Wirt vs. Ricky Martin! Biff vs. Wesley Crusher! Solo & Company vs. Lazarus & Company! And more gratuitious T&A than you can shake... (Thud!) Whoops! Sorry about that, Red Vex.
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR RRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG GGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" screamed Wirt, entering his twenty-second hour of what Maximum Evil had euphmistically referred to as "recreational stress-testing."
Max could just barely hear the source of the boy's agony. Any louder and Max would probably be screaming right alongside him. He couldn't help feeling some admiration for Wirt, though. He never would have imagined that any living creature could hear Livin' La Vida Loca so many times and survive. Jar-Jar Binks had exploded after the first fifteen minutes. That had been disappointing, but not a total loss. He tasted like chicken.
"More fried Jar-Jar, my dear?" Max offered Sugar.
"I'm not your dear, you... you... evil, evil... evil..." Sugar's retort ended in an inarticulate growl. She had run out of insults hours ago. She punched the bars of her cage in frustration.
"You know, you could come out of there if you agreed to put out a little," offered Maximum Evil.
Sugar spat. "The only thing I'd put out are your eyes!"
Maximum Evil laughed. "Such a fiery little thing you are! No wonder I didn't put you in the other room with Wirt." His merriment turned to menace. "Mind you, that could still happen. As tasty a treat as you are, you're still replaceable. Perhaps by that leggy athletic blonde who thinks she can come to your rescue." He directed Sugar's attention to the scrying mirror hanging on the wall.
Sugar looked and saw the image of an unfamiliar blonde in a skin-tight blue body suit. Her boobs were obviously fake. She was standing near Wirt's tree arguing with a brown-haired boy in a gray uniform of some sort. CowLord and Biff stood nearby, watching the exchange. The puppy Deathspit, was sniffing around her boot like he needed to piddle.
Sugar fought back a smile. Deathspit had always done the exact same thing to Lord Cool. The acid burns on his ankles and the piles of ruined boots by their front door had always stood as testimony to the fact that Cool never noticed what the puppy was doing until it was too late. She was startled to realize that she missed Cool and their little home. As short and unfulfilling as it had been, she even missed their marriage. Then she remembered the annoying way he used to pick his toes during meals, and that helped her get over her wistful mood. It was just as well. Poor Cool was "up there somewhere." She tried to imagine Lord Cool as an angel looking down upon her from some heavenly perch with a benevolent gaze.
It was quite some time before she was able to stop laughing, even with Maximum Evil threatening her.
"I just said, I don't see why you don't just bypass the warp containment field regulators and tap directly into the prehensile diabolic retention grid," the brown-haired boy was saying.
"Look, Wesley," hissed Elsie. "All I want to know is, can you sell us a magic club to replace the one Biff ate or not?" The kid who had moved into Wirt's old spot was at least as annoying as Wirt had ever been. Maybe even moreso. She shuddered at the mere notion. Maximum Evil or the Adversary, or somebody had sealed off the entrances to Hell, the Caves and even the Catacombs. They were going to have to fight their way from the church, all the way to the bottom of the labyrinth. That meant they'd need to be as well-armed as possible. Elsie knew that Biff's B.O. alone could probably drop a skeleton at a hundred paces, if the wind was right. But what would really help them was a good magic club.
That strange red-shirted stand-in for Griswold hadn't been much help. He'd been almost as drunk as Farnham and, after a bit of haggling, complained about not being "able t'take th'strain much longer." After that, he'd stalked over to the tavern where a man in a black vest and some kind of giant ape were standing in for Ogden and Gillian.
Wesley Crusher shrugged. "All I'm saying is that he doesn't need a club if you simply disengage the inertial dampers and reroute a burst of tachyons through the main deflector dish."
"Listen you little creep, I've had just about enough of your psuedo-scientific technobabble," snapped Elsie, her neuro-packs supplying the necessary vocabulary and ability to recognize unfiltered bullshit when she heard it. "I have half a mind to... Yeeowtch!" Deathspit was using her ankle as a urinal.
"Bad dog!" scolded Elsie, limping away from Wesley. Deathspit barked once and bounded after her, his little tail wagging.
"Were you able to get a club?" asked Ichabod, as she rejoined him and Biff.
"Little creep thinks he has an answer for everything," fumed Elsie.
"Maybe Biff help, ma lady," volunteered the gigantic Barbarian.
"How?" asked Elsie.
By way of an answer, Biff lumbered over to the tree where Wesley waited, tore a heavy limb from it, and hit Wesley over the head with it. The boy crumpled to the ground with most of his skull caved in.
"Wait!" he wheezed. "I think we can reroute the damaged neural grid around my temporal lobe and tap directly into..."
Biff hit him again.
"Biff found a new club," he said proudly when he returned. He placidly picked the leaves and twigs off the tree limb and ate them.
The first barrage of Bloodstars came out of the trees at them like a swarm of kamikaze fireflies. There were crimson stars from Hell Spawn, blue-white stars from Snow Witches, and yellow stars from Soul Burners. Bursts of bright green bolts came at them from ground-level.
Using the foliage as cover, Solo crouched down and let loose successive blasts of Chain Lightning in the direction of the shooting. Although the recent rain kept the trees from bursting into flame, the extra moisture made her spell more effective. Her efforts were rewarded with several screams of agony.
At the same time, Stupidhead the Weak laid down Walls of Fire and Lightning to prevent their attackers from drawing any nearer. Dolt and Red Vex tended to the party's left and right flanks.
A squad of white-armored warriors burst out of the bushes in front of Dolt. They were clad from head-to-toe and their armor looked like it was made from polished bone or ivory. Each trooper carried a short rod that spat bolts of green energy.
"DOOOOOOLLLT LUUUUNNGREEEN!" howled Dolt. He decapitated the lead Storm Trooper with his Cardboard Sign of Slaughter which, unbeknownst to Dolt, now read, "Girlz Rool!" Dolt allowed the momentum of his swing to carry him into the next Storm Trooper.
"Argh! My eyes!" cried the Storm Trooper on the receiving end of a blast from Dolt's Strange Spraycan of Haste. Dolt shrugged and swatted him flat with the Cardboard Sign of Slaughter.
Opposite Dolt, Red Vex took demonic glee in blasting away at the Imperial Storm Troopers attacking from the right flank. For awhile, it looked as though nothing would get past the she-demon. Then she caught the first glimpse of her sister succubi as they wiggled and jiggled down from the branches to attack.
Out of the corner of her eye, Solo saw Red Vex faint and swore. "Stu!" she barked. "Cover for Red Vex! I'll take the front!"
The aged wizard nodded his assent and conjured a pair of Guardians near where Red Vex lay. It boggled the imagination. He knew his former comrade-in-arms was just about as uninformed as it was possible to be about women. But what could Lord Cool have done (or attempted to do) with a 300-year-old succubus that would make the very notion of sex unbearable for her?
Lazarus appeared in their midst. "Abandon your quest!" he warned. "The Adversary can only be defeated in its lair and you will never get past Maximum Evil in my old lair to confront him!" Before he teleported away, he shot a Fireball at Solo and accidentally incinerated an attacking Snow Witch.
The rest of the battle wound down pretty quickly. The Storm Troopers were lousy shots and a fairly fragile bunch to boot. The succubi, fickle and easily distracted by nature, quickly lost interest in the fight without Lazarus to keep them in line.
As the last Storm Trooper crumpled under the Cardboard Sign of Slaughter (which now read, "When I think about you, I touch myself"), their mangled bodies shimmered. White armor morphed into white bones.
"Skeletons," breathed Solo.
"No wonder they were such pushovers," said Dolt.
Stupidhead nodded wisely. "We must remember our opponent's true nature," he said. "Nothing may be what it seems."
Lazarus just hoped he hadn't been too obvious. If he was going to rid himself of Maximum Evil and his alien master, then he was going to need some heroes to do it. And if they were going to do that for him, the last place he needed them was off on some wild goose chase in Westmarch.
He had actually considered approaching them and openly throwing his lot in with them. Luckily, his common sense kicked in. Even assuming that the so-called good guys didn't put an axe in his brain the moment he showed his face, he'd be in seriously deep dragon droppings if Max or the Adversary caught wind of his treachery.
No, this was much better. He could quietly goad them along, right into Maximum Evil's lair. Lazarus knew heroes and this was a pretty tough bunch. Maximum Evil wouldn't stand a chance. Especially if he accidentally caught, say, a very large fireball in the back in the middle of the battle.
Still, Lazarus would have felt a lot better if he could have only found that mysterious "Lord Cool" that Max seemed so obsessed with. Lord Cool must be a mighty hero indeed if Maximum Evil, with all the Adversary's power behind him, was so concerned about him.
A look of distaste crossed the former Archbishop's face. Lord Cool. He knew the type well enough: All perfect teeth, bulging muscles and gleaming armor. Women fawned over him and men simultaneously envied him and wanted to be his best friend. Neither man nor beast nor monster nor demon could stand against the blade of Lord Cool! As long as he kept tabs on Lord Cool's lackeys, he felt certain that the Great Lord Cool would eventually be along to save the day. Only the greatest of heroes could have a name like "Lord Cool."
It would be nice to have that kind of invincible heroism working for him instead of trying to kill him for a change. Lazarus teleported on back to Tristram. There were preparations to make.
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