traveled through time. I know you've been working with tools you consider downright primitive. What I'm wondering is, are you at all interested in working in... where are you going?" I sighed. Off the list went one hundred thirty-eight.
"Miss First Lady, I'd like to offer you an opportunity to do some highly paid work on an outside endeavor. ...No, I can't bring your husband or children along. Look, I don't care if he's good in a fight, the Rumble is not going to play host to a President of the United States simply because that's the one condition his wife has to being the doctor for my team! Well then you can just [radio edit] off!" I angrily crossed off number three hundred seventy-seven.
"...You've got to be kidding. Who the hell compiled this list?" I looked at the names underneath. "No, no, no, and dear gods no. Why is it that in a list of five hundred doctors, the only one who is anywhere near..." I paused. "...Call Grusja in here."
"How's the search for a medic going?"
"Not good. Zhivago, Feelgood, and Love are all out, just like every other person on this godforsaken list. Tell me, do you know any doctors, Gurjuk?"
"Susie can heal people up, if you need that."
"Susie is one of the goddamn fighters. Someone ELSE."
"You could always call back --"
"I would rather have my phylactery chewed up by a rabid goat than hire Zoidberg again. Any more suggestions?"
"I am not hiring any good-aligned deities. Next question."
"Would a medical examiner do the trick?"
"I already have to suffer through what Ms. Talbot puts me through. I'm not adding polka to that."
"What about this one? Angel, kind of a moron, believes in peace and love and thinks there's good in everyone..."
"You lost me at angel. No. Next."
"Princess. Hot-headed. Already experienced with time travel, the only thing is she has an aversion to frogs and a tendency to want to fight."
"She'd insist on bringing her boyfriend, and I'm not having two goddamn mutes on this team. Next."
"There's this one. Worked for a man named Ahab."
"No, he's too busy being dead."
"This one? She may not be a doctor, but she does genetic engineering."
"Look, kid, I may be evil, but even I have standards. We are not bringing that somehow-still-alive probably-180-plus bitch anywhere near this team. Or anywhere near my hoard, for that matter."
"We're running out of options here. Swallow your pride and bring back Zoidberg, maybe?"
"You see this?" I raised my right hand. "Somehow he managed to infect this hand with Zyborian Mud Fever last time he was here. I am immune to diseases. We are not bringing back that walking medical disaster. End of story."
"Well... you're out of pretty much anyone else."
"...no, I'm not."
"Who, exactly, is left?"
"You realize that's not an actual doctor, right?"
I sighed, and my head hit the table. "Just... find someone, OK?" I held up a finger as she turned to leave. "Someone who isn't Zoidberg."
"Look at this list. I don't think there's a single doctor in the multiverse who isn't on it." I handed the datapad to the Tactician; he was a surprisingly quick study of technology.
"Hmm. Wow... he even contacted Brady?"
"I was passing by the office when he made that call. I don't think I've ever actually heard him put the other end of a shouting match on speakerphone before."
"So what now?" I sighed as I sat down on one of the benches in the second compartment.
"Now, I have to pull a miracle out of my ass."
"Why not just find an apprentice healer somewhere?" I laughed a little at his suggestion.
"Yes, random healer number fifty-seven from Vega Alpha Nineteen, that'd be wonderful." I sighed. "I'm sorry, Graeme. I'm just feeling the stress of working for this... asshole."
"It's OK. I understand." I smiled slightly as he put his hand on mine. "Maybe... maybe you play this one by ear. I mean, why don't you find someone who you can work with? An... apprentice of your own, of sorts. Someone who you can take in and train."
I frowned, looking over the paper. "I suppose that could work... hmm... it definitely works out on paper... let's see... yes... yes, I definitely could do that. And it works quite well! Thanks, Graeme. I'll go looking for an apprentice right away." I smirked as I headed off. This could work out really, really well.
"...You're kidding, right?"
"I don't kid around with this sort of thing." The young man standing next to her nodded. "This human is now my... apprentice, of sorts. You'd probably call him my minion or cohort or whatever. But Jorlen is a capable healer. I know he looks like a fighter, but he's a healer, so cool it."
I glanced at the boy, noting something familiar about his face. "You. Jorlen, was it? Who's your father?"
Without hesitation, he replied, "At'ab." I grimaced.
"At'ab. You mean to tell me you're the son of a god so celibate even the god of celibacy gets more action than him." I looked him up and down. "If you didn't look so much like him, I'd say you were lying. So OK, you're At'ab's son. What the [radio edit] are you doing working for someone like her when you could be out... I dunno... becoming a god yourself or something?"
"Because she's got experience in dealing with these sorts of things. I don't." I grimaced again; it was technically true. "Besides, working for a lich ought to be a real eye-opener. Especially one who's trying to usurp godhood."
"Not usurp, earn. There's a big difference, junior. Learn it." I turned to Grusja. "Fine. The runt can stay. But no calling his father, you got that?"
"God. This is going to be so confusing," muttered the lich, rubbing his temples. "So... you're Graeme, and he's Graeme. Thank god there are no more [radio edit]ing Graemes." He pointed at me and the Guardian. "You two are not allowed to use your names when you write me notes. Titles only." He turned around and stormed out of the car. I looked at the angel who happened to share my name.
"Is he always this insufferable?" Graeme laughed.
"You caught him on a good day. Seriously, I've met stuck-up assholes before, but this guy makes Hootingham-Gore look downright pleasant." I must have arched an eyebrow at this, because he said, "Evil wizard, owl head, brought back to life by a torture-maddened Celestrian who wanted revenge on all mortals. The most inflated sense of self-worth ever. I mean, yes, he was fairly powerful, but..."
It was at this moment that a blue-haired girl who reminded me of Lucina walked into the room. "Hey, Graeme! Who's this?"
"Oh, hi, Suze. Graeme, this is Susie. Susie, this is... well... Graeme."
"...OK, from now on, you're G," she said, walking up to me and extending a hand. I took it and shook warmly. "So I'm guessing you're one of those strategists who fights alongside their soldiers?" I nodded. "Excellent. My Dad's one of those kings who spends time with the people. He practically turned my sixteenth birthday into a kingdom-wide party. I think they had to close off half the palace for five days afterwards just for cleanup." I chuckled.
"That sounds like quite the party," I said. Susie grinned. "Well, I should find my room... get settled. I'll see you later, then?" The other two nodded and I went off to find my cabin. Outside, there was a heavily-muscled green-skinned woman.
"Well, Tactician, here's your room. If you need anything, there's a communicator on the desk you can use to relay the request. Oh, and please, for the sake of socializing, don't stay in there all tournament long."
"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow."
"Man, this is a good movie," said Susie, leaning back on the couch. "Nice to see that Grim at least has a little taste in entertainment. So what are things like where you come from?"
"Not too bad," replied Elysia. "I mean, yes, there's slavery, and there's kings and queens looking to oppress their people, and most places don't really tolerate 'alternate religious beliefs', or 'heresies' as they like to call them... Well, except for the harmless ones like the cults of the Fallen Gods." She leaned forward. "Oh, man. Egg-man is going to mess that city up, isn't he?"
"How should I know? All I know is, Edwards is going to take the job. Narrative causality and all that." The two of them continued watching. After a while, Elysia piped up.
"Oh, wow. Are these actual aliens or is that just good makeup?"
"Good makeup, probably. I don't think this thing was made on a world with actual aliens, or they wouldn't be displaying alien species like this."
"Yeah, you're probably - OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT BALL DOING?!"
"Holy shit! Guess he shouldn't have touched it!"
Grusja walked in. After taking a glance at the screen, she chuckled. "I remember asking J about this incident. He says it wasn't exactly as portrayed." She grinned, showing off sharp fangs. "It was actually worse."
"Yeah, I've been having fun annoying him, but it's not like I can only do that. Trip'd get boring, otherwise." I put down the eight of coins.
"He does seem like a fun one to annoy," replied Elysia. "But what else is there to do on the train? I mean, it must get awfully boring just sailing between dimensions."
"Boring is one word for it," I replied as Graeme, after some careful consideration, put down the ten of blades. "Also, it looks like I'm going to win this trick."
Link had a different idea, apparently. Down came the lord of coins. He hadn't said anything the whole time, and now he just smirked at me. I sighed. "Well," said Graeme, "I suppose you can't be right about everything."
Out came the seven of blades. Elysia took a look at the card and almost immediately laid down the crown of chalices. "Ladies and gentlemen, hearts have now been broken. Er... well... cups or whatever."
"I dunno, I bet one of us has had his or her heart broken over the years," I replied.
"I mean in the game, smartass." Elysia stuck her tongue out at me; it was kind of weird, seeing a prehensile violet forked tongue come out of the mouth of someone who looked at least somewhat human. "Anyway, I bet you've broken some hearts as well. You have to let Link down yet? I hear he's in to princesses..." Link began to turn red.
"Nah, not just any princess. He's got a girl back home, even if he doesn't want to admit it. But I guess getting a kiss from your girlfriend after you save the world is a pretty good reward." I grinned as Link turned even redder.
"Aw, c'mon, leave the poor guy alone," said Graeme. "It's not his fault he can barely stand next to her without turning the color of a tomato." The three of us who weren't Link began laughing.
"Hey!" That stopped us, more out of shock than anything else. I mean, yes, we knew Link could speak, but it was so rare an occasion that we'd have better luck trying to win at roulette. "Keep playing. Susie?" I nodded, putting down the lord of chalices (I hadn't been dealt a single coin card. Lucky me).
"Anyway, I'm still looking for someone back home, so I guess I'm kinda jealous," I said. "It's not like there are that many princes or princesses. I'm practically the only one, apart from the theoretical kids of clan leaders."
"Theoretical?" asked Graeme.
"Well, they'd be like princes or princesses, if they freaking existed. But most clan leaders are apparently more celibate than lich-pants over there." I rolled my eyes. "Honestly... sometimes it's hard being the only princess in the world."
"Wait. No kingdoms?" asked Elysia.
"Dad's is the first. Founded fourteen years ago in the middle of a war."
"Nope. All the other government is clan-based, and most of the clans are run by assholes." A new trick had begun; I put down the six of bells.
"They're not assholes," came a reply from the door. "They're government officials who have been trying to do a job thrust upon them by a semidivine force. Running a country is hard work, even for a bloodthirsty tyrant." Everyone but Link turned to see the Lich standing at the door. "True, they might not all be exactly the most sympathetic, but... they're trying to do their jobs. And said jobs are fighting wars and choosing successors, not producing progeny like they're going out of style. In fact, the latter would probably only lead to a tangled mess of alliances. Horribly tangled." He walked over. "...Chalices, eh? First hand or second?"
"Fifth round, sixth trick," replied Elysia, putting down the two of chalices. "Why, did you want in?"
"No, just curious. Chalices isn't really my kind of game." He walked on by the table, glancing at Graeme's hand as he did so. "Ha! Good luck, kid." We rolled our eyes as he walked on by and out the other door. I put down the four of chalices.
"...well, that was... something that happened."
Link is a natural on drums. Then again, his mastery of various other instruments shouldn't have made that quite so surprising. Still, we've got a drummer now, and the angel guy is a pretty good bassist. I grabbed my guitar and nodded to the other two. "All right... we're doing number four-two-seven next. Ready?" The other two nodded as I grabbed the mic. "ARE YOU READY, STARFLIGHT EXPRESS?!"
There was no reply except for a "GOD [radio edit]ING DAMMIT" from the next room over.
"ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!" And on cue, we began playing. We'd practiced for a little while; Graeme said that flying the Starflight through interdimensional gaps took a much longer time than just flying around a world.
"Rise! Throw away! The charade of your life! Let the flame of my heart! Burn away! Your complacence tonight! I command you to rise! Wash away! The decay of your life! Feel the light of your eyes! Find the way! Through the darkness tonight! Fearing no-one!"
Why, oh why, did I bring instruments on board? Oh, right, because the other me left them here.
Why, oh why, did I allow Susan Talbot to have access to those instruments? Oh, right, because they were locked up.
Why, oh why, did I give her permission to start a band? Oh, right, because I didn't think they'd practice in her goddamn room.
Why, oh why, was I so stupid? ...The jury is still out on that one.
"Now, I cannot stop this pure emotion falling from my eyes. You are vindicating, liberating, saviors of my soul..."
Oh, thank god, it was ending. Now so long as she didn't immediately go into another one...
"THANK YOU STARFLIGHT EXPRESS! OUR NEXT NUMBER IS ONE YOU ALL KNOW AND LOVE! LET'S HEAR IT FOR CALLING DR. LOVE!"
...[radio edit] my unlife.
Ms. Talbot is singing again. If it were good music, I wouldn't mind - her singing voice is impeccable - but no, she has to sing this shit. And she has to do it while I'm working on crafting the final roster.
"I'm gonna make it through, gonna make it through, divide by zero like the wrecking crew! Closing in on you, closing in on you, and no way out!"
I swear to all the various gods whose powers I am trying to usurp, there is nothing more aggravating than hearing Susan Talbot sing that goddamn song.
"Oh, take me higher, all the way to the sun! I will persevere! I will resist you here! I will interfere!"
Why she has the damn thing on auto-repeat is beyond me. That goddamn copy of me who gave me her recruitment fee has damaged my brain beyond reckoning. She wanted music that, quote, "rocked". Why did that alternate me have to give her this band? The... Descendants, or something.
"It's closing in on you, closing in on you! Run from the fire raining down on you! It's closing in on you, closing in on you, and no way out! I'm gonna make it through, gonna make it through, divide by zero like the wrecking crew! Closing in on you, closing in on you, and no way out!"
...oh, wait. My mistake. There's a worse one.
"Take me for a ride, I'm the one you pushed aside, but it's coming back to you, yeah it's coming back to you! Run to the sound, take it back and double down, 'cause it's coming back to you, yeah it's coming back to you!"
What was the name of that goddamn band? I'll have to remember so that I can make it a condition of my priesthood that if you like them, your right to be in a position of leadership in the church is null and void.
"And AH-AH-AH! Well we're pouring gasoline! So dance around the fire that we once believed in! AH-AH-AH! It will never be the same now! 'Cause there's nothing left for us to bleed! Given up, the champions of greed, so come around and have another round on me!"
The Spawn? No, that was the illustrated pamphlet he'd handed her.
"Dance, [radio edit]er, dance, let the mother[radio edit]er burn!"
The Kids? No, no, the Kids were on a block or something. Not that.
"Snake is in the grass while you're living in the past saying what you gonna do, yeah, what you gonna do? Earn, never learn, when you're cheering while it burns, yeah we're coming after you! Yeah we're coming after you, hey!"
The Issue? Doesn't quite sound right. I think that has more to do with the Spawn than the music.
"Slim Pickens, well he does the right thing and he rides the bomb to hell, yeah, he rides the bomb to hell! Watch the pulse, it quickens after every little sting! If you're gonna go to hell, drink it up, you might as well!"
The Family? No, wait, that's the Stone Family. Whose music has something to do with mouse elves.
"Are you really gonna take it like that? Riding on the missile with the cowboy hat?"
Progeny? No, those were the ones who had that song about striking their hounds (I still don't understand that one.)
"And AH-AH-AH, well, the world is gonna end! So dance around the fire that we once believed in! I-I-I wanna tear it down again, now! 'Cause there's nothing left for us to bleed! Given up, the sons of anarchy! So come around and have another round on me!"
The Generation? No, that was a song by that one band he wouldn't give me the name of... Yes Who or something.
"Dance, [radio edit]er, dance, let the mother[radio edit]er burn! Hey!"
Dammit, it's on the tip of my goddamn tongue. I know he mentioned their name. I know it had something to do with children...
"Are you really gonna take it like that? Riding on the missile with the baseball bat? And AH-AH-AH, well, we're pouring gasoline! So dance around the fire that we once believed in! AH-AH-AH, it will never be the same! The takers and the liars that we all believed in! AH-AH-AH, well, we're going down in flames, so dance around the fire! We dance around the fire!"
Children of Bodom? ...no, that doesn't sound right either...
"'Cause it's never left for us to be! Given up, the champions of greed! So come around and have another round on me! Hey! Hey! Dance, [radio edit]er, dance, let the mother[radio edit]er burn!"
Oh, gods. Here comes Stella... just let me remember the name of these insultingly horrid offspring of whatever horrible mothers they had so that I can leave...
"Hey, bonebag." My glare, unfortunately, does nothing.
"Stella. Tell me, how much longer before we reach the next fighter's domicile?" So that I can get off this goddamned train and out of the presence of you idiots.
"I figure Susie'll go through Ignition again, but I might lengthen it if she asks. She says Ixnay on the Hombre is her favorite Offspring album, I may as well make her feel comfortable. Plus this way I get to shove in more practice being... er... well, look at the time! I've gotta go make sure that Graeme's doing a good job driving the Starflight Express!"
"Mh." So too long. ...wait. What did she say the band name was? "Stella, hold a mo... ment..." ...and she's gone. Wonderful. Now it's going to drive me mad all [radio edit]ing day.
"I guess we're all just soldiers! But she was only six years old! Left to die by strangers, her family waits! And if we're all just soldiers, is it so wrong to be afraid? Jennifer lost the war!"
...oh, for [radio edit]'s sake. Does she have to put the entire goddamn thing on loop? And why, dear god why, do I have to have her room right next to my study? What happened to letting me have that isolated chamber? Goddamn Stella. Goddamn train. Goddamn band.