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Animus, Chapter 1: "Heating Up"

Apple Kid stumbled through Deep Darkness, in search of Magic Truffles. He tried sniffing them out.
"If only I had bought a Piggy nose," he mused, inhaling deeply with his nose, trying to catch the scent of those elusive fungi. His red, apple-shapped beret began to slip off. He stopped and righted it, then an odd stench caught his attention.
No! he thought gravely. Surely, this can not be the scent of my beloved Magic Truffles!
He followed the scent to its source, although he suspected that surely, it couldn't have been his Truffles...

When he arrived at the source of the stench, he stopped in his tracks.
"But," he protested, "there's nothing here..."
A belch alerted him to the presence of another.
"Who... or what are you?" he demanded. "Where are you?"
"You *belch* have no need to know my name... you will soon drown in your own barf!"
Apple Kid ran through his memory. He knew someone had mentioned drowning in their own barf to him... but who?
"Ness...." he whispered quietly. But Ness wasn't saying that to him, was he? He was quoting someone else!
"*burp* You're not barfing yet!" the mysterious person... or thing... boomed. "I'll *belch* change that!"
Who was Ness quoting? Apple Kid demanded of himself. He wracked his memory, trying to find the elusive information he sought so. Massen der Bauf... or was it der Becchi?
The source of the voice arose from the murky waters of Deep Darkness. It was a giant massing of phlegm and barf!
"I know!" Apple Kid exclaimed. "You're Master Belch!"
"So," Master Belch began, "you finally *BEEEELCH* figured it out. But I won't let you survive."
Master Belch performed true to his name, and let loose a masterful belch.
Apple Kid reached towards his heart. "Gaaaaaspp," he groaned, collasping in the rainforest's eerily omnipresent waters.
Master Belch flowed over Apple Kid's prone body.
"Ness and his friends have showed me up too many times," he muttered, performing what resembled swimming to the village of Deep Darkness.

The Wilderness Trader looked at the southern horizon. He strained his eyes, trying to catch even a fleeting glance of what was nearing. He brought out his binoculars and looked through them.
"What in the world?" the Trader demanded incredulously. He sniffed the air. "Something's wrong in the air too."
He surveyed the area that composed the village of Deep Darkness. One by one, the others were collapsing. Then the Trader looked at the approaching object through the binoculars, now much closer. "Phlegm and barf?"
He could still not understand what was happening... who was nearing. He himself decided to near the approaching figure.

The Wilderness Trader stepped over the prone body of the Arms Dealer, and avoided the Monkeys, whose unconscious bodies themselves stank.
He ran towards the object. It became clearer. "It is phlegm and barf!" the Trader exclaimed.
"Drown in your own barf!" Master Belch exclaimed, expelling another nauseating barf from his bod.
The Trader held his breath. No! he thought. I'm not falling at all!
Master Belch began to move towards the Wilderness Trader.
What's he trying? I can hold my breath for a long time!
The Trader's eyes widened. He realised what Belch's plan was now: to make him take a breath!
He started to run away.
"You won't get away from me that way," Belch warned. "It only makes the chase that much longer... the worse it's for me, it's even worse for you!"
Belch began to speed up. He quickly reduced the distance between himself and the Trader.

The Trader began to feel the signs of fatigue, but ignored them. He couldn't let this horrible monster... this composite of phlegm and barf... catch him. His right foot contacted something. NO! he cried in his thoughts, the reality catching up to him.
He tripped on the Arms Dealer's supine body. His mouth opened. His nostrils flared. He took air into his lungs. And then... nothing. He fell unconscious.
"Gwar har har!" Belch boasted. "None can escape my wrath! None are safe from my Animus! Not even Ness Lee!"
Belch turned away from the Wilderness Trader and headed in the direction of the Monkey's Inn. After ensuring all had been felled by his stench, he entered the river to Scaraba. Using his naturally buoyant body, he sailed off to Scaraba.

Apple Kid struggled awake.
"Where am I?" he asked, surveying the surroundings. He was presented with a small cave. He was in a pink-tinted hot springs. It reminded him of Saturn Valley's. But it wasn't Saturn Valley. Saturn Valley wasn't in a cave. Moreover, a green mossy substance abounded in this cave, and he caught a whiff of some sort of fungi.
A small, greenish blue Tendite neared him.
"You're in the Deep Darkness Tenda Village," answered the Tendite.
"Tenda Village?" Apple Kid was dumbfounded. "But I was just in Deep Darkness..."
"Yes," another Tendite replied, applying some salve to Apple Kid's cuts. "A party found you floating face-down in the jungle. We brought you here, and nursed you back to health."
"How long have I been unconscious?" Apple Kid demanded.
"We found you an hour ago," the Chief Tendite responded. "You'd taken in a lot of water."
Apple Kid stood up in the hot springs, some of the water being splashed out, drenching the petite Tenda.
Who knows where Belch has gotten to since I've been out?
He stared the Chief Tendite in the face. "Do you have a telephone?"
"Tele-what?" the Chief asked.
"It's black, and you can take its head off and talk into it."
"Oh, you mean a ring-ring. It's in the Weird Junk area." The Chief Tendite pointed in the direction of the Weird Junk area.
Apple Kid hurried towards the Weird Junk area.

Apple Kid punched in the number of Ness' Receiver phone.
"Pick-up-pick-up-pick-up pick-up-pick-up-pick-up-pick-up-pick-up pick-up-pick-up-pick-up-pick-up pick-up-pick-up-pick-up-pick-up-pick-up!" Apple Kid chanted.

"I've always wanted to go to Carrillon Beach to swim." Paula looked at the blue sky. "Do you want to go into the water as soon as we're set up, or a little later, Ness?"
"Maybe once I can see where I'm going," Ness muttered.
"Let me carry the picnic basket!" Tracy exclaimed merrily. She grabbed the basket from what Ness was carrying.
"Uh... Tracy..." Ness was now wavering, tottering from side to side. "You just upset my equilibrium!"
Finally Ness fell down, everything crashing on top of him.
"Oh, brother!" Tracy put a hand to her mouth and giggled.
"Is it that funny?" Ness somehow spat Tracy's bucket and shovel out of his mouth.

"Don't be so impatient!" Mrs. Lee snapped at the Receiver phone. She hurried over to it, stepping over King's napping body. Honestly, she thought, can that dog get any lazier?
She picked it up.
"Hello?" she asked. "Ness can't come to the phone right now."
"Who is this?" Apple Kid demanded.
"Mrs. Lee," Mrs. Lee curtly demanded. "May I ask who you are, and why you're calling?"
"I'm Apple Kid, renowned scientist from the city of Twoson. I'm calling Ness to alert him to the return of some villain from his journeys... Massen Belch... no, Master Belch."
Mrs. Lee's face paled.
"Who was it, you say?" she asked.
"Master Belch."
"Thank you for your call, Mr. Apple Kid. I'll make sure Ness gets your message." Mrs. Lee hung up the Receiver phone.

She sat down at the table for a second.
"My oh my... I thought that was all over!" She placed a cold dishcloth on her head, trying to allay her oncoming migraine.
She stood up and headed towards the phone.
"Now," she mused, "what was the phone number for L'Hotel du Summers again?" She tapped two fingers on her left temple, trying to recall it.
It came to her, and she quickly called the hotel.
"Risosha Richmonde, please," she said.
"This is Risosha Richmonde speaking." A pause. "Ah, Mrs. Lee! I'm glad to hear that you're well. What do you want? A reservation, perhaps?"
"No, I'd much rather not have a reservation right now, Risosha. However, I would like you to pass on the following message to my son, Ness: Master Belch has returned."
"Quite an odd request, Mrs. Lee. We will pass the message onto Ness. Would you like us to pass it onto him when he returns to the hotel, at the front desk, in his room, or wherever he is right now?"
"Please, pass it onto my son as soon as possible!"

Belch started his arduous swim to the mainland of Scaraba, his surprisingly buoyant body helping him greatly. As he swam, he thought of the incredible revenge he would take on the Lee boy.
"Foolish mortal! He never ceases to amaze me with his cockiness, not in the least. However...Ē he said, with a slight pause, "this will be hard for me to do by myself. If I want to take over Scaraba, *gyork*, AND destroy Ness, I will need help!"
He spied an island in the middle of the vast ocean, and beached on shore.
"Let's see what we can find here..."

He slowly crawled his way across the sand, looking for forms of life to bring to his side. Fortunately, he found one without looking for too long.
A purple-cloaked person was lying in the sand, beside a small hut, sipping something out of a shot glass. Belch crept up behind the person, and prepared a giant burp. With a gasp and a Garg, he let one fly, and it rang across the island.
The figure looked up at him, shocked. "Honestly, you need manners, tubby."
"You can resist my stench? Impossible! Tell me your name, and perhaps we can work together. You promise to be a powerful ally."
The person threw the cloak over their head, revealing a flame-headed woman with bright orange eyes. Sparks flew off her as she spoke.
"My name isn't important, but what is this alliance you propose?"
"I'm looking for a person to help me destroy this boy:" He held up a newspaper he had carried with him, and showed her a picture of Ness.
"That kid? I saw him when I was around Carrilion the other day. Or was it Toto?"
Belch, however vague the info may have been, was ecstatic. "I will pay you greatly if you can destroy him! I have other things to attend to in Scaraba, and I should be most grateful if you would do this for me." He burped slightly as he waited for a response.
She shook her head, weighing the proposal. "I'll do it. But I want part of the cut. You know, somewhere along the lines of 40-60."
Belch grimaced. "That will do...for now!" he said, floating to Scaraba.
"Now that that's taken care of, I can begin conquest of Eagleland! Good thing there's always someone willing to be tricked!"

The woman snickered, as the grotesque blob sailed away. She brushed a lock of hair out of her eyes, and she went into the hut.

"Get of your butts, you lazy slobs! I have a job for you!" she said, pulling aside the hut curtain.
Four Stinky Ghosts were playing a game of hearts in the room. Each was a different color. Scarlet, Indigo, Chartreuse, and Saffron. Saffron looked up.
"Whatís this about a job for us?" Indigo snorted. "We've been out of work for months, mistress. How can we have a job now?"
The woman smiled curtly. "I met a creature along the beach named Belch. He wants you to kill THIS boy," she said, thrusting the article forward into Saffronís face.
Saffron looked up, chuckling. "Killing a child? Isn't that a bit shameful?"
"I didn't ask for your ethical opinion; just do it!"
Scarlet looked over at Chartreuse, the leader.
"Why not? We're short on cash anyway. Let's go."

The four ghosts emerged from the hut. Chartreuse turned to the woman, and spoke mockingly before he left. "Don't worry, sweetie, we'll have him killed by sunset!"
The woman screeched at him as he floated away with his siblings. "My name is ANNA! ANNA!"
She blocked the sun from her eyes, and saw them fade away. "A fire shaman doesn't get enough respect around here..."

Ness was walking back to the hotel because he had forgotten his towel, and wanted to get away from his sister for at least a few minutes. He walked into the hotel and a young, blonde haired man stepped in front of Ness. "Hey buddy, watch where you're going," said Ness.
"I have a message for you Ness, sir," said the clerk, RG.
"Really, what is it then?" Ness demanded.
"Your mother told me to tell you that someone named Master Belch has returned." Ness froze in his tracks.
"Is.. is this some sort of prank?" Ness stuttered.
"No, sir."
Ness quickly ran up the stairs and grabbed his towel. "You're coming with me!" Ness said.
He headed back to where Tracy and Paula were sun tanning.

Paula and Tracy set up their beach stuff.
"Last one in is a Mad Duck's egg!" yelled Tracy as she raced toward the water.
"Tracy, wait for Rusty to come out with my towel!" demanded Paula.
"Heh, sorry. Oh look! Here he comes!"
Rusty, a collosal man with black, bushy hair and a beard, came running towards the crew. He threw Paula's towel on the sand. Paula ran for the water, but Rusty called after her.
"Wait jes a minute, Paula!" said Rusty. "There was a call back in th' hotel fer ya. The lady at th' counta stopped me an' told me t' tell ya that 'Buster Melts' is back. I got no clue what she's talkin' bout..."
Buster Melts? That woman must be confused... We don't know a Buster Melts...
"I don't get it either... no use worrying about it now, I guess. We came here to enjoy ourselves, after all."
Paula, Tracy, and Rusty all went out into the ocean and began to swim. Everything was normal until Ness came running up to the shoreline with a strange man.
"Paula! Paula! Get out here!"
"Not now."
"In a second..."
"Paula! Master Belch is back!"
Paula sunk into the water.

After telling them the whole story, RG asked, "So what does this have to do with me?"
Ness replied, "Well, you are the messenger and I know from before that you indeed have spectacular fighting skills."
RG sputtered, "But.. but how do you know?"
Ness said, "I know you didn't want anyone to recognize you, so you got a disguise." RG knew that Ness was right and agreed to come along.
Ness saw someone holding a stereo and heard the voice from the radio station say, "This is an urgent news bulletin! Scaraba has just been overrun by something calling itself Master Belch. It is heading towards the city and we need help!"
Ness knew what to do. He and company were to save the world once again from evil!

Siris sat in a dark tree, meditating. Below him was the ever-murky Deep Darkness swamp. Siris did not particularly enjoy meditating in a swamp, but he did this to strengthen himself. He took deep breaths, slowly, and opened his mind to his surroundings. Suddenly, his ears picked up a faint sound; a crude, rude sound.
"What was that?" Siris whispered, and opened his eyes. He scanned his surroundings, and noticed something unusual: A pile of what appeared to be... bile. Barf. Vomit. A horrible stench filled Siris's nostrils at this thought. He peered closely at the pile, and saw that it was moving. It moved up onto the land, where the Deep Darkness village was, and began to terrorize the people. Siris could see it clearly now, and softly uttered a single word: "Belch..."
Siris fled, not wanting to go near the vile pile of bile. He searched for the cave where he knew the Tendas lived. Spotting it, he jumped from his tree and floated above the swamp until he reached it. He entered the cave, shouting a warning to the Tendas. "Tendas! Master Belch is..." Siris turned and saw a boy, dressed in red, speaking on the telephone. The boy put down the phone when he was done, and turned to face Siris.
"Who are you?" Apple Kid asked.
"I'm Siris," replied Siris. "Master Belch... he..."
"Yes, I know," said Apple Kid. "I'm Apple Kid."
"Well, Apple Kid," Siris sighed. "What are we going to do about this?"
"We need to find Belch..."

It was a scene of utter tranquility. Birds chirped, squirrels darted from tree to tree, and the grass gently swayed on this fine spring day. But then, a single flash of darkness and it was all gone, replaced by a cold, dark landscape, infested with bugs.
"Arg!" a voice shouted. "I wish Mom'd stop changing the screensaver on the Windows machine! It only makes it slower, if that's even possible..." The voice, which turned out to be Dan's, shouted to no one in particular, as everyone else in the family was out "enjoying" popular Boy Band *NSaturn's concert at the Topolla.
Dan decided to stop with his attempts to use the Windows machine for now. All it did was frustrate him, and with each dose of that, he was more and more tempted to fry its artificial brains out, and he didn't exactly have $2000 on hand.
So reluctantly he walked out the door. Mebbe there was a tournament at the arcade, or something...

"It's another glorious day here in Summers..." a radio said in the background. The sound trailed off as the car that the radio was in turned around the corner.
A kid, around 16 years old, was walking along the beach, looking out over the water. Man, I love it here... it's so nice and beautiful. He inhaled. "Aaah, the smell of the sea."
He noted that his electronic scheduler, which he had built himself from scraps of various machines, started to go off. He looked down. On the scheduler, it said Mike, remember to go to the Restaurant of Summers to meet up with you-know-who. He glanced down at his watch, and noted that it was noon. I've only got 30 minutes to get changed and meet her on time. 15 minutes early is always on time.
He ran into Toto and into his house. He went into his room and put on a clean shirt and a pair of white pants. Before leaving the room, he put a miniature tool kit into his pants. He figured that it may come in handy, but he didn't know how it would.
He walked into his bathroom. He looked himself over in the mirror, fixed his hair, brushed his teeth, and put on a little bit of cologne, but not too much, since he didn't want anybody to think that he bathed in the stuff. He then left the house and started walking to the restaurant.
About a block away from his house, he noted an odd smell. What happened to the smell of the sea? Perhaps the tide is coming in or something... He shrugged the thought off and continued walking briskly to the restaurant so that he could wait for his friend.

Anthadd turned on his small pocket flashlight and illuminated the hieroglyphics of the Scaraba Pyramid.
"If only these hieroglyphics were Sugemic instead of hieroglyphics," he muttered. "But I'll try translating them."
He squinted, trying to make sense of the hieroglyphics, then slumped down.
"Guess not," he said, smiling.
His nose twitched. He brought out Kleenex and blew his nose.
He continued further into the pyramid.
"Ah, finally!" he exclaimed.
He aimed his flashlight at the hieroglyphics, and used a small archaeologist's brush to brush the dust away.
He slowly brushed the dust away on the same tablet, which reached across the hall.
"Now we're getting somewhere," the scientist said to no one in particular.
He turned the small pocket flashlight off, and brought out a larger one for the purposes of illuminating the larger hieroglyphics.
He moved to the beginning of the hall, and began to read.
"'From the past arises a villain borne of evil, and reborne of Animus. The wind howls to announce its advent, and spectra whistle to introduce its descent.'"
Anthadd stared at the hieroglyphics for a second, blinking. In fact, his blinking could be heard.
"What in the world?" Anthadd placed his left hand on his heart, trying to sense an increase in its heart rate.
He started to walk out, then stopped.
He heard something behind him!

Chartreuse poked his head into the pyramid, and saw a boy looking at some hieroglyphics intently. "Is that the one?" he said to Scarlet.
She whacked him roughly with her tail. "You moron. If Anna found out what a moron you were she'd punch you in the nose."
"How could she? She's made of fire!" he said snippily.
"Thatís irrelevant," Indigo said. Saffron nodded, and motioned to the exit of the cave.
"We can radio Anna to pick off this one once we find...Ness...or whatever. Did she say something about him being in Summers?"
"I dunno, I wasn't really listening," Chartreuse said sarcastically.
Indigo snorted. "Well, lets check out Summers anyway. The trip should only take a few minutes."

Saffron looked over the horizon to see the tall beach/port come into view.
"That's the one alright," he said, seeing Ness on the beach. "Do you think we should radio Anna for backup? He looks like he's in a group."
"We can take him," Chartreuse chuckled. He straightened rigidly, and went into a full-scale dive toward Ness. Saffron rolled his eyes, and then followed.

Rusty looked up into the sky, and saw four objects shooting toward him. "Blimey! Ness, look out!"
Ness looked up. "Holy-! Stinky Ghosts shouldn't live around here!"
RG ducked as a yellow one swooped over his head. "What in the name of the devil?"
Ness saw a bright red ghost taking a swift dive toward him, and he knocked it straight in the teeth. Rusty had managed to elbow a mint green one in the jaw, and Paula was swatting a mini-ghost out of her hair. She let loose a lethal PSI fire in the face of the purple ghost, and the four ghosts flew back up into the air.
"Ack! These little devils are tough!" Chartreuse said, rubbing his broken teeth with a tentacle.
Saffron snickered, hovering near him. "Well, not like I didn't warn you. Come on; letís go get Anna. I think she'd be the best for the job."
Saffron flew off into the sky, with Indigo and Scarlet hot on his heels. Chartreuse looked sharply at Ness, who was staring boldly back at him.
"We'll be back, Lee!"

Ness looked up into the sky, and saw the final ghost turn away. "What was THAT all about?"
"This is getting suspicious, Ness. We need to find out where Master Belch is now, and who those four ghosts are!"
"Our attacks should have fried them..." Ness agreed. "Somethingís up."

Saffron strutted into the hut on the island, with Chartreuse limping behind him. Anna raised an eyebrow.
"What happened to you oafs? You've obviously been in retirement too long."
Saffron snickered. "Well, I said we should radio you, but Chartreuse sent us right into battle! The fool!" He was obviously proud of his tactics, Anna noted, but this still wasn't good news.
"Scarlet? Indigo? Any input?" The girls shook their heads slowly, cringing.
"Very well. If you consider my aid so important, I shall come along for your" Chartreuse cringed, as Anna looked darkly at him in particular.
"However," Scarlet said, "We DID meet an interesting scientist in the pyramid."
"Why should that be of any use to me?" Anna said, straightening her orange dress with a slight tug.
"He was reading the hieroglyphics, and he seemed fascinated with them. Do you know what they said?"
Anna raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps he is of interest to me after all..."

Deeper inside the Pyramid there was a brief flash of light and a soft thud as a lone figure appeared out of thin air.
"Now where am I? I can't see a thing..."
He removed his cloak, and the glow from several images on his garb illuminated the hallway sufficiently for travel.
"Good thing I have this option, otherwise I'd really be out of luck."

He travelled through the halls randomly, thoroughly lost.
"These aren't any catacombs I'm familiar with. Guess I'm still not home..."

He continued farther, and soon saw a light ahead of him and a shadow in it.
"Great ... friend or foe, I wonder.... Since I don't feel like cashing in now, I'll choose caution. Five to one says this is going to turn out to be a mistake, though."
He put his cloak back on - blocking the light from the symbols - and drew his sword, before approaching the light as approached the light as quietly as possible.
As he approached the figure got up to leave hurriedly, then stopped. In the dead quiet of the pyramid, footsteps were impossible to silence.
"Ke Bao Dragon Armour Infuse!" hissed Anthadd under his breath.
As quietly as Anthadd tried to make himself, he too wasn't able to deal with the dead silence sufficiently.
"Ke Bao Dragon Armour Infuse"? wondered the new arrival. That would mean.... "Anthadd, is that you...?"

Back on the beach, Ness and his friends were discussing the matter of what they had just witnessed. "There shouldn't be any ghosts around here and even if there were, why would they come after us?" Ness asked.
"Well they seemed to be funky looking colors for ghosts," Paula commented.
"I think we should find them and see what they are up to," RG suggested.
"Yes, we could do that, but we don't have the slightest clue where they came from," Paula said.
So the gang kept on talking and giving their opinions, all wanting to know what that whole incident was all about.
"Well I think we may need some more help if those were Master Belch's monsters," RG added.
"We don't know that though," said Ness. The gang argued for quite some time, not one of them knowing what to do. Ness then made a very peculiar suggestion that no one expected him to say. RG was shocked at what he said. He suggested that they all...

Skulryk sat in the basement of the Scaraba Cultural Museum looking at a bunch of old artifacts. A huge underground pyramid had been discovered, and currently, the cultural museum was being bombarded with artifacts. They needed to hire extra staff to keep up with all of the recent shipments, which was how he got his job. Even though it didn't help very much anywhere else, spending a childhood learning about Scaraban history had its benefits here.
"This is amazing! This is a relic from the king's chamber itself! Judging by the looks of it, it was a centerpiece in which the king was granted protection to the holy land... The paintings on it represent the King's achievements in life swirling around him, protecting him from evil, his enemies smitten once again by having to hold up the tile in which he walks, and... huh? What's this?"
There was something embedded in the artifact. It stood up straight and tall in front of a representation of the king. It was a long dagger, which appeared to be made out of silver. Its blade was still razor-sharp and what showed of it was shining brilliantly. The handle was enshrined with beautiful gemstones, such as sapphires, rubies, and diamonds. It was also covered in gold and carvings which had to have been painstakingly applied over months of endless toil. A sheath for the dagger, just as intricate and beautiful, was also in the rock. However, even though they were thousands of years old, both were shining brilliantly, and both wiggled loosely in the rock.
"Wow... that's simply amazing... it must signify the king's final battle against the devil himself... or something like that... This must have been an extremely powerful and well-known king, judging by the amount of work put into this... I... I can't even calculate how much this could be worth... I wonder if I can touch it?"
Even though all of his instincts told him it was foolish, he reached out to the dagger and grasped the handle.
All of a sudden, he felt a surge of power flow into him, rushing through his body and almost overtaking him. He felt suddenly... enlightened, powerful... it was an awesome feeling. He threw the dagger in the air, letting it spin, and grabbed it on its way back down, and let out a smile. He then snapped out of the trance he had been in and regained his senses.
He put the dagger down on the table and felt the power leave him. "Whoa... that was unlike anything I've felt before... I don't quite understand it... but that knife has power. More than can be understood by this museum, sitting in a display case. I'm the only person down here, and I'm the only person who's seen these artifacts... they won't know a thing if I take it with me."
Skulryk was not one for theft, especially one that would probably be the end of his life if anyone found out, but he did something he would never have even dreamed of minutes ago. He slowly took out the sheath, placed it by his side, and put the dagger into it.
As he sat back down to look over the rest of the artifacts, he smelled a strange smell. "Aah, the ventilation down here is just horrible... too bad... maybe I should wrap this up soon."

Indigo snickered. "It's amazing how quickly you can be turned around to one of our ideas, ma'am."
Anna shot a glare at Indigo. "There's nothing at the hieroglyphs that concerns you. I'm going to go over there myself, and I suppose you'll have to draw up a new battle plan while Iím away." She threw her cape over her head, and stretched her arms out wide, creating a staff of fire. She hopped on, and rode away into the setting sun.
Scarlet looked away. "So...what do we do now?"

Anna rode through the sky, her hood whipping around her head. "I hope those bratty science kids don't get in my way!" she said under her breath. She surged ahead, desperately looking for a good landing spot. Spying one over the Sphinx, she moved slowly into a descending position, and docked on the head of the statue. She jumped down deftly, and glared up at the Sphinx.
"Are you a thief, a warrior, or one who has come to see my majesty? You must decide what you really are. Therefore, what will you do?"
Anna raised her eyebrows sharply. "You know exactly who I am, insolent monument! Now let me THROUGH!" The sphinx raised a stone eyebrow, and opened the door.
"Service these days..."

Anna walked down the dark corridors, with only the tiny sparks that flew off her to illuminate the writings. Holding a hand out in front of her, she used the sparks to light her way down the passage. After a short walk, she saw two figures in the distance, one of which resembled a dragon.

"OK... who are you, and why do you know me?" Anthadd demanded of the unknown person.
"Not again...." the person moaned.
"This will be the ... third time I've gone over this with an 'Anthadd'." The mysterious person slumped slightly.
"Third time? Do I want to know?" Anthadd's curiosity spurred him to press this enigma for further information.
"Ever wondered about the existence of separate existences? Well, I'm proof of them. This is the third different world I've come to where I've met a different you."
This came as a surprise to Anthadd. Sure, he'd been expecting something outrageous. But this was too outrageous.
"I see. And we've behaved the same?"
"Essentially. Same powers, same behavior ... same eerie similarities to me..."
"Yes, I would say that would be eerie."

Siris and Apple Kid had made their way through the swamp, and had come to the sea between Deep Darkness and Scaraba. Siris turned to Apple Kid and inquired, "I don't suppose you can fly?" Apple Kid shook his head. "Well," Siris said, "You don't look very heavy." Siris picked Apple Kid up and prepared to take off, but Apple Kid protested.
"Hey, I don't want to get involved in this," he said. "I'll stay here in the village, and help its inhabitants. You go do what you need to."
Siris nodded, and flew swiftly away, skimming the surface of the water. After a short trip, he arrived on the mainland of Scaraba. He opened his mind and searched for any unique energies.
"Hmm..." he mused. "There are... maybe three strong powers north of here... Blocked in some way... maybe the pyramid?"
Siris continued northward, until he saw the Sphinx. When he came within range, the Sphinx spoke to him.
"Are you a thief, a warrior, or one who has come to see my majesty? You must decide what you really are. Therefore, what will you do?"
Siris looked down at the circular tiles, arranged in a pentagonal shape. "I am a warrior," he said, and stepped on the tiles, in turn, forming a star shape.
"Warrior, enter now," said the Sphinx. "There are others already inside." The large stone door opened, and Siris stepped inside. He peered into the darkness, but to no avail. He couldn't see, so he held a palm forward and uttered a short phrase: "Magic will brighten the deepest darkness. Light!" From his hand came a beam of light, which he used to see his way forward. He heard, with sensitive ears, a few sounds in the distance. Breathing. Footsteps. Speech.
"...would say that would be eerie."
Siris dimmed his light a bit, and called: "Is somebody there?"

Poo was sitting at the beautiful Summers restaurant, staring out into the beautiful ocean view, when the waiter approached him. "'Ello, 'ow may I 'elp you?" the waiter asked in full Summers dialect.
Poo considered his choices: he could either order without any money on hand, or starve to death. The choice was easily made as he started to order. "I believe I'll have a Kraken Soup to start off," he answered.
"Very good, Sir," the waiter said as he took the order down and walked away. Poo got up to go to the restroom. He splashed water on his face, then checked his hair in the mirror. The reflection staring back at him was a young man, aged fifteen. His black hair was messed up as normal, but his glasses seemed to even out everything. A grin filled his face as he walked back out and sat down where his Kraken Soup was waiting to be consumed.
"Mmm...delicious..." Poo said out loud as he picked up his spoon. However, a waiter walked over before he could start eating.
"Sir, in this restaurant, you pay first," the waiter explained.
"Uh..." Poo stammered as he tried to think of something. He glanced over to the restaurant entrance and spotted a young man around age sixteen or so, enter. "Hey, pal!" he yelled to the young man. "How's it going?!" The young man walked over, puzzled.
"Are you addressing me?" he asked, curiously.
"Yep...John, right?" Poo said, taking a guess.
"No, Mike...I'm sure I don't know you and I have an appointment to--" Mike started before being interrupted.
"But, Mike, you told me to order this Kraken Soup for us!" Poo said, with a big grin on his face.

Skulryk finished writing up his report on all of the artifacts. "These are simply amazing!" he exclaimed. "These artifacts will knock off our junk we have up there now... that stuff just takes up space now... with this, they'll need to buy out more space just to HOLD all this! These artifacts will make the place huge..." He was sure not to include the fact that the centerpiece contained a knife, saying that the hole where the dagger was before was simply there as a gateway for the king to enter the holy land.
Hiding the knife under his shirt, he placed the artifacts and report in order. "My boss can figure out what's going on when he gets there... my shift is over, I'm outta here!"
Skulryk grabbed his coat from the coathanger and stepped out into a beautiful afternoon in Summers. "Hmm... I can return home for supper in Toto, but I don't feel like having dad's 'daily catch' once AGAIN... besides, it's so nice here... strange how such a beautiful resort town thrives while just a walk away you run into Toto... but anyways... I've got a lot of money since taking up the job at the Museum, why don't I have a gourmet dinner?"
Skulryk made his way to the restaraunt, but noticed that something wasn't right in Summers. "Geez... could it be that there's an imperfect day, in Summers? I wouldn't be suprised if the people on vacation sued for imperfection... heheh... but this is strange... I've seen Summers pretty much every day, and every day it was a perfect day... even when it was raining in Toto, Summers had a clear blue sky with the sun shining bright... And I can't tell what's wrong either... just... a feeling that it's not right."
In his own deep thoughts, he almost walked right by the restaraunt. "Geez, I need to pay more attention..."
He walked into the Summers resteraunt and took a seat by the door. He noticed a small arguement between a couple people at the restaraunt and a waiter, but he tried to ignore it as he stared out at the ocean view.
A waiter approached him. "Your order, monsieur?"
Skulryk turned to the waiter. "Uh... I'll have the Pasta di Summers."
"A great choice, sir. That will be $128."
"Ok... uh... here ya go," Skulryk said, handing the waiter $128.
The waiter took the money and said: "Your dinner will be ready shortly, monsieur." He then turned and left.
"Heh... they really are rather high-class over here..." Skulryk touched the dagger by his side again. To feel that power was just such a... such an awesome experience. Grabbing the dagger again, he was prepared for the experience, and managed to control what he did. However, he was rather uneasy handling it, and slipped it back into its sheath... he also didn't want anyone to see it; it had made him paranoid, and he had begun to think that even in here there could be a thief...
The waiter returned. "Your food is ready, monseiur. Please enjoy your meal."
"Yeah, thanks..."
The waiter left once again. Skulryk munched on his Pasta Di Summers, but his thoughts began to drift to the people and waiter who were in an argument.

Anna combed back her hair and smiled. "This is perfect! I don't know how they didn't notice me, but this is the perfect opportunity to strike!" She formed a small ball of fire in her hands, and pitched it like a comet toward Anthadd and Cyan. She immediately threw her hood over her head, and watched as the smoke clogged the narrow passage. However, it did nothing to her. She ran through the hall, and saw the hieroglyph that Anthadd had been looking at. Her face contorted into a mask of fury, and a fiery hammer formed in her hands. With a swift blow, she knocked a chunk of the glyphs out of the wall, and grabbed the piece that fell. Smiling with satisfaction, she left the pyramid before the smog could settle.

She smiled with satisfaction as she flew back to her island, the glyphs in tow. "If he ever found out what these said, Iíd be ruined! Iím sure Belch doesnít even know how important these are!" She grinned like a Cheshire cat. "However, no one will know how important these are now that I have them!" She cackled loudly, her copper hair blowing wildly in the wind.

Master Belch, meanwhile, was maneuvering himself across the seas to Summers. He dealt with an unfortunate Kraken before he could make it to shore, and he took the scales of the lizard and absorbed them into his own body.
"These krakens, *gyork*, have incredible defenses! With powers like these, Iím unstoppable!" He saw Summers out of the corner of his eye. On the street corner, he saw a small group of people. He began to foam at the mouth when he saw that one had a red hat on.