Um Jammer Selphie
[03.02.00] » by Fritz Fraundorf
Selphie pranced down the dorm hallway, singing Milkcan's "Got To Move" to herself. As she walked, she envisioned herself playing the song on the bass guitar she clutched in her right hand. "From uptown to midtown, trying to get downtown," she mouthed, her duffel bag bouncing up and down on her left shoulder as she skipped.
She stopped at the room that housed the other two members of the Garden Festival Committee. Chu-Chu was already waiting outside, her carefully-packed suitcase tucked under one arm and her beret sitting cheerfully atop her head. "Hi, Selphie," she greeted her friend. "Are chu ready to go?"
Yuffie staggered out of the room, trying to balance an overflowing suitcase, a guitar, and a half-consumed bottle of Sunny Delight. "Okay, I've got everything," the ninja cum Garden student proclaimed.
Chu-Chu stared disprovingly at Yuffie's Sunny Delight bottle. "You know chu shouldn't drink that," she remonstrated. "I read about some girl who drank chu much Sunny Delight and her skin turned orange."
"Gawd," Yuffie said in protest. She kicked the door shut behind her, allowing Chu-Chu to carefully lock it. The two Garden students and one SeeD then set off down the hall, ready to leave Balamb Garden behind them.
"I thought summer was, like, never going to get here," Yuffie commented as they set foot outside the building. "All those finals and things were, like, totally ick, you know?"
"You're never going to become a SeeD if you don't study ^^;," Selphie pointed out.
"Oh, like, whatever. Why are you all so mean to me?" Yuffie whined.
"Sorry >_<." Selphie apologized. Then she brightened and giggled. "I'm really looking to meeting your friends, Chu-Chu ^____^! This is going to be the best vacation ever!"
"And we can, like, practice 'n stuff a lot too," Yuffie said. "Chocobalooza, here we come!" Then her eyes fell upon the waiting Ragnarok and the enthusiasm dropped out of her voice as quickly as the color did from her face. "Oh gawd."
"What's wrong, Yuffie ;_;?" Selphie sounded concerned.
"I think I'll be, like, waiting below deck," Yuffie said, stumbling off through one of the ship's doorways.
Chu-Chu's eyes fell with rapt attention upon the Ragnarok's glass elevators, stylized walls, and blinking monitors. "Wow, this is chu impressive. It's even bigger than the Yggdrasil!"
The pair stepped into the vacant cockpit. "Who's going chu to pilot all this?"
"I am ^^;;."
Chu-Chu's pupils seemed to double in size. "Oh my," she gasped. "Do you know what chu are doing?"
Selphie sat down in the pilot's chair. "Of course I do ^_^." She turned the ignition, causing the Ragnarok's engines to flare into life. "Throttle up, flaps down. Power up, gears down." The dragon-shaped spaceship sped across the runway, then launched itself into the air, its wings spread gracefully out to the side.
"Leave it to SSSSSSSSelphiiieee!"
SINGING CRACK RABBIT STUDIOS presents
a FRITZ FRAUNDORF joint
UM JAMMER SELPHIE: BLUE AND GREEN II
Travellers' Insurance Group City
Chu-Chu bounded down the sidewalk of the city formerly known as Shevat, with Selphie and a rather queasy Yuffie tagging along after her. The little ball of pink fur eagerly pointed out her city's landmarks. "Look over there!" she said, waving a paw. "That house that was destroyed long, long ago, in a big, big war. So the Queen decided chu leave it there as a monchument. My friend Maria goes there a lot."
"That's really neat ^____^!" Selphie smiled.
Spying a newspaper vending machine, Yuffie snatched a quarter out of the pocket of a passing pedestrian and popped it into the machine. She retrieved her 'purchase.' "DEWEY DEFEATS FINAL FANTASY XI," the paper's top headline proclaimed. "'Online RPGs suck,' declares new President-Elect."
Chu-Chu continued her guided tour of the city. "And over there is the home of World's Largest Block of Frozen Milk, and there's the Amazing Hall of Poriferans. Ooh, and Yuffie, I'll bet chu will be interested in that building over there... it's a Sunny Delight bottling plant."
Yuffie immediately looked up from her newspaper. "Ohmigawd!" she exclaimed. "It is, like, a Sunny Delight plant! Oh, wow! Can we, like, go tour it 'n stuff?"
"Ooka, we probably should go pay our respects chu the Queen first," Chu-Chu said. "I'm sure she'll be delighted chu meet chu." She pointed at a small stone platform ahead of them. "That's a Stepping Stone; it goes chu Aqua Paradise. It's a very pretty place."
The three friends boarded the Stepping Stone. The magical device descended through a hole in the ground, into a domed circular plaza. A huge three-tiered fountain dominated the area, spilling water into a shallow pool that covered the floor.
Chu-Chu hopped off the platform and froze. Some of her fellow Chu-Chu Tribe members were marching in circles around the plaza, waving signs that proclaimed "CHU-CHUPOLIN PRIDE", "WE WERE HERE FIRST", and "CHU-CHUPOLIN ARE NOT ASTRONOMICALLY UNINTELLECTUAL-LOOKING LOW-LEVEL ANIMALS."
She raised a single paw to her mouth. "Oh, dear," she said quietly.
One of the protesting Chu-Chus bounded across the plaza to greet Chu-Chu. "You have returned!" the green Chu-Chu exclaimed. "Our wayward daughter! Stolen away from our roots by the pull of a human-dominated society!"
"What chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" the pink Chu-Chu asked.
Willis seized Chu-Chu about her shoulders, outraged. He thundered, "No! You must never call me by a slave name such as that!" He thumped his chest. "I am Chu'hasa, He Who Has A 100-Disc CD Changer and leader of the Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front!"
Chu-Chu scratched her head. "We have a Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front? Who are going chu liberate ourselves from?"
"From the humans! They invaded our planet; they stole the land that belonged to our forefathers; they reduced us from our mighty stature to tiny slave-forms destined for nothing but manual labor. And yet they still try to oppress our culture! How many Sages are there in the government? Three! And how many of them are Chu-Chupolin? None! Where all the Chu-Chupolin role models on TV? In the movies? We can't trust a single one of those furless bastards!"
The pink Chu-Chu appeared bewildered. "But... people are nice chu us, aren't they?" she thought aloud. "I have lots of friends and..." She hesitated as her train of thought switched tracks, joined with another train, and released the president's car into the hands of the Timber Owls.
Chu'hasa banged the wooden pole of his sign on the ground. "And stop with that infernal pidgin dialect! You only talk that way because the human majority has brainwashed you into believing that's the only way Chu-Chupolin can speak. Ha! Our native language has over 200 different words for that thing on the end of your shoelaces! And the humans can't even remember one!"
Ignoring him, Chu-Chu hopped back to her human friends. "I'm sorry," she apologized meekly. "Chu-Chu's friends aren't all like this."
Yuffie and Selphie desperately tried to think of a diplomatic response to this uncomfortable situation. "Like, totally 'n stuff," Yuffie said, nodding her head. "I'm, like, so clueless."
"Hi ^_^," Selphie smiled.
"Can we, like, go tour the Sunny D plant now?"
Chu-Chu pursed her lips in thought. "We can take another route chu the palace," she said. "Follow me." She and her friends hopped back on the Stepping Stone and rode away, enduring the jeers of "Traitor!" and "Uncle Tom!" from the Chu-Chupolin Liberation Freet.
* * *
New York City
"I don't care why you're not allowed to make movies." Eve attempted to fold her massive arms across her chest. "You're still out of a job, restraining order or not, and I'm tired of you mooching off my opera gigs. I'm giving you until next Sunday to find a job or it's over between us."
Sephiroth stepped towards his fiancé, hands raised pleadingly. "Come on, hon, it's not my fault!" he whined. "There's not much of a job market out there for people with a fixation on destroying the world."
"You didn't have any trouble finding one before, back when I first met you," Eve said.
"That was before Kenneth Starr got after me." Sephiroth shrugged. "But fine. I'll go get a damn job if it makes you happy." He stomped out their apartment door, then stopped briefly and looked back in. "I am the one chosen to become ruler of this Planet!"
* * *
By the time Selphie, Yuffie, and Chu-Chu reached American Airlines Palace, the sun was beginning to set on the city. Chu-Chu waved cheerfully to the palace guards as the trio passed through the arched gateway the sentries protected.
The trio boarded the elevator platform and let it carry them up into the palace proper: a helix-shaped marble catwalk that encircled the outer edge of the shaft, allowing pedestrians access to the many doors located off the side. "I'm home!" Chu-Chu called as soon as the elevator had stopped.
No sooner had she made her grand entrance than was the action reciprocated by a young girl who came flying down a flight of stairs. "Chu-Chu! Welcome back!"
"Maria!" Chu-Chu and the young girl embraced briefly.
"We missed you so much!" Maria said. "How have you been?"
"I missed chu too," Chu-Chu said. "But studying abroad is lots of fun chu. I'm training chu become a SeeD!" She nodded towards the two people towering over them. "And these are my friends, Yuffie Kisaragi and Selphie Tilmitt."
"Hi, I'm Maria Balthasar," Maria said, shaking hands with both of Chu-Chu's friends. "Pleased to meet you. Chu-Chu tells me the three of you started a band."
"Yeah ^_^!" Selphie giggled. "We just started, but maybe someday we can be as good as Milkcan ^^;!"
"Oh, that's perfect!" Maria said. "I'm in charge of the city's Renaissance Faire, and we really need musicians."
"Oooh, when is it?" Selphie inquired.
Maria frowned. "It's tomorrow morning. I hate to have to ask you on such short notice, but... could you three maybe peform?"
"That'd be great ^_^!" Selphie said.
"Um, are you going to, like, pay us?" Yuffie inquired.
"Well, I'd really like to, but this is a totally non-profit thing, and don't have much money."
Selphie waved. "Oh, that's okay ^__^."
Yuffie turned to face her. "Er, it is?"
Chu-Chu stomped a foot. "Oh, stop being so greedy all the time, Yuffie. Chu can help other people some for a change, like Jim Palmer does! When he retired from baseball, he didn't just live off his wealth, he decided chu go on TV and let everyone know how wonderful the Money Store is. Chu should be more like him."
"Um, he, like, gets paid to do that," Yuffie said.
"Really?" Chu-Chu's face fell. "Oh. Chu-Chu had no idea."
Maria turned towards Yuffie and Selphie. "We've already set up a room for you two," she said. "You'll be staying at the Citicorp Guest Room. It's just through that door up there."
"I hope these are, like, four-star accomodations," Yuffie said.
"What's with all the names in this city, anyway ~_^?" Selphie asked.
"Well, after Old Shevat crashed, we needed money to rebuild the city on the ground," Maria explained. "So the Queen got us commercial endorsements for everything in the city."
"Oh, wow, that's like, totally awesome," Yuffie said. "I wonder if I could, like, get my name endorsed and be, like, AOL Time Warner Kisaragi 'n stuff."
Chu-Chu waved to Selphie and Yuffie and started off in the direction of her room. "I'm going chu bed," she said. "We've got chu be up bright and early tomorrow."
"Yeah, good idea ^_^," Selphie said. "C'mon, Yuffie!" She skipped up the stairs to the Citicorp Guest Room. Yuffie followed her at a distance, drinking from a bottle of Sunny Delight.
A short girl with green hair passed them on the stairs. She stopped and regarded them with interest, as if trying to place them. "Are you Fei's Kim's friends?" she asked.
"No... we're Chu-Chu's friends from Garden ^_^," Selphie said.
"Oh," the girl said. "I'm Emeralda. Nice to meet you." Selphie started to bend to shake hands with her, but Emeralda stretched out her arm to several times its normal length and shook Selphie's hand without moving an inch.
Shaken, Selphie and Yuffie remained motionless until Emeralda was well out of earshot. "Gawd!" Yuffie exclaimed when she was finally gone. "What was that? Grossness!"
Selphie rubbed her eyes. "I think I'm seeing things >_<," she said. "I really had better get to bed. We've got a big day tomorrow."
* * *
"...and that's basically the situation," Sephiroth finished his tale of woe. "I have one week to get a job or Eve is calling off the engagement."
"This is why I prefer the company of furniture," Rufus explained. He gestured towards his beloved office door. "Can you imagine that door chewing me out for not having a job? No, it doesn't have any trouble accepting me for who I am."
"I didn't come here to listen to you wax eloquent about your bizarre furniture fetishes," Sephiroth snapped. "I need you to get me a job. Don't tell me you don't have one available in that huge-ass company of yours."
Rufus ran a hand through his hair. "Well, what kind of skills do you have? Besides stabbing people and trying to destroy the Planet, that is."
Sephiroth stumbled aloud through a list of his talents, ticking each item off on his fingers. "I can manipulate the media... I can attract hordes of fanatically devoted female admirers... I can rub my belly and pat my head at the same time..."
Rufus nodded. "Say no more," he interrupted. "I have the perfect job for you."
"Wow, I didn't know you were so desperate for people who could rub their belly and pat their head at the same time."
"No, no, that's not what I meant." Rufus rose from his chair. "Come, let me show you around Shinra Records."
* * *
Rinoa thumbed through June's October issue of Anarchist Monthly in a bookstore. "Oooh, the new 2000 model fertilizer bombs are out," she said as she perused a page of reviews of all the latest bombs. "We ought to give these babies a try."
"We're still broke, sir," Watts said. "We're just a bunch of homeless militia weirdos, remember?"
"If you think I'm going to dress up in some retarded costume and play an accordion on the street corner, you're dead wrong," Mr. Monkey, the Timber Owls' new talking animal sidekick, declared. "And you know why you're wrong? Because... YOU SUUUUUUUUUUCK!"
Everyone in the bookstore turned to look at them. "Oops, I think I've got a stomachache," Zone announced, sprinting out the door. Rinoa, Watts, and Mr. Monkey raced after him, Rinoa still carrying the magazine.
"Hey! Thief!" the bookstore owner shouted, chasing them outside. Several concerned citizens joined in the chase as well.
Rinoa looked over her shoulder. "Galbadian pigs!" she shouted at her pursuers.
The bookstore owner stopped. "Aw, it's those damn hobos from Timber again," he cursed. "That's the second time she's hit me this month."
The Timber Owls fled into a side alley. Watts paused for a moment and gave Rinoa a suspicious glance. "Second?"
"Waiting for Pururun was still checked out at the Garden library, so I got Zell a copy for his birthday," Rinoa explained.
"ZELL SUCKS!" Mr. Monkey bellowed.
Police sirens sounded in the distance. "Split up and meet back at the train," Rinoa commanded. The other Timber Owls nodded and jogged off in different directions.
* * *
Tolone's van pulled up in Travellers' Insurance Group City's central plaza, which was currently populated by several dozen tents and tables, plus a collection of festive medieval banners. The three members of Selphie and the Spoilers went to check in at the stage while Tolone and Seraphita helped unload the gear.
A volunteer was waiting for the group backstage. "Here are your instruments," she said, thrusting piccolos into Selphie's and Chu-Chu's hands and a tambourine into Yuffie's.
Selphie was puzzled. "Uh, we already have our instruments ^^;;;." She tried to hand the piccolo back, still not quite sure of why she'd been offered such a strange instrument in the first place. Meanwhile, Yuffie took advantage of the confusion to slip the tambourine to the pocket of her khakis.
"Oh," the woman said, taking the two piccolos back. "Don't let me stop you, then."
Selphie and the Spoilers took the stage and found themselves looking . "Gawd, what a bunch of weirdos," Yuffie said.
Selphie shrugged. "A gig's a gig; I'll take all the exposure we can get ^____^."
Yuffie and Selphie ran back to fetch their guitars while Sera and Tolone hauled the drums up on stage. A few passerby shot them curious glances, but most just continued to go about their business,
Selphie looked about for a microphone, but found one. "Um, I guess we just start playing." She waved to the crowd. "Hi everyone ^_______^!"
With Chu-Chu on drums, Selphie on bass and vocals, and Yuffie on lead guitar, the band kicked into their trademark song, "Wondrous Mambo No. 5."
"Like, why is everyone looking at us all, you know, all funny?" Yuffie whispered.
"Don't worry, it's just 'cause we're really good ^^;;;. Keep playing ~_^."
Someone hurled a mandolin at them. "Get offe ye stage, ye clodpates!"
"Yea, we did not cometh here for moderne musicke."
"I do bite my thumb at you!"
Cid II thumped his cane on the dirt. "Back when I was a young 'un, we didn't have none of this noisy 'The Machine Rages On' rubbish. We had musicians with real talent, by cracky."
The crowd quickly swelled as pitchfork- and sword-wielding Faire visitors congregated into an angry mob. "Um, we do we know, like, any, you know, really old songs?" Yuffie asked her bandmates. "Gawd, I don't even know any bands that are, like, from the 1500s 'n stuff."
"Yuffie, they weren't rock bands in the 1500s ^^;."
Someone raised a lit torch. "Verily, they muste be witches! Let us burneth them with the flame of justycce!"
"Gawd, these people are like, so totally, like, you know, getting way too much into this," Yuffie said. "Like, whatever."
"Chu-Chu, Giant Mode, quick!" Selphie tried to coax her friend into transforming.
But Chu-Chu had other plans. The pink bundle of energy leapt out from behind her drum set, folded her arms across her chest, and start tap-dancing. She jumped and twirled about the stage while Yuffie banged on her pilfered tambourine. "Chu-Chu is Lord of the Dance!" Chu-Chu declared.
Selphie buried her face in her hands. "We're never going to live this down >_<;;;," she moaned. "I knew I should haven't let Chu-Chu listen to so much Yasunori Mitsuda music."
The crowd, however, greeted the performance with cheers and applause. Only one female voice dissented. "Ha! You call that dancing?" Three pairs of eyes folllowed the voice and found it emanating from Topo. "You should know better than to challenge my dance in these parts."
The mouse-eared girl climbed onto the stage and stood opposite Chu-Chu. "So you're the ones who took my job," she sneered. "My watch is broken, I chipped a nail, my dress has wrinkles, and I don't get any messages on my beeper... all because of you."
"Um... sorry," Chu-Chu apologized.
"Now let's see who's the better dancer. Dance... OR DIE!!!"
Chu-Chu and Topo took up positions on opposite sides of the stage and began dancing, each trying to best the other with the flashiest, fastest moves possible. Considerably bulkier and less agile than Topo, Chu-Chu soon found herself playing second fiddle to Topo's graceful spins and rapid footwork.
As the dance contest continued, a limousine cruised by in front of the stage, backed up slightly, and stopped by the corner of the stage. "W'ohhhh!" Yuffie exclaimed. "Check that out! That's the new Super Stretched Limo 900!" Selphie was positive was she could see her friend's pupils change to tiny gil signs.
Fei, Vincent, and Sephiroth, all clad in black sunglasses and white jackets, hopped out of the limo. "Hey, hey, hey, what's going on here?" Fei asked. "I don't like Gears, fighting, or dance contests."
"Fei!!!" Chu-Chu squealed. Beaming blissfully, she clasped her hands in front of her chest and promptly fainted.
Selphie and Yuffie glanced at each other. "You brought the smelling salts, didn't you ^^;;;?" Selphie asked.
"Gawd, no, don't you have them?" Yuffie said.
Topo looked at the comatose Chu-Chu and sniffed disdainfully. "Hmph. Looks like I win."
"Hi, Vince," Yuffie greeted the new arrivals. "Hi, Seph."
"Hello, Yuffie," Sephiroth said. He gestured to the Super-Stretched 900. "What do you think of my new car?"
"It's, like, totally, you know..." Yuffie paused, searching for the right word, and eventually settled for "so wow."
"So, would you girls like to go to the beach with us?" Sephiroth asked, putting his hand on Selphie's shoulder.
"Sure ^_^. Only if all of us can go."
"Of course, of course," Sephiroth said. "C'mon, girls, sit up front with me." He nodded towards Fei and Vincent. "You guys can sit in the back."
* * *
Rinoa hopped off the train from Deling City. No one had showed any signs of recognizing her. Stupid money-grubbing Galbadians -- wouldn't they ever get on the cluetrain?
Shrugging off the tornado warnings blaring from TV screens around her
-- they were probably just filming another one of those Fox specials --
Rinoa ducked and weaved through the train yard to the
"Hi, I'm back," Rinoa said, stepping inside the train. Angelo came running to greet her by planting a big sloppy lick on her ankle, but no one else seemed to be around.
"Hmm, maybe they decided to walk back," Rinoa guessed. "Weirdos." She knelt and petted Angelo. "Guess it's time for you to eat." She walked to her room, Angelo following at her heels, and poured her some dog food.
While Angelo was eating, Rinoa brushed her hair in the mirror. Those dumb tornado warnings were going off again, but she paid them no attention -- the government did that to make sure stupid people would rely them on for information.
Then the train lurched to one side.
Rinoa clung to the dresser. "Save me, Squall!" she shrieked. The train tilted more, and the entire dresser slid across the room. Rinoa screamed. Angelo ran circles around the room, barking.
Rinoa stared out the window and saw nothing but furniture, parking meters, and Ed McMahon's Prize Patrol Van flying about in the chaos. Wherever she was, she wasn't on the ground anymore.
Suddenly, the right wall -- now the ceiling -- splintered, sending huge pieces of wood out into the swirling winds. "Auntie Edea! Auntie Edea!" Rinoa cried, covering her eyes. Angelo continued barking.
The centrifigual motion eventually slowed. Then, without warning, the bottom of the train dropped out below her. Rinoa screamed again and braced herself for the impact. It came more softly than she'd expected. Perhaps all those bags of smuggled bananas stuffed in the front of the train had cushioned the impact. "You okay, Angelo?" she whispered.
Rinoa crawled to her feet. No sense in sitting around here. She opened the door a crack and peered outside. The train had landed on some tiny, deserted tropical island. A huge bridge -- it must be Horizon Bridge, Rinoa thought -- extended off in the distance.
"Angelo, I've a feeling we're not in Timber anymore."
* * *
Sephiroth flagrantly violated various traffic laws as he crossed Travellers' Insurance Group City. "We can't stay too long, I've got to go pick up Emeralda from her Turing test prep class at 11:00!" Fei shouted from the barely-visible back seat. "I need to help her study for her spelling bee!"
Sephiroth looked over his shoulder. "Okay!" he shouted back.
"So, what are you guys, like, you know, doing here?" Yuffie inquired.
"We're recruiting for our new pop group, Shounen Ai," Sephiroth explained. "We've still got two positions to fill."
Yuffie and Selphie were flabbergasted. "You have a band o_O?" Selphie gasped.
"Oh, wow, that's like, so totally, you know," Yuffie futiley tried to express herself.
"We have a band too ^^;;," Selphie said nervously. "But we're probably, like, nowhere as good as you guys."
"Yeah, we, like, just started 'n stuff," Yuffie said.
"Well, we just started too!" Vincent shouted.
Chu-Chu's eyes fluttered and she hopped off Yuffie's lap. "Whew, where am I?" she asked.
"Chu-Chu, guess what?" Selphie said, trying to contain her excitement. "Fei and Sephy started a band! Um, and Vincent too."
Chu-Chu stared at her, and for a second Selphie feared she would faint again. "Ookya!" she exclaimed. "That's awesome! Chu-Chu will behind chu all the way, Fei!"
The car stopped in the middle of an icy field, completely devoid of any life save Big Joe, who was seated by the side of a hole some distance away, ice-fishing. "Okay, we're here," Sephiroth said, getting out of the car.
Selphie scratched her head. "I thought we were goin' to the beach."
"This is the beach," Fei explained. "It's frozen over. Like always."
"Gawd, how lame," Yuffie said. "Why did we even bother to, like, come here 'n stuff?"
"Because..." Sephiroth drew his Masamune and stabbed it into the ice, breaking a small hole through which flowing water was visible. "...no fanfic would be complete without a fishing mini-game!"
Chu-Chu bounced up and down. "Ooh! Ooh! Chu-Chu wants chu try!" She ran to the whole, lay down on her stomach, and peered into the hole. A few fish were swimming around, and Chu-Chu made a grab for them for them with a paw.
"I don't think you're going to be able to catch any fish like that, Chu-Chu ^_^;;," Selphie giggled.
Chu-Chu leaned further in, swiping desperately for the fish. "Don't worry, I used chu do this all the time at Aqchua Paradise."
"So, have you written any songs yet?" Selphie asked Sephiroth while they watched Chu-Chu fish.
Sephiroth held up a single finger. "One," he said. "'Disassociative Identity Disorder.' We're working on the music video for it."
"Oooooh, neat ^__^," Selphie said.
"Yeah, like, I can't, like, wait to see it and stuff."
Sephiroth shrugged. "I don't know. I've never liked being on camera. Not with this ugly nose of mine."
"Maybe you should get, like, plastic surgery or something," Yuffie suggested.
Big Joe looked up. "Hey! Did you diciste plastic surgery?" He got up, ran over, and slapped Sephiroth on the back. "I know just the lugar for tu!" He shoved a small pamphlet into Sephiroth's hand. "The Ethos! Get paid to have plastic surgery!"
Sephiroth raised a questioning eyebrow. "Get paid?" he asked suspiciously.
"Yeah! No strings attached, amigo! It really works! Here's mi numero de referral," he said, grabbing the pamphlet back and scrawling a number on it. "I made 25 dolares last month! This es no joke!"
"Um, thanks," Sephiroth said.
Big Joe gave him another slap on the back. "No problem!" he exclaimed. "The great Big Joe helps todo his fans!"
"I'm not -" Sephiroth began, but by that time Big Joe had already run back to resume fishing.
"Gawd, like, how do they expect to make, like, any money?" Yuffie wondered, staring over Sephiroth's shoulder at the pamphlet.
"Ooh, come back here, chu naughty little trout," Chu-Chu muttered, leaning further into the hole and grabbing for a fish. It again dodged out of the way, and Chu-Chu bent down still more until her head was underwater. She remained in that position for a grand total of two seconds before losing her balance and tumbling head-first into the water.
Selphie ran to the water. "Chu-Chu!" she exclaimed, staring into the hole. "Are you okay ^^;;;?"
Chu-Chu kept herself afloat with the dog paddle. "Chu-Chu's okay," she said. "But someone please get me out of here."
"I'm too short >_<," Selphie said, but by that time Fei had arrived. He knelt down and reached down into the hole in the ice. Chu-Chu reached up and clung to Fei's arms. Fei heaved backwards and yanked her out of the water.
"Oh, thank chu, Fei," Chu-Chu said, throwing her arms around Fei's neck and dripping water all over him. "You're so brave."
"Ewwwwwwww, you smell like wet fur," Yuffie said. "Grossness!"
Fei set the dripping Chu-Chu down on the ground. She shivered. "We'd better take you back to town before you catch frostbite," Fei said. "I don't like Gears, fighting, dance contests, or frostbite."
"Thanks for letting us know, Fei," Vincent said sarcastically.
The gang piled back into the car, Fei and Vincent again relegated to the back seat. Sephiroth took his cloak off and wrapped it around Chu-Chu to keep her warm. "Maybe you'll catch some fish next time," he said.
"Chu-Chu got some nice arctic circle candy this time," Chu-Chu reported from inside the cloak.
"This was, like, a lot of fun 'n stuff," Yuffie said as Sephiroth drove them back into town.
"Yeah, the only way you guys could be cooler would be if Sir Laguna was with you ^^;;;:!"
Sephiroth glanced over, faint interest registering on his face. "Sir Laguna, eh?"
"He's soooo bishounen ^^;;," Selphie squealed. "And he's the President of Esthar too ^___^!"
Seeing that Sephiroth could still not quite place the name, Yuffie added, "He's, like, the guy that shrunk Rufus's head."
Sephiroth nodded. "Oh, right, the one you kidnapped."
"Gawd!" Yuffie shrieked. "I didn't mean to!"
"How could you not mean to kidnap somebody?"
"Like, whatever! I'm totally clueless 'n stuff, okay?"
The limo stopped at the palace gates. "Well, we've got some business to attend to, so we'll be off," Sephiroth said. He unbundled Chu-Chu and wrang some of the icy water of his cloak.
"Thanks for the chuloak," Chu-Chu said politely.
The Garden Festival Committee hopped out of the vehicle, waving goodbye to Shounen Ai. "Bye! Good luck with your band ^___^;;!" Selphie shouted as Sephiroth drove off.
Little did she know just how much luck Shounen Ai would have.
* * *
With Angelo dutifully tagging along at her heels, Rinoa stepped outside of the wrecked train and carefully set foot on the beach outside. "I wonder where I could have landed," she said quietly.
She had apparently landed at the Horizon Bridge's far western end, a small sandy island. The island appeared deserted; a few scuttling crabs here and there were the only signs of active life. In the midst of a cluster of palm trees, a straw idol stood alone atop a pedestal, apparently a relic from some forgotten culture of yore.
A small armless, legless monkey in the shape of a Russian nesting doll hopped up to her. "Greetings, I am Coconut Monkey and welcome to my island paradise!" he said. "You have crushed my evil rival Pierre with your train! I would shake your hand, but I have no arms!"
"An armless monkey!" Rinoa shrieked. "Save me, Squall!"
Coconut Monkey wobbled back and forth. "I mean no harm!" he said. "I live a peaceful existence and exist only to work on my masterpiece of game design, Gravy Trader!"
A shrill cackle accompanied a puff of pink smoke as a silver-haired woman in a thin black dress appeared on the beach. "What have you done? You killed Pierre! He was one of my most loyal akolytes! How kould you konceive of doing such a thing?"
"Ultimecia!" Rinoa shrieked. "But... I thought you were dead!"
"Ha ha ha! Silly child! You defeated a future eksistence of me. But since your present is my past, I know that you already travelled into the future to eradikate my future self."
"You're making my head hurt," Rinoa complained. "Save me, Squall!"
"Thus, as an earlier Ultimecia, all I must do is projekt myself far enough bakkwards in time and I kan dispense with you akkursed SeeDs before you ever diskover my eksistence. Unfortunately, I had to make this slight detour bekause you had to go and krush Pierre."
"I don't understand."
"Let me make some sokk puppets and eksplain it to you in simpler terms. Stay right there." Ultimecia vanished in another puff of purple smoke.
Rinoa snorted. "Hmph. I'm not going to stay here so she can explain some nonsensical story I don't care about. But she'll be able to follow me anywhere..."
Coconut Monkey frowned. "Yes, this is very distressing news," he said. "Pierre was in cahoots! I never suspected such a thing. I suggest you speak with the Wizard of Esthar! I'm sure he'll be able to protect you from Ultimecia. I would protect you myself, but I have no arms."
"The Wizard of Esthar? Oh, you must mean Doc Odine. Yes, I'm sure he'll know what to do."
"You cannot travel alone, of course. It might be dangerous." Coconut Monkey began hopping in circles around the idol. "Lucky, Lucky, Lucky Dan!" he chanted. "Go! Go!"
The idol leapt off its pedestal and spun around once. "Whew, finally," it said, stretching. "I've been stuck in stasis since 1996. What can I do for you kind folks?"
Coconut Monkey leaned towards Rinoa. "Rinoa is travelling to Esthar City to meet with the Wizard of Esthar. She needs someone to accompany her and protect her from the Wicked Witch Ultimecia! I would slay Ultimecia in hand-to-hand combat, but I have no arms!"
"I can't do that! I'm just a voodoo doll; I don't even have a brain." Lucky Dan sighed. "If only I had a brain..."
"I'm sure Doc Odine can help you," Rinoa said. "He knows pretty much everything."
"All right, then!" Lucky Dan adjusted the candles on his head in preparation for the journey ahead. "Where can we find this Odine fellow?"
Coconut Monkey nodded towards the bridge. "Just follow the Horizon Bridge!" he said. "It'll take you all the way to the Sapphire City itself!"
"That sounds simple enough!" Dan said. "Let's go!" He and Rinoa linked arms and skipped off down the bridge, ready to begin their adventure. "We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Esthar!"
* * *
Kiros poked his head into Ward's office. "You seen Laguna anywhere?" he inquired.
"Haven't seen him all day, guv," Ward's Talking Mouth Dog replied.
Kiros stepped the rest of the way into the office, scratching his head. "He seems to have disappeared. And on the day we were supposed to launch the 'Morning in Esthar' campaign, too."
"Maybe the Doc's seen him," the dog suggested.
"Good idea; I'll go check." Kiros quietly shut the door and headed for the elevator at the end of the hallway. As he approached it, the elevator opened and Ellone stepped out.
"Hey, Ellone," Kiros stopped her. "Have you seen Laguna anywhere?"
"No, I haven't, but guess what? If you DIAL 10-10-220, you can make long-distance phone calls for only 99 cents a minute! And 7 cents a minute after 20 minutes!"
"I can make long-distance phone calls for only 99 cents a minute just by DIALING 10-10-220? Are you serious?"
"Yup! That's why I always DIAL 10-10-220 when I want to call long-distance," Ellone said. "And there's no strings attached to DIALING 10-10-220, either."
"Wow! DIALING 10-10-220 sounds pretty cool!" Kiros exclaimed. "I had no idea that I could DIAL 10-10-220 and save so much money on my long-distance calls!"
Ellone grinned. "Isn't DIALING 10-10-220 great? I'm sure glad that we can DIAL 10-10-220."
"Me too! Thanks for telling me about DIALING 10-10-220!"
"Oh, you're welcome," Ellone said. "I'd appreciate it if you could help think of a cloying, moderately clever comment I could end this vignette with, though."
"I'm afraid I can't you help there," Kiros said. "I'm so psyched about DIALING 10-10-220 that I'm going to DIAL 10-10-220 to talk to the Doc instead of walking across the street."
Ellone waved good-bye. "Have fun DIALING 10-10-220!" she called.
Kiros returned to his office, picked up the phone, and DIALED 10-10-220 followed by Odine's number. "Ja, halo?" Doc Odine answered the phone. "Thees eez Dok-torr Odine."
"Hey, Doc, this is Kiros. You seen the Pres anywhere? I've been looking for him all afternoon."
"No, I hav not. Zorry. But listen! I hav invented zee feerst MP3 player in zee world zat eembeds itzelf deerectly into zee human bohdy and deleevers muzik ztraight zu zee brain. It is zee first of eets kind, ja?"
"That's nice, Doc," Kiros replied coolly.
"A meeracle of modern technology! Zee feerst device zu tranzmeet muzeekal data through zee bloodstream, ja? Vat better vay eez zere zu stream data? Of kourse, eet kan only hold vive meenutes of muzik right now. But zat eez a small detail."
Kiros stepped back through the door. "I think I'll be leaving now."
"Zay zaid eet couldn't be done! But I showed zem! Vy, here I am right now vith 'Amereekan Pie' running through my arm! Veektory eez mine! Hey! Vait, don't hang up!"
* * *
While Yuffie busied herself with her online day trading, Selphie and Chu-Chu drooled over their photos from the previous day. "I can't wait to scan all these and put them on my web page ^_____^;;!" Selphie giggled excitedly. "This is going to be the best update ever!"
Chu-Chu shook her head. "I think my update was the best," she said.
"Chu-Chu, all you did was post hentai," Selphie said. "After I asked you not to >_<."
"But Fei is sooo bishounen," Chu-Chu sighed, staring off into space. "Oh, I don't know how we're ever going chu be as cool as Shounen Ai."
"Me neither," Selphie said. "Maybe we should just give up."
A mysterious masculine voice called from the corner. "Wimps!" All three band members turned to look. A ghostly figure clad in blue robes and a white fish mask had appeared in the corner of the room.
"It's Wiseman!" Chu-Chu squeaked.
"Gawd, what an ugly mask."
"Listen, Selphie," Wiseman said. "I lost my dojo. But, the dojo remains IN MY MIND. It even has a casino. Dojo, casino, it's all in the mind! You have nothing to lose!" The apparition then vanished.
"Uh, like, whatever," Yuffie said.
But Selphie had been struck with inspiration. "I know what we need to do! We need to make a music video! Just like Shounen Ai is doing!" she exclaimed.
Chu-Chu broke out of her brief reverie. "Yeah!" she enthused. "But Chu-Chu doesn't know anything about making videos."
"Me neither," Yuffie said. "I'm totally clueless about, like, video stuff and all that stuff."
"Same here," Selphie admitted. "But maybe we can find someone who could make us a video..."
* * *
Costa Del Sol
"Dude, can't you hold still?" Cait Sith shouted.
"I'm trying! I'm trying!" Neko snapped back as he tried to steady his grip on Cait Sith's ankles. The feline pair hobbled back and forth outside Cloud's villa as Neko tried to keep Cait Sith steady atop his shoulder.
Cait Sith peered through the viewfinder of his camera into the house. Cloud and Aerith were still chatting away in the living room. "Hurry up and do something scandalous," he muttered under his breath. "I don't have all day, you know."
"The weather sure is nice at this time of year, isn't it? It's perfect weather to go take a walk in the park," Aerith said none-too-subtly.
"Oh, I just remembered," Cloud said blankly. "I've got to go pick up some groceries. I'll be back in a bit." Completely oblivious to Aerith's affections, he grabbed his grocery list off the refrigerator and wandered off in the direction of the garage.
"Down! Down!" Cait Sith hissed. Neko set his friend down on the ground and gave him a puzzled glance.
"He's going to go pick up groceries," Cait Sith said. "Man, is he ever clueless." The cat Esper raced back into his makeshift movie studio inside Cloud's garage, sat down on the couch, and busied himself with his official Sailor Moon ball-and-paddle set. Meanwhile, the rest of Cute Animal Pictures -- Hanpan, Mog, and Spekkio -- immersed themselves in an Extreme Mouse Wrestling pay-per-view special on TV.
Cloud poked his head into the garage a few moments later. "Hey, Cait, I'm going to pick up some groceries," he said. "Can I get you anything?"
"I thought you had a date," Cait said bluntly.
"Well, I need groceries," Cloud shrugged. "So do you guys want anything?"
"I think we're almost out of Mountain Dewprism, kupo," Mog said.
"Oh, they don't make that stuff anymore," Cloud said. "Shinra replaced it with Threads of Fruit®, I think."
Mog was outraged. "What? They stopped making Mountain Dewprism? What were they thinkupoing?"
"Dude, they all taste the same anyway," Spekkio pointed out.
"But Mountain Dewprism was my friend!" Mog sobbed, tears running down his furry cheeks. "I've been drinkupoing for it for two whole years! I was a dedicated customer! How dare they do this to me?"
Spekkio put his hand on Mog's shoulder. "There, there, it's okay; I'm sure you'll find a new favorite drink."
"You don't understand!" Mog waied. "In today's harsh corporate world, my unflagging brand loyalty to Mountain Dewprism was the only thing I could count on! It was likupo part of my family! And now it's all gone! Gone!"
Hanpan cocked an eyebrow towards Cait Sith. "Someone want to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline?"
"Well, I'd better mosey on down to the grocery store," Cloud said. "Talk to you guys later."
Cait Sith sighed. Not only was the paparazzi biz turning out a lot more difficult than he'd expected, he now had a hysterical Mog to deal with too. How was a cat supposed to raise any money like this? If this kept us, he'd have to resort to starring in go-kart racing games or something.
The phone rang. Cait Sith was about to grab it when he remembered that Aerith was still in the house. "Look out!" he screamed, diving to the floor. A mere second later, the door to the house flew completely off its hinges as Aerith charged through.
"I'll get it!" she shouted, leaping for the phone.
"IT'S NOT FOR YOU; NO ONE KNOWS YOU'RE HERE!" Hanpan screamed to no avail. Driven by some primal instinct, Aerith continued running and leapt for the phone.
Sensing a potential for disaster, Spekkio seized the distraught Mog and swung him out of Aerith's past. Unfortunately, he instead managed to clobber Aerith in the head with Mog. Aerith's top half recoiled from the blow, but her feet kept moving, propelling her bottom half foward. She tumbled forward feet-first, tripping Spekkio. Spekkio let go of Mog mid-swing, and the moogle went sailing right out the garage door.
An accountant on his lunch break happened to be driving down the street at the time. Busy talking on his cell phone, he did not notice the small furry white creature hurtling towards his car until it landed in the passenger seat. The man looked over at him, screamed, and jumped out of the car. Left driverless, the car smashed into a nearby tree.
Meanwhile, inside the garage, Aerith had finally managed to answer the phone. "It's for you, Cait Sith. It's Yuffie."
"Oh boy, a phone call from Miss Lucifer herself," Cait Sith said, taking the phone away from Aerith. "Cait Sith here," he spoke into it.
"Um, hi, this is, like, Yuffie 'n stuff."
"Have you acquired multiple personalities?"
"Gawd!" Yuffie shrieked. "I just called you and you're already, like, being mean to me."
"Well, I'd like to say I'm sorry, but I'd be lying," Cait shot back.
"Look, I know you, like, hate me 'n stuff, but, like, see, Selphie and Chu-Chu and I have, like, this band, you know? And we, like, totally want to make a music video 'n stuff? Okay, like, we were wondering if you could, you know, like, direct the video 'n stuff?"
"Er..." Normally, Cait Sith wouldn't have considered any offer from Yuffie -- except perhaps an invitation to shoot her -- but Cute Animal Pictures was strapped for cash these days. "Are you going to pay me?"
"Oh, Gawd, like, I don't know, sure, like, 10% or something."
"Ten percent?" Cait Sith. "I've got a skill set wider than those folks on Fat Chicks In Party Hats, baby. Not only that, I'm cute, loveable, and marketable. I deserve at least 20%."
"Cait, like, we have no money 'n stuff, okay?" Yuffie said.
"You don't have money? That's a new one. Here, let me put my agent on the line." Cait Sith handed the phone to Neko with the cryptic explanation of "I want 20%, nothing less."
"Um, hello?" Neko spoke into the phone. "Cait Sith wants 20%, nothing less. Or something."
"10%, and that's our final offer." Yuffie's usual scatterbrained speech disappeared when it came to matters of finance.
"Ten," Neko said.
"You got a deal," Neko said. "Where do you want to meet?"
"Um, we're in, like, Travellers' Insurance Group City, which is, like, you know, Shevat 'n stuff," Yuffie said. "So if you could, you know, come as soon as possible, that would be, like, totally awesome. And stuff."
* * *
Rinoa, Lucky Dan, and Angelo finally arrived at Horizon Bridge's sole landmark, the floating city of Fisherman's Horizon. "Whew, we're halfway there," Rinoa said. "I'm tired."
"No kidding," Lucky Dan agreed. "I'm power hungry for some jello pudding! Well, I would be if I had a stomach, that is." He chuckled.
"Yeah, me too," Rinoa said. "Let's see if we can find a restaurant around here somewhere."
"Hopefully one that carries jello pudding!"
The first one they found was the ubiquitous 7th Heaven, yet another member of Tifa's sprawling chain of bars-turned-fast food joints. "Ooh! Ooh!" Dan said excitedly. "I think they're still running their Famous Serial Killers HeavenMeal promotion! Can we go there? I need to complete my collection!"
"I hate these
"But I'm still missing the Slash 'n' Stab Jack the Ripper and Wind-Up Necrophilia Action Jeffrey Dahmer figures! Pleeeease?"
Rinoa shrugged. "Oh, all right." She left Angelo waiting patiently outside and followed Lucky Dan into 7th Heaven. Rinoa staked out a table while L.D. got in line.
Suddenly, a huge fist smashed through the wall, then was promptly followed by the rest of the huge, one-eyed mutant owning it. "STAAAAAARSSS OF DEEEESSSSTINYYYY," it moaned, lumbering towards a youth sitting at one of the tables.
The patrons regarded this unusual disturbance with little interest and continued eating. The one youth targeted by the monster, however, jumped to his feet and readied a pair of tonfa.
"Oh no! He has a weapon!" The patrons of the restaurant all fled, screaming.
The youth lunged towards the monster, spinning his odd wooden weapons. He got in one hit before Nemesis grabbed him with one hand and punched him with the other. Rinoa hurried to the rescue, briefly stunning Nemesis with her boomerang.
Rinoa whistled. Angelo raced into the building and leapt into the air, tucking her feet underneath her. Rinoa set Angelo on her shoulder and fired the dog at Nemesis. The blast knocked Nemesis off his feet, and in the process, he dropped the boy he had been assailing. "Good girl," Rinoa said, feeding Angelo a doggie biscuit.
"Thanks for the help," the youth said, picking himself up. "You from around here?"
"No, Angelo and I from Timber, and Dan here is from heaven-knows-where," Rinoa replied.
"I didn't think so," he said. "The people around here won't help me 'cause I'm a paramilitary revolutionary and I have a weapon."
Rinoa's expression instantly changed to one of interest. "Really? So am I! You just can't trust those Wall Street bastards. Where are you from? Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front? Republic of Texas? Those Seattle guys?"
"No, I'm from the Jowston City-State Alliance. I've got to find all 108 Suikómon so I can defeat Luca Blight and become a Suikómon master. Here, let me explain." Some peppy music began playing from some phantasmal location.
Rinoa shielded her eyes. "Don't look, Dan; it's a musical number!"
I want to cook the very best
Like no one ever did
To whack moles is my real test
Hey, where has Gadget hid?
I will travel across Highland
Searching far and wide
Each Suikómon, I will recruit
Then make them stay inside
Suikoden! Gotta find 'em all!
It's you and me
And the Stars of Destiny
No, can't fight my best friend
Not if I want a happy end
Suikoden! Gotta find 'em all!
Our runes so True
Hey, Vincent D., get a clue
You whine some and I'll help you
Suikoden! Gotta find 'em all!
Gotta find 'em all!
Every challenge along the way
With cheat codes I will face
I will battle every day
'Til I'm level ninety-eight
Come with me, we can Unite
There's no way to miss
On and on, we'll win the fights
It's yet another 'piss'
Suikoden! Gotta find 'em all!
It's you and me
And the Stars of Destiny
No, can't fight my best friend
Not if I want a happy end
Suikoden! Gotta find 'em all!
Our runes so True
Hey, Vincent D., get a clue
You whine some and I'll help you
Suikoden! Gotta find 'em all!
Gotta find 'em all!
Gotta find 'em all!
Gotta find 'em all!
Gotta find 'em all!
Rinoa appeared unimpressed, but Lucky Dan applauded violently. "Bravo! Bravo!" he exclaimed.
"Professor Leknaat said she's heard reports about a mechanical man washed up here. It could be Suikómon #76, Gadget!" The youth sounded quite enthused. "You wouldn't have happened to have seen it around anywhere, would you have?"
"Can't say that I have, no," Rinoa said. She stood up. "Let's go look for him, though. For the cause!"
The three left the building wandered down the steel pathways, trying to find their way to the base of FH City. Then, without warning, they froze in place. "Uh-oh, looks like some event sequence coming up," Rinoa said. "Those pinko commie writers are trying to control what I do again!"
A blonde youth of about the same age as Rinoa's new friend approached them. "Ha!" he said. "I've already cleaned out all the Suikómon in this city! You're late again!"
"You're a terrible Suikómon trainer, Jowy!" Rinoa's friend said. "You don't treat your Suikómon with the love and kindness they deserve!"
Rinoa found she could still move her head and glared at her companion. "Now you're starting to sound like those bleeding-heart FHers," she grumbled.
"We'll see about that," Jowy said. He unhooked a crystal ball from his belt and raised it up for all to see. "Suikóball, go!" Jowy threw the ball forward. It split in two in mid-air and Kiba jumped out.
Rinoa's friend brandished his own Suikóball and hurled at it the ground. "I choose you!! Mukumuku!" A small caped squirrel broke free.
"Muku muku?" Mukumuku chirped.
"Mukumuku! Bolt of Wrath!" Rinoa's friend commanded.
MUKUMUKU used BOLT OF WRATH! It's super effective! Enemy KIBA fainted! MUKUMUKU gained 81 EXP. Points!
Jowy shrugged off his defeat. "Well, you win this time. Smell ya later!" He ran off back the way he came, and Rinoa was able to move again at last.
"What was that all about?" Rinoa asked.
Jowy's rival glanced around. Just as he had feared, the brief conflict had attracted FH's massive police force in droves. "No time for that," he said to Rinoa. "Let's make like Al Gore and leaf."
"Ruh roh!" barked Angelo.
One of the many officers surrounding the gang raised a megaphone. "You are in possession of illegal weapons and are ordered to cease and desist at once!"
"These aren't weapons," the youth protested. "They're, uh, Sticks of Death."
"Yeah!" Rinoa added fervently. "Sticks of Death don't kill people, people kill people!"
The police appeared unconvinced. One of them even went so far as to point a can of silly string at the offenders. "Don't make me wave this can of silly string about a threatening manner!" he declared. "I just might do it, you know!"
"Yeah, whatever," Rinoa said, backing towards the side of the platform.
"I'm serious here!" the police said. "Violence is not the answer, but I might spray you with silly string anyway!"
Rinoa motioned towards Lucky Dan, Angelo, and the unnamed guy, then leaped off the side of the road into the sea several stories below. As the police closed in around them, the other three dived in in similar fashion.
Rinoa, Dan, and Unnamed Youth quickly surfaced and swam towards the lowest level of the FH docks. Angelo dog-paddled to shore shortly thereafter and shook herself dry.
"Hey! We found it!" the kid said. Rinoa turned to see her friend kneeling over a bulky, prostrate tan robot that had obviously washed ashore and been left neglected. "What a terrific plot contrivance! Let me just check this with my Suikódex." He produced a stone tablet from his backpack and passed it over the robot. It buzzed.
"Oops," the youth said, staring at the tablet. "This isn't the droid I'm looking for." He put the tablet away and stood up. "I guess I'll be off now. Thanks for your help, in any case."
Lucky Dan looked to Rinoa. "What now?" he asked. "I'm getting the feeling we're not wanted in this town."
"We can't just leave this poor thing here," Rinoa said with a nod at the robot. "Some money-grubbing capitalist might come along and take it and set it to work making athletic footwear." She paused to think. "I remember meeting some tinkerer type the last time I was around here. Let's pay him a visit."
* * *
"Damn, this place is packed," Sephiroth observed as Shounen Ai threaded their way between the numerous parked vehicles outside the Ethos headquarters. The obligatory media train followed
Laguna shrugged. "Free plastic surgery; who can pass it up?"
"I don't like plastic surgery," Fei said. "Have you told you guys that?"
"Not that one, I don't think."
"Well, I don't like Gears, fighting, dance contests, frostbite, or plastic surgery."
The quartet wandered inside the waiting room, packed to the brim with folks from all walks of life. "Take a number," the priest at the desk declared. He gestured towards a pad of paper; each sheet bore a number from 176 on up.
"What the hell?" Sephiroth said, growing angry. "I'm a celebrity; I don't have time for this."
"Ohmigod! Look! It's Shounen Ai!" A cluster of preteen girls charged out of the crowd and threw themselves at their favorite group's feet.
Fei, Vincent, and Laguna all waved politely, but Sephiroth merely gave the girls a steely stare. "Back off," he growled.
"Oh, Sephiroth! You're my favorite!" one of the girls said. "Can I have your autograph?"
Sephiroth put his hand on the hilt of the Masamune. "I said back off," he repeated.
"Don't worry, he's always this way," Laguna said in a stage whisper.
The girl felt to her knees. "Pleeeease?" she begged. "I'm your biggest fan!"
Sephiroth whipped out the Masamune and jabbed her lightly in the knee. "Leave me alone," he said.
"Oooo, Sephy-sama stabbed me!" the girl squealed.
"Oh, Nikki, that must mean he loves you! I'm so jealous."
The door leading into the complex flew open and Billy stepped out, holding a gun ready. "What's going on out here?" he asked.
"Hello, Fei," Billy said, surprised to see his friend here. He frowned. "Are you here to get plastic surgery?"
"No, I don't like Gears, fighting, da-"
Sephiroth rudely interrupted Fei by shoving him out of the way. "All right, all right, we get the point," Seph snapped. Sephiroth turned to Billy. "I need a nose job. It's free, right?"
Billy nodded. "Of course," he said. "In fact, we'll pay you to have plastic surgery. The only requirement is that you display a small electronic ad banner on your nose."
"You got a deal," Seph said.
"All right, walk this way," Billy said, leading Sephiroth down the hall beyond the door. Billy turned after a few steps and looked back at the rest of Shounen Ai. "You guys come along too, we can hide you in the confession room."
The other members of Shounen Ai waved goodbye to their fans and quickly retreated through the door. Sephiroth turned. "Bye, girls," he said. "Don't forget to buy our first album when it comes out next week."
"Oh, we will, we will!" they all exclaimed.
Billy and Sephiroth left for the operating room. Fei, Laguna, and Vincent sat down inside the small confession booth that still lingered in the former church and locked the door behind themselves. "Man, we can't go anywhere without having fans fawning all over us," Fei noted. "I mean, I'm glad people like us, but this is getting to be a pain."
Laguna shrugged. "I'm having fun," he said.
"Free plastic surgery," Vincent repeated. "I wish I could have that when I got this claw attached."
"Hey, I thought of a game that Doc taught me we could play while we're waiting," Fei said. "I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 5,000,000. Guess."
"2,750,231," Vincent guessed.
"Nope!" Fei said. "Guess again!"
Vincent and Laguna had still not guessed the number when Billy and Sephiroth returned two hours later. Sephiroth now had a brand new nose; a banner advertising Deus -- "It's thinking. Worse. It knows it's thinking." -- ran across the bridge of his nose.
"Hey, guys," Sephiroth said. "Check out my nose."
"Nice," Laguna said.
"I don't like plastic surgery," Fei said.
"Yes, you told us already," Vincent quickly cut him off.
The three other members of Shounen Ai got up to leave. "So was all this your idea?" Fei inquired of Billy.
"Yeah," Billy said. "There was all this old medical equipment left in the Ethos after it collapsed, so I figured we might as well make us of it somehow."
"I can see you're doing a lot of business," Fei said. "Hey... we've still got a spot open in our group..."
Billy shook his head. "I can't sing."
"Don't worry, I'm just learning myself," Fei said. "It's easy, mmmkay?"
"Well... I guess." Billy scratched his head. "It would be fun, I suppose... but you've got me confused. Are you guys actually gay or what?"
"Nah," Sephiroth answered. "We just pretend we are to pick up chicks."
"Oh. It seems to be working."
"It's the mental problems," Seph explained. "Chicks dig the mental problems."
* * *
FH's resident junk monkey examined the robot. "Oh, this will be easy to fix," he reported. "His power supply just needs fixing." He opened up his toolbox and took out a box of old nails. "A little acupuncture should do the trick."
Rinoa gave him a thumbs-up. "Good idea!" she said approvingly. "A lot better than all that elitist HMO nonsense."
Lucky Dan scratched his head, accidentally igniting his hand. "Acupuncture works on robots?" he asked between breathing on the smoldering hand to cool it.
The junk monkey shrugged. "Might as well give it a try." He poked one of the nails into the robot's left shoulder. Nothing happened, so he randomly stuck in some more nails.
Having no luck cooling his hand, Lucky Dan switched on the faucet and ran his hand through the cold water. "Hey, do you guys remember whether a first-degree or a third-degree burn is the bad one?" he asked.
"Beats me," Rinoa said.
"I'll bet I need to hit on these harder," the junk monkey said. He grabbed his hammer from the toolbox and started pounded a nail into the robot's foot. Still no reaction.
Lucky Dan turned and stared at the junk money's haphazard acupuncture job. "Maybe you need a big nail." Without further comment, he yanked the nail out of his chest and used his wet hand to jab it into the robot's chest. A visible surge of electricity shot through the nail and into the robot. Lucky Dan staggered away, slightly dazed
The robot sat bolt upright, then stood and bowed to introduce himself. "Greetings. I am a R-66Y unit; you may wish to call me 'Robo.'"
"Hi. I'm Rinoa Heartilly, this is Lucky Dan, and that's my dog Angelo Sant di Roma."
Robo bowed. "I am most pleased to meet you, Miss Heartilly. Please excuse me while I recalibrate my motor functions." He thrust his arms forward and spun them around, twisting both them and his legs into all possible angles.
Lucky Dan tittered. "Oooh, I got a good one... it looks like he's doing the Macarena!" He laughed uproariously.
Rinoa gave him a flat stare. "Uh, Macarena jokes went out of style ages ago."
"Hey, cut me slack, I told you I haven't been in operation since 1996," Dan said. "So are Hootie and the Blowfish still popular?"
Robo returned his limbs to their normal position. "Ah, much better. Retrieving primay mission objective.... FATAL EXCEPTION ERROR. The data may have become corrupted. Oh, dear me."
Rinoa looked to the junk monkey, who promptly shook his head. "Out of my league," he said.
"Hey, I bet Doc Odine could fix you," Rinoa said to Robo. "Why don't you come with us? We're going to see him anyway."
"Who is this Odine fellow?"
"He's the Wizard of Esthar!" Rinoa said. "He's a genius. I'm sure he'll be fix you in no time at all."
"Ah, then I would indeed like to visit him," Robo said. "If I could accompany you, that would be optimal."
"Of course," Rinoa said. She again linked arms with her companions and skipped towards the exit. "We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Esthar!"
* * *
"I guess all the hype that I could handle was taken care of, yes, when I was little," Selphie quietly sang to herself, practicing her favorite song for what seemed to be the five-thousandth time.
Chu-Chu bounded into the guest room, clutching the newest issue of Fangirl magazine. The little creature seemed about to explode with excitement. "Ooka! Ooka!" she squeaked, hopping around in excited circles.
"Hi, Chu-Chu ^__^!" Selphie said warmly.
"Oh, I have the bestest news ever!" Chu-Chu squealed, shaking her magazine violently.
"I bet I, like, have even better news," Yuffie said from the computer. "'cause Amazon.com just, like, went up 15 cents and so I sold it and made, like, $200 'n stuff."
Chu-Chu puffed up her chest. "My news is soooo muchu better!" she declared. She held open the magazine to a particular page and displayed it to Selphie. "Laguna is joining Shounen Ai! And Billy chu!"
"BOOYAKA ~~~~__^^@;;;!" Selphie exclaimed. "Laguna is in Shounen Ai! Oh, they must have listened to me ^______^;;;;! They're going to be the best band EVER!"
"And Sephy said he's going chu get a nose job!" Chu-Chu said. "They even printed his referral code in case we want chu have plastic surgery chu!" She flipped to another page. "And here's a chu-ool personality quiz! 'Quiz: Do you take chu many personality quizzes?'"
Selphie reached for the magazine. "Let me read about Sir Laguna!" she demanded.
Chu-Chu turned away, shielded the magazine with her body. "No! It's mine!" she said. "Chu can look at it when I'm done. Wait chu-our turn." She winked slyly. "It's got a biiiiig pull-out poster of Shounen Ai. They're so hot."
"Oh, I'm going to have to get this magazine too ^^;;!" Selphie squealed.
Two furry heads poked through the open doorway. "Anybody in here?" Cait Sith inquired.
"Oh, hi, cat person," Selphie greeted them. "Did you hear about Laguna joining Shounen Ai?"
Cait Sith scratched his head. "Who joining what?"
"Chu guys haven't heard about Shounen Ai?" Chu-Chu said. "They're the bestest band ever! It's Fei-sama an' Sephy an' Laguna an' Vincent an' Billy! Their first album comes out next Tuesday! I just can't wait!"
Cait Sith gave her a flat stare in return. "Oh boy," he said, his voice dripping sarcasm into large puddles on the carpeted floor, "another boy band. Please excuse me while I wet my pants with excitement."
"You don't even wear pants, Cait," Neko pointed out.
Yuffie shut down the computer and rose from her chair. "Gawd, it's not like we're, you know, telling you what to listen to," she said. "So, like, stop being so mean."
Neko shrugged. "Let's talk business," he said. "Music video."
"Yeah ^__^," Selphie said.
"Hey, like, what happened to all your friends?" Yuffie interrupted.
"Mog's having a mid-life crisis because they discontinued Mountain Dewprism," Neko explained. "Spekkio and Hanpan are looking after him."
"Gawd, someone actually, like, drank that stuff? Grossness! He should try, like, Sunny D instead."
"I heard a rumor that Sunny Delight damages your brain cells," Cait Sith mused, one hand on his chin. "But now I know it for a fact."
"Like, what are you talking about?" Yuffie said. "Intelligence is, like, my number one, like, you know. You don't have to be so mean to everyone!"
Neko leaned forward. "Don't worry, he's just jealous because he wants you to be drooling over him instead," he said in stage whisper.
"I am not!"
"Hey, hey, let's not argue ^____^," Selphie said. "We need to brainstorm some ideas for our video."
"All right," Cait Sith deadpanned. "You can go back to ODing on Sunny Delight. Neko and I will form a committee to investigate how to best utilize dynamic synergistic planning models."
The three girls stared at them blankly. "...okay o_O," Selphie said evenutally. "You know what you're doing."
Cait Sith and Neko stared grinning at each other, trying to keep a straight face. They quickly backed of the room and slammed the shut door before breaking out in giggles.
Selphie listened to the laughter and tried to figure out what it was that she wasn't getting. "I wonder what they're up to ^^;;;;;."
* * *
"Well, Ward, I just don't know what to do," Kiros said as he strode into his friend's office. "The search parties have combed the whole continent, and there's no sign of Laguna anywhere. I don't want to think that something could have happened to him..."
"Maybe those ninjas kidnapped him again," Ward mouthed. His Talking Mouth Dog then repeated the words aloud. "Maybe those bloody ninja chaps kidnapped him again. A political rival, perhaps?"
"He doesn't have any political rivals... he's been a freakin' dictator for the last 17 years," Kiros said. "And he took his machine gun with him, too. I wonder if he was trying to run away." He sniffed, his eyes beginning to fill with tears. "Maybe he doesn't love us anymore."
Ward gave him a comforting pat on the shoulder. "There, there; I'm sure he's all right."
"But he didn't take his jacket with him! He might catch a cold! Or he could fall into a river and drown!"
"I'm sure Laguna can take care of himself."
Kiros stared at him in silence, and Ward was forced to think over what he had just said. "Er... never mind."
"What did we do to make him leave?" Kiros sobbed. "Did we say something to him? Was it because he always lost at our All-Night Parcheesi Club? What?"
"I don't know, Kiros, I don't know. But don't give up hope yet," Ward said. "We can put his picture on milk cartons. You know, 'Have You Seen Our President?' We'll find him somehow!"
* * *
A few days later...
Awakened by the chirping of piyo birds, Selphie sat up in bed and yawned. It looked like another sunny day outside -- warm rays of light were already streaming in from between the curtains. "Booyaka ^_^!" she giggled.
Selphie ritually tore off the previous day on her Countdown to Bishounen calendar. She stared at the "0" that remained, a expression of beatific satisfaction on her face. In less than 24 hours, Shounen Ai's first album would be in her hands. "Oooh, this is going to be so wonderful ^__~," Selphie said to herself. She looked across the room, where Yuffie was still sleeping, and would probably remain so until at least noon. Selphie briefly considered waking her friend up, then realized Yuffie would probably steal her Fangirl again in response.
Instead, she simply got dressed, wrote Yuffie a brief note -- "Need new socks; went to The Gap -Sel" -- and bounded across the palace to Chu-Chu's room. Chu-Chu, as usual, was already awake and busy painting her Wong Fei Fong resin kit.
"Hi, Chu-Chu," Selphie said. "I'm going down to The Gap to pick up some socks. Wanna come ^_^?"
Chu-Chu thought briefly, then declined. "I don't even wear chulothes," she said. "I think I'll work on painting Fei some more. I'm almost done painting his legs, then chu know what comes next!"
"That's, uh, nice o_o;;;;;;;;," Selphie said. "Have fun, Chu-Chu."
"By the way," Chu-Chu said. "I'd be chu-areful. I heard the Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front is going chu staging another protest down there because The Gap doesn't carry any Chu-Chu-sized chulothes."
"All right, I will," Selphie said as she shut the door. "I think they're harmless, though."
She grabbed a donut to eat from the kitchen and hurried outside. Though nary a cloud obstructed the sky, she didn't really feeling all the way across town. She couldn't imagine Tolone would mind if she took the van -- after all, Tolone'd given her the keys.
Selphie unlocked the driver's side door and hopped inside. The van was a little bit bigger than her own car back home, but she'd manage. She slipped a Milkcan CD into the CD player, pulled on her seatbelt, and turned the ignition.
Holding her donut in one hand and steering with the other, Selphie backed out of the palace parking lot and got on the street leading downtown. She soon found herself tapping her feet -- including the one on the gas pedal -- in time to "Keep Your Head Up." The car started moving in erratic hops forward, but since the road was relatively free of traffic, her progress continued unimpeded.
Selphie quickly grew tired of just driving and decided to give Irvine a call. Keeping her foot on the gas pedal, she leaned back and rooted around in the back seat until she found Tolone's cell phone. She balanced the phone in one hand and the donut in the other, while using her knees to manage the steering wheel. Slowly, she pressed the buttons one at a time with a free finger.
"Hello?" Irvine answered the phone.
"Hi, this is Selphie ^_^," Selphie said. "How's your vacation been?"
"Not as bright as it would be if I had you around," Irvine said suggestively. "How's Travellers' Insurance Group City?"
"It's kinda cold, but the weather's really nice here ^__^." Selphie said. She reached over and punched a button with her elbow to unroll the sunroof, giving her an unobstructed view of the clear blue sky.
Staring out the sunroof and talking on the phone, holding her donut in one hand and her cell phone in the other, tapping her feet in the time to music, Selphie really had no choice of navigating The Gap's parking lot, even if it hadn't been so crowded. As it stood, the lot was filled nearly to capacity, and Selphie impressively managed to collide with the very first car in the very first row of cars.
"Oopsie!" Selphie exclaimed. "I think I just hit a car ^^;;;;! I'll call you back later, 'k?" She hopped out of the van to inspect the damage, and was instantly surrounded by an angry mob of Chu-Chus waving picket signs.
"You! You're the one who stole Chu'yala away from us!" Chu'hasa -- aka Willis -- exclaimed.
"What ^^;;?" Selphie asked. "Who's Chu'yala >_"
"You're the worst kind!" he seethed. "The lowest of the low! The filthy thieves of our children!"
Selphie stared at him. "What in the world are you talking about o_O?"
Chu'hasa knelt her a mighty blow to the knee with his picket sign. "You may treat us Chu-Chupolins as three-fifths of a living being, but we have more of a heart than you do!"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Another Chu-Chu grabbed a handful of loose pieces of asphalt and hurled them at Selphie. "Take this!" it exclaimed. "Chu-Chupolin pride! Down with specism!"
"We were here first!"
"Chu-Chupolin are not astronomically unintellectual-looking low level animals!"
* * *
Alone in her room atop her Castle Of Evil (TM), Ultimecia stared into the magic mirror on the wall. "Mirror, mirror, I know this is silly, but where is Rinoa Heartilly?"
The reflection in the mirror wavered, then changed to image of Rinoa and her dog parading along Horizon Bridge, accompanied by with what appeared to be a scarecrow and a tin man. "So they've made it that far..." Ultimecia mused. "This kalls for Plan B." She rang a bell on her desk and a couple of Ku Klux Klan members shuffled into the room, equipped with their standard white hoods.
"You rekwested us, my lady?" one of them asked.
"Send for Jigglypuff. Instrukt her to lokate the travellers on the Horizon Bridge and use all ekspedient measures to kapture them and return them to the kastle. I want them alive." She grinned evily. "I have a little puppet show to present to them."
"Okay." The two Klansmen started towards the door, but one suddenly stopped. "Wait, isn't Jigglypuff a Pokémon? What are you doing dealin' with those Wondrous Mambo God-worshipping rat bastards?"
"Ha, you should talk!" the other Klansman said. "I saw you buyin' a Katerpie doll at K-Mart the other day!"
"Me? Buying Pokémon toys! You must have mistaken me for some other guy in a white kloak!"
"Ha! I have witnesses; you kan't eskape the truth." The Klansman lifted up his hood and stuck his tongue out at his companion.
"You kan't even reckonize the truth, you dirty liar!" The second Klansman gave his accuser a rough shove. "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"
The first Klansman shoved him back. "Yeah, well, yo' momma works for GameFan!" he declared.
"At our nekst meeting I think we should burn your pants instead of a kross, you big fat dumb-dumb head!"
"Stop this nonsense at once!" Ultimecia shouted. "You will find Jigglypuff and instrukt her to capture the girl. The Pokémon owe me one; they'll have no choice but to akksept. Now, hurry, chop-chop! Time's a-wastin'!"
The two Klansmen hurried out the door. Ultimecia smiled smugly at her victory, stretched, and yawned. Then she suddenly remembered she still had to make those sock puppets before she encountered Rinoa again. The evil sorceress switched on her Answering Machine Of Doom (TM) and vanished in a puff of smoke.
* * *
Emeralda crouched down in her desk, overwhelmed by pressure. She tried to run over her list of spelling words one last time in her head, but had no success in blocking all her worries from her mind. She had to win this spelling bee. Kim would be so proud of her then! He'd come back from his trip and they'd go to the zoo together and leave behind that mean ol' orange-haired lady!
"Katie, please spell 'drive,'" the teacher called.
A girl on the opposite side of the room rose from her seat. "Drive," she repeated. "D-R-I-V-E."
"Very good. Dan, please spell 'mouse.'"
The red-headed midget stood and closed his eyes in intense concentration. "Mouse... Mouse... I don't know! Arrrrrrrrgh!" He threw a huge blast of energy at his desk and smashed it into pieces. "This is all your fault, Fei! I HATE YOU!"
Dan was quickly escorted out of the room.
Now the pressure was on Emeralda. As the only other remaining contestant, she had to answer perfectly or watch her dream of becoming the third grade's champion speller go up in smoke. "Emeralda, 'potato.'"
Emeralda stood up and took a deep breath. She'd been over this one with Kim. It wasn't hard. "Potato," she said confidently. "P-O-T-A-T-O-E."
"I'm sorry, Emeralda, that's incorrect."
"Waaaaaaaaaaahhh!" In tears, Emeralda fled out the back door of the classroom and ran out into the playground. She kept running, through the baseball field, and didn't stop until she got to the chain fence at the edge of the playground. She sobbed again.
Then, in the distance, she heard angry shouting. Emeralda crouched down and peered through the holes in the fence. Across the street, at the mall, one of Chu-Chu's friends was being attacked and stoned by a mob of angry Chu-Chus.
Emeralda didn't know what to do, but she knew she couldn't leave Chu-Chu's friend alone. "Go go Gadget Helicopter!" she commanded. Her long green hair formed into the shape of two helicopter blades, with two handles hanging down like bangs. Emeralda grabbed onto the handles and soared over the fence, aimed for the mall.
Selphie and the Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front all looked up as Emeralda streaked through the sky. "What is that?" one of the Liberation Front members asked.
"Just another stupid human trick," another replied. "Don't be fooled!"
Emeralda pointed her right foot at Selphie. "Go go Gadget Rope Ladder!" Her right foot shifted form and rearranged itself into a coiled rope ladder, which immediately began unrolling itself. Selphie jumped and caught onto the end of the ladder. As the two were carried off, they saw Tolone and Seraphita approach the crisis on foot.
Selphie clung tightly to the ladder as Emeralda towed her back to American Airlines Palace. It was a good thing she hadn't brought Yuffie along -- she might never have recovered from a flight like this.
Emeralda eventually touched down in the courtyard and returned her hair and foot to their usual state. "Thanks sooooo much ^_^;;;," Selphie said. She scratched her head. "But, uh, aren't you supposed to be in school?"
"Waaaaah!" Emeralda sobbed and ran off.
"Weirdo o_O," Selphie said.
Chu-Chu ran into the courtyard and tackled Selphie. "You're okay!" she said. "Tolone said Willis' gang was attacking someone down at the Gap and Chu-Chu was really really worried!"
"That was me ^^;;," Selphie admitted. "But that green-haired girl... Emeralda?... saved me. She turned her foot into a rope ladder. It was weird o_o."
"Yeah, her whole body is made out of nanomachines," Chu-Chu said. "I'd explain it, but it all makes Chu-Chu's head spin!"
"Hey, where's Yuffie?" Selphie asked. "Is she still asleep?"
"I don't know," Chu-Chu mused. "Yuffie wandered off somewhere and Chu-Chu hasn't seen her."
Cait Sith and Neko marched into the courtyard. "Hey, you're back," Cait Sith observed. "I see you survived the vicious attack of the marshmallow people. That's good; I would have hated to see anything happen to you."
Selphie stared at him, trying to figure out whether or not Cait Sith actually had been worried about her. She was eventually forced to concede that she honestly had no idea. "Uh, are you being sarcastic?"
Cait Sith gave her his best Bambi-eyed angelic smile. "Now, would I ever do something like that?"
Selphie sighed and decided to just ignore him. Every time she tried to say something to him, he somehow managed to twist it around and make fun of her. How did he always manage to do that?
A short while later, Topo also wandered into the courtyard. "Oh, there you are," she said. "Tolone's waiting for you outside. She doesn't look too happy."
Uh-oh, I'm in trouble now, Selphie thought. "All right, I'm coming." She and Chu-Chu headed out through the main hall to the palace gates. Cait Sith and Neko tagged along, the former humming a funeral march.
Tolone and Seraphita were waiting in the parking lot, standing outside of Tolone's slightly beat-up white van. "You know, the next time it would help if you tell us took the van," the Element sighed. "Especially if you plan on crashing into the first car you find."
Selphie looked down and tapped her right foot. "Sorry ;_;," she apologized.
"Hey, come on, you gotta tell us the exciting part," Cait Sith interrupted. "What did you do with all those little rat things? Burn them? Tar and feather 'em? Ship 'em off to a Jerry Bruckheimer film festival?"
Tolone rolled her eyes. "No, we just locked 'em up for a few days, same as always. The little twerps wouldn't stop singing 'We Shall Overcome' the whole time, though. All in their high-pitched voices, mind you."
"Awww, I think they're cute," Seraphita said to Tolone.
"You would." Tolone locked the van doors and marched into the palace, with Seraphita skipping happily after her.
Selphie was about to follow them inside when the back of the van opened of its own accord. Yuffie poked her head out. "Are they gone yet?" she whispered.
"Yeah ^^;," Selphie tittered. "What are you doing?"
Yuffie slipped out of the van and dragged a big brown cardboard box out after her. "Like, I heard you were looking for socks 'n stuff, so I went down there and, like, stole a whole box of them. The delivery guy never knew what hit him." She patted the box with pride. "40 pairs; this should keep us stocked for a while.
"It's a good thing you got genuine Gap socks," Cait Sith announced in mock relief. "If you'd gotten regular plebian socks, they might have damaged our fragile little feet!"
"Oh, shut up, Cait," Yuffie responded instantly.
Selphie stared down at the large crate. "That's, uh, real nice of you, Yuffie ~___^;;. Tee hee!"
* * *
"Wow! The Sapphire City is shining brighter than ever!" Lucky Dan said as he stared off into the distance. "Hey, wait, I can't see the city at all. What a gyp."
"That's because Esthar is hidden behind a magical barrier," Rinoa explained. "You can't see it until you get through the salt flats."
L.D. was still disappointed. "This is an even bigger rip-off than Tickle Me Elmo."
"Nobody cares about Tickle Me Elmo now either, Dan," Rinoa explained patiently.
"They don't? Man, what kind of world are you guys living him? The future sure isn't what it used to be these days." He sighed in mock irritation, then chuckled at his own joke.
"Jiiig-guuh-lee-puff," a quiet voice sang in the distance.
Rinoa would have chided Dan for his comment, but suddenly she felt overwhemingly tired. She yawned. "I'm sleepy," she murmured as she stretched out her arms.
"Me too," Dan agreed. "Maybe Dr. Kevorkian is gassing us all." This time he didn't even bother to laugh. He also stretched, then lay down in the middle of the road.
"I think I'll catch a few Zs too," Rinoa said. She lay down, using the already slumbering Angelo as a pillow. Robo also sat down on the bridge and start defragging himself.
Jiggly "Puffy" Puff approached, tapping the barrel of her 9 mm against her fluffy hand. Her boyfriend Pikachu followed behind her, watching the pair's back. Puffy slowly advanced towards her targets, careful not to make any sound that might rouse her somnolent victims.
"cHeeSe iT! tHe cOps!" Pikachu suddenly exclaimed.
Puffy whirled just in time to see two FH-branded police cars stop just down the road. A pair of officers hopped out of each car and let loose with their cans of silly string, coating Pikachu and Puffy in a sticky mess that left them unable to flee. "You are under arrest for violating FH's strict 'zero tolerance' policy by possessing a weapon," one of the officers declared. "Cease and desist."
Puffy warbled something to Pikachu, who then translated for the officers. "'i dO n0t owN a gUn,'" she had declared adamantly. "'i dO nOt cArRy A gUN.'"
The officer pointed at the 9 mm in Puffy's hands. "Then what's that you've got there!" he said as he forced handcuffs onto the closest thing the Pokémon had to wrists.
Puffy again spoke through Pikachu. "'iT wAs pLaNtEd oN mE! iT's a ConSpiRaCy!'"
Roused by the commotion, Rinoa's party awoke just in time to see the two police cars driving off in the direction of Fisherman's Horizon. "I wonder the police were here for," Rinoa said aloud.
"Maybe they were after O.J. Simpson! Hehe!"
"Shut up, Dan."
* * *
Later that night, armed with a bag of granola bars, Sunny Delight, and Grizzly Twizzlies, some cash, a flashlight, a cell phone, and an umbrella, the Garden Festival Committee began its sacred pilgrimage to the record store to make commercial purchases in honor of the Holy Quintet.
"Oh, Gawd, this is so exciting," Yuffie said as the three approached the record store. "It seems like we've been, you know, waiting for this album forever."
"Yeah!" Selphie agreed. "And the video for 'Disassociative Identity Disorder' was soooo awesome!"
When it at last arrived at the store, the trio was shocked to discover it was not the first in line. "Hi!!" Seraphita enthusiastically greeted them.
"Hi, Seraphita!" Chu-Chu returned with equal cheer. "Are chu here for Bishounen too?"
"Of course!" Seraphita exclaimed. "They're a really awesome group! I saw them on MTV the other day! I love them! But Tolone doesn't like them... I don't know why!"
"We love them chu," Chu-Chu said. She raised a questioning paw to her mouth. "Who's your favorite? Mine is Fei, of course."
"Ooohh," Seraphita's cheerful face bunched up in concentration. "I like Billy the best," she eventually concluded. "He's really hot."
"I like Sir Laguna the best ^__^!" Selphie said.
All eyes turned to Yuffie. "Sephy-sama," she answered. "Hey, did you guys hear that, like, Sephy bought a new pair of shoes yesterday? Isn't that, just, like totally awesome? I was so like 'oh wow' when I heard that."
"Really?" Sera's eyes widened. "Darn, I'm behind on the news again."
"Hey, care for a Grizzly Twizzly?" Yuffie opened the bag and offered Seraphita a package of the Official Candy of Hades.
Seraphita shook her head. "No thanks, I've got to watch my weight."
"Oh. Well, I guess I'll, like, have them, then. You could have some socks, if you want -- we've got plenty." Yuffie tore open the package, not even bothering to read the morbid thoughts printed on the wrapper, and popped the Twizzler-like candy in her mouth.
She was about ready to reach for some Sunny Delight when the cell phone suddenly rang. "Gawd, who would be calling me at this hour?" Yuffie wondered aloud as she answered the call. "Hello?"
"So, like, why are you calling me here?" Yuffie asked through the bits of Grizzly Twizzly in her mouth.
"Masta' Godo told me you be out of skool and hangin' in Travellahz Insurance Group City," Shake said. "You be forgettin' about yo' posse or what? Gorky an' Chekhov an' I need yo' skillz back in da Clan. We gotz a phat new album comin' out, Wu-llenium."
"Oh Gawd," Yuffie instantly knew that there was no easy way of this situation. "Um, like, it's cool that you, like, have a new album, but, like, well, see, like, uh... well, like, I met these people at Garden, and, we, like, have a band an' stuff..."
"You gotz a band?" Shake said. "Well, I kin you see needin' to be practicin' yo def rhymez, but this be the Wu-Tai Clan we be talkin' 'bout. Yo' gotta bounce back to W-Town an' hang wit' yo' Gs in da Clan -- it be time 2 represent! We only gots three mo' weekz 'til tha' Grammyz; mebbe we gonna get a nomination."
"Um, well, like..." Yuffie nervously paced the parking lot in a tiny circle. "I mean, like, Wu-Tai Clan is cool and all, but, like, Selphie and Chu-Chu and I are, like, having a lot of fun, and I, like -"
"What?" Shake interrupted. "You don' wanna run wit' da Clan no mo'? R ya loc? That be totally whack, yo' musta sold out 2 da pigz. Wu-Tai Clan don't play dat. I a ain't talkin' t'ya no mo', yo' dirty playa-hater!" A click cut off any further argument.
Yuffie stood in the dark, staring blankly ahead. Now she'd done it -- she'd fallen out of favor with her friends back home. What was she going to do when she went back to Wutai next month? She couldn't hang with the Wu-Tai Clan anymore, that was for sure.
Selphie poked her head out of the record store. "Hey, Yuffie, it's midnight; you coming now or not?"
"Oh, sorry," Yuffie said, shoving the cell phone into her pocket and hurrying into the store.
* * *
Kiros pounded his gavel on the table. "This meeting of the Esthar City All-Night Parcheesi Club is hereby adjourned," he declared. "Members Kiros Seagull, Ward Zaback, Wulfgang Odine, and Ellone Loire are present and accounted for. Member Laguna Loire is absent without leave. Wulfgang will present the minutes from the last meeting."
"Ve played Parcheesi. All night."
"Thank you, Wulfgang. Now, Ellone will present the schedule for today's meeting."
"We will play Parcheesi. All night."
"Thank you, Ellone." Kiros was about to prepare the ritual Opening of the Parcheesi Box ceremony when the doorbell rang.
Odine shuffled to the door of his house and opened it. "Hallo?"
"Hi, I'm Ken Burns," the man at the door introduced himself. "You may remember me from such shows as The Civil War and Thomas Jefferson. Is this is the All-Night Parcheesi Club?"
"Ja, dat eez us," the Doc said.
"I'm working on Ken Burns' Parcheesi, an epic documentary detailing the influence of Parcheesi on human civilization. Could I interview you folks about the role Parcheesi plays in your daily life?"
"Ah... very vell," Doc Odine said. "Come on in."
Ken Burns stepped in out of the cold and closed the door behind him. "Thanks," he said.
"Wait, let me get this straight," Ellone said. "You're making an entire documentary on Parcheesi? How long is this going to be?"
"Oh, I'm shooting for about seven hours," Burns said. "Give or take a few episodes."
"That seems awfully long for a documentary about Parcheesi," Ellone said, puzzled.
Ken Burns pointed a quivering finger at him. "Hey!" he shouted. "Don't you judge it 'til you've seen it! You don't know what I'm talking about! There hasn't yet been a film that deals with Parcheesi with the pretentiousness it deserves! I'm filling an important gap in our cultural spectrum here."
The members of the Parcheesi Club exchanged dubious glances. "We've got a live one here," Kiros whispered.
"Do you think you'd think see this kind of quality programming on network television?" Burns continued, before dissolving into a fit of angry coughing brought on by his ranting. He cleared his throat. "Can I have something to drink?" he asked hoarsely.
"Of course," Doc Odine said. "Look in zee fridge."
Ken Burns opened up the refrigerator and looked in the door. The milk carton caught his attention. "Whoa," he said. "Are you guys still looking for your president?"
"Yes!" Kiros said quickly. "Do you know something about his whereabouts?"
"I saw him just the other day," Burns said. "I was interviewing him for Parcheesi -- I was going after all the celebrity Parcheesi players, you know. He was the one that directed me to your club."
"He's safe!" Ellone said, relieved. "What's he doing? Where is he?"
Ken Burns poured himself a glass of Threads of Fruit®. "Aquvy," he explained. "He was with Billy Lee Black and some band they had."
"A band?" Kiros repeated. "He ran from Esthar and started a band? What the hell is he thinking?"
"I dunno," Ward said via his dog. "I always thought it would be pretty fun to have a band. 'sides, at least he wasn't kidnapped or anything."
"We still have to find this Billy Black guy," Ellone pointed out.
Kiros shrugged. "That won't be any problem," he butted in. "I'm sure we can find out all about by consulting some illegally-acquired marketing data."
"You know, if Mr. Loire wasn't an avid Parcheesi player, you wouldn't have been able to find him," Ken Burns pointed out. "I told you Parcheesi was an important behind-the-scenes players in human history. By the way, can we get on with the interview?"
* * *
Yuffie dived and took a desperate swing at the birdie. She connected, sending it flying across the courtyard. Selphie ran towards it, leapt over the stream, and trampled a flower bed in her haste to return it. The birdie arced into the air and disappeared amidst the branches of a tree.
"Gawd, not again," Yuffie complained. She pulled another birdie out of her pocket and served it.
Chu-Chu ducked behind her drum set as the birdie shot just over her head. Selphie hit it back, prompting Yuffie to jump up on a table to return it. When the coast was clear, Chu-Chu climed back onto her stool and resumed her furious drumming.
Cait Sith and Neko stepped into the courtyard, carrying a sheet of paper, just as Selphie dived in front of them to reach the birdie. Cait Sith jumped backwards. "You could have warned if I was going to be walking into a warzone," he snapped.
Selphie turned and flashed him a brief smile. "We're playing badminton," she explained as Yuffie jumped into the stream to retrieve the birdie.
Cait Sith raised an eyebrow. "Strip badminton?" he asked hopefully.
"Dude, you don't even like human girls," Neko said.
"Dude, I was just kidding," Cait Sith said. "Of course I wouldn't forsake Luna for these losers. We're star-crossed lovers."
"Dude, do you even know what 'star-crossed lovers' means?"
"Shut up, dude."
Selphie giggled. Cait Sith glared up at her. "And it's not like you don't say 'like' all the time," he said.
Selphie spun briefly to smack the birdie into the rosebushes. "That's Yuffie, not me," she said, turning back to the feline duo.
"Like I'm supposed to tell you apart," Cait Sith said.
Selphie rolled her eyes. "Did you guys just come here to harass us or what ^^;;;?"
"Oh, right," Cait Sith said. "We came up with an idea for video."
Yuffie caught the birdie, then she and Chu-Chu hurried over to hear Cait's plan.
"Okay, here's my plan," Cait Sith said, reading from the paper. "We're going to have lots of cars blowing up, and then an elephant runs loose in the city. Yuffie, I'm putting you in charge of stealing the cars; Selphie and Yuffie, you'll form the elephant project group."
"Hey, wait a second," Selphie said. "What kind of music video are you making here?"
"I think most of this would be illegal," Chu-Chu added.
"Dude, people aren't going to watch if this doesn't have either sex or violence, and let's face, you all are pretty ugly," he said.
"Yeah, but the song is about, like, the Wondrous Mambo God and, you know, dancing 'n stuff," Yuffie said.
"Look, who's directing this video, you chowderheads or me?" Cait Sith snapped. "Philistines."
Yuffie rolled her eyes. "Gawd, whatever."
"Oooh! That reminds me!" Selphie squealed. "The video for 'Disassociative Identity Order' is gonna be on Total Request Live today!
"Ookya, I forgot all about that!" Chu-Chu bounded out the door. "C'mon, let's go get set up! Chu-Chu will get the folding chuairs and the chuips!"
* * *
"We made it!" Rinoa exclaimed upon setting foot on solid land again for the first time in several days. Now only the salt flats lay between them and Esthar.
Rinoa led her companions down a short trail ahead of them. The trail wound down around the cliffs, forcing the group to follow more round-about twists and turns than a Robert Jordan novel -- and, unfortunately, the trail was about as long as one too.
"Let's stop for lunch here," Rinoa suggested as they arrived at a nice flat spot. They had already been travelling for several hours, with no end in sight.
"Okay," Dan agreed. "Did you think to bring any jello pudding. Hehe, 'Got Jello Pudding?'"
"You're still several years out of date, Dan."
After Rinoa and Dan ate and Rinoa had fed Angelo -- Robo, of course, had no need of food -- they continued on their way. As Rinoa approached the bottom of the ravine, she realized that the salt flats she had passed through on her last visit no longer existed. Instead, a sprawling, verdant forest now occupied the canyon.
A small sign at the beginning of the trail into the forest offered a terse explanation: "This site a project of the Esthar Conservation Corps."
"Hmph," Rinoa grumbled, folding her arms. "Another useless government program."
"It's not useless at all, Miss Heartilly," Robo said. "They've brought life to this useless section of life and created a new habitat for dozens of species essential to the survival of the ecosystems. Ecosystems are crucial, you know."
"Yeah, but there could be lions and tigers and behemoths in there," Dan pointed out.
"Oh my!" Rinoa gasped. "Save me, Squall!"
Lucky Dan's eyes suddenly lit up. "Oh man, I just got the coolest idea!" he exclaimed. "We could do a Blair Witch Project parody! I mean, we're in these dark woods, so it would even sorta fit into the plot! Isn't that a great idea?"
"Methinks you are six months out of date, Dan," Robo said.
"I'm serious, man," Lucky Dan continued, flailing his arms in enthusiasm. "We've got the whole 'witch' theme going; it'd be perfect! We're talking even funnier than Jerry Lewis here! People would think it was hilarious!"
"People would think it was hilarious if we stood around and said 'Wassup' for half a minute," Rinoa pointed out. "Let's just get through here and hurry on to Esthar."
"Arf!" Angelo barked.
"Oh, come on, it'll be fun," Dan insisted. He paused for a moment, took a deep breath, then suddenly launched into a profanity-filled tirade. "I thought you brought the map! We're lost out here in the woods and the witch is gonna get us!" He dropped out of character briefly to snicker at his own jokes.
"Dan, that's really not funny," Rinoa insisted.
Lucky Dan pointed at a completely innocent-looking stone. "Look at that scary pile of rocks!" he shouted between howls of laughter. "It has Elvis' face on it! Hee hee hee! And the Virgin Mary right next to him! Ha, ha, ha! And, look, there's Princess Di! Ha, ha!"
Rinoa and Robo exchanged a silent nod, then stepped towards Dan.
"Oh no, those sticks hanging in the tree over there look vaguely similar to me! Ho, ho, that was a good one!" Lucky Dan doubled over with laughter and slapped his knee several times for emphasis. "Oh man, I kill me! Ha ha - ow! Hey, let go of me! That's me nail you're pulling on there! Ow! Ouch! Look, I'm sorry you didn't like the Blair Witch idea... we can do Austin Powers instead! OWWW!"
Someone tapped Rinoa on the shoulder, and she turned. "Let me know when you're done beating him up so I can jump out of the bushes and scare you," the big blue monster requested.
"Sure," Rinoa said, turning her attention back to assailing Dan. Then she did a double take and whirled. "What are you? Are you a lion? Save me, Squall!"
"Maybe I'm a lion," the monster said. "Maybe I'm not. What's it to you?"
"Er, just curious." Meanwhile, Lucky Dan pushed his stuffing back into place and adjusted his candles.
The alleged lion frowned. "Well, since you asked... I guess I am a lion. I used to be a medallion, until one day I wake up and, poof!, I was a lion. Nobody ever explained why it happened, either. I think I'm supposed to be working for Ultimecia, but I don't know why I'm doing that either. So I just wander around in this forest and try to scare people for kicks."
"Really?" Rinoa sounded concerned. "What does your mother think about this?"
"I don't have a mother," Griever said. "I was a medallion, remember?"
Rinoa scribbled the Final Fantasy IX logo on a piece of scrap paper and held it up for Griever to see. "What does this look like to you?"
Griever scrutinized the slip. "Looks like Billy Graham transforming into a giant robot parrot from Mars."
"I thought it was a mother bear kneeling over the smoldering ashes of her cub, actually," Rinoa said.
"Hehe, you've got to be kidding," Lucky Dan interrupted. "It's Monica Lewinsky!" He laughed uproariously.
Robo held up a metal fist, ready to strike. "Shall I hit him again, Miss Heartilly?"
"Nah," Rinoa shrugged. "He's getting gradually more up-to-date, at least."
"I still can't believe you guys don't like Hootie and the Blowfish."
"What's up with that guy?" Griever asked Rinoa.
"That's Lucky Dan," Rinoa explained. "He's coming with me to visit Doc Odine so he can get a brain. As you can see, he really needs one." She paused, then added, "Maybe you ought to come with us. I'm sure Doc Odine could help you with your problems."
"Hmm, okay," Griever shrugged. "Got nothing better to do."
"Caution," Robo said. "I think I hear someone coming."
Everyone fell silent, except for Lucky Dan. "It's the Blair Witch!" he screamed. "We're all gonna die! Ha ha! I think I'm going to go stand in a corner and confuse the hell out of everyone!"
Rinoa prodded him in the back. "You take the lead, buster."
"Huh? Why me?"
A humanoid figure strolled around a bend in the trail. "Hello!" he said before Rinoa could attack him. "I'm Ken Burns. You may remember me from such shows as The West and Baseball. Would any of you folks happen to be avid Parcheesi players?"
"Nope," Rinoa said. "Go away."
"Okay, sorry for bothering you," Burns said. He continued on past the trail
"Hey, I'm a Parcheesi fan," Lucky Dan pointed out once Burns. "Yo quiero Parcheesi! Tee hee! Why did you tell him I wasn't?"
Rinoa rolled her eyes. "You would be."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Robo quickly intervened. "Let us make haste and visit Doctor Odine," he said.
"Of course," Rinoa said. The four adventurers linked arms and skipped down the trail. "We're off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Esthar!"
* * *
Doc Odine's doorbell rang. The aging researcher clicked a button on his arm to shut off his MP3 player in the middle of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." He ambled to the door and swung it open. Two stern-faced men in suits and sunglasses roughly seized him and pushed him back into the lab. "Recording Industry Assocation of America," they announced.
"Vat do you want?" Odine raged as he struggled against his assailants. "Vat eez dees?"
"Ja, dat eez me."
"Mr. Odine, you have ILLEGALLY INSERTED the song AMERICAN PIE into YOUR BLOODSTREAM," one of the goons intoned. "We are seeking an immediate suspension of your bloodstream, as well as $100,000 in damages for each song copyrighted song transferred through your bloodstream. At a 10 reported ten songs transferred through your bloodstream, this comes to a total of..." He raised a pinky to his lips. "...ONE MEEEEEELEEON DOLLARS!"
"Vat? Suspend my bloodstream? Are you nuts? You vant to visticuffs?"
"Die, corporate swine!" Rinoa barelled through the still-open door with Angelo racing alongside her. Without pausing to try to negotiate, she fired her boomerang launcher at the head one of the RIAA guys. He ducked out of the way, but then Angelo leapt at him and knocked him to the ground.
"Down with capitalism! Free the music!" Rinoa cried.
The other agent let go of Odine and reached for his nightstick. Snarling, Griever grabbed him and hurled him out of the front door. He then seized the first agent, who was just recovering, and threw him after his companion.
After admitting Lucky Dan and Robo, Rinoa slammed the door and locked it. "Money-grubbing scumbags," she muttered. She knelt to feed Angelo a doggie biscuit and patted her on the back affectionately. "Good girl." Angelo wagged her tail in response.
Doc Odine seized Rinoa's hand and shook it violently. "Vielen Dank! Vielen Dank!" he exclaimed.
Rinoa brushed herself off with her free hand. "Oh, it's no problem," she said. "In fact, we came here to ask a favor of you."
"I need a brain!" Lucky Dan declared.
Odine galred at him, but did not release his death grip on Rinoa's hand. "Dammit, Dan, I am a dok-torr, not a brain zurgeon! I cannot give you zee new brain." He paused for a moment, then added, "But! I can eemplant ein tiny MP3 player eento your arm, ja? Eet eez my very own eevention."
Lucky Dan did not respond, but Rinoa's eyes lit up. "Ooh! Ooh!" she exclaimed. "An MP3 in my arm? I want one! Those pigs at the RIAA will never be able to take that one away from me! Can you pleeeease give me one? By the way, you can stop shaking my hand now."
"Vell," Doc Odine thought aloud. "Zince you helped me out just now, I vill give you zee player vor free. But I cannot perform zee operation myself. You vill need to zee the Ethos. Zey perform plastik surgery now vor free -- in vact, zey will pay you to have zee zurgery." The doctor handed Rinoa one of his small players, as well as a slip of paper with his referral code written on it. He finally let go of Rinoa's hand and turned to his other visitors, Robo and Griever. "Now, vat can I do vor you?"
"Thanks, Doc!" Rinoa waved as she sprinted out the door. She was in such a hurry to get her new MP3 player embedded in her arm that she had completely forgotten why she had come to see Odine in the first place.
* * *
Sephiroth and Id rampaged through a town, laying waste everything in their path. Sephiroth slashed through the townspeople as Id obliterated entire buildings with his ether powers.
"Oh, man, this is, like, such an awesome video," Yuffie said.
"Yeah, I think I'm about to ascend to a higher plane of existence right now," Cait Sith said, before being hushed by the Garden Festival Committee.
"Gawd, if you don't like it, why are you, like, watching it?"
"Um, no particular reason."
As Sephiroth sang his solo, the camera made a slow pass past him and the decapitated townsfolk around him. "Oooh, Sephy-sama looks sooo bishounen with his new nose ^__^!" Selphie squealed.
Cait Sith stared incredulously at the TV. "But he's got an ad for Epson inkjet printers running across it!"
"Yeah, Fei is so much chu-ter," Chu-Chu agreed.
Selphie glanced over her shoulder at the cat Esper. "Oh, you're just jealous ^__^," she giggled.
Cait rolled his eyes. "Oh, I'm real jealous," he said. "I'd love to be a effeminate, mentally-disturbed serial killer who can't sing and hangs out thirteen-year-old girls because he can't get a real date."
"You can't get a real date, either," Neko pointed out calmly.
"Oh, shut up, all of you," Cait Sith snapped. He turned and stormed out of the room, and was only seconds away from slamming the door when the Shounen Ai video ended and was replaced commercials.
"Oooh, new Gap commercial ^_^!" Selphie squealed, clapping her hands delightedly.
Cait Sith poked his head back into the room. "It's people like you who make me consider social Darwinism a valid sociopolitical philosophy!" he shouted, then stomped off in a huff.
"Gawd, how, like, rude," Yuffie said.
"We seem to have struck a nerve," Neko observed.
"Can't we, like, get a new director?" Yuffie whined. "Cait's, like, so mean and, you know, whose dumb idea was it to bring him here anyway?"
Selphie and Chu-Chu stared at her. "Yours," Chu-Chu said eventually.
"Gawd, whatever," Yuffie said. "I don't like him. All he does is, like, you know, complain there isn't enough sex and violence in our video."
"Well, he does have a point..." Selphie mused. "Maybe I should get breast implants. I bet people would pay more attention to us then ^^;;;."
Chu-Chu was horrified. "Selphie!" she gasped, drawing herself up to a full three-and-a-half feet. "You shouldn't talk about suchu things! We can succeed on our own without listening chu Cait's stupid ideas. Hmph!"
* * *
-=X-d347h=- hunched over his computer, typing rapidly on his keyboard. Reflections of green monospaced letters streamed over his face, scrolling upwards at an extremely rapid rate, as he "hacked" into DoubleClick.
"Wow, those are some pretty neat special effects," Kiros said. "You must be one of those expert hackers who can hack any computer and make it stop working!"
"0f c0urs3 d00d," -=X-d347h=- said. "i k4n h4X0r 4nyTh1ng 1n 5 miNut3z!!! 533, d00d, 3r1ch v@n h0ut3n 53t 7h15 uP; 411 7h3y h4v3 h34r 15 on3 p@55w0rd. 3y3 b37 i+'5 '3lh4ym' b4ckw4rds." He typed in the password and was rewarded with DoubleClick's marketing data.
"Oh, dear," Kiros said. "I think our nation's computers are at risk. Only a skilled and truly dangerous hacker would be capable of guessing a password like that! I'll have to talk to Laguna about this."
"5hut uP d00d! u w4nt m3 2 h4X0r u 2!?!?" -=X-d347h=- continued typing, causing more incomprehensible gibberish to scroll over his face. "h0h0h0! 3y3 ph0und 1t!" He pointed at something on the screen. "th3r3's bi11y's 4ddr3$$ r1ght th3r3!"
Kiros grabbed a piece of paper and copied the address down. "Nice work. How much do I owe you?"
-=X-d347th=- raised a pinky to his lips. "0n3 m333333... w41+, s0m3on3 4lr3@dy d1d +h@7. h0w 4b0ut s0m3 dr4g0nb@11 pr0n 1n5t34d?"
* * *
Rinoa stepped out of the operating room and looked down at her arm. A small electronic screen now covered most of the back of her forearms; a boxing monkey was currently sliding back and forth on it, daring her to punch it and win $20. Rinoa ignored it and pushed the tiny switch just next to it.
Instantly, she felt music echoing inside her ears -- Shounen Ai's "Disassociative Identity Disorder," to be specific. It worked! Never again would she have to pay another cent to the music industry.
Deliriously happy, Rinoa bounded down the hallway and back into the Ethos lobby, where a familiar face caught her eye. "Selphie!"
Selphie cringed and raised a finger to her lips. "You didn't see me hear, okay ^^;;;?" she whispered.
"Er, okay," Rinoa replied. "I guess I'd better move on then. Be seeing you." She stepped out through the turnstile and knelt to untie Angelo.
A puff of pink smoke rose from the parking lot pavement as Ultimecia appeared. Oh no! Rinoa thought. I forgot to ask the Doc what to do about Ultimecia!
Fortunately, Rinoa's error proved less than disasterous. "Konsider yourself lukky, girl," Ultimecia said condescendingly. "The Gap was all out of sokks for some reason, so I'll have to spare you the lengthy sokk puppet eksplanation of my plans. But you won't get away so easily nekst time... I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!" Ultimecia vanished with a final cackle.
Rinoa sighed with relief and finished untying Angelo. As she stood, she had the uncanny feeling that someone was watching her. She risked a glance over her left shoulder and discovered that, sure enough, a green-haired man in a garish red suit had been watching her the whole time. "What do you want?" she demanded, stepping towards the stranger. Angelo crouched and growled.
"I'm just watching for well-proportioned young teenage chicas," the man replied coolly. "But I can see now you don't meet el primero qualification."
"What are you, a pedophile?"
"No, yo soy Atlantic Records talent scout," Big Joe said. "You wouldn't happen to have any muy bonita friends, now would you?"
"No! Sicko!" Rinoa slapped the man in the face and stormed off in a huff. "You're never getting another one of my gil, anyway!"
Meanwhile, inside the Ethos Headquarters, Selphie had just entered the operating room for her breast implant surgery.
* * *
Kiros and Ward's rental car stopped on a hill overlooking a wooden building somewhere in Aquvy. "This the place?" Ward asked through his Talking Mouth Dog.
Kiros checked the slip of paper with Billy's address again. "Yup," he said. He got out of the car, leaving Ward in the driver's seat. "I'll go check; you wait here." He hopped out of the car and hurried down the hill to the orphanage, trying not to keep Ward waiting for too long.
Kiros knocked on the wooden door. A few seconds passed, then it opened a crack and a scarred, gray-haired man stared out. "You another one of those damn Amway guys? I told ya I don't want any."
"Actually, I'm from the Republic of Esthar; I've come to speak with one Billy Lee Black... is here?"
"That no-good son o' mine? What do you want him for?" Before Kiros could speak, Jesiah continued, "Well, you're not finding him here."
"Oh," Kiros said. "Where he would be, then?"
Jessie shrugged. "Beats me. He's always running off all over the damn world. First he was an Etone, then he was a gay porn star, and now he's joined one of those Deus-forsaken boy bands. Eh, come on in, I'll tell you what I know."
Kiros considered running back to fetch Ward, but decided that he wouldn't be staying here for too long. He accepted Jessie's invitation inside the house and took a seat at the table where Jessie was already seated.
"I've forgotten to introduce myself," Jessie said. "I'm Jesiah Black. I run this orphanage, at least now that Billy's bailed on us again."
"Kiros Seagull," Kiros said, shaking hands with Jessie. "My friend Ward Zaback and I are looking for our president... he's joined Shounen Ai too."
Jessie sighed. "You know how damn hard is it to run an orphanage these days?" he continued, talking mostly to himself. "It's hard enough to make ends meet without all the competition At least Primera -- that's my daughter -- is still here, but she spends half her time playing with those infernal Suikómon cards."
As if to prove a point, a young boy wearing a Suikómon T-shirt walked by and tugged on Jessie's leg. "Jessie, when are we getting a big screen TV like they have at Lucca's orphanage?" he whined.
"I heard a kid at Tim's orphanage got a holo-stamped Gremio," another child piped up.
"Now, you know I said we can't buy anything until Billy comes home," Jessie said patiently.
"Are we gonna have to wait 'til Prim and Midori come back too?" the boy in the Suikómon T-shirt asked. "I don't wanna wait."
"I want to go to Edea's orphanage," a child said. "The adults are nicer there."
Jessie scowled. "Eh? Prim and Midori?"
"They're starting a band too!" a young girl asserted. "They're gonna be just like Billy!"
Jessie felt a knot in his stomach. They couldn't have left too. Not now. Disbelieving, he ran to Primera's room and poked his head inside. Prim was nowhere to be seen; the only sign she had ever been there was a note on her bed. Jessie picked it up. "MIDORI AND ME WENT TO START A BAND," Prim had neatly printed in all caps. "BE BACK SOON."
Jessie dropped the note and swore. "It's already past her bedtime! Dammit, I knew Hyuga's kid was bein' a bad influence on her." He shoved the note in his pocket and ran back into the main room. "Hey, you," he said to Kiros. "You still wanna look for Billy? 'Cause I'm gonna find them whether you're coming or not."
"Sure," Kiros said, "if we won't be in the way."
Jessie stopped to think. "She probably went to Travellers' Insurance Group City... let's look there first." Then his anger kicked in again and he ran outside, slamming the door shut behind him. "How the hell can this be happening now?"
* * *
Carrying their tiny Nanami backpacks, Primera and Midori set off their great adventure. Already they'd made it across the way across the orphanage yard, and even more exciting exploits lay just around the corner.
"...," Primera said.
Midori nodded. "...," she agreed.
The two girls approached the street running across the hill overlooking the orphanage complex. A car was parked on the side of the road, and the pair nervously approached it. A large man was sitting in the driver's seat, reading a book, while a small dog relieved itself by a nearby fire hydrant.
"...hi," Midori said cautiously.
"...," Ward replied.
".......," Ward explained. ".... -- .....! ........., ......"
"...! ....!" Primera exclaimed. ".............., ..........! ....?"
"....," Ward said. Primera and Midori jumped in the back seat of the car and Ward sped off.
* * *
Still on a high from her newfound fame, Selphie pranced through the halls of American Airlines Palace. A few people glanced suspiciously at her chest and the ad banner on her forehead, but none spoke. "Yuffie!" she exclaimed as she entered the pair's room. "Great news ^__^!"
Yuffie turned away from the computer. "Like, where have you been all day?" Then she took a closer at her friend. "Oh gawd, you actually, like, went and got implants? Grossness!"
Selphie quickly folded her arms across her chest. "No I didn't >_<," she lied.
Passing down the hallway, Cait Sith stopped to take to in the action. "Neat, now you look like a cross between Lara Croft and a Mushroom Retainer," he observed.
"You haven't let me tell you my great news ;_;," Selphie said. "I met this talent scout from Atlantic Records and he was really impressed and signed me up for a contract ^________^;;!"
"Like, really?" Yuffie said. "Oh, wow, that's, like so totally wow. So, like, when do we start 'n stuff?"
Selphie shuffled nervously, holding one arm with her other hand. "Well, actually, they didn't sign you and Chu-Chu up..."
"What, like, you just signed by yourself? Why?"
Selphie shrugged and pointed at her chest. "I have the most talent," she explained. "And I've got experience too -- I used to be a Mouseketeer ^_^!"
Yuffie stared at her friend as if seeing her for the first time. "Wait a sec," she said. "You couldn't have been, like, the same Selfy that was on the show when I was on it."
Selphie returned the astonished gaze. "Oh yeah! There was a Yuffie there! Wow, that was you ^__^! That's really incredible!"
"Yeah, it's, like, totally amazing that we both, like, completely forgot about this important part of life and just, like, suddenly remembered it 'n stuff."
* * *
"Hi, kids ^__^!" Selfy said. "On today's show, we're going to learn about the circus! There are a lot of fun things at the circus, like elephants and tightrope-walkers and even knife throwers ^____^!" To demonstrate, she hurled a knife across the studio. It thudded into a block of hay, just above a little white-haired girl who was trying her best to stand motionless.
"Hey, be careful," Yuffie cautioned. "You'll put someone's eye out with that!"
"Yes, you should never play with knives without a responsible adult around ^^;;;," Selfy agreed. "It's okay for us to throw knives at each other 'cause we're trained professionals." She threw another knife across the studio. This time, it was slightly off the mark. Instead of missing the girl, it hit her -- just as Yuffie warned -- in the eye. She immediately cried out in pain and fell to the floor.
"Gawd!" Yuffie shrieked. "What have you done?"
Selfy raised a hand to her mouth. "Oh dear ^^;;;," she gasped.
Fujin rolled about on the floor, screaming. "EYE. PAIN."
* * *
"They kicked me off the show after that," Selphie remembered. "And then my parents disowned me, and I ended up an orphan. But I've finally hit the big time ^__^! It's so exciting ^^;;! I'm gonna be rich!"
Yuffie instantly forgive her friend for any previous offenses. "Like, I bet you need, you know, a manager 'n stuff, right? So can I be your manager? Please?"
"Sure ^___^!" Selphie said happily. "This is gonna be fun! Let's go see if Chu-Chu wants to help too!"
"Hey, what about me?" Cait Sith said.
"Oh, I guess we don't you need any more, but thanks for your help," Selphie said. She and Yuffie dashed across the courtyard to the other side of the palace and pounded on Chu-Chu's door. "Guess what? I have awesome news ^^;;;!"
Inside her room, Chu-Chu pulled a rope attached to a pulley on her ceiling, lifting up a glass box on top of a ramp on her dresser. Freed from the box it had been trapped in, a marble
rolled down the ramp and fell onto a tiny springboard, which flipped and catapulted a quarter into the slot of a Billy Lee Black piggy bank on the windowsill. The plastic Billy fired the quarter out of his gun, and it hit the "On" switch for a fan. The fan whirred into life and blew over a house of cards on Chu-Chu's desk. The golf ball that had perched atop the cards dropped, pulling along by means of a rope the pair of scissors on the windowsill. The scissors fell directly onto a helium balloon and popped it. As the balloon exploded, the Matchbox car that had been attached to the bottom of it dropped to the floor of the room, where it landed on another ramp and rammed into an electrical plug, pushing the plug into an outlet and activating a baseball pitching machine. A baseball flew across the room and hit a dartboard hanging over the door. The impact caused all of the darts to fall loose; one of the darts punctured an aerosol can on the floor. The can exploded; a pinwheel attached to the door lock was sent spinning around in circles by the force of the explosion. This motion turned some tumblers inside the lock and unlocked the door, allowing Selphie and Yuffie to enter the room without Chu-Chu ever having to touch the hard-to-reach doorknob.
Chu-Chu turned her attention away from her resin kit. "Wong Fei Fong naked and petrified?" she guessed hopefully.
"Well... no >_<," Selphie said. "But I got a contract with Atlantic Records ^_^! Yuffie's going to be manager; you want to come along too?"
"Oh my," Chu-Chu said, then did a double-take. "Selphie! I can't believe chu! Chu actually went and got implants! After chu promised not chu!"
Selphie quickly folded her arms across her chest. "No I didn't >_<," she lied.
"Chu-Chu can't believe you'd chu something like that! Just so chu could be on MTV! What happened to your friends? Chu-Chu isn't talking to chu anymore!" She stormed out of her room, stomping past her stunned former bandmates. The last glimpse Chu-Chu saw of Selphie was her bursting into tears.
Chu-Chu stormed down the hallway, slamming doors behind her, until she arrived at the corridor. Chu'hasa was waiting for her there. "Chu'yala!" he greeted her. "What's wrong?"
Chu-Chu stopped and stared at him for a long time without speaking, then finally sniffled. "Selphie and Yuffie went and signed with Atlantic Records and left me here!" she confessed.
Chu'hasa smiled knowingly. "I told you that you can't trust humans, Chu'yala," he said. "All they care about is money. Return to your own people! It's never too late to change."
Slightly embarassed at her own hysterics, Chu-Chu wiped a small tear out of her eye. "So what do chu do in this Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front of yours?"
"We fight against this exact kind of human oppression that you are a victim of!" Chu'hasa declared adamantly. "We fight for the dawn of a new age, an age in which Chu-Chupolin are no longer forced to bow down to human masters. Will you join us in our noble crusade?"
Chu-Chu considered this. "Isn't that an awfully loaded question?"
"We're the Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front. We're cool," Chu'hasa sighed. "Now are you joining or not?"
* * *
Selphie and Yuffie stood waiting at their appointed spot outside American Airlines Palace. Rain had begun to trickle down from the heavens, and Selphie was staring to wish she'd brought a coat.
Fortunately, the talent scout was right on schedule. He pulled up in a black limousine only slightly shorter than Sephiroth's and allowed the chauffeur to open the door for the pair. "Good morning, Selphie," he said.
"Hi ^____^! This is my friend Yuffie Kisaragi -- she wants to be my manager ^^;. Yuffie, this is Big Joe from Atlantic Records."
"Big Joe?" Yuffie repeated the name as she shook hands with its owner. "Is that your real name?"
"Feel free to just call me Joe," Big Joe said with a broad grin.
"You didn't really, like, answer my question," Yuffie noted as she and Selphie got into the limo.
Big Joe's chauffeur drove them across town to a generic-looking office building. "Here we are, chicas," Joe said. He flashed them another gratuitous smile.
Joe lead Selphie and Yuffie through several sets of glass double doors. A receptionist, tucked away behind a wall of inflatable palm trees, eventually stopped them. "What are you up to, Joe?" she inquired.
Big Joe put a hand on Selphie's shoulder. "I'm introducing another wonderful y extraordinarily talented up-and-coming artist. My tercera one this week!"
"Where have you been?" the receptionist said incredulously. "We don't have any artist any more -- not after the industry collapsed!"
"This is some kind of joke, verdad?"
The receptionist stared at Big Joe, obviously wondering how he could not have heard of this. "No -- it was all overnight! The Ethos and that blue-haired kid from Shounen Ai are going around installing MP3 players in peoples' arms and paying them to pirate our music."
"Billy!" Yuffie and Selphie both gasped.
"Half the artists quit and our stock fell 87% today," the receptionist continued. She lowered her voice. "I think it's all some sort of conspiracy by Shinra."
Big Joe grimaced. "I think I'm going to hand in my stock options and sell mi coche muy expensive. Adios amigos!" He ran off.
"That's horrible o_O!" Selphie gasped as the tale sunk in.
"No kidding!" Yuffie agreed. "I can't believe I, like, spent all morning sititng out there in the rain when I could have been selling those stocks short!" She banged her head against the wall. "Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
* * *
Rufus sat back in his office chair, put his feet up on the desk, and sighed contentedly. Shounen Ai was racking up record profits for Shinra Records, Cait Sith hadn't harassed him in weeks, and he still had his door here to admire. Life was good. Now all he was waiting for was that phone call from the music industry so he could buy them out once and for all. That should make the shareholders happy -- and he could kick out all of those infernal Pokémon too.
The phone rang.
"I love these stupid transitions," Rufus grinned as he picked up the receiver.
"You cancelled Mountain Dewprism!" a high-pitched voice screamed at him. "It had so much left to live for! Have you no sense of decency, sir? I hate-kupo you! I hope you get cancer! In the head!"
Rufus hung up the phone.
* * *
More saddened than angry, Selphie and Yuffie begun the long walk home in the rain. Left with only her thin yellow dress for protection against the elements, Selphie hugged her arms about herself and shivered. "That's really awful what Billy-sama is doing ;_;," she said quietly. "I mean, that's just a super-duper-mega-bummer."
"Yeah," Yuffie agreed. "I bet he's not, like, really doing it, you know? Like, he doesn't, like, know what's happening 'n stuff. And so he's just, like, clueless, you know?"
Selphie brightened. "Oooh, I bet you're right ~_^. Maybe if we wrote him a letter or something..."
Yuffie punched the walk button and waited for the light to change. "Yeah, but he probably has, like, one of those kinds of people that, like, reads his mail 'n stuff."
"A secretary?" The walk signal blinked and the pair proceeded across the street.
The conversation died a graceful died as nothing was left to discuss. The pair plodded on in silence, until Selphie finally spoke again. "It's so cold out >_<."
"Maybe you shouldn't have, like, worn such a short dress," Yuffie pointed out.
A vaguely familiar van approached on the street and slowed as its driver spotted Selphie and Yuffie. The vehicle came to a stop just beside them, and then Tolone rolled down her window and poked her head out. "What in Deus' name are you two doing walking around in pouring down rain?"
"Um, it's, like, a long story 'n stuff."
Tolone unlocked the back door of the van and pulled it open. "Hop in; I'll give you a ride," she offered. Yuffie and Selphie did as instructed, grateful to be out of the cold. "I've got to pick up Emeralda since Fei is off being a deadbeat dad, then I can take you to wherever you're going." She narrowed her eyes. "Emeralda ought to collect on all those 3,000 years of missed support payments now that her daddy's a multi-millionaire."
"Oh, I'm sure he's planning to pay them eventually ^_^," Selphie said. "Everyone in Shounen Ai is soooo nice! Did you hear about Sir Laguna's new supply side economics plan?"
"Yeah, Shounen Ai has, like, so much money, I mean, totally," Yuffie added fervently.
"Now you two are beginming to sound just like Seraphita." Tolone rolled her eyes. "She never stops talking about that band. It's always Shounen Ai this, Shounen Ai that, Shounen Ai I want to bear your children. I'm worried that she'll have a coronary when they perform at the Grammies."
"The Grammies!" Selphie exclaimed, bouncing in her seat and clapping her hands. "That's it ^^;;;."
Tolone and Yuffie both stared at her. "Huh?"
"Shounen Ai is gonna be at the Grammies!" Selphie explained. "We can find Billy there and tell 'im about all the bad stuff the Ethos is doing!"
"Um, you can't just walk into the Grammies," Tolone said. "You have to be invited."
"Oh," Selphie frowned. "Well, I thought it was a good idea ;_;."
The lapsed into silence for several seconds, but Tolone continued to stare at Selphie, seemingly puzzled or something. "Did you get breast implants or what?" she asked at last.
"No!" Selphie denied all too vehemently. "I do not have implants, okay ^^;;;;;? It's a damn lie!"
"Lambs," Tolone muttered under her breath. She slowed as she approached Viacom Elementary. Emeralda was already waiting in the playground out front, having turned her left arm into an umbrella. Tolone quickly opened the door and Emeralda hopped inside and sat down next to Yuffie and Selphie.
"Hi," she said shyly.
Tolone pulled away from the school. "Now where did you want to go?" she asked Yuffie and Selphie.
"Oh, we're going back to the palace too ^_^," Selphie said. "We need to figure out what to do next."
Tolone drove back to the palace and let the three girls off at the curb. "I've still got a few errands to run," she explained, staying in the car. "Don't stay out in the rain, Emeralda." Emeralda nodded. Tolone pulled the door shut and drove off.
Cait Sith and Neko were standing on the street corner outside the palace, crowded under a Thomas the Tank Engine umbrella Neko had found in his bag. Both were holding their suitcases. "Well, well, if it isn't Little Miss Star herself," Cait Sith said bitterly as Yuffie and Selphie passed.
Selphie stopped. "Well, not anymore ^^;;;," she admitted.
"Yeah, the music industry, like, collapsed 'n stuff, and now we have to, like, save it 'n stuff," Yuffie rambled. "'Cause of, like, you know, Billy and Shounen Ai and, like, all that stuff."
"Cool," Cait Sith said, not quite sure how to react to this news -- or even what this news was. "Would this saving the music industry have anything to do with finding Jean and kicking his scaly green hiney?"
"Um, it might, I suppose," Selphie said. She then whispered to Yuffie, "Who's Jean?"
"Sweet! Can we help?"
"Uh... sure," Selphie said. "If you can think of a way we can meet Shounen Ai."
"You have to put aluminum foil on all the telephone poles in the city! And then you go to the park after beating the second boss and at night, you use the magic shovel and dig a big hole, and then you play the ocarina!"
Selphie and Yuffie both gave him the evil eye, then marched indoors.
"What? It was an honest suggestion, okay? I was just trying to help!"
* * *
Kiros, Jesiah, and the Talking Mouth Dog wandered the streets of Travellers' Insurance Group City, growing increasingly more desperate. "Don't worry, I'm sure someone will know where they went," Kiros tried to reassure Jessie.
"Heh, by that time, another five people will be missing," Jessie grumbled. But out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a very familiar face on a poster. He turned to examine it.
The poster in question was an advertisement hanging in the window of a music store. Primera and Midori appeared plain as day in the foreground, with Crono and an air-guitarring Ward towering behind them. "White Noise -- Silence is Golden in stores now," the poster proclaimed. "Featuring the chart-topping hits '...', 'Not A Creature Was Stirring', and 'Seen But Not Heard.'" A small yellow sticker had been added to the poster, noting that the album had been nominated for three Grammy Awards.
"What the hell is this?" Jessie exploded.
Kiros stared at the poster in silence before finally managing to talk. "I can't believe Ward is on this too," he said. "I guess they he was serious about starting a band."
"He's kidnapped my daughter!" Jessie said.
"Nah, Ward wouldn't do anything like that," Kiros quickly interrupted. "C'mon, let's go ask inside and ask around."
Jessie reluctantly followed Kiros into the store. "Hey, do you know anything about this White Noise group?" Kiros asked the pimply clerk on duty.
"Know anything about White Noise?" the clerk laughed. "Dude, they're our best seller. They're even beating Shounen Ai." He cocked a finger towards a speaker mounted in the corner of the ceiling. "We're playing '...' right now, in fact."
Kiros frowned. "I don't hear anything."
"What, it's just silence?"
"It's a whole new genre of music, man!" the clerk enthused. "It's brilliant!"
"It's incredibly stupid," Kiros countered.
The clerk grew increasingly frustrated. "You just don't get it, man! They're creative geniuses! Have you heard a CD like this before?"
"Well, I seem to remember Kenny G's Greatest Hits being pretty similar."
"I can't believe people would get paid to make this crap," Jessie muttered.
"Dude, there's a lot of really cool bands like White Noise out there; you just gotta look for them, you know, 'cause they suck if other people like them. I just discovered this great independent band, the Cute Animal Characters. They have this really cool way of tuning their instruments." He continued to ramble on, unaware that Jessie and Kiros had already left the store.
"Well, I hope you had your fun," Jessie said.
"Hey, it was worth a try," Kiros shrugged. He brought a hand up to his chin, thinking. "Well, at least we know what they're up to... but who knows where they are?"
Jessie stared at the poster again. "You know when the Grammies are?" he asked. "This thing here says that they got nominated... they'll probably be there. Maybe Billy will be, too."
"I dunno, but our friend probably does," Kiros said. He hurried back inside the store and asked, "Hey, when and where are the Grammies?"
"They're tomorrow at the Gold Saucer, stupid," the clerk snapped. "If you're the type that listens to all that overrated pop crap. I think you should listen to White Noise instead, personally."
"Um, that poster out there says White Noise got three Grammy nominations." Kiros pointed to the store window.
"Dammit!" The clerk appeared genuinely hurt. "I can't believe they sold out already! Don't buy any of their CDs, man; they suck."
"I'll keep that in mind." Kiros hurried back out of the store to report to Jessie. "They're tomorrow. At the Gold Saucer. We'd better get a move on."
* * *
The Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front crowded into Kaiser Rico's office, threatening to drown the newly-crowned ruler in a sea of furry bodies. After making sure that the entire organization was present, Chu'hasa cleared his throat and began to read from a speech he had prepared.
"Fei and Sephiroth embraced, their lips locking in a passionate kiss. Sephiroth plunged his tongue deep into Fei's mouth as he caressed his partner's throbbing ...what the hell is this?"
Chu'yala blushed. "Uh, that's Chu-Ch...mine, sorry."
Chu'hasa shoved the papers into her hands as Rico chuckled quietly. "You should know better than to lust after those villainous humans. They seek only to betray you and destroy all that you hold in dear in life.
Chu'yala hung her head and shuffled her feet. "'m sorry," she mumbled.
"You are forgiven, young one." Chu'hasa's eyes searched the throng of Chu-Chus. "Now does anyone know where my speech went?"
No one spoke. Chu'hasa rolled his eyes and sighed resignedly. "Well, Your, uh, Kaiserness? The Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front is an organization dedicated to lifting the choking curtain of speciest human oppression." Choking curtain... now that was a great soundbite, Chu'hasa congratulated himself. I'll have to remember that one. "As a fellow citizen of non-human background, we are sure that you can understand our plight."
Rico nodded. "Go on."
"The Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front is currently planning to protest the Grammy Awards for their failure to include a single Chu-Chupolin artist. However, we are concerned that our brave gesture may go unnoticed unless we receive an official declaration of support from the Kislev government."
"What's in it for me?"
"If you support us now, you'll receive a complete set of Ginzu Knives. It slices, it dices, it even damages Metal Babbles! Remember, the Chu-Chupolin wouldn't exist without you, and this is the time of the year when need your support."
"And don't forget," Chu'yala piped up, "if it wasn't for those greedy humans, ch...you would've still had your big big scene on Disc Ch..Two."
"Hmph." Rico grunted. "All right."
The CLF cheered. "Your support is greatly appreciated," Chu'hasa said with a bow. He and the rest of the Front departed, leaving only Chu'yala still in the room.
Chu'yala hesitated, unsure of whether to speak, but evenutally proceeded. "Rico?"
"Chu'yala," she said quickly. "Chu-Chu is a slave name."
"Sorry," Rico apologized. "Chu'yala. Now what did you want?"
Chu'yala squirmed. "Well, could you... teach me how to fight?" she asked. "I always wanted to have some Deathblows, and I'm worried the humans will try to suppress my will with force..."
"Hmm. Okay." Rico rose. "For old times' sake."
"Oh, thank chu," Chu'yala's eyes shone.
Rico crouched into a fighting stance. "Just follow my rap!"
* * *
Selphie lay on her stomach on her bed, staring at the TV. The evening news was on, and Dan Rather was solemnly reporting that someone, somewhere in the world had died. "This just in," Rather suddenly announced. "The Shinra Corporation has announced it has finalized plans to purchase the entire music industry, including every known label, the Recording Industry Assocation of America, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, for the sum of 46 billion gil. As a result, the Grammy Awards presentation have been moved to the Gold Saucer.
"Shinra has also withdrawn the Best Rap Album Grammy nomination of rapper Jiggly 'Puffy' Puff following her arrest in Fisherman's Horizon for possession of an illegal weapon. Puff and her boyfriend, Pikachu, who was present at the incident, deny any wrongdoings. The vacated nomination will be filled by the Wu-Tai Clan's Wu-llenium."
"Ohmigawd!" Yuffie exclaimed. "Wu-Tai Clan, like, got a Grammy nomination? Oh, that's, like... wow."
Selphie sat bolt upright. "Yuffie! They're your friends, right? You've got to talk to them and get us into the Grammies! That's where Billy and Shounen Ai are gonna be ^^;;;!"
"Um, like, I can't do that," Yuffie said nervously. "They, like, hate me 'n stuff now."
"Yuffie, you've got to," Selphie begged. "We have to save the music industry before it's too late!"
"They're so not going to take us," Yuffie insisted.
"Do you wanna get us a contract or not >_" Selphie grew angry. "Just call 'em! What can they do to you?"
Yuffie sighed. "Gawd... okay." She picked up the receiver and nervously dialed Shake's number.
"Yo, Shake here," the young musician answered the phone. "'sup?"
"Like, this is Yuffie, but please don't, like, hang up on me 'n stuff, k?" Yuffie begged.
"Wat you be wantin', beeyatch?"
"Um, I heard you guys got a Grammy nomination and, like, Selphie and I really need..." Yuffie halted as she realized this argument would have little weight. "...and, like, I wanna rejoin the Clan."
"All right!" Shake exclaimed. "Wu-Tai Clan in da HIZ-OUSE! I guess you all that afta' all. Welcome bak 2 da hood, homegirl!"
Yuffie instantly switched dialects. "So, we a bounce 2 da Grammiez o' what?"
"Yeah! Puffy got 86ed; we gotz da hook up now. You a come 2?"
"Damn straight! I a meet y'all at Nor' Corel. Can I be bringin' some Gz?"
"Sure thang," Shake said. "Catch ya there, sista'. Props 2 ya."
"5000, Shake-dawg," Yuffie said, and hung up.
"Wow, I didn't you know you were multilingual ^_______^;;;!" Selphie sounded impressed. "What'd you say?"
Yuffie flashed her a thumbs-up. "I be hangin' with da... er, I'm, like, back in the Wu-Tai Clan 'n stuff. We're going to the Grammies!"
* * *
The next day...
Rinoa hopped off the Ropeway from North Corel. She was in luck! Just as her information had suggested, an angry mob of Chu-Chus was parading around in front of the entrance to the Gold Saucer and chanting popular labor songs.
"Ooh! A protest!" Rinoa enthused, running uninvinted into the middle of the Chu-Chupolin Liberation Front. "Can I protest too?"
"Hello, Rinoa," Chu'yala said. "Of course chu... er, you can." She handed Rinoa a large "CHU-CHUPOLIN PRIDE" sign. Rinoa gratefully took it. Holding the sign aloft for all to see, she began marching in time with the Front while shouting angry diatribes against the evil money-grubbing dictatorial government that was trying to steal her rights so the United Nations could evict her from her home.
Meanwhile, more Ropeway cars arrived, bearing such musical luminaries as Rage Against The Mammon Machine, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Edge, System of a Phoenix Down, and rapper-turned-dictator Saddam Hussein. Rinoa and the Liberation Front cursed at the passing celebrities and waved picket signs. Chu'hasa briefly averted her eyes as the Wu-Tai Clan crossed the square.
"You'll never suppress the truth, imperialist scum! Question authority! Viva la revolution!" Rinoa yelled. On a whim, she turned to Chu'hasa and inquired, "By the way, what are we protesting?"
"The furless gringos have failed to nominate a single Chu-Chupolin artist for the Grammies," Chu'hasa explained. "This is a clear and delibrate strike at the heart of our culture."
"Ah, cool," Rinoa said. She went back to waving her picket sign in musicians' faces. "Capitalist pigs! Corporate oligopolists! Sell-outs!"
* * *
Selphie, Yuffie, and their cohorts took their seats in the Event Square, leaving one seat open for the missing Cait Sith. "He'd better get back soon or he's going to miss the start," Gorky said with a glance at the empty chair.
Selphie leaned over towards Yuffie and pointed towards the opposite side of the square. "Look!" she exclaimed. "It's Shounen Ai ^___^! They're actually here!" Sure enough, the five members of Shounen Ai, as well as Eve and Elly, had taken up seats near the stage.
"Oh wow! Are we going to go, like, talk to them right now?" Yuffie whispered.
"Nah, I don't want to miss any of this ^_^!" Selphie giggled, squirming in her seat. "We'll talk to them afterwards."
Cait Sith ran down the aisle and hopped into his seat. "What's with this place?" he complained. "I can't find the damn popcorn stand anywhere."
"I don't think there is one," Chekhov said.
"Oh, for crying out loud, they spend millions of gil putting this production together and then they left out the popcorn stand?" Cait Sith sighed. "Morons." He turned to Neko, who was seated to his left. "Hey, Nek, you got anything to eat in that bag of yours. Preferably something vaguely edible."
"Sure, let me look." Neko reached into his bag and tossed out a jar of pickles, a badly-disfigured model of a train, a 30-foot-long piece of string, and a baseball autographed by Ross Perot before finding a box of Pop Tarts.
Shake grabbed the train. "Ooh, is this a finger train? Can I have it?"
"Train ^_^!" Selphie giggled.
Normally, Neko would have haggled for hours over the going price, but he figured Yuffie would just steal it anyway. Besides, he owed the Wu-Tai Clan one. "Sure."
"Sweet! Thanks, cat dude." Shake placed one finger inside the window of the train engine and guided the miniature vehicle around the armrest of his chair. "Check it out, I'm going to do the super mega reverse ollie jump," Shake announced. He lifted the train into the air with his finger, then set it back down. The rest of the Wu-Tai Clan all cheered and applauded.
"Wow, that's pretty exciting," Cait Sith said. "Not."
Finally, Lucky Dan took the stage. "Hello, everyone!" he proclaimed. "I have to apologize for being a little late; I just flew in from Esthar and boy are my arms tired." He laughed. "And it was raining the whole time, too. Pretty ironic, huh? Ha ha ha! But seriously, folks, we were going to have this fancy introduction, but they moved the whole show at the last minute. Kinda like Ross Perot; they can't decide what they want to do! Ha ha!"
Cait Sith and Neko exchanged unimpressed glances. "Does this guy seriously think he's funny?" Cait wondered aloud.
"Anyway, our first award is for Best Kazoo Performance in a Rock Album, and we're not even going to have an envelope or anything, because our winner was the only entrant! That's actually a good thing; you never know when the Unabomber might slip a bomb into one of the envelopes! Ha ha ha ha!" Lucky Dan collapsed against the podium, unable to contain his laughter. He eventually took a deep breath and continued. "Now let's all give a big round of applause to... Mogu!"
The turban-clad mole walked on stage and disappeared behind the podium. After a few seconds of confusion, Lucky Dan hoisted him up on his shoulders and handed him the Grammy. Mogu leaned over the microphone. "I'd like to thank everyone for this wonderful opportunity to continue to prove my status as the leading rock kazooist. Except for my former bandmates at the Cute Animal Characters, you guys all suck."
Cait Sith's eyes narrowed. "I hope you brought a sniper rifle in that bag of yours," he said to Neko.
Mogu left the stage to scattered applause. "That was Mogu, you'll be seeing him again when we present the award for Best Use of Duct Tape in a Music Video. He's a pretty cool guy, even though he looks like a Pokémon. By the way, I gotta tell you something... Pokémon is an overrated merchandizing scam! Ha ha ha!" He pounded the podium in uncontrolled hilarity.
Cait Sith and Neko exchanged glances again. "If this was the Gong Show, they would have rung the gong 34 times already," Cait Sith commented.
Lucky Dan eventually recovered and began again. "Our next award is for Most Flagrant Abuse of the English Language, and the nominees are: Professor Daravon, for releasing an album of incoherent bedtime stories... Ultimecia and the Angry Middle-Klass White Guys, for excessive use of the letter 'K'... Dynamite Dancer Miki!, for insisting that we put an ellipsis before the name of her album ...And Don't Forget the Exclamation Mark After My Name... The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Edge, for changing his name to a symbol... and the Wu-Tai Clan, for spelling 'millennium' with only one 'N'. And here to present the award, straight from the Zelbess, is Slash!"
The red-haired guitarist walked out from the wings. "Thank you, Dan," he said. He faced the audience. "Nobody actually listens to these speeches anyway, so I'm just going to present the award." He dramatically opened up the folded piece of paper than Dan handed him. "And the Grammy for Most Flagrant Abuse of the English Language goes to... excessive use of the letter 'K', Ultimecia and the Angry Middle-Klass White Guys!"
Lucky Dan cocked an eyebrow towards Slash. "Is that your final answer?" he asked slyly. "Get it? You know, like on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Pretty clever, isn't it? Ha ha ha!"
Suddenly, Dio stepped out of the shadows with a hooked pole, grabbed Lucky Dan with it, and yanked him off stage. "Sorry about that," he apologized to the crowd. "We'll be finding a new host soon."
Ultimecia and three scruffy-looking goateed guys with ski caps that nearly covered their eyes took the stage to claim their award. "Thank you for all these akkolades," Ultimecia said. "We'd like to say how grateful we are to fans, eksept that we did it all for the Grammy, just like in our song."
One of her bandmates leaned over to the microphone. "Life sucks," he said.
"Yeah," another added in complete monotone, "what he said."
"Anyone know any good porn sites?" asked the third.
The crowd politely applauded as Ultimecia and the Angry Middle-Klass White Guys left the stage. A new host walked out of the wings. "Hi, I'm Anoop Gantayat, and I'll be your host for the rest of the evening," he introduced himself. "Let me tell you this really cool story; I was playing NiGHTS and then I got this really cool chain, and it was like playing Bangaioh, except it wasn't, and then..."
Shake turned his attention back to his finger train as Anoop continued his extremely extended introduction speech. Fascinated, Selphie watched the toy spin around, while still trying to keep one ear tuned to the Grammies. Her eyes began to glaze over, and it seemed harder and harder to sit upright. Before she knew it, she was asleep.
* * *
Fei faced a mirror backstage, practicing his acceptance speech. "I'd like to thank all my generous commercial sponsors, without whom our album would have not possible," he mouthed. "Specifically, this album is brought to you by: Aquasol, the choice of all bearcows; Threads of Fruit® -- because Mountain Dewprism sucked anyway!; Shakhan's Hair Club for Men; and my very own autobiography, Oh My God, I Killed God!, by Wong Fei Fong with Salman Rushdie. And be to sure watch for our second album, Bart X Sigurd, coming this summer!"
He sighed. It still didn't quite sound right. "I don't like Gears, fighting, dance contests, frostbite, plastic surgery, or acceptance speeches," he said to no one in particular.
"You could always give me any Grammies you win that don't want," The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Edge remarked as he passed by.
"Heh, no thanks," Fei said. "I worked hard to get this award."
"I thought you just drove around in an air-conditioned limousine and let teenage girls chase you all day," Edge pointed out. "Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course."
Fei frowned. "Isn't that what you do all day?"
"Hey, like I said, nothing wrong with that!" Edge gave Fei a hearty slap on the back. "Good luck, kid."
Fei shrugged. "I don't need luck. We've got this in the bag."
* * *
"Selphie, wake up! Wake up!"
Selphie was eventually stirred awake by Yuffie's insisting shaking. "Huh?"
"They're just, like, about to present the award for Best Album!" Yuffie said urgently.
Selphie leaned forward and rubbed her eyes. "Oops, I guess I fell asleep ^^;;;. Hey, did you guys win?"
Yuffie shook her head. "Not this year. Saddam Hussein Presents Tha Middle-Eastsidahz got it. 'No Fly Zone' is, like, a pretty tough song to top."
"Sometimes you come across a phenomenal work of art that just wraps you up forever," Anoop Gantayat said. "Just like the first time I played Panzer Dragoon Saga, which is indisputably the best RPG ever made, at least Grandia II comes out. We haven't played it, and we've only seen a few screens, but we already know it's gonna be great! They really should have included the Grandia II soundtrack as a nominee, you know. All the nominees are stupid albums that were probably made by PlayStation 2 fans. But here they are anyway: Shounen Ai, Bishounen; Milkcan, Make It Sweet; White Noise, Silence is Golden; Ultimecia and the Angry Middle-Klass White Guys, Y Kant Ultimecia Read; and Really Useless Characters, Yogurt Ring. And now to present the award for Best Album is the self-proclaimed Lord of the Dance, Topo!"
The mouse-eared girl took Anoop's place at the microphone. "Thank you, Anoop," she said. "So, what does everyone think of my designer dress?" She posed. "Isn't it stunning?"
"Er, the award," Anoop reminded her.
"Oh, right." Topo opened the envelope. "And the award for Album of the Year goes to... White Noise, Silence is Golden."
A stunned silence fell over the audience, broken only when Sephiroth leapt to his feet and roared "WHAT?"
"Hey, down in front!" Neko called.
The four members of White Noise rose and walked to the stage to collect their award. The audience finally began to applaud -- except, of course, for Sephiroth, who stood watching the proceedings with an almost malicious silence. The jilted musician watched as Midori, Primera, Ward, and Crono gathered around the microphone and made no effort to give a speech. Then he turned to Eve and nodded.
Eve rose from her seat and began singing. At first, the audience members watched her with curiousity -- then they burst into flames. Screaming musicians and producers thrashed about on the floor, while others tried to stumble out the exits.
"Aiiiiieeeeeee!" Lucky Dan screamed, running out of the wings with his highly-combustible body consumed in fire. "OH MY GOD, I SEEM TO BE ON FIRE." He careened blindly about the stage, igniting everything he came into contact with. Eve continued to sing.
Selphie and her friends found themselves caught in the middle of the stampede towards the exit. "The stage!" Gorky said, pounting towards the exits on the sides of the stage. The gang pushed and shoved towards the alternative exit, their progress hampered by the blaze consuming the square. Completely blind to her surroundings, Selphie just barely managed to stop herself in time to avoid collided with Dio, who was standing guard on the stage.
The huge man shoved a fire hose into Selphie's hands. "Stop the fire!" he commanded. "Before it spreads to the casino!"
"I can't -" Selphie hesitated. Then Dio's words triggered a recollection of Wiseman's speech from several weeks ago. "Dojo... Casino... it's all in the mind..." Selphie repeated. "Yeah! I know! My guitar is my mind!" She accepted the fire hose and swung it into a ready position. "Leave it to SSSSSSelphiiieeee!"
* * *
From on board their Ropeway car, Kiros and Jesiah watched the Chu-Chupolin parade around the blazing front of the Gold Saucer. "Looks like something big is going on here," Jessie said. "I hope we're not too late to get in the action."
The car stopped with a jolt, and the duo hopped off. "Knives? Check. Shotgun?" Kiros ran through their list of supplies.
"Check," Jessie said.
"Towel? Check. Sacrifical poodles? Check. Hand grenades?"
"White flag of surrender? Check. Looks we got everything."
"Human business," Chu'hasa sniffed disdainfully.
But Chu'yala was intrigued. She set down her picket sign, took a running start, and leap into the tube.
* * *
"Water over here, and over there, so the fire won't spread and go no further," Yuffie shouted out instructions to Selphie as the latter showered the Event Square with the fire hose. Blazing seats and musicians were extinguished by the vast arcs of water, and order began to gradually return.
As the inferno dwindled, two security guards ran towards Eve and Sephiroth to apprehend them. Sephiroth quickly drew the Masamune and cut them both down. "Oh my God, they killed Biggs and Wedge!" Dio exclaimed. "You bastards!"
"Now who saw that coming a mile away?" Cait Sith quipped.
Selphie aimed the hose directly at Sephiroth. Before Seph could dodge out of the way, the massive jet of water struck him full-on and knocked him off his feet. "Booyaka!" Selphie exclaimed. Sephiroth quickly picked himself up, then disappeared. He re-appeared in the air above Selphie, his sword raised ready to strike.
A pink blur shot by Selphie, flew into the air, and collided with Sephiroth as he descended. Sephiroth fell hard and landed on the floor with his assailant perched atop him. "Get your butt ready chu to be kicked to the other end of the horizon!"
"Chu-Chu ^___^;;;!" Selphie squealed.
Sephiroth tried to climb back to a fighting position, but Chu-Chu continued to hit him one-after-another with the moves Rico had taught her. "Flame Lariat! Hell Splash! Pile Crusher!" she called, pounding Sephiroth with a vicious combination of blows.
Sephiroth finally rammed Chu-Chu with the hilt of the Masamune, knocking her down. She immediately jumped back up. Sephiroth slashed again, but Chu-Chu leapt over the attack and fell straight down towards Sephiroth. "CHU-CHU ROCKET!" she cried, pounding Sephiroth on the head with both fists and receiving a satisfying thunk in response. Sephiroth dropped to the floor, unconscious.
"Ookya! Yay!" Chu-Chu celebrated her victory with a happy dance.
Eve tried to flee through the transport tube to Station Square, but found Kiros and Jessie waiting for her. Jessie quickly shot her with a tranquilizer dart, then stamped a goofy nickname on her shoulder and attached a radio tracking collar to her neck.
"Chu-Chu! You came back ^___^!" Selphie exulted. "And just in the nick of time, too!"
Chu-Chu grinned. "That's what friends are for," she said, hugging Selphie about the knees.
While security guards tried to sort out the waterlogged mess, White Noise took the stage again. Ward and Crono air-guitarred, while Midori and Primera quietly paraded back and forth. Soon the whole crowd was dancing to the infectious silence. Cait Sith jumped up on stage and started headbanging at less than 49 degrees.
A rather shamefaced Shounen Ai approached Selphie and the Spoilers. "I guess we weren't cut out to be pop superstars, after all," Fei admitted. "But I never liked Gears, fighting, dance contests, frostbite, plastic surgery, acceptance speeches, or pop superstars anyway."
"Fei!" Chu-Chu exclaimed, wrapping herself around Fei's leg like a kindergartner lost in the zoo. "Chu-Chu's maidenly pure heart is only for chu!"
"Hello, Selphie," Laguna said. He paused, seemingly confused. "Did you get breast implants or something?"
"No! I 've just, uh, grown ^^;;;. Gotten older and stuff. Yeah."
Billy sighed. "I heard about what's happening over at the Ethos," he confessed. "I had no idea things would get so out of hand. I'll ask them to stop at once, and you can all get those ridiculous ad banners and implants removed."
"Oh, that'll be nice," Selphie said. "Er, uh, not that I'd know anything about implants ^^;;;;;;;."
Yuffie put a comforting hand on Selphie's shoulder. "Don't worry, Sel, I don't you think you, like, fooled any of us anyway."
"Maybe chu can donate them to a worthy cause," Chu-Chu suggested. "Like Sorceress Adel."
"I just wanted to get in a line here even though I don't have anything useful to say," Vincent interrupted.
"Anyone here an avid Parcheesi player?"
Yuffie looked down at her feet and noticed for the first time she was standing in four inches of water. "Gawd, my feet are all wet," she said. "Grossness!"
"It's a good thing we have all those socks back in Shevat ^___^," Selphie giggled. "Er, Travellers' Insurance Group City."
"Yeah, I guess we'd better be, like, heading back there," Yuffie said. "We still have band practice, and I need new socks, and, like, there's a Sunny Delight bottling plant that needs touring. And stuff."
UM JAMMER SELPHIE
Written, directed, and produced by: Fritz Fraundorf
Original concept by: Fritz Fraundorf
Special guest stars: Ken Burns and Anoop Gantayat
Special thanks to:
Odin135's Suikoden II Characters FAQ
You've read the fanfic - now listen to the soundtrack!
White Noise - ...
(MP3, 1.14 MB)
|This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to or appearance
of actual people, places, or events is intended only for purposes of political and social satire. Based on the games by Square, Capcom, Konami, Contrail, Game Freak, and Nana On-Sha. Coconut Monkey and Pierre are creations of PC Gamer and Imagine Media.|
A Cosmo Canyon Production
I kame into this field as a winner|
Look into my mouth then you'll see how much I kurse
All this moolah, it's burnin' up my purse
Everyone that sings has to learn some kommerce
Hey, I think about the day every fourth Thursday
Get my pay and buy a new koupe
My songs sukk, but, damn, I'm rollin' in the bukks
And you're just a sukker with a disk
In your trash, hey, you took the risk
Hey, you took the risk, hey, you took the risk
Hey, you took the risk, hey, you took the risk
Hey, you took the risk, hey, you took the risk
Hey, now I'm rappin' bad... yeah!
Should I be rappin' good? No!
I don't kare if I'm the laughin' stokk of the industry
You would think that I'd be a loser
But I'm filthy rich, like I said
It's all gone to my head... not!
MTV made a mistake
They gave me my big break
And you an ear-ake
Either way, hey, we've got instruments we kan't play
This song sukks, that I kan't deny
I did it all for the Grammy, the Grammy
I'm not kwite Lammy, or PaRappa, yeah!
Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa
I did it all for the Grammy, the Grammy
I'm not kwite Lammy, or PaRappa, yeah!
Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa
Why didn't it take so long?
Why didn't we wait that long, huh, for a new album?
Well, we made it, you gonna be the only one underneath the sun who doesn't buy it?
I can't believe that you kan be deceived -- just like I want -- by my so-kalled band
Who in reality had a hidden agenda
We put our sheet musik in a blender
And still our fame engendered, hey, you're all chumps
Hey, you're all chumps, hey, you're all chumps
Hey, you're all chumps, hey, you're all chumps
Hey, you're all chumps, hey, you're all chumps
I did it all for the Grammy, the Grammy
I'm not kwite Lammy, or PaRappa, yeah!
Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa
I did it all for the Grammy, the Grammy
I'm not kwite Lammy, or PaRappa, yeah!
Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa, yeah! Or PaRappa
You're only human
It's so easy for you sukkers to give me your money
They tell me to learn to sing, but it's easier said than done
I read the reviews, I did, but you kan't defeat me
Kan't defeat me. You kan't defeat me!
I did it all for the Grammy, the Grammy!
I did it all for the Grammy, the Grammy!
Two figures crouched in a shady alley somewhere in Midgar. "They shall dearly for their heinous crimes," the shorter one squeaked.
"The corporate pigs can't be trusted," the taller, female one agreed. "We should have taken care of this ages ago."
"Oh yes." The short one stared up at the skyscrapers. "Shinra will soon rue the day they canceled Mountain Dewprism..."
To be continued