by Fritz Fraundorf
WARNING: The following fanfic contains Xenogears and Metal Gear Solid spoilers, and, due to its content, should not be read by anyone.
DISCLAIMER: As I have not actually played Xenogears, I might have some of the character names (aside from the Citan debacle) or their personalities / catchphrases wrong. Bear with me, okay?
"Hey, move it," Spekkio said to Mog. He spun the CD that was hooked over his index finger. "I wanna play Metal Gear Solid."
"I was just about to play Xenogears, kupo," Mog said.
"Tough toasties," Spekkio said as he tried to pry the PlayStation controller out of Mog's hands.
Mog took a bite out of his Grizzly Twizzly as he tried to wrestle the controller away from Spekkio. "I was here first!"
"Are you messin' with The World's Best Game?" Spekkio demanded.
"Hey, hey, guys, settle down," Neko said from the corner of the room. "Let's play both." He grabbed a bottle of beer and slammed it down on top of the TV set. There was a bit of static and then...
"XENOGEARS SOLID!" an announcer thundered. "The World's Best Game! Brought to you by... Square Capcom Konami Sony EA!"
* * *
"Over here! This way!" Mog called. "Get your villain aptitude rated! Step right up!"
"Wow, that looks pretty neat," Eve said to her date, Sephiroth. "Let's go get rated."
Eve and Sephiroth crossed the plaza to the booth and got in line behind Kronos from Tales of Destiny, who was in the process of being rated. Mog was holding up what appeared to be a barcode scanner to Kronos's forehead and tapping his foot while he awaited the results. Suddenly, the scanner dinged, and Mog checked on a LED panel on the side. "You get... an F minus. Oh, I'm sorry, it looks like you suckupo." Mog shoved Kronos onto a gray platform and pressed a button inside the booth. The platform shot up on out of the ground on a spring, catapulting Kronos into the air and sending him flying off into the distance.
"Next!" Mog called.
Sephiroth stepped up to the booth. Mog pressed a button on his scanner to clear it, then held it up to Sephiroth's forehead. Seph squirmed impatiently as he was slowly scanned.
Crouched down behind a tree, Kefka was watching the scene with glee. "Heh, heh," he chuckled to himself. "If I can score higher than that Sephiroth dude, I might be able to score with Eve. Huh, huh, cool."
The scanner beeped. Mog held it up and read Sephiroth's rating. "You get... a D. Well, you were better than the last guy." Before Sephiroth could stop him, Mog quickly pushed Seph onto the gray panel and hit the button to throw him into the air, but at at a slightly lower angle than Kronos.
Kefka made his move. "Huh, huh, that guy sucked 'n stuff," he announced as he swaggered out from behind the tree and stepped up to Mog's booth. "Like, scan me."
Mog eyed him levelly. "Go to hell, Kefka," he said, reaching down into the booth and pulling out a pistol. He shot Kefka in the head once, then calmly put it away again as if nothing had happened.
"Yes! He's dead!" Eve exclaimed, staring down at Kefka's corpse.
"He was sure annoying, kupo," Mog said. "Want me to rate you?"
Suddenly, a white sphere appeared in the air and slowly formed into the shape of Alhazad. "Khhk khhk khhk," Alhazad said. "Rate me, mortal."
Nervously, Mog held the scanner up to Alhazad's forehead. The scanner started to hum, and then the hum grew into a screech. Mog dropped the scanner just in time as the device overloaded and exploded into pieces. "We have a winner!" Mog exclaimed. "Everyone, go home now! Show's over!"
* * *
On board the Yggdrasil
"Sir!" a crewman blurted, running onto the bridge of the Yggdrasil. "There's something stuck in the left tailpipe!"
"A bird?" Bart asked, concerned.
"No, it's something bigger than that," the crewman said. "It appears to be an orange-haired man."
* * *
Kronos struggled to free his arm from the piece of metal it had been jammed through when he got sucked into the engine. The temperature was rising rapidly, and it would make a cripsy critter of him if he didn't get out right away. His arm, however, refused to budge, having been plunged through a sheet of metal and wrapped in some wiring.
Maybe he could gnaw his arm off. Kronos gave his forearm an experimental bite. "Mmmm... tastes like chicken."
* * *
"We're losing altitude rapidly!" another crew member shouted, also running onto the deck. "There's something stuck in our left tailpipe!"
"I know," Bart said solemnly. "Sigurd, bring up the EngineCam (TM)."
Sigurd hit a button on the control panel and one of the viewscreens changed to a display of Kronos in the engine, trying to gnaw his arm off. "You're right," Bart said. "It is an orange-haired man. Looks like he's trying to gnaw his arm off."
"What are we going to do?" the first crew member said. "We're going to crash if we don't get him out of the engine."
"Gosh, I wish we had Mike Tyson here right now," Sigurd said. "He could go give that guy a little help."
"We'll try to make an emergency landing on Sandman Island," Bart announced. "Prepare for impact."
* * *
Sephiroth landed unceremoniously in a sand dune. As he struggled to clear the spots from his vision, he stood up and dusted the sand off his cape. The island on which he had landed appeared to be completely covered by sand, except for a tall warehouse-like building in the distance.
Eve was nowhere to be seen, so Seph set off for the building in hopes of finding some sign of civilization. He had covered half to the distance to the compound -- as he got closer, he could see there were several buildings -- when he suddenly felt a surge of pain through his head.
Sephiroth dropped to the ground, writhing. A phantasmal image of Sephiroth stepped out of Seph's body and ran off in the direction of the building, leaving the real Sephiroth behind.
Sephiroth got to his knees just in time to see the departing figure. "No... not him..." Sephiroth said, seeing his departing clone. It was Marquis Elmdor, also known as the Ideal Sephiroth. In his mission to the FF Tactics world to stop the Umbrella Corporation from conquering the known universe, Sephiroth had encountered his ideal self, created by Umbrella's Deva System. He had merged with the Ideal Sephiroth upon finding his true self -- but now Elmdor was loose again. And considering that he was everything Sephiroth wanted to be, stopping him would be no easy task.
Sephiroth stood up. "Damn," he said.
* * *
"Fei?" Elie called. "Fei? Oh, there you are."
Fei pulled himself out of Bans's pool and tried to shake some of the water off his body. "That was some landing," Elie said.
"Tell me about," Fei grumbled.
"C'mon, everyone else is up on the bridge," Elie urged.
"Yeah, okay," Fei said. He had a throbbing headache, and he felt like a part of him was missing somehow. He followed Elie to the bridge of the Yggdrasil, where the rest of the crew was waiting.
"Is everybody here?" Bart was asking Sigurd.
"Chu-Chu is missing," Sigurd reported. "Everyone else is here."
"Well, it's nice to know that all of our friends and loved ones are safe," Bart said.
"Oh yeah, and Xenogears is missing from the hangar," Sigurd said. "It might have fallen out in the landing."
"Are we going to be able to get back home?" Emeralda asked, concerned.
Sigurd shook his head. "The engines are out. We won't be able to fly without some serious repairs. We've been trying to contact Shebat to get them to fly us out of here, but they haven't responded so far."
Over at the control panel, Shitan was trying once again to radio Shebat. This time, the usual static and interference was cut off when a familiar voice -- but not quite placeable -- started speaking. "Persistent fellow aren't you, Citan?" it said. "Did you think I'd let you get away that easily."
"Shitan," Shitan corrected instantly.
"Who are you?" Bart demanded. "What do you want?"
"You don't recognize me?" the voice chuckled. "My, my. Oh, yes, my demands. I want you to bring Bans the dolphin to the abandoned Gear storage facility on the other side of this island, where I will be waiting to collect him. If you fail to meet my demands within 24 hours, I'll launch a nuclear missile directly at Shebat."
"Hand over Bans? No way!" Bart said.
"What do you want Bans for anyway?" Maria asked, knowing that any self-respecting bad guy would be happy to explain their plans.
"I need his DNA to create my army of talking Scottie dogs."
"Talking Scottie dogs?" Bart said. "What do you want with a bunch of talking Scottie dogs?"
"I want to use them to kill the Taco Bell chihuahua and replace it with a scottie dog, because scottie dogs are a lot cooler than chihuahuas. And considering the popularity of the chihuahua, a talking scottie dog will attract millions of fans around the world, who will then elect me their leader after I put subliminal messages into the commercials! World domination will soon be mine! Mwah ha ha ha!"
"Oh, right, then," Bart said. "Well, you can't have him, so take a hike."
"You'll regret this," the voice said. "Remember, I can launch a nuclear missile at any time." Then the voice disappeared from the radio and the static returned.
Shitan switched off the radio. "Now what are we going to do?" Elie said.
"I know!" Billy exclaimed. "We gotta believe!"
"Nobody likes that stupid chihuahua anyway, so why don't we just give him Bans?" Rico suggested. "It's for a good cause."
"I don't trust him," Bart said simply.
"But we can't let him launch a nuclear missile!" Billy protested.
"Someone has to go into that Gear storage facility and see if he really has a nuclear missile," Shitan said. "Who is it gonna be?"
There was silence. Nobody made any move to volunteer for the mission.
"Okay, let us play Guess the Number," Shitan said. "Fei, try to guess the number I'm thinking of. If you get it wrong, you will have to go. If you get it right, we will try again with somebody else."
"Um... 3," Fei guessed.
"No, it was 1,820,364," Shitan said. "All right, we are counting on you. Do not let us down."
Billy pointed to a radar screen. "There's the base," he said, pointing to a small blip on the radar. "To avoid detection, we'll have you swim around the back side of the island and enter from the rear."
"No can do," Fei said. "I'm only a 'Guppy'."
"Oh," Billy said. "Well, I'll guess you'll have to go in by land then."
"I don't like Gears or fighting," Fei protested.
The others ignored him. "And just to make things more complicated, we're also going to take all your items, too," Bart said. "We would have taken your weapon too, except you don't even have one in the first place."
"It's not my fault," Fei shrugged. "They spent all our weapons budget on FMV."
"But, here, you can have this UFO photo, a spider web, a toy gun, and some Nisan water, because we have no idea what to do with any of it," Bart said, handing Fei a pile of junk. "Remember, the fate of the world is in your hands, so don't mess up. Okay, bye now." Bart rudely shoved Fei out the door and slammed it shut behind him.
* * *
Id boarded the cargo elevator to leave the loading bay at the bottom of the Gear storage facility. "He'll be through here any minute," he told the guards. "Don't let him pass. I'm going to swat down a few bothersome flies." As if on cue, the cargo elevator started to rise at that moment, carrying Id up to the parking garage above.
Left to their own devices, the guards watched the doorway for a while, and quickly became bored. "Man, I'm starved," one of the guards said. "I shoulda brought a sandwich or something."
"Yeah, same here," another guard agreed. "Let's order a pizza." He took a cellular phone out of his belt and dialed a pizza place. "Hello, Shakhan's Pizzeria? I'd like to order a large pepperoni pizza, hold the anchovies, please." There was a pause and then, "What? You don't deliver to remote military installments on remote islands? What the hell's wrong you peop- urrrgh!" The guard's voice was choked off as someone grabbed him behind.
Fei tightened his grasp on the guard, attempting to choke him, before he realized his error. "Oops... that's the Heimlich manuever." Fei grabbed the guard's neck, but the other guard had spotted him. A bright exclamation mark appeared over the second guard's head, then he started firing at Fei.
Fei quickly let go of the first guard and ducked behind a nearby crate to dodge the spray of bullets. "Where'd he go?" the dumbfounded guard wondered. He advanced slowly towards the crate, apparently with no clue of where Fei had just run. As the guard approached him, Fei slipped away and scurried behind a forklift.
After a few minutes of hiding behind the forklift, Fei wondered why he was hiding behind the vehicle when he could be driving it. He quickly threw open the door, hopped it, and threw the ignition. The unsuspecting guard was busily staring at a pile of crates when the forklift bore down on him. Just as he turned to flee, the forklift hit him and knocked him down, its wheels crushing the hapless guard.
When he was satisfied that the guard had been disposed of, Fei hopped out of the forklift and sprinted for the cargo elevator. He froze when somebody shouted his name.
"Fei! Fei, it's me, Billy!" Billy jogged into the building, waving something in the air. "We forgot to give this to you."
"What is it?"
"It's a Codec receiver," Billy explained. "It indirectly stimulates the small bones in your ear. See, there's a little mouse in it that runs to power a wheel that causes a conveyor belt to turn, dropping a tiny bowling ball onto a balance, which pulls a rope attached to a pulley that causes a pair of scissors to cut a rope that's tying down a balloon, and the balloon floats up and hits the small bones in your ear."
"Oh," Fei said. "Well, thanks."
"My Codec number's 170.85," Billy said, pressing the receiver into Fei's hand. "Add me to your contact list, okay?"
"Yeah sure," Fei said.
"I gotta go," Billy said. "This is a one-man infiltration mission, remember?"
As Billy hurried off, Fei boarded the elevator. It immediately started to rise. While he waited for it to reach its destination, Fei attempted to wedge the Codec receiver in his hear. After much effort, he eventually managed to jam it inside. Intending to add Billy to his contact list, he switched the device on and was promptly deluged with a cacophony of voices.
"hEy d00d tHey r g0iNg 2 sT@RT cH@RginG 4 codec uNl#ss u 4w@rD tHiS 2 eVery1 on ur LiSt," someone shouted.
"Hey, Fei, this is Big Joe. I've got some new Gear parts you might be interested in."
"Watch for codec user 107.81! If you get a message from him dont reed it or the empire state building will burn down and a giant black hole will open and suck the universe in!!!!!!"
"Hi, can you come check out my new Gear and tell me what you think? Be sure to sign its flight log!"
Fei quickly switched the device off, but it started beeping again. He reluctantly answered it. "Fei, this is Shitan," Shitan greeted him.
"Is there any way to make all these people shut up?" Fei asked as he was forwarded yet another codec message.
"Yes, just push the Select button," Shitan said. "That puts you in 'Invisible' mode."
"Select button?" Fei said. "What are you talking about?"
* * *
Mog pressed the Select button.
* * *
"Ahhhh, must better," Fei said as the cacophony died down.
"Fei, Bart and Rico just took their Gears over to cause a diversion," Shitan reported. "This is your best chance, so don't blow it."
Just then, the cargo elevator ground to a halt. Fei crept off the elevator and into a mostly empty Gear hangar -- empty, that was, except for Fei's former Gear, the Weltall, which Id was climbing aboard.
"Shitan," Fei said. "What's the Weltall doing here?"
"Wow, he must be crazy to pilot a Gear in this kind of weather," an unknown female voice interrupted.
"Oh, I forgot to introduce you," Shitan said. "Fei, this is Mei-Ling. She is stranded on Sandman Island too."
"I heard a rumor that there was a ring here," Mei-Ling said. "You wouldn't have happened to have seen it, would yu?"
"No," Fei said. "So, Mei-Ling, what's the situation on this island?"
"There's five main people invovled in this operation," Mei-Ling said. "Mesdoram Elmdor, the cheesiest boss in RPG history. Pikachu, the demonic Pokémon with powerful psychic abilities. Miang, the beautiful and deadly sharpshooter. Liquid Plumr, the liquid-metal robot Mario with shapeshifting abilities. And... Id."
"Id," Fei repeated.
"The only one to pilot a Gear just like yours."
As if on cue, the Weltall, which Id was in, left its resting place and started to march across the hangar. Fei ducked behind a pillar, out of sight, as the Omnigear marched out the hangar exit and out into the desert.
"All right, Fei, we are letting you choose the method of penetration," Shitan said. "Do not let us down." He then switched the codec off.
Left to his own devices, Fei crept along through the shadows towards a parked truck, hoping that it might contain supplies. A soft whirring sound prompted Fei to look up. A security camera was perched in the corner, slowly rotating back and forth. Fei was standing just out of its range -- luckily for him, he had heard it just in time.
Fei pressed himself up against the wall and slid slowly along it, trying to stay out of the cannon's range. Something clicked under his feet. Fei jumped to the side just as a pit trap opened under him -- and jumped right into the path of the camera.
An alarm started to sound. The camera drew back into the wall, and a speaker emerged in its place, playing some appropriate battle music. Some soldiers appeared out of thin air and started racing towards Fei.
Fei desperately pointed the toy gun he had been given at one of the soldiers. "Don't move, I've got a gun!"
"So do we," one of the guards said. Behind him, more guards continued to stream in from nowhere.
"Eh, that's just a toy gun," another guard pointed out. "It's painted bright green."
"Damn government regulations," Fei said as the guards advanced towards him to capture him. Then an idea struck him. He pretended to shoot himself with the toy gun and dropped to the floor.
"Crap, that was a real gun," the first guard said. "Oh, well. One less guy for us to deal with."
"I hear there's another intruder, too," a third guard said. "He tried to kill three guards, but forgot to take the safety off his sword."
"Hey, you guys," the second guard said to the continuing stream of newcomers. "You can stop teleporting in here. The guy's dead."
Fei remained still until the guards had disappeared, then climbed into the back of the truck. The truck was filled with boxes that were obviously intended to be transported somewhere. Curious, Fei pulled one open. It was filled with styrofoam peanuts. Fei starting tossing peanuts out of the box and eventually reached the bottom. There was nothing in the box, and he had made a huge mess.
Disgusted, Fei gave the cardboard box a kick. Doing so prompted another idea -- he could use the cardboard box itself! It would serve all his needs -- why, the cardboard box could well be the most important piece of military technology ever invented. All he needed now was some construction paper and a leaky bucket and his arsenal would be truly complete.
The floor started to shake beneath Fei's feet. He then heard a beeping sound, and realized it was Codec. Fei reached up and answered it. "User 'Daravon' has added you to his/her contact list," it announced. It was then followed by the voice of the Professor himself.
"Fei! Are I is Proffesor Dalavon! Long times handkerchief!"
"Professor Daravon?" Fei said in surprise.
"Hearings you on island, I think call," Daravon explained. "The truck have started to move."
"Yeah, I know," Fei said. "I'd better get off it." He stored his cardboard box away, sloshed through the pile of styrofoam peanuts, and hopped off the back of the truck.
"Fans duct some place are where should," Daravon said as the truck pulled away. "Ins to base, sneaking probably, ha? This's the way!"
Fei paused to digest this and came to the conclusion that Daravon was telling him to enter the base through an air duct. He searched the wall for one and located it on the other side of the wall. No guards were around, so Fei hurried over to it and wriggled inside.
* * *
"Pika pika pikachu," Pikachu squeaked.
"He says that Wedge's mental defenses are too powerful for him to penetrate," Miang translated.
Mesdoram Elmdor slowly unsheathed the Masamune, its blade sliding cleanly out of the scabbard. "There are ways of making anyone talk," he said.
* * *
Fei crawled through the base's air ducts, which conveniently lead to every location within in the base just in case some invading heroes needed to use them. As he passed over one of the grates that closed off the ducts' exits, he heard footsteps below and glanced down. A suit-clad man was pacing around the room, which appeared to be a cell of some time.
Figuring the man was probably on his side, Fei pushed the grate down and leaped into the cell. "Who are you?" the man exclaimed, moving towards Fei to strike.
"Don't worry, I'm not with them," Fei said.
"Who sent you?" the man demanded. "Are you here to rescue me?"
Fei shook his head. "I'm just here to stop these terrorists from launching a nuclear strike."
"Nuclear strike?" Wedge said. "What are you talking about?"
"The terrorists," Fei said. "They're planning to launch a nuclear strike unless we hand over Bans the talking dolphin. Is it really possible?"
"Nothing is impossible," Wedge said.
"I want a straight answer," Fei said. "Can they launch a nuclear missile?"
"Where are they getting this nuclear missile from? How can they do this?" Fei demanded.
"They're going to use Xenogears to do it," Wedge said. "They must have gotten their hands on it because they were going to use Biggs and I as hostages to get Shebat to hand over Xenogears, but now they've tossed us down into this cell."
"Xenogears?" Fei said. "How did they get their hands on Xenogears? It was in the Yggdrasil an hour ago."
"I don't know," Wedge admitted. "They're planning to use the computers in this base to override Xenogears' internal programming and commence the launch. But in order to use the computers, they have to use the PAL password."
"What's the password?" Fei asked.
"I don't know. I have two clues, and my pal Biggs has two PAL clues. Get it? My pal Biggs has two PAL clues? Pal, PAL?"
"Biggs, who's Biggs?" Fei questioned, ignoring Wedge's attempt at humor.
"Biggs Darklighter. He's the commander of this base," Wedge replied. "I'm just the chief of weapons development."
"I see," Fei said. "So as long as they don't get this password, we're safe, right?"
"Yes," Wedge said. "But... they have my password."
Wedge sat down on the bed in his cell. "It was Pikachu... he can hypnotize people into obeying him. I couldn't avoid it. But... there is a way to stop the launch."
"It's when they fire the missile."
"No, I mean, what's the way to stop the launch?"
"Biggs should have some fruit drinks... you know, the ones that come in a silvery bag and that are impossible to open without spilling half the thing... uh, can't think of the name..."
"Yeah, that's it," Wedge said. "If you got a bunch of those and stuffed them in Xenogears' tailpipe, then punctured them with the straws, you might be able to blow it up."
"Hey, good idea," Fei said. "But where am I going to find any Capri-Sun in an abandoned Gear facility?"
"Biggs should have some," Wedge said. "I overheard a guard talking -- he's being kept on the second basement floor. There's a weak wall there that they just painted over. Use some C4 to blow it up."
"All right," Fei said. "Ok, I'll get you out of here now."
"No, wait!" Wedge said suddenly. "Do you have any other ways to disarm the PAL? Did your bosses tell you anything?"
"No," Fei said.
"Are you sure?" Wedge demanded. "You're not hiding anything from me, are you? Uh... uh..." Wedge clutched at his chest and stumbled backwards. "Why... why me? Why do I always keep dying?"
Wedge crumpled to the ground. Fei bent down to check his pulse. There was none. He appeared to have suffered a sudden heart attack.
"Hey, what's going on in there?" a female voice shouted from outside. Footsteps drew closer to the door. Assuming it was an enemy soldier, Fei crouched down by the door, ready to strike.
As the door swung open, Fei leaped at the entering soldier, ready to choke her death. He caught the guard by surprise and grabbed her throat.
"Fei!" the guard gasped. "It's me, Elie!"
Fei quckly let go of Elie and she stumbled free, gasping for breath. "Who do you think you are?" she said angrily. "Latrell Sprewell?"
"Sorry," Fei apologized. "I didn't know it was you. What are you doing in here, anyway?"
"I got worried, so I came in here to look for you," Elie said. "And then you pay me back by trying to choke me to death."
"It was an accident, okay?" Fei said.
Elie took a deep breath and stood back up. She suddenly found herself staring at a dead body. "Oh my God, you killed Wedge!" she exclaimed. "You bastard!"
"Don't call people bastards, buddy," a deep voice commanded from behind her.
Elie and Fei both turned as Senator Lieberman and some ESRB stormtroopers burst into the room. "I'm afraid we can't allow you to have that naked guard out in the hallway. Get 'em, boys," Lieberman commanded. He fled out the door while the stormtroopers opened fire.
"Here, Fei, take this," Elie said, shoving a handgun into Fei's hand.
"What is it?"
"It's a weapon. It's REALLY powerful, especially against living things. Better take it with you."
"But how about you, Elie?"
"I have THIS!" Elie held up her rod. "Besides, I can only use a gun in FMV sequences."
"Thank you. I'll take this, then." Fei grabbed the gun and started firing at the soldiers, while dodging around in circles to avoid their machine gun fire.
Elie knocked one trooper unconscious with a smack of her rod, then turned and jabbed another in his stomach. "Bank," Fei called, shooting his gun at the wall behind the soldiers. It ricocheted off and hit a stormtrooper from behind. "Oh yeah, I got mad skills," Fei said.
Fei and Elie mopped up the remaining troopers. "I'll go after those guys," Elie said when all the troopers were either dead or fleeing. "You stop the terrorists."
"Gotcha," Fei said. "I should be on the second basement floor if something comes up."
* * *
Sephiroth stepped off the elevator into the armory on the second basement floor. A patrolling guard walked right by him, apparently not hearing the opening doors. Sephiroth slid up behind him and quickly dispatched him with his trademark stab through the stomach. This time, he had not forgotten to take the safety off his sword.
Elmdor was near. He could feel it -- after all, Elmdor was his ideal self. Sephiroth cleaned off his sword and slid south in pursuit of his nemesis.
* * *
Fei crept through the armory, looking for the repainted wall that Wedge had talked about. "Hmmmm... I wonder if this is it." He was facing a wall with words brightly painted on it in fresh red paint: "CAUTION: SECRET DOOR". Sitting on the floor in front of the door was a sign that read "Wet Paint, Do Not Touch".
"Well, it's worth a try." Fei set some C4, which he'd picked up earlier, by the wall and backed away behind some crates. He pushed the detonator and the C4 exploded, collapsing the wall.
Grinning in satisfaction, Fei sprinted through the opening into a square room. Biggs was tied to a pillar in the center of the room, struggling weakly.
"He's alive," Fei said. "That probably won't last." He stepped towards the pillar, intending to free Wedge's comrade.
"No! Don't touch it!" Biggs shouted. Fei's hand jerked away. He looked to the side and saw that the ropes binding Biggs were connected to a can on the floor. "It's one of those cans of paper snakes," Biggs explained. "I hate snakes."
"That's right," a voice said. "Touch that wire, and all those snakes will come flying out."
"Snakes," Biggs muttered. "Why does it have to be snakes?"
Fei turned to see a white-haired, black-clothed, figure out from behind a pillar, a yo-yo dangling from his fingers. "Mesdoram Elmdor, Marquis of Limberry," the man introduced himself. "I've been waiting for you. Now we'll see if you wanna see what it means to be the man with the master plan. Are you the man now?"
"Uh, yeah," Fei replied.
Mesdoram raised his yo-yo for Fei to see. "This is the greatest yo-yo ever made. The Oberol CyberDoom 2000. More than enough to kill anything that moves."
"O---kaaay," Fei said dubiously.
Mesdoram gave his yo-yo an experimental bounce. "Now you'll see why they call me Mesdoram."
"Uh... why do they call you Mesdoram?"
"Because it's my first name, stupid."
Mesdoram gave his yo-yo a few spins and "shot the moon" with it. "DRAW!" he shouted.
Fei quickly drew his gun and fired at Mesdoram. "Hey, now that's not fair," Mesdoram said, dodging to the side. "I wasn't ready." He held up his hands in a T shape to call time-out.
"Then why did you say 'Draw!'?"
"I was just letting you get ready. Hold on, I gotta tie my shoe." Mesdoram knelt down on the floor and quickly tied his shoelaces. He then stood back up and spun his yo-yo in the air. "Okay, let's go."
Elmdor turned and ran around the back of the pillar. Fei chased after him, firing his gun. Mesdoram whirled and "walked the dog" with his yo-yo, clubbing Fei in the head and knocking him down. "Elmdor hits Fei in the head," Elmdor said aloud as he fled.
Fei chased after him and fired again. This time, he scored a hit. "Fei's chasing Elmdor, he's firing his gun," Elmdor reported. "Oh, it looks like he shot Elmdor! Fei has to reload his gun."
While Fei was reloading, Elmdor moved in and "smashed the burrito" on Fei. "Elmdor hits Fei."
"Will you cut the running commentary already?" Fei snapped. He fired at Elmdor again. Elmdor fled around the pillar, with Fei chasing him.
"All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel," Elmdor sang.
"Shut up!" Fei said. "I hate that song!" He fired and scored another hit on Elmdor's back.
Elmdor stopped running and turned to face Fei. "You're pretty good, aren't you? It's what I'd expect from the man with the same face as the boss." Elmdor spun his yo-yo around once and turned to strike the can of paper snakes.
Suddenly, Sephiroth dropped down from the ceiling. "Mesdoram!" he bellowed. He quickly sliced the ropes that were binding Biggs.
"Don't look!" Fei said, diving to cover Biggs's eyes as the paper snakes bounced out of the can and landed on the floor.
Sephiroth turned to his ideal self. "Picture Dragon Neo-Motion Tyson Attack!" he cried, slashing out with the Masamune and cleanly chopping off Elmdor's right ear.
"My ear!" Elmdor exclaimed. "MY FRICKIN' EAR!" Clutching his bleeding head, he ran off through the back door of the room.
"That should compliment his ear nicely," Sephiroth said. He sheathed the Masamune and ran off through the door Fei had blown open.
"Hey you! Wait!" Fei called. Seph paid him no heed and disappeared from view.
Fei turned to Biggs, who was lying on the ground. "Can you talk?" he asked.
"Are you one of them?"
"No, I'm the new TurboTouch 360. Elmdor was a regular controller."
"I see," Biggs said. "The Queen sent you, right?"
"No," Fei said. "All I'm here for is to stop the terrorists. Do they have your code?"
Biggs nodded. "I... talked. They were threatening to make me play Criticom."
Biggs's brow furrowed. "I'm sorry... I don't have any training to resist torture... usually they just kill me right on the spot. Do they have Wedge's clues?"
"Yes," Fei said. "Pikachu hypnotized him and forced him to tell him the clues."
"But we all have surgical implants to resist hypnosis and prevent tooth and gum decay," Biggs said. "Are you sure or unsure?"
"Sure," Fei said.
"Well, if you say so," Biggs said. "Where is Wedge, anyway?"
"Dead. Heart attack."
"As usual," Biggs muttered. "I'm probably the next to go."
"Wedge said you might have some Capri-Sun that we could use to stop Xenogears," Fei said.
"Not anymore," Biggs said. "I got thirsty when Elmdor was torturing me, so I tried to drink them. But they sort of exploded when I stuck the straw in them."
"They always do," Fei nodded sagely.
"There's a vending machine in the cafeteria that sells them, though," Biggs said. "But it's way over in the Options Storage Building, to the north. You can take my sandspeeder; it's in the tank hangar. Here, use this get by the face scan." Biggs handed Fei a pair of nose glasses.
Fei pocketed the nose glasses with his other gear, wherever he kept it. "What are you two doing in here anyway?"
"We were supervising the development of a new Gear," Biggs explained. "A Gear that could change the world."
"Why?" Fei said. "The war's over."
"Ah, world peace, it can't last," Biggs said. "There's going to be another war sometime, and everyone knows it. We need to be prepared... that's where the Giant of Babel came in."
"The Giant of Babel?"
"We excavated it from the Tower of Babel," Biggs said. "But it was broken down, and couldn't run. We were trying to get it to run, but nothing worked. That must be what the terrorists are here for. But I managed to hide the odor disc from Elmdor when he was torturing me."
"The odor disc?"
Biggs produced a small circular disc. "All the data from the exercises are encoded in smells on this disc. I know this is what you came for. Give to the Queen... to your boss. We can't let it go public."
Dubiously, Fei took the disc. "The terrorists may have found a way to activate the Giant of Babel," Biggs said. "You can't let them... uh... uhh..." Biggs suddenly clutched at his chest, apparently in pain.
"Oh no, not again," Fei said.
"Oh my God, they're killing me," Biggs gasped. "You... bastards..." He then slumped to the ground, dead.
"In the Options Storage Building," Fei repeated. "Get the sandspeeder from the tank hangar..."
* * *
Id, Miang, Pikachu, and Elmdor sat in their command room, somewhere in the northern part of the facility. Elmdor had a bandage wrapped around the side of his head, where Sephiroth had cut off his ear.
"Just be glad he didn't cut off your head," Id said, sensing Elmdor's thoughts.
"Pika pika pika?"
"I think Pikachu wants to know if you lost your nose that way, too." Miang said.
"No," Elmdor said. "I never had a nose. Sephiroth thought his nose was ugly, so I never had one. Now can we get back to the business at hand?"
"There's nothing left to say," Miang said. "We've been over the clues a hundred times and they still make no sense."
"'Z-21=E'," Id repeated. "'First Password: 5.' It has to EASE, it has to be!"
"But we've already tried that 30 times, boss," Elmdor said.
"It doesn't make any sense!" Id cried, banging his head on the table. "What kind of password is this?"
* * *
Fei approached the door to the tank hangar. Remembering Biggs's advice, he put on the nose glasses before stepping up to the steel door. A light shone over him briefly, and then there was a ding. The doors slid open to allow Fei to pass through into the tank hangar.
Fei made his way past the parked tanks until he found Biggs's sandspeeder. The keys were already in, so he climbed in and turned the ignition. The sandspeeder sped out of the hangar and into broad daylight.
The desert here was as empty as it was on the other side of the island, aside from the other building visible in the distance. Fei piloted the sandspeeder towards it, glad to be outside again.
Ahead of him, the front gates of the Options Storage Building opened. Something furry and purple wandered out. Chu Chu? Fei thought. No, it can't be.
It was. "Chu-Chu?" Fei said. "No, you couldn't have joined them!"
"Chu chu," Chu-Chu squeaked. "Chu chu chu." She started to grow into her giant mode.
Although Fei was reluctant to believe that Chu-Chu had joined Id, it seemed to be the only explanation of how they could have obtained Xenogears, especially since Chu-Chu was marching towards him with an unfriendly look in her eyes. He reached for the gas pedal, when suddenly his codec beeped.
Fei answered the codec, causing Chu-Chu to freeze in midstep. "Watch out!" a garbled voice said. "This area is filled with claymores! Do you have some infrared goggles?"
Fei checked the back of the sandspeeder and found a pair of infrared goggles in the storage compartment. He put them on and immediately saw a bed of swords barely concealed under the sand. "You're right," he said. "Who are you?"
"You can call me Strepthroat," the voice said. "And I suggest that you don't try to talk to people in person or you'll give them heart attacks."
"So I've noticed," Fei said.
"That's the cost of being a hero," Strepthroat said. "That's why none of us talk."
"Why are you calling me?" Fei demanded. "What do you want?"
"Let's just say that I'm a fan of yours," the voice said. "Well, talk to you later." The codec then clicked off.
Chu-Chu had waited in mid-step patiently through the conversation. Seeing that he was done talking, she resumed motion and finished her step forward. "Chu chu chu?"
Chu-Chu was obviously intent on crushing his sandspeeder, so Fei was left with no choice but to fight. He slammed on the gas and drove directly towards Chu-Chu, navigating the hazardous field of claymores. As he approached, he looped a tow cable around Chu-Chu's left leg.
Chu-Chu squeaked and tried to stomp on Fei. Fei hit the gas again and drove away from Chu-Chu. The tow cable stretched tight, strained, and then Chu-Chu came toppling to the ground with a squeal. As she did, something fell out of her mouth. Fei looked down. It appeared to be a keycard. He picked it up, wiped the Chu-Chu saliva off it, and pocketed it.
Fei sped off towards the Options Storage Building. Behind him, Chu-Chu picked herself up and activated her codec. "Chu chu," she reported.
"Pika pika chu pikachu," Pikachu responded.
Pikachu and Chu Chu then carried on a conversation of "pika" and "chu"s for several minutes. Eventually, it concluded, and Chu-Chu hung up.
"s0 hE hAs tHe keYcArd," Pikachu said to himself. "i'Ll bE wAitInG f0r You, fEi."
* * *
Fei parked his sandspeeder just inside the Options Storage Building. His codec rang again, but this time it was Shitan. "Fei, watch out," Shitan said. "This place is filled with various Option weapons. If you use your weapons in here, you will trigger them and set off a massive explosion. And do not get spotted by the guards, or they might fire at you and trigger the weapons. Oh, and do not touch the weapons. And don't look at the weapons either. And for Pete's sake, do not smell them. In fact, it might be a good idea if you did not breathe within a 50-mile radius of the weapons."
"But I need to get through here to find the cafeteria and get some Capri-Sun," Fei said.
"Yes, yes," Shitan said. "Well, good luck."
"Good luck, Fei," Mei-Ling added. "Let me know if you see any rings."
Fei got off the sandspeeder. Taking heed of Shitan's advice -- and the sign on the Options that read "PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE WEAPONS" -- he moved as stealthily as possible towards the elevator, which was located on a metal girder above the main room.
Fei started up the steps. One of them squeaked below his feet. Fei froze, hoping nobody would see them. "Fei," Shitan remonstrated him over codec. "You're lucky that noise didn't set off all the weapons."
Fei was unable to respond, as he was still holding his breath so as not to breathe within a 50-mile radius. He hurried up the rest of the steps as quietly as possible and moved to the elevator. A guard was waiting nearby. Fei waited until the guard moved out of the way, then moved to the elevator and pressed the button to open it. The guard, only a few feet away, ignored the sounds of the elevator opening and blindly continued his patrol.
Once inside the elevator, Fei finally let out his breath. It may not have been out of a 50-mile radius, but it was good enough for him. After taking a few deep breaths, he went to the control panel and pressed a random button. The elevator descended several floors, to the tune of some annoying elevator music.
After the elevator had stopped, Fei got off and proceeded into the next room. It appeared to be an airlock of sorts, a guess that was futhered when Fei observed that the next room was filled with gas.
Fei stopped, unsure of whether to continue. He didn't know what the gas was, but it was probably harmful, and possibly lethal. But he had to take some chances, or he'd never stop the terrorists. Just then, he received another call on his codec.
It was Strepthroat again. "Fei, watch out," the mysterious informant said. "The floor in there is electrified. You'll have to take out the generator."
Strepthroat had been right the last time, so Fei wasn't inclined to argue. "But how can I possibly do that? Yeah! I know! I gotta believe!"
"You'll need to use a Nikita Khrushchev launcher," Strepthroat said. "You can find it on the floor above you."
"What about the gas?" Fei asked. "Is it harmful?"
"Yes, but you should be able to run through it if you hold your breath," Strepthroat said. "It'll only hurt you if you breathe it in."
Fei wasn't sure whether to trust this Strepthroat -- after all, he could be leading Fei right into a trap. On the other hand, he didn't want to risk stepping into the room without the proper defenses. Left with no alternative, he returned to the elevator and rode up to B1.
Fei tried to contact Strepthroat again, but received no response. He tried Shitan instead. "Shitan-sensei, I've been receiving transmissions from someone called Strepthroat. He was right about the claymores in the desert, but I don't whether to trust him."
"I know, I have been monitoring you on the codec," Shitan said.
"He's not using burst transmission," Mei-Ling cut in. "He must be inside the base."
"That's what I thought," Fei said. "He's probably one of Id's gang trying to lure me into a trap."
"Or he could be another hostage," Shitan said.
"You might as well take a look around," Mei-Ling said. "You can always escape on the elevator if you need to."
It was not until Fei had stepped out of the elevator that he remembered that the elevator always mysteriously stopped working whenever he was being chased. Fortunately for him, retreat was unnecessary. Sitting in front of him, in the middle of the hall, was a potted Christmas tree, decorated with lights and ornaments. Underneath the tree was a Nikita Khrushchev launcher with a bright pink bow tied around it.
"Well, that wasn't terribly challenging," Fei said to himself as he collected the launcher. He ducked back into the elevator and untied the ribbon and shrink-wrapping. from his new weapon as he descended back to B2.
Fei returned to the electrified floor, Nikita Khrushchev launcher in hand. He aimed the weapon down the corridor and fired. A small wooden Nikita Khrushchev doll -- the kind that nested in each other -- flew down the hall. Nikita wove his way through the corridors and negotiated the gauntlet of guncams to arrive in a room with a large generator.
The Nikita doll flew up to the generator and stopped in front of it. It took off its shoe and started pounding on the generator with it. "History is on our side!" it shouted. "We will bury you!"
Eventually, the doll succeeded in breaking the generator, and the electrified floor shut off. "You know," Fei said to himself. "That was almost too easy. Maybe this is some kind of trap?"
Guessing that there was some type of tracking device installed in the launcher -- after all, why else would they leave it out for him? -- Fei sat down and started to take it apart. After disassembling the entire launcher, he surveyed the parts and found nothing at all resembling a tracking device. He was safe. Unfortunately, he had no idea how in the heck to put the launcher back together, so he was forced to just left the parts there and proceeded onwards.
* * *
Ramsas backed fearfully against the wall. "I... I don't know anything..." he said. "Honest..."
"Tell me where Elmdor is," Sephiroth repeated, the business end of his Masamune quivering a few inches away from Ramsas.
Just then, they heard the sound of a door opening on the far side of the cafeteria. "Oh no," Ramsas groaned. "What now?"
Sephiroth turned to see who the newcomer was. It was Fei. "You," he said. "Don't get in my way. This is between me and Elmdor."
"No, it's not," Fei said. "It's between me and my subconsciousness, Id."
"You had best leave this to the expert," Sephiroth said. "I am the one chosen to become ruler of this planet."
"Who are you, anyway?" Fei said.
"Neither enemy nor friend," Sephiroth said. "I have come from another world. On a date. And then some guy put me in a catapult and threw me over here."
"So you're not one of them, huh? Maybe we should work together."
"No!" Sephiroth declared. "Let us battle, for no apparent reason!"
Fei drew his gun. Sephiroth quickly knocked it out of his hand with the Masamune. "We shall fight like warriors," Seph declared. He raised his hands and a box appeared in them. "Hungry Hungry Hippos. For money."
"For money?" Fei repeated, confused.
Sephiroth set the box down on the ground, opened it, and took the Hungry Hungry Hippos game out. He took some 25-gil pieces out of his pocket and tossed them into the game. "Ante up," he said. Dubiously, Fei did the same.
"Ready?" Sephiroth said, taking his position at one of the hippos. "Go!"
Sephiroth and Fei hammered on the controls of their respective hippos as fast as possible, trying to pick up as many coins as possible. "Ah... makes me feel alive," Sephiroth said.
Fei ignored him, trying to concentrate on the game and snap up as many coins as possible. Behind them, Ramsas watched the game with a sort of sick fascination. When it was all over, both players removed their hauls and examined how much money they had received.
"300 gil," Fei said.
"250," Sephiroth admitted. "Looks like you win... this time." He packed up his Hungry Hungry Hippos game and stormed out of the room, leaving a very confused Fei and Ramsas behind.
"Ramsas, what are you doing in here?" Fei said. "Don't tell me you're one of them."
"I... I guess I am," Ramsas said sheepishly. "I was here working at the base when they came. I was to be the pilot of the new Giant of Babel. I don't know what they want... they haven't called me for a couple hours. They must not need me anymore."
"What is this Giant of Babel, anyway?" Fei asked. "And where does Xenogears fit into this?"
"Xenogears?" Ramsas said. "They have Xenogears?"
"Yes," Fei said. "Chu-Chu has betrayed the trust that we have placed in her."
"That sounded really stupid, Fei."
Ramsas started to pace the cafeteria. "So that's how they're planning to power it," he muttered.
"We couldn't find an engine strong enough to power the Giant," Ramsas explained. "They must be planning to take out Xenogears' engine and put it in the Giant of Babel. You've got to stop them before they can launch a nuke."
"I don't like Gears or fighting," Fei said. "It doesn't seem like I've got any choice, though."
"Good. Can we get out of here, now?" Ramsas begged.
"I wasn't here to rescue you," Fei said. "I just came in here to buy some Capri-Sun." He walked to the Capri-Sun vending machine and tossed in his winnings from the Hungry-Hungry Hippos game.
Ramsas rubbed his eye. "What do you want Capri-Sun for?"
Fei collected the Capri-Sun bags, being careful not to press any of them too hard lest they explode. "I'm going to stick them in the Giant of Babel's tailpipe," he explained. "And then puncture them all."
"That's an idiotic idea," Ramsas said. "It's so dumb, it just might work." His hand suddenly moved to his heart. "Uh..."
"Oh, crap," Fei said, and tore out of the room.
"Hey! Where are you going?" Ramsas said. "I think I might be having a heart attack here! This isn't what they do on Rescue 911!"
Fei stood outside the cafeteria, hoping that he'd fled in time to avoid giving Ramsas a heart attack. Strepthroat had been right yet again -- he'd better not talk to people or they'd get a heart attack. Then he remembered exactly what Strepthroat had said -- he couldn't talk to people in person.
Fei cautiously reentered the cafeteria. Ramsas appeared a bit shaken, but was otherwise all right. Fei motioned like he was using his Codec, then nodded questioningly towards Ramsas. Ramsas appeared confused, so Fei repeated his gestures. This time, Ramsas caught on and used his own Codec to call Fei. "What's going on here?" he asked.
"If I talk to people, I'll give them heart attacks," Fei said. "I've been told it's because I'm the hero."
"Is it safe to talk on codec?"
"Yes," Fei said.
"This is really weird," Ramsas said. "I'm standing five feet away from you but we're talking on codec."
"Would you rather have a heart attack?" Fei said. "No? Good. Now, where are they keeping this Giant of Babel?"
"It's in the underground base to the north. But it's blocked by quicksand, so you'll have to take the underground passage from the commander's room," Ramsas said. "You know, Elie is in here too."
"I know," Fei said. "I ran into her earlier and we split up to get through here."
"She came by here looking for the bathroom," Ramsas said. "And I could talk to her without getting a heart attack."
"Look, it's not my fault, okay?" Fei said. "Where did she go?"
"I sent up her to B1," Ramsas said. "She has a codec, you know."
"She does? What's her codec number?"
"It's, uh, ah... oh, I forgot," Ramsas said. "But you can find on the back of the CD case."
"Huh? What CD case?"
* * *
Spekkio looked at the back of the CD case.
"What is it?" Mog asked.
"Hold on, I'm trying to find it," Spekkio said. "I don't see it."
Mog grabbed the box away from Spekkio and looked at it. "Well, no wonder, this is just the regular Xenogears box," he said. "We need a Xenogears Solid box, kupo! Where could we find that?"
The two looked at each other. "Uh-oh," Spekkio said.
"Hold on, I think I got one in my bag," Neko said. He reached into his bag and tossed out some buck-toothed dentures, a combine harvester, a sno-globe from Buenos Aires, a "Hanpan 3:16" t-shirt, and the Wuzzles board game before finally finding the Xenogears Solid CD case. Neko looked at the back of the case. "Um, it's 140.15," he reported.
* * *
Fei punched Elie's codec number into his codec and pressed the button to dial her. "Elie?" he said. "This is Fei."
"Elie here," Elie said. "I lost Lieberman."
"Where'd he go?"
"He took off in a Mercury," Elie reported.
"We've got more important things to worry about, anyway," Fei said. "I talked to Ramsas... between him and Biggs I think I've managed to figure out what the terrorists are up to. Where are you?"
"I'm on B1 of the Options Storage Building," Elie said.
"All right, I'm on B2," Fei said. "I need to talk to you; I'll come on up. Wait for me."
"Okay," Elie said. "But make it quick."
Fei hung up and then called Ramsas -- Ramsas, of course, was still standing in the same room. "Ramsas, I'm going up to B1," he said. "Play it safe and don't try to be a hero, okay?"
"I wouldn't want to be a hero," Ramsas said. "At least I can
"You don't have to rub it in," Fei said as he headed for the door. "Say, why did they go all to this trouble to guard the cafeteria? I mean, with the electrified floor and the gas and everything?"
"They didn't want employees taking any unauthorized lunch breaks."
Fei considered this, then nodded his approval. "Makes sense," he said. "All right, I've got to hit the road."
"Call me if you need anything!" Ramsas shouted after Fei as the latter ran out of the room.
* * *
Fei hurried off the elevator onto the first basement floor of the Options Storage Building. Just as he did, he spotted Elie running down the hall into the women's bathroom. Fei hurried after her into the bathroom.
"Fei!" Elie shrieked. "What are you doing in here?"
"Uh... I thought you were hiding in here so we could talk without the soldiers finding us," Fei said.
"No!" Elie said. "I need to go just as bad as you! I haven't had a chance to use the bathroom since we left Shebat!"
"Okay, okay, sorry, I made a mistake," the embarrased Fei said, backing out of the bathroom.
"First you almost strangle me, then you try to walk in on me while I'm in the bathroom," Elie continued. "What's gotten into you?"
"All right, all right," Fei said. "I get the point."
Annoyed, Elie slammed the door shut. Still embarassed, Fei waited out in the hall until she emerged again. "Did you find out what the terrorists are up to?" Elie asked.
"Yeah," Fei said. "They've excavated a Gear called the Giant of Babel and they're going to use it to launch the nuclear missile. And Chu-Chu's betrayed us."
"Chu-Chu's a traitor?" Elie exclaimed. "She isn't!"
"I just said she is, didn't I?" Fei said. "But we have a plan. I got some Capri-Sun from the cafeteria and I'm going to stuff it in the Giant of Babel's tailpipe to blow it up."
"Where are they keeping this Gear?" Elie asked.
"In the underground base to the north," Fei said. "Ramsas said to take the underground passage from the commander's room... and, oh, d'oh!" Fei slapped his forehead.
Fei activated his codec and called Elie. "Elie, I'm not going to be able to talk to you in person, or I'll give you a heart attack," he said. "It has something to do with being a hero."
"You're acting really weird today, Fei; are you sure you're all right?" Elie said.
Fei ignored her. "C'mon, let's go to the commander's room."
* * *
"Any luck?" Id asked his fellow terrorists.
"Chu chu chu, chu," Chu-Chu said.
"She said that she believes this puzzle is not solveable under the laws of physics," Miang translated.
"Boss, I got a good idea!" Elmdor said. "This's the way!"
* * *
Elie suddenly dropped to the ground, just outside of the commander's room, clutching her head. "What's wrong?" Fei asked, rushing over to her.
Elie shook her head. "Nothing," she said in an echoing voice. "C'mon. Let's go."
Something was definitely wrong here, and the Yanni music playing softly in the background was not making it any easier to think. Fei shrugged it off and continued on into the commander's room.
Unlike the spartan decorations of the rest of the base, the commander's room had a lush green carpet, wooden walls with paintings on them, and furniture and bookcases decorating the rest of the room. "Nice place they got in here," Fei said. His eyes scanned the room, looking for some speakers through which that annoying music might be coming.
"Fei... do you like me...?" Elie said in the weird echoing voice she had adopted. She advanced unsteadily towards Fei, holding her rod ready to strike. "Hold me... Fei... make love to me..."
Fei was considering whether or not to take her up on this offer when he noticed the shadow moving around the side of the room. "Stealth camoflague!" he said. "Who are you? Show yourself!"
The shadow stopped moving and decloaked, revealing itself to be Pikachu. "Pika pika?" he squeaked.
"Die... Fei..." Elie said, swinging her rod at Fei. Fei quickly grabbed onto the end of the rod and flipped her to the ground, knocking her out.
"i aM pIkaChU, g0d oF aLl pOkÉmOn," Pikachu said in a booming voice. "y0u cAnnOt dEfEat Me."
Fei's codec rang. It was Shitan. "Fei, watch out," Shitan said. "Pikachu can hypnotize you somehow. Be careful!"
"y0u aRe geTTinG sLeePy, MoRtAl. y0u aRe geTTinG vErY sLeePy."
Fei fired his gun at Pikachu. The electric Pokémon easily dodged to the side. "hA ha Ha," he laughed. "i CaN rEaD yOuR mInD. lEt'S sEe... oH, y0u lIke fRoGgEr. y0u LikE tAiL oF tHe sUn, d0n'T yòU? yOu lIke sUcKy gAmEs!"
"I do not!" Fei protested. He suddenly found himself raising his arms without intending too, and then he began to spin around in circles. His gun slipped out of his hands and landed on the floor.
"wHeE, lEt's PlAY sPiN the BoTtLe," Pikachu chuckled.
"Stop this!" Fei shouted.
Pikachu laughed evilly. "n0w yoU wIlL sEe, hÉaR, AnD fEeL mY poWeR!" he declared.
"What the hell was that?" Fei said. "Was that a bug?"
"n0, iT wAS aN uNdOcUmENTed FeAtUre," Pikachu said. "diD y0u LiKe iT?"
"I'm positive that was a glitch," Fei insisted.
"iT wAs SuPPosEd t0 hApPen! hONeSt!"
"I want a refund, this fanfic is defective," Fei said.
"mWah hA Ha! y0u cAnNOt StOp Me. fEi, cLeAn tHe fLo0r."
"Yes, Master Pikachu," Fei mumbled in an echoing voice. He opened a closet in the corner, took out a broom and a bucket of water, and started washing the floor. He soon realized he had backed himself into a corner. "Oops."
Elie woke up and got to her feet. "i KnoW y0ur WeAknEss, FeI," Pikachu said. "eLiE... tAkE thAt GuN... aNd bLoW yOuR bRaInS oUt."
"No!" Fei said as Elie grabbed the gun and pointed it to her head. He ran towards her to stop her, but slipped on the wet floor and feel, crashing into Elie and knocking them both down. Elie accidentally fired the gun off to the side, blowing a speaker hidden behind a bust of Ross Perot.
The Yanni music stopped. "Huh?" Elie said, sitting up. "Where am I? Fei, get off me."
"cUrSeS, f0iLeD aGAin," Pikachu said. "y0u ThInK y0u'Re ClEVeR, dOn't You?"
"So that's what he was up to," Fei said. "He was using that Yanni music to drive us insane."
"That's nice, now will you move?" Elie snapped.
"Sorry," Fei said, getting up and walking to the other side of the room.
"y0u HaVe a lArGe pLaCe iN hEr HeArt," Pikachu said to Fei.
"A large place?" Fei repeated.
"The right ventricle," Elie agreed.
"y0u HaVe dEFeaTed mE tHis tIme, bUt d0n'T tHiNk yOu hAve w0n," Pikachu said. "i sHaLl ReTuRn." He reached into the desk, took out a Pokéball, hoppped inside, and flew off.
After he had departed, Elie took a look around the room. "Now where's this underground passage you said was here?"
"I don't know," Fei said. "All I know is what Ramsas said."
Elie noticed a painting of a safe on the wall. Wondering if it might be concealing something, she lifted it up, revealing a window. Elie stood up on her tiptoes and peered through the window into a room in which several dogs were sitting around a table playing poker. "Hey, you in there!" Elie shouted to the dogs. "Do you know where the door to the underground passage is?"
"Yeah, it's behind the bookcase," one of the dogs replied. He turned back to the game. "I fold."
Meanwhile, Fei was examining the door they had come in through. "You know, this is a nice door," he said.
"Now don't you start that," Elie said. "The underground passage's behind the bookcase; let's go."
Fei pushed the bookcase out of the way, revealing a staircase. He and Elie descended into the underground passage and advanced cautiously forward. "I'll take the lead," Elie declared. She ran on ahead and teleported through a solid wall.
"Wow, how did you do that?" Fei said.
"I dunno, but you'll have to take the long route," Elie said.
Grumbling, Fei looked around and saw a small hole in the wall he might be able to crawl through. He lay down on the ground and managed to wiggle through. As he emerged on the other side, he heard faint "wark"s surrounding him.
"Chocobos?" Fei said, surprised. He didn't even know there were chocobos in this world... but they were everywhere now. It was almost like they were plotting to take over the universe...
Maybe it would be best if he moved stealthily. Fei pulled his cardboard box out of nowhere and crouched down inside. The chocobos were probably too stupid to figure out he was hiding it. He hurried across the cave and soon found himself in the middle of a cluster of the yellow birds.
"Wark?" one of the chocobos said, peering down to sniff the box. Apparently satisfied that it posed no threat, it raised its legs and relieved itself on the box.
"Glad I brought this box along," Fei muttered. Still crouching under the box, he tried to worm through the gathered yellow birds and accidentally put his knee into a chocobo's mysterious dung. "D'oh," Fei said.
Fei eventually managed to force his way through the chocobos to where Elie was waiting. "What took you so long?" Elie asked.
"Unlike you, I can't seem to teleport," Fei said. He tossed the cardboard box away and got up. "Let's go."
* * *
Fei and Elie emerged from the cave into an underground passage, leading towards a bungee tower in the distance. "Fei, watch out," Elie said. "There's a minefield here."
"How do you know that?" Fei said, confused.
"When Pikachu had me hypnotized, I somehow memorized the layout of the minefield," Elie explanied. "Just follow me; I know how to get through it. Okay, first you step over here, then you put your right foot in, and your right foot out, and then you take one step and do the Mario."
Fei was trying his best to keep up with Elie's explanation and wondering why he didn't just his infrared goggles when he saw a red dot flickering across Elie's chest. "Elie, look out!" he shouted.
It was too late. In the distance, a sniper fired, and Elie fell backwards, shot in the chest. "Oh, bloody hell, not again," Elie said, shortly before she was shot a second time.
"Oh my, they killed Elie!" Fei said. "You bastards!"
"No, I, I'm all right," Elie said weakly, rising up on one hand. "Stay out of the passage... they're trying to use me as bait..."
Fei's codec rang -- it was Shitan again. "Elie!" he said.
"Don't worry, I'll find a way to save her," Fei said. "I think."
"It must be Miang," Mei-Ling said. "Apparently she can do more than just heal Ramsas."
"You will need a sniper rifle," Shitan said. "I think Billy has one, back here on the Yggdrasil."
"Elie, I'm going back to the Yggdrasil to get a sniper rifle," Fei told Elie. "I'm just going to leave you here dying, okay?"
"Wait, I haven't given my speech yet," Elie said. "I was a fool for coming here; I'm only slowing you down; live, Fei; yadda yadda yadda. Okay, you can go now."
"All right, hang tight," Fei said. He crawled back through the chocobo cave, ran back through Pikachu's room to the elevator, ascended to the first floor, snuck back to his sandspeeder, drove back to the first building, parked, made his way back down to the parking garage, left the building, and ran all the way back to the Yggdrasil.
"Billy! Billy!" Fei called. There was no response. He hurried to the control room, where he found Billy seated watching a videotape. "Billy!"
Billy turned in his chair. "I'm not Billy anymore. From now on, you can call me... BILLY LEE: MAN OF ACTION."
"Huh?" Fei said.
Billy pressed a button to start the tape. Rapid clips of Billy gunning down Solaris soldiers and jumping out of exploding buildings played while an announcer spoke in a booming voice. "BILLY LEE presents a BILLY LEE BLACK film... BILLY LEE is BILLY LEE in... BILLY LEE: MAN OF ACTION! Starring BILLY LEE AS BILLY LEE with BILLY LEE AS BILLY LEE and special guest star BILLY LEE AS BILLY LEE. Produced and directed by BILLY LEE. BILLY LEE-award winning screenplay by BILLY LEE and BILLY LEE, based on the book 'BILLY LEE: MAN OF ACTION' by BILLY LEE. Soundtrack by BILLY LEE, including the hit single 'BILLY LEE: MAN OF ACTION,' performed by BILLY LEE."
"Uh, that's nice," Fei said. "Do you have a sniper rifle I can borrow, Billy Lee: Man of Action?"
Billy Lee: Man of Action scratched his head. "Will a peashooter work?"
"Um, I was looking for something a little more powerful."
"How about a Binney & Smith & Weston crayon gun?"
"Sorry, Billy Lee: Man of Action, but I need something that I can use to take out an enemy sniper."
Billy Lee: Man of Action snapped his fingers. "You need a gatling peashooter!" he said. "If you can bring me a broken gatling gun, I'll make you a gatling peashooter."
"Where am I going to find a broken gatling gun?" Fei said.
"You can probably get one in the armory in that base," Billy Lee: Man of Action suggested.
Fei ran back to the base, ascended through the loading dock and Gear hangar, and took the elevator down to the armory. He searched all the rooms and eventually located a working gatling gun. That was no good, so he continued to look. None of the rooms had a working gatling gun. Then an idea struck him. He went back to the working gatling gun and hit with a rock, smashing it up. He made his way back out of the base and ran back to the Yggdrasil. "Here, I got a broken gatling gun," he said, delivering the gun to Billy Lee: Man of Action.
"All right, hold on and I'll fix you up a gatling peashooter," Billy Lee: Man of Action said. He disappeared into his room. Fei got himself a glass of lemonade and some cookies and waited while Billy Lee: Man of Action did his work. In about an hour, he was finished.
"Here's your gatling peashooter," Billy Lee: Man of Action said. "Just aim and fire. Oh, and you might want to take some diazepam to calm your nerves. Four out of five doctors recommend it for scenes of *INTENSE* *SNIPING* *ACTION*."
"Great, thanks, Billy," Fei said. "Er, I mean, Billy Lee: Man of Action."
Fei took the gatling peashooter and ran back to the base, snuck back through the parking garage, Gear hangar, and tank hangar, hopped on his sandspeeder, drove to the Options Storage Building, made his way to the elevator, descended to B1, went through Pikachu's room into the underground passage, crawled through the chocobo cave, and returned to the passage outside the bungee tower... only to find that Elie was no longer there. There was just a small pool of dried blood on the ground where she had been.
"Oh no!" Fei said. "She couldn't have died, could she? I was only gone for about two hours. What have I done?"
Shitan called on the codec again. "What is it?" he asked, sensing Fei's concern.
"Blood," Fei replied.
"Hope this is not Elie's blood," Shitan said.
"It's all my fault!" Fei sobbed. "I should have been careful! I didn't protect her!"
"Uh-oh, I think he is having another breakdown," Shitan said.
"Fei, you can't give up now," Mei-Ling said. "Elie could still be alive."
Daravon suddenly entered into the conversation. "Fei, stands you where is all nucrear annihiration! This job is a gift from God!"
"Why can't you guys do this?" Fei said.
"I'm only level 37," Mei-Ling said. "I'm afraid I can't do much."
"I'm a failure," Fei said. "It's all my fault. I can't go on!"
"Snap out of it, Fei!" Shitan said. "Just think about what Nancy Kerrigan would do."
"This is pathetic; we sound like chapters from a self-help book," Mei-Ling said.
"No worry, you get a good feeling!" Daravon said, then broke into song. "Hakuna matata! Hakuuuuna matataaaa..."
Fei stopped crying. "If I keep going, will you stop singing that song?"
"Ok!! This's the way!"
"All right," Fei said. "I'm off to save Elie."
Fei hung up on his codec, wiped his eyes, and marched resolutely down the underground passage to the bungee tower. The only way in appeared to be through a door at the base. There was a keycard slot in the door, so Fei inserted his card. The door scanned it, and then an alarm started to sound. "D'oh," Fei said.
Two soldiers burst around a corner, armed with machine guns. Fei dropped his gun on the ground and raised his arms in surrender.
"Stupid man." Miang stepped around the corner, carrying her sniper rifle. "It's hard to miss when you're this close," she said to Fei.
"There's a first time for everything."
"Drop your weapon over here," Miang commanded.
"How can I drop my weapon over there when it's already on the ground?" Fei countered. "And even if I was holding it, how could I drop it all the way over there?"
Miang levelled her gun at Fei. "Do you want a surgical implant in your heart?" she said. "It's only the size of a bullet."
"Is this the first time you've ever made an analogy?" Fei said.
"I can tell by the way it sucked," Fei said. "You must be a rookie analogizer."
"Shut him up," Miang said to one of the soldiers. The soldier quickly obeyed, clubbing Fei over the head with the butt of his machine gun and knocking him out.
* * *
"Leave him to me, boss," Elmdor said.
"I want no more accidents like that Antilles guy," Id said.
"Yes," Miang said. "He's my target now. Mine."
Fei gradually came to and found himself in something that resembled a huge bug eye. He couldn't see out of it, but he could hear the voices of the terrorists talking outside.
"Looks like he's finally coming to," Elmdor observed.
"Do you know who I am?" Id said to Fei through the bug eye. "You took everything from me! All that was rightfully mine, you stole! I hate you! I wish you had cancer! In the head!"
"Hey," Fei shouted back. "I do not have to take this kind of crap from my subconsciousness."
"We'll see how you feel about that after we deal with you," Id threatened. Fei felt himself gradually being tilted upright in his seat. It was like one of those chairs they had in the dentist's office; a parallel that was only furthered when Elmdor said, "Shall I give him a root canal? Or the PlayStation treatment?"
The covering of the bed pulled back, leaving Fei bound upright against the bed. "Oh, how about the PlayStation treatment?" Id said sinisterly. "And make sure he lives this time."
"Yes, I know," Elmdor said. "That was an accident."
"What about that Sephiroth guy?" Id said.
"Bastard took my ear," Elmdor muttered.
"And we still need to find out what killed Liquid Plumr," Id said.
"I already know, but I'm not telling," Elmdor said. "Neener neener neener."
Just then, Id's PHS phone rang. He quickly answered it and was greeted with a series of "Chu"s. "Here, it's Chu-Chu," Id said, handing the phone to Miang.
Miang took the phone and listened to Chu-Chu. "What?" she said. "Those idiots! I told them not to leave strawberry Pop-Tarts in the toaster."
Miang hung up and turned to Id. "Looks we've got some dissenters to deal with," she said. "The troops are revolting, and not only that, they're rebelling too."
Miang and Id left the room, leaving Elmdor alone with the immobilized Fei. "Well, Mr. Wong, shall we begin?"
"No," Fei replied succinctly.
"That nasal disc you had with you... there wasn't any more data, was there?" the Marquis asked.
"What if there was?" Fei retorted.
"And what's with all the Capri-Sun you're lugging around?" Elmdor asked, gesturing towards the bright red box that contained all of Fei's goods. "You must be pretty damn thirsty."
Fei stuck his tongue out at Elmdor. "You'll never make me talk, you big fat stupid head!" he said defiantly.
"We'll see about that," Elmdor said. He pressed a button on a control panel and the device Fei was locked into curled up into a seated position. The braces that were holding Fei's hands snapped free.
Elmdor unhooked a PlayStation controller from the wall and tossed it to Fei. "Press the Circle button as fast as you can," he said. "As fast as you can. If you want to surrender, press the Select button. But if you surrender... Elie's life is mine."
"Excuse me," Fei said.
"What?" Elmdor snapped.
"Do you have a copy of The Story of Ping around here? I was reading it before we crashed on this island and I'd like to finish it."
"Sorry," Elmdor said. "I was always more of a Clifford the Big Red Dog fan myself. He walked to the control panel and pressed some buttons. "Shall we begin? At the sound of the tone, press the Circle button on that controller as fast you can."
Fei tensed, ready to begin pressing the button. Several moments passed in silence, then there was a brief beep. Fei started hammering on the Circle button as fast as he could, his entire arm locked into position except for his thumb, which was moving as fast as it could.
There was a honk, and Fei relaxed. "Oh, I'm sorry," Elmdor said sarcastically. "It looks like you only reached half of the required button presses. Let's go again."
Fei moved his index finger to cover the Circle button. This time he would be ready. As soon as he heard the tone, he immediately began slamming away on the button, his attention focused solely on moving his finger up and down as fast as he could.
There was another honk. "Hmm, it looks you improved a little," Elmdor said. "You're still short fifty though."
"Fifty?" Fei spluttered. "That's insane!"
"Oh, and did I mention this is just the first round?"
* * *
Several hours later...
"Oops, look like you failed again," Elmdor said. "One more time..."
He initialized like the torture once again. Fei took another deep breath and hammered away on the button. His arm felt like it was about to fall off, and he was drenched in sweat. The buzzer sounded again, and Fei, none too surpisingly, had failed again.
"Can you take one more?" Elmdor said.
"Hey, you said only one more time the last time," Fei said.
"Do you give up?" Elmdor asked, seizing on the opportunity. "C'mon, give up. Make it easy on yourself."
"Never!" Fei said defiantly. "That's peer pressure, and I don't have to take it!"
"All right, let's go again," Elmdor said. "One more time."
Fei sighed as the torture began anew. He'd heard something about using a pen to do this... or an electric toothbrush, or something. There had to be some way he could get out of here and continue his mission.
Suddenly, the door to the torture room flew open and Sephiroth strode in, wielding his Masamune. "Elmdor!" he shouted, pointing his sword at his other self.
"Sephiroth!" Elmdor exclaimed.
"Sephiroth! Elmdor!" Fei said.
"Fei!" Sephiroth said.
"Sephiroth!" Elmdor shouted, drawing his sword. "This isn't what's supposed to happen!"
Sephiroth and Elmdor rushed towards each other. Their swords -- both identical copies of the Masamune -- clashed, and they began to duel. Elmdor, being Sephiroth's ideal self, was obviously superior in skill and managed to drive Seph backwards. "You fight like a farmer!" he declared.
"You fight like a cow!" Sephiroth retorted, parrying one of Elmdor's attacks and jabbing his other self in the shoulder.
"I have never seen such clumsy swordplay!" Elmdor said.
"You would have, but you're always running away!"
Elmdor dodged one of Sephiroth's attacks and drew a second sword from his cloak. "Killing you would be justifiable homicide!" he declared. "Summon all ghosts of the sword! Muramasa!"
Red ghosts swirled out of the ground to attack Sephiroth. He leaped between them, towards Elmdor, and raised his sword aloft. "Then killing you would be justifiable fungicide!" he said, slicing Elmdor's right arm cleanly from his body.
"'Ere, your arm's off!" Fei exclaimed.
"Nay, 'tis merely a flesh wound," Elmdor said. He switched his sword to his left hand and moved in for another strike, but faltered for lack of an insult. "Uh... you're stupid," he said.
Sephiroth knocked Elmdor's Masamune from his hands. "Nice try, bubba," he said. "Now get back in my head." Sephiroth reached out and touched Elmdor on his shoulder, absorbing his ideal self back into his mind.
"Farewell, Fei," Sephiroth said. "We shall meet again." He dashed out of the room, leaving Fei still chained to the torture machine.
"Thanks, Sephiroth!" Fei called.
Left to his own devices, Fei started to disassemble the PlayStation controller, mostly for lack of anything better to do. About twenty minutes later, Id and Miang returned.
"Where's Elmdor?" Id demanded. "What have you done to him, Fei?"
"Uh, Sephiroth reassorbed into him into his mind," Fei said.
"Right, like you expect us to believe that," Id said. "You haven't killed him, have you?"
Id remained silent for a moment, thinking. "Miang, take him to the cell," he said at last. Miang pressed a button on the control panel to free Fei's legs, then quickly clubbed him unconscious again.
* * *
Fei awoke in a small cubicle with clean marble floors -- clean, that was, except for the blood stain left by the dead body of Wedge in the corner. "Looks like I got some company," he said. "Poor Wedge... weird, it looks like all the blood's been sucked out of him and replaced with name-brand citrus soda. Who would do an awful thing like that?"
Fei's codec rang, and he quickly answered it. An unknown female voice spoke to him. "Hello, who is this?" the voice asked.
"Uh, this is Fei," Fei replied. "Wong Fei Fong."
"You're in the base, right, Mr. Fei Wong Fei Fong?"
"Yeah," Fei said. "Who are you? And, uh, it's just Wong Fei Fong."
"You can call me Eve. You wouldn't have happened to see Sephy in there, would you have?"
"Yeah, I saw him just a moment ago," Fei said. "He cut off his other self's arm and then absorbed it."
"What, just the arm?"
"No, his other self."
"Oh, okay," Eve said. "And where are you? I'm organizing a search party to look for him. I'm his date."
"I see," Fei said. "I'm in some kind of cell, with the dead body of Wedge. He's had all the blood drained out of him and replaced with name-brand citrus soda."
"That's odd," Eve said. "Well, thank you for helping me. If you see Sephy, let me know. My codec number is 101.92."
Eve hung up, and Fei stood up from the bed he had sitting on. It was only now that he caught a glance of himself in the reflection on the glass windows, and realized that after his capture, someone had taken his old shirt and replaced it with a "Bananas in Pajamas" one.
"Man, I'm just having a bad day," Fei said.
"Hey!" the guard outside shouted. "Quiet down in there!" His last sentence sort of trailed off as he erupted into a fit of sneezing. "Urgh... stupid cold."
Fei paced the cells while the guard outside continued his sneezing fits. Eventually, the guard declared that "I'm full out gas and not the car!" and rushed off to the bathroom. As soon as he was gone, Fei scrambled under the bed -- perhaps he could fool the guard into thinking he'd left.
Someone knocked on the door. "Fei, are you in there?" Ramsas said from outside.
Grudgingly, Fei crawled out from under the bed and ran to the door. He peered out through the cell bars, but there was nobody there. Suddenly, the air shimmered and Ramsas appeared. "I stole this stealth camoflague suit from a guard," he explained. "Just check out the nifty special effects." He rapidly cloaked and decloaked, giving Fei a throbbing headache.
"Stop that!" Fei said.
"I brought you some stuff 'cause I thought you might be hungry," Ramsas said, appearing slightly miffed. He somehow wedged a package of ketchup, a hamburger, and a key card through the cell bars.
"You know, this key card doesn't look very appetizing," Fei said.
"No, I found that on the guard I took this suit from, and I thought it could be useful," Ramsas said. "It won't open this door, though... it uses a padlock."
"All right, thanks," Fei said. He sat down on his bed and gingerly attempted to open the ketchup package. "I hate these stupid things." After managing to get it open without causing it to explode -- if such a thing can be done -- he spread the ketchup around on the hamburger and took a bite.
Ramsas banged his head against the wall. "No, you idiot! You were supposed to use the ketchup to make it look like you were dead!"
Fei stopped eating. "I was?" he said. "But you said you brought some stuff for me to eat."
"What's that noise?" a guard said off in the distance, reacting to Ramsas's banging his head on the wall. There were footsteps, which grew quickly closer.
"Uh-oh, they're coming," Ramsas said. "I gotta get out of here." He turned on his stealth suit and fled.
The person who arrived, however, was no guard -- or at least, he was dressed differently from all the guards. He had on a blue tunic instead of the usual camoflague and no helmet covered his spikey red hair. He stopped outside out of the door and activated the codec in his ear. "Fei, are you there?"
"Yeah, I'm right in here," Fei replied.
"Do you.... recognize me?"
"Strepthroat?" Fei said, trying to place the voice.
"Exactly," Crono said. "Hold on, I'll get you out of here. I'm the master of unlocking."
Fei was still not sure whether to trust his informant, but Strepthroat'd been right so far, so he waited patiently while Crono unlocked the door. "They're keeping your stuff in the torture room over there," Crono said, still talking over codec. "It looks like it's locked by a card key, though... I can't unlock that."
"No problem, Ramsas just gave me a keycard," Fei said. "Hold on." He slid the new, second, keycard through the slot and the door opened. The two proceeded into the torture room. The large red box that contained Fei's posessions was still there, waiting near the torture machine. Fei opened it up. All of his stuff was inside, even his normal shirt. He quickly changed out of the Bananas in Pajamas one, then returned all his equipment to where he normally kept it -- wherever that was.
"Did they take anything?" Crono asked over the codec.
"Nope," Fei replied, also on codec. "It's all here. Even the nasal disc."
"You got a nasal disc?" Crono said suddenly. "Damn... it's a good thing they didn't get their hands on it. That's got all the Giant of Babel test data. With that disc, they could build a whole army of them."
"Yeah, I'm not sure if the world has enough Capri-Sun to stop all of them," Fei said.
"Here, give it to me," Crono said. "I'll take it back to your ship for safekeeping... just in case you can't get captured again."
"Good idea," Fei said. He handed Crono the nasal disc. "Make sure nothing happens to it, okay?"
"Don't worry, it's good hands with me," Crono said. "We're talking Allstate here." He took the nasal disc from Fei and hurried off to the elevator.
Left to his own devices, Fei wandered around the medical area until he found another keycard-sealed door. He opened it -- his keycard seemed to open just about anything -- and stepped through. He was back in the cell area, back where he had found Wedge. In fact, just opposite him was Wedge's cell. The door had been left ajar, and inside Fei could see Wedge's corpse.
"Wait a second," Fei said to himself. "Wasn't Wedge in the cell? I guess he must have died twice... wouldn't be terribly surprising, I suppose."
Now that he knew where he was, he could get back to the task at hand. He had to get back to the underground passage to the bungee tower, and continue past there to the underground base where the Giant of Babel was being kept. It was going to be a long walk...
* * *
Some time later, Fei arrived back at the spot where he had been captured. This time, the new keycard he had opened the bungee tower door without incident, and he proceeded inside.
"Quiet in here," Fei observed. "A little too quiet.... I've always wanted to say that."
In the almost total silence, Fei could barely make out a whirring sound to his side. He turned towards it. A camera was barely visible poking over some crates. Fei took a careful step towards it and looked down over the crates. Sephiroth looked back up.
"Sephiroth!" Fei hissed. "What are you doing here?"
"Now that I have my true self back, I can get back to working on my films," Sephiroth explained, his camera still trained on Fei.
"Quit pointing that thing at me," Fei snapped.
"What, don't you want to be on Candid Camera?"
"Say, could you do something scandalous?" Sephiroth asked. "Nobody will want to buy this tape if it's just you talking to me.
"You want to know what I think of your tape?" Fei snapped. "This!" He tore the camera away from Sephiroth, smashed it against the crate, breaking it in two, and then hurled the pieces at Sephiroth.
"Hey, perfect, but next time don't break the camera, okay?" Sephiroth said.
"@#$(! paparazzi," Fei said, turning away from Sephiroth and storming down the corridor. He vaguely thought that he should call Eve to tell her he'd seen Sephiroth, but given his current attitude towards Sephiroth, he quickly tossed the thought into the circular file of his mind.
Fei was so busy thinking that he did not hear the bungee tower door opening behind him. Suddenly, he found a throng of Sephiroth fans was charging towards him, wielding pickaxes and torches. "You broke Sephy's camera!" one of them shouted. "Prepare to die!"
Fei took one look at the mass of worshippers and realized he had no chance of stopping them. He fled to the stairs and sprinted up them as fast as he could, bounding up two or three steps at a time. He occasionally turned to fire off one or two rounds at his pursuers in hopes of deterring them. This was entirely futile, of course, as it took a lot more than that to stop the Sephiroth crowd.
Then, just to make things even worse, somebody started rolling barrels down the stairs from above. Fei dodged and hurdled them as they came, hoping that they might even trip some of the cultists chasing him. He saw a ladder overhead and jumped up to grab it, then scrambled up onto the girder overhead.
Fei was now standing face to face with... Donkey Kong. "Eeeek eeek," Donkey Kong hooted, raising another barrel to throw at Fei. Thinking quickly, Fei uncorked the bottle of Nisan water and splashed it on the girder. As Donkey Kong stepped forward to throw the barrel, he slipped on the water and hurtled off the girder, falling down into the long tower below.
Knowing the Sephiroth cultists were still after him, Fei hurried up a nearby ladder into a small building on the roof. Although it should have been dark, it was actually surprisingly bright. "Fei!" a familiar voice called. It was Big Joe, standing behind a rickety wooden booth. "Wanna buy a Stinger missile launcher? It's only 100 gil, but I'm cuttin' me own throat!"
"Um, sure," Fei said. He scrounged out his last bit of change and tossed it to Big Joe.
"Gracias," Big Joe said. "Here ya go." He shoved the large weapon into Fei's hands. "Adios!"
"Thanks, Big Joe," Fei said. "I've always wanted one of these." He shouldered the missile launcher and continued out the door onto the roof of the bungee tower.
It was night, and the outline of the base was clearly visible below the heights of the bungee tower. The desert heat had cooled, and from up here it was actually pleasant. Fei had no time to rest, however -- he had to get to the underground base and stop the Giant of Babel.
"Fei!" a voice shouted in his hear. Ramsas decloaked a few feet away from him. "Fei, you're here."
"Wow, I hadn't noticed," Fei said. "But what are you doing up here?"
"Fei... I have an important question to ask you," Ramsas said. "Do you think love can grow on the battlefield?"
"That's it?" Fei said in astonishment. "You came all the way up to here to ask me that? I thought you were going to ask me something important, like what the cosine of 43 is."
"Uh... well... it's a very important question to me," Ramsas said.
"Or the capital of Namibia or something."
"Please, Fei," Ramsas said.
"Dammit, Ramsas, I'm a martial artist, not a psychiatrist," Fei said. "But, here, let's decide. Heads, it can, tails, it can't." Fei took out a coin, flipped it, and caught it. "Heads. Okay, it can."
"All right, thank you," Ramsas said. "Say, what's that big hand over there?"
Fei turned. The big robotic hand on the roof edge that Ramsas was pointing out had just been joined by another, then the head and torso of Weltall. The Gear pulled itself up onto the roof and stomped towards Fei and Ramsas.
"Oh no, it's Id!" Ramsas exclaimed.
"How did you know we were here?" Fei demanded.
"I'm you!" Id laughed. "I'm your shadow! Or your id, rather."
"Fei, you have that missile launcher, stop him, quick!" Ramsas urged.
"I don't like Gears or fighting," Fei insisted. "Let's get out of here." He ran to the edge of the roof and grabbed one of the bungee cords. He quickly tied it around his waist; Ramsas following Fei's example shortly thereafter.
"Geronimo!" Fei cried, jumping off the bungee tower just as Id fired a barrage of missiles from the Weltall. The missiles struck the huge satellite dish that was placed on top of tower, causing it to collapse and fall where Fei and Ramsas had been standing just moments before.
Held only by their bungee cords, Fei and Ramsas plummeted down the side of the bungee tower towards the desert below. They were just about to hit the ground when their cords suddenly twanged and bounced them back up.
"Oops," Fei said as they flew back upwards. "I hadn't thought about that." He readed his Stinger missile launcher, and as soon as they passed above the roof, he fired one at the Weltall. The two hung in the air for a moment, then dropped back down. Fei heard a brief explosion, indicating that he'd scored a hit.
"Hey, this might actually work pretty good," Ramsas said. "How can you think of all this, Fei?"
"Because I am..."
"...of the sea!"
They hit bottom another time and bounced back up towards the roof. Fei pointed his Stinger launcher forward and fired off a second round at the Weltall. "Hey, Fei," Ramsas said as they fell a third time.
"What happens if Id cuts through these cords?"
"We'd be in deep doo-doo."
"That's what I thought."
"Why do you ask?"
"Because when we were up there the last time he was standing by the edge with this big sharp piece of metal."
* * *
Shitan tapped some buttons on the Yggdrasil's radio. He'd lost contact with Fei about fifteen moments ago. Perhaps he was just in an area with radar jamming... but if something had happened to him? He tried again, and, to his relief, managed to get through. "Fei, are you there? What happened?"
"Aside from the fact that we're currently free-falling from a bungee tower towards the desert, we're fine," Fei said. "The interference from the radio tower was blocking our transmissions, but Id just blew up the satellite dish."
"We?" Shitan said. "How many people you got in there?"
"Uh, I'm with Ramsas," Fei said. "He was going to be the pilot for the Giant of Babel project, but now he's on our side."
"Can we trust him?"
"I dunno," Fei said. "Hey, Ramsas, can we trust you?" There was a brief pause and then, "He says we can. But he also says that he thinks there might be a spy who's leaking our position to Id."
"You mean Chu-Chu?"
"No... Chu-Chu's already joined them," Fei said. "There's somebody on the Yggdrasil who's a spy."
"I do not believe that," Shitan said.
"Well, Id somehow knew where were on the ro -aaaargh!"
"Fei, what happened? Fei! FEI!!!"
* * *
Fei rolled over in the sand and scrambled to his knees, holding his bleeding shoulder. "What the hell was that?" he muttered.
"Pepsiman?" Ramsas suggested. "Oh, and from now can you call me by new ultra-secret code name, Sasmar? I got it by spelling my name backwards; pretty clever, huh?"
"Sniper," Fei muttered. He saw a red tracer beam moving out and quickly moved away from it. Drawing his own gatling peashooter, he returned fire.
"No! It's Miang!" Ramsas exclaimed. "We can't fight her."
"Looks like the fight's already started," Fei said. He switched to his Nikita Khrushchev launcher and fired it into the distance.
"History is on our side, we will bury you!" the mini-Khrushchev shouted as he bounced off Miang's head.
"Wait!" Ramsas said. "Let's resolve this peacefully, by playing Tic-Tac-Toe."
"Hmmm... that sounds fair," Fei said.
Fei and Miang both marched forward out of their hiding places and met in the middle of the desert. Fei used the barrel of his peashooter to draw a Tic-Tac-Toe grid in the ground. "I'll go first," he said, making a move. Miang then took her turn, using her snipe rifle to draw an O. The game continued, until...
"Cat's game," Fei observed. "We'll play again."
* * *
Thirty minutes later
"Man, not another cat's game," Fei said. "Just how long are we going to have keep doing this?"
"I think that's been the same results for every game we've played," Miang observed. "Whose dumb idea was this, anyway?"
"It was Ramsas's," Fei said. "Uh, anyway, new game. I'll take the corner again."
"I'll - uh... uhh..." Miang suddenly stumbled backwards, clutching at her chest. "My heart."
"Dammit!" Fei said. "Not again!"
"Quick! Here!" Ramsas said, thrusting a bottle at Miang. "You'll be heartburn free with Pepcid AC!"
"That's for heartburns, not heart attacks," Fei said. Ramsas stared on in horror as Miang fell to the ground and lay still.
"But - but I loved her!"
"Wanna hear a joke?" Miang said weakly. "This kid is at school. Some kids are making fun of him, so he calls them blue bananas and they beat him up. He goes inside to tell his teacher. 'What are you doing here?' the teacher asks. 'I called a bunch of kids blue bananas and they beat me up,' the kid says. 'You called them blue bananas? That's very bad,' the teacher said. 'I'm afraid I'll have to send you the principal.' So the kid goes to the principal. 'What are you doing here?' the principal asks. 'I called a bunch of kids blue bananas and they beat me up. I went to tell my teacher and she sent me to you, and now I'm here.' 'You called them blue bananas? That's very bad,' the principal said. 'I'm sending you home to talk to your parents.' The kid goes home, and his dad is there. 'What are you doing here?' his dad asks. 'I called a bunch of kids blue bananas and they beat me up. I went to tell my teacher and she sent me to the principal, and the principal sent me home, and now I'm here.' 'You called them blue bananas? That's very bad,' the kid's dad says. 'Go outside and think about what you did.' The kid goes outside and sits down on the porch. A policeman comes by. 'What are you doing here?' the policeman asks. 'I called a bunch of kids blue bananas and they beat me up. I went to tell my teacher and she sent me to the principal, and the principal sent me home. My dad told me to sit outside, and now I'm here.' 'You called them blue bananas? That's very bad,' the policeman says. 'I'm going to have to arrest you.' So the kid winds up in juvenile court. 'What are you doing here?' the judge asks. 'I called a bunch of kids blue bananas and they beat me up. I went to tell my teacher and she sent me to the principal, and the principal sent me home. My dad told me to sit outside, and a policeman came by and arrested me. And now I'm here.' 'You called them blue bananas? That's very bad,' the judge says. 'I'm going to have sentence you to 15 years in jail.' So the kid gets sent to jail. 15 years later, he gets out of jail. As he's leaving the jail, he runs into a girl he used to know at school. 'What are you doing here?' she asks. 'I called a bunch of kids blue bananas and they beat me up. I went to tell my teacher and she sent me to the principal, and the principal sent me home. My dad told me to sit outside, and a policeman came by and arrested me. The judge sentenced me to 15 years in prison and now I'm here.' The friend starts laughing so hard she ends up rolling on the ground. She rolls out into the street, gets hit by a car, and dies. The moral of the story? Look both ways before you cross the street."
Fei and Ramsas were both silent, then they laughed politely.
"Ramsas... Fei... I have one last request," Miang gasped.
"What do you want?" Ramsas said.
"I... want... to recite the entire... Oxford English Dictionary... to you guys..."
"What?" Fei spluttered. "That's ridiculous! I don't have time for this."
"But, Fei, it's her last wish."
"aback adv. taken aback, disconcerted."
"If we don't stop Id, he's going to fire that nuke and blow us all to kingdom come," Fei said.
"I thought it was already established that you're an atheist."
"Yeah, but we need some religious themes so we can have Mature Content."
"But all our Mature Content was just a marketing scam," Ramsas protested. "We don't have any Mature Content."
"abase v. (abased, abasing) to humiliate, to degrade. abase'ment n."
"Look, just hurry up and die, okay?" Fei said to Miang.
"Fei! How could you say that?"
"Fine then, you stay here and listen to the dictionary," Fei declared. "I'm going to stop Id."
* * *
"What in the heck is she doing?" Id said, watching the view screen in his command center in confusion.
"Chu chu chu chu?"
"All right, Chu-Chu, you go stop him," Id said. "I have some information to retrieve." He opened a drawer in his desk and procured a false beard and wig.
* * *
Fei entered the building that Miang had been guarding and boarded the cargo elevator. He pressed the button to activate it and waited while it descended. By now, he was not terribly surprised when his codec rang. This time, it was Professor Daravon.
"Fei Fong Wong!" he exclaimed. "How are you?"
"Miang's near death," he reported. "Ramsas is with her. And now I've only got 3 hours left until Id's deadline."
"More news tat is bad for you," Daravon said. "Been doings or research I, discoveling. Mei-Ring is spyings."
"Said Saga Frontiel character did she?" Daravon said. "And revel 37? Saga character no having revel! The cause is found by the investigation of a secretly organized 'Defending-the-Earth-From-the-Outside' organization that is a strange disease prevails throughout a planet 'Zancs' in a dark nebula and woman's generative power is lost, then, women on the Earth were abducted as substitutes for having their descendants."
There was a long, uncomfortable, silence. "Come again?" Fei said.
"Parental Advisoly Warning! Spy Mei-Ring is! Cannot trust sheing! First, attempt to contact missing our 'Sephiroth'. Then try to find the Xenogears."
Shitan cut into the converation. "Fei, what I think Daravon is trying to say is that Mei-Ling said she was a level 37 character, but SaGa Frontier characters don't have levels. So he investigated her and thinks she is a spy."
"This's the way!" Daravon exclaimed, nodding his approval. "You possess the wonderful miracle power within you."
"I will look into this," Shitan said. "These are serious charges."
"For great justice!" Daravon agreed. "Goodbye!"
Conveniently, the elevator came to a stop at just that exact moment, in some type of warehouse. Fei cautiously advanced forward. The small room he was in appeared safe, but there were a pair of double doors ahead that would be almost impossible to sneak through. Perhaps it would be best to just run in with all guns blazing... and so he did.
Fei kicked the doors open -- something he'd always longed to do -- and charged inside, firing his gatling peashooter with one hand and his Stinger missiles in the other.
He ended up hitting a crate right in front of him and almost killing himself in the ensuing explosion.
"Chu chu chu?" Chu-Chu squeaked, waddling around the crates.
"Chu-Chu!" Fei said. "It's not too late to join us again! Why are you fighting against us?"
"Chu chu CHU!" Chu-Chu said, and started to grow. Fei dodged backwards and fired a Stinger missile at her. The anti-aircraft missile struck her square-on in the stomach, but Chu-Chu seemed unaffected.
Fei looked around for something to use -- conventional weapons were out. Then his eyes fell on a big oxygen pump tucked away into the corner. He ran over to it, unscrewed the nozzle, and started sucking in as much oxygen as he could, inflating himself to Chu-Chu's size.
"Chu chu," Chu-Chu mumbled, backing away from Fei.
Not really wanting to fight his former ally, Giant-Fei grabbed Chu-Chu, opened up one of the crates, and crammed her inside. Chu-Chu tried to claw her way out, but Fei gave her a sharp tap on the nose and knocked her unconscious. After forcing Chu-Chu into the crate, Fei slammed the lid shut, then pushed another crate over on top of it. That would at least hold her for as long he needed to be here. Now all he had to do was wait until he exhaled enough air to return to normal size...
* * *
Shitan stared at the criminal record on his computer screen in disbelieving horror. "MEI-LING. Convicted of 7 counts first-degree jewelry theft, 1 count conspiring to destroy a region and 1 count demonic possession."
"Oh, my," Shitan said. He got up to find Mei-Ling immediately and detain her -- but Mei-Ling was already one step ahead of him, having been listening at the door. She ran to Maria's room, grabbed her Dismember-Me-Elmo doll, and clubbed the surprised girl unconscious with it.
When Shitan arrived in the hall, he found Mei-Ling pointing a gun at Maria's head. "Don't move or the girl gets it!" Mei-Ling threatened.
Suddenly, a nearby door exploded off its hinges and a slender figure somersaulted out into the hall, firing two guns in different directions. "Enter... BILLY LEE: MAN OF ACTION!"
"If you take another step towards me, I'll pull the trigger," Mei-Ling threatened.
Billy Lee: Man of Action calmly shot the gun out of Mei-Ling's hand, causing it to skid across the floor (the gun, not the hand). In doing so, however, he shattered the black onyx ring that Mei-Ling was wearing on her hand.
Mei-Ling fell to the ground, a vacant look on her face. "What... where am I?"
Billy Lee: Man of Action whipped out a cigar and started chewing on it. "Looks like we're dealing with another case of demonic possession here, sherrif," Billy said to Shitan. "I reckon we just smashed a cursed ring there. Now we're gonna find out she wasn't really a bad guy after all."
"Oh, dear me, what have I done?" Mei-Ling said.
"Hey, don't worry about it," Billy said. "We all get demonically possessed sometime or another." He offered a yellow box to Mei-Ling. "Here, have some Good-'n-Plenty."
Mei-Ling gratefully took the box and poured its contents out into her hand, then quickly ate them up.
Billy turned to Shitan. "I found them in the ventilation shaft in the gear hangar," he explained.
* * *
Fei, now back to normal size, pressed further into the underground base, still searching for the hangar where the Giant of Babel was being kept. Eventually, the passage he was in terminated in a steel door with a card key slot by it. This could be it, Fei thoughts -- but before he had a chance to find out, his codec rang.
"Yes?" Fei said testily.
"You're Fei, right?" Mei-Ling said.
"Mei-Ling?" Fei said. "Why are you you on here? Is it true...?"
"Yes, I think so," Mei-Ling said. "But... I was under the control of the Black Ring. I wasn't myself."
"Ah, the old fake king plot again."
"I don't even know who you are or where this island is or how I got here," Mei-Ling said. Fei considered this. Was she telling the truth?
"Fei, or whoever you are, I know you might not believe me, but I just called to tell you where the Giant of Babel is... I remember that. It's behind a steel door with a card key slot by it."
"Wow, thanks," Fei said sarcastically. "I'm not sure I could have found it on my own."
He hung up and continued down the corridor to the door. Now that he was sure the Giant was in here, he needed to be extra careful -- this place was sure to be guarded. Fei slid his keycard through the lock and the door opened. That part was no-risk; from past experiences, it was obvious that the guards paid no attention to opening doors.
Fei poked his head through the doorway. The room beyond was a huge cylindrical chamber, almost all of which was devoted to the scaffolding that held the Giant of Babel. The massive blue Gear rose three stories tall, with a small oblong head and long, powerful, arms. Missiles were mounted on its back, and guns pointed out from its arms and shoulders. In the distance, behind the Giant, a small green window at the top of the chamber looked into the control room. Fei squinted, but couldn't tell if anybody was in there or not. He should have brought his binoculars along, but Emeralda had borrowed them to go birdwatching.
Fei crept along the steel girders towards the back of the Giant, in search of the tailpipe. He tread carefully and silently, lest he alert a guard or fall off a girder into the lava below.
"Huh? What was that noise?" A guard, alerted by Fei's clanking foot steps across the metal, ran to investigate. Fei turned and fled, only to discover a guard approaching from that side too.
An exclamation mark appeared over the guard's head. "There he is!" he shouted. Fei reached to strangle the guard, but instead wound up throwing the guard off the girder into the lava -- which worked just as well.
"Owhowhowhowhoooowww!" the guard cried, flying into the air with smoke trailing from his rear. He landed back on the girder and ran madly around in circles, still smoking and holding his pants.
Fei silenced him for good with his peashooter, then kept running. The dead guard flickered briefly and then vanished. His comrade arrived moments later, and, apparently untroubled by the disappearance of the other guard, resumed patrolling.
As all the guards were still investigating the right side of the Giant, Fei was able to slip in unnoticed behind the left side. He looked up at the back side of the monstrous Gear and located the tailpipe sticking out of its lower back.
Fei climbed up the scaffolding until he could reach the tailpipe, then leaned over to look at it. It was more than wide enough to accomodate the bags of Capri-Sun. He threw the first package in and barely caught it as it rolled back out. A bit too wide... he'd need to cram a bunch in there.
Fei scooped up as many Capri-Sun packages as he could, leaned towards the Gear, and slid them in to the mouth of the tailpipe. He managed to juggle them around so that he could hold them all with one hand and force them in with the other. He eventually managed to cram the mass of Capri-Sun packages into place, blocking up the tailpipe completely. He'd even managed to do so without puncturing any of the bags, a true feat of skill.
Fei forced the remaining bags into the tailpipe, first detaching the plastic-wrapped straw from one. After spending a few minutes gnawing through the leather-like plastic covering, Fei withdrew the straw and leaned towards the tailpipe. All he had to do now is puncture the Capri-Sun and the Giant of Babel would be history. Fei was about to plunge the straw in when...
...his codec rang. "What is this time?" Fei demanded. At this point, he was just about ready to take out the stupid receiver and trash it for good.
"Proffesor Darlavon too!" Daravon said. "How beings go?"
"I was just about to blow up the Giant of Babel," Fei said. "Until you called."
"Good, good!" Daravon said. "Id is vely bad. Solves super puzzle mines Malaysia. I created it ploudly."
"Super puzzle?" Fei said.
"Very difficult puzzle," Daravon said. "Cannot solve with clue, ha ha! Big typo! Buts can your's solved with is! "Here's clue: First Password: 5. I-8=A. 19. Last Password: Z-21=E."
Fei considered this. It seemed familiar... he'd heard this puzzle somewhere before. "Uh, I think the answer is FATE."
"You Beat It! Your skill is great!" Daravon exclaimed. He then quickly hung up.
Fei reached again for the Capri-Sun, only to have his codec ring yet another time. "I'm getting really sick of this," he said as he answered.
"Fei, this is Shitan," Shitan said. "After that satellite dish on the bungee tower blew up, our radio started working again. I tried to contact Daravon to tell him he was right about Mei-Ling."
"He had no clue what I was talking about," Shitan said. "Then I realized that the 'Daravon' you've been talking about has been communicating from inside the base."
"Then who -?"
"Daravon" removed his false beard and wig. "Ha ha ha!" Id laughed. "Did you like my beard, Fei?"
"Thanks for giving me the code, sucker!" Id said. "We couldn't figure out the answer ourselves, so we couldn't launch... until you stepped in!" Up above, the door to the command center emerged and Id ran out, heading for the cockpit of the Giant of Babel.
Fei stared at up. "You'll never get away with this, Id!" he shouted. "If I can go for five seconds without getting another codec call, I can blow up a load of Capri-Sun in the Giant's tailpipe and collapse the whole thing!"
Id appeared genuinely amused. "Ha ha ha!" he laughed. "You actually thought that would work?"
"It's Wedge's idea," Fei said. "Wedge, the chief of weapons development."
"Oh, you gullible little man, you," Id chuckled. "That wasn't Wedge. That was really our shape-shifting spy, Liquid Plumr. I can't believe you actually fell for his red herring. Capri-Sun, blowing up a Gear? Ha ha ha!"
Id leaped into the cockpit of the Giant of Babel. There was a bright flash of light, and Fei suddenly found himself standing in a long hangar-like corridor. The Giant of Babel emerged from the ground in front of him, under the control of Id.
Fei didn't like fighting or Gears, but it was time to do battle. He knew this because the boss music was playing, and it only played when he had spotted by the enemy, he had not been spotted by the enemy, he was fighting a boss, or when none of the above were true.
A panel on the Giant of Babel's chest opened to reveal a red gem. Red spheres started expanded and contracting all over the room. Fei stared back in confusion. "Pardon the early-16-bit special effects," Id said. "I'm actually firing missiles at you."
"Oh, okay," Fei said. He turned and ran, looking for a safe spot.
Suddenly, Sephiroth appeared in another flash of light, carrying his camera and the Masamune. "Fei!" he said.
"You're here to help?" Fei asked.
"No way, man," Sephiroth said, shocked at the suggestion. "I'm just here to tape this so I can put it my new movie, Paradise Lost II: The Next Generation."
"What the heck?" Fei said. "You're making a sequel to Paradise Lost?"
"Yup," Sephiroth said. "It's already mostly done, but I can probably wedge this into the movie somewhere. It's not like anybody cares about the plot anyway."
"Um, that's nice," Fei said. "Now move, you're blocking my aim."
"Hey, don't mess with the director," Sephiroth said. "Just go do some cool stunts, and I want lots of explosions."
"Sephiroth, do your movies contain anything except special effects, sex, and mindless violence?"
Sephiroth shrugged. "It's my recipe for success," he said. "Now do something exciting, okay?"
The door at the back of the supply route creaked open and a team of guys in suits ran in. "There he is, get him!" one of them shouted, pointing at Sephiroth.
"Oh no, it's the ESRB!" Fei said.
All the suit-clad men appeared to take offense at this statement. "Excuse me, we are not the ESRB," another man said. "We're Eidos's lawyers. That punk with the white hair there stole our secret recipe."
"You'll never take me alive!" Sephiroth said. "I am the one chosen to become ruler of this Planet. Er, the other planet, actually."
Sephiroth and the lawyers rushed at each other. Sephiroth started hacking away with the Masamune, but the lawyers spilled hot coffee on Sephiroth, then sued themselves for doing so. In the confusion, two more lawyers jumped out of the shadows and bludgeoned Sephiroth unconscious with their briefcases. The pack of lawyers then fled, carrying their victim with them.
Sephiroth's suddence appearance and departure had distracted Id long enough for Fei to sneak around the back of the Giant of Babel. The bags of Capri-Sun were all still crammed in the tailpipe... Fei raisesd his Stinger missile launcher, locked onto the tailpipe, and fired.
It was a direct hit. The bags of Capri-Sun all exploded, blowing the torso of the Giant free from its legs. Unconnected to anything, the torso toppled forward. Id quickly hit the eject button in his cockpit and was catapulted out of the collapsing Gear, unharmed.
Id landed a few feet away from Fei. "Well, well," he said. "So that actually worked after all."
"You never stood a chance, Id!" Fei said. "Evil will always triumph over good! Oops, I mean that the other way around."
"Ha!" Id said. "As long as I live, my dreams will alive! Now I'm going to set a bomb to blow up in 3 minutes and kill us both."
"Because that would be pointless bloodshedding and a violation of the sanctity of human life," Fei said.
"Ah, that's just a bunch of left-wing liberal hippie crap," Id said. "C'mon, let's fight a duel."
Fei and Id both whipped out banjos and started playing. "With a banjo on my knee..." Id sang, accompanying his out-of-tune banjo.
"Somewheeeere over the rainboooowww..." Fei retaliated. Little did Id know that Fei was actually an accomplished banjo player.
"Curse you, Fei!" Id said, throwing his banjo to the ground. "You're better than I thought. But can you challenge my DUB?"
Uh-oh, Fei thought. I was always terrible at PaDubba the Dubber. He tried in vain to synchronize the movements of his mouth with his speech -- each time he either finished talking before his mouth kept moving, or kept talking after his mouth had stopped moving.
"Mwah ha ha!" Id laughed. "Just as I thought! Your dubbing is pathetic!"
"What was that?" Fei said. His mouth continued to move in silence for several seconds.
"Stop light there!" someone shouted. They both turned to see Professor Daravon jogging into the supply route from the same door the lawyers had come through. "Impersonating me? There are no!"
"Wait... you must be the real Daravon," Fei said. Daravon nodded.
Id picked up his smashed banjo and turned to face Daravon. "Get out of here, or prepare to die," he said to Daravon.
"What, you're going to fight against me? You damn fool!" Daravon said. "Darlavon Free Roam Prism Dub Ray!" Daravon pointed his right hand at Id. A blue beam shot out and surrounded Id.
Id's mouth started to move, then stopped. "What have you done to me?" he said a few seconds later. His mouth then opened again and moved in silence for another second or two. "Arrrrrrgh!" he exclaimed.
"You Fail!" Daravon exclaimed. "Your skill is not enough. See you next time. Bye-Bye!"
Id's mouth moved some more. "You'll pay for this, you little bastard!" Id said, and then his head exploded.
"Thanks, Professor!" Fei said.
"No probrem!" Daravon said. "Until that see!" He jogged off back the way he had come.
Fei looked down at Id's decapitated body. Id was dead, the Giant destroyed, and nuclear disaster had been diverted. His mission was complete... except for one thing.
"Fei! Fei!" Elie called, jogging through the rubble from the far end of the supply route. "There you are!"
"Elie! Long time no see!" Fei said.
"I'll say," Elie said. "What happened here?"
"Id's dead," Fei said. "And the Giant of Babel's not going to be troubling us anymore. But how are you? What happened after Miang showed up?"
"You know, it would have been nice if you'd been a little faster in getting back with that sniper rifle," Elie said. "Miang captured me and took me to a cell where they tortured me to try to find out what the password to activate the Giant was. I didn't even know what it was."
"It's FATE," Fei said. "But don't ask me how you're supposed to figure it out."
"But the thing that kept me going through all of it... was that you were alive, coming to rescue me."
"Aw, that's sweet," Fei said. They were about to kiss, when Fei's codec rang. "DAMMIT!" Fei shouted, answering the device. "What do you want this time?"
"I told you not to call people bastards, you little snot-nosed bastard," Senator Lieberman said.
"It wasn't me, it was my id Id," Fei said.
"Ah, you look the same, who cares?" Lieberman said. "It's time for me to put on my magic gloves of glory and take all you scum-sucking video game bastards on a cruise to destroy you all. I've sent three stealth bombers over to give you a little nuclear present... mwah ha ha!"
Fei hung up his codec. "We've got to get out of here," he said.
"Really? What tipped you off, Sherlock?" Elie retorted. "There's an emergency exit over there," she said, pointing back the way she had come. "We should be able to get out through there."
Fei and Elie hurried down to the supply route to the emergency exit. Fei kicked open the door for effect and they ran through into a small parking garage.
"I'll find us a car," Elie said, taking the lead. She had somehow changed into an orange jacket she had not been wearing moments before. "Hey, what's that camera?" She pointed at a camera poking around a corner."
"Oh, that's probably just Sephiroth," Fei said. "Here, I'll shut him up." He ran towards the camera, provoking no visible reaction. When he was about two feet away, the camera suddenly recognized him and sounded an alarm. "D'oh."
"Quick, let's find a jeep," Elie said, running to a nearby jeep. "Damn. No keys." She turned, looking for another one. "Hey, Fei, look, it's the Magic School Bus!"
"Oh boy! The Magic School Bus!" Fei exclaimed, running towards it. Behind them, some of Id's soldiers raced into the room to stop them. Fei whipped out his peashooter and shot at some of the soldiers
"Hey, just where do you keep that gun?" Elie asked.
"None of your damn business," Fei said. As the soldiers returned fire, he turned around and ducked back into the bus. And there he saw a miraculous sight. On one of the bus seats, left in plain view, somebody had abandoned a box of various kinds of donuts, numbering at least 20 in total. There was even a neat little stack of napkins to go along with them.
"Look! Donuts!" Fei exclaimed, taking one of them.
"Careful, Fei, you don't know where those have been," Elie said as she attempted to start the bus. Having never driven one before, she found it wasn't as easy as it looked.
"Aw, hell, who cares," Fei said, grabbing a chocolate-covered one and taking a bite out of it. Refreshed, he ducked out from behind the seat and fired at the soldiers.
Elie finally managed to get the bus started and slammed on the gas. "I'll drive, you take care of the soldiers," she said as she backed into a fire hydrant. The fire hydrant started spraying water, blasting some nearby soldiers in the face.
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Fei asked.
"Don't worry, I almost beat the third level of Vigilante 8," Elie said. She pointed the bus down the long escape corridor and hit the gas. Fei took a brief breather and munched on his donut as they zoomed down the passage.
Elie slammed on the brakes as they came to a checkpoint. "Fei, clear a path," she said.
Fei grabbed a curling broom, leapt off the bus, and started sweeping a path in front of the bus. "No, Fei, that's not what I meant!" Elie shouted. "The soldiers!"
Fei turned and clobbered one of the soldiers with the broom, then started smashing in the fence blocking their way with it. Inside the bus, Elie shook her head in despair and buried her face in her hands, not wanting to watch.
"Okay, I think it's clear now," Fei said, jumping back on the bus.
Elie hit the gas again and they smashed through the damaged fence. Fei finished his donut and relaxed. "I think we lost them," he said.
"Not yet!" a voice shouted. It was Id, driving after them in a riding lawnmower. In his right arm, he carried an uzi, and his left arm was holding, where his head used to be, a balloon with a smiley face painted on it.
"Id! But we blew your head off!"
"It'll take more than that to stop me," Id laughed, his voice mysteriously emanating from the balloon. He fired at the Magic School Bus's tires, popping them. The bus started to slow. "Ha ha ha!" Id laughed.
Fei leaned out the window and fired at Id with his peashooter. The shots bounced harmlessly off the wall, not even close to Id. "Stupid perspective," Fei muttered. He ran to the back of the bus and threw open the emergency exit.
Id opened fire on Fei with a spray of bullets. Fei quickly rolled to the side and loaded his Stinger launcher. In an effort to dodge the imminent missile attack, Id speeded up to pass the rapidly slowing bus. Just ahead of them, daylight shone in from outside the tunnel.
Acting on impulse, Fei hurled the spiderweb in Id's balloon face. Id reached up to pull the sticky material off his face, and in doing so let go of the steering wheel. His lawnmower crashed into the back of the bus, tipping it over, and everything went black...
* * *
Fei awoke buried in the sand, with Elie a short distance aways. The Magic School Bus was lying upside down in the sand, spinning its wheels. Id's damaged lawnmower lay nearby, on flame.
"We made it..." Elie said. "We're alive."
"Elie..." Fei said. "Can you see Id?"
"Not from here."
"I'm right here," Id gasped, dragging himself out from behind the lawnmower.
"You're still alive?" Fei said. "Even after losing a banjo duel, having your head explode, and being in a car crash?"
Obvioulsy in pain, Id slowly focused his uzi on Fei. Fei tried to crawl out of the way, but his foot was pinned beneath the bus. Then, suddenly, without warning, Id erupted in flames. "OH MY GOD, I SEEM TO BE ON FIRE," Id said.
"What the hell?" Fei muttered. "Spontaneous combustion?"
"No," someone said. As Id's flaming corpse fell to the ground -- taking the balloon with it -- he could see who it was.
"Eve, right?" Fei said. "You showed up just in time."
"I told you I'd be bringing a search party," Eve said. "Who was that guy?"
"It was Id, my evil id," Fei said. "But, uh, where's the rest of your search party?"
Eve looked back at some railroad tracks visible in the distance. "They're coming," she said. "Do you know what happened to Sephy?"
"I have some bad news for you," Fei said solemnly. "He's been kidnapped by Eidos's lawyers. They're accusing him of stealing their recipe for success."
"Oh, not them again," Eve said.
"This isn't the first time?"
"No, not at all," Eve said. "Well, I suppose I'll have to go rescue him again."
"Uh... would you mind helping me out from under this bus first?" Fei said.
Eve shrugged. "Of course not." She raised her hand and the bus floated into the air, freeing Fei and Elie. They gratefully stumbled to their feet and took their first deep breath of fresh air in quite some time.
"Thank you," Elie said.
"Your friends are back at your ship," Eve said. "They're waiting for you. Farewell, Fei Wong Fei Fong." Eve teleported away.
"It's just Wong Fei Fong!" Fei called, but found himself talking to only thin air.
"Fei... you can't leave me here to die..."
Elie and Fei looked down to see where the voice had come from. Id looked up.
"Oh no, he's still alive!" Elie said. "Even after being burnt up!"
"Oh, I'm not going to leave you here to die, Id," Fei said. "I'm gonna leave your head on the railroad tracks!" He took a step back, wound up, and delivered a powerful kick to Id's balloon head. It rolled across the desert and came to a rest on the railroad tracks. "GOAAAAAL!"
"Aaaaaah!" Id's head screamed from the distance.
"Hey, here comes Casey Jones," Fei observed. A train shot by on the railroad tracks and came to a stop directly on top of Id's head, popping it and crushing the remains into a thin layer of material splattered across the tracks.
"That should take care of him for good," Fei said. "Or at least until the sequel."
* * *
"Here they come! Here they come!" Maria said, watching the horizon. Sure enough, the two shadows on the horizon soon became distinctly visible as Fei and Elie as they approached the Yggdrasil.
"Congratulations, Fei!" Shitan said as the two boarded the sandship-turned-airship. "Your one-man infiltration mission was a resounding success."
"Oh, it wasn't just me," Fei said. "I couldn't have done it without all your guys' help, and I'd like to thank each and every one of you." Fei turned to Elie. "Thank you." He then turned to Shitan. "Thank you." Fei looked at Mei-Ling. "Thank you." Fei then turned to Billy Lee: Man of Action. "Thank you." Fei turned to Rico. "Thank you." Fei turned to Bart. "Thank you." Fei then turned to Maria. "Thank you." Finally, Fei turned to Sigurd. "Thank you."
"What about me, Kim?" Emeralda asked.
"Why should I thank you?" Fei said. "All you did was take my binoculars. And stop calling me Kim."
"Good news, Fei," Shitan said. "Sigurd and I have managed to repair the engine. We can take off at any time."
"Great," Fei said. "I still have this feeling I'm forgetting something, though."
"Fei! Fei! Wait for me!" a voice called from the desert. They all turned to look. It was Ramsas, stumbling towards the Yggdrasil as best as he could while carrying Miang, who was still rattling off the dictionary.
"Hmm, guess we'd better wait for him," Fei said. While he was waiting for them to arrive, he turned to Billy. "Hey, you got any more of that diazepam? It was good stuff."
"Uh... that's just for when you're sniping, Fei," Billy said.
"Aww, come on, I bet it prevents headaches, too," Fei said. "Can I have some more of it?"
"I think he's addicted," Shitan whispered to Billy.
"Guess what, Fei?" Ramsas said as he boarded the Yggdrasil. "I don't think Miang will die unless she finishes reciting the dictionary, so as long we keep making up new words faster than she can recite them, she'll be liffy. Isn't that just the most shookied thing you've ever heard? Pretty conkon, isn't it?"
"agency n. (pl. -cies) 1. the business or place of business of an agent, a travel agency. 2. the means of action through which something is done."
"Maybe we ought to sign him up for a 12-Step program or something," Billy whispered back.
"Fei, you haven't been making eyes at any more doors, have you?" Elie asked.
"Do you want your binoculars back now, Kim?"
"What happened to Chu-Chu?"
"How come I didn't get to do anything in this story?" Bart asked.
"EVERYBODY JUST SHUT UP!"
Everyone turned to stare at Fei. A shocked silence fell over the group. "I went through all this 'one-man infiltration mission' to stop Id and save the world, and saved all you guys while doing it, and now I can't get a little peace and quiet?" Fei snapped.
There was silence.
"Thank you," Fei said. He went down under the deck to his room, relaxed in his chair, and picked up The Story of Ping. Now he could finally find out how it ended. He took a deep, relaxing breath, opened the book, and was just about to start reading, when his codec rang.
* * *
Mog switched off the PlayStation. "That was one awesome game, kupo," he said.
"Yeah, it was awesome," Spekkio agreed. "Thanks, Neko."
"I hear Beath 64's supposed to be even better, though," Mog said. "We're talking Game of the Millennium here."
"No way, man! Xenogears Solid is the World's Best Game!"
Daravon-isms courtesy of: ZaNy Video Game Quotes
Special Thanks To:
"Were you able to retrieve the nasal disc with the Giant of Babel test data?"
"Yes. I've got it right here."
"And your cover?"
"Intact. Nobody knows who I really am."
"Good work, Crono. You've earned yourself a vacation. Take the rest of the month off."
"I'll do that. Thanks... Dad."
All will be revealed in...
(and, no, it's NOT his mother)