See You, Space Spikard -- Part 4

MLoader: The warships of everyone but the Emalgha and the Zachit are mostly burning hulks. Terrapin Station explodes as three Igadzra battleships suicide ram it. The Emalgha and Zachit roar towards you, guns blazing.

MLoader: Three seconds before they reach you, Cupio hyperjumps.

Demetrius laughs. o/~You see me now, the veteran... of a thousand psychic waaaaaarrrrssss... o/~

MLoader: Everyone relaxes a bit.

MLoader: "Sir? Comm from the engine room."

Demetrius holds it down. "Yes, Gridley?"

Devan mutters. "You know, why were we even fighting for a crate of party favors if the guy we're doing this for..."

MLoader: "Hi there," says Fiona. "I've mined this ship fairly thoroughly with explosives. Let's talk detente, Abyss Boy."

Demetrius -stares-. "Onscreen."

Devan: "Lovely. She made it aboard, did she?"

Demetrius: "Ten will get you one that hull breach was a boarding pod."

MLoader: Fiona and Gerard are standing in the engine room. Big, nasty explosives are on the Void Engine.

Devan: "Can she make it out of here without us?"

Demetrius arches an eyebrow. "You do know blowing that will probably cause this Shadow and possibly many, many more to be sucked irrevocably into the Abyss, right?"

MLoader: "Like I care."

Demetrius: "Please, Your Highness. You're just as stuck here as we are."

MLoader: Fiona sticks her tongue out at you. "Not really. I can leave this Shadow any time I wish. Your minds simply must not be strong enough."

MLoader: "Now. Why do you keep trying to abduct me?"

Demetrius: "Can'tsay. Wouldn't be prudent." He jerks his head at Devan.

MLoader: Fiona shrugs. "Oh well. I'm having that crate brought to me as we speak. I really, really hope it has the spikard in it or something."

Devan glances at Demetrius, and shrugs. "Some questions about your involvement in certain things in Avalon. And, uh... you're not really gonna find much in there."

Demetrius types on his command console.

-*Demetrius* Typing on said command console sends T to go intercept the crate.

Demetrius: "damn."

MLoader: "I haven't been involved in Avalon since the war. And what where you after the crate for if nothing much is in it?"

Demetrius: "The one-hundredth and twelfth rule of aquisition."

Demetrius: "If everybody else wants it, it must be worth keeping." He grins.

Devan: "... Would you believe we were after the rubber chicken in it?"

MLoader: Fiona looks at Devan through the monitor. Her Mad Psychic Skillz tell her he's not lying.

MLoader: "Is there anything out of the ordinary about this chicken? What connection does it have to the spikard?"

Demetrius: "Ask Bonfleur."

MLoader: "Who?"

Demetrius: "If you can reassemble his scattered atoms."

Devan: "Actually, nothing, far as I know, the guy we were workin' with wanted the rubber chicken."

MLoader: "Because it is connected to the spikard?"

Demetrius: "He claimed, anyway."

Demetrius: "But he just wanted the chicken for itself."

MLoader: (Actually, Bonfleur never claimed the chicken was connected to the spikard.)

Demetrius: (i thought he did)

MLoader: (Nope.)

Devan: "Nope. He just wanted it, and we went along cuz we thought we needed his help to hunt the spikard down."

Demetrius: (My bad)

MLoader: Fiona stares. Then starts to laugh, then cry, then laugh hysterically.

Demetrius shrugs. "We didn't feel like playing the empire-building game with the rest of you, and Bonfleur seemed to be onto something."

MLoader: "WAHAHAHAHAHA! YOU IDIOTS! HAHAHA! *gasp* Everyone else thought you knew where the spikard was! You showed up, and instead of searching immediately started chasing that damn chicken, so all of the players assumed it was the key to the spikard!"

MLoader: "Thousands of ships and millions of men just fought to the death over a damn RUBBER CHICKEN! WAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Devan: "Actually, we were hunting for you first, and the spikard second, if that makes you feel any better."

Demetrius shrugs. "These things happen."

MLoader: "Why? I haven't done anything!"

Demetrius: "I have nothing personal against you, Your Higness, nor against Prince Gerard."

Demetrius: "I go where my contracts tell me."

Devan: "Avalon would beg to differ. Apparently, ah, you're wanted in an investigation over something. Though now I'm beginning to wonder."

MLoader: "I haven't done anything to Avalon! I don't know why Random exiled me! I'm innocent!"

Demetrius blinks. "You were exiled for diplomatic reasons, Your Highness."

Demetrius: "Did you not know that?"

MLoader: "I knew that, but I don't know or understand the motives behind it."

Devan palms his face, and looks at Demetrius. "What say we just call off hostilities and figure out what the fuck's going on?"

Demetrius: "I thought everyone knew."

Demetrius: "Random exiles you, and Meredith exiles Juri and the Ravager Beast."

MLoader: "What is keeping that man?" Fiona mutters. "Come on Gerard, let's go find that chest."

-*Demetrius* I press the button that seals off the engine room doors.

MLoader: Fiona looks annoyed as the door slam. "Well, poot. Delta delta."

-*Demetrius* Is T back yet?

--> DemetriusNope?.

Demetrius: "I thought you wanted to talk."

MLoader: "Open the doors and we'll keep talking."

Demetrius: "Open the doors and you'll start rampaging through my ship."

MLoader: "And? We can talk while I'm rampaging."

MLoader: T appears on the bridge with the chest.

Demetrius: "Despite my upbringing, violent rampages are not conducive to polite conversation."

MLoader: "It won't be violent."

Demetrius: "Will it also not involve mind-control?"

MLoader: "Open the doors. Now."

Devan rubs his head. "Where IS Gerard, anyway?"

Demetrius types on his console for a bit. "

MLoader: Fi brightens. "Good idea! Gerard! Tear!"

-*Demetrius* I'm pulling all men fromthat sector back towards our end of the shhip.

-*Demetrius* Then I open the door right beofre Gerard can punch it.

MLoader: The sound of ripping engine room doors is heard.

--> DemetriusToo? late.

Demetrius sighs. "That was good durasteel."

Devan rolls his eyes. "Thats just me, full of good ideas. This hardly seems like detente."

Demetrius: "Prince Gerard was something of a surprise, by the by."

Demetrius: "I was fully expecting Prince Julian."

MLoader: Fiona and Gerard walk through the ship, talking to you as they go via the comm. "Gerard's a good soul. I told him the truth, for once - that I was being attacked for unknown reasons, and needed his protection. I... oh. Dead messenger boy."

Devan: "Hnh. And here we were, ready to drag you back to answer for crimes against Avalon." He goes on to describe those crimes.

-*Demetrius* I keep my crew out of her way.

MLoader: Nelson walks over and takes the navigation seat as Cupio gets up and starts pacing.

MLoader: "I'm innocent of all of them."

Devan: "Hnh. How do we know that? Do you have an alibi?"

MLoader: "No, not really."

-*Demetrius* Mike, are the terms of my contract that I deliver Fiona to HORATIO, or to AVALON?

Devan rolls his eyes. "Why not? Where were you at the time?"

--> DemetriusUnclear?. Could be construed to mean either.

Demetrius drums his fingers on his chair. "Hmm."

Demetrius: "Might I have a minute to confer with my esteemed colleagues, Your Highness?"

MLoader: "Thirty seconds."

Demetrius: "Right." Demetrius presses the mute button. "Is it just me, or does this whole thing smell?"

Demetrius: "King Meredith didn't know about Horatio's contracting us, and Fiona seems genuinely mystified, though of course she could be lying."

Devan: "Yeah. First Horatio seems too eager to help us get involved, then there's that incident with Jasra, and now..."

Devan: "Either we've got a major miscommunication, or somebody hasn't been sharing everything with us."

Demetrius: "What were his orders to YOU, Ser Devan? And you, Cupio?"

Demetrius: "Because mine were just to retrieve Fiona and follow your orders."

Demetrius: "Looking back, he never once claimed to be acting for anybody other than himself."

Devan: "Actually, Joan wanted Fiona in for those crimes, and I volunteered to get them. Horatio pitched in with help, and hired you two."

MLoader: Cupio shrugs. "Mine were just to help Devan get Fi."

Demetrius: "Hmm. We just have to bring her back to Avalon, right?"

Demetrius: "doesn't say HOW."

Demetrius: "There some sort of royal law or custom or whatever that'd allow Fiona to meet with Meredith saely, without getting arrested?"

Devan: "Admittedly, I'm a bit surprised he agreed to do it so easily, being an ambassador from Amber and all, but..." He rubs his head. "After what happened with Jasra... I'm not so sure anymore what's going on with him." He ponders. "Yeah. That's right. 'Course, hmmm... Think King Meredith would approve an asylum thing for her so that she can clear herself, if that's true?"

Devan: "I'm guessing she could ask for political asylum. She was exiled, wasn't she?"

Demetrius: "Well, Meredith barred her from the realm."

MLoader: You doubt it, especially as how she's a wanted criminal in Avalon.

Demetrius: "That's why I asked."

Devan rubs his head. "No, that wouldn't work, she's wanted and all. How about we just get someone to talk to Fiona outside of Avalon?"

Devan: "... And NOT Horatio.

Demetrius: "Well, I got no problem with that. You're in charge."

Devan nods. "Put her back on." And he takes a deep breath.

Demetrius: "It would probably be best if we reported to horatio and Meredith at the same ti- right." He unmutes.

MLoader: "Well?" Fiona says.

Devan: "Well, there's something fishy going on here. We're starting to wonder if maybe we both weren't played off each other. So, I've got this proposal for you. Come back with us and we'll talk to the King or someone and see what the hell's going on. Or we can bring someone to meet us. Either way, I guess, we need to figure out what possible reason there is for having you out of the way in Amber, since this whole thing seems designated to get you out of Amber at the lea

MLoader: "I'm not going with you to Avalon, no, sorry."

MLoader: "I'm sort of wanted there."

Devan: "So we'll meet somewhere else? With someone else so we can put the pieces together?"

MLoader: She thinks. "Well, if you live through the next five minutes, you can tell the King to send an Ambassador to Amber, and from there to Amber's Chaos."

Demetrius: "The Court of King Merlin?"

MLoader: "I'll speak to him there, as it's neutral ground. Yes, that court."

Devan rubs his head. "Wouldn't it be easier to let us live so we could get you unbanished if everything you're sayin' is true?"

MLoader: "But I think you'll die." She boards one of your sloops.

Demetrius looks distrubed. "what have you brought aboard my ship?"

Devan mutters. "Great." (Aside quietly to Demetrius, "I hope you've got engineers down in the engine room disarming the mines.")

MLoader: "You like Pink Floyd, Captain?"

Devan: "... Don't tell me, lemme guess. "The Hole"?

MLoader: The hangar bay doors open.

Demetrius: "I'm a Zappa man."

MLoader: "No, but you're close..."

MLoader: Fiona pulls back on the throttle, and the sloop starts to leave the docking bay.

Demetrius: "It pulls to the right," Demetrius calls.

MLoader: The sloop slides out of the bay. Fiona sings, o/~ Set the controls for the heart of the sun... o/~

-*Demetrius* I shut down all propulsion systems.

Demetrius pails, and starts hitting controls frenetically.

-*Demetrius* And divert engineers back to the engine room.

MLoader: Nelson starts hitting buttons too.

MLoader: "I'll handle it captain, do something about the bombs!"

Demetrius jumps up. "C'mon, Ser Devan." He rushes for the engine room.

Devan zips down, meanwhile calling for the engineers to go to work on the bombs themselves to save precious time. Why do it all by yourself?

MLoader: You all zip down to the Engine room, were you find all the engineers but Gridley lying in a heap on the floor.

MLoader: Nelson comes on the intercom. "Captain?"

Demetrius jumps up andstarts examining the bombs. "Aye?"

MLoader: "I've set the controls for the heart of the sun. Long live Princess Fiona! Void Jump in five seconds!"

-*Demetrius* I turn one of my arms into Abyss form, shove it inside the Void Engine, and seize direct control of it.

Demetrius sighs and speaks into the intercom. "Prince Cupio, Mr. Bogdozan, restrain him."

MLoader: "Already done, but we can't stop the thing!"

-*Devan* Grab demetrius and go get in the staff. MonkeyShadowdimension? time if there's like one second left.

MLoader: Demetrius reaches into the Void Engine, and starts communing with it.

Devan: Countdown?

--> DevanThat? engineer has pulled a gun. What are you doing?

MLoader: 3 seconds.

-*Demetrius* I don't want to do anything with it, besides stopping it fromdoing anything.

Devan: "Oi, Demmy, lemme know quick, I can get us two out of HERE quick, but..."

--> DemetriusThat?'s what you're doing, yes.

-*Demetrius* No Void Jump. And if I fail and it tires, I'll funnel the energy elsewhere.

Demetrius: "No. I neeD to stay. Run iF you likE, I don't knoW if I can holD it."

-*Demetrius* tires = tries.

--> DevanNot? doing anything?

-*Devan* Well, one second left, and I go without him.

-*Devan* Woops... missed that.

-*Devan* Bean him with the staff.

-*Devan* or better yet,

-*Devan* use the warfare for QUICKEST takedown possible.

MLoader: Devan suddenly whacks Gridley with the staff just as the engineer is aboit to shoot Demetrius in the back of the head. The shot goes wild instead.

MLoader: The Void Engire stops attempting to jump, as Demetrius successfully quells it.

Demetrius: Let me guess; there was never actually anything preventing it from functioning here in the first place.

Demetrius: Except my crew.

MLoader: Btw, the timer on the bomb now reads 30 seconds.

Devan: "Nice going. Guess we should just take Fiona back in anyway, eh?" as he starts examining the bomb.

-*Demetrius* Since I'm plugged into the VE, can Ijust huck the bombs into the Abyss?

--> DemetriusSure?.

-*Devan* I have a slowtime shadow, right? c.c

-*Demetrius* I do so.

--> DevanA? panicked thought. Fi said, bombs all over the ship. Not just here, but all over...

Devan yelps. "Wait a minute, Fiona said bombs all over the ships, didn't she?"

MLoader: Demetrius hurls the bombs on the Void Engine into the Abyss.

--> DevanIt?'s slowtime,, yeah

-*Devan* Hmph. No time, though.

Demetrius: Does the ship messily explode?

MLoader: Are you going to sit and wait for it to?

Devan: No.

Demetrius: Well, hold on. This is MY shadow, right?

Devan: Do you have time to reshape it to make explosives not work?

MLoader: Yup, it is, and it's a simple chemical change.

Demetrius: I don't know. Is it likeflipping a lightswitch?

MLoader: No, more a gradual process.

Demetrius: how gradual?

-*Devan* If I gave demmy the staff, could it help him make it quicker?

MLoader: It would help if you had lots of psyche backing up up, but you could render a specific compound inert in 15 second, and al explosives inert in 30.

--> DevanNot? really.

Devan: NIce, except the problem is we probably have less than 30 seconds now.

Demetrius: And we have, what, twenty or so?

MLoader: Twenty, yup.

-*Devan* How about if I focus the psyche of myself _AND_ the monkeys in my shadow through the staff as Demmy holds it?

--> DevanYou? can try.

Demetrius dashes around the engine room frenetically, flipping switches and dialling dials. Occasianlly, he stops for a second and looks like he's meditating. "Ser Devan, if the Logrus has any tricks it would like to try..."

Demetrius: I start with the type the ones on the Void Engine were made from, and go from there.

Devan: "Oi, Demmy, if you're trying to change this shadow around..." as he brings the staff down on Demetrius' shoulder to help him focus.

-*Devan* Try.

--> DemetriusYou? get a surge of extra psychic power.

MLoader: The timer tears off seconds. Three...

Devan: (And no, that was not an attack. Just me putting the staff to rest on his shoulder)

MLoader: Two..

Demetrius 's pupils dilate. "Whoa."

-*Demetrius* I use it.

MLoader: One...

MLoader: Zero.

MLoader: Nothing happens.

Devan: "..."

Demetrius gently pushes the staff away. "Thank you."

--> DemetriusLooks? like you did it.

-*Demetrius* Weeee.

Devan tucks the staff back between his ear. "No prob."

Demetrius: "Roight." Demetrius hauls Gridley to his feet. "time for some reprogramming."

Demetrius delouses Gridley's mind.

MLoader: "Captain, mixed fleet of bounty hunters and Azdgari approaching!" Bogdozan yells over the comm.

Devan stretches a bit. "Better check us all over when we ha... great. What's next, the Dread Pirate Ruxpin?"

Demetrius: "Don't even joke about that, Ser Devan," Demetrius says quietly.

Demetrius walks back to the Void Engine and starts fiddling with the controls on the console.

-*Demetrius* I assume the VE works fine now?

--> DemetriusYup?.

Demetrius: "Let's get out of this fuckin' Shadow."

Devan: "I'll head back on the bridge. Maybe they'll need me at weapons."

-*Demetrius* Time to go home. such as the Abyss is.

Demetrius: "No... no, they won't."

MLoader: You charge the Void Engine. Cupio's voice crackles over the intercom. "Since we'll jump before they reach us, listen to this..."

Devan pauses, looking back over at Demetrius. "Sure?" He rubs his head, suddenly looking as young as he is, and uncertain. Then he settles down, listening to Cupio.

MLoader: You hear the sound of a broadcast being picked up. "-SHOT, the bounty hunters' show! Hola, hombres!" "Hiiii!!!!" "Following the savage Battle of Terrapin, the bounty on the head of the Evil Two has been raised to... 600 Million Credits. Hot damn." "..." "Yes!" "Wow, they must be EEEEEEEVIL! *teehee!*"

Devan: "Indeed."

Demetrius: "Yeah, yeah. Everybody dump on Abyss Boy."

Devan: "Don't forget Logrus Boy. All we need now is Cupio to get a bounty on him and we can tag him as Pattern Boy."

MLoader: "How high will the reward rise? Who knows?" "Higher, I'm sure! They're SO evil and horrible!" "That's right, and... huh? What? An ape in a fighter? Are you on crack or-" *BOOOM* "It's strafing the studio! Run!" "EEEEEEEEK! An ugly monkey!" "It's coming around! Shit!" "That looks like a UE fighter..." "LOOK OUT!" *BOOM* *static*

Devan smirks.

Demetrius smiles. "I think my Shadow just caught up with them."

MLoader: And then the Radiant jumps.