Quack Experimental Fanfic Excel Saga > The Odd Trio — Irregular Again! > Slings and Buffets of Outrageous Fortune

There was a crisis brewing. And, as with most grave crises that plague this tired old world of ours, it was brewing up inside a large pantomime crustacean.

“Senior?” hissed Hyatt as she wiped at the trickle of blood that was starting from her mouth. She wriggled weakly against the enfolding shrouds of the lobster-tail costume.

“Uh-huh. Just a minute, Ha-chan.” Excel, at the front end of the comical fabric shellfish, was engrossed in what a strange little girl was telling her.

“Senior?” Hyatt’s fragile whisper was a bit weaker, yet at the same time more insistent.

“Hold on, Ha-chan. This weird chick’s giving me a really good recipe.” Turning her attention back to the world outside the lobster suit, Excel went on, “Now what was it you add to the cat meat before you simmer it, Miss Delirium? Tungsten and peppermint schnapps, was it?”

“Senior, this costume is very stifling. Hyatt can barely breathe in it…”

“Yeah, yeah,” Excel shot back distractedly, still intent on the recipe for tabby vindaloo à la Slough. There came a soft cough and a whimper from behind her, then something warm and wet splattered on her back as the back half of the costume sagged to the floor.

“AAH! HA-CHAN!” Excel shrieked as it finally penetrated the neutronium-like block that served as her skull what was happening. She began running around in little circles, as was her wont, dragging the dead-weight rear of the lobster suit behind her and looking for all the world like a paraplegic crawfish, a sight that could not fail to move the most stout-hearted crustacean enthusiast to tears. “Holy teacakes, Ha-chan, you should have said you were dying again!”

Her frantic and wholly uncoordinated charging about eventually carried both Excel and her dead partner back out the doorway, where she managed to trip over the lawn sprinkler. The subsequent fall ripped the lobster suit in two, freeing them both.

Ian happened to be walking by at just that moment, having picked up a fresh car battery and set of jumper cables for the guests who were stranded up the road. Excel’s eyes lit up like maniacal little green headlights as she leaped up and snatched them out of his hands.

“Gimme those, you spawn of the ignorant masses, or you’ll be cleaning lemur butts with your tongue under the new regime!” Not giving Ian a chance to respond, she quickly clipped the cables to the battery and jammed the other ends down Hyatt’s gaping and quite expansive cleavage. “Homemade defibrillator, ON! Wakey-wakey, Ha-chan!”

Hyatt’s body tensed once, twice, then her soulful amber eyes fluttered open, her magnificent chest hitching slightly, the milky-smooth flesh quivering and her thighs—my God! what legs, the kind of legs you just want to take your tongue to and—

[There was a brief pause as agent Misaki Matsuya of the F City Municipal Defense Force smacked the author upside the head.]

Anyway, Hyatt woke up.

“Oh my, senior, is it morning already?”

“Up and at ’em, Ha-chan. And I’d appreciate it if you could try and keep yourself alive for a little while on account of, contrary to what may or may not have happened in Episode 26, I really don’t enjoy putting my hands all over your chest, in spite of the considerable appeal your bosom doubtless holds for all those legions of fanboys out there—you know who you are!—and, admittedly, their pleasing firm softness which I don’t see how you maintain considering how sick you always are and… uh… what was Excel talking about, anyway?”

But Hyatt had more pressing concerns. “Senior, our infiltration costume is destroyed, and was not truly that effective at deflecting attention from us to begin with. What shall we do now?”

“Hrrrmmm…” Excel thought. She pondered. She considered. She ruminated. She introspected. She picked her nose. “I know!” she declared at long last. “We’ll turn our whole approach aroundish and attack the problem head-on. We will hide in plain sight and go up the middle and charge into the Valley of Death like the Six Hundred, but without the horses and stuff. In short, we will disguise ourselves as… OURSELVES!”

Hyatt applauded, still lying flat on her back. “What a marvelous adaptation to circumstances, senior.”

“But of course! Now, let us boldly stride into our enemy’s very rumpus-room! Er, if you can get up yet, that is.”

Hyatt held up a single finger in a ‘hold on’ gesture, then rolled over and vomited a mouthful of blood into the remains of the lobster costume. “Okay, all better now,” she trilled as she wiped a few errant smears off her chin and clambered woozily to her feet.

Excel just wrinkled her nose. “Hey, Ha-chan. Remind me to get our deposit back from the costume shop before we hand that suit back, okay?”

“Nuku-Nuku is worried about the dark-haired girl who just came in,” Nuku-Nuku said. “She smells as if she dies.”

Trella blinked. “Dies? As in ‘she’s going to die’?”

Nuku-Nuku shook her head. “Nuku-Nuku doesn’t mean that. Nuku-Nuku means she smells as if she dies, over and over.”

“Dies? Eep!” Trella started looking frantically around for a means of escape.

“…What’s wrong, Trella-san?”

“Er… has anyone seen Walter?” Trella said. “Wanted to discuss some of his recipes with him…”

“It’s okay, Trella,” Amber said. “I don’t think Nuku-Nuku means she’s a Malakite…”

“…She doesn’t?”

“What’s a Malakite?”

“Warrior angels who can have their human bodies killed and come back for more,” Amber said. “But they come back in a different body. No, you said she smells like she dies, didn’t you, Nuku-Nuku? Dies, comes back, dies, comes back…”

Nuku-Nuku nodded. “Yes, Amber-san.”

“…Oh, you mean like Adric?” Trella said, still somewhat nervous. “But she keeps the same body, yeah?”

“Yes,” Amber said.


“Excuse me, Miss…?”

“I’m Excel, this is Hyatt-chan, and we are innocent party-goers, here to enjoy the party, and absolutely not, not, not agents of a not-nice secret organisation, here to infiltrate your party and learn all we can.”

“…Right,” Trella said. “Um… I couldn’t help noticing, your friend’s not looking too good, and I wondered if I could help?”

“Ha-chan? Not well? Of course not!” Excel protested.

Hyatt confirmed Excel’s assertation by coughing horribly, specks of blood flecking her mouth.

“See?” Excel said. “Ha-chan’s fine!”

“Still…” Trella said.

She rested her hand on Hyatt’s, and started to chant under her breath.

Hyatt’s cough abruptly stopped.

Hyatt blinked. “Er… senior, I appear to have stopped dying for the moment…”

Excel’s eyes went wide, and she glomped Trella fervently. “THANK YOU! Thankyou­thankyou­thankyou­thankyou! You’ve made Ha-chan stop dying! How can Excel ever repay you?!”

“…I think my rhythm’s been thrown off again, senior…” Hyatt said.

Excel waved off Hyatt’s protest. “Anything you want, Excel will do! Name it, and Excel will do it! Command it, and Excel shall leap to obey! Ask Excel to jump, and Excel will ask ‘how high’? Ask Excel to sh—”

Trella coughed in embarrassment. “Er… why don’t we leave that for later, okay? You two have a good party.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Excel declaimed. “Come on, Ha-chan, you heard her! Let’s have a good party!”

“Coming, senior,” Hyatt said.

Trella watched the two of them go, then headed back to Amber, shaking her head.

“Yay!” Nuku-Nuku said. “Trella-san made the girl stop dying!”

Trella nodded. “You know the weird thing? I think I ended up with a Geas-hook on her friend…”

“Hm…” Amber said.

Trella looked over at the ACROSS agents. “Dark Humour. They’ve got to be Dark Humour. No-one else’s that insane.”

“You’d be surprised…” Amber observed wryly.

“Uh-huh,” Trella said sceptically.

Just then, the door opened yet again. “Gordon!” a voice called. “Gordon, are you in here?”

Gordon turned from where he was trying to keep Igor away from what Daibhid had started calling the “deus in machina” (the god into the machine) and blinked. “Oh, Lordy,” he said. “I think I preferred the lobster.”

Standing in the doorway was a figure who closely resembled the Fourth Doctor. Aside from being five feet tall, covered in shaggy brown fur and having a huge, wrinkled snout, that is. Eloise and Florestan hurried up to greet him. “Welcome to the Quadrille,” Florestan said, shaking the alien creature by his four-fingered hand. And, er, you are?”

“Doctor Whozonfirst, renegade Time Guy. Pleased to meet you. Have you seen my companion Gordon Shumway?”

“He’s at the food table,” called out Daibhid, who had finally got the Rucksack away from Delirium, but was still recovering from having spent over a minute in conversation with her. “To avoid confusion with our own Gordon, maybe you should call him Alf for the duration?” He pointed to where a slightly smaller figure of similar appearance was shoveling food at a rate even Bob the Muse couldn’t match.

“No problemo,” replied Doctor Whozonfirst. “Have a jelly kitten.”

Eloise and Florestan exchanged glances. “Renegade ‘Time Guy’?” Eloise repeated.

Florestan shrugged expressively. “Your guess is as good as mine, I’m afraid.”

Schroedy wandered the depths of Sweetheart looking for the kitchen. The multi-dimensional architecture of the TARDIS held no mystery for him. He always knew exactly where he was. He also knew who Doctor Whozonfirst and Gordon Shumway were, which was why he’d decided a very good place for a cat to be was somewhere else. He also knew what Bob the Muse’s secret was, and didn’t understand why everyone, including Bob, seemed so worked up about it. He knew all kinds of things, and certainly a lot more than Daibhid. He even knew where things actually went when they were put in the Rucksack.

So it was a great shame that he couldn’t talk, and probably wouldn’t have shared much of this even if he could. Besides, there was a kitchen to find. Cats believe in the importance of clear priorities.

“I told you we should have just used a portal,” Alryssa muttered.

The lanky blue sprite glowered at her from his position beneath the bonnet of the hovercar. In the back seat, another young woman, wearing all black save for a silver ankh around her neck, appeared completely unruffled by the situation as she skimmed through a comic.

“Well, I’m sorry for wanting us to arrive in style,” he huffed, then turned his attention back to the distraught engine. “This thing just seems to go through interociters like there’s no next cycle.”

He reached in, and began fiddling once more. Alryssa sighed, and wandered back to the car.

“Maybe I should have brought Robin with us after all,” she pondered aloud, plonking herself beside Death in the back seat. The pale young woman glanced up from the comic book, her usual cheery expression in place.

“Oh, don’t worry. It’ll all be fine. No biggie!” She winked.

“Damn you and your endless optimism.”

“Endless. Cute.” Death grinned.

“Not intentional,” came the reply.

There was silence for a little while, broken only by the clinking and tinkling of parts being removed, inspected, sometimes sworn at, and put back in. Alryssa stared blankly ahead, lost in her own thoughts.

“So you’re going to just sit and watch me fix this thing?”

Alryssa lifted her head to see Glitch-Bob wiping his hands on an already-oily rag, a half-smile on his boyish features.

“Look at me. I’m wearing a silk dress that’s covered in glass beads and weighs half a ton.”

He shook his head—the silicon dreads that constituted his hair never moving, of course—and moved back to the front of the car.

Then, a noise, faint at first, but growing steadily louder, made itself heard in the dark night. Glitch-Bob looked up to see what it was—too fast, because his head met the underside of the bonnet, and had an immediate disagreement. His yelp of pain was drowned out by the swelling noise of an arriving TARDIS.

“What the—”

“It’s OK, Bob,” Alryssa yelled. “I think the Cavalry’s here.”

The shape rippled into existence, announcing itself with a very satisfying ‘ker-thud’. Bob was about to ask what a Cavalry was, exactly, when the door opened and two people piled out, toolboxes and paisley scarf at the ready.

Glitch-Bob’s brow furrowed. He wasn’t keen on the idea of two strange people working on his car. Alryssa waved vaguely from inside the convertible.

Seventh approached the disabled vehicle and its beleaguered owner.

“Ah, there you are! Right, let’s see what the problem is.”

Bob stepped back, despite his misgivings. “Ahhhh,” Seventh said, as he buried himself underneath the bonnet. “I seeeeee.”

Chris hung back, admiring the hovercar. “Nice,” he said. Glitch-Bob grinned wryly.

“Yeah, it is… when it works.”

Alryssa clambered out of the car. “Look, can we just stuff this into the TARDIS and get to the party? We can fix it later. I need something to drink or I’m going to kill something.”

“I’ve got some lemonade—” Chris started.

“No. I mean, drink. I demand to have some booze!”

Chris was so startled to hear this come out of the mouth of what appeared at first glance to be such a small, demure young lady that he burst out laughing. One look, however, shut him up soundly.

Seventh withdrew from the carnage, and let the bonnet slam shut.

“Rrright,” he said. “Let’s get this thing into the TARDIS.”

“How exciting!” Death hopped out of the car.

Glitch-Bob looked worried. “What’s a TARDIS?” he asked his Writer.

Alryssa patted him on the shoulder—it was cold, she noted, probably due to that chrome duty armour he wore all the time. “I’ll explain later,” she said.

There is a House which stands on a hill. It’s an interesting house, which gets its interior and décor from the minds of its inhabitants. Much has been written on this subject, however, so we will give it a miss. Two travellers appear from a nearby lane and walk to the front door. They knock.

The door opened. A Muse stood in it, her red hair piled high on her head in some ridiculous fashion. Her dark green gown was of something that might have been velvet.

Harvey peered up at the Muse, and smiled. “Oh, yes, I can see this is going to be a… pleasant evening.”

Reaching over, John smacked the back of the neural-clone’s head. “Shut up, Harv.”

“What the frell is he doing here?” Rylla was not amused to see the half-scarran hybrid leering mockingly up at her when she opened the door.

“He’s my date,” the human standing there replied. He was tall and his brown hair was slightly disarranged. Black leather pants encased his legs while a white dress shirt covered his upper body. His feet were encased in black boots, and the holster at his hip was empty.

“Your date?” The Muse eyed the two fictives up and down, taking in the impeccable tuxedo on Harvey, and the rather less formal ensemble Crichton sported.

“He looks smashing, don’t you, Harvey?”

“Dashing, John. I look dashing in a tux.” Harvey bared his teeth at Rylla and growled approvingly.

The red-haired Muse facepalmed, then sighed. “Fine. Fine. Lyssie’s not going to be happy, but she’ll live. But,” she waved a finger at Harvey, “No plotting to kill people, steal time travel technology, or being generally rude. And no naked sebacean girls.”

“Awwww. You take all the fun out of it,” the leather-mask-wearing halfbreed replied.

“Don’t sulk, Harvey, at least I’m letting you out of the dumpster.”

A commotion behind the Muse drew their attention to a woman running down the stairs. She was clad in black velvet pants, a dark green poet’s shirt and a cream vest with darker cream embroidery. On her feet were black leather boots. “Rylla! Is—HARVEY!” She stopped, and narrowed her eyes, stalking the last several steps until she was standing in the foyer. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“He’s Crichton’s date,” Rylla replied, her lips twitching in amusement.

Lyss blinked, then grinned. “Oh. Good idea.” She reached out and patted Crichton’s arm. “Just remember, hide behind the bar and pretend you’re the bartender if there are fangirls stalking you.”

Stepping into the center of the foyer, Rylla gestured. “If you could all stand a bit closer, I’ll teleport you there.”

“As long as you don’t leave my stomach behind, this time.”

“I was hungover, last time,” the Muse protested defensively.

“Ah. Gonna blame that on Frank or Kel?”


“Hey, can we go? My buddy Harvey here is looking forward to margaritas.”

“And naked sebacean girls,” the neural clone put in, lips smacking.

“There will be no naked sebacean girls,” Lyssie replied dryly. “But we’ll even get you pizza, if you really want it.”

“Well, frell.”

“Hang on a minute.” Lyss eyed her Muse. “What’s this ‘you’ stuff? Aren’t you coming with me?”

“No. I’ve decided that you, John and Harvey in the same room for a protracted period of time would seriously diminish my capacity for reason. I’ll go cuddle Frank, he was looking kind of lonely.”

“Ah.” With a sigh, Lyss patted Rylla on the arm. “We’ll miss you. And feel free to wander in later, if you get bored.”

“Right.” Her expression not giving anything away save a suspicious twinkle in her eyes, the Muse waved her hand. “Have fun.”

Lyss clutched at her gut, and groaned. “I swear, that’s the last time I believe Rylla.” She glanced around them, and nodded approvingly. “At least she got us here, though.”

They were standing in a cloak room, already half of the available racks were filled with cloaks and jackets of every description. Lyss fingered one or two, then looked at John. “You don’t have any God-like powers I don’t know about, do you?”

“No. Why?”

“You’d have to check them, here.”

“Hey, think we could leave Harvey’s brain here?”

“We could try.”

Harvey growled at the two of them. “Behave, John. You know you like me when I’m smart.”

“Maybe.” Crichton opened the door leading to the main party room. “Hey, they have a bar.” He perked up. “Do you think they have beer?”

Eyeing him with misgiving, Lyss asked, “What kind?”

“Oh, any. Just. Beer.” He sighed with gusto. “It’s been so long… And it wasn’t even real, the last time.”

“Probably. C’mon, we can only get drunk if we drink. And I need something to settle my stomach.”

“Wise words,” Harvey mocked.

Lyss reached back and smacked him. “Behave or I’ll write you into Scorpius and Sinister smut.”

“Oh, horrors,” the neural-clone muttered. But he stayed silent as they stepped up to the bar.

John smiled at Allie. “Hey, darlin’. Got any beer?”

“American, Canadian, German, British—”

He waved a hand, cutting her off. “Just beer. Any.”

“Right.” She pulled him a pint, then turned to Lyss and Harvey. “Orders?”

“Bottle of Baileys,” was Lyss’s reply. “And a shot glass.”

“I can’t give you the entire bottle.”

Lyss sighed. “Triple shot, then. Two or three at least. I feel an immediate need to get as tipsy as possible before anything happens requiring me to use logic.”

“And you, sir?” Allie asked Harvey as she expertly poured out three tall shots of irish cream.

“Vodka martini. Dry.”

Once they had received their drinks, they moved to a table in the corner. Lyss surveyed the other guests and smiled. “This could be very amusing, I think.”

“You should’ve let me bring Aeryn,” John muttered as he sipped his beer.


Nearby, Ana spotted someone vaguely familiar. She squinted, then grinned and waved. “Delirium, darlin’, how are ya?”

“I know you. No. I don’t.” The girl giggled and sidled up to them. She waved a hand at Harvey. “You need more color in your life. Bright pinks and yellows. Yes.” She leaned towards Lyss. “I know something secret.”


“You’re very purple.”

“Thank you.”

John and Harvey shared a look, then John looked at Lyss. “So, you display insanity often?”

“Of course,” Lyss replied brightly.

“Drat,” said Seventh. “Isn’t that always the way?”

Alryssa joined him at his TARDIS’ console. “What’s the matter?” She had so hoped that this year’s Pro-Fun party would be unencumbered by battles against the destruction of the universe. But it seemed she was wrong, and it was all going wrong before she even arrived at the party—

“Someone’s stolen my parking space,” explained Seventh.


Gordon ran over and gave Lyssie a big hug.

“John, Harvey.” Gordon looked over Harvey’s outfit. “Glad you didn’t wear the Hawaiian shirt this time.”

“I’m sorry, do I know you?”

“No, but my muse once threatened to inspire me to write fic about you two getting jiggy with it if I didn’t order pizza.”

John and Harvey looked at each other.

“Me?” asked John. “With him?”


“I’d sooner do D’Argo.”

“Don’t blame me, it was my muse’s idea.”

Lyssie just grinned at John and Harvey’s discomfort.

“Anyway,” said Gordon, “I’m off to drag Igor away from the shiny things, see you later!”

As he wandered over to where Igor was still transfixed by dozens of shiny lights and buttons, he looked round to see where everyone else was. He could see the Nth Doctor and Katherine in deep conversation with a couple of people he didn’t recognise. Yokoi was over by the bar, chatting with a small black cat. Silence was wandering round, looking at everything and enthusiastically waving her hands at anyone she crossed paths with.

Gordon tapped Igor on the shoulder. “Down, boy.”

“Aw. But there’s so many of them. Flashing lights. Buttons. Can’t I push just one?”

“No, you pushed ‘just one’ in the TARDIS and look what happened. Lucky we found that bus stop.”

“Lucky we landed with the doors pointing up.”

“Lucky we missed those cows. Anyway, I need some help, the 7th Doctor’s bringing Alryssa’s car in and I’m sure they’ll need a hand with it.”

“Ooh, you know me, always ready to lend a helping hand, or two.”

“Or three.”

“That was an honest mistake. Anyway, it was clean, I sterilised it myself the previous afternoon.”

“Added a whole new spin on the phrase ‘finger rolls’ though.”

Igor grinned. “Yeah.”

“Anyway, bring your tools, we may need them.”

“Okay dokey.”

She ‘popped’ into the fray, quietly, in a corner, her head bowed, a dull headscarf wrapped tightly around her tresses. It contrasted with the green cocktail dress she wore. Hastily, she made a beeline for the bar, and took a seat.

“Three shots of strawberi vodka, on the double,” she said.

“Tessa? Is that you?”

The woman turned to her left to see Yokoi, Lyss and Allie at her side. “Hey! Long time no see!” said Lyss.

“I s’pose,” came the muttered response.

“Eh? What’s up?” Yokoi eyed the headscarf suspiciously. She squinted, then saw the betraying lock of hair peeking out from the headpiece’s confines. She squealed in delight. “You dyed your hair!”

“Shhhhh!” Tessa flushed a deep shade of scarlet.

“What colour is it?” Allie asked, and reached forward to grab at the headscarf. Tessa yelped and tried to get away from her, but Lyss was faster, and managed to grab the scarf, pulling it from her hair.

“Give that back!”

“Whoa… Tess…” Allie’s jaw literally dropped.

Tessa scowled, putting her hands on her hips. Her now-free hair, a mass of unruly curls, spilled onto her shoulders. “Give. It. Back.”

Yokoi bounced excitedly, “Wow! How’d you get it that shade?”

“It was an accident, if you must know.”

“It’s very you,” Lyss nodded, sagely.

Tessa eyed her friend warily. “Really?”

A nod. “Purple’s a very in colour right now. ’Sides, it goes with your dress.”

A pause. Then: “Oh. Fair enough.”

“Where’s Alryssa?”

“Um, she’s on her way. Something about her fictive Bob wanting to come ‘in style’.”

“HEY!” came a male voice from the other side of the bar. “You went and left a guy over here with abandonment issues!”

Lyss shook her head. “Then come over here!”

Crichton stared into his drink. “But that would mean moving!” he shot back. Harvey looked somewhat put out.

“But John, there are women over there!”

“Go put your head through a mangle, Harv. I’m comfortable here.”

“I swear, I’m going to club him with my empties,” Lyss muttered.

Somewhere near the entrance, a large, reflective, shiny sphere grew into existence, becoming larger and larger until it was big enough for a person to emerge from—which they did. Several, in fact.

“We could have walked from the parking space, you know,” Chris said, as the portal shrank into nothingness behind them.

Glitch-Bob smirked. “But that would have taken all the fun out of it!”

“Oh, behave,” Alryssa retorted.

Death grinned, as they walked inside. “I’ve never been to a Quadrille before. Do you think there’ll be lobsters and whiting?”

“Only on the buffet table,” Chris replied.

“I’m sure your sister can provide some live ones, if she felt like it,” Alryssa added, as a shoal of brightly-coloured fish swam past them. There was a faint whiff of green.

Death chuckled. Bob looked bemused.

“This whole real world thing is just too weird for me,” he concluded.

“We haven’t even warmed up yet, Bob,” Alryssa said.

“Oh, boy.”

“Just wait until Lyss brings out the rubber chickens.”

His resulting expression said it all.

Gordon and Igor stopped in mid-step. “Ah, they got here okay then,” Gordon said. “Oh well, just means we can get back to the bar… and no, you can’t go back and look at the pretty lights.”

Igor’s shoulders slumped. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaw.”


Gordon turned, and was suddenly assailed by a flying bundle of ballgown and limbs.

“Gack! Hey, Ryss!” he laughed, as she squeezed him so tight he thought his ribs would crack. “Easy on the merchandise, ok?”

“Oops. Sorry. Look! I brought Bob with me, and Death, and… Tessa… I don’t know where Tessa is, but I’m sure she’s around here somewhere.”

Glitch-Bob waved vaguely at the yet-another-person-he-didn’t-know, as he surveyed the teeming throngs of people chatting like old friends.

“He looks like he could use a drink,” Gordon murmured.

“He and I both.”

Death pointed towards the bar. “Looks like we’re in time for the second round.”

“Hey, guys,” Imran said cheerfully. “What’re you up for this time, Ryss? Guinness? Welsh beer? Baileys?”

“Hey, Imran!” Alryssa said. “Baileys for me, and, er…” She glanced at her travelling companions.

“Ooh, milkshake!” Death said. “I’ll have a strawberry, thanks.”

“Whatever you’ve got,” Bob requested.

“I’ll see what I can find,” Imran said.

“Hey, Ryss!” a voice yelled from further along the bar.

“Lyss? Over here!”

Lyssie and Harvey headed for Alryssa, a reluctant John in their wake.

“Is he okay?” Gordon wondered.

“He’s just pissed ’cause he’s had to move,” Lyssie said.

“Ah.” Gordon leaned back to get a look at where the Odd Muses were chatting away. “Well, they’re having fun…” His eyes narrowed as he caught sight of Tessa’s hair colour. “Wait a minute…”

Alryssa chuckled. “Three guesses why she didn’t want to be seen coming in with me, and the first two don’t count.”

“Ah…” Gordon said wisely.

Lyssie caught sight of where Sandra was tending bar, blinked as it sank in, and looked back at where Allie, Tessa and Yokoi were chatting. “Hey, wait a minute…”

“That’s Allie’s sister, Sandra,” Imran explained. “Allie’s my Muse.” He set Death’s drink down. “Here you go.”

“Thanks!” Death said.

“Oh, right,” Lyssie said. She peered closer at Imran, trying to place his face. “Er…”

“Imran,” Imran said. “We met three years back at the Hoedown.”

“Oh, right.” Lyssie said. “How’d that turn out, anyway?”

“Well, we managed to save Cyberspace, prank the Black Guardian and tickle the Valeyard into redemption,” Imran said, setting Bob’s drink down. “Here you go.”

“Thanks,” Bob said.

“Wish some of our RRs went that easily…” Lyssie murmured.

Alryssa, Gordon and Imran winced.

“Tell us about it…” Alryssa said.

Lyssie raised an eyebrow.

“Long story,” Imran said. “Very long story.”

“At least we don’t have to deal with any evil gods threatening the Universe this time,” Gordon observed.

“And Goddess—and Sweetheart—willing, we’re not going to,” Alryssa said.

Both of Lyssie’s eyebrows raised. “You guys too, huh?”

Alryssa, Gordon and Imran looked at each other, and nodded.

“Yep,” they said as one.

When Donald caught up with Paul again, he was standing by one of the buffet tables looking pensive.

“Something wrong?”

“What? No, just thinking,” Paul said, deciding that the story didn’t need any more writer introspection at this point.

“Come and say hello to the Odd Trio, then,” the duck suggested. “They’re over by the bar.”

“Now there’s a surprise,” Paul murmured.

Donald briefly debated the merits of kicking Paul on the ankle, but decided that it wasn’t worth the effort of climbing up Paul’s leg.

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Story copyright © 2003 the original authors; this compilation copyright © 2003–2005 Igenlode Wordsmith and Paul Andinach; HTML modified by Imran Inayat.