TO DIE FOR: LIKE WATER FOR ADRIC (Part 4)
It should have been a fine evening for Tegan Jovanka. She was cur-
rently indulging in her third-favorite activity, would soon indulge in
her second-favorite activity, and that would quite possibly lead to her
favorite activity of all. In other words, what she was doing at the
moment was complaining, what she would soon be doing was drin- king, and
what that might lead on to was none of your business.
"It isn't just me, Turlough," she said to her companion as they found a
table at which to sit. "Peri, Susan, Zoe, and Victoria have all had the
same thing happen."
The Trion shrugged. "I've never had any trouble with them."
"None of the men I've asked have had any problems," Tegan said,
frowning. "It's only been young, good-looking women so far."
"And _you_," Turlough almost added, but Self-Preservation nailed that
comment before it reached his mouth.
Tegan turned around to get the attention of Leela and Jamie, who were
arm-wrestling at the next table.
"Look here," she said. "Have either of you two had a problem with the
laundry service lately?"
Leela waited until she had forced Jamie's wrist to the table before
answering. "The laundry-wizards have been unable to remove the
bloodstains from my boots. However, I find that I like the effect it
creates, so it does not annoy me."
Tegan shook her head. "That's not what I meant. Have you had any
clothes come up missing? Specifically, underwear?"
To Tegan's puzzlement, the two began to laugh. After a moment, Jamie
wiped the tears from his eyes and settled down. "Dear lassie," he said,
"I canna imagine tha' we two should ha' tha' problem."
Seeing that Tegan was still confused, Leela added, "You cannot lose what
you have never owned."
Tegan kicked Turlough under the table. Just on general principles.
"Well, how about this, then?" the shopkeeper asked. "Girls like
Adric examined the necklace Carter was holding up. It was a heavy,
ornate gold thing, with a pendant shaped like a scarab beetle.
"It's Egyptian," Carter added. "My Uncle Howard sent it."
"It's... nice," Adric lied. It actually gave him the creeps, like so
many other things in this weird store. "It's just... not her. What
else have you got?"
In response, Carter rummaged around under the table and dragged out a
large crate that was made of some oily-looking wood. The shopkeeper
knelt and pulled the lid off, then motioned for Adric to join him in
rooting through it.
"There's some good stuff in here," he told the dubious Alzarian. "Cousin
Randolph sent this from... from..." Finding the shipping tag, he
glanced at it and continued, "From Dylath-Leen." He began rapidly
dredging up objects for Adric's inspection.
"Lessee here... How about a zebra-skin coat from Zar? No? Okay, then,
a genuine antique Lomarian battle-shield? Saved many a man from
Gnophkehs and Inutos... Not interested? Moon-wine? If you want to get
a girl 'loosened up', there's nothing better... You sure? Alright then,
what about this dancing-girl's costume from Oooth- Nargai? No, that's
the entire costume... Just imagine what your girl would look like in
_that_... Are you okay? You look a little faint..."
"I can't believe I'm doing this," David groaned.
"Believe it or not, just hurry up and do it," Eric hissed at him.
"But, why does it have to be me?"
Eric sighed in exasperation. "We drew straws, remember? You got the
short one, so you got nominated."
David quivered, near tears. "But, you guys could have at least show- ed
"Are you calling us liars?" Darren growled, the loaded crossbow in his
hands. He liked being armed, he decided. It let you get away with a
lot, and nobody could say anything about it. Why, if Number One were
here now, he'd show the little redneck a thing or two. No more Darren
the Abused Pawn! Yessir, when that overbearing runt turned up again,
Darren would have a few words for him.
"No no no," David blurted. "I just... I just..."
"You'll just do it." Darren hefted the crossbow to emphasize his point.
David sighed, dejected. "Yeah, I'll do it."
Darren smiled coldly. "Exxcccellennnt..."
Number One stepped carefully back outside and eased the door shut. He'd
caught just enough of the conversation between Adric and the store owner
to find out that Adric was looking for a gift for Nyssa. He had been
sore tempted to take the little dork out then-and-there, but decided
there was too much risk of hitting the merchant. Not that innocent
casualties especially bothered him, but there was only a little
Jusenkyou water left, and he couldn't risk wasting it. Besides, there
was some cool stuff in that store, and turning the owner into a pig
would not be a good way to get a bargain on one of those badass Zodangan
No, the thing to do was to just use a modified version of his first
plan. In other words, just wait out by the door and sock the little
weasel-boy with the water-balloon as soon as he came out.
There was a nice shady spot under the awning out front, where he could
watch the door, but couldn't be seen from inside. He propped casually
against the wall and lit up a Marlboro, keeping the balloon full of
cursed water behind his back.
Up the street, someone was running in his direction. He kept a wary eye
on them, just in case.
Happosai was getting bored. As much as he loved being pursued by
beautiful women (even if they were trying to kill him), he had just
about used up the amusement value of this one. She had at least been
interesting while she was shooting at him. He so seldom got to test his
skills against missile weapons, that dodging her crossbow bolts had
given him some much-needed practice. But now, it was just a
straight-out stern chase, and, as any sailor could tell you, a stern
chase is a long and boring chase.
Plus, the girl was coming perilously close with some of her attempts to
grab him. She had given up shouting at him, choosing to save her breath
for running. She had just enough extra speed to nearly match Happosai
on the straightaways, so he kept turning back and forth through alleys
and side-streets to gain a little distance. That was the other reason
he was getting bored. They had gone back and forth over the same ground
several times, and the scenery was start- ing to get monotonous.
He turned down a street he'd been down four times already, looking over
his shoulder at the pursuing girl as he did so, taking note of the way
her sweat-dampened blouse clung to her chest.
He smiled lecherously. Some scenery _never_ got boring.
"Okay, so it's a no-go on all this stuff." Carter absentmindedly kicked
a box labelled 'Celephais' back under the table and gazed around his
store, brows furrowed.
"What's over here?" Adric asked, pointing at a nearby bin that seemed to
be running over with T-shirts, mugs, and less-identifiable objects.
Carter waved at it dismissively.
"Ah, there's nothing good in there. My cousin -- actually third cou-
sin, twice removed -- Chris sent that junk. It's just cheap merchan-
dising crap, mostly."
Adric dug a T-shirt out of the bin and looked it over. "What does this
mean, 'The Truth is Out There'?"
"Who knows, who cares?" Carter replied distractedly, still ponder- ing
his stock. "You know, of all my relatives, old Uncle Jack prob- ably
knows women the best. If there's anything suitable, I'll bet it's in
with some of his stuff."
"I doubt he's ever known a woman like this one," Adric muttered. He was
more-or-less talking to himself, but the storekeeper caught the comment
"You're most likely right. Uncle Jack runs with a weird crowd. At one
time, he had this alien girl chasing after him. She was abso- lutely
gorgeous. Some kind of noble or some such. Rich, smart, and brave to a
fault. Unfortunately, she was also a total bloody psychopath with a
vindictive streak like you wouldn't believe." Carter gave a theatrical
shiver. "Brrrr. Good thing there's nothing like that 'round these
Even before he grew up and became a fanatical, Nyssa-worshipping
terrorist, back when he still had a real name and identity, even back
then, the child who would come to be known as Number One had learned the
concept of 'enemies'. Enemies came in many forms, from the Damnyankees
that had burnt Great-Great-Grandpappy's farm, to the Damn Revenooers who
rooted after Granddad's moonshine still, to the Damn Commies who his
father swore were out to destroy all that was good and right.
Through the years, he had absorbed all these enemies as his own, and had
added new ones to the list. Damn Adrophiles -- those here- tics who
followed the Alzarian Demon -- were at the top, as were Damn
Tree-huggers and Damn Ted Turner and his Damn Commie Wife.
The person currently running in his direction fell into an enemy cat-
egory a bit further down the list. A Damn Health-freak, also known as a
He couldn't remember when he first started to regard fitness-nuts as
enemies. Possibly it had been when he began to smoke (about age seven),
or possibly when he began to drive, and had to steer around spandex-clad
idiots who were oblivious to all but their headphones and ankle-weights.
Regardless, he had come to realize that there was no room in a
health-nut's world for a man like him. With his cigarettes and beer and
chicken-fried steaks and cornbread, he was a sort-of Health-freak's
Antichrist. A drunken, black-lunged, clogged-arteried Avatar of
Most people have sense enough to avoid things they don't like. Most
people also have sense enough not to antagonize people who wear guns.
But there exists a breed of sanctimonious fool that is compelled to seek
out the things that offend them in order to have a chance to feel
high-minded. This Damn Jogger was apparently that sort of fool. With a
whole empty street to jog in, she was mak- ing a point of jogging right
up under the awning next to him, a look of mortal disdain on her sharp
She paused for a moment, still jogging in place, bouncing up-and- down
like a jack-in-the-box. Number One grinned and made a point of
obviously following the motion of her breasts under her 'Pease Pottage'
The woman coughed daintily and glared at him. When he affected not to
notice, she coughed a bit louder until he looked up at her. (Actually,
though he turned his face up to her, behind the mirror- shades he was
still looking at her chest.)
She said in a high, annoying whine, "Don't you know that second- hand
"Oh yeah?" he asked. He took a deep drag on the Marlboro and exhaled a
thick cloud of smoke directly into her face. He watched for a moment as
she coughed and fanned at the air, then said, grin- ning, "It don't kill
fast _enough_, that's for sure..."
The young man looked carefully around and, seeing no one, darted from
cover at a stealthy run. He ducked behind an obstacle and listened for
the sound of danger, but all was quiet. Dropping to his belly, he
wriggled behind a low barricade and crouched, panting, in a concealed
position. From here, his objective was in sight. He gathered himself,
muttered a quick prayer for success, and charged across the final
stretch of open ground to his goal.
"Umm... can I help you... sir?" the saleslady asked.
David nervously stared about, then swiftly thrust something onto the
countertop. "Ineedtobuythese," he blurted.
"Uh, oh... kay," the saleslady replied, lifting the item up where she
could see what it was.
She had just enough time to see that it was a pair of pink silk pan-
ties before David hurriedly pushed her hands back down.
"Are you crazy?" he said, wide-eyed. "People might see!"
The sales clerk replied with a raised eyebrow.
"Just sell me the stupid things," he moaned. "And hurry." He kept
fidgetting and craning his flabby neck around at every noise while she
rang the panties up.
"That'll be three pounds, sir."
He thrust a fiver at her and she smiled benignly as she gave him his
change. "You know," she said conversationally, "it's nothing to be
David broke off his head-swivelling and looked at her curiously. "It
"Of course not. Lots of famous and well-respected people are that way."
"Why, gay, of course. Alexander the Great. Michaelangelo. Oscar
David's face went redder than the Politburo. "I'm not gay!" he ex-
"...Martina Navratilova. Walt Whitman. Tinky-winky. Davros..."
"I _said_ I'm not... What? Davros is gay?"
"As a debutante."
David drew back in puzzlement. "How do you figure?"
The saleslady smiled knowingly. "Come on, now. As if the Daleks aren't
loaded with phallic symbolism..."
Adric left Alexander Carter to sort through the various boxes of goods
and wandered toward the back of the store. He poked idly at a couple of
things, at last coming to a battered cardboard box with 'Augusta'
stamped on the side. A familiar glimmer caught his eye, and he looked
inside to see a little gold star, a miniature of the one he habitually
wore on his shirt.
"Crap," Carter swore. "You'd think Uncle Jack would send some- thing
other than weapons once in a while." Disgusted, he shoved away a box of
assorted knives and daggers.
"What's this over here?" Adric called.
"Just some junk my Uncle Jimmy picked up at a flea market some- where in
Georgia," Carter replied disdainfully. "The poor old guy used to be a
peanut farmer, but he hasn't held a real job since 1981..."
Adric, rooting around in the box, tuned the man out. That little star
had him intrigued. Rather than having a clasp to be worn as a badge,
the miniature seemed more a pendant or something. Soon, Adric dug out a
container full of little ornaments and short golden chains.
Seeing his interest, Carter came and looked over his shoulder, his
too-something presence making the boy a bit nervous. "Oh," he said
pleasantly. "Charm bracelets."
"Charm bracelets?" asked Adric.
"Yeah. You know. They were big a few years ago. Let me show you..."
The shopkeeper took one of the little chains and began clip- ping
various ornaments to it. "See. You were supposed to personal- ize each
bracelet for its owner by picking and choosing the charms to put on it."
He looked slyly at Adric. "Girls used to go crazy for them..."
Adric grimaced. "_Crazy_ I don't need. Still... hmmm..."
Opinions were, one might say, mixed about Darren's plan to catch the
Eric, hiding behind a parked car, thought to himself, "This has to be
the stupidest thing I have ever heard of."
Conversely, Tyson was thinking, "I've never heard of anything stu- pider
than this," while lurking in a doorway across the street.
These opinions can be sharply contrasted with David's. David was
standing in the middle of the street, waving a pair of pink panties in
the air, and saying, "Oh, look! A pair of panties!" in a loud and
distinct voice. His personal, unvoiced take on the issue was, "This
plan is stupider than anything a sane mind could devise."
Darren, not unexpectedly, was of the belief that his plan was a tact-
ical masterpiece to set alongside Waterloo and El Alamein. Or rath- er,
he would have thought that if he had known about Waterloo and El
Alamein. His actual thoughts were, "This is as cool as what that guy
and that other guy did," but we know what he meant.
The Iron Duke of WANKER was currently kneeling a short distance behind
David, the crossbow ready to fire. His plan was simply this:
1) Use the panties as bait to draw the pantyraider 2) Shoot him when
he came up to get them 3) Beat on him if he was still alive 4) Accept
deep soul-kisses of gratitude from the distraught Traken
The truly ironic thing about all this was that, while it was indeed a
_spectacularly_ stupid idea, it could very well end up working.
Remember, Happosai was no Napoleon Bonaparte himself...
It was _perfect_!
Well, actually, it wasn't. But, it was the best Adric could do.
"Are you sure that's what you want?" Carter asked.
"Yes. You know what they say. 'When in doubt, buy a woman some
The merchant looked curiously at the little charm bracelet, shaking his
head. "This girl of yours must be something different."
"She's not my girl," Adric said automatically. "But, yes, she's about
as 'different' as they come."
Carter smiled a mysterious, knowing smile that really got on Adric's
nerves. "Apparently," he said, although which part of Adric's state-
ment he was replying to was unclear.
Adric slid him the credit card and pondered the gift as Carter rang it
up. He mentally went over Ryoko's advice. The bracelet was pretty, all
right, being 14 karat gold. Being jewelry, it was by nature imprac-
tical. It was nice, but only cost 85 pounds. As for conveying the
giver's feelings, that was where the charms came in. Each was indi-
vidually chosen to represent some facet of their relationship:
a sword, to represent her streak of violence;
a skull, to represent, umm... her _other_ streak of violence;
a scythe, to represent, err... uh... some _more_ violence;
a snake, to represent her _cold-blooded_ violence;
a heart, just because girls expected that sort of thing on a piece of
jewelry and for _no_ other reason; (Seriously. No other reason at all.
and a star, just because.
There it was. That _old_ feeling again...
Happosai perked up as he turned a corner just out of the girl's grasp
for the umpteenth time that day. He felt the soft tug at his heart, the
gentle call to his soul that could only mean one thing:
"SOMEBODY'S GOT SOME PANTIES!!! YEEEE-HAAA!!"
The wretched old pervert zoomed away, the flagging Trakenite hot on his
"Do you even know how to work that thing, Darren?"
"Duh. You just pull the trigger, moron."
Despite Darren's persuasive and logical answer, David remained a bit
skeptical. "Don't you think--"
"Shut up and keep waving the panties."
Sigh. "Yes, sir." David turned back around just as a tiny brown shape
cannoned into him, battle-cry on its shrivelled lips.
Things happened very quickly at that point. David took the impact of
the old pervert's body and went down, feeling the panties yanked from
his hand as he fell. The old man used David as a launchpad to spring
toward Darren, who pulled the trigger according to plan. Unfortunately
for his grand strategy, he forgot to aim the crossbow, so the bolt went
sailing well over Happosai's head and over several buildings.
At this point, Darren felt something land on his head, then push him
sharply downward. Happosai had landed on him and used him as a
stepping-stone to leap to a nearby roof. His last vision as he said
'Hello' to Mr. Pavement and, soon afterward, Mr. Unconsciousness, was of
the angelic object of his adoration coming up to him, sweaty, exhausted,
and utterly infuriated.
There exist lines of force that crisscross throughout the Universe,
weaving a tangled web across the fabric of creation, to use a badly
phrased metaphor. Many cultures are familiar with this network of
In Britain, the paths are known as 'ley lines', and are blamed for all
manner of unfortunate naming of geographic features.
In China, they are called 'Dragon Paths', and architecture is often
designed to utilize or avoid certain of these energies.
Among the Ogrons, the energy paths are referred to as 'Guruk-narg'. This
roughly translates as, 'you are going to be really, really sorry you
ever got involved with this thing, trust me', which makes a lot more
sense than all that 'Dragon Path' crap, if you think about it. As a
cur- ious side-note, the term 'Guruk-narg' is often used interchangeably
with the Ogron word for 'wife'.
Regardless, one thing that is generally agreed upon is that the places
where these lines come together are not among the safest places to be.
Witness, for example, the lines of force that were rapidly closing in on
a spot directly in front of the main entrance of Carter's Imports. From
one direction, we have the force represented by a badly-shot crossbow
bolt arcing across the block at a high rate of speed. From the opposite
direction, we have Number One closing in on the same spot, a balloon
full of Jusenkyou-Cursed water poised to throw. And, lastly, we have
Adric of Alzarius, blissfully walking out the door with a small paper
sack in his hand and a slightly goofy smile on his face.
_Somebody_ was going to get Guruk-narged, but good.
--to be concluded
Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Five