QUATRE: Um... guys... why are you all looking so nervous?
TROWA: We haven't heard Mel and Christy for over an hour, but we know they're both home. They've got to be up to no good.
DUO: They're probably going to knock me out again.
HEERO: Or make me babble, or argue with myself.
WUFEI: I think they're going to make that blonde idiot onna glomp onto me again. She hasn't done it in the last couple of chapters.
QUATRE: Actually, they're out the back.
QUATRE: No... they've got a couple of patio chairs, and drinks with fruit and little umbrellas in them, and they're watching Ardeth Bey practice with his sword.
WUFEI: Well, that's a relief! ...How long is this likely to last, though?
QUATRE: He's shirtless, and getting sweatier by the minute.
DUO: We're safe for hours, then.
QUATRE: I think I'll go take them a couple of towels. They're starting to drool.
DUO: I'm feeling a little left out, Hee-chan. They aren't drooling over me!
WUFEI: I'm just going to enjoy it while it lasts. They'll start drooling over us again as soon as the novelty value wears off.
HEERO: You look like you've got an idea. Spit it out.
TROWA: If they leave us alone when they've got a new victim to lust after... maybe we should make sure they've got a steady supply of new victims?
DUO: That's... actually a very good idea, Tro. Evil, but good.
WUFEI: Mel talks about that Hazrat Haan guy all the time, and Christy thinks he's reasonably cute...
HEERO: Ninmu ryoukai.
DEMON OF JUSTICE
'We Couldn't Be That Lucky'
"I should really go," Relena said softly, smiling apologetically. "I can see that I haven't come at the best time!"
"Normally we'd all love to help you out, Relena," Quatre said, lying on Heero's behalf without a twitch, "but... well, yes, right now isn't good. With Duo hurt and Wufei... gone..." He stopped, blinking hard and trying not to look as miserable as he was feeling.
"I understand," she assured him. "Quatre, could you give me a contact number I can reach you on? I realise you couldn't before, but surely now that the war is over you can relax security just a little! And I am going to need all your advice."
"Er... I shouldn't think it would be a problem," he said, pulling a notebook out of his pocket and quickly scribbling a number. "I don't have a direct number to give you, but if you leave a message with these people it'll reach me." I'll have to e-mail Rashid and let him know she might be calling... "Just please don't give it to anyone else!" he added, tearing out the page and handing it over.
"I won't," she promised, tucking it away in her purse. "Give Heero and Duo my apologies, please."
Sitting in the back seat of her pink limousine as Pargan drove her away, Relena spared a moment to be grateful she'd grown up in a politician's family. It meant that none of the turmoil in her mind showed on her face...
Heero and Duo.
Heero and Duo.
Heero and Duo... I thought it was going to be Heero and me.
It should be Heero and me.
A faint frown creased the skin between her brows.
He saved me so many times. He saved me even though he believed he should kill me. He must have feelings for me. If Duo left... or Heero sent him away...
Heero and me.
Still frowning, Relena reached out and picked up the car phone, dialing her personal secretary.
"...Good morning, Catriona. I'm sorry to call you so early, but I need a little research done. ...No, I know where they are. This time, I need a background check. I want every scrap of information you can get on a Duo Maxwell, seventeen years old, from L2..."
* * * * *
Without realising it, Heero had progressed from just holding Duo's hand to examining it, tracing the lines and old scars with gentle fingers. He'd sat down on the bed next to Duo after rebandaging his knee and packing ice around it, and tentatively picked up his hand again; and once again, he'd felt his spirits lift when Duo didn't pull away.
"How are you feeling?" he asked softly.
"Like shit," Duo admitted, grimacing. "Everything hurts."
"Want some painkillers?"
"Not really. They send me to sleep."
"You could probably do with some more sleep, you know."
"...All right. Um... you gonna stick around?" Duo asked.
Heero nodded. "Unless you want me to clear out?"
"Nah. Not right now," Duo muttered, looking away.
"Then I'll still be here when you wake up."
* * * * *
A couple of hours had passed with no sign of whatever attack Sharna was planning, and Lord Yithar had recovered from the near-panic he'd fallen into when Uthmar had given the alarm. Of course, this meant that he was now busily trying to regain face... and he couldn't think of any better way to do so than by denigrating and downgrading the situation. (Typical of him, really.)
"So where is this fearsome force we are to expect?" he sneered, waving one hand southward. "All I see tonight are stars, the moons, and torchbugs in the trees."
"The hills to the south are quite some distance away, my lord," Uthmar pointed out, resisting the urge to smack some sense into the idiot. "Two days' travel on horseback at least. Whatever force Sharna has mustered will have to cross that distance to reach us."
"Then why did you insist on raising the alarm now?!" the half-elf exclaimed. "Are we supposed to stay on guard for the next two days, jumping at shadows?!"
"If it's a demon instead of men on horseback, it may arrive considerably sooner than that!"
Yithar's expression wobbled for a moment, but settled back into his habitual sneer. "Feh! I don't believe anything is coming. The stress of your duties seems to have resulted in paranoia, dwarf." Spinning around, he strode off into the fields to the south.
"What the-- what does that idiot think he's doing?!" Uthmar hissed under his breth.
"You see?" the haughty voice drifted back out of the darkness. "Nothing's attacked me yet!"
"We couldn't be that lucky," Gunnar muttered. "You know, sir, for a coward, he certainly takes some stupid chances."
"I noticed," Uthmar growled. "Karthan! Cameron! Go and fetch his lordship back."
"Certainly, sir," Cameron said promptly. "What if he doesn't want to come?"
"You can drag him, for all I-- no. Don't do that." Uthmar squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose, taking a couple of deep breaths. "If he won't come back, stay with him; if something happens, try to haul him out of harm's way. And if he tries to go into the woods, then you can drag him back."
"Two silver says he won't come back," Karthan muttered to his taller friend as they walked off.
"I'm not taking that bet. Five copper says he heads for the woods, though."
"This job is much more fun when the local landowner says 'let me know if you need anything' and then stays out of our way, isn't it?" Gunnar said sympathetically, patting Uthmar's shoulder.
The Champion just growled. He hadn't been able to pick up anything concrete since that one burst of power in the southern hills had been snuffed out, but ever since then his instincts had been nagging at him, insisting that something was going to happen. Two hours spent waiting for the other shoe to drop would be enough to fray anyone's temper.
He turned around and stalked back across the village square to where Wufei and Royce were standing, muttering under his breath. "Stupid stuck-up idiot with fluff where he should be keeping his common sense..." Coming to a halt, he sighed heavily, flexing his shoulders to try and get some of the tension out of them. "Goodman Royce, you have my sympathy... and my admiration. How many years have you had to deal with him?"
The village headman started to answer, then smothered a cough behind his fist as one of Yithar's guardsmen walked past them to peer into the darkness after his lord. The cough sounded suspiciously like 'Too many'. "Five years, almost, m'lord Champion; but we don't see him much. So long as we cut his share of the wood and send it downriver to his factors, and his foresters don't report us doing anything wrong, he's just as happy to stay in his manor and only come round at tax time." The guardsman had gone out of earshot; Royce glanced quickly around, then lowered his voice and went on. "I dare say he'd leave that to his factors, as well, but his relatives wouldn't look kindly on it."
"Tax time?" Uthmar asked, puzzled. "Does he collect taxes for the lords in Bortalik?"
"It's rent really, m'lord, but the Purple Lords all call it tax," Royce muttered; at an inquiring look, he continued. "Defaulting on rent gets you evicted, you see, but tax evasion is treason. If you plead poverty, and they're feeling lenient, they just evict you, confiscate all your property, and put a lien on your future wages. If they're not feeling lenient, well... treason is a capital crime. It makes their tenants work harder."
Uthmar drew in a deep breath and bared his teeth in a humourless grin. "Ah. I see. No wonder the Purple Lords haven't accepted the militant orders' legal system. It's very specific about the difference between various sorts of financial obligations... rent and tax most definitely included."
"Now, what's got you all in a bait, Champion sir?" a deep voice rumbled. Wufei looked up and nodded a greeting to Cord as the huge hradani strolled up, logging axe slung over his shoulder.
"Goodman Royce is being kind enough to enlighten my ignorance about the difference between 'rent' and 'tax' in Purple Lord lands," Uthmar said pleasantly, through gritted teeth.
"Oh aye... you mean that there is no difference, am I right?" Cord grinned dangerously, leaning on Nataku's giant metal foot. "Many's the time I've wanted to deflate Puff Guts yonder," he said softly, jerking his head towards where Yithar was, presumably, still tempting Fate and demons to come get him, "but it'd do the village no good in the end, so I've held my hand and kept my tongue between my teeth."
"I've been wondering what brought a couple of hradani to a human village, actually," the dwarf mused, discarding the 'tax' topic for the moment but not forgetting it. "Let alone a village here. You're Horse Stealers, aren't you? From up north?"
"Aye, that we are. Iron Axe clan, from Hurgrum," Cord said calmly. "But I'll tell you straight out, little man," (Royce winced slightly at that, but Uthmar didn't seem to be taking it as an insult) "if it happened that you were to go asking after news of me up north, you'd find nobody who knew a Horse Stealer by my name at all, at all."
"I rather thought I wouldn't," Uthmar nodded. "It's not a very hradani-sounding name, after all. Not a single Z or K in it."
Cord laughed. "We do tend to call our sons Gurchak, or Yurgazh, or such."
"I wasn't actually thinking of asking questions up north," the dwarf replied, starting to relax a little as the cheerful banter distracted him from the niggling sensation in the back of his head. "Why should I, when I've got you right here to talk to? I--"
He cut off abruptly as Wufei stiffened, eyes glowing green.
Wufei had tuned out the others' conversations - he couldn't understand more than one word in four, after all -preferring instead to peer out into the dark fields to the south, looking for any sign of movement.
Not that I am peering, he thought wryly, watching one of Yithar's guardsmen squinting blindly into the night. I don't think anyone else can see much beyond the torches and lanterns around the square, but to me it looks like early twilight. Those big gold fireflies... what did Naiya call them again? Torchbugs? There's so many of them in the forest, I think I could read a book by their light. He sighed quietly, leaning back on Nataku's leg. Yet another effect of my link to my Gundam?
At least I no longer have to resist panic every time something like this happens.
What does that idiot Yithar think he's doing? Wufei thought irritably, watching the half-elf lord stamp around in burnt stubble and pointedly ignore the two lay brothers who were patiently following him around. Perhaps he thinks he's proving a point?
The cold metal behind his back suddenly warmed, and Wufei stiffened as a flood of information and images poured into him from Nataku. It was like a strange form of double vision; there was the quiet scene in front of him, with trees and torchbugs and an idiot lord stumbling around in the dark, but there was also a second image, from a higher point of view-- From Nataku's main camera, Wufei thought, and then forced himself to stop thinking about how and concentrate on what he was seeing. There were data labels and targeting information overlaid on his vision, as if he was looking at one of the cockpit screens. He could see Yithar and the lay brothers, glowing bright in infrared, and a few spots in the trees that were probably nocturnal animals moving around...
...and a sickly green blob in the distance.
As he tried to focus on the glowing spot, the image centred on it and zoomed in. It was still miles away, shining through the trees from underneath; then a data label popped up next to it, and he swore.
| UNIDENTIFIED ENERGY SOURCE
| RANGE: 4.2 MILES
| ESTIMATED SPEED: 5 - 350 MPH
That's the same sort of energy that pulled me out of the void-- what?! He blinked at the floating digits. How can it be travelling at somewhere between five and three hundred and fifty miles an hour?!
The distant image tracked slowly, keeping the blob of light centred as it seemed to flow through the trees; then the blob speared forwards into a long worm-shape, and the trees blurred past as the image kept tracking it.
Oh. That's how. Either five or-- it'll be here in less than a minute if it keeps that up!
Tearing his attention away from the translucent second image, Wufei blinked as he realised that Uthmar was standing in front of him, one hand on his arm; he said something that sounded like a question, but Wufei didn't have time to try to puzzle it out.
Gods damn it, what's the local word for 'demon' again? --Ah!
"Krechak," he snapped, pointing south. "Come now. Fast!"
Uthmar's eyes widened for an instant; then he spun around and began bellowing orders as Wufei bolted for Nataku's hatch.
Following a Purple Lord around a half-burned grain field at night, stumbling over clods of earth while clouds of fine ash floated up and generously distributed themselves over his clothes, was not Karthan's idea of a good time. It wasn't Cameron's idea of a good time, either, but Karthan thought he had the worst of it.
"At least you're up high enough that the ash isn't going up your nose," he muttered, glaring up at the human. "And you won't have to brush it out of your beard, either-- haa*CHOO*!"
"I don't have a beard," Cameron pointed out.
"By point egzackly," the dwarf replied in a muffled voice, vigorously shaking his kerchief to get the ash off before mopping his runny nose.
"Console yourself with the thought that you're probably going to win those five coppers," his friend recommended, nodding towards Lord Yithar and lowering his voice even further. "His Annoying Lordship is staying well clear of the woods. Looks like cowardice has outweighed stupidity."
"Why couldn't he be coward enough to stay out of the fields, then?"
"--we couldn't be that lucky," they chorused, and grinned at each other; then Karthan sneezed again, and went back to grumbling as he dragged his kerchief out of his pocket once more.
"Everybody back in the square NOW!" Uthmar roared from the village. "Order of Torframos, form line on the southern side! Armsmen, form line behind the Order! All noncombatants to the north end of the village and make ready to leave!"
There was a faint tremor through the ground underfoot, and all the torchbugs to the south of the village blinked out. Karthan and Cameron exchanged one eloquent glance in the dim moonlight, then lunged at Yithar.
"Who does that upstart commoner think he's fool-- EEYAH! What-- who-- put me down! I demand that you unhand me at once!"
"Would you rather stay here and get eaten by a demon, m'lord?" Cameron inquired politely, clamping Yithar's left arm to his side as he ran. Karthan's grip was a little inelegant, involving the slack material in the half-elf's breeches, but it did the job; Yithar's feet were scrabbling helplessly a few inches above the ground.
"The only demon in the area is straight ahead, you fools!" Yithar screeched, flailing around with his free arm and kicking frantically.
There was another jolt through the ground, strong enough to make several trees shudder and drop leaves, just as Yithar hooked one foot behind Cameron's knee and yanked hard. The combination was enough to send all three of them sprawling; Yithar scrambled up onto his hands and knees, spitting out ashes and dirt, took one look at Nataku's glowing green eyes rising above the village rooftops, and took off southwards like a hunted rabbit.
"Bloody hellfire - Come back here, you blithering idiot!" Karthan bellowed, sprinting after him. Cameron limped in their wake, swearing about the pain in his wrenched knee.
"I'm not stayng here to be killed by your precious pet monsters!" the half-elf screamed, stumbling towards the dark forest. "I'm going to register a complaint with my cousin Taihar! He's in the army! And--" The breath went out of his body in a pained grunt as he tripped and fell, choking on ash. The ground shuddered again, pushing up into a low mound between him and the treeline, but he didn't see it; he had rolled over onto his back and was staring up at Nataku, stalking towards him with its right arm raised. A fanged head seemed to grow out of the end of it, replacing the hand, and it lashed out at him--
--passing over his head and plunging into the ground behind him, spraying him with clods of earth but not crushing him as he'd expected.
"It... only wanted to scare me?" he whimpered as Karthan skidded to a halt next to him. "It-- that-- that beast is dead, I swear I'll see it dead for this insult--"
Then the earth seemed to explode as something reared up out of the mound, shrieking like a damned soul, and a sudden stink told Karthan that the Purple Lord had done worse than wet his pants this time.
Wufei struck with Nataku's dragon-arm again, driving the demon back a little further, trying to give the small figures in front of it time to get away. It was an indistinct, writhing mass, warbling on a half-dozen teeth-jarring notes. Thick tentacles tipped with circular, fang-filled mouths lashed out from the central mass, then seemed to be absorbed back into it, and the whole thing was glowing an unhealthy shade of green.
It doesn't seem to have any real shape, he thought, batting away several mouths and firing a short burst of anti-personnel fire into it from the gunports on Nataku's head; it absorbed the bullets without visible effect. I think a lot of it's still underground, too; I'll have to watch out for it bringing another section of itself up behind me...
In front of Nataku's feet, Karthan picked Yithar up and bodily threw him into Cameron's arms as the human came panting up, then pulled his axe off his back and started to back warily away, covering Cameron as he turned around and started running back to the village.
I'd rather he ran too, Wufei thought, gritting his teeth as fangs struck Nataku's armour and scraped along it with a noise like giant fingernails on a blackboard, but at least he's out of the way--
Green light seemed to well up out of the ground under Karthan's feet.
Shit! He can't see it! "Karthan! RUN!"
The dwarf shot a startled look upwards and leapt sideways just as a tentacle burst up out of the earth where he'd been standing. It struck him a glancing blow, staggering him, then lashed out and clubbed him to the ground. More green light began to appear in patches around him.
A glowing gold axe spun into view, slashed through the tentacle as it bent towards Karthan, and whirled back to Uthmar's hand as he came charging up. He was glowing golden too, blazing with energy, and the wounded tentacle shrank away into the ground as he approached.
Fifteen more tentacles, however, sprouted from the demon's body, and spots of green light were starting to appear all over the field.
Cameron and Yithar are well clear, Wufei thought hurriedly, squashing a brief ignoble regret that Yithar had gotten away without a scratch, and everyone else is staying well back. Whatever Uthmar is doing, he seems to be doing it well! But Karthan is not going to get clear.
The dwarf Champion was cutting down every tentacle that attacked him, and by the way the demon recoiled and screeched every time it was struck, it seemed as if the glowing axe was hurting it. It was also clear that Uthmar could see the green glow that showed where the demon was launching an attack from underground, because several times he slashed into the ground, driving tentacles back down before they could emerge. He was protecting Karthan as well as himself, and the other dwarf was trying to get to his feet, but Wufei didn't think he'd make it in time.
It didn't take more than a second for him to come to a decision.
Struggling to breathe despite the pain in his back and side, Karthan heaved himself up onto his hands and knees. This would undoubtably be a very heroic way to die, he thought sourly (and a little light-headedly), but I really don't want my last act in this life to be saving that idiot Yithar!
< < Move, > > a deep, metallic voice snapped, and Nataku stepped towards him.
"I'm trying," Karthan wheezed, glaring up at the giant demon. Not so giant, actually, now that I've seen this other one, he thought, mind wandering dizzily. Is that Wufei or Nataku talking?
< < Uthmar, move, > > the voice repeated; then one hand swept the long metal staff off Nataku's back, slashing at the multitude of attacking tentacles and forcing them back for a moment - just long enough for the other hand to swoop down and pick Karthan up. He had one brief, vertigo-inducing glimpse of the ground dropping away beneath him before he was deposited, reasonably gently, on a smooth metal slab.
"Karthan, in!" Wufei said urgently, beckoning from inside the... hole? cave? in Nataku's chest.
He's tied to the chair? Karthan thought, confused, crawling shakily into the offered shelter. He didn't trust his legs to support him, especially not with Nataku swaying and jolting as it fended off more attacks.
As soon as the dwarf was within reach, Wufei caught the back of his tunic and hauled him in, pulling him around behind the strange padded chair. "Hold," he commanded, then reached out and tapped something; the quality of the light changed, and when Karthan looked up he saw that a heavy metal door had closed over the entrance.
He had only a few moments to take in the strange surroundings - green and yellow lights, and chirping noises, and strange windows that didn't seem to be looking out on the same view from one moment to the next - before the small room tilted and shook violently, almost tearing him away from his grip on the back of the chair. Wufei spat out something that sounded like swear words as a section of lights abruptly turned red, and then the shriek of tearing metal came from somewhere nearby.
* * * * *
"I just twisted the damn thing," Duo insisted stubbornly as Sally carefully felt at his knee. "I don't need to-- OW!"
"Sorry," she said absent-mindedly, fingers probing around his kneecap. "You may have 'just twisted' it to begin with, Duo, but it's not 'just twisted' now. I'll bet you haven't been resting much, have you?"
"You definitely haven't been staying off your feet. How many times have you fallen over or hit it since the original injury?"
"Um... three. I think."
"This last time, he didn't just hit it; he twisted it as he went down," Heero added.
Standing up, Sally shot a sardonic glance at her patient. "You may all be tougher than any normal human has a right to be, but even you have to take it easy when you're injured! I think you've damaged the tendons in that knee, and maybe the cartilage as well, so I'm going to book you in for an MRI scan and x-rays. It's an outpatient procedure, so you won't have to stay at the hospital overnight," she added as Duo started to look even more mutinous. Unless it turns out that you need surgery...
Duo didn't actually agree, but he didn't argue any more either; he just hunched down underneath the covers and looked sulky. Heero found himself staring at Duo's mouth, remembering how he'd tasted when they kissed, wondering what it would feel like to kiss the pout away...
"--all right, Heero?"
"I said," Sally drawled with exaggerated patience, "I can get Duo booked into the local hospital, no questions asked, early tomorrow morning. However, I can't arrange transport without making people curious. Can you handle that end of things?"
"Oh. Yeah. Fine," he stuttered.
She looked at him oddly, but didn't say anything more until she'd finished rebandaging Duo's knee and repacked her bag; then she shoved it into his hands and turned to the door. "You dragged me out here on my rostered day off, so you can carry that out to the car," she tossed over her shoulder. "See you tomorrow, Duo!"
"(mumble mumble) who had the bright idea to call her anyway (mumble mumble)," Duo bitched under his breath.
"All right, talk," Sally ordered Heero as soon as they were outside.
"Heero, you waylaid me just outside Duo's door and muttered 'Don't mention Wufei'," she said acidly, opening the boot of the car for him to deposit her bag inside. "Did you honestly think I wouldn't want to find out why?"
He grimaced. "I could hope."
"Cough it up," she advised him. "The war is officially over, and it actually seems to be for real. This is a very odd time for Chang to... leave? Argue with the rest of you? Desert?"
"Vanish," Heero sighed, giving in to the inevitable.
"Ah. I see. Missing, presumed... what?"
"Quatre believes he's dead. Duo is extremely insistent that he's alive, and gets very upset when the subject is raised. I don't know what Trowa thinks, but he's not disagreeing with Quatre in public."
"What's your opinion?"
"I... am reserving judgement."
"In other words, you think Quatre's right but you don't want to upset Duo," she said, mouth twisting.
"No," he snapped, "I want more information before I make up my mind! I don't want to upset Duo, but I'm not going to lie to him." He snorted briefly. "That would piss him off worse than if I disagreed with him on this, I think."
"Well... I hope Duo's right," she sighed. "Keep me informed?"
It was roughly an hour later, after Heero had finally managed to cook breakfast, that Trowa heard his laptop beep and checked his mail.
"What is it?" Quatre asked, muting the TV and cutting off a reporter who was enthusing about the 'deep significance for future generations of today's historic events'.
"Go get Heero," Trowa replied, staring fixedly at the screen. "It's from the doctors... about Wufei."
end chapter 11
[Heero staggers in, bruised, battered and singed.]
HEERO: Ninmu... shippai. < *THUNK!* >
[He falls over.]
DUO: Hee-chan! Speak to me! What happened?!
MEL: Sheesh! Did you get the number of the truck that hit you?
[Heero levers himself up onto one elbow and glares.]
HEERO: It wasn't a truck. It was that Pakistani sorcerer you keep sighing about.
MEL: *blink*blink* Hazrat Haan?
HEERO: I might have known anyone you were that enthusiastic about would be trouble.
MEL: I enthuse about you guys too, you know. ...Back up a bit. Why did Haan honey put you through the wringer?
[Heero doesn't answer. Christy casually reaches out and wraps Duo's braid around her hand.]
CHRISTY: Duo, spill. What's going on? You can't run and hide right now-- at least, not without leaving your hair behind.
DUO: It's tempting... oh, all right. We were going to get you new victims to drool over so you'd leave us alone.
CHRISTY (pouting): But Duo, I thought you liked me drooling over you. I'm hurt!
DUO: Drooling, I can handle. It's the torture I'm not too happy about!
CHRISTY: I never torture you, darling. Mel does.
MEL: Ha! And who came up with the basic premise behind Reunion, hmmmmmmmmm?
CHRISTY: Wasn't me!
[She wanders off, humming that song.]
MEL: So, let me get this straight. You wanted to get us more victims - er, objects of affection - to take our attention off you. Yes?
MEL: And you started with *sigh* Haan?
MEL: Oh, brother. Didn't you think?!
HEERO (suspiciously): What do you mean?
MEL: I actually think Haan is more droolworthy than you. More droolworthy than Wufei, even.
MEL: So why do you think he isn't here already?
MEL: Right. We could catch you guys. We couldn't catch Haan. Explosive wards, summoned monsters, you name it, he uses it.
HEERO: *groan* Tell me about it...
DUO: Oh, great. Are all the guys who might distract you two from us that mean?
MEL: Noooooooo... actually, I could give you a list. Hey! Christy! We want Ryouga and Mousse, right?
CHRISTY (back all of a sudden): Definitely! Though I think Mousse will be an easier catch than Ryouga.
MEL: Eh, a couple of buckets of cold water and they're both toast. Watch out for the redhead, though, guys. And the insane fiancees. And the withered old crone. And...
HEERO (muttering): Duo... I have a bad feeling we've landed ourselves right in it now.
DUO (muttering): Neck-deep, Hee-chan.