"I feel as if we 'ave been fighting our way through zis dungeon for days," said Evette wiping her brow during a lull between battles. The Fallen lay scattered around them along with dead goat men, shattered skeletons, and a few corpses of indeterminate continuity. They were in a wide hall somewhere on the fourth level under the Cathedral of Tristram.
"Six days, seventeen hours, and exactly fifty-one minutes," responded Elsie, consulting her internal chronometer.
"I thought zat Dolt 'ad killed all zee monstairs in 'ere already," said Evette sitting and leaning against a pillar.
Stupidhead would have liked to sit too, but settled for readjusting his giant hoop skirt one more time. "It's possible that he did," said the sorcerer. "We're getting further and further into the Adversary's territory. Its minions are probably self-regenerating."
"That's not all," added Elsie. "The dimensions are warped. I know this dungeon is big, but it's not this big. We've walked over sixty miles since leaving town."
"You're kidding," said Stupidhead despite the fact that he could believe it.
"I've been keeping track," said Elsie. She wrinkled her nose. "Plus, the whole place reeks of BF particles." Deathspit whined in agreement and Elsie bent to pick the puppy up.
"Do you think it was a good idea to send Dolt and Lord Cool to scout ahead?" wondered Evette.
"Yes," said Elsie and Stupidhead together. Deathspit just wagged his tail and looked shamefaced. Even the loyal pup had had just about as much of Cool and Dolt as he could stand.
"DOLT LUUUUUNGREEEEENNNN!!!" cried the mighty warrior cleaving the spiny tentacles off a Great Queen Smurf.
Lord Cool clapped his free hand over one ear in annoyance. "Do you have to shriek like that?" he complained. With his other hand, he was waving his sword at a pack of red-shirted Fallen.
"It is the way of my clan," grunted Dolt finishing off his foe with his battle axe. "To shout one's name in battle is to prepare one's ancestors for one's coming."
Lord Cool snickered. "Oh, I get it," he mocked. "Here, let me try it." He waved his sword and charged into the pack of Fallen. "I'M COOOOOOMMMMMIIIIINNNNNG!!!!" he cried and then collapsed giggling.
The Fallen were puzzled for a moment and then swarmed all over Lord Cool, biting and scratching.
Dolt scowled. "You are without honor, tiny one."
"Am not," countered Cool, fending off the goblin-like demons.
"Are too," retorted Dolt, not rushing to his aid.
"Am not," argued Cool. A Fallen One bit into his ankle with dirty, razor-sharp teeth.
"Are too," insisted Dolt. He was cleaning his axe and checking the area for treasure.
"Am not times ten," grunted Cool. A Fallen One had gotten up on his shoulders and was hammering away at Cool's helmet with a mace.
"Are too times a hundred," argued Dolt. A couple of the Fallen were attempting to scamper away from Lord Cool, apparently either fearing for their lives or their patience. Dolt batted them back into play with the flat side of his axe.
"Am not times infinity," concluded Cool smugly from under a pile of clawing, biting demons.
"Curse you, tiny one," grumbled Dolt realizing he'd lost yet another argument.
"And stop calling me 'tiny one,'" complained Cool.
"That's what Sugar calls you," Dolt told him. "That and 'inadequate one' or 'get that thing the hell out of my belly button.'"
"Does not," insisted Cool.
"Does too," responded Dolt.
"Does nahh... Gack!" The Fallen had redoubled their efforts to shut their victim up. "I could use a little help here," suggested Cool as the pack of demons pinned him down, kicked his sword into the far corner, and started throttling him.
"I will pray to my ancestors on your behalf," offered Dolt.
"If I could reach you, I would hurt you," gasped Cool. He then turned to his other companion who had been cowering behind some barrels throughout the fight. "Could you at least just hand me my spare sword?"
"I'm a doctor, not a squire!" complained Dr. McCoy.
"Fine, I'll do it myself," complained Cool. He managed to get a hand free and grab one of the Fallen. He proceeded to struggle to his feet and then beat the remaining Fallen to death with the one he had grabbed.
"There! That's the last of them," announced Cool a few minutes later, wiping the goblin guts off his hands. The Fallen lay dead all around him.
"Truly, you are the terror of all creatures half your size and under, tiny one," remarked Dolt.
"Don't start with me," warned Cool. "I suppose you hogged all the treasure for yourself?"
"Of course not," replied Dolt, wounded. "I left those four barrels over there for you."
Cool scowled, but went over and kicked open the first barrel.
"Hey! Watch it!" complained Dr. McCoy scurrying to safety behind Dolt.
The first barrel had been empty, so Lord Cool kicked open the second. It, and the one adjacent to it exploded in a ball of fire.
"Ha! Missed me again!" crowed McCoy triumphantly to no one in particular.
Lord Cool coughed, drank a healing potion, brushed the charred skin off his face and hands, and kicked the last barrel open. A pile of gold coins and a small, glowing rock spilled out.
As Cool knelt to scoop up the coins, the glowing rock rolled to Dr. McCoy's feet. He hesitated a moment and then picked it up and examined it. It was smaller than a golf ball and etched with luminous silver and orange runes. McCoy gave a derisive snort. "No doubt Spock would find this 'fascinating,'" he griped. "I don't even know what I'm doing here. One minute we're all on the Enterprise, then the next thing I know, Maximum Evil's standing over Captain Kirk's charred corpse and I'm wearing a red shirt of death. If you two hadn't come along and offered to help me find my blue shirt again, I'd probably still be hiding out in Gharbad the Weak's old spot waiting for the inevitable as part of the Adversary's 'Army of Things That Shouldn't Be.'"
Dolt grabbed the stone from Dr. McCoy's hand. "Your blue shirt is to you much as my thrice-cursed immortal name is to me," said Dolt. "If only my father, Olaf Lungren, had not offended the Scribe's Guild and caused them to burden me with the foolish name of 'Dolt Lungren' in retaliation. Now, only the glory of battle and the love of the fair Sugar, a.k.a. Mindy the Magnificent, whom we seek to rescue from the villainous Maximum Evil, can ease the sting of..."
Lord Cool snatched the rock from Dolt's hand. "Hey! I know what this is!" he exclaimed. "It's an Exposition Stone. My best friend and longtime sidekick Stupidhead the Weak -- also known as Gonnard the (hah) Great -- told me all about these things. Basically, the person holding one starts explaining things and can't shut up. Kind of like what I'm doing now. In fact, exactly like what I'm doing now. Oh, I get it, I must be under its power. Anyway, I was saying Stu told me all about these magic items. Normally, I wouldn't have paid much attention, since -- despite my secret envy of his intellect and magic powers -- I have a certain amount of contempt for his age, frailty, and tendency to drool as he rambles on and on and on. But he told me that if you give an Exposition Stone to a girl, she'll eventually tell you what color underwear she's wearing. And not only that, but the faster she tells you, the looser she is. Mine are bachelor gray, by the way, with a brown str..."
Dolt quickly slapped the rock out of Cool's hand and it rolled across the floor. "Whoa," breathed Cool staring down at the Exposition Stone. "We should save that."
Dolt nodded. "It may come in handy in some as-yet-unknown way."
"That, and we can try it on Sugar when we find her," added Cool.
Dolt stared at Lord Cool for a second and then drew a dagger from a scabbard strapped to his ankle. "Right," he said. With that, he knelt, removed the scabbard and, with the tip of his dagger, carefully rolled the Exposition Stone into the scabbard. "Let's go, tiny one."
"I am not tiny!" protested Lord Cool.
"Oh, but you are," said Dolt. "And in so many ways."
"Am not," said Cool.
Elsie, Stupidhead, Evette, and Deathspit had reached the stairs leading from level four to level five when they came under heavy fire from a large pack of acid-spitting hounds and a flock of familiars and several bounding Pikachus. The bat-like familiars and cheery yellow Pokemon delivered vicious electrical shocks to any creature that ventured too near. The effect was a virtual wall of lightning through which the acid hounds spat corrosive, poisonous death. In very short order, the four heroes found themselves forced to seek cover.
"Zey are drawing in around us," said Evette, attempting to return fire with her crossbow. The bolt sailed toward one of their foes, only to be blasted to ash in midair by an electrical discharge like all the others.
"Yap! Yap!" agreed Deathspit, spitting an acid ball at his former packmates.
Stupidhead's fireballs were more effective, but even he could see that their situation was becoming untenable. "Something's got to be directing these creatures," he shouted, shaking his head. "They're too organized."
Elsie agreed. "My sensors are picking up a lot of traffic on low-level telepathic wavelengths. I'm not equipped to read them, but they're there. The source seems to be from somewhere behind the pack." She risked a peek out from behind the pillar where she and Evette were hiding and almost got a blast of acid in the face for her trouble. "There's a pointy-eared man in a blue shirt just down the stairwell. I think he's our guy. Too bad we can't get to him though."
Elsie glanced over to the pillar across the hall where Stupidhead seemed to be having a conversation with something under his over-sized robe.
"Stu?" she asked.
"Cover me!" shouted Stupidhead.
"With what? A crossbow?" asked Evette.
"Never mind," said Stupidhead. "I'll do it myself." With that, he cast multiple Walls of Fire and ran toward them. Somehow, he vaulted over the flames and their momentarily dazzled foes and disappeared down the stairs.
Stupidhead slammed into Mr. Spock and the two of them tumbled down the stairs to level five. Spock would have recovered from the fall first, but something from under Stupidhead's robe snaked out and clubbed him semi-conscious.
"We've got to break his hold over the pack," said Stupidhead.
"We'll have to do a Vulcan mind meld."
"A what?" asked Stupidhead.
"A mind meld. I know how it's done, but I'll need some room to work."
Stupidhead nodded and unfastened the giant hoop skirt around his waist.
"My mind to your mind..."
"Will you two quit bickering and hurry up?" complained Leonard McCoy. "We've got to find my blue shirt so I can get rid of this red shirt of doom."
Dolt and Cool were in the midst of a heated discussion of battle tactics and the merits of using a two-handed weapon versus those of using a one-handed weapon and a shield.
"Does not," argued Dolt.
"Does too times ten," insisted Lord Cool
"Does not times a hundred," retorted Dolt.
Lord Cool paused, savoring yet another opportunity to humiliate his rival with his superior debating skills. "Does too times inf..."
A bloodstar burst against the wall inches from McCoy's head. Dolt and Lord Cool looked up to see dozens of succubi and Hell Spawn charging up the corridor. A flock of harpies flapped shrieking above them while a pack of lamias flanked them. Bringing up the rear were three giantesses, a female centaur, and Andariel, the Maiden of Anguish. Neither Dolt nor Cool had ever seen so many gigantic bare breasts in their entire lives.
"Ha!" shouted McCoy. "Missed again!" The next fifty bloodstars (along with a fireball and a couple of lightning bolts) homed in on McCoy's red shirt like swallows returning to Capistrano.
"Oh my god! They killed Lenny!" noticed Lord Cool still gawking.
"You bastards!" cried Dolt charging at the succubi and swinging his battle axe. "DOLT LUUUUUNGREEEEENNNN!!!"
Cool took a hesitant step forward. The little bit of common sense he had assured him that this would be nothing short of a massacre, with him and Dolt as the massackees. But then again, these were topless women.
"More fighting and less staring, ineffective one," scolded Dolt chopping the head off a diving harpy.
Fortunately for Lord Cool, someone pulled him out of the firefight and into the shelter of a side passage.
"Red Vex!" exclaimed Cool. "Hey, I haven't seen you since that time we hooked up!"
If the demonesses' porcelain complexion momentarily turned a slightly paler shade of white at the recollection, Lord Cool missed it. She threw her arms around his shoulders. "Lord Cool," she smiled revealing a perfect white set of fangs. "May I call you Lord?"
"Uh, yeah," panted Cool staring at her other perfect white set.
"It's been so long," sighed Red Vex, making sure to allow Lord Cool enough time to get the double-entendre.
When Cool giggled, she continued, pressing her breasts against his chest. Over the centuries, Red Vex had refined her technique to the point where she knew Lord Cool could feel every soft, warm curve right through his armor. "Do you know what I'd like to do?" she breathed hotly and running her tongue along his earlobe. At the same time, her wingtip traced a playful path up and down Cool's spine. She whispered some salacious details in his ear. "Wouldn't you like that, baby?"
A bloodstar burst nearby and a severed succubus head rolled by, an obscene leer still on its lips. Cool heard Dolt's battle cry and more sounds of the melee. "I'm sorry, Red Vex," he said gently pushing her to arm's length. "I know Dolt and I have had our differences, but he's out there fighting for his life, to help rescue the woman I love. I can't just leave him."
Red Vex pouted and cupped her breasts.
"Without at least saying goodbye," concluded Lord Cool. "Seeya!" he shouted over his shoulder as Red Vex led him away.
"Eh?" Dolt glanced toward the sound of Cool's voice and the great serpentine tail of a lamia slammed him hard enough into a wall to crack the mortar.
The three giantesses advanced on him as he clumsily found his feet. "There are only six of them," muttered Dolt woozily. "I don't need a potion yet."
The acid hounds, familiars, and company broke formation almost the moment Stupidhead had disappeared down the stairs. Evette, Elsie, and Deathspit wasted no time taking advantage of their foes' sudden disorganization, and soon the pack lay dead or had scattered.
A disturbing sight greeted them at the bottom of the stairs. The blue-shirted, pointy-eared man was on his knees with a blank look on his face. Stupidhead stood before him, his robe lifted to reveal his skinny legs and pock-marked buttocks. He was holding his staff of power against the other man's temple.
Elsie was so shocked, she accidentally accessed a database containing one of Lord Cool's long-repressed memories. Specifically, the time he had walked in on his grandparents together when he was nine. She let out an involuntary squeak of horror. But it sure explained a lot about Lord Cool, particularly some of the accessories they'd had in play.
"Do you remembair what I said about not being offended by zee man-man love?" said Evette. "I take it back. It is -- how you say? -- terribly unattractive."
Stupidhead startled and looked over his shoulder at the two women and the puppy. "This is so not what it looks like."
"My thoughts to your thoughts. Your secrets are my secrets," said an unfamiliar voice.
Elsie assumed it was Stupidhead's new friend speaking. "Don't tell me, let me guess: you're pumping him for information," said Elsie.
"Yes," said Stupidhead. "I mean, no! It's not like that. It's hard..."
"Plainly," observed Evette.
"Look," said Elsie. "We're hardly in any position to judge. We're about as gay as they come ourselves. And if we weren't, this is a sight that probably would have pushed us over the edge anyway. But this really isn't the time or place. For crying out loud, can't you two go back to town and get a room?"
"I keep telling you, it's not like that!" cried Stupidhead. "I'm enchanted -- and not in that way! -- I mean in the conventional sense. Adria gave me a potion and..."
"Let me explain," offered the new voice calmly. "I'm done with Mr. Spock anyway."
"But," argued Stupidhead.
Stupidhead sighed. "Okay," then he said to Elsie and Evette, "Uh, this is going to be a little shocking."
"After what we've just seen?" asked Elsie.
"Yeah," said Stupidhead. With that, he turned around and Elsie and Evette found themselves being addressed by Stupidhead's Rod of Lordly Might.
"First of all," it explained, "Let me apologize for any appearance of impropriety you may have observed. I was performing a Vulcan mind-meld to telepathically extract information from this fellow on the floor. It requires physical contact and, as you can see, I lack hands."
Evette and Elsie just stared. Deathspit trotted up to sniff the strange new entity and then thought better of it. He tucked his tail between his legs and backed away whining.
"Secondly," it continued, "my sentience and enhanced capabilities are, as Stu alluded, a side effect of an experimental virility potion Adria concocted before her untimely death. You may call me Smarterhead."
"Hey!" protested Stupidhead.
"It was either that, or 'Woody the Wonder Weenie,'" said Smarterhead. "Anyway, it's not like I haven't been doing most of your thinking for you for most of your life."
Stupidhead grumbled something inaudible.
"All that's beside the point," continued Smarterhead. "I've learned some important information from my telepathic interrogation of Mr. Spock."
Elsie finally found her voice. "You... You're telepathic?"
"I've developed some rudimentary psychic abilities among my other talents," said Smarterhead.
"Other talents?" echoed Evette.
"A bit of this, a bit of that."
"So you're kind of a man, er, member for all seasons?" suggested Elsie.
"You might even call me a jack off all trades," said Smarterhead.
There was a pained silence.
"Zat was a 'orrible pun," winced Evette.
"Just a little levity to lighten an awkward situation," conceded Smarterhead. "There's a couple of things happening now that you should be aware of: First, as we get nearer to the Adversary's lair, we're going to encounter more non-continuity effects and creatures, such as Mr. Spock and the Pokemon we ran into upstairs. They're likely to get more powerful and more bizarre the closer we get to the Adversary. That's what's ahead of us. Behind us, the world is returning to its natural order now that the Boojum and its Deus Ex Machine have sealed of access to the Battle Net thereby preventing further cross-continuity contamination."
"So the further from the Adversary, the more the world is the way it was before all this started," surmised Elsie.
"Right," said Smarterhead. "Everything that doesn't belong is either disappearing or morphing into something that does fit in. That could have some dire consequences for us. Stu will be okay, he's a native. I might be okay since Adria was involved in my creation and owing to my, shall we say, close association with Stupidhead."
"Heh," grunted Stupidhead.
"Evette's a French girl from World War II earth," continued Smarterhead. "And her continuity has already changed in minor ways. Maybe you've noticed that her pistol was replaced with a crossbow somewhere along the line."
"French chick with a crossbow?" muttered Stupidhead. "Yes, please."
Elsie consulted her memory banks and found that what Smarterhead had said was true. "So then, being an android, I'm..."
"In big trouble," guessed Smarterhead. "Between being a high-tech artifact and your vast repository of non-continuity knowledge, you're probably the biggest threat to the natural order still running around, with the exceptions of CowLord and the Adversary itself."
"But, what will 'appen to 'er?" pleaded Evette, worried.
"I don't know," admitted Smarterhead. "Ultimately, she might just disappear, or maybe be transformed into a golem of some sort. I'm sorry."
"Oh, Elsie!" cried Evette reaching for her hand.
"We'll figure out a way," Elsie assured her lover. "We're not licked yet."
"Chicks licked," chuckled Stupidhead.
"What the hell/hell is wrong with you?" Elsie snapped at Stupidhead.
"My fault," said Smarterhead. "The human male has only enough blood in his body to operate his brain or his penis, but not both at the same time. Stu goes into kind of a torpor when I'm active for extended periods of time like this."
At that moment, Mr. Spock groaned. "What about him?"
"He won't cause us any more trouble," Smarterhead assured them. "Best thing to do is Town Portal him up to Tristram and wait for his continuity to straighten itself out on its own."
"Good enough for me," agreed Elsie.
"Stu?" said Smarterhead. "Snap out of it. We need a TP."
"Huh? What? Oh sure." Stu shook his head and blinked a few times. "Right." He cast the spell and a glowing blue portal appeared. "There you go."
Elsie and Evette rolled the semi-conscious Vulcan through the portal and out of the fanfic. Sugar and CowLad almost stumbled over him coming the other direction.
"Holy There Goes Our PG-13 Rating!" exclaimed CowLad catching sight of Smarterhead.
"Stud! I mean, Stu!" exclaimed Sugar. Deathspit ran up and jumped into her arms.
"Sugar!" exclaimed Elsie and Stupidhead.
"Maximum Evil let us go," explained Sugar hurriedly. "He and CowLord were talking about joining forces against the Adversary, but then there was an explosion and why isn't Stu wearing any pants?"
Before anyone could answer Sugar's question, Solo stepped through the still-open Town Portal. She stared at Smarterhead. "I've got the Horadric Phallus, I mean, Mallus," she said.
"I'm Smarterhead," said Smarterhead, introducing himself to Sugar, Solo, and CowLad.
"I'll bring them up to date," volunteered Elsie. "We need Stupidhead alert and mobile so we can get on with our mission."
Cool and Red Vex had already left the battle a good distance behind when Sister Twisted stopped them. "Where are you taking him?" she wanted to know, eyeing Red Vex with evident suspicion. "Our Master wanted these heroes killed on sight."
Red Vex, in turn, took a moment to study the "evil" twin the Adversary had created. Despite her allegiance and blood-red nun's habit, Sister Twisted radiated goodness, purity, chastity, and general wholesomeness. The Hell Spawn's stomach lurched in a way normally reserved for those too-frequent times when she recalled her encounter on the Enterprise with Lord Cool. "Your master," she corrected.
Sister Twisted, innocent as a virgin on a unicorn, looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"
"It's like this," explained Red Vex. She blasted Sister Twisted point-blank in the face with a bloodstar. She nailed her a few more times just to make sure.
"I never liked her looks anyway," Red Vex told Lord Cool.
Cool stared at the charred corpse as Red Vex removed his helmet and ran her fingers through his hair. Shock and lust battled briefly for control. Lust, as usual, won.
"Now then," whispered Red Vex. "You and I were going somewhere to do something special together." She took his hand and Lord Cool once again allowed himself to be led away.
Bruised, burnt, and bloodied, more dead than alive, Dolt Lungren swung his mighty battle axe one more time and Andariel, the Maiden of Anguish toppled with a howl.
"Is that all you've got?!" Dolt rasped to any of his foes who might have still been alive to hear.
In answer, Dolt received a bovine fist the size of a pumpkin to the back of the head. He staggered and whirled to face his attacker. He found himself facing a creature that appeared to be a huge demon-winged minotaur, except that its hide was Holstein-patterned and a huge swollen udder hung between its legs.
"Mooo!" challenged the creature.
Dolt gripped his axe and started forward. "DOLT LUUUUUN..." was as far as he got.
The cow-demon took a teat in each massive, hairy hand and squeezed. The resulting gout of milk caught Dolt full in the face with fire hose-like pressure.
"Arrrgh!" cried Dolt trying to struggle back to his feet.
Another spray of milk hit him.
"Lactose... intolerant..." he gasped. "Bloating... guts churning... stomach cramping..."
He was doused yet again.
"Must remain... conscious..."
The cow-demon hosed him again and he lost his grip on his axe.
"Mindy... my love..." wheezed Dolt as he collapsed face-down in a growing pool of milk.
"Moooo!" bellowed the cow-demon in triumph.
"Nice work," commented Arch-Mage Suave stepping from the shadows. "Is he dead?"
The cow-demon just shrugged.
Suave shrugged back. "Bring it along, I guess." He looked around at the gorefest that was all that remained of his demonic harem. Perhaps a dozen succubi and Hell Spawn were still standing. He sighed. "Looks like I'm gonna need some more girlfriends. Luckily, I know where I can find some."
Well, with Spock, McCoy, and Sister Twisted (and possibly Dolt) out of the picture, that's three or four fewer characters to keep track of. But what will become of Elsie now that her continuity's in jeopardy? And exactly what does Red Vex have planned for Lord Cool? Stay tuned.
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