# MCFFUltra Omake: Smiling Evil Death

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{    M A G I C A L  C R O S S O V E R    }
{  F I G H T I N G  F E D E R A T I O N  }
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{             | O-M-A-K-E |              }
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{ http://www.pixelscapes.com/improfanfic }

Omake Title: Smiling Evil Death!
Written By: Chris McNeil
Ultra Created By: Stefa Gagne

Soun Tendo sipped his tea, glancing absently at the paper.  It was
quiet.  Quiet in the news-hard for it not to be, what with all armed
conflicts, diseases, riots, and religious warfare having vanished
months ago-but also quiet in the house.  Akane was out with her
friends, Nabiki and Ranma were busy with their duties at the
Ultradome, and Kasumi...well, of course she wasn't there.  And as for
Genma...Soun wasn't sure WHAT, exactly, had happened to his old
friend.  He had just vanished a few weeks past, for no apparent
reason.

Only Nodoka Saotome, across the table, was also in the house, and she
was too absorbed in carefully folding envelopes for conversation.  Or
so it seemed.  In any case, she wasn't talking.

Soun could hardly recall it ever being so quiet.  No fights, or even
arguments...not even any conversation marred the still air.  He could
hear the crickets quietly chirping outside, a muted splash as the koi
swam in the pond, the soft whistle of the breeze.  More than quiet, it
was...peaceful.  Peaceful, like he had always hoped it might be, after
the children had grown and left, after Ranma and Akane's marriage,
subsided.  Come sooner than expected, he was nonetheless happy for it.
Happy...yet still, he felt as if something were missing.  Almost as if
he missed the excitement, almost as if...

The roof chose that moment to explode inwards, or more accurately, the
huge arm chose that moment to smash through it.  Large pieces of
roofing and plaster fell to the floor, followed very shortly by a
gigantic monster whose countenance Soun was only too familiar with.
Steam hissing from its nostrils with every breath, the tentacles on
its back twitching in agitation, the giant minotaur-like beast's
bloodshot eyes scanned the room anxiously before focusing on Soun.

Nodoka looked up, and blinked as she saw the monster.  "Oh dear."

After looking around briefly again, one of the monster's tentacles
reached out, grabbed the pot of tea, and emptied the contents over
itself.  Steam rose, to mix with the slowly settling cloud of plaster
dust, but before it had a chance to dissipate, an effeminate-looking
young man burst from it, breathing heavily, his grey eyes flickering
between the two adults sitting at the table.

"Why hello there, dear," said Nodoka, always polite.  "Are you looking
for Ranma?  If so, I'm afraid he isn't..."

"Shut up," snapped the boy, gliding forward and seizing Soun.  "You.
You're HER father."

"Don't play games with me, old man!" he growled.  Now that he was
closer, Soun could see the young man was obviously agitated.  His
hands trembled even as they kept their firm grip on the front of his
gi, and his eyes were red-rimmed with lack of sleep.  "You know who I
mean.  HER."

Soun was finding the young man's grip decidedly uncomfortable, but
given that his captor seemed to have a tenuous grasp on his calm as it
was, he decided to let it pass without comment.  "You mean Kasu..."

"YES!" he snapped.  "Her!  You're her father, right?  You have to have
some influence over her, right?"

"Well, I'm not sure exactly what you mean..."

The boy took a deep breath, seeming to calm himself slightly.  Then he
let Soun go, and sat down before him.  "Get her to leave me alone.  I
don't want anything to do with her, you understand?  I won't bother
her or her federation, just get her to leave me alone.  P...puh..."
He seemed to struggle inwardly for a moment, then sighed and bowed his

Soun blinked.  This was certainly a different side of the young man
than he'd seen before.

"Umm...well, I don't know precisely what I can do to help.  You see, I
don't talk with my daughter all that much anymore, and..."

His head snapped back up, all traces of calm evaporated.  "You HAVE
to!  You don't know what she's doing to me!"

"Uh...that is..."

The boy seized him again.  "What do you WANT from me, old man?  You
want me to fix your damn dojo?  I'll BUILD you a new dojo!"

"Err..."

He was beginning to look a little wild around the eyes again.
Actually, more than a little.  "Money?  You want money?  Name it!
I'll make you the richest man in Japan!"

"I don't think you..."

"You want more?  I can conquer a third-world nation for you.  A BUNCH
of third-world nations!  I can make you king of half of Africa!  Or
Asia!  Or..."

"Oh my, there you are!  I've been looking all over for you!"

The young man's plea cut off as if he'd suddenly lost the ability to
speak.  Slowly, oh so slowly, he turned, looking at the new arrival in
the doorway...

"Oh, Kasumi-san," said Nodoka into the silence that followed.  "How
nice of you to visit!  Would you like a cup of tea?"

"You..." the young man breathed softly.

"Why thank you," God replied, smiling slightly, "but I'm in something
of a hurry, you understand. Tarou here must be back soon for this
week's show."

Dropping Soun, the boy rose to his feet, fists clenched.  "You
followed me...again..."

The Almighty looked slightly surprised.  "Why of course, Tarou-san.
Did you forget what day it was?  You've had a nice vacation, but now
it's back to work.  I think you'll be surprised at all the changes

The young man's face twitched, and he took a step forward
threateningly.  "You little..." he began to snarl, and then stopped as
if something had just occurred to him.  Conflicting emotions played
upon his features for a moment, and then with a cry of rage he turned
and leaped out to the patio.  Less than a second later there was a
splash, and then a loud whoosh of air whistling around the huge
monster's form as it pulled into the air and away with incredible
speed.  Within seconds it was out of sight.

God sighed, shaking her head in sorrow.  "I guess he had something
else he had to do first..."

Nodoka smiled brightly.  "In that case, could you stay for tea after
all?  It's been too long since we've talked, and also, I've wanted to
know when Ranma will be getting a rematch against that girl."

"Oh, soon, I'm sure, Nodoka-san," She said, smiling again.  "But I'm
afraid I really must go.  There are still many things to be done.
Perhaps tomorrow?"

"That would be lovely, dear," she replied.

The Almighty nodded, and then looked somewhat disapprovingly at the
large pile of broken ceiling and roof on the floor.  "Tarou-san ought
to be more respectful of other people's property," she noted.  At the
tone of her voice, the pile...twitched, and then suddenly all was as
it was before the monster had burst in.  "There, that's better.  I'm
glad to see you're well, father, Mrs. Saotome.  I'll see you
tomorrow!"

And with that, God was gone.  Nodoka smiled and returned to folding
her envelopes.  Soun remained still a moment longer, before shaking
his head and returning to the paper.  There was nothing more to be
said for it: this was definitely the life he had dreamed of.  Peace
and quiet were good.

********

If such a thing were possible to contemplate, Pantyhose Tarou could
almost have felt sympathy for Rouge.  That was, his back hurt like
hell, and since it had belatedly turned out that was the lying,
psychopathic little witch's problem, he could almost have felt
sympathy over it, if he were capable of feeling anything but joy over
any problems Rouge might have.

Not that he really cared about Rouge much anymore.  In light of recent
events, the idea of having a psycho, shape-changing,
lightning-throwing, fire-breathing goddess trying to kill him for no
good reason seemed a definite improvement.  At least he could try to
kill her back, a tactic that had proved singularly ineffective on
-that- woman back at the dojo.  Or at least run away, which has also
been tried over the last two weeks, and also proved useless.  In light
of that, the thought of Rouge calling herself a goddess was highly
amusing, in that bitter, unamused sort of way Tarou generally treated
horrible things as if they were amusing in order to maintain a grip on
reality.

But despite the fact his hatred for Rouge had now subsided to a sort
of fond nostalgia over the last month, he still refused to feel any
sympathy for her.  A man had to have principles, after all.

His back still hurt.  Also his wings.  A lot.  Speaking of Rouge, he
had once made a flight like this, from Shanghai to Nerima, while being
chased by her, and accounted it difficult, both for necessary speed
and the fact he was defending himself along the way from said
psychopath.  But that had been nothing compared to the flight he was
making now; much faster, and much farther.

There was noone slinging lightning bolts at him this time, but that
didn't make his back feel appreciably better.

Still, he was almost there...in fact, that should be it coming up
ahead.  Banking, he slipped into a shallow dive, angling towards the
faint strip of white below.  That information the weird interviewer
had sold him had better turn out to be accurate, or Tarou vowed to
seriously hurt the man when he got back to-even mentally, he uttered

Tarou had given up any illusions that he could escape being dragged
back to the stadium, may it and everyone in it be cursed to the
deepest pits of he...err, well, to somewhere very unpleasant.

He'd spent much of the last two weeks running, and that -woman- had
caught up with him, apparently, any time she felt like it.  He'd tried
attacking her, with both of his bodies, and also with experimental
weaponry he'd pilfered from a variety of military bases, but to no
avail.  No matter how carefully he aimed-and she didn't dodge, so it
was unnecessary-she just...wasn't there when she should have been
struck.  She didn't appear to move; it was more like the universe
reconfigured itself to keep anything from hitting her.  Most everyone
who might have had influence over her were completely unwilling to
help him, especially as -she- was already cheerfully supplying that
Nabiki woman with every material possession she wanted, making it
rather hard for any offer of his to compete.  Her father had been his

But if Tarou was going to be stuck for the rest of his life pleasing
crowds of mindless idiots, he'd damn well get some answers on how
things had ended up this way first.

He swerved up sharply, his wings braking, and his hooves touched the
ground, sending up a spray of sand.  He was peripherally aware that
most of the denizens of the beach were fleeing with screams of fright,
but that didn't concern him.  The person...well, the being he was
looking for wouldn't be running.

A moment later, he spotted him, or at least a reasonably good
impersonator.  Tarou stalked over to him, absently dousing himself
with a handy kettle as he did so.  This probably caused some of the
fleeing patrons to become even more startled, but Tarou didn't care.
In the overall scheme of things, it wasn't that much weirder to be a
shapeshifter than to find a heated kettle on a Florida beach, anyway.

The old man -looked- normal enough...hideously tacky Hawaiian shirt
and equally tacky shorts, neon green sandals and overlarge sunglasses
completing the unfashionable picture.  Particularly with the long,
flowing white hair and beard.  Still, he would not have been
considered that unusual a denizen of the beach-aside from the fact he
had not yet fled in terror-if you didn't know who you were looking for
and where to look for him.

"You're God," Tarou said flatly.

"Not anymore," the man replied calmly, putting aside his newspaper and
peering over his sunglasses at Tarou.  "I retired.  Didn't you read

He hadn't, but he certainly knew about it now, a lot better than he'd
like to.  "I heard.  What I came here for..."

"That's good," the Personage Formerly Known As God interrupted
blithely.  "I like to read the papers.  It's so great to be able to
read something and not know it already, you know?  That was one of the
big drags about being omniscient...everything was old hat even when it

"How nice to hear," Tarou snapped.  "In fact, that relates to my
point."

"Which is?" the disenfranchised deity inquired, raising an eyebrow
inquiringly.  "This is the first time in all Creation somebody's asked
me for something and I didn't already know what it is, so as you must
understand, I'm very interested.  Well, except for the bum who asked
me for change last week, but that doesn't really count, since I had
already figured out what he wanted when he..."

"If you're so interested, shut up and let me talk!" growled Tarou.
"What I want to know is...why did you do this?"

"THIS!"  Tarou gestured irritatedly at himself.

"Don't be so hard on yourself, boy.  You're not the most popular of
fellows, I know, but you're not -that- bad.  There's plenty of people
more obnoxious than you in the universe."

"I didn't mean that, you old fool!"

"Oh...well, sorry, thought you knew it.  You're really not that bad
looking.  In fact, some of those girls you rescued are still hoping
you'll come back and sweep them away from their villages, and at least
one has spent most of the last year composing poetry about you.  Not
how you appeared and then vanished with the winds, and, of course,
lots of references to your-ahem-musculature, not to mention..."

"Not THAT, either!" Tarou growled, feeling a strong urge to beat his
about my life!  Before you ask, I mean all of it, yes!  I didn't
believe in any such being as you...but if you were God, and
omniscient, and all that crap, that means you knew everything before
it happened!  You knew about everything that was going to happen to
me!  You LET it happen!"  He took a step forward, cracking his
knuckles ominously.  "And I want to know why.  Now."

"Happen to you," the old man repeated, with an infuriating lack of
fear.  "Umm, let me see, bad name, couldn't change it due to weird
law, mother died at an early age, leaving you to fend for bratty
sibling-no, wait, that was someone else-no luck in relationships
because of name, Happousai is an irascible old coot and can't be
beaten or cajoled into changing it, you and the Saotome lad taking any
excuse to beat the hell out of each other-if you'll excuse the phrase,
I've always wanted to say that, you know-well, that's about it,
right?"

"More or less," Tarou grumbled.  "So, what's the story?"

He shrugged.  "Couldn't really tell you.  It's hard to remember the
day to day details of being God, anymore, inasmuch as my new,
semi-mortal mind isn't supposed to be able to comprehend it.  But I
seem to remember I was a pretty hands-off, laissez-faire deity over
the last few eons, you know?  So chances are I just let it pass.

Tarou slumped, suddenly too tired to even feel like pummeling the old
man.  Then a thought struck him, and his head shot up to glare at the
former supreme deity once more.  "Wait a minute.  What about the
tournament?"

"Oh, that's not my department, Kasumi came up with it all on her own.
You'd have to ask her.  Although, I don't think it's really proper to
call it a tournament, since..."

"Stop babbling and listen for once!" he snarled.  "I'm not talking
to pick your replacement!  Why didn't you invite me?  You OWED me that
much!"

"Well..." the old man hedged, "err...that is...you didn't fit the
selection criteria."

damn thing!  You invited a talking rat, and those stupid plumbers, and
that hockey-mask-wearing psychopath, and that stick-swinging idiot
friend of fem-boy's, and, and...you invited PINKY, for pity's sake!
-PINKY-!"

"Well...I'd say it's because I only invited pure-hearted people, but
now that I think about it, that's hardly true, is it?  Or
non-fighters, but some of the people there were pretty good,
too...hmm..." he considered it for a moment, then shrugged.  "Sorry,
Pantyhose old boy.  It was my tournament, and I just didn't invite
you.  But that's over and done with, right?  No hard feelings, eh?"
Tarou took another step forward, flexing his fingers menacingly.  "Now
now, boy.  Since when has violence solved your problems?"

"It may not solve any of my major problems," Tarou hissed, clenching
his fists, "but it always make me FEEL a whole lot better!"  He lunged
forward...

...and stopped, as his body quite abruptly decided it didn't feel like
listening to him anymore.

"There's no time for that," came a chiding voice from behind him.   "I
told you before, the show's almost ready to start, and after two
weeks, you'll definitely want to be there in plenty of time."

Tarou would have slumped, if he were still capable of moving.  He
should have known.  -Her-.

"Why hello there," said the old man, peering over his sunglasses to
the figure behind Tarou, "I was wondering when you were going to say
something."  Tarou resisted the urge to grit his teeth, which was
good, as he couldn't have done so anyway.  She had been there all
along.  So much for his finely-honed senses.  No wonder the old man

"Very well, thank you," she responded cheerfully.  "You really ought
to come to visit Ultra sometime; I'm sure everyone would be so pleased
to meet you."

He cocked an eyebrow, looking meaningfully at the immobile Tarou.  "I
don't think he would."

"Oh, Tarou's just high-strung, you know," she said, and giggled.
"Speaking of which, we'd better go now, Tarou-san.  I'll see you
later."  She held an arm up to wave...and with that, they vanished.

The being who had once been God picked up his newspaper and resettled
himself.  "At least the boy did something useful," he said, noting
that the deserted beach was now agreeably quiet.

"Maybe I should show up for her show sometime after all..."

********

When they appeared within the Ultradome, Tarou could move again.
Small comfort that was.  Twisting away, he glared at the smiling
deity.  "What do you WANT from me?" he snapped.

She blinked.  "Why, whatever do you mean, Tarou-san?"

Tarou clenched his fists, but then calmed himself down with an effort
and switched tactics.

"Look.  If I become the most unpopular person in your federation, will
you fire me?"

which was what I wanted.  After all, it takes a contrast: next to you,
all the nice people look even nicer!"

So much for that.  "Well...what if I become the most boring person in

"Well, it's the same thing, Tarou-san.  If you did, than you would
make even Daisuke look more exciting, wouldn't you?"

Tarou put his face in his palm.  He had a headache.  "What if," he
began, raising his head back up, "what if I'm...uh...the most
-popular- person around?"

"Well, then, you'd be bringing in new viewers!  That'd be wonderful,
Tarou-san!"

"That," Tarou sighed, returning his face to his hands, "is what I
thought you'd say."

"Is there anything else you'd like to know, Tarou-san?  I really must
hurry, to oversee the final preparations for the show tonight."

Before he could respond, another voice cut in.  "Kasumi!"  They both
turned, to see Ranma hurrying up, a videotape in his hand.  "I'm glad
I found you," he called, "I wanted to talk to you again..."

"I'm very sorry, Ranma," She said politely, "but as I told you the
last fourteen times, the ruling of the match was legal.  They weren't
directly attacking either of you, so since you kept on with the
match..."

"No," he insisted, holding up the videotape.  "I've got -proof- this
time!  I even marked the spot; you can see the succubus firing, and it
was very clearly closer to -me- than Sakura!  You'll see, it's almost
three and a half centimeters!  And what's more..." he stopped, then
stared at Tarou.

"Oh geez, it's you.  I thought we got rid of you."

Tarou could have shrugged it off.  After all, the other man had no
clue what he had gone through in the last two weeks.  And the other
man most definitely had no clue as to the fate Tarou was sure he was
going to share.  Also, it was rather a puny thing, in the light of his
other problems, what anyone else said.  So Tarou could have shrugged
it off, walked away, and forgotten about it.  Except that the other
man was Ranma, which of course made that impossible.

Tarou laughed.  Actually, it was more like something between a snicker
and a giggle, a distinctly odd-sounding combination.  "What's your

Walking up, Tarou seized the other man by the collar.  "You just don't
GET it, do you?"

Swatting Tarou's arms away, Ranma backed up a step.  "I get that you
should get your hands off me, Pantyhose."  Tarou giggled again.
"What's so funny?"

"You."  Stepping forward, Tarou practically shoved his face in
Ranma's, and the younger man backed off another step.  "You don't have
a single damn clue."  He smiled, widely.  "You don't get it at all."

"Get what?"  Ranma was regretting having started the conversation.
Talking with Tarou was annoying at the best of times, and right now,
that smile was creeping him out.

that garbage...and it doesn't mean anything."  Tarou, still smiling
much too widely, waved his arm at the rest of the Ultradome.  "None of
it."  He paused for a moment, and then giggled again.  "Don't you
understand, fem-boy?  We're stuck here.  We're going to rot in this
dump for the rest of our lives.  We're going to DIE here."

"Oh no," said Kasumi brightly.  "You're wrong, Tarou.  I don't let
-anybody- die here."

Tarou paused for a moment, digesting this.  Then he nodded, as if he
had known it all along.  With another laugh/giggle, he walked by
Ranma, heading down a side corridor.

Ranma stared after him for a moment, then shook his head.  "What a
weirdo.  Anyway, Kasumi..." he turned, only to see that she had
vanished.  "Aw, geez..."

********

The little man with the spiky hairdo seemed to pop out of nowhere, as
he had a habit of doing.  "Hey, it's Pant-Y-HSE!  Any luck with the
clearence problem, yet?"

Tarou had gotten over his earlier bout of hysteria, and was working on
a new and exciting bout of self-pity, along his way to a bout of,
perhaps, mindless destruction.  Accordingly, he was not interested in
being disturbed, particularly not by THIS individual. "Get lost."

"Hey, don't be like that!" the man said, falling into step beside
Tarou.  "We're partners!  You did great work with the Shinji question,
remember?"  He paused expectently, but Tarou didn't reply.

"Well, I guess you're still miffed at missing all the fun over the
last couple of weeks.  We were never properly introduced, you know.  I
mean, I know -you-...who doesn't?...but you don't know me.  So let's
fix that.  I'm Jack Lysias, and this..." there was a squeak, "is my
best friend, Mr. Duck."

"I'd be honoured if I cared.  Why don't you and Mr. Duck go take a
bubble bath or something?"

Jack laughed as if that was the funniest thing he'd ever heard.  "Hey,
you like that song too?  Mr. Duck loves it.  It's his favourite."

Tarou noted Jack's laughter wasn't affecting him as much; it only made
his hair stand on end, this time.  Must have been due to the
despondancy.  Combing it back down irritably, he asked "What song?"
all the while thinking that he was going to regret asking.

"Never mind that.  C'mon and cheer up, underwear lad."

"Call me that again and I'll shove Mr. Duck so far down your throat

Jack seemed unworried.  "Don't worry about it.  I'm your pal, you know
I didn't mean it."

"You're not my pal."

"Yes I am, because I did you the biggest favour of your life."

"And that would be...?"

"Why, who do you think convinced Kasumi to give you a shot as
commentator?  I mean, all she wanted was those nicey-nice
commentators.  Boring, huh?  I told her she needed someone with spice,
verve, pizazz, oregano, thyme, all that stuff!  And when she asked
who, well, who do you think I had in mind?  Well, Roddy Piper, but he
had a movie deal already pending, and you -were- my second choice.
I'm sure you understand."

Tarou stopped.  "You...did that."

"Yeah," Jack beamed.  "Now you know why we're pals!  Especially since
we're both stuck here for awhile, eh?"

"So we are."  Tarou turned, slowly.  He was smiling again.  "So we
are.  And as long as we're here, I should thank you for everything
you've done."

Jack smiled, a smile to match Tarou's.  "Don't mention it."

********

Sofia smiled as she climbed off the weight-lifting machine, despite
the twinge of pain in her legs.  Five hundred pounds.  Not bad at all.
Just the kind of exercise she had to have to keep her legs in their
perfect shape, the perfect shape that, along with all her other
perfect features, would contribute to her humiliation of Sakura.

Straightening, she grabbed a towel and wrapped it around her
shoudlers, smile widening as she thought of Sakura.  That little hussy
was champion now, and it couldn't have worked out better for Sofia.
One win, one win was all it took, and then Sakura would have to face
her for -real-.  And then, after an effortless match, Sofia would...

"Excuse me, but am I imagining things, or is this really a dream come
true?"

Sofia blinked, looking around to see a Japanese kid, shorter than her,
with brown hair...he looked familiar...oh yeah, it was the ex-Omega
champ.  And he was...leering at her.  Fairly openly, even by Sofia's
standards.

"I see you came in here to develop your body," he noted with a grin.
"For a body -that- developed, you must work hard."

"Uh...thanks," she said.  This was weird.  Sofia wasn't naive; she
knew what her outfit looked like, and she was used to men drooling
over her.  But this guy's drooling was...different.  More frightening,
somehow.

"Since you work so hard, baby, maybe you and I ought to go somewhere
and relax."

Sofia was just working up to the decision of whether to continue the
conversation or smash him through the wall when the door burst open
and Jack ran in, slamming it behind him.  Running past them, he waved
cheerfully, right before the door he had come through exploded.  Well,
didn't explode in the bomb sense, but exploded in the sense that
somebody punched it with a force such that it went flying across the
room in several pieces.  One of those pieces plowed into the boy,
who went down like a house of cards.

Standing in the doorway was that rather good-looking young man Sofia
had noticed commentating a few weeks ago.  He was less good-looking
now, though, as his face had turned a rather interesting shade of
purple, and his hands were clenching and unclenching spasmadocally.

"Come back here and DIE, you freak!" he roared, running through where
the door had been a moment ago.

Sofia began to unlimber her whip.  Jack was a freak, all right, but he
was still her manager after all, and nobody was beating on him without
any explanations.

Jack grinned at Tarou, who roared, picked up the weight machine with
no apparent effort, and hurled it at him.  The spiky-haired man
ducked, and it flew over his head to crash into the wall...and kept
going, to flatten other walls beyond until it finally stopped or-as
seemed more likely-flew out of the Ultradome altogether.

Sofia put her whip away.  She was off-duty, after all.  Jack could
take care of himself.

Tarou picked up a rack of exercise cycles and sent them hurtling at
Jack, who dodged nimbly out of the way.  What followed was a rain of
objects-huge barbells, exercise equipment, small barbells, chairs,
large pieces of the floor, and the still-unconscious boy-all of which
Jack ducked, dodged or jumped over as they went hurtling past him at
high speed.  Finally, just as he was in the process of ripping another
large chunk of concrete from the foundation, Tarou suddenly dropped
it, shaking his head.  "Wait a minute.  If I kill you, that -woman-
will probably just bring you back.  After all, she WANTS you here."

Jack perched on one of large pieces of concrete that had used to be
the floor, and grinned maniacally.  "You got it, underwear lad.  We're
here to stay, and isn't it GREAT?"

Walking over, Tarou stood before the red-haired man, who grinned at
him with no trace of apprehension.  He was smiling a very odd smile,
Sofia noted, almost as odd as Jack's.  "Oh, it's wonderful.  So
wonderful to be here.  I didn't know how to thank you enough,
Jack...PAL...but now I do."

"And how's that?" Jack asked, with open interest.

Tarou's smile grew even wider.  "I'm going to help you, pal.  I'm
mine."

Jack's grin also widened.  "That's great!  And since we've got this
settled, I can help make yours even MORE fun!"

"Not as fun as yours will be!"

"We'll just have to see, won't we?"

Then they both started laughing.  In unison.  In tune, almost.  Sofia
backed a few steps away.  This was getting a little too weird for her.
In doing so, she almost tripped.  Turning, she saw the object that
she'd almost tripped over...a small, grimy bag, that had apparently
been pulled up while Tarou was ripping chunks out of the foundation.
It squirmed for a moment, almost as if something was alive in there,
but that was impossible.  It couldn't have been, buried under tons of
concrete...

Then the bag started laughing.  The laughter was easily as horrible as
that coming from Jack and Tarou.  What was worse, was, the laughter
was as horrible even though it was MUFFLED.  Eyes wide, Sofia
scrambled backwards...and the wall collapsed, nearly catching her.
Spinning, she beheld the new figure, whose glowing red eyes stared out
from the shadows where the wall used to be.

"I [HATE] cameo appearences!" said Naga the Black Serpent haughtily.
Then she put a hand to her mouth.  "OHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHO!"

Sofia fled, shrieking, plowed into one of the remaining walls, fell
over, and drifted into blissful, silent unconsciousness, as the four
peals of pure, evil laughter intermingled around her...

To be Continued...?

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