Larissa and Kelvin in: The Name Game

   The world was blue. Kelvin swam through a vast sea of crystal-blue water shining like the golden sun as he struggled to find air. The star ocean seemed to stretch on forever... and then the alarm rang.

   Awakened from his azure dreams, Kelvin jumped out of bed and shut off his clock radio in the middle of "Rhapsody in Blue." "Damn, late again," Kelvin muttered, quickly throwing on his brigandine and trench coat and hunting down his sword.

   Kelvin switched on his transporter, realized he'd forgotten his sunglasses, and ran back to grab them. Placing them on his head with one hand, he activated the transporter with the other. Kelvin dissolved into a shining force, and soon a bright beam of light streaked towards the GIA's geosynchronous satellite.

* * *

   Larissa put down her origami book and tossed her deformed paper Mario aside. "I can't believe I've been working on this for seven hours," she muttered. "I need a break." She stood up, stretched, and headed out of her office to pay a visit to the staff lounge.

   She found Kelvin kneeling beside some sort of warped, Baroque pyramid-shaped device that he had conveniently erected directly in front of the lounge. "Heya, Larissa," Kelvin said, looking up. "What do you think?"

   "I'm, uh, speechless," Larissa retorted. Had Kelvin decided there was a market for a radio tower-skateboard ramp hybrid? Heaven only knew what he'd come up with next.

   Kelvin screwed a metal gear into place. "I'm building a time machine!" he enthused. "My plan is to jump into a year into the future, go under cover and find out what games the big RPG makers have released, and then come back to the present so we can get the scoop on them. It's the ultimate in covert ops."

   "Does the Comissioner know about this?"

   Kelvin shrugged. "Nah, but I'm sure he'll be suitably impressed when I bring back the first screenshots of Gravy Trader. Here, let's give this baby a try." He flipped a switch on the time machine. A black matrix expanded from the tip of the pyramid and covered the two GIA agents. They vanished from the satellite.

* * *

   Kelvin and Larissa materialized atop a mist-covered hill. A dark cloud hung overhead, partially obscuring both the harvest moon and the castle town in the distance.

   Larissa surveyed the silent hill. "Kelvin, this doesn't look like the future to me."

   "Oh, hey," Kelvin remarked, "I just remembered I forgot to attach an elemental gimmick gear to the time engine. That means we've traveled into the past instead of the future."


   "Hey, I'm only human," Kelvin shrugged.

   "A bit too human, I'm afraid. Now, how do we get home?"

   Kelvin shrugged. "All we have to do is find the missing part; we'll be earthbound in no time. C'mon, let's go check out that village."

* * *

   None of the village's inhabitants appeared to be awake, and only a few street lamps illuminated the eternal darkness around the adventurers. Kelvin pointed to a clock tower overlooking the town. "Hey, isn't that the same clock tower that's in Peoria? Talk about deja vu."

   Larissa rolled her eyes. "I didn't know Peoria ever had medieval ramparts."

   "Psh, historical accuracy is overrated."

   "Kelvin, look out!" The GIA agent whirled just in time to see a ogre step out of an alley. Without pausing to think, Kelvin tried to slash it with his sword. The ogre deflected the attack with its club, snapping the sword in half.

   Kelvin point an accusing finger at the beast. "You think you're smart, don't you? Yeah, well, I have a hundred swords!" He produced a second, identical sword from his coat and began flailing about furiously, his weapon becoming a mere blur. From a distance, it almost looked like Kelvin had a thousand arms.

   The ogre ducked under Kelvin's wild arms. "Pardon me, sir, but what have I done to incur your ire?"

   Larissa and Kelvin did a double-take. "M...M...M...MAGIC?" Kelvin sputtered. "Uh, I mean, nice to meet you, uh, Mr. Ogre. Um, do you have a name?"

   "You may refer to me as the Tactics Ogre," the ogre suggested. "I specialize as an advisor in affairs of military madness for yonder castle. Please do not regard me as a evolutionary reject; I cannot help what the threads of fate granted me. Not all of we ogres are murderers or baby snatchers."

   "Hey, cool, maybe you can help us," Kelvin said. "We're, like, time stalkers from the future and we're looking for an elemental gimmick gear to fix our -"

   Larissa clamped a hand over her partner's mouth. "Mr. Tactics Ogre, we're just lost Vikings. We won't bore you with our tales of destiny, but suffice to say our carrier's wrecked. We're looking for an elemental gimmick gear to fix it."

   "If you are seeking to return to home, perhaps you should consult with Mr. Domino the seaman," the Tactics Ogre suggested. "I'm sure he'll be able to transport back to your homeland."

   "Well, our home is in uncharted waters, far beyond the beyond," Larissa quickly interjected. "It's a dangerous trip."

   "That should be of no matter; no one can stop Mr. Domino."

   "Still, our ship's got a lot of sentimental value," Larissa said. "We'd really rather repair it."

   The Tactics Ogre paused to think. "In that case, perhaps you should visit the Tomb of the Valkyrie. It's an ancient crypt filled with tombs and treasure, but also a dangerous resident evil. I am quite positive that you can find the parts there, my friends. I shall accompany you as a guide."

* * *

   While continually looking around for any vanguard bandits, the Tactics Ogre led Kelvin and Larissa to the Tomb of the Valkyrie. The trail lead through a forest of willow trees towards a dark gray cube-shaped structure.

   "Ouch!" Kelvin yelped as a aqua-colored bee stung him. He quickly pulled the blue stinger out and dropped it on the ground.

   A ghostly samurai appeared before them. "The Tactics Ogre!" it accused, waving a sword at the agents' companion. "Because of you, I was forced into exile. Now I shall strike you down and win back my honor!"

   Kelvin raised an eyebrow. "Oy vay. How can this thing talk when it's not even live?"

   "Alive," Larissa corrected.


   The Tactics Ogre frowned. "Sir, I believe that your accusations are in fact completely unfounded, and that a proper examination of the facts will reveal that you are in error," he said, ever graceful.

   "Uh... so's your mother!" retorted the soul of the samurai. It raised its phantasmal sword and cried, "Tetris Attack!" Large wooden blocks tumbled out of the sky around the Tactics Ogre. The ogre did a quick roll away and cautiously backed off.

   While the ogre battle continued, Kelvin and Larissa hurried inside the mysterious dungeon. They found themselves in a long stone hallway leading towards a marble door. "Great," Larissa muttered. "Now we're tomb raiders."

   Kelvin shrugged. "Well, it's not like we have vandal hearts or anything," he said. "We just find a new elemental gimmick gear and leave." He looked around. "You know, this place is probably filled with traps to keep out the uninvited like us."

   Larissa and Kelvin both stopped walking. The two dungeon explorers looked uncomfortably at each other, waiting for the other to make the first move into the possibly-fatal labyrinth.

   "Ladies first," Kelvin said, shoving Larissa forward. A pit trap opened underneath her and the GIA agent tumbled down into a deep dungeon below.

   "Kelvin, you idiot," Larissa mumbled. She looked around. The chamber she had fallen into extended far off into the distance, disappearing into a veil of shadow. Running forward, Larissa stopped when she saw something moving around out in the distance. It looked almost like a huge dinosaur. Had they ended up on some alternate-universe dinosaur planet? No, she had to just be suffering from shadow madness. The fear effect was obviously getting to her.

   Larissa crept towards the shadowy creature, fearing the dino crisis that could erupt at any minute. As she got closer, the spellcaster could tell there was some kind of creature shining in the darkness -- but it was no dinosaur, it was a dragon!

   The dragon unleashed a huge breath of fire upon Larissa. Larissa dived out of the way and tried to think of a spell to counter with. She was no dragon warrior, but there had to something she could use against this master of monsters.

   Suddenly, a small furry animal -- was it Pikachu? -- jumped down from a hole in the ceiling. It immediately began assailing the dragon with a bright red sword, forcing the beast to retreat into its jade cocoon.

   "Hey you, Pikachu!" Larissa shouted, impressed by her deus ex machina savior. When fighting a dragon, valor was hard to come by.

   "I'm not Pikachu!" the demon slayer said. As it stepped out of the shadows, Larissa could tell it was actually a monkey. "So what are you doing down here?" the monkey hero asked, sheathing its sword of vermillion.

   "I fell in a trap," Larissa admitted. "I was looking for some parts to fix my ship."

   "Ah, so you're a treasure hunter. Gee, I'd bet you' like to get to the inner sanctum. I can get you there -- I've got the special key to open the door." The monkey hurled a huge bomb at the wall and blew a pathway through to the inner sanctum, where Kelvin was already waiting.

   "Thanks, bomber man," Larissa said. She hurried over to catch up with her fellow agent. "I appreciate the push to get me going back there."

   Kelvin shrugged. "You're just jealous 'cause I thought of it first," he joked in his usual flippant persona.

   Larissa sighed. Kelvin never changed.

   Kelvin touched a large, silver box attached to the floor in the center of the room. "The treasures have got to be in here," he explained. "But I think we need to enter some code on that wall to open it." He gestured towards the east wall.

   Larissa turned to look. A painting of Rudra the Valkyrie hung on the wall, surrouned by a ring of red letters. Beginning with a D on the left, the letters changed into a long series of Ys, and ended with the Greek letter Omikron. Each of letters surrounding the valkyrie profile was slightly raised from the wall, indicated that it could be pressed.

   "I dunno what to do with it, though," Kelvin said. "It's all Greek to me."

   "Actually, just the last letter is Greek."

   "Whatever." He shrugged. "Let's just hit them all at once." Kelvin ran two hands over the letters as quickly as possible. The box popped open, revealing Rudra's treasure: a whole collection of tin, cross-shaped gears.

   Kelvin tried to pick up one of the gears, only to have it crumble to dust in his hand. "Aw, man, these things are so old, I don't know if any of them will work." He picked up a second gear; it shattered too.

   Larissa rolled her eyes. "Are you sure these are even the right parts?"

   "Of course they are; I'm always right." He picked up another cross. "The real question is: is this metal gear solid?" Kelvin squeezed it slightly and it shattered. "Dammit!"

   Kelvin continued testing the parts. Finally, the seventh cross proved to be usable. "Good, this'll work," he said, pocketing the piece. "Now let's get home; I've got a busy day of humping the GIA logo planned."

   "Shut up, Kelvin."

* * *

   "...and so that's why I haven't fixed the message boards yet," Kelvin completed his long, vagrant story. "It's just kinda the way things go when you're an industrial spy, you know?"

   "That's quite an interesting experience you had," the Comissioner said. "I expect tomorrow you'll tell me you battled devil children, took a trip to the Moon, unearthed the lost treasures of Atlantis, and found El Dorado's gate?"

   "Hey, we're not miracle warriors; that might take me a week or two." He thought for a moment, then frowned. "Wait... you don't think I'm making this up, do you? I swear this all really happened!"

   "Kelvin, no offense, but I believe about one-fourth of that," the Comissioner said. "Mostly the part about you builing a useless invention."

   Kelvin blinked. "Er, sir? Do you think I'd really try to pull off an elaborate deception like this?"

   "Well, I have to say that it's a little odd that your story incorporated exactly one hundred game titles, Kelvin," the Comissioner said. "Even if you sometimes mangled the punctuation a little."


Feature by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA.
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