Ubet Choas was, figuratively speaking, at the end of a very long, very frayed rope. The entire trip to Lut Gholein, Dr. Bruce, Biff, and Journeyman Jay had been chasing each other around like a litter of hyperactive puppies. Specifically, a litter of incredibly perverted, profoundly sexually dysfunctional hyperactive puppies. Not that he personally found anything wrong with choosing an enchanted lifestyle. It's just that the constant cries of panic, offers to "give cute, puny Dr. Bruce erotic massage," and woeful declarations of unrequited love made Ubet's head spin.
After all that, there was no way Ubet was going to go deal with his parents without having a good, stiff drink first. He made a beeline for Atma's tavern as soon as he was inside the city walls.
"You say the hell/hell away from me!" shrieked Dr. Bruce darting into the tavern ahead of them.
"Wait! Biff wants to whisper sweet nothings in cute, puny Dr. Bruce's ear!" shouted Biff following him.
"Oh, Biff, you big lug, why can't you see that I'm the one for you?" lamented Jay.
"Must... get to... the bar," rasped Ubet.
Dr. Bruce ducked around a corner, dived into an empty booth in the corner and hid under the table.
"Where is cute, puny Dr. Bruce?" called Biff as he thundered past Dr. Bruce's hiding place. "Biff has so much more love to give!"
Dr. Bruce fought back a shudder of horror that would have rattled the table and revealed his hiding place.
"Biff! Oh my sweet Biff," wailed Jay chasing after the giant Barbarian.
Dr. Bruce reached out from under the table and grabbed Journeyman Jay's ankle.
"You!" Jay accused picking himself up off the floor. "You shameless hussy!"
"Shut up and come over here!" hissed Dr. Bruce.
"Why should I have anything to do with you, you man-stealer?"
"Will you cut it out already?" snapped Dr. Bruce. "Look, you want Biff and I want Biff to leave me alone. I think I've figured out a way we can help each other."
"I'm listening," said Journeyman Jay suspiciously.
"Look, we know Biff's dumber than a glazed ham..."
"Don't you be saying bad stuff about my pooky bear."
Dr. Bruce suppressed another shudder and continued. "...so we should have no problem outsmarting him. I'm thinking, supposing he thinks you're me and I'm you?"
It dawned on Journeyman Jay. "Why then, he'd ignore you and then together, Biff and I could..."
"Gah! Please don't continue that thought out loud!" pleaded Dr. Bruce.
"Oh! Heavenly bliss!" cried Jay, not finishing the thought out loud. "But how can we trick him?"
"Easy," said Dr. Bruce. "We switch outfits. Now get under here and give me your clothes. Hurry, before he comes back."
Ubet was already feeling much better just having a drink in his hand as he climbed into the booth to enjoy it and a little peace and quiet. He was disappointed -- but the way things had been going, not really surprised -- to find Dr. Bruce and Journeyman Jay struggling to take off their clothes under the table.
"Erm," said Dr. Bruce. "This isn't what it looks like."
"I'm enchanted," added Journeyman Jay lamely.
Ubet just shook his head and let the tablecloth drop again. He wasn't going to ask, and he prayed they weren't going to tell.
"Has little pointy hat wizard seen cute, puny Dr. Bruce?" Biff asked Ubet when he wandered by the table a minute later.
"I honestly wish I could say that I hadn't," said Ubet.
Biff puzzled over this for a few minutes and then picked up the table. "Oh!" cried Biff delightedly and tossing the table over his shoulder. "There is cute, puny Dr. Bruce!" He reached down and grabbed Journeyman Jay, who was wearing Dr. Bruce's clothes. "Biff has found you at last!" Biff squeezed him until Jay's eyes watered with tears of joy.
Then the giant warrior paused and squinted at Jay. "Why is cute, puny Dr. Bruce all brown?"
"Oh God..." breathed Dr. Bruce pulling Journeyman Jay's hood more tightly around his face.
Biff pondered Jay's complexion for a few more minutes. He looked down at Dr. Bruce in Jay's clothes, then he looked back at Jay in Dr. Bruce's clothes. He repeated this several times and scratched his head with his free hand.
Ubet finished his drink and headed back toward the bar, climbing over Dr. Bruce and quickly stepping between Biff's legs.
"Oh! Now Biff gets it! Cute, puny Dr. Bruce got all dirty hiding under table!" He turned and stomped toward the door with Jay tucked under his arm. "Biff will take off all Dr. Bruce's clothes and give him a nice bath!"
"Oh! Sweet heavenly bliss!" cried Journeyman Jay.
Dr. Bruce let out a sigh of relief and, as soon as he stopped shaking in revulsion, joined Ubet Choas at the bar. "Give me three of whatever he's having," Dr. Bruce told Atma.
"Come on," said Ubet when they'd finished their drinks. "Let's go get the Compelling Orb."
Ubet Choas and Dr. Bruce left the tavern and headed up the cobblestone street. "Man, it's been a dog's age since I've been home," Ubet said as they walked. "I hope Mom and Dad don't make a scene."
They passed a crowd of people gathered around one of the stalls. Dr. Bruce craned his neck and saw Fara desperately performing artificial resuscitation on a soaking wet Journeyman Jay as Biff looked on, confused. "Breathe! Dammit breathe!" shouted Fara pounding on Jay's chest.
Dr. Bruce walked faster and caught up with Ubet outside a Lut Gholein residence. Ubet rapped on the wooden door and looked a little uncomfortable. "I should warn you about Mom and Dad," he told Dr. Bruce. "They get kind of excited, so don't let them rattle you. They really mean well."
The man who answered the door was black, completely bald and nearly as large as Biff.
"Papa!" cried Ubet leaping up into the man's arms.
"Ubet Chøas-ka!" cried the huge man. "Mama! Løøk! Ubet Chøas-ka has cøme høme-ka!"
There was a squeal of delight from down the hall, and a tall, attractive woman with caramel-colored skin, long orange hair, and green eyes ran to the door. She took Ubet out of the man's arms. "Løøk høw yøu have grøwn-ka!" she exclaimed hugging the little sorcerer.
Dr. Bruce's jaw dropped. "These are your parents?"
Ubet looked down at Dr. Bruce. "Oh, sorry. Mama, Papa, this is Dr. Bruce. He's helping me save the world. Dr. Bruce, this is my father, Heekikt Choas, and my mother, Eyegot Choas."
"We are pleased to be meeting yøu," said Heekikt shaking Dr. Bruce's hand. "Any friend øf Ubet is a friend øf øurs. Please be coming in-ka."
"Uh, sure," replied Dr. Bruce.
The giant brown-skinned woman set Ubet down and grinned broadly at him.
"Were you by any chance adopted?" Dr. Bruce whispered to Ubet as the tiny, wrinkled, white sorcerer straightened his robe and beard.
"Don't be ridiculous," answered Ubet. "Why would you think something like that?"
Dr. Bruce opened his mouth to say something and then decided against it.
"Yøu have cøme yust in time for dinner," said Eyegot.
The dinner Eyegot set before them could have fed an army and still left enough for everyone to need doggy bags.
"So anyway, that's why we need the Compelling Orb," Ubet was explaining to his father as they finished eating.
"Der Cømpelling Ørbs are very pøwerful artifacts-ka," said Heekikt seriously. "I døn't want anøther incident-ka like with yøur friend, Gønnard-ka."
"I understand, Papa," said Ubet. "Our companion, Journeyman Jay, even brought his Compelling Orb as proof of our sincerity, but he's..."
There was a pounding at the front door. "Let me in! For the love of angels and saints! Let me in!" cried Journeyman Jay from outside.
"Speak of the devil," said Ubet. "That's him."
Journeyman Jay, still dressed in Dr. Bruce's soaking wet clothes darted inside and slammed the door behind him even before Eyegot could finish saying, "Please be cøming in-ka."
"You!" shouted Jay pointing at Dr. Bruce. "The deal's off! Give me my clothes back."
"I thought you wanted to marry Biff," stammered Dr. Bruce.
"That was before he nearly drowned me trying to bathe me," snapped Jay. "That was before he pancaked my ribcage trying to help Fara perform CPR on me. And I don't even want to talk about the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation beyond the fact that there doesn't seem to be any word in his language for 'no tongue'."
Dr. Bruce made a face and shuddered violently.
"Now give me my clothes!" demanded Jay.
"Never!" cried Dr. Bruce leaping out of his chair and bolting.
"Take off your clothes!" ordered Jay running after him.
"Never!" repeated Dr. Bruce from the kitchen.
Heekikt and Eyegot looked at each other quizzically.
"They're enchanted," explained Ubet making the universal wrist gesture.
"Øhhh," nodded Ubet's parents knowingly.
There was another knock at the door. "Did cute, puny Dr. Bruce come this way?" asked Biff when Eyegot opened the door.
Just then, Dr. Bruce ran through the living room and up the stairs followed by Journeyman Jay. Somehow, Jay had managed to get Dr. Bruce's pants off.
"Oh! There is cute, puny Dr. Bruce!" cried Biff. "Come back! Biff will nurse you gently back to health!"
Eyegot watched Biff lumber up the stairs after the two other men and nodded thoughtfully.
Heekikt was shaking his head. "Yøu and yøur friends dø nøt inspire der cønfidence-ka. Der Cømpelling Ørb is much tøø pøwerful før yøu."
"But, Papa..." whined Ubet.
There was another knock at the door. "Now what?" complained Ubet.
When Eyegot opened the door, Ubet was surprised to see Sugar standing there.
"How did you escape from Maximum Evil?" Ubet asked.
Sugar just shrugged and smiled as she came in. "The usual way. Did you get the Compelling Orb?"
"Papa won't let me have it," said Ubet dejectedly.
"Maybe I can convince him," offered Sugar sauntering toward Heekikt.
Just then, Dr. Bruce, now clad in only boxer shorts and Journeyman Jay's black cloak ran back down the stairs. He saw Sugar and stopped short at the foot of the stairs. Jay caught up to him and yanked off the cloak.
"That's not Sugar!" shouted Dr. Bruce recognizing his former teammate, Spite.
With a snarl, Spite morphed into her monstrous toad-boar form and raised a disfigured hoof/claw to take off Heekikt's head. Ubet barreled into his father's ankles and toppled him safely out of the way.
"Get her!" shouted Ubet.
Jay and Dr. Bruce leaped at Spite, grabbing her by her meaty, warty arms. "Your revulsion field won't work on us, Spite!" cried Dr. Bruce. "We've played snugglebunnies with Biff!"
"Yeah," agreed Jay. "We're enchanted!"
Heekikt found his feet and nailed Spite with a Stone Curse just as Biff came down the stairs.
"Biff! Get the statue!" shouted Ubet.
"Biff will smash!" cried Biff swinging his club. Dr. Bruce and Journeyman Jay scrambled out of the way as a mighty blow from Biff's club turned the petrified Spite into a large pile of gravel.
Ubet stood on a chair, and he, Dr. Bruce and Journeyman Jay exchanged high-fives.
"All right," said Heekikt, "Yøu have prøven yøurselves-ka. I will let yøu børrøw der Cømpelling Ørb-ka."
"Excellent!" said Journeyman Jay.
"Biff did good?" asked Biff scratching his head.
"Biff did outstanding," said Dr. Bruce.
"Can Biff have a hug?"
Dr. Bruce and Journeyman Jay both froze, grimaced, and began to edge away from the giant Barbarian.
Incredibly, Biff began to cry. "Nobody loves Biff," he sniffled.
Jay and Dr. Bruce looked at each other guiltily, each hoping the other would make some move to comfort their ally. Neither could quite bring himself to do it.
Eyegot knelt next to her son and whispered in his ear.
"Aunt Hilga?" asked Ubet.
Eyegot nodded and smiled.
"Uh, Biff?" said Ubet. "My mom wants to know if you'd be interested in meeting her sister after our quest is over. She thinks you two might really hit it off."
Biff blinked and dried his eyes.
"Biff hit what off?" he wondered.
NEXT: More wacky heterosexuality in Mutation 37, "Solo at the Castle Ebola."
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