Categories > Anime/Manga > Excel Saga > Quack Experimental Fanfic Excel Fusion Z

Far more mystery than meets the ear

by Nidoking 0 reviews

The gang tries to solve a murder, if they can find one, and Damuramu cameos. Yakumo dies many times.

Category: Excel Saga - Rating: R - Genres: Crossover, Humor, Parody - Characters: Other - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2005-05-09 - Updated: 2005-05-10 - 15731 words

"Stop! Put me down! Let me go!" screamed Koshi Rikdo as two strong-armed goons dragged him down a long hallway. "I'll call the police! I'll draw unfavorable caricatures of you in my next manga!"
Wordlessly, the goons turned toward an open door and hurled Rikdo through it, where he landed flat on his face in the middle of a lush office. The shadowed figure sitting behind the oak desk leaned forward. "Welcome, Mr. Rikdo. I trust you know why I've brought you here?"
Rikdo leapt to his feet. "You... you're that guy! The one who bastardized my beloved story and tore it to shreds!"
"The feeling is mutual, I'm sure," said the figure.
"What do you want from me?" demanded Rikdo.
"It can't be hard to figure out," replied the figure. "I promised the fans a second episode, and they clamored for more. I can give them more... but I need something from you first."
Rikdo crossed his arms in a manner that mimicked the X tattooed on his forehead. "No way! I'm not giving you permission to write any more of that disaster! I'll let Watanabe have another go before I'd... what are you putting in your mouth?"
Nidoking leaned forward into the light, shoving the last of a wad of cotton into his cheeks. "Come on, Rikdo," he said in a belabored Italian accent. "We're all family here. I just need ya ta do me a favor."
"But there's no comedy left!" Rikdo protested. "You've already lost the shock value of replacing all of my characters!"
"Characters are cheap," replied Nidoking. "We got a million of 'em. Me and my boys, we can make anything happen. There's a lotta little characters out there that never had the chance to make it big. Now, I need you to help me help them."
Rikdo squinted. "You're trying to do a parody of a movie you've never seen, aren't you?"
"I've had enough of this guy," said Nidoking, leaning back into the shadow until only his hand was visible. The hand waved. "Rearrange his face."
"Wait, stop!" screamed Rikdo as a pair of meaty hands grabbed his shoulders. "I'll do it! I'll give you permission to write another chapter of...." He stared at the paper on the desk. "QEFEFZ? What's that?"
Nidoking spat out the cotton. "It's an abbreviation. You're not supposed to try to pronounce it. Although you didn't do too bad a job." He smiled. "And now for the official seal."
Rikdo reached for a pocket, but the goon behind him slammed his face onto a red inkpad on Nidoking's desk, then pressed his head onto the paper, leaving a perfect impression of the four kanji that spelled Rikdo's name.
Nidoking exhaled a puff of smoke. "Beautiful," he whispered. Then he broke down coughing. "Dammit! Why do I keep doing that?"


"Hail, Lord Clef!" shouted Mihoshi, saluting as smartly as she could without becoming a living oxymoron. "ACROSS Senior Officer Mihoshi reporting for duty as usual!"
Yakumo weakly waved. "Yo."
A small patch of floor exploded at Yakumo's feet, expelling a small saucepan which hit him in the forehead. "Hey, keep it down up there!" shouted a voice from the floor below as Yakumo collapsed in a pool of his own blood.
Clef shook his head sadly. "Mihoshi, as long as we're meeting in your apartment, you can't keep shouting like you did in the underground base. Our secrets will get out, and that would be very embarrassing for us." He curled his body up so that he could lick tenderly at his rear.
Mihoshi nodded. "Yes, I can see that we don't need any additional embarrassment in our current situation."
Clef glared at her. "That's not funny." He tapped his pointed nose on the floor, and the tile beneath Mihoshi's feet vanished. She fell into the resulting pit with a loud clatter of cookware.
"Sorry about that!"
"Hey, what are you doing in my kitchen?" demanded the downstairs resident. "And where'd that gaping hole in my ceiling come from? You're going to pay for the repairs!"
"I'm sure my employer can handle the expenses for work-related accidents," said Mihoshi. "Um, could you just stand right there for a second? I'm really sorry about this." She climbed onto the man's shoulders and hoisted herself through the hole. "Lord Clef, please try to respect the integrity of my apartment. With my current salary, I can't prosper."
Clef's eyebrow twitched. "Mihoshi... what have I told you about making puns that don't translate into English?"
Mihoshi scratched her head. "Um... 'puun?'"
Clef shook his head vigorously. "Puun! I mean, no! That's not right at all!" He slammed his face on the floor, and another tile ceased to exist.
"My living room!" came the voice from downstairs. "This is an invasion of my privacy!"
Yakumo groaned and sat up. "Lord Clef, do you think you could just give us our mission so we can get to someplace that's less expensive to destroy?"
"As I was about to say, there's no need for me to give you your mission ahead of time today," said Clef. "Since this body is significantly smaller and much less mineral than my own - for the moment - I can accompany you and give you orders in the field."
"Hooray!" cheered Mihoshi as she climbed back into the apartment. "Lord Clef is coming with us! I'll get the leather belt!"
Clef recoiled, rolling onto his back. "Puun?!"
"It's the law in F City," Mihoshi reminded him. "Pets have to be kept on a leash."
"But I'm not a pet!" protested Clef. "I'm just using Plue's body until we can find a way to turn me back to normal!"
"I'm afraid she's right," Yakumo put in. "Even a talking dog could get us fined if it's not on a leash."
"I'm not a dog!" barked Clef.
"What are you, exactly?" asked Mihoshi.
"I'm a... well, it's difficult to explain, really...." Clef sighed. "Fine. I'll wear the stupid leash."
"Yay!" Mihoshi cheered again. "I finally get to live out my wonderful bondage fantasy with Lord Clef! This is the happiest day of my liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife... sorry!" she apologized, pulling herself out of the downstairs furo.
In a secret room that lay behind a secret door with the word "SECRET" on the plate - which was what marked it as a secret room - six civil servants sat at their desks, waiting to hear from their employer. "Any idea what the chief's got for us today?" asked Nuriko.
Moroboshi shook his head. "I have a feeling we're not going to like it."
"That's not all you're feeling," said Rally, cocking her pistol threateningly. "Now remove your hand from my leg before I remove it from your wrist."
"Yes, Ma'am," Moroboshi said hastily, withdrawing his hand.
At that moment, the door opened, and Xellos swept grandly into the room, followed closely by Dr. Mori. "Greetings, all and sundry!" said Xellos jovially. "How are we all doing today?"
"Wai! We're all genki-sou!" cheered Nuku Nuku.
"That's nice, dear," Xellos said jovially, casually grabbing Nuku Nuku by the ears and pressing her face into the desk. "But let's dispense with the Japanese for a while, shall we? I've decided it's a waste of brainpower, and you're going to need all the intelligence you can come up with for today's assignment."
"What's intelligence?" asked Nuku Nuku. "It sounds yummy. Is it a fish?"
"That," Xellos announced jovially, "is a secret! But today's mission isn't, because it was suggested that there's a far greater chance of you successfully completing the mission if I tell you what it is."
"Thank me later," Faye Valentine called into the room over his shoulder as she walked past.
"Let me guess," said Rally. "It has something to do with kidnapping little girls and dragging them back here to be experimented on."
"Heavens no!" said Xellos jovially. "Whatever gave you that idea?"
"Oh, I don't know..." said Rally, pointing a thumb at Dr. Mori.
"Why would he make you think something like that?" asked Bloodberry. "The man created me and Nuku Nuku, after all."
"Yep!" agreed Nuku Nuku, beaming proudly. "He even gave me a chest cavity of my very own for storing things in, like milk!" She sat up and pulled up her shirt to show everyone. "See? Isn't it big?"
Moroboshi covered his eyes and turned away. "The horror!" he screamed.
Nuriko scowled. "Geez, even I have more chest than that!"
Dr. Mori patted Nuku Nuku's head. "That's my girl."
Bloodberry blinked. "Well, he still made ME relatively normal."
Xellos cleared his throat. "Dr. Mori is here to reveal the latest model in his six-cylinder series," he announced jovially. "It apparently corrects some of the bugs that were present in the earlier models."
"Bugs?" asked Bloodberry, patting herself down. "What bugs?"
"That... is a secret!"
"Actually, it's not even classified," Dr. Mori corrected him. "You see, the first model, Bloodberry, was built as the perfect example of an adult female. As such, her reaction to male advances is somewhat less than desirable."
Bloodberry pounded Moroboshi on the head as he reached for her breasts. "How so?" she asked.
"Geez," moaned Moroboshi. "I was just trying to compare for size."
"The Nuku Nuku model was built from my original blueprint, removing the modifications for 'decency', 'modesty', and 'conformance to child pornography regulations' that my superiors inserted without my permission," continued Dr. Mori. "That led to its own problems, of course."
Nuku Nuku nuzzled Dr. Mori's chest. "But you love me anyway, right?"
"Good girl," said Dr. Mori, pushing her away lightly. "Come to my office later for some adjustments."
"Yay!" cheered Nuku Nuku. "We get to play hide the snake again!"
Rally scowled. "For your sake, that had better be a rubber toy snake she's talking about."
"Yes, rubber," Dr. Mori agreed readily. "As you can see, neither of the preprogrammed personalities has met its specifications. That's why we created the third model with no personality, memory, or knowledge of any kind. We simply call her 'Chii'."
"Chii?" A head peered around the edge of the doorframe, trailing blonde hair all the way to the floor. The face was very young and sported a completely blank expression.
"Come on in and introduce yourself, Chii," said Dr. Mori, beckoning to her.
Chii slowly stepped into the room and stood up straight, looking at the strangers sitting around the desk one at a time. "Chii? Chii, chii, chii...."
"Is that all she can say?" asked Rally. "That's going to get annoying REALLY fast."
"She's a learning machine, of course," said Dr. Mori. "I've programmed her to mimic everything Moroboshi does and add it to her database."
"Moroboshi?" shouted Rally. "But why him? Moroboshi is a total pervert!"
"Aw, but I like Big Brother Ataru!" said Nuku Nuku, giving Moroboshi a big hug. "I wanna grow up to be just like him!"
"Hey, don't touch me there!" shouted Moroboshi, grappling at Nuku Nuku's chest in an effort to push her away.
"Chii, chii!" echoed Chii, grabbing Nuku Nuku in the same place.
Rally's face fell. "Never mind."
"Well, it looks like you're all getting along well," said Xellos jovially. "But there will be plenty of time to get acquainted later. For now, you have to undertake your mission."
[WHAT IS IT?] asked Genma.
"It's a secret!" Xellos announced jovially. "But you'll learn all about it at the police box at the corner."
"At the corner?" echoed Nuriko. "You can't mean...."
"No!" cried Rally. "Not HIM!"
"I'm afraid so," Xellos apologized jovially. "But I'm sure you'll do all right. After all, you have a new partner to assist you!"
"Chii?" Chii looked this way and that, searching for this 'new partner' while a forest of question marks popped into existence above her head one by one.
"Right," groaned Rally. "Some help."
"The first rule of detective work is to always know where your hat is!" lectured their instructor, the usual inhabitant of the police box at the corner. He waved the aforementioned fedora at them as he sat down on his stool, adjusting his trench coat so that it didn't wrinkle.
"Wouldn't it be easier to do that if you put it on your head, Detective Zenigata?" suggested Rally.
"Hmmm...." Zenigata scratched his chin. "You know, you may be on to something there." He placed the hat boldly atop his head. "Ah, yes, delightfully snug. Jolly good idea, eh what?"
Nuriko nudged Genma with his elbow. "Hey, is it just me, or is he talking funny?"
[YOU'RE ASKING ME?] replied Genma.
Zenigata smiled and pulled a curved pipe out of his pocket, sticking the narrow end between his teeth. "Now, as I was saying, the second rule of detective work is to eliminate the impossible. That means I should be getting rid of that giant panda man and the girl who seems to be cleaning herself in a place that the human tongue was never meant to reach. I'm afraid I shall have to request that you two logical impossibilities leave so that the remainder of our crew is simply very improbable."
Bloodberry hummed thoughtfully. "I've heard that somewhere before...."
"Just ignore his split personality so we can focus on getting our job done," advised Rally. "So, Detective, what's our mission today?"
"Patience, dear girl," said Zenigata. "Haste makes waste and all that, you know. There will be plenty of time for particulars later."
[SHE'S NOT EVEN ASKING FOR DETAILS...] Genma pointed out.
"Oh, sorry, old chap," apologized Zenigata, taking his hat off to scratch his head. "Well? What are you all staring at me like that for?" he demanded in a much firmer tone. "We've got a murder to investigate!"
"Isn't that better left to the police?" asked Rally. "We're civil servants."
"Screw the police!" shouted Zenigata. "The police can't even capture one lousy internationally-wanted thief! How do you expect them to deal with a real live killer?"
"Well, at least he's back to his old self," said Moroboshi.
"I'm not sure which is worse," said Nuriko.
"So, tell us about this case," requested Rally, ignoring the off-topic conversation.
Zenigata nodded and pulled a cord, unrolling the screen on the wall. "Here's what we know so far," he announced, flipping the switch that turned the lights off.
There was a long silence.
"Well, aren't you going to turn on the projector?" asked Rally.
"I don't have a projector," replied Zenigata. "This is just an ordinary police box. But that doesn't matter, because I don't have anything to tell you anyway." He turned the lights back on and rolled up the screen. "Our information network is running a little slow today, so we don't really know anything."
"Can you at least tell us who was murdered?" asked Bloodberry.
Zenigata flipped the hat onto his head. "Statistically speaking, someone is murdered every ten minutes in this city."
"That guy must have more lives than Yakumo," Moroboshi said glibly.
"Yakumo," repeated Chii.
"Hey, don't make fun of him!" snapped Nuriko. "Just because he dies all the time doesn't make him different!"
"Name me one other person who dies constantly and keeps coming back to life," Moroboshi retorted, crossing his arms triumphantly.
Chii crossed her arms triumphantly. "Chii!"
"Oh my god!" shouted a high-pitched voice from just outside the police box. "They killed Kenny!"
"You bastards!" shouted a second voice.
"Hey, think we should stop in this police box and tell the cops about it?" asked the first voice.
"Nah, he'll be okay by next week. Let's go get ice cream instead."
"Cool, dude!"
Moroboshi blinked in confusion and slid off his stool.
Chii slid off her stool. "Chii...."
Zenigata scratched his chin with building interest. "So, 'Yakumo', is it?" He took off his hat and pointed to the door. "So let's go figure out who killed Yakumo and haul him in!"
"Do you want the full list, or should I just hand you the phone book and let you work it out yourself?" asked Rally.
"Hmmm... this could be harder than I thought," said Zenigata, perching his hat on his head. "Well, then, shall we be off? I'm sure something will turn up as we walk about. Life is full of mysteries, as I'm fond of noticing."
"That's becoming very distracting," said Bloodberry. "What exactly is wrong with him?"
"Elementary, my dear robot!" said Zenigata.
Moroboshi nodded solemnly. "Whenever he puts on that hat, he thinks he's Sherlock Holmes."
Chii nodded solemnly. "Chii, Chii. Sherlock Yakumo."
"But that's not the worst of it," Moroboshi continued. "Whenever he lights his pipe, he has to deliver his next line in the form of a hoedown."
A giant bead of sweat ran down the back of Bloodberry's head. "What?"
Zenigata shook out the match he'd just used to light his pipe and took a puff. Then, he was swinging his arms and kicking in a disappointing mockery of a cowboy jig. "Come on all you people, let's get out on the street/and do a little walking, 'cause that's good for the feet!/We're gonna find a killer, you bet your little head./'Cause by the end of this chapter, somebody will be dead." He took a bow and swept out the door. A buzzer sounded in the distance.
Bloodberry opened her mouth, then sadly shook her head. "I don't want to know. I don't even want to think about it."
"So, where exactly are we going?" asked Yakumo. "You haven't even told us what we're looking for."
"Don't ask so many questions," snapped Clef. "We'll get there eventually."
Yakumo's eyes narrowed. "You don't actually know what we're looking for, do you?"
Clef tapped his nose on the ground, and Yakumo fell screaming into a pit. "Never question my authority."
"Why not?" asked Mihoshi.
With another tap of his nose, Clef created another pit under Mihoshi's feet. He wiped his front paws with a satisfied smirk until the leash around his neck went taut. "Oh, sh-!"
Seconds passed, and all was quiet on the surface. A city inspector walked past the two holes, looked down at them, and made a few notes on his clipboard. Then, Clef's head poked up over the lip of the pit, covered in sweat. "Puun...."
"AAH!" screamed the inspector. "SEWER RAT!" He smacked Clef on the head with his clipboard several times.
"Stop that, you idiot!" shouted Clef. "I'm not a rat!"
The inspector froze and blinked in surprise.
"That's right," said Clef. "So just walk away and go about your business...."
"AAH! TALKING SEWER RAT!" The inspector resumed his attack with increased vigor.
Clef sighed and smacked his nose on the ground, opening a pit under the inspector's feet. He plunged into it and landed almost immediately with a sickening SPLOOSH!
"It's a good thing there was a sewer down there," said Mihoshi as she climbed out of the pit. "Ordinary people wouldn't be able to survive the tortures that Yakumo and I are subjected to on a daily basis."
"YOU survive them," Yakumo corrected her. "I die every time and come back eventually."
"And so do I!" shouted a triumphant voice from a short way down the street. With a clank of metal, the figure walked toward them, sending up clouds of asphalt with each step.
Clef's eyes bulged. "Who is THAT?"
"Ha! As if anyone could forget the magnificence that is ME!" announced the metal man. His face was vaguely recognizable as something very close to human, but the rest of his body looked like something out of a James Cameron movie.
"Take off that ridiculous DiCaprio disguise and show us who you really are," commanded Clef.
"Very well! Prepare to tremble before my might!" shouted the man who was not really DiCaprio. He unzipped the skin-suit and let it fall to the ground, revealing the massive hunk of metal that was his true body.
Mihoshi stared at him and blinked. "Do I know you?"
"I don't think we've ever met anyone made of metal before," said Yakumo.
"That's not true!" countered Mihoshi. "There was that giant robot from episode one! Not to mention that two of those girls we met are androids."
"Ha! That shows how little you know!" taunted the newcomer. "For when you defeated me before, I was not made of metal, but was in fact a man!"
"So now you're a female android too?" asked Mihoshi, puzzled. "Just how many of those are in this story, anyway?"
"I am not a woman! I am a human being!" shouted the metal man. "Er, I mean... I was a full human before, except for the metal plate in my head, the artificial titanium leg, my gold teeth, and a pair of nipple rings! But then I met the two of you, without your pet rat -" Clef growled "- and was valiantly killed in ferocious battle!"
"You tripped over a blade of grass and impaled yourself on your own sword," recalled Yakumo.
The cyborg pointed his elbow and fired a missile at Yakumo, blowing him to bits. "But every time Damuramu dies, he comes back better, stronger, and more made of metal than before!"
Mihoshi slammed a fist into her palm. "Oh! Now I remember!"
"Aha! You remember the magnificence of Damuramu?"
"I left the laundry in the dryer back home!" She turned to leave, but a cord snaked out of Damuramu's metal groin and wrapped around her, pinning her arms to her sides.
"You're not going anywhere until you pay for every second of excruciating agony I suffered!" shouted Damuramu.
"And how much was that, exactly?" asked Mihoshi.
"... I died instantly," Damuramu admitted. "But you will still pay for my death!"
"Which made you stronger and metaly-er, right?"
"Er, yes. So it was a good thing." He shook his head angrily. "Stop trying to confuse Damuramu!"
Yakumo sat up. "Hey, didn't we already have a cameo appearance by a Dragon Half character in the first episode?"
Damuramu crossed his arms. "I have no idea what you're talking about!"
"Yeah, that's right!" agreed Mihoshi. "It was Dick Saucer who gave us our orders in the first episode!"
"No it wasn't!" replied Damuramu. "Where's the video from the first episode?" A panel in his side opened, revealing an empty compartment. "Oh no! I'll have to pay late charges!" He laughed. "No matter! There's another way we can view the past! Come, Sailor Pluto!"
Pluto threw back her head as she took another huge gulp of the dark liquid in her glass. "So I didn't have a choice about it, because he was the self-insert character, and everyone knows they have sex with anyone they choose, and their victims just go along with it no matter what they're really supposed to think about it."
"Right, right," acknowledged her listener, nodding his head.
"But I got back at him in the end! I used my power to do a cosmic reset, so it never actually happened!"
"Yeah, yeah. I hear ya."
"And by the time he figured it out, the episode was over, and since we weren't parodying bad fanfiction anymore, he couldn't use that gimmick again!"
"Look, would you shut up about that already?" shouted Nidoking. "Stop rubbing it in my face! You've told this story fifty-three times already, and it gets more obnoxious every time!"
"And you know what the funny part is?" she asked, jabbing a finger into his chest and hiccuping. "He was absolutely lousy in bed! And he was the SELF-INSERT! They're supposed to be incredibly sexy and gigantic, since they can do anything they want, but he was PATHETIC!" She giggled and collapsed on the bar in a puddle of booze and drool.
"If you feel so great about it, why are you getting so drunk?" asked Nidoking.
Pluto sat up and cleared her throat. "Because there are some things that even I cannot forget," she announced soberly. "And I refuse to be in this story any longer."
"You can't refuse me," replied Nidoking. "Even if I'm no longer the parodic self-insertion, I'm still the author, and my will is absolute."
"But I'm the Guardian of Time," said Pluto. "I can wreak havoc with your continuity."
"Well, I'm glad THAT'S over with," said Nidoking, wiping his brow and dropping the giant claymore on top of the body of his fallen foe. "That had to be the most exciting battle scene ever!"
"Yes, but nobody will ever be able to read it," said Pluto with a smile, polishing the jewel on top of her staff.
"Wait... isn't this several scenes after where we just were?" asked Nidoking.
"I wouldn't know anything about that," said Pluto innocently.
"Look, would you shut up about that already?" shouted Nidoking. "Stop rubbing it in my - wait, didn't we already do this?"
"Perhaps," said Pluto. "But this conversation is new."
"Are we changing the past or something here?"
"Given your propensity for writing about paradoxes, I'd be careful about what you do while in the past, wouldn't you?" asked Pluto.
"All right, I get the picture. But the answer's still no. You're due to appear in the main story in the next scene."
"They can watch the altered flashback without me," said Pluto, waving her staff. "Barkeep! Another drink!"
"You got it, babe!" said Mr. Fujisawa, topping off her glass from a large gourd.
"Here!" Nidoking shouted quickly, grabbing a random girl with spiky brown hair and thrusting her in front of the door. "This girl will explain everything!" He quickly ran, leaving the newcomer to fend for herself.
"A girl?" asked Mihoshi. "Wasn't there a handsome blond man here before?"
"I don't know any blond man but," said the girl, pausing in odd places as she spoke, "Key is here to, sing a song about, a mission that you and, you are supposed to go, on."
"Key?" repeated Yakumo, oozing out from under the boulder. "Isn't that a bit obvious?"
"Key will sing, a song now," announced Key. She cleared her throat and produced a microphone from midair. "LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
As the note echoed through the room, Mihoshi and Yakumo grabbed the sides of their heads in pain. Yakumo's head exploded in short order. The statue of Clef at the far end of the room crumbled as the entire space began to shake and a stream of pink goo ran from the walls, filling the room until Mihoshi thought she would drown....
"Hold it right there!" shouted Clef, interrupting the flashback. "My body definitely didn't break!"
"Hmmm.... Damuramu may have exaggerated just a bit for dramatic effect. Nevertheless, this 'Saucer' person did not appear in the first episode!"
"Wasn't that a bit long for such a simple gag?" asked Yakumo.
"Stop breaking the fourth wall and just deal with the situation at hand!" ordered Clef.
Damuramu flexed and puffed out his chest, which didn't really change the shape of his metal body at all. "Ha! What do you think you can do against THIS physique?
"Take a scene break?" suggested Mihoshi.
********| Clef stretched up a hand and pushed the scene break back. "Mihoshi, what did I just say?"
"Stop breaking the fourth wall?" guessed Mihoshi.
"Correct. Now, hand my leash to Yakumo."
Mihoshi meekly did so, as the familiar pit opened beneath her feet.
"Ha ha ha! Damuramu didn't even need to expend any effort!" Damuramu declared triumphantly. His expression quickly turned into one of pain for a split second as the groin-leash pulled taut, and he was quickly jerked off his feet to join Mihoshi at the bottom of the hole.
"I think we've all learned a lesson from this," Clef said with a satisfied air as the scene changed.
Zenigata strode down the street with his head held high. His charges followed him obediently, except for Chii, who was obediently following Moroboshi.
"Do you even know where we're going?" asked Nuriko.
"Of course I do!" replied Zenigata. "We're going this way!"
"And what's in that direction?" asked Nuriko.
"Well, how am I supposed to know until we get there? Think, woman!"
"Maybe you should put your hat back on," grumbled Nuriko.
Suddenly, Zenigata stopped in his tracks. Rally bumped into his back before she noticed, and the entire procession condensed similarly into a single mass of bodies before everyone managed to find a bit of personal space in which to stand. "What is it?" asked Moroboshi, craning his neck to see past the detective.
"Chii?" asked Chii, craning her neck to stare into the middle of Genma's back.
"Lupin!" shouted Zenigata.
"The master criminal?" asked Rally.
Zenigata jammed the hat onto his head. "It's exactly as I suspected!" He bent down and picked something up off the ground. "A lupin!" He held up the frond of tiny blue blossoms for all to see. "A member of the species lupinus albifrons, the Silver Bush Lupin, to be exact!"
"A flower?" asked Nuriko. "You got us all worked up over a stupid flower?"
Before Zenigata could reply, a wild-eyed man burst into the middle of the group, waving something triumphantly toward the sky. "HA! I've done it! Suck on this, old man!"
"Who the heck are you?" asked Rally.
"Do you know what this is?" he asked, shoving his book in her face. "No, you don't know what it is! I'll tell you! It's the first volume of the Excel Saga manga, that's what it is!"
"What kind of drugs are you on?" asked Moroboshi.
"Chii!" added Chii.
"You heard me right!" shouted the man, ignoring the rest of the group. "I'm coming for you next, Rikdo!" He leapt into the air and kept running in the direction he'd been going before.
"What was that all about?" asked Nuriko.
"I think the author just bought the Excel Saga manga he'd been wanting for so long, and might be planning to integrate it somehow into this story," suggested Bloodberry.
"And this affects us how, exactly?" asked Rally.
"I don't think we'll have to worry about it any more than we worry about anything else in this convoluted fanfic," replied Bloodberry.
"I say, what are we talking about now?" asked Zenigata.
"Never mind," said Bloodberry. "Now, where were we?"
"I can't rightly remember," said Zenigata, taking off his hat to scratch his head. "What the hell is this? A stupid flower? I don't need this crap!" He disgustedly threw the lupin to the ground.
"Does anyone else get the feeling we were supposed to learn something from that flower?" asked Rally. "Like there was some vital clue that was introduced, but the author intervention prevented us from getting to it?"
"A purposeful distraction, more likely," said Bloodberry. "Someone's trying to keep us from the truth."
"No, I'm not!" protested Nidoking. "You're supposed to go to the haunted mansion at the edge of town! See? I'm not hiding anything!"
"I don't plan to complain," said Nuriko.
"Did he say haunted?" moaned Moroboshi. "As in, haunted by ghosts?"
"Chii ghosts?" moaned Chii.
"There's no such thing as a ghost!" insisted Zenigata. "It's all a trick, I tell you!"
"Well, let's go, anyway," advised Rally. She pointed the way, and most of the group fell into step behind her.
"Whee! Pretty flower!" cheered Nuku Nuku, rolling over the lupin a few times before putting it into her mouth and chewing contentedly.
Melancholy guitar music filled the air above the burning desert through which Shinji trudged aimlessly. "What am I doing here?" he asked no one in particular. "First my father throws me away, then I get stuck in a school for emotional cripples..." - he stopped to cry for about twenty-seven minutes - "and now my wife cheats on me with her old teacher! What am I supposed to do now?"
"You could stop being such a loser," replied an indignant voice from up ahead.
Shinji gasped. "Who or what are you?"
"I'm you," replied his other self. "I'm a more lucid, less spineless version of you who shows up when your wimpiness becomes so bad that the readers can't stomach it anymore."
Shinji rubbed his eyes. "Man, I'm already seeing mirages, and I've only been in this desert for two minutes."
"That's impossible. You just spent twenty-seven minutes crying," his other self reminded him.
"Great, and you're a jerk too," said Shinji. "I can't believe you're me."
"You must," said the other Shinji. "If you didn't believe in me, I wouldn't exist."
"That's not a very convincing argument," Shinji pointed out.
"Then I'll tell you what number you're thinking of," said his other self. "Nineteen."
"I wasn't thinking of a number," replied Shinji.
"Oh, did I forget that part? Damn. I must be as much of a screw-up as you are."
"Wow," said Shinji, impressed. "You really ARE me."
The other Shinji seemed surprised at this declaration, but quickly recovered. "Well, yes, of course. What did you expect?"
"I'm more messed up than I thought," said Shinji. "I'm talking to myself."
"I'm standing right here, you know."
"And worse yet, I'm pissing myself off. That's gotta be bad for my self-esteem."
"Would you forget about yourself for a minute and listen to me?" asked Shinji's other self indignantly. "Well, technically, since I AM yourself, you're not forgetting about yourself, but... there's something more important than you that you should be caring about!"
Shinji thought about this. "I'm missing Oprah?"
"Your wife, you moron! Are you just going to leave her behind at Onizuka's mercy?"
"What am I supposed to do about it?"
"Who cares? Do something! Stop being such a wuss and fight!"
"I can't fight Onizuka!"
"What ever happened to 'I mustn't run away'?"
"Isn't that your line?"
"I don't know... which one am I again?"
"I'm pretty sure you're the other one."
"Well, DUH. So which one are you?"
"I'm -"
"And don't say 'I'm me,' because then I'll have to kill you."
Shinji quickly shut up.
"So, are you ready to forget about this meaningless Who's Who of Shinji Ikari and focus on saving Naru?"
"Like she needs MY help. She's probably going to show up and help ME any minute. That's always the way it goes."
"But now Onizuka's entered the equation. Don't you realize what that's going to do?"
Shinji paused to form a mental picture of his beloved wife.
"Oh, no!" cried Naru. "My dearest Shinji is in trouble! I have to stop everything else in my life and rescue him because I love him so much and want to do disgusting things to him!"
An arm wrapped around her shoulders. "Forget about that loser, dollface," said Onizuka. "You're with me now, remember? I'm twice as disgusting as you are, and that's with all my clothes ON."
"Oh, no!" cried Naru again, this time in delight, as Onizuka tore off her clothes. "It's a gratuitous fanservice shot by Nidoking to ease the readers over the worst part of the Shinji introspective!"
"I don't mind at all!" cheered Onizuka, diving right in.
Tomoyo smiled to herself in the corner. "Mama and New Papa are doing the nasty again."
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" screamed Shinji, grabbing the sides of his head. "Even my Tomoyo is forced to watch! How could they be so careless?"
The other Shinji rubbed his ears. "Man, that's loud."
"I have to get back to them right away!" shouted Shinji. He turned around and ran back the way he'd come, pausing only to shout over his shoulder, "See you later, figment of my imagination!"
"Damn," said the other Shinji as he popped out of existence. "That kid has serious trouble believing in himself."
The old man rubbed his hands together gleefully. "Soon," he said to his servants. "Soon, my plan will come to fruition and I will reap the bounty of my efforts. Now!" He held his hands up in the air and gestured as if drawing quotation marks with his fingers. "Is the 'haunted house' ready for our guests?"
"Yes, sir," announced one of his cronies. "We're nearly ready to issue our demands."
"Marvelous," said the old man, pressing the tip of his pinky to the corner of his mouth. "Soon, I will have... one MILLION dollars!" He began to laugh maniacally, then stopped as he realized he was the only one. "Well, come on, people! Throw me a frickin' bone here!"
"Sir, that's a really dated reference," his second reminded him.
"Zip it!" snapped the old man, making a lip-zipping gesture at him.
"But -"
"Zip it!"
"I -"
"Sir, -"
"If I were speaking in code, it would be a ZIP code!"
The other sighed. "Just drop it already, sir. Nobody thinks it's funny anymore."
"Well, then, how about 'Shagadelic, baby!'"
"That's the same reference."
The old man sighed and slumped in his throne. "How come one guy can play two classic roles in the same movie and I can't even do a proper homage?"
The younger man behind the throne sneezed in a way that sounded distinctly like "RIPOFF!"
Damuramu slowly crested the lip of the pit, climbing to the surface with Mihoshi tied to his waist. "Damuramu shall ever regret this," he moaned.
"It's your own fault," said Yakumo. "Tethering yourself to Mihoshi is just asking for a nasty fall."
"Is that so?" asked Damuramu, leaping to his feet. "Well, just look who she's tethered to now!"
Yakumo looked down to see the rope tied around his own waist. "Oh." He reached down, undid the knot, and handed the end of the rope to Damuramu. "Thanks, but you can have it back."
"Ready, Yakumo!" shouted Mihoshi, who had tied her end of the rope to a large weight perched on the edge of the pit.
"Let it go!" ordered Yakumo.
Mihoshi pushed the weight over the edge.
Damuramu scowled at Yakumo. "Damuramu hates you." The rope jerked sideways, and he plunged into the pit again.
Yakumo sighed contentedly. "I love being around someone who's better comic relief than I am."
The weight flew up from the pit and landed on Yakumo, crushing him. Damuramu climbed up the rope and stood tall, looming over Mihoshi and breathing heavily. "Damuramu is going to kill you now!"
"It's a little late for that," sloshed what remained of Yakumo.
"Please don't hurt me, Mr. Metal Man!" cried Mihoshi. "I don't think Sailor Pluto will be willing to come all the way out here to fix me!"
"You should have thought of that before you killed me the first time!" replied Damuramu.
A young girl with glasses and a ponytail trotted up. "Hey, Miss Mihoshi! What are you doing all the way out here? I thought you moved downtown!"
Mihoshi blinked. "Do I know you?"
The girl put her hands on her hips and pouted. "You didn't forget little Marin, did you? We used to live together in the orphanage right near here!"
"Oh, right! I remember now! You used to kill people all the time!"
"I really didn't mean to..." sobbed Marin. "Most of the time...."
"It's okay," said Mihoshi, patting Marin on the head. "I forgive you. I didn't know most of those people anyway, except for my mom and brothers."
"Hey!" Damuramu shouted angrily. "You can't ignore me while I'm trying to kill you!"
Marin stared at the cyborg and blinked. "Is that man a bad guy, Miss Mihoshi?"
Mihoshi scratched her head dizzily. "Um, which is the answer that will make you kill him?"
"Either one," said Marin with a smile. She pulled a tiny bottle out of her pocket and threw it at Damuramu. "I choose you, Green Swordsman!"
"Green Swordsman?" repeated Damuramu. The bottle smashed against his chest and fell to the ground in pieces. "Ha! As if that tiny bottle could hurt the mighty DamuramAAAAAAH!" He stepped backward as a very tall green figure emerged from the shards of glass, towering over Damuramu by more than a foot. Its head was vaguely triangular, and it carried a large sword in one hand. A long spiked tail snaked out of the middle of its back, between the bases of its winglets.
The figure stared Damuramu from head to toe, then turned to Marin. "Is this bully causing you trouble?"
Marin nodded. "Yep, he's a real bastard! Slice him up but good, Cell!"
Damuramu held up his hands to protest as Cell turned back around. "I wouldn't do anything rash," he advised. "I can be very deadly when I'm provoked !"
Cell casually swung the sword through an arc that ended at Damuramu's hip before any of the observers could even see it move at all. "Deadly, or just dead?" he taunted.
Damuramu blinked in fear several times, staring at the sword. Then, he laughed heartily. "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! As if a mere sword could hurt ME!"
With that, Damuramu's leg separated from his body and fell to the ground with a clatter, followed quickly by the unbalanced Damuramu.
"This is no mere sword," said Cell as he raised the weapon to his shoulder. "This is the Z Sword, a sacred blade from the great Kai who rules over Brigadoon."
"That was a lucky shot!" shouted Damuramu, his words slightly muffled by the pavement he was speaking into. He climbed to his foot and hopped indignantly, taking aim with the machine gun built into his right palm. "I dare you to try that again!"
Cell shrugged. "Very well." He lifted the sword over his head and brought the point down on Damuramu's shoulder, severing his right arm before he could fire.
Damuramu watched the oil spurt from his shoulder. "Ha! That won't stop me!"
"Are you crazy?" asked Yakumo. "Your arm's off!"
"Only a flesh wound!" replied Damuramu.
"What flesh?" retorted Yakumo. "You're made of metal!" Suddenly, Cell's tail stabbed him in the heart, and he collapsed in a pool of blood.
"Oops," said Cell. "Sorry. I always lose track of that thing." He swung his tail around and pointed the tip at Damuramu's throat. "I'll be taking your head next, if you don't surrender to me now."
Damuramu stared cross-eyed at the sharp tip of Cell's tail and quickly came to a decision. "I think I'll have takeout pizza for dinner tonight," he decided.
"What does that have to do with anything?" asked Cell.
"It's a distraction!" Damuramu boasted proudly. "And now, while you're confused by my amazingly confounding logic, I make my escape!" He turned and ran, making it a full half-stride before the lack of a leg to stand on sent him crashing to his face. "Wait! Do-overs! I wasn't ready!"
"Too late," said Cell, raising his tail menacingly. "I gave you fair warning. Now I will absorb you to increase my own power." He stabbed Damuramu in the spine with his tail and began to suck the metal body through the tube like a straw.
"This isn't right!" protested Damuramu. "There are laws against being drunk in public!"
Suddenly, the absorption stopped, as Cell's tail began to emit a loud rattle. "Drat," cursed Cell. "I must have swallowed a screw." He withdrew his tail and hawked loudly, then spat out a large hunk of metal. "Hmmm... this won't work."
"HAHAHAHAHAHA!" cackled Damuramu. "It seems I'm too powerful for you!"
"What's left of you, anyway," replied Cell.
"Make fun of my handicap if you want," taunted Damuramu, "but there's nothing you can do to stop me!"
"Hack him to pieces, Cell!" shouted Marin.
"Oh, right. You can do that."
Cell obligingly chopped off the remainder of Damuramu's limbs, sliced through his neck, and then chopped his torso into julienne fries with the efficiency of a Popeil appliance.
"Hooray for Marin!" cheered Mihoshi. "She's so amazing!"
A bead of sweat ran down Cell's head. "But I did all the work...."
Marin gave Cell a hug. "Thank you, Cell. You're my best assassin friend."
Cell bent down to return her hug. "I'm pleased to be of service." His tail snaked forward and speared Yakumo through the throat as he was getting up. "Stupid tail!" he shouted, grabbing it and thrusting it back into place. "Get behind me where you belong!"
"Poor Yakumo," said Mihoshi, shaking her head sadly. "He's a walking death magnet and far too tempting a target to resist."
"Cell, you have to stop killing people who aren't bad guys!" Marin admonished him. "Yakumo's okay, but you need to be more careful of other people!"
Cell hung his head in shame. "I'm sorry. I'll return to my ampoule now." He vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving only the bottle behind.
"Ah, good! How did he know I was thirsty?" asked Mihoshi. She picked up the bottle and pried the stopper out, preparing to drink the contents.
Marin kicked Mihoshi in the kneecap and retrieved her bottle. "Don't drink Cell! Don't you remember how messy it was to get him back the last time you did that?"
Mihoshi blushed. "Oh, yeah. It's a good thing I can aim at small targets."
Clef scowled. "That's enough of that, Mihoshi. Say goodbye to your little friend and let's get back to our mission."
Marin stared at Clef. "Hey, that little doggy talked! Is it an alien from the future with a spaceship and laser eyes or razor claws or some kind of secret weapon that he uses to -"
Plue's nose shot out of his face on a spring, punching a hole through Marin's head. "Shut up, you annoying pest."
Marin shook her head. "No, I'd better not say that," she decided. "I don't want to die like that." She gave her most polite smile. "Well, I'll see you later, Miss Mihoshi, Mr. Yakumo, funny doggy thing."
"Will you really?" asked Mihoshi. "The character you're replacing wasn't really a main character in the original anime."
"Nidoking likes me too much to make me a one-shot character," replied Marin. "He thinks I'm cute and really likes my series. And it has a cool theme song."
A finger tapped her on the shoulder, and she turned around to find Tomoyo smiling at her. "I'm a one-shot character," she said.
Marin sighed and let her head hang. "Bye, Miss Mihoshi. I probably won't be coming back."
"Bye!" Mihoshi called cheerfully, waving as Marin sullenly trudged off into the sunset.
"Do you understand any of what's going on?" asked Clef.
"Nope!" boasted Mihoshi. "I find it helps me focus on the nonsensical missions if I have no idea what's going on around me!"
"Can't argue with that," agreed Clef.
Yakumo stood up. "Hey, is it sunset already? It was afternoon just a few minutes ago."
"We'd best hurry if we're going to accomplish our objective," advised Clef. "We have to cross the city quickly."
"Then this is a job for public transportation!" Mihoshi called out. She raised her arm, and a large animal padded quietly to the curb beside her. It looked a bit like a cat, but was hollow inside, with holes along its length like windows. Another hole opened just behind its head, inviting Mihoshi and her companions inside.
"Did you just flag down a bus?" asked Yakumo.
Mihoshi shrugged. "It was all I could think of. We're not near a stop."
Yakumo pointed to the nearby subway station. "We could use that."
Plue shuddered. "I'm not going underground," asserted Clef. "Mihoshi, get on the bus."
"Yes, Lord Clef!" shouted Mihoshi. She climbed through the opening and bowed to the bus driver. "Thank you for stopping for us, Mr...." - she looked at the driver's license attached to the rearview mirror - "Wee?"
"Yuy," he corrected her. "Heero Yuy."
"Oh. Well, I can't say that I -"
He leveled a pistol at her face. "Sit down or I'll kill you."
"Please don't kill me, Mr Wee!" cried Mihoshi, pushing Yakumo into the path of the gun. "Kill Yakumo instead! He always dies anyway!"
Heero stared at Yakumo, then put the gun away. "It wouldn't be right."
Yakumo sighed his relief. "Thank you!"
Heero shot him through the head. "DON'T thank the bus driver," he snapped.
"Yes, sir!" said Mihoshi. She gave a quick salute, then pulled Yakumo toward the back of the bus, where they all took a seat. The bus meowed and scuttled off, climbing over and around the buildings in its path.
"It seems as if this bus drives itself," noted Clef. "I wonder what the bus driver is here for."
Heero yawned and opened a lunchbox, spreading a tablecloth across the adjacent seat and setting out a deli-style lunch on it.
"Ambience," suggested Mihoshi.
Heero lifted the top of his sandwich and scowled. "Dammit! They forgot the mustard!" He slid angrily back into the driver's seat and pointed downward. The cat-bus obligingly leapt to the ground, landing right next to a car that was stopped for a red light. Heero aimed his pistol at the driver. "Pardon me," he said. "Do you have any Grey Poupon?"
The driver screamed and sped off, narrowly missing the cross traffic.
"What the hell was his problem?" asked Heero.
"The commercials lie!" Mihoshi shouted from the back of the bus. "There aren't even monsters that come out of the Yu-Gi-Oh cards!"
Heero shook his head disapprovingly. "Bastards."
OLD MAN: (whines) Are they here yet?
YOUNG MAN: Patience, sir.
OLD MAN: Patients? Dammit, Sousuke, I'm an evil overlord, not a doctor!


A man in an expensive-looking suit sits at an expensive-looking desk drinking an expensive-looking liquor and reading some expensive-looking documents. A lackey enters through the expensive-looking double door.
LACKEY: Um, sir?
LACKEY: There's been an accident involving one of our employees.
BUSINESSMAN: Will our profits drop?
LACKEY: No, but... the other person involved is suing us.
BUSINESSMAN: Fine. We'll hire the best lawyers in the business. Who's representing them?
He takes a drink while the lackey answers.
LACKEY: Mihoshi, Nuku and Nuku.
The businessman spits alcohol all over himself and stares up at his lackey with a look of utter horror on his face. Freeze frame.
VOICEOVER: The law offices of Mihoshi, Nuku and Nuku.
TESTIMONY: I was in an accident recently. The company offered to settle for five million dollars, but I saw a commercial for Mihoshi, Nuku and Nuku and called them. They told me to take the matter to court, so I did. By the time it was over, the judge said I had to pay THEM twenty million dollars in damages, and I spent the next two years in prison. Thanks a lot, Mihoshi, Nuku and Nuku.
Back to the office... the businessman suddenly bursts out laughing.
BUSINESSMAN: Mihoshi, Nuku and Nuku? Forget the lawyers! We'll let them dig their own grave!
VOICEOVER: Mihoshi, Nuku and Nuku. For the love of God, DON'T CALL THEM!
Paid for by the law offices of Mihoshi, Nuku and Nuku


Tomoyo has always been there for her friend Sakura. But now the tables have turned...

> "If you're going into danger, then I'm going with you," Sakura
> insisted. "We'll be stronger together."
> "But -"
> "You always stood by me when I fought the Clow Cards," Sakura
> interrupted. "Now, it's your fight, so I'm going to stand by you."

A powerful force is granting every wish in Tomoyo's heart, whether she wants them or not, and the results are rarely good.

> "It looks like the beginning of a maze," said Tomoyo.
> "The MAZE card," agreed Kero. "It's JOKER again. It's trying to
> prevent us from leaving this room!"

Worse yet, it has sealed the power of Clow, leaving Sakura defenseless.

> Sakura gasped. "If I can't summon the sealing wand, I won't be
> able to seal JOKER!"
> "And you won't be able to use any of the Clow Cards!" added
> Tomoyo.
> Sakura fell to her knees. "This is impossible! It's got all the
> magic I used to have, and I have none! How can we beat JOKER when
> we're so outmatched?"

Can sweet, innocent Tomoyo take on a fight that may well end up destroying the person she cares about most?

> Wordlessly, Sakura turned to face Tomoyo, staring into her with
> eyes that showed no spark of humanity, merely blank enlarged green
> irises without pupils. She raised the sword in front of her body,
> poised as if to leap at any second.
> Kero recoiled, cringing in fear at the sight. "This is bad... she's
> under SWORD's control! And I have a feeling you're going to be her
> target!"

52 Curses


OLD MAN: Do we get to do ANYTHING in this episode?
YOUNG MAN: You get to bitch a lot.
OLD MAN: Eeeeeeeeexcellent.
Zenigata raised a fist as the group rounded a corner, calling everyone to a halt.
"What's wrong now?" asked Rally.
Zenigata sniffed at the air. "Lupin!"
Moroboshi groaned. "Oh, man! Not another stupid flower!"
Chii groaned. "Chii! Stupid flower!"
The gate in front of them opened, and a short man with thick glasses, a white lab coat, and a black mustache stepped out and stood in front of the group. "So, there you are. We've been waiting for you."
Zenigata nodded cordially. "Lupin."
"Please, call me Dr. Madblood," requested the doctor. "I didn't take six years at the Harvard University of Evil Science to be called by my first name."
"Instead, you ended up as the doorman for some rich guy?" guessed Nuriko.
Dr. Madblood cleared his throat. "The first step to world conquest is amassment of financial capital," he announced as if quoting from a book.
"So, mad science doesn't pay the bills, eh?" asked Moroboshi smugly.
"Chii, eh?" echoed Chii smugly. Suddenly, her face broke into a smile, and she clapped. "Chii, eh! Chii, eh! Chii, eh!"
Moroboshi tapped her head with his knuckles. "What the heck? Is she broken?"
Bloodberry sighed. "She likes the way it sounds."
"At least she's starting to develop a personality," Rally pointed out.
Nuriko bent down to stare at Chii's posterior. "Think there's a 'Made in Canada' label back here?"
"Chii, eh!"
"That's going to get even more annoying than Nuku Nuku," said Bloodberry.
"Speaking of which...." Rally scanned the group quickly. "Where IS Nuku Nuku?"
"She's not here?" Bloodberry asked hopefully. "Quick, let's get inside before she finds us!"
"Nyay! Nyere nyou guys nyare!" called an excited voice from the end of the block. Nuku Nuku ran up on all fours and leapt onto Moroboshi, knocking him to the ground. "NyI missed nyou so much!"
Chii fell onto her back and put on a pained expression. "Chii, eh...."
"Why the heck are you talking like that?" asked Moroboshi.
"Nyike what?"
"Like that!"
"Chii, nyeh!"
Nuku Nuku scratched her chin. "NyI don't nyow."
"Maybe you should stop talking and let the rest of us figure out what to do," suggested Rally.
Dr. Madblood shook his head sadly. "And I thought my robotic clones had issues.... So are you people going to follow me inside or not?"
A dialogue box appeared in front of the group with three options:
"I've always wanted to see what would happen if we chose option three," said Moroboshi.
"Three, eh!"
Nuriko grabbed the dialogue box and brought it down over Moroboshi's head. "We'll follow you," he informed Dr. Madblood.
"Nyay!" cheered Nuku Nuku. "We get to go nyinto the nyig nyouse!" She leapt to her feet and charged into the mansion grounds at full speed.
"Wait!" shouted Dr. Madblood. "The path is full of -"
From within the grounds came the expected TWANG! and the further expected "NYAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
"- booby traps," the doctor finished unnecessarily.
"I wonder," said Bloodberry, "whether playing with that flower may not have had some effect on her mind. What do you think, Inspector?"
There was no reply.
"Now Zenigata's not here?" asked Nuriko. "Why can't we ever stick together?"
"Your friend has already gone inside to inspect the grounds," Dr. Madblood informed them. "I will take the rest of you directly to the lord of the manor, who is my obedient mind-slave."
"Your what?" asked Rally.
"Er, will be. Will be my obedient mind-slave, once I take over the world," Madblood corrected himself. "Please follow me, obedient mind-slaves."
"What did you -?"
"FUTURE obedient mind-slaves."
The group stood in the large reception hall whose far end was shrouded in shadow. "So, where is this lord guy we're supposed to be meeting?" asked Moroboshi.
"Over there," said Chii, pointing into the darkness.
Moroboshi blinked in surprise. "What did you say?"
"Chii? Eh!"
"Join me," said a deep voice from the darkness. "Come to the dark side."
"Never!" shouted Nuriko. "We'll never become evil like you!"
"That was rather harsh, don't you think?" replied their host. "I meant that you should come closer so that you can see me. The lights on this side of the room don't work."
Nuriko's face fell. "Oh, right."
They walked into the darkness, their vision adjusting to the new light level with each step. Finally, they were standing before an ornate throne on which a very old man sat, flanked by two much younger men who looked to be about high school age. "Welcome to my manor," said the old man, adjusting his turban to cover his pointed ears. "It's so nice to finally meet you. Do you have your Golden Tickets?"
"Golden tickets?" repeated Rally. "Nobody said anything about Golden Tickets. In fact, nobody's said anything about this place the whole time. Where exactly are we, and who are you?"
"Ah, yes. Forgive me. I had forgotten that I haven't been named yet. Call me Ishmael."
"Your name is Ishmael?" asked Rally.
"No, my name is Wang."
Moroboshi couldn't stifle a giggle. "Wang! Are you serious?"
Chii cracked up. "Wang, eh! Sherlock Wang!" Then, she stopped laughing. "What is 'wang'?"
Before Moroboshi could sober up enough to reply, Nuriko pointed at Wang. "That man," he said, "is a Wang."
Chii pointed at Wang. "Wang."
Massive veins bulged in Wang's forehead. "Stop saying my name!"
Rally flicked the back of Moroboshi's ear. "That's enough immaturity from you. Let's just find out why we're here and get on with our mission."
"Right," agreed Wang. "Sousuke?"
The man at Wang's right stepped forward. "I am Lieutenant Sousuke Sagara of General Wang's Liberation Army."
"Liberation Army?" repeated Rally, who was quickly becoming accustomed to confusedly repeating every line of the conversation.
Sousuke straightened up. "Please forget that you heard that! I am Sousuke Sagara, an ordinary civilian of no relation to General Wang or his Liberation Army with aspirations to take over the world!"
Wang sighed and rested his forehead on his fingers. "Idiot."
"We were told that there were ghosts in this house," said Bloodberry, plowing to the heart of the issue.
"Oh, yeah," said Wang's other underling. "That'd be me."
"You're dead?" asked Nuriko. "You look alive enough to me."
"Well, I'm alive NOW," he replied. "I got better."
"Does everyone suddenly have the power to do that?" asked Rally, drawing a rifle from her jacket and pointing it at Moroboshi's head.
Moroboshi quickly ducked as she pulled the trigger. "I don't!"
"Chii!" screamed Chii as she threw herself to the ground.
"I was an exception," boasted the former ghost. "Not even the afterlife can hold me."
"These days, the afterlife seems more like a vacation spot than a final destination," said Rally.
"You're not related to a man named Yakumo, are you?" asked Nuriko.
"Never heard of him. My name's Yuusuke Urameshi. My friends call me Urameshi, but you can call me Sir."
"Just don't call him late for dinner!" piped Wang.
Everyone in the room glared at him.
"Right, sorry." Wang slid off the throne and bashfully slinked out of the room.
"Hey, wait a second!" shouted Rally. "You haven't told us what we're supposed to do!"
"You're the intruders here," said Sousuke. "If you have any business here, it's yours, not ours."
"We're only here because that weird guy with the book told us to come!" said Rally.
"He didn't happen to be sucking on a pacifier, did he?" asked Yuusuke.
"I wouldn't put it past him," said Moroboshi. "That guy was a loon."
Rally's gun reappeared in her hand and put a bullet through Moroboshi's skull before he could blink. "Jinkies!" she exclaimed. "Why did that happen?"
Chii blinked, then threw herself enthusiastically to the floor beside Moroboshi.
Sailor Pluto stepped out from behind the throne and sighed. "When will they learn not to insult the author?" she asked as she waved her rod.
"Well, that felt weird," said Moroboshi. "I could have sworn I was dead for a minute there."
"Everyone but me, I swear," said Rally. Then, shrugging, she pressed the barrel of the gun to her own forehead.
Nuriko quickly knocked it away. "Don't be an idiot!"
"Yeah, that's MY job!" added Moroboshi.
"HIS job!" echoed Chii.
"Gee, thanks," Moroboshi said glumly. "Rub it in."
"Chii, thanks," Chii echoed glumly.
"Hey, what's with all the shooting?" Zenigata asked loudly as he strode into the room. "Nobody's supposed to shoot anyone until I get here!"
"And where exactly have you been?" asked Nuriko.
"I was searching for clues!" boasted Zenigata. "And look what I found!" He proudly held up a T-shirt with the words "I KILLED SOMEONE AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT" written in dripping letters of blood.
"Aha!" shouted Moroboshi. "Evidence of murder!"
Zenigata slipped his hat on. "I think not, my good man. I've seen this very garment available in novelty shops throughout this city. I believe someone's playing a jolly jape on us."
"I don't think it's very jolly," said Rally. "Something had better happen soon. This chapter's almost over, and we still haven't gotten to any sort of plot yet."
"I vote we keep it up as long as we can," suggested Nuriko.
"Not a good idea," said Bloodberry. "The longer we take to solve this mystery, the longer we have to keep up this ridiculous story."
Rally nodded. "Let's split up so we can search faster."
"Great idea!" exclaimed Moroboshi. "You and Bloodberry can come with me and check upstairs!"
"Forget it," said Rally. "We're going with Nuriko." She stepped away from him and pushed Nuriko toward Bloodberry, leaving Moroboshi standing between Nuku Nuku and Chii.
"Hey!" shouted Moroboshi as the three of them walked away. "You can't leave an entire group without any smart people! It's inefficient use of resources!"
"So is the rest of our department!" Rally shot back. "We'll manage!"
"Well, damn," said Moroboshi. "Why does HE get the cute girls? He doesn't even want them!"
"Nyuku Nyuku's cute too!" protested Nuku Nuku.
"Chii too, eh!"
"Maybe we should be in groups of two," suggested Moroboshi. "We'd find the clues even faster that way." He gave the two young androids a shove. "Go on! Sniff out the clues!"
"Nyut we want nyo stay with nyou!" whined Nuku Nuku, throwing her arms around Moroboshi.
"Chii with you!" whined Chii, throwing her arms around Moroboshi.
"Aren't you supposed to be copying me?" asked Moroboshi.
"Chii?" asked Chii, confused.
Moroboshi sighed. "All right. Let's go check out the kitchen, then. That seems to be the most logical place for me." He lowered his head and shuffled out of the room with both girls still attached.
"Wanna go get something to drink?" invited Yuusuke.
"I believe that would be socially acceptable," replied Sousuke.
"You could just say 'yes'," advised Yuusuke.
"I believe that would be socially acceptable," agreed Sousuke.
Yuusuke sighed. "Darn it. Just shut up and let's go."
Minutes passed after Wang's officers had left the room. Finally, Genma ventured to hold up a sign. [I THINK THEY'VE FORGOTTEN ABOUT US.]
"Indubitably," agreed Zenigata as he lit his pipe.
[OH, NO....]
"Time for us to move along, my great big furry friend/Because this chapter's getting long, we must be near the end/So let's all go a-searching, so we can find those clues/I don't know if we'll find any, because my name's not Blue!"
"How long is this going to go on?" Pluto asked impatiently.
"What's wrong?" asked Nidoking. "Isn't it funny enough for you?"
"You forget, I have no sense of humor," said Pluto. "Meanwhile, this chapter is becoming far longer than the first, and you've only just started the plot. Unless you plan to make this a two-part episode...."
"But I can't do that!" protested Nidoking. "There's a point to it all that would be ruined if I stretched it to a second part!"
"Then I suggest you make something happen, and quickly," she advised him, returning her attention to her glass of wine.
The phone behind the bar rang, and Mr. Fujisawa picked it up and listened intently.
Nidoking sighed defeatedly. "Fine." He rolled a knife casually between his fingers, then hurled it over his shoulder. It struck the dartboard squarely in the bulls-eye and promptly vanished. "There. That ought to end up in someone's back."
"You do realize that now you're the murderer they're going to be looking for?"
"Shut up."
Mr. Fujisawa covered the mouthpiece of the phone. "Hey, has anyone here seen Mai Wang? I'm trying to find Mai Wang!"
Everyone in the bar snickered.
"Come on! I can't find Mai Wang all by myself!"
There were more snickers.
"Is she sitting in the back where she can't hear me? Someone get Mai Wang to stand up!"
The snickers really satisfied everyone.
Mr. Fujisawa suddenly realized what he was saying and hissed harshly into the phone. "Listen, you little snot! One of these days, I'm going to get my hands on you, and then...!" His hand balled into a fist, crushing the receiver into dust. "Man, I need a drink," he grumbled.
"Gackt!" Yuusuke fell face first to the ground, Nidoking's knife protruding from his back.
Sousuke stared at his fallen comrade and slowly shook his head. "Looks like I'll be drinking alone again."
Yuusuke leapt to his feet as Sousuke walked away. "Wait, come back! I'm not really dead!"
Yuusuke whirled to face a black cloak that, given its shape, probably housed a body or something shaped like one. "Who are you?" he asked.
"Death?" repeated Yuusuke, scratching his soul's head. "What happened to Botan?"
"But you're not even an anime character!"
"But -!"
"Oh, fine," grumbled Yuusuke, crossing his arms. "If there's a bright side to all this, I got plenty of action while I was dead in my own series."
THAT'S ONE WAY TO LOOK AT IT, agreed Death as he swung his scythe.


Mihoshi pushed the door open and charged into the mansion. "Am I late?" she called out. "We'd have been here sooner, but I had to get a feel for the traffic!"
Clef leapt into Yakumo's arms, and Mihoshi plunged into a pit.
"So, what are we looking for here?" asked Yakumo, stepping carefully around the pit. His foot landed on a dead body, and he fell sideways, nearly joining Mihoshi in the dusty basement. "Hey, what the -? It's a corpse! And it isn't mine!"
"Yeah, it's mine!" Yuusuke shouted inaudibly.
"Looks like there's been a murder," assessed Yakumo. "And as much as I'd like to say Mihoshi's probably responsible, she only just got here."
"And I've fallen down this very deep hole!" Mihoshi added. "I fell a long way and carelessly became trapped!"
"Is it too late to make her the corpse?" asked Clef.
"Well, YEAH," snapped Yuusuke. "I'm already dead!"
"Do you feel a strange presence here?" asked Clef. "I sense the spirits are restless in this place...."
"Ooh, check this out!" shouted Mihoshi. "There's a nifty little toaster down here!" A wide beam of light shone from the depths of the pit, engulfed Yuusuke's spirit, and dragged it down into the pit, screaming all the way until it was trapped forever in the tiny caution-striped box.
"Never mind," said Clef. "It's gone."
"Hey!" yelled Mihoshi. "Where's my toast?"
"You know, I've got a few questions to ask our host," said Rally, as her group walked into a long hallway lined with doors. "And what's with this hallway, anyway? Are these all closets or what? They're too close together to be actual rooms!"
"Maybe they're just painted on," suggested Nuriko, opening the nearest one. He found himself staring into the headlight of an oncoming train and quickly slammed it shut. "Maybe we shouldn't touch them," he advised.
"The spatial dimensions of this mansion are physically impossible," Bloodberry calculated.
"Tell that to the door," said Nuriko. "Or maybe you'd like to open it?"
"I will," replied Bloodberry. "There is no danger."
Nuriko dove for cover as Bloodberry turned the doorknob and pulled the door open. "See?" said Bloodberry. "There is nothing to fear here. It is only our friends in the kitchen."
Nuriko carefully peered around the edge of the doorframe. A gout of fire shot out of the door and charred his head. "Ouch...."
Moroboshi belched contentedly. "Sorry about that. It's all this curry."
"Curry," said Chii, pointing at the table.
"No, Chii, that's pudding," explained Moroboshi.
"Pudding?" asked Chii, pointing at Moroboshi.
"Nyooky! Nyooky!" shouted Nuku Nuku. "Nyi found nya nyummy fish!"
Nuriko shook the ashes off his face and charged into the kitchen. "You idiots! What are you doing stuffing your faces when we're supposed to be looking for clues?"
"Clues," said Chii, pointing at a note written in blood that had been thrust into the napkin holder.
Nuriko blinked. "Well, I suppose that works."
"See?" Moroboshi asked triumphantly. "Stopping in the kitchen for a snack ALWAYS works!"
"Let's see what it says," suggested Bloodberry, grabbing the note. "'Milk, eggs, fabric softener....' This is a grocery list!"
"Written in blood?" asked Rally. "Someone must have been desperate for a pen."
"Or maybe it's just ketchup," replied Moroboshi, rubbing a french fry against the red letters and popping it into his mouth. His face turned blue. "I don't think that's ketchup...."
Bloodberry sniffed carefully at the note. "My olfactory sensors identify this substance as lipstick."
"Lipstick?" repeated everyone else, except Moroboshi, who had run to the sink to spit, and Chii, who was spitting on Moroboshi's back.
"But there are no women living in this house," observed Bloodberry. "Whose lipstick could it be?"
"Something tells me we have all the clues we need," said Rally. "I think it's about time for...."
The door at the far end of the room burst open and Wang stepped into the room, looming menacingly. "I want to suck your blood!"
"Here!" shouted Nuriko, pressing the shopping list into his hand. "Suck this! It looks like blood!"
Wang stared at the list and crumpled it up. "It was just an expression, you know." He tossed the wadded-up paper onto the table, into the arms of a waiting Pikachu.
"Pika?" The Pikachu sniffed excitedly at the paper, then pulled it open and licked eagerly at it. It stuck out its tongue disgustedly and threw the paper aside. "Pika...." Its eyes darkened, and its fur crackled.
"I suggest we run," said Bloodberry. "An angry Pikachu can be -" She looked up to see that everyone else had already fled into the hallway, and quickly followed them.
CUE MUSIC: They Might Be Giants - Wicked Little Critta
Moroboshi emerged into the hallway first, ran across the hall, threw the door open, and ran inside, slamming it shut behind him. Rally followed, leaving the door open for Chii, Nuku Nuku, Nuriko, and Bloodberry, who slammed it shut again so that Wang smacked into it face first. He opened it and ran inside just in time to be followed by the Pikachu. The door shut on its own, and a door at the far end opened, disgorging Moroboshi, the Pikachu, Rally, Nuku Nuku, and Wang, who ran into another door just as Bloodberry, Nuriko, Chii, and the Pikachu ran out of yet another door, turned, and ran into the previous door. That same door opened to admit the Pikachu, Rally, Genma, Tomoyo, Zenigata, and the Harlem Globetrotters, who circled around each other and ran right back inside. Then Nuriko emerged from yet another door, opened the door across the hall, and threw himself aside as a train crossed the hallway.
"Wait, hold it!" called Rally, as she emerged from a door on the near side of the train. "The door gag just doesn't work in prose."
"Then you'd best find somewhere else to run!" warned Wang, as the train finally completed its crossing, revealing him standing at the far end of the hallway with the Pikachu in his arms. "This Pikachu is mine, and as they say, you're in for quite a shock!"
The group ran straight down the hallway, ignoring the confusing doors in their haste to escape. Rally, in the lead, tore down the staircase, and Nuku Nuku nearly missed the turn until Bloodberry grabbed her arm and pulled her along.
"Nyey!" shouted Nuku Nuku. "Nyi dropped my fish!"
Wang rounded the corner, slipped on the fish, and tumbled head over heels down the stairs, taking down one member of the group after another in a giant screaming ball of bodies as he went. Finally, they hit the bottom step with a bad bounce and flew across the room, landing right on top of Yakumo and Clef. Clef squeezed out from under the pile, sliding easily through the pool of Yakumo's blood.
"Well, that takes care of that," he announced.
Everyone in the pile clambered to their feet, leaving the dazed Wang lying on top of Yakumo's body. "No!" screamed Nuriko. "What have they done to you?"
"Nye killed Nyakumo!" shouted Nuku Nuku. "Nyand nye stepped nyon my fish!"
"Let's take off the mask and see who he really is!" cheered Mihoshi as she climbed out of the pit.
"Mask?" asked Moroboshi. "What mask?"
"All the villains wear masks, silly!" said Mihoshi. She reached over and pulled off Wang's rubber mask.
Everyone gasped in unison. "INSPECTOR ZENIGATA?!"
"Well, of COURSE Inspector Zenigata was the culprit," said Bloodberry definitively. "It all makes sense."
"How did you figure out that it was me?" asked Zenigata. "Was it the fact that Wang and I were never in the room at the same time? Or the lipstick that I use because I'm so effeminate? Or the fact that I have a split personality, and knew everything about the murders here even before they happened?"
"We took off the mask and saw your face," explained Moroboshi.
"I wonder why we never thought of that before," wondered Nuriko.
"Isn't this the first time we've been in a murder mystery?" returned Rally.
The front door opened, and a policewoman with short black hair stepped into the room. "So, where's this murderer I was called in to arrest?"
"That's the guy!" shouted Moroboshi, pointing at Zenigata.
"Chii the guy!" shouted Chii, pointing at Moroboshi.
The policewoman sighed. "TWO murderers? Good thing I brought the extra set of handcuffs."
"Hey, wait a second!" protested Moroboshi. "I'm no murderer! Chii, what do you think you're doing?"
She pointed at him enthusiastically. "Sherlock Pudding! Yakumo! Chii, eh! Murderer!"
"Shut up already before I have to kill you!"
"That's all I needed to hear," said the policewoman. She spun him around and quickly handcuffed him. Then she hauled Zenigata to his feet and slapped a pair of cuffs on him as well.
"Wait, Officer Natsumi, you can't arrest me!" he protested. "That guy isn't even dead!"
Natsumi looked at Yakumo's body. "He looks dead to me."
"That's impossible! He's Yakumo, right? He always comes back to life!" He breathed into Yakumo's mouth. "Come on, you dead idiot! On your feet and exonerate me!"
"I've seen enough!" said Natsumi, pulling him away from the corpse. "Both of you are coming with me, and that's that. You're Under Arrest!"
The studio audience cheered and applauded, and the actors all smiled back at them.
"Chii?" Chii stepped in front of Natsumi and held out her arms.
"Aww, how cute," said Natsumi, rubbing Chii's head. "Do you want to be arrested too?"
"Chii...." Chii nodded sadly, glancing at Moroboshi.
"All right." Natsumi slapped a pair of handcuffs on Chii. "But I don't think there's enough room for all three of you on my motorcycle, so you're just going to have to run alongside me."
"But the police station's all the way on the other side of town!" protested Moroboshi. "We'll never make it that far!"
"Don't worry," Natsumi assured him. "I just filled the tank, so we've got plenty of gas." She threw a rope around the three of them, tying them together, and dragged them outside. "Now let's get a move on if we want to make it before Cops!"
Rally wiped her hands in satisfaction. "Well, I'd call that a successful mission," she declared.
"But Moroboshi and Chii were arrested," Bloodberry reminded her.
"What part of that contradicts 'successful mission'?" asked Rally.
Yakumo sat up and coughed. "Gross... I think that guy slipped me the tongue or something!"
Nuriko snapped his fingers. "Darn!"
"Wait," said Rally. "You mean you were just faking it?"
"Hey, who could possibly play dead better than me?" asked Yakumo.
Everyone laughed heartily.
Rally pulled out an assault rifle and shot Yakumo full of holes. "I don't like being tricked!"
"Nyuku Nyuku nyuuuuuuuu!" cried Nuku Nuku.
Everyone turned to stare at her. "Why did you say that?" asked Rally.
Nuku Nuku shrugged. "Nyi don't nyow."
Everyone laughed heartily again.
"Wait," grumbled Yuusuke. "Does this mean I died for nothing? What a ripoff."
"You do realize that most of those characters weren't even based on anyone from the original Excel Saga," said Hatsuharu, phrasing his question in the form of a condescending statement.
"Well, yeah," Nidoking admitted. "But I'm trying to tell a story here."
"No, you're not," put in Maetel. "You're just trying to be funny at any cost."
"So, did it work?" asked the desperate author.
"I don't even know why we're here at all," said Kukai.
"It's simple," explained Nidoking. "You're Antonio, the guy from the mountain cabin. Maetel is Tetsuko, and Hatsuharu is Space Butler. Because of the hair, you know."
"This hardly compares to that clown hair of his," griped Hatsuharu.
"But why are we here?" repeated Kukai. "What's our purpose in this scene?"
Nidoking shrugged. "To be you guys, I suppose. You're filling out the roster. I promised the readers a bunch of replacements for minor characters, and I just couldn't leave you guys out, but you didn't fit into the story anywhere, so... here you are."
"That's it?"
"Well, yeah."
"Then I'm leaving," announced Maetel, donning her heavy iron mask as she stood up. The other two followed, Kukai pausing only to punch Nidoking in the stomach as he went.
"I probably deserved that," moaned Nidoking as he crumpled to the floor.
"Barkeep, one more round!" called out Sailor Pluto.



The scream resounded through the countryside, causing the birds roosting in the trees to take flight and livestock to bury their heads in the mud in fear. The bedraggled figure responsible for the yell stood at the gate of the Ikari property, breathing heavily, fists clenched in preparation for what would surely be a mighty battle.
Minutes passed, and nothing happened.
Minutes passed, and nothing happened.
Minutes passed, and nothing happened.
And there was probably a flamenco dance in the background somewhere.
- Anonymous
Finally losing what little patience he had, Shinji stormed up to the door and banged on it with his fist. "ONIZUKAAAAAAAAA!"
"Geez, chill already, ya freak," said Onizuka as he opened the door. "I hadda get dressed, you know. Can't kick the crap outta you naked."
Shinji's resolve broke instantaneously. "D-dressed? You don't mean...."
Naru stepped into the doorway, hastily pulling a flimsy nightgown over her lingerie-clad body. "Shinji, what are you doing back here? I thought Onizuka kicked the crap out of you and tossed you into the desert to die."
Tears streamed down Shinji's face. "I thought I could win you back by crawling all the way back home, but now I'm just going to lose again to this jerk!"
Onizuka cracked his knuckles. "So, what's it gonna be, pantywaist? Am I gonna wring your neck, or are you just gonna lie down like a good little puppy and beg for mercy?"
Shinji summoned up all his nerve and balled his hands into fists. "You can't hurt me!" he shouted defiantly. "Because you're not the real Eikichi Onizuka!"
Onizuka and Naru were shocked. "What the hell are you talking about?" asked Onizuka.
Shinji reached up and grabbed Onizuka's face. "Let's see who you really are!" he shouted as he pulled off the mask.
Naru and Shinji gasped in unison. "D.B. SOMMER?!"
"Of course!" exclaimed Shinji. "It all makes sense! He was the author who inspired this story, so of course he'd have to be in it somewhere!"
D.B. shook his head. "There's one problem with that. If I were really D.B. Sommer, I wouldn't be married to Naru."
"Well, that's not a problem," said Naru, reaching up to remove her own mask.
Shinji and D.B. gasped in unison. "MUTSUMI?!"
Mutsumi giggled. "Well, of course it's me, silly! Who did you expect?"
"Wait..." said D.B. "Isn't this a violation of the rules? There was only supposed to be one character per series!"
"We've broken that rule a few times already," Mutsumi reminded him. "But if you insist... there is ONE explanation that would make sense here." She reached up and grabbed the top of her head.
"Wait!" protested D.B. "I WANT you to be Mutsumi!" But it was too late, as the mask came off.
D.B. and Shinji gasped in unison. "KANAKO?!"
"Well, duh," said Kanako. "Which means that this guy isn't really D.B. Sommer." She pulled the mask off her former self's former self's husband's alter ego's alter ego.
Kanako and Shinji gasped in unison. "NIDOKING?!"
Nidoking shrugged. "I guess I had to play a part in this subplot after all."
"But why would you be married to Kanako?" asked Shinji.
"I have no idea," he answered frankly. "But then, if it made sense, I'd have to take off another mask, and this joke's gone on long enough already."
Shinji's eyes sparkled with hope. "Wait... do you think I might be someone else in disguise?" He grabbed his hair and tugged earnestly. "OW! It's real!"
"Idiot," said Kanako darkly.
"It's not fair!" cried Shinji. "I'm stuck as me! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
"Ugh," groaned Nidoking. "I'm writing myself out of this freak show. Enjoy your marriage, you two." He waved and vanished in a flash of light.
Kanako let her head hang. "Why didn't I just let Naru have this job?"
Sheltered within the small cabin, Tomoyo smiled to herself and pulled off a mask of her own. "I told you he'd let me come back!" Marin announced triumphantly.


MIHOSHI: So, is it really true that you got the Excel Saga manga?
NIDOKING: Isn't that what I said in the chapter?
MIHOSHI: But what does that mean for our story?
NIDOKING: Doesn't it just beg for an episode based on the original manga?
MIHOSHI: Why are we talking in questions?
NIDOKING: Don't you recognize the reference?
MIHOSHI: What are you talking about?
NIDOKING: That's cheating.
A buzzer sounds.
MIHOSHI: Next time on Quack Experimental Fanfic Excel Fusion Z: The Manga-nificent Beginning!
NIDOKING: Won't you join us?
Pop-under notes: You don't seriously need me to explain these a second time, do you? It's a meta-explanation anyway. If you can't figure that much out on your own, you probably didn't even realize that this entire episode was a parody of Scooby Doo. Did you?

Cotton in cheeks: This, I'm told, is how Marlon Brando did the deep voice of The Godfather in the movie of the same name. As implied, I know little else about the movie. But there was a fake fight scene in the third one.

With my current salary, I can't prosper: Salary is "kyuuryou" and prosper is "kouryuu". Another bad Excel-style pun.

Chii: The main persocom from Chobits. Like her QEFEFZ incarnation, the original Chii began the story with no memory or personality, and learned everything by mimicking the main character, Hideki. I think that Chii learned more quickly, though.

Inspector Zenigata: Lupin III's arch-nemesis, or vice versa. He's always chasing Lupin and rarely catching him, although the manga incarnation of Lupin is far sneakier than anything I've seen in the anime.

They killed Kenny: South Park. Duh.

Sherlock Holmes: The main character of a series of books by Arthur Conan Doyle and one of the most famous fictional detectives ever. This split personality was the best thing I could think of to correspond to Purin's. Yes, I lack imagination.

Hoedown: Almost always the last game played in Whose Line Is It Anyway, the British improvised comedy show where every episode starts with a hilarious comment like this one, only it's actually funny.

James Cameron: The director of, among other things, The Terminator.

DiCaprio: Short for Leonardo DiCaprio, star of such movies as Titanic, which James Cameron also directed. So if you knew those basic pieces of movie trivia, the joke was probably somewhat humorous. If you didn't, go to the IMDB and learn some basic movie trivia before the third chapter.

Damuramu: Yes, this villain also appeared in Dragon Half and apparently died, only to return mostly made of metal. It was him or Frieza to play the part of the old guy, and Frieza's not nearly as funny. Also, I needed a DBZ character for later, as it happens. And I wanted to take advantage of having finally gotten to see Key the Metal Idol. So that's why the incredible contrivance surrounding that whole flashback joke. (Which is itself a Dragon Half reference....)

Paradoxes: This is a reference to my own story, A General Time Paradox. The name says it all, although I urge you to read it. Because I always like having more readers. ^_^

Mr. Fujisawa: The drunk teacher from El-Hazard. Who better to run a bar, right? And when he's NOT drunk, he gains superhuman strength... not quite enough to make him quit, but it is tempting.

Key: Yes, this time I know the Key from Key the Metal Idol well enough to use her as a replacement for Key from Excel Saga. She really talks like that, too. At least, in Japanese. And she refers to herself as "watashi" whereas the English translation always has her refer to herself by name. I guess that works for a robot-sounding character.

Excel Saga manga: Read it. And yes, this scene corresponds to the weekend when I bought the first volume of the manga. It naturally had to go into the story right then and there. And yes, it took me THAT long to write the rest of this chapter.

One MILLION dollars: Dr. Evil from Austin Powers was thrilled about having one million dollars. And used air quotes all the time. And did all the other stuff this character does in the scene. I have no idea why I decided to make him an endless source of outdated movie references, but there you go. My very own Excel Saga-style personality. Oh, wait, I added Chii. Oh well. My very own TWO Excel Saga-style personaliti- wait, there are two more. THREE, er FOUR....

Marin Asagi: The main character of Brigadoon, of course. Everyone should know that, if they've had any contact with me at all in the last, oh, say, period of time. Of course, Suncoast STILL can't get their hands on the DVDs to sell them to me... volume 4 is about a month overdue. But if you can find the DVDs, watch them. They're good. Marin has a vivid imagination and often sees visions of her own demise that lead her to choose her actions carefully.

Green Swordsman: This is, of course, Cell from Dragonball Z. In Brigadoon, Marin carried around a tiny blue bottle known as an ampoule, from which the Blue Swordsman, Melan, would emerge when she threw it. Melan looks just a bit like Cell, I think. That's about the only connection Cell has to Marin, and none at all to the original Excel Saga... but then, I've ignored the original since episode 1 ended.

Your arm's off!: Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I shall speak no more of this.

Popeil: Did this guy make ANYTHING that didn't make julienne fries efficiently? Well, maybe Crazy Glue... just listen to Weird Al's "Mr. Popeil" for the full story here.

Tail, get behind me: This, oddly enough, is a reference to a really old Nick Jr. Show called Eureeka's Castle. The dragon's tail had a mind of its own and would go anywhere except behind its owner. His catchphrase was "Tail, get behind!" I changed it to make sense, particularly in the grammatical sense.

Catbus: The conveyance of choice in My Neighbor Totoro. I couldn't just have a regular bus, could I?

Heero Yuy: The main character of Gundam Wing. He gets a small part because I really couldn't stand that series. I didn't change his personality at all. Nope, not one bit. Seriously. Well, okay, I lied. I made him about ten times more cheerful.

Grey Poupon: You remember the commercials... two cars are stopped at a red light, and one driver motions to the other to roll down his window. (This probably predates automatic windows.) They both roll down their windows, and the first driver says "Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?" The other driver would then hand over a jar of this fine Dijon mustard, proving that... oh, I don't know, let's just say it has about as much to do with the product as the Pepsi girl or any jeans commercial.

Not a doctor: Star Trek reference. Need I say more?

Eeexcellent: Mr. Burns of The Simpsons fame says this all the time.

Lupin Madblood: Not an anime character at all, but Dr Narbon's arch-rival and secret crush in Narbonic, the online comic strip by Shaenon Garrity. Check it out at Used with permission. Yes, I asked. That's just the kind of guy I am.

Come to the dark side: A Star Wars reference.

Golden Tickets: A Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory reference.

Call me Ishmael: The first line of Moby Dick, I believe. I couldn't even get that far into it.

Wang: The evil vizier in The Irresponsible Captain Tylor. Is it just me, or did viziers exist for the sole purpose of being evil and plotting to take over the kingdom? Have you EVER heard of a "good vizier"?

Sousuke Sagara: A main character of Fullmetal Panic. I say "a" because Chidori's a hell of a lot more fun. I didn't change Sousuke's personality either, but at least I like his series.

Yuusuke Urameshi: The main character of Yuu Yuu Hakusho. He died right at the start, then came back to life with powers gained from having been a ghost. He was also the school bully, and generally a real jerk. He took orders from Koenma, the son of King Enma, who looked very much like a baby. Yuusuke loved making fun of him.

Mai Wang: Another Simpsons reference, this time to Bart's constant prank calls to Moe the bartender.

Gackt: This guy's name seriously sounds like what someone might say if they get stabbed.

DEATH: This is the Death of Discworld, naturally. Also not anime, but he has been animated and made into graphic adventure games.

Get a feel for the traffic: "Koutsuu no kotsu wo oboeru." Probably the worst pun yet.

Fell a long way and carelessly became trapped: "Fukaku ochite, fukaku ni ochiita." It makes up for the last one, I feel.

Nifty little toaster: This is the ghost trap from Ghostbusters. I hope you all caught that.

Milk, eggs, fabric softener: A Home Alone reference, for no reason whatsoever. Seriously. I have no idea why I even mentioned it in these notes.

I want to suck your blood: A generic vampire reference. I don't really care whether it's an actual quote or not at this point.

Harlem Globetrotters: I was going to have each of the mask removing scenes have a few more masks, including such Scooby Doo favorites as Professor Hyde-White, Don Knotts, Davy Jones, the Ghost Miner, and others, but a Johnny Bravo episode used almost exactly the same gag, so I got rid of it. Maybe that's where I got this whole idea from in the first place. Wouldn't surprise me much.

Natsumi: One of the main characters in You're Under Arrest. I don't believe she has her driver's license, or at least she doesn't at the start of the manga, so she can only drive a motorcycle.

Hatsuharu: One of the characters from Fruits Basket. His distinctive feature is that his hair is striped... and it's natural. They check.

Maetel: The character from Galaxy Express 999 who was the template for Tetsuko. Who better to play the part?

Kukai: The big bald guy from Flame of Recca. He doesn't attack anyone until he's provoked three times. Guess he took exception to Nidoking, but everyone wants to hurt Nidoking.

Mutsumi: D.B.'s favorite Love Hina character.

Kanako: Keitaro's sister. She's a master of disguise and has disguised herself as Naru and Mutsumi, as well as countless other Love Hina characters.

Talking in questions: Another Whose Line Is It Anyway game. The participants have to speak entirely in questions or they get buzzed out and replaced. Yes, that's two Whose Line references in one chapter... just be glad I didn't think Zenigata's third hoedown about Richard Vranch fit anywhere in the story.

D.B. Sommer appears with his permission and approval.
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