Chapter 9:  Encroaching Disaster

 

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Ah, another beautiful dawn at Mallet Castle. The soft rays filtered through the stained glass windows of the Great Hall, where every Castle resident takes their meals. Some eat at normal times, such as Malon and Auron. Others have more… irregular schedules. Take Crash for example. He usually eats whenever the urge strikes him to do so. It doesn’t matter whether he’s hungry or not. That he eats is what matters. And Zidane, why, he can almost never be found at the dinner table during the appropriate mealtimes. He likes to skulk around and cram food down his sneaky little gullet either before or after everyone arrives for his or her daily sustenance. But I digress. One might ponder exactly why it is that I am describing to you the mealtime habits of certain choice individuals, and indeed why I started this scene in the Great Hall, as the beginning of this particular chapter has no relevance to the breaking of fast in any way, shape, or form. The answer, my curious friends, is that even though there is no eating at the beginning of this chapter, one Castle tenant does make his bed on the warm mantle over the fire. That tenant, boys and girls, is Red XIII.

Our personality of interest was curled up on the mantle, purring softly as he snoozed contentedly on the warm stone, ears twitching every now and then to ward off the occasional dust mote. In most other places in the Castle, it would have been flies worrying the reflex muscles in his ears, but in the Great Hall and adjoining Great Kitchen, great pains were taken to keep the place clean. And before you point it out, the dust came from the uppermost regions of rafters, where only Zidane ventured regularly and with confidence. As is evidenced by previous encounters with this individual, Zidane is not a very clean person. The rafters were so high, in fact, that it took any dust that was disturbed from there hours to make it to Red’s sleeping spot. Oddly enough, if Zidane was thrown (and believe me, he was thrown) from the same place, he reaches solid Earth in less than one minute, burning with re-entry heat. Needless to say, this kind of feat defies the very laws of physics, and such a stunt can only be accomplished in Mallet Castle. Chalk it up to its close proximity to the gates of Hell.

It’s amazing how far off track I can go before returning to the main focus point of the moment, isn’t it? Sorry, here we go…

It was an amazing and unique knack that Red XIII had (and has). This knack cannot be found anywhere else in the Castle, or probably anywhere else in the world. This much-envied gift of Red’s was that no one and nothing ever woke him up before he was goddamn ready to, and your attitude and jealousy be damned, dammit. If he had an appointment or other such pressing need to awaken earlier than usual, then his internal body clock readjusted itself automatically. All in all, Red XIII was what Dante would have called a “lucky bastard.”

Not much indication of  “encroaching disaster” yet, eh? Well shaddap and wait for a change. God, some people…

Red XIII cracked his one sleepy eye open and yawned cavernously. Like all quadruped cats of any size, Red felt the pressing need to stand up and arch his back after his rest. Once that instinctual action was out of the way, he leapt nimbly down to the floor, prowled into the Great Kitchen, and flicked the refrigerator door open with his tail. After a minute or so of fruitless browsing, he came to the inevitable conclusion that the fridge needed to be restocked in the worst way, as there was no meat whatsoever. That in itself was odd, and Red thought with a rueful grunt that Dante had apparently not been here in a while, or such a blasphemy of culinary supply would never have occurred.

As Red was heading out the door, he caught sight of a highly polished, stainless steel bowl on the floor. Being the good citizen he was, Red decided to put it away. As he leaned down to pick it up in his mouth, which was very clean, by the way, he saw his reflection on the burnished metal. A red-furred feline stared back out at him, the exotic bird feathers intertwined in his mane adding to his predatory look. His left eye, red, solemnly matched his gaze. The right eye had several old scars over it, the damaged tissue looking like purplish plastic now more than anything else.  Well. He put the bowl away and continued out of the kitchen. When he re-entered the Great Hall, Red found Doom sitting at the table with his head on the tabletop and his helmet in his lap. Red sauntered over and took a seat at the table next to Doom, who seemed to have dozed off. Red sat quietly for a while, and then decided that if Doom was going to sleep, he was going to have to do it elsewhere. A discreet cough brought Doom’s head up quickly, and his cloudy blue eyes bored reproachfully into Red’s eye.

“Dare I inquire as to the reason of your disturbing me?” Doom asked as politely as he could manage, which was negligible, to say the least.

Red matched Doom’s question with one of his own, “You are aware that you are sleeping at the one place where you are least likely to get some rest, aren’t you?”

“My shotgun has other ideas. What do you care anyway?”

“My innate need to be polite, I suppose.”

“You can take your polite needs and shove it, pal. Go away.”

“So ho! It’s bad manners and insulting time, is it? Well, let me tell you that you are an insensitive, brutish moron, who couldn’t find his ass with both hands tied behind his back!” That made Doom sit up straighter.

“Not only that, but you apparently have forgotten what a bath is, and you stink like a water buffalo. Your hair is greasy as a McDonald’s cheeseburger, and your suit is as filthy as if you roll in mud for a living.”

Doom was fighting to keep his trigger finger under control, now. “Who said any of this was your business?”

“You started it.”

“And you can be damned sure I’ll finish it, too, you overgrown, mangy, one-eyed alley cat!”

Red could take “overgrown” and “alley cat” quite easily. The terms simply did not apply to him. “Mangy” was a mild insult to him, but not overly so. “One-eyed,” however, struck a nerve in Red XIII. “Tell me, do you enjoy the use of your arms?” he growled.

“Very much so.”

“Prepare to be disappointed.”

“Try it, puss.”

With a roar, Red threw himself onto Doom, knocking him from his seat and sending them both sprawling across the hard flagstone floor. Having four legs, Red was on his feet quicker than Doom, but you don’t just stroll through Hell expecting to live very long if you don’t have good reflexes. Doom rolled quickly to side and came up on one knee with his service pistol in one hand. He squeezed off two shots, both of which missed by an impossibly narrow margin. Red XIII pounced again, and his front claws raked first down the front of Doom’s breastplate, then continued on to gouge the back of his armor with a kick from his back claws. Doom fell forward heavily, and Red landed lightly behind him.

Red turned and asked, “Had enough yet?”

Doom got slowly up on one knee again, and shook his head slightly, giving the impression that he was disoriented, and boosting Red’s smugness by another couple of notches.

“Yeah, I thought s-” Red began.

Suddenly, Doom half-turned and sprang at our favorite quadruped. The two antagonists rolled about for a minute or five, then stopped in the classic, “Each one has their hands around the other’s throat,” position. After fifteen minutes of nonstop strangling, it was apparent that Doom and Red were evenly matched, both in strength of the hand and in strength of the throat. Doom remedied the impasse by landing a cheap shot in Red’s gut. Red countered in turn by nearly hamstringing Doom’s leg. Of course, once these trivial diversions were out of the way, it was back to the stranglehold routine. And that was exactly how Lulu found them.

“Here now, what’s all this?” she barked. An expensive porcelain bowl crashed to the floor. “Boys, boys! Stop this at once!” Lulu dove into the middle of the fight and wrestled the combatants apart with not-so-mild electrical shocks. Once separated, Doom and Red XIII collapsed into the nearest upright chairs, gasping for breath.

Lulu’s bad humor fell first on Red. “Red thir-TEEN! I expected much better from you! You are usually such a mature and polite soul. You have really disappointed me now. What have you to say for yourself?”

Red hung his head sheepishly and mumbled an apology.

If Doom had hoped to avoid a scolding, he was wrong. “And you!” Lulu paused for breath, and got her first good look at Doom. “…Who are you, anyway? Come on, speak up, boy! I don’t have all day!”

Doom chose not to answer right away, and instead ran his hand through his tan, crew cut hair, searching for the source of stinging pain that had gone unnoticed until just now.

No woman likes to be ignored, especially when angry. Lulu, however, was known for her temper. With a reputation to match Fara’s for intolerance of just about anything, the thing at the top of her piss off list was being ignored purposefully. “I’m talking to you, John Doe, and by God if I don’t get an answer right the hell now I’m going to-”

“Come here, loud one.” Doom commanded. Frothing at the mouth in her rage, Lulu marched closer, fully intent on breaking his neck. Before she had approached close enough to accomplish her goal, however, Doom stopped her at arm’s length with a hand on her shoulder, turned her around, and plucked one of her long hairpins out of her midnight-colored tresses. The corresponding portion or her immaculate hairdo immediately fell down into her face, and she whirled around to see Doom using her hairpin as makeshift tweezers. He had found the source of his annoyance on his scalp, and plucked it out with the pin. He held the offending object in the light for all to see, revealing it to be a bloody half of a claw. Upon sighting this, Red quickly checked all of his claws, and, sure enough, found that one was broken off halfway.

“There now,” Doom said, handing the pin back to its owner, “That feels better. Thank you for the use of your hairpin.”

Lulu stared at the befouled object, her eye twitching spasmodically.

“Now then, if you will kindly lower your voice, I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.” Behind Lulu, Red XIII began shaking his head and waving his front paws around frantically.

“What, now you won’t even ask me those pressing questions you had before? Come on, I don’t have all day. I swear, some people are so rude that way…”

 

Dear readers, I must interrupt this thrilling scene and transport you elsewhere for a moment or two. The next few seconds will be filled with such profanity and obscenity that if I were to describe it in even rough detail, I would be dragged down by demons into the fiery pits of hell. And since such a fate is high on my avoidance priorities list, you will have to use your imaginations (however limited they may be) to make up your own versions of this scene. Thank you for understanding.

 

Rinoa sighed wistfully and flopped down on the grass at a cliff’s edge overlooking the ocean. She stared out at the deep blue expanses of water for a moment, then looked down at her elbow to see a powder blue flower waving gently in the wind.

“Ooh, how pretty…” she said. She reached to pick it, but suddenly realized that if she did, it would die. Killing was not in Rinoa’s nature, so instead she began to ponder exactly how she was going to get it out of the ground. Coming to a solution, she snapped her fingers and reached into her small backpack, which contained a Styrofoam cup, a plastic plate with utensils, and some snack food, among other things. Using the spoon, she gently dug the flower up by the roots, being oh so careful not to damage it in any way. Scooping up some extra soil, she packed the fragile flower firmly into the cup, and watered it with some tap water from her canteen.

“There. That should do until I can find a proper flower pot for you.” Rinoa set the cup down next to her and resumed staring out at the horizon. She sighed again and began to doze off, but her pleasant nap was not to be. An explosion of immense proportions rocked the ground she was resting on, jerking her back to wakefulness and drawing her attention immediately back to the castle. There was a great smoldering hole in the castle about six floors up. Upon reflection, Rinoa realized that that was about where the Great Hall was. Her thoughts were interrupted, however, when a faint screaming came to her ears.

“aaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAHHHHH-HOOF!!!” Still smoking from the blast, Doom hit the ground hard on his back and bounced, flipped over onto his stomach in the air, and landed at the edge of the cliff. He slid a bit, and finally stopped moving with his legs hanging over the cliff, dangling from a rock that was fast losing its already questionable hold in the ground.

“Don’t just sit there, girl! Help me!” Doom gasped.

“You… you crushed my flower…” Tears began to well up pitifully in Rinoa’s eyes.

“Now is really not the time to be worrying about a flower, girl!”

“But it was such a cute flower!”

“Let me make this simple for you. You can help me out here and I’ll get you a new flower better than the one I crushed, or you can let me fall and feel guilty for the rest of your life.”

Rinoa sniffed. “…Guilty?”

“Horribly guilty.”

“Alright, just a minute. Let me find my rope…” Rinoa searched through her pack and found a nice, thick rope. She tied one end to a rock with a sailor’s knot that Squall had shown her one time. “Here you go!” she said as she threw the other end to Doom’s waiting hand.

And none too soon. Just as he grabbed the rope, the rock gave way under his weight and bounced down the cliff, fragmenting into several pieces along the way. Doom heaved himself onto solid ground and lay there on his back, gasping for breath. Rinoa was still at the edge.

“Wow, that rock could’ve been you if I hadn’t had that rope!” she exclaimed.

“No shit, girl.” Doom groaned.

Rinoa gasped, “Ooooooooh! You cursed! I’m gonna tell Squall!”

Doom rolled his head to the right and looked at Rinoa. But before he could say anything, Red XIII streaked out of the sky and landed right on Doom’s stomach, adding to his already considerable discomfort.

Red got up stiffly. He, too, was still smoking from the explosion. “What in all nine hells did I land on? My back is killing me… Oh. It was just you.”

“I’m gonna wring your furry little neck for that…” Doom coughed.

“Hey, it is not my fault that I was closer to Lulu when she unleashed that Ultima spell. I flew farther up in the air than you, and as such you landed first. You should have gotten out of the way.”

“Speaking of that spell, it’s a damn good thing I put my helmet back on before she went berserk. And I hold you personally responsible for that, by the way.”

“What! Why?”

“If you hadn’t come into the room and woken me up in the first place, we wouldn’t have fought. And if we hadn’t fought, that woman wouldn’t have gotten mad at us and blown the whole room to smithereens.”

“You were the one who took her hairpin and used it to pull one of my claws out of your thick head.”

“That’s not the point. The point is that you started all of this.”

“I was politely suggesting that you move from the table for your nap. It is not like I was planting explosives to shift you from your seat.”

“Need I repeat myself?”

“Is there no end to your grossly unfounded hostility towards me?”

“Let me check. Hmm… No, I don’t believe there is.”

“I wish I had landed on your head rather than your stomach. I might have knocked some sense into you!”

“I’ve got all the sense I need.”

“You must be rather low on change, then.”

“You boys better stop this fighting before Lulu comes back!” Rinoa warned.

“… She’s right. What say we cease our argument for now, hmm?” Red asked.

“Fine. Neither one of us are in any condition to fight right now, anyway.” Doom sighed.

“Good!” Rinoa laughed. “Now that you two are friends, let’s all sit here at the cliff and stare at the ocean.”

“Well, I don’t have anything better to do at the moment.” Red XIII said.

After about fifteen minutes of uninterrupted silence and serenity, Rinoa decided that it was time for a change. “Let’s shoot some fireworks!” She proceeded to rummage about in her pack for the nice, big ones that she had had Squall buy her yesterday. All she’d had to do was to turn on the waterworks, and presto! Brand new fireworks straight from the factory were suddenly before her.

“Just when I was starting to enjoy sitting out here, too.” Doom lamented. “And I was beginning to think that there might actually be something to all this “relaxing” crap I’ve been hearing about lately.”

“You get used to having your peaceful moments interrupted around here.” Red said as Rinoa laid out some of the largest fireworks that Doom had ever seen.

“Now, if I didn’t know better, I’d say those were standard military-issue rockets…” he mused.

Red snorted. “Squall goes to great lengths to keep Rinoa happy. I would not be surprised in the least if they were real rockets.”

“There! All done. Now all I need is a lighter. Do you have one, strange, grumpy man?” Rinoa asked.

“I don’t smoke.” Doom answered.

“A match will do.”

“Oh, well, those are a completely different story. Sorry, but they all burnt up when that woman with emotional issues went haywire.”

“You were an arsonist in a past life, weren’t you?” Red asked.

“What do you mean, ‘were?’”

“Red, you wouldn’t happen to have a lighter or some matches with you, would you?”

“And just where would I carry them, Rinoa?”

“Hmm, there is that. But wait! I have an idea!” Rinoa grabbed Red XIII’s tail and began pulling it towards the “fireworks.”

“Um, Rinoa, just what is it that you are doing with my tail?” Red XIII inquired.

“Isn’t it obvious? I’m going to use the fiery end of your tail to light the fireworks!”

“Yeah, Red, isn’t it obvious?” Doom snickered. “I should think someone of your high intelligence would have picked up on that right away.”

Red gave Doom a look, but did not deign to reply. Instead, he turned his gaze on Rinoa. “You be careful with my tail. It is the only one I have, and I need it to last for the rest of my life, you know.”

“Yeah, yeah. Just hold still!” Rinoa admonished as she held the fiery end of Red’s tail to the end of a firework. When it began sparking, she hurriedly jerked Red’s tail away and hopped back, waiting for lift-off.

The stout little thing sat there shuddering for a second, then THWOOSH! It took of with such force that a small crater was left in its wake. Personally, Doom had half expected it to explode right there in front of him.

“Woooooowww!” Rinoa gasped as the rocket twisted, turned, climbed, dove, and did loop-de-loops until it exploded high up in the air, creating the words, “I love you, Rinoa” with bright, multicolored sparkles.

“Awww, how sweet of Squall to do that for me! I’ll have to thank him when I go back inside.” Rinoa said. “Okay, Red! Time for the next one!”

“Custom-made military rockets with sparkles inside that spell out words. Rinoa, just how long did it take for Squall to get these for you?” Doom wondered.

“About five minutes.” THWOOSH!

“Damn. He must have some serious horsepower to get through military regulations so fast.”

“Like I said before, Squall goes to great lengths to keep Rinoa happy.” Red said. THWOOSH!

 

Three hours and thirty some-odd rockets later, Rinoa was finally ready to go back to the Castle. The cliff side now closely resembled Swiss cheese due to the considerable number of craters in it. As she was packing up her things, Doom, who had not moved very much at all for the last three hours, hauled himself stiffly up from the ground and dusted of his pants.

“When I get back to my room, I’m gonna take a nice, long shower before I hit the sack.” He said, massaging his aching back.

“No argument here.” Red stated.

“I thought cats groomed themselves with their tongue.”

“When you live here for any length of time, you quickly see that you will not want to put most things you find into your mouth. Showers feel better anyway.”

“I believe this is the second time we agree on something.”

“Hard to believe, isn’t it?”

“Hey, you two! Look!” Rinoa shouted.

Doom and Red XIII turned wearily back to the cliff to see that Rinoa was staring back at the horizon. To be more specific, she was staring at a group of flickering lights on the horizon. Doom squinted to get a closer look. Something about how the lights were flickering seemed very familiar to him, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

“What do you suppose that is, Rinoa?” Red asked.

“More fireworks, of course! I wonder if they’ll spell any words?” Rinoa answered.

It suddenly hit Doom. “Fireworks, hell! That’s a battle going on over there!”

Red XIII was just a tad skeptical. “At the risk of sounding clichéd, how can you be so sure?”

“I’ve been through more fights, battles, scraps, engagements, and treaty arrangement meetings gone awry than you could ever care to know, cat. Believe me when I say I know what I’m talking about.” Doom replied.

“I still say-”

But Red’s statement was never to be finished, due to the fact that a stray laser bolt impacted the cliffside, followed shortly thereafter by another that went a bit higher, blowing a second hole in the Castle on the eighth floor. Rinoa, badly shaken by this all-too-sudden turn of events, was crying pitifully. This immediately had the effect of drawing Squall to the second gaping hole.

“Rinoa…?” Squall called. “Where are y- HEY!!! What have you pukes done to her? You just sit your criminal asses there and wait till I get there! I swear, scaring helpless little girls…” Squall then proceeded to attach a rope to a jutting support beam and rappel down the side of the Castle.

“Should we run, or stay here and hope that we can convince him of our innocence before he does something rash?” Doom asked, looking skyward for the answer to his query.

“I think we should profess our innocence, but that’s just me talking.” Red suggested.

“I know, that’s why I’m going to run now.”

“You may be interested to know that if you run, you are as much as submitting a plea of guilty to Squall.”

“… Hmm. Hadn’t thought of that. Not a word outta you…”

Squall was now halfway to the trio. Before he reached them, Dante appeared at the hole.

“WOT THE FRIGGIN’ HELL HAPPENED HERE?!?” His accusing glare fell on Doom and Red. “Oh, it’s you two, is it? You bastards are seriously in for it now! Especially you, Doom! Boy when I get down there…” Then Dante noticed Squall, who was at this time three-quarters of the way across. “Hey! Hey Squall, buddy! You can help me beat ‘em up! Yeah, you get over there and hold ‘em, and I’ll beat the living bejeezus outter ‘em when I get there! Just hang on and leave some for me!” Not bothering with the nearby rope, Dante leapt the whole eight floors to the ground, landing squarely on both feet with no visible harm to his person. Comes with being half demon, you get to fall from absurdly high places and not get hurt. Dante utilized this ability to the fullest of its potential on a daily basis.

“That man has atrocious grammar and English skills.” Red XIII said.

“Tell me, O Wise One, is this really the time to be speculating on the grammatical faults of our supposed teammate?” Doom asked, with no little bit of sarcasm slathered on.

“Hello, friends.” Squall said pleasantly. “I will be your tormentor this fine evening. Tell me, how would you like to be killed today?”

“Wait, let us at least try to prove our inn-” Doom began.

“I’m sorry, I don’t listen to fools.”

“Then you shouldn’t have any trouble at all paying attention to me.” Red said airily. “Rinoa here will tell you that we did nothing to hurt her. Right Rinoa?”

“Well… *sniffle* that mean guy in the green suit did crush my pretty blue flower…” Rinoa answered tearily.

“Now hold on just one damn minute here! I promised I’d find you a new one!” Doom snapped hotly.

“Yeah… but you never got it…”

“Girl, I was blasted by an Ultima spell at close range and lived to tell about it. Now, just because I lived doesn’t exactly mean that immediately afterwards I’ll be able to prance merrily about the island in search of a rare and elusive flower.”

“How would you know if it was rare or not?” Squall asked. He seemed a tad more composed now.

“Murphy’s Law and I have never been on good terms with each other. I have very, very bad luck. Thus, it follows that, in keeping with my perfect record of misfortune, if I break something without knowing beforehand what it was, it automatically becomes rare, valuable, and nearly impossible to find or replace. I’m probably the unluckiest bastard that you’ll ever meet. If I were you, I wouldn’t come to close to me on account of the palpable aura of lucklessness which hangs about me.”

“Aren’t we just a merry little ray of sunshine?” Dante sneered. “Well, regardless, you still get a beating for putting not one, but TWO holes in my Castle.”

Seeing that Doom’s body language practically screamed that he was going to injure someone, Red hastily broke in. “Dante, we can both explain for those holes. One was made by Lulu…”

“When she lost what little control she had on her temper, and cast a little something we know and love as Ultima…” Doom said.

“And we ended up out here and stayed for a while before what Doom claims is a battle started out there on the horizon…” Heads turned obligingly out to sea.

“Which leads us to the other hole which was created when some butthead with horrible aim hit the Castle.”

A pause. “… And?” Dante ventured. “That’s it? That’s the best story you could come up with?”

“We’re not lying.” Red said flatly.

“Really.”

Doom lost his patience. “Look, moron, I don’t have the time, patience, or inclination to stand around here arguing with you. If you don’t believe Red and me, that’s your tough shit. Now, I shall take my leave and go prepare my weapons.”

As Doom shoved past Dante, Squall stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “Just a minute.”

Doom brushed Squall’s hand away and turned. “What now?”

“How sure are you that that is really a battle out there?”

“Positive.”

“Positive enough to bet your life on it?”

“Kid, I’ve wagered my life more times than you’ve had hot meals to eat. You learn to bet wisely when you have such a habit. But, to answer your question, yeah, I’d stake my life on it.”

“So…” Squall stared beyond Doom, deep in thought. After a second his eyes refocused and he nodded. “So. Let’s get started.”

“Doing what?” Rinoa asked. Her tone was so light-hearted; it was thought by all present that she had forgotten about her flower. This thought was abolished when she pocketed a Post-It note that had the words “Scary Man,” “promised,” and “flower” written on it.

“Getting ready for a fight.” Squall answered briskly, staring out at the battle that was raging on the horizon.

 

 

Reader: WHAT?!? YOU’RE GOING TO END THE CHAPTER HERE?

Author: I can if I want to. The chapter name is “Encroaching Disaster,” after all.

Reader: BUT I WANNA SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!!

Author: You know, I really don’t seem to have caught your name.

Reader: … Bob.

Author: Well, “Bob,” you really couldn’t know how little I care.

Bob: GRRRAAAGGHH!!!

Author: Temperamental, aren’t we?

Bob: I’M GONNA *BLEEP*ING *BLEEP* *BLEEP* KILL YOU!!!

Author: I think not. *whistles*

Dante: You called, boss?

Author: Yes, I did. This fine specimen over here has been calling your mother all sorts of nasty names.

Dante: Oh, has he now?

Bob: Oh dear…

Dante grabs Bob and puts on some brass knuckles. Bob whimpers.

Author: No, no, Dante. Not in the street. Here, use this oh-so-convenient Starbucks Coffee House instead.

Dante: Righty-ho, then. Come along, victim.

Dante drags Bob into the coffee shop. A soundly satisfying smack is heard, followed by Bob’s scream of agony. Jolteon walks out of a Starbucks just across the street from the one where Bob is getting pounded. He strolls over and stands next to the Author, sipping his mug of coffee and watching the carnage from the relative safety of the street.

Author: And you forgot to bring me one how?

Jolteon: You want coffee, get it yourself. You have money.

Author: Such good friends I have.

Jolteon: Just whom exactly do you think you’re fooling by referring to yourself as “Author” instead of “Lee”? Your name is posted as the author one page back.

Lee takes Jolteon’s arm and pulls him a step to the side. A bloody chair flies out of the front window of the Starbucks just then and collides with a lamppost directly behind where Jolteon had been standing.

Lee: Now then. Is it so wrong to want to be known as a nameless, omnipotent being that knows, sees, and hears all?

Jolteon: Hmm, you do have a point there…

The two watch for a while longer as Bob has the holy hell beat out of him. Of course, since no such thing as a holy hell exists, it would be forever until a person had it beaten out of him or her. This concept delighted Dante to no end.

Jolteon: This is beginning to bore me. And besides, we all know that you’re just putting this in to lengthen the chapter without moving the plot along in any meaningful way.

Lee: Hey, I’m the author. I’m allowed to have my meaningless story moments, aren’t I?

Jolteon: Again, you have a point. But can’t we do anything else with our time?

Lee: Well, there is a Starbucks right next to the one you came out of. We could go there and drink coffee while watching this utterly mismatched fight.

Jolteon: Drinking coffee makes everything better. Shall we?

Lee: Yeah, before Dante throws that table out what’s left of the window.

The buddies stroll leisurely into the Starbucks, which was next to a Starbucks, which was just across from the other Starbucks where Bob is little more than a moaning heap on the floor. That didn’t bother Dante though, as he was not satisfied until Bob was reduced to a red smear on the wall. Once this objective was accomplished, Dante civilly exited the ruined Starbucks through its glass door, which, miraculously, had not been damaged during his little temper tantrum.

Jolteon: Uh-oh. He’s coming over here.

Lee: Don’t worry. He won’t be in a mood like that for at least another hour.

Jolteon: Gee, that’s good to hear. Are you through with this little tale yet? I do have a life to get back to.

Lee: All in good time, my friend. Dante has to come in here and get a cup of Joe first.

Dante: What’s this I hear about you paying for my coffee? Gee, Lee, you’re the best pal.

Lee: … Consider it a reward for a job well done.

After thirty minutes of coffee and conversation, Dante has finished his mug.

Jolteon: There. He’s through. Can I go now?

Lee: Why, Jolteon, you sound almost eager to get away from us.

Dante: Hold it! I think I see a guy with a sign that says “Dante Sucks!” It seems I have more business to attend to. If you’ll excuse me, gentlemen.

Jolteon: That’s it, I’m leaving.

Lee: You know where to find me. Well boys and girls, it seems I’ve run out of pointless things to say at the moment. I guess I’ll just have to let you go until next time. See you!

Lee cuts the ropes that are binding several people together and strolls out of the coffee shop.

Man: Finally! FREEDOM!!!

Lee: Notice I said, “until next time.”

Group of people: DAMN!!!

 

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