Collaborative Carnage

Mutation 24: Something Borrowed, Something Bouncing, Something Blue

by Stephen van Ham

TRISTRAM - PRESENT DAY:

It was twenty minutes after the encounter with Doctor Bruce and Solo was doing her best to get Biff to bathe when two men walked out of the hills and down to the shore of the river. The weary bard pulled a piece of Smurf egg from under her fingernail as she regarded the new entrants suspiciously.

As the senior member of the party, Kay stepped to the forefront and offered his hand in greeting. "Good afternoon to you. I'm Journeyman Kay of the Wayward Mana and Unusual Toxins Guild, here to investigate a possible contamination of the area." He look at the smashed Smurf eggs in Biff's hair and frowned.

Solo stared at the proffered hand suspiciously. "I'm Solo and that's Biff." The bard pushed Biff toward the river.

The barbarian shook his head and dug in his heels. "Biff not bathe," he explained, not liking the way the Good Solo was just as bad as the Bad Solos.

"Whatever is the matter with that fellow? Why do you keep pushing him back into the water? Is he cursed?"

Solo shook her head. "Lets just say he's hygeinically challenged and leave it at that."

Kay drew a scroll and quill pen from his pocket. "Right. So, what are you two young folk doing out here today?"

"It's a long story and you'll never believe it."

"Try me."

Solo shrugged. The bard knew the story of recent events was so outlandish that no one was going to believe any of it. "We were just on our way to meet some friends of ours when we were accosted by an evil overlord and his changelings, who we battled in a fight to the death. Unfortunately the evil overlord got away on his evil overlord's flying contraption." Solo's eyes flashed. "There's just too much undisciplined magery going on in the world these days, if you ask me."

Kay took some notes. "Overlord. Magery. Interesting. Carry on."

"And if that wasn't bad enough, there's a major menace threatening the safety of this world, and it's up to us to stop it. Ominous clouds, an unstable Battle Net, and much worse besides. And I can't get Biff to have a bath."

"Menace. Clouds. Battle Net. Baths." Kay looked up. "Who else knows about this 'menace'?"

"Well, there's CowLord, Stupidhead, Elsie, Suger, Red Vex..."

"Right, I see..."

Solo pushed Biff back toward the river and continued. "...and we'll have to alert the townsfolk of the possibility of a magical battle being waged in their very back yards..."

"Interesting. Say, before you go and talk to your friends, could you just look over here. And you too, the warrior with the eggs in his hair."

Kay drew the Compelling Orb from his pocket as Jay donned his glasses and rubbed his hands together in anticipation.

Light flashed and neurons were numbed. Biff's eyes glazed over (more so than usual) while Solo stood quietly, eyes forward placidly.

Jay took off his glasses and blinked. "Kay, Can we give them good memories just this once?"

Kay took off his own glasses and narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "I don't see what difference it makes..."

"Awww, you're just an old stick in the mud. Go on."

Kay was silent for a moment. "This is a grave responsibility, but I think you're ready."

"Yeah. That's the spirit. Here, allow me." Kay's face was intent as he murmured further disclaimers on the seriousness of mind alteration. Jay laughed and punched his superior placatingly on the arm.

Jay moved in front of the hypnotised pair and rested his hands on their shoulders, pulling them a little closer. His ever present grin grew wider. "Okay, listen up good, this is important. Although you've had your differences, and Biff never cleans the yard, and Solo, your meat loaf tastes like cardboard, you guys are very much in love. So smile." He shook the pair good naturedly. "Come on, show me those pearly whites. Great." Jay drew back and shuddered. "Gee Biff, what fat gums you have," he murmured. "Anyway, do you remember what today is?" Biff and Solo stood silently. "No? Of course you do. Today's your wedding day ..."


In just a few short hours the town of Tristram was sent into a bustle of activity as news of Biff and Solo's impending marital, ahhh, "experiment" travelled the grapevine. Late that afternoon the town had been turned upside down in preparation for the whirl wind wedding. Pepin was to be master of ceremonies but behind the scenes almost every inhabitant would be either present as guests or be part of the catering effort.

Gilbacca, looking very hairy in a French maid's outfit, had kept herself occupied laying out meat platters and fruit and cheese boards at the feasting tables. Although the giant bardmaid was a wookie at the whole outdoor catering business she took to it like a flea to a hairball.

Ogden's replacement Han Solo, with the rather dubious help of Griswold's replacement Mr. Scott, had dragged a half-dozen barrels of ale to table side and had them tapped and ready for the pouring. Hand-embroidered table clothes covered rickety old outdoor furniture and complemented the spread of food that was meagre if not well meaning given the shortness of notice.

With all in readiness, the ceremony began. Two minutes later it was clear that it was going to be a long day.

It was Biff's turn to read from his vows. The burly warrior looked down at the little card and scratched his head. He opened and closed his mouth a few times as the crowd waited expectantly. Finally, in exhasperation, Minister Pepin stepped forward down from the ceremonial pew and whispered in Biff's ear. Biff stared at Pepin for a moment and then mumbled. "Biff promise to have bath."

Solo, looking like a long haired rainbow in her bright pink gown and numerous gold ribbons, smiled approvingly. Biff's eyes widened as his primitive awareness caught up with events. "No, hey," he yelled, "Biff say 'Biff promise to build raft.' Bath? Biff not say bath! Biff think Pepin bad man."

The healer stepped back hastily and retreated behind the pew. "Moving on then. Do you promise to love and honour this woman?"

Biff smiled happily. "Biff promise to hone her."

Pepin wasn't so happy. "No, honour."

"Own her?"

Pepin put his head in his soft hands and groaned.

Muttering under his breath, he rolled the sacred scroll of vows to the next entry. "Let's come back to that bit later. Do you promise to keep her in sickness and health?"

"Biff promise to keep pretty lady sick and her self."

Pepin was starting to regret opting to be a man of peace. "Oh for Zakarum's sake! Is that the best you can do?"

Biff, poker faced, carefully repeated: "Oh Crumb's sake. That best you knew?"

An hour later they were getting ready for their fourth attempt. Evening was starting to fall and everybody was now hungry and a little fractious.

Pepin, ever hopeful, began the vows anew. "Do you promise to love and honour this woman?"

Biff looked long and hard at his cue card and then listened patiently to the hissed instructions of his bride. He looked up and smiled his broken toothed grin.

"Yup."

BOWELS OF THE LABYRINTH, TRISTRAM - PRESENT DAY:

Far below, past ale mugs and tables, grassy knoll and cathedral, stalactite and stalagmite, things were not going so smoothly.

CowLad"Holy situation of great peril, CowLord!" trilled CowLad.

"We are so screwed," moaned Sugar.

CowLad struck an heroic pose. "Fear not, young maiden, for CowLad is here to save the day!" He pointed to the darkness. "Come! To the pegulator!"

Sugar sighed. "Look Wirt, this is no time for games."

CowLad's cape fluttered dramatically in the subterranean breeze. "There is no Wirt, only CowLad." His head darted back and forth as he surveyed the scene. CowLord was standing before the looming Ultimate Evil and looking bemused. Mini-E looked sad. Sugar looked indecisive. CowLad was most definitely not. "Come with me!" he yelled, "I know an escape route. We must make it to the Pegulator before the Dastardly Villain™  is upon is." CowLad clicked his fingers and from out of the darkness floated the warped tones of a piece of dramatic mood music (consisting entirely of cheesy sixties guitar riffs, a cow bell and two reed whistles) to accompany the little masked hero's rapid exit.

CowLad, with that classically heroic gait and overexaggerated arm movements sprinted his way across the cavern, narrowly avoiding getting squashed like a mellon as he darted around the gigantic warrior's feet and shot out the side entrance. Ignoring the startled yells of Sugar coming from behind him, he darted across the small cave and dragged something out of dark recesses of the corner.

"Behold, the Pegulator," he announced dramatically to anyone that was listening.

The Pegulator was a giant pogo stick.

With sure movements CowLad unpegged the Pegulator from its moaring frame and cranked up the throttle. A surly hiccup and waft of smoke boiled out of the pogos' tiny engine, then the spring loaded base rattled out about an inch and then stopped with a shudder. CowLad frowned and thumbed the throttle again. More smoke and a burp. "Fear not, my comrades," CowLad muttered, "I can fix it. CowLad can fix anything." He reached into his cape, rummaged around and drew out a rather large hammer. He raised it above his head and into the light coming off the glowing fungi on the ceiling. The hammer was bathed in a yellowish glow.

"Behold, the Horadric Hammer. The power of smithing incarnate flows in its form." CowLad brought the hammer over his head in an arc and hit the Pegulator with the echoing thud. He raised the hammer and hit the pogo again. The engine started to rattle. The rattle became a whine. The whine became a hum, then the Pegulator was shrouded in a cloud of white light. "Holy Moment of Comical Misadventure" CowLad breathed as he hopped back in sudden fear.

When the light faded the Pegulator had shrunk to the size of a child's toy. CowLad sighed loudly. "Holy Comically Unsuccessful Imbue, comrades." His jaunty super hero cape lost its jauntiness as CowLad stood aimlessly. He stared at the Pegulator, bottom lip quivering.

Back in the main cavern CowLord didn't even notice his newly crowned deputy fleeing the scene, as he was lost in the midst of sorcery.. "SNIGGLDYPIGGLDYBERRY-BOP!" he intoned, arms aloft. The dramatic mood music changed tone, becoming more shrill. CowLord chanted again, the inflection of his voice changing to a higher pitch and increased volume. "SNIGGLDYPIGGLDYBERRY-BOP!". This time the dramatic music sounded almost apologetic.

Suger's eyes were on the massive demon. "Sweet Zakarum on a pony, what ARE you doing?" she hissed at CowLord. The young rogue turned and grabbed hold of Mini-E, her only plan being to flee after Wirt.

Mini-E frowned at the jostling and put his hands on his hips, ignoring the pair beside him. His eyes were only for his evil twin. "Oh," he murmured sadly, "this most unfortunate. Poor Master Evil would appear to be having a psychoticl episode. Although I am no expert on such matters, I would guess it stems from an unfortunate childhood incident involving an exploding barrel and a misdirected splinter..."

The demon Ultimate Evil raised one huge palm over Mini-E's pastels clothed frame and boomed, "BOW DOWN, FOOLISH MORTAL, OR I WILL CRUSH YOU LIKE A BUG!"

CowLord continued to chant.

Mini-E looked saddened. "Oh my. Such unrequited anger in one so young." He looked up at the massive hand before him. "And really, you need to take better care of yourself," he chided. "Didn't your mother tell you to clip your nails once a week? Tsk tsk. Those will get ingrown and then you will develop an infection."

"SILENCE, FOOLISH ONE. INFECTIONS MEAN NOTHING TO ONE SUCH AS I!"

"You may well think that true, but really, why take the risk? It would only take a moment out of your busy day."

"SILENCE, INGRATE, OR YOU WILL FEEL MY WRATH. BEWARE, MORTAL PEASANT, OR YOUR BRAIN WILL BURN AND YOUR SKIN EXPLODE IN A SPREADING BLOOM OF DISEASE AND WARTS!"

Mini-E sighed, staring up the looming evil with placid eyes. "Warts? Well, that's to be expected. All those bad thoughts will foul both the blood and the flesh." He shook his finger. "What you need is a good cleansing of both body and spirit." He sat on a nearby rock and patted his pale hand to a spot next to him. "Come, sit down with me. You can tell me all about what grieves you while I give you a pedicure. I believe you're experiencing disassociation problems stemming from your recent metamorphisis into a gargantuan spawn of Hell. Come, come, sit..."

Sugar looked at Mini-E in disbelief. "Not now, Mini, we need to get out of here..."

"But you see..."

"Later." She glanced at CowLord. "And what are YOU doing?" she asked again.

CowLord raised his visor and grinned. "Sniggldypiggldyberry-bop! It's Cow Speak for 'there's no place like home'. It's quite a handy little teleportation mantra." He looked at Mini-E and the demon looming over him and smiled. "Just keep the big guy distracted for a smidgeon longer and then I'll be done."

"Sniggldypiggldyberry-bop! Snigglebop, moo moo-drop. Moo moo ma moo!"

"Sniggldypiggldyberry-bop! Snigglebop, moo moo-drop. Moo moo ma moo!"

Sugar was ready to take her chances with the roving smurf troops. "Look, that's just silly. Do you have to speak it in tongues?"

CowLord blinked. "Well, no. But it always scores well with the judges."

"Judges? What ARE you talking about?"

Ultimate Evil loomed over Mini-E and cloaked him in his immense shadow.

With Sugar glaring at him fiercely, CowLord's brain started to discard any extraneous thoughts. Much as it pained him, he concentrated fully on the present. He could have sworn he was on his way from a coffee house to a recording session for his fourth album. But no, here he was, deep underground, saving humanity (again), accompanied, apparently, by a mere slip of a girl, and a limp wristed pastel wearing puffin. Going home was becoming even more attractive.

Ultimate Evil reached down with a massive claw.

CowLad returned from the shadows, the Pegulator in his hands. Raising the Hammer he pounded the peewee pogo again, ever hopeful of a successful imbue.

"There's no place like home ..."

Ultimate Evil prepared to rend Mini-E limb from pastel limb.

"There's no place like home ..."

"There's no place like home ..."

And then there were somewhere else.

While Sugar glanced around in wide-eyed disbelief, CowLad twirled his cape and glared accusingly at the Pegulator. Mini-E was nowhere to be seen.

CowLord surveyed their situation and giggled apologetically. "Ohhh, I don't think we're in Kansas any more, Dorothy..."


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