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Animus, Chapter 10: "All Together"


"I wonder what's in here..." Ness said.
"I'm not sure," Siris sighed. "But I can tell that something important is going to happen... In fact..."
"What is it, Siris?" Anthadd inquired.
Siris concentrated for a moment. "Ah!" Siris brightened. "They're here! The others are here."
"That's favorable, at least," Cyan noted.
"Let's get going," Siris suggested. "I... uh... don't want to miss them again."
Anna eyed Siris sarcastically.
"You," Siris said, "need not say anything."
"Who, me?" Anna feigned ignorance. "Whatever do you mean?"
"You know what I'm talking about," Siris replied.
"Heh, I know," Anna laughed. "I was just teasing."
"Anyway," Anthadd interposed, "Let us get going then, rather than mindlessly arguing."
"Indeed," Siris agreed, and the group delved into the pyramid. Before long, they encountered the others. "Ah," Siris said as the groups united. "It's nice to see you all again."

The others that were already inside of the pyramid before Anth and co. arrived seemed to hardly notice that they had arrived. They were much too busy looking for a way out. Dan was searching, when all of a sudden he sank into the sand and fell through.
"DAN," Mike yelled, concerned for the well being of those that were with him.
"It's alright, I think I found out how to get out of here! Dive through the sand!"
Mike shrugged, then called the others over. "Guys, jump here. I think that this is the way out of this room."
The others, not sure if they should follow those instructions, just stood there. After about a second, Skulryk sighed.
"Very well. It's better than being smothered to death by sand." He jumped in, piercing the sand floor. Luna, Dan, and Bob did the same. Poo was a bit more apprehensive.
"I don't want to! I might die!"
Mike let out a sigh of exasperation, then pushed him in. He fell on through. Mika followed. Mike was about to do the same when he noticed that Anth and co. were standing there, watching what was transpiring. He hailed them.
"Guys! The only way out of this room is either through the ceiling or the floor! We couldn't reach the floor, so Dan stumbled upon this exit here! Come on, before this room is totally filled!" Mike jumped and was engulfed by the sand.
He fell, eventually falling through the floor. None of the sand from the other room had flowed into this lower compartment. Mike looked around, and saw that everybody was just sitting, catching their breath.
"These are dumb tests," Luna said. "I don't like them. They're too... dumb."
"Yes, I agree." Mike sat down with a sigh. "Where to now?"
Skulryk looked around, noting that there weren't any obvious exits in the room. "Umm... there isn't any way out." He pulled out his dagger and looked at it. He accidentally dropped it. But before it hit the ground, it flew to the right side of the room, piercing the wall.
Skulryk, baffled, ran over to the wall and pulled his dagger out. He noticed that the wall that the dagger had stuck in was weaker than the rest. By pushing on the wall, he found that it fell out of place, revealing a passageway.
"Heh, good job! We can leave this room and continue exploring!" Mike walked toward Skul. "Well, shall we go?"
Before the others could answer, Anthadd and co. fell through the ceiling from the room that was filling with sand.
"Hello everybody. Hello... Luna." Siris said, meekly.
"Hi. What's up? Didn't think that you guys would make it here..." Luna responded.
Sulami then appeared in the room. "Hey, it looks as if EVERYBODY is here!"
"Yes, yes it does," Mike said, cautiously. "Do you know why you're here?"
"Yes. We're here to assist you in your endeavor," Anthadd stated plainly. "Why are YOU here?"
"Well, Skulryk seems to think that there's more to this pyramid than there seems to be. We're exploring... Right now, we're trying to finish these puzzles so we can have a free tour of this place, if you will. I have a feeling that we'll need all of the people here to accomplish the next task..." Mike said, trailing off towards the end. Anthadd nodded.
Dan spoke up. "Well, anyways, shall we go? The sooner we start moving, the sooner we can finish these blasted puzzles."

Lucille reclined in her chair.
"This is perfect," she hissed softly. "They've walked into my trap."
She looked at the pyramid, still beyond the Sphinx' reach, in the air.
She surveyed the Sphinx, laying dormant once more.
"Sands of Scaraba," she warmly echoed, "swirl around the Sphinx and add your power to its. Join with him to make my Sphinxie grow!"

Abdul staggered towards the city of Scaraba.
"This will make them think I've been out in the sun too long... Hassan's always wanted my water. Well, he's not going to get it," he muttered.
He stopped suddenly, watching the sand swirl around.
"Blistering barnacles!" Abdul shouted. "Billions of blistering barnacles! What's going on?"
He cowered in the fetal position while the sand around him whirled towards the southern continent.

"Grow, my little baby, grow!" Lucille cooed through time. "Grow and squelch the threat of good!"

Anthadd, Cyan, Anna, Siris, SimonBob, Rusty, Ness, Paula, Tracy, Poo, Mike, Skulryk, Dan, Luna, Mika, SulamiTea, and the four ghosts stepped into the next room. The door shut behind them. A blinding flash filled the area. The group was surprised as to what they saw when they opened their eyes.
"Is that a mirror? I see myself," commented Dan. "Uh oh.... Holy moly! My image isn't moving with me!"
"Oh dear! Why do I see myself with Dan's voice?" worried Paula who looked like Cyan.
Dan looked at his hands and shrieked. "I'M PAULA!!!"
"How come I have to look down to see everyone?" asked a Luna-like voice in Rusty's body.
"Great! Luna's got meh body!" groaned Rusty in Mika's body.
"Who am I?" asked Siris. "Oh! I'm Luna! I wish there was a bathroom around here..."
Rusty's hand slapped Luna's face and sent Siris in Luna's body flying.
"Oh my! I guess I don't know... er... Rusty's own strength!" chuckled Luna.
"Get a hold of yourselves people," commented what seemed to be Anthadd in Tracy's body. "I don't know what kind of sick trick this is, but we're probably going to have to function like this for a while. The Guardian most likely wants to see how well we can do in weird situations!"
"Hmmmm..." wondered Poo in Anthadd's body. "Let's see..... ANTHDRAGN POWER...... ACTIVATE!"
Nothing happened.
"How am I supposed to function as a yellow ghost???" exclaimed Mike in Saffron's ectoplasm.
"Me too," Sulami mentioned in Chartreuse's body.
Mika in Indigo and Ness in Scarlet agreed.
A new door appeared and suddenly opened.
"I guess Tracy.. er... Anthadd was right. We're going to have to get used to who's who. This is a challenge in itself, but we have to do MORE puzzles like this!" reasoned Paula in Cyan's body.
The group left the room to go on to the next. The door behind them slammed shut.
A bright green aura glowed and flared around Luna's body. Siris was very unhappy. He looked around for his body.
"Cyan," he said from Luna's mouth. "Give me my bag."
"Siris?" Cyan answered. "How could you tell that I was in your body?"
"I can sense auras, remember?" Siris responded. "Everybody's aura, as well as their mind, has been switched to a different body. I can still recognize the auras."
Cyan handed over Siris's bag. Siris used Luna's hand to reach into it and pull out a few small things.
"What are you doing?" somebody asked.
"I'm going to get myself out of this body, and into my own," said Luna's voice, though it carried Siris's words. Suddenly, a dull thud was heard, followed by a groan of pain.
"Siris..." Siris's body had fallen onto one knee, and Cyan struggled to keep the body up. He was shivering and sweating profusely.
"Siris," he managed. "Why's this happening? Nobody else is feeling like this... I've broken out in a cold sweat, and I feel nauseous..."
"My body is not tolerating an aura so different from my own," Siris noted. "I'm sorry... You'll continue to feel that pain until my body purges your aura."
Uncontrollable tears streamed down Siris's face, though they were not Siris's tears. Luna's body reached into the bag, and pulled out a few materials.
"What are you going to do?" somebody else asked.
"I'm going to cast a spell," replied Luna's voice; Siris's words. "I'm sick of this body, and Cyan is literally sick of his."
"Can you do that?" came Siris's weak voice; Cyan's words. "Should I help you?"
"There's no need," said Luna's voice. "Abilities that come from the mind and soul, such as magic and PSI, are linked to one's aura, not to his or her body."
Luna's hand reached into the bag once again, and pulled out a small book. Pages were flipped rapidly as Siris searched for the right spell. Soon enough, Luna's hand pointed to an appropriate spell. Holding the book in one hand, and placing a hand on the head of Cyan's new body, Siris began to cast a spell. Luna's voice chanted: "Mismatched auras serve no purpose; unite my body and aura as one..."
The flaring green aura that had surrounded Luna's body now moved into the body of Siris. Cyan's aura now moved into Luna's body.
Siris, now in his own body, knelt on the ground. His aura still flared, signifying that he was still quite unhappy. Slowly his nausea subsided, but his aura did not. He struggled to stay calm.
"Cyan," he said, turning to Luna's body. "I'm sorry to give you this body, as mine was stronger, but my body could not have done much, could it?"
Siris picked up his bag from the ground, and put his things into it. His aura still flared violently.
"I think that situation may have pushed Siris over the top," commented Anthadd from Tracy's body.
"What do you mean?" someone asked.
Anthadd didn't answer, but he remembered Siris's speech from a while ago, his speech about hatred, pain, sadness, and what might happen with too much of those emotions...
After that confusion, everybody set at finding out who had whose body, except for Skulryk in Ness, and Poo / Anthadd, who were doing other things.
"WHAT!" shouted Anna, who now inhabited SulamiTea's body. "It can't be!" This comment was directed towards the fact that Chartreuse was now in her body. She glared at Chartreuse / Anna. "You had BETTER take good care of it!"
"Whoa, don't worry!" came Chartreuse's shaky voice from Anna's mouth. "I'll treat it as if it were my own!"
Anna looked at Chartreuse's body, transparent and giving off a horrible stench. She turned purple. SulamiTea / Chartreuse quailed. "What? Don't look at me, this is just a rental!" he cried.
Chartreuse / Anna was heavily sweating sparks. Dan, SimonBob, and Skulryk all laughed at him. A Poo-type chuckle also escaped Anthadd's throat, but Anna / SulamiTea glared at him.
Poo, silencing himself, went back to trying to activate Anthadd's armor. He took the medallion in his hands and thrust his arms forward. "It's morphin' time!!" he shouted. He noticed no change, and shook Anthadd's head. Upon seeing this spectacle, Anthadd / Tracy face-palmed.
"EVERYBODY, pay attention!" shouted Skulryk's voice. Everyone turned to see Ness standing next to a wall. "Look, I read these hieroglyphs." He pointed to a part of the wall, and everyone could see a few figures carved there. "They say something about the room, the light, and the moon. I don't think it's the meaning that's important, though, but the hieroglyphs themselves." Turning to the other end of the hall, he continued, "We probably won't need that information until a later test, but for now, we likely have a different test before us."
Once it was agreed to start forward again, the group marched down the hall. The people who had been displaced into the ghosts had trouble, trying to drag their cans along the ground. Only once they got used to flying did their movement become easier. The people that had changed height, like Luna / Rusty, tried desperately to get used to the new perspective. After a long journey in the foreign bodies, the group came upon a aqueous substance forming a wall between them and the rest of the hallway.
"Hmmmm...." said Mika / Indigo, reaching out to touch it. As soon as her vapored hand touched it, though, she cried out and pulled it back. "OW! It's so cold, it felt like it was ripping my skin o....! oh wait, this isn't skin... well, you know what I mean."
"Great. How do we get past this test?" sighed Ness / Scarlet.
Everyone looked around for clues, or anything that could help them get through the barrier. Dan / Paula scanned the walls, noting all of the unlit torches. An idea came to him. "Hey, Saffron! Take my Zapper and shoot the torches! Twenty of them, please."
Saffron / Dan shrugged. "Okay, I'll try, but I'm not that great an aim." He held up the Zapper and fired at the torches. At times he missed, but soon twenty torches were lit.
"What's your idea, Dan?" asked Mike / Saffron.
Dan reached up with Paula's hand and grabbed a torch. "Let's see...." He thrust it into the watery wall. There was a loud hissing as the water evaporated. All in the party let out a cheer. In a few seconds, though, the evaporated water had reappeared.
"Okay," said Dan / Paula. "Everyone, take a torch and hold it in front of you. It shouldn't be extinguished just from walking through here." Each person, in turn, walked through the liquid wall, the mystical flames from their torches allowing them to clear a temporary path.
"Phew!" said Rusty / Mika, while coming through at last. "Ah wonder what other puzzles we'll be seein'?"
"Let's keep going forward, and we'll find out," replied Cyan / Luna.
Dan muttered something to himself.
"Excuse me, me?" Paula responded. "Do you have something to share with the class?"
Dan looked hesitantly. "My mascara is running because of that freaking waterwall."
General laughter echoed through the group of misplaced people, although while no one was looking Cyan quickly checked his own.
Mike cleared his throat. "However COMPLETELY HILARIOUS that was, and how ever easily that can be used for blackmail in the future," --Dan glared at the ectoplasmic apparition at that moment-- "it isn't important. We must find the next test."
They walked for a few moments until, directly in front of them, a wall had fallen over. An entire wall. Standing where the entire wall had been, a small man, looking very out of place in a mystical pyramid, stood directly in front of the complete blackness that had replaced the entire wall.
"Hello," the small man said.
"Hello to you, too!" Dan said, as cheerily as he could muster while wearing a relatively itchy pink skirt. "Could you please tell us what happened to that wall?"
"Oh, I destroyed it," the small man said, as if a man who went about 4' 11" destroying a 50' wall that stood in front of a bunch of people whose bodies had been switched was matter-of-fact, humdrum stuff.
"Oh, of course!" Poo said sarcastically. He tried to get Anthadd's armor to work once more. "Let our powers combine!" No change.
"Oh, you watch Captain Planet too?" the small man said. "I like the episode where--" he caught himself. "Anyway, your next challenge is this. You must make your way through this gigantic maze and find me." Once again, he spoke as if he was ordering something from Mach Pizza.
"What maze?" Anthadd asked.
The small man motioned at the complete darkness where the wall was. Small torches dimly lit a small entrance. He spoke once more. "Watch out for the specters!" he said happily, and disappeared, leaving the group to ponder their situation.
"Spectres, eh?" said SimonBob from somewhere within Mike's body. "Hey, me! Get my exorcism kit from the left-side pocket."
Indigo-as-SimonBob reached into the pocket, as instructed. "Hmmm, squishy... eww, slimy! ...Eek! Moving!" She pulled out the rock that Alt-Simon had given SimonBob. "Ooh, what's this?"
"I wouldn't..." started SimonBob, but Indigo was already squeezing it. Suddenly, there was a burst of smoke, and when it cleared, a wolf was sitting there. SimonBob slapped his forehead several times.
"Hey," complained Mike (from Saffron's body). "Don't give me brain damage, okay?"
"Whoops, sorry. Hey, Indigo! Can you change back?"
Indigo shook her head.
"Bah, we'll have to make do until I get my body back. Hey, watch out!" Indigo suddenly stopped scratching her ear when SimonBob shouted. "I don't want any weird scars on my ears, okay?"
"And I don't want any brain damage," commented Mike.
"Poo, stop trying to use my weapons, you might hurt someone," added Anthadd. Soon, everyone was complaining about what they didn't want to have happen to their body.
Siris stayed off to the side, watching the events with a baleful eye. What was this, some crazed Scaraban sitcom? At least he'd had the foresight to move his aura...

Lucille pounded her fists on the keyboard.
"I can no longer tamper with them! Why?" she demanded.
She hit the keyboard again, causing the windows to mutate horribly. Now, the windows were hourglasses, and the like.
"Grr!" she hissed.
She hit the keyboard again, and the windows returned to normal.
She smirked, noting the Sphinx had now stopped transforming.
"Wait!" she warned the Sphinx. "There's someone who saw you. Catch him and eat him!"

Abdul gasped. He tripped on a vine, and fell.
He gasped again. The Sphinx was coming towards him!
"N... no..." he pleaded. "Don't..."
Chomp!

"What happened?" Lucille cried. "He's still alive. I still sense his life-string!"
Apple Kid appeared on a monitor.
"You!" She pointed a finger at him. "What do you want?"
"Look at the sky. Just look outside your fortress. And turn the audio on."
"What for?" Lucille snapped. "I have no idea what you're planning," Lucille mumbled angrily as she looked outside the fortress. Her eyes widened.
No! Not the prophecy!
There was a rainbow. And it was whistling.
Lucille pounded her hands angrily on the keyboard. "Blast! The prophecy! This is impossible! I shall have to take drastic measures."
She immediately began typing away on her keyboard, her fingers literally blurring with her speed. Entering the correct combo, she stared into a screen. The screen led to many years into the past, 15 to be exact. Present day, for a certain group of people she saw on the other screens. Her screen showed a blonde woman in a pink dress.
"Ah! My past self!"
Lucille took a small piece of magic cake from her pocket. She took a few crumbs out, and dropped them into her mouth. Upon swallowing, she chanted to the computer.
"Stream of Time! Take my past self to the point of battle! Give her power beyond belief!"

Apple Kid saw the entire incident, with the switching bodies. He TOO had a decent lab in the future, something he was greatly proud of. He watched as the group of friends desperately tried to work out the body-soul situation, and chuckled.
"Looks like one boy managed to get out of it. He didn't want to play along," Apple Kid said, smiling. "Oh well. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt if I meddled a LITTLE... don't want to rip a hole in time or anything..."
Apple Kid pressed a small red button on his keyboard, and one of his screens flashed. He looked up, and saw the friends staring awkwardly ahead, surprised.
"I hope they don't mind being back in their bodies!"

Mike, in Saffron's body, had an idea. "Hey, I can float. I can pass through walls. I could probably scope out the maze path from up-" Before he could finish his statement, he noted that he was on ground level. "... above." He blinked.
"Hey! What the... I'm back in my old body." Dan looked around. "Where's Skul and Tracy?"
"Behind you." Dan whirled about, and saw Skulryk and Tracy standing and waiting.
"Heya. Welcome back. Even though it was only a few minutes," Mike said. "Anyways, I was thinking that maybe one of the ghosts could check the path for us. It might make getting through it much, much easier."
"NO CHEATING!" A disembodied voice, different from the one that was heard previously, echoed throughout the room. "CHEATERS NEVER WIN. RIGHT DAN?"
Dan blinked. "Hey! I don't cheat! I only... manipulate the games with my tools to make them better!"
"SUUUURE. NO CHEATING. GET THROUGH THIS MAZE ON YOUR OWN. YOU HAVE A FEW MORE TESTS TO GET PAST, SO HURRY UP." It grew quiet.
"Oh, that's okay, I LOVE mazes," Luna shouted. "This shouldn't take us but a moment."
"Right." Siris nodded in agreement.
"Wait, I wanted to figure out how to use that medallion that Anth has. I was SO close, too!" Poo ran around the group. "Why did we change back?!?!?!"
Suddenly another voice echoed through the pyramid. This one was much calmer and quieter.
"Hey. This is Apple Kid. I'm contacting your from Apple Labo. Look, I'm going to make this short. You must get through the pyramid. There's a device of sorts in there that... allows for some things to happen. You know, strengthening the fabric of time and space and whatnot. ... You'll see when the time comes. Anyways, good luck!" The room grew quiet once again.
Anthadd shrugged. "Let's go. If we must get through this maze, then we should start presently."
Mike nodded in agreement. "Right. Maybe after all this is done, I can finally have lunch like I planned, eh?"
Luna giggled. "Perhaps. Let's go. I want to get through this maze!"
SimonBob pulled out a piece of a pencil from his pocket. "Hey guys, listen. We can keep track of where we went if we mark on the wall. That should help us from getting lost."
"Aye." Rusty nodded in agreement.
The entire group trudged off. They stuck together, knowing that a wrong turn for just one of the group could mean an untimely demise.
"You know, that disembodied voice character really doesn't know enough about video games to have a good opinion on the matter of game manipulation."
"YES I DO, DANIEL. I KNOW... EVERYTHING!"
"Of course you do. I bet you don't know my--"
"MOTHER'S MAIDEN NAME WAS... O'RIIIIIIILEY" He rolled the last part off of his desembodied tongue for extra effect as Dan collapsed.
With his proverbial tail between his legs, Dan continued with the rest of the group.
"So..." Anna asked. "Where do we go now?" The path split into two, one smaller than the other.
"Let's go through the small one first," someone suggested. A general agreement was heard as everyone crawled through the tiny hole.
And as they came out? "Wtf?" Dan muttered, suddenly forgetting he wasn't on IRC. "Everything is..."
"Huge?" Poo finished. Feeling particularly smart, "That's why the evil monster is huge!" he finished, matter-of-factly. The huge, partially transparent thing carried a sword at least 8 feet long, and shook the ground as it walked.
"There's gonna be trou-bleeeeee!"

"How can you manage to fight me?" Lucille argued. "Animus is all powerful."
More rainbows had appeared around the fortress, and they too began to whistle.
"Sphinx!" she echoed through time. "Attack the pyramid! Bring it down!"
"The reason I manage to fight you," Apple Kid began, "is because I fight with something as powerful as Animus."
"What could that be?" she mumbled.
"Passion."
"Passion?" Lucille shrieked. "How can Passion be as strong as Animus?"
"It's as strong as Animus because they both come from the heart."
"But one evil is always stronger than one good!"
"My passion is for everything. Life. Death. Darkness. Light. Animus is simply for one thing. It pales as the targets grow."
Lucille began to choke.
"How can that be?" she whined. "My Animus is for everything!"
"And that's why my Passion is overwhelming your Animus: my Passion is already for all it can be. Your Animus, however, is for much more than it can be without weakening. You've deluded yourself. You only think your Animus is strong. But it isn't. Listen to your heart. Is it truly filled with Animus for everything? Or is filled with Animus for one thing?"

"Great. A spectre. Like I said before, where's my exorcism kit?"
SimonBob rummaged around in his trenchcoat, throwing stuff out at random. "Oar, Kleenex, burned copy of Half-Life, demon blaster, waaay too many hankekrchiefs... where is that darn kit?"
"Wait a second!" yelled Indigo, pointing over to SimonBob. "What was this, a demon blaster? It looks like a big robot arm!"
"Oh, that'll work. Just a second." SimonBob fitted the demon blaster onto his arm and blasted away at the spectre. Lots of flashy sparks popped out of the blaster, then it backfired in SimonBob's face and left his hair in an ashy mess.
"Woo, that was really pretty!" said Indigo. "Was it supposed to kill the Spectre?"
"Let me check my notes," said SimonBob, reaching into his trenchcoat.
Before any kind of notes could materialize, however, the Spectre reached down and grabbed SimonBob. "Ack! What are you doing?!"
"RWWAAARRWARW!" screamed the Spectre. Presumably this meant something to SimonBob, because he started a conversation.
"What do you mean, you’re gonna eat me? I'm all skin and trenchcoat, I'd leave an aftertaste."
"RNNERRERWWR?"
"Well, obviously you don't get CNN around here, because they had a special report on that kind of toothpaste. See, it's got these weird spider eggs in it..."
This went on for a few minutes while the others tried to come up with a plan. Actually, they spent a few minutes arguing whether SimonBob and the Spectre understood each other, but that's a different story.

Lucille gagged again. Impossible! Could this be... my animus is not what it seems? I refuse to believe it!

However, Lucille forgot one vital piece of information while she thought. What had become of Pokey?
Pokey was lying facedown in the hall near Lucille's office, with crumbs smeared on his face and neck. He groaned, and rolled over. "I had the strangest dream!" Suddenly, he truly jolted awake. "Lucille has done this to me! I shall have my revenge!"

Lucille sat at her computer screen, staring back at Apple Kid, still aghast. Suddenly, she looked at one of her smaller screens. "Oh no! The Spectre! He's not nearly powerful enough!" She reached for the power supply button, but was stopped when a pair of greasy hands gripped firmly around her neck.
"Let go of me, you oaf!" she said, gurgling.
Pokey cackled insanely. "Never! You play me for a fool, cakewoman? I shall invoke my revenge!"
Lucille struggled against Pokey's surprisingly firm grip, and could feel her blood rushing away from her brain. She flailed her arms, desperate for anything that would pry her from the iron clasp. Her hand brushed up against a bladed metal surface.
Aha! The magic cake! I used a knife to cut it!
She grabbed the knife, and twisted into a new position. Craning her arm high, she looked Pokey in the eye.
"I warned you!" Quick as a flash, she stabbed him in the back. He didn't even see it coming. With little blood whatsoever, Pokey stared up at her and started to tip forward. Lucille knocked him down with her pinky. However, Pokey had provided a distraction for the peppy protagonists, Lucille thought. "They're already fighting the Spectre!"

"This is getting a little old..." Paula thought, as SB tried to communicate some more.
Indigo quailed under the shadow of the looming Spectre, and automatically clutched for Anna. Anna glared, and kicked her away. "Not now!"
The Spectre laughed, and shot a light beam at Indigo. "Simple foolfhff!"
Anna put her hands on her hips. "Knock it off! The only person who's allowed to hit those ghosts is ME!"
She thrust out her arm, and it formed a fire sword. She slashed in midair, but the Spectre hit her in the stomach mid-swipe. She flew into the cave wall, but somehow melted away into lava.
Anthadd gasped. "What happened?" He looked down to see a Soul Consuming Flame at his ankles. Only this one had long eyelashes!
"What do you THINK I look like?" Anna said, startling him. "A Podoboo?"
Dan snickered, being the only one to get the joke. "However, I think I'll stay outta this fight." Anna formed into her human shape, and backed up slowly.
"He's a good fighter!" Paula commented. "How do we hit him?"
Mika struggled with her thoughts, but suddenly got an idea.
"Hey, disembodied voice!" Mika shouted.
"Yes?" It was just as she had suspected. As the Voice responded, the Spectre turned around long enough for someone to catch it with a giant glowing ball. The Spectre staggered back, struggling on his giant legs.
Everyone turned to Ness, who had cupped his hands, and was glowing slightly. "Well... quick! Someone hit him!"
Anthadd nodded. "To beat one, one needs two. Gemini Bolt!"
Two bolts came out of his hands, and struck the Spectre in the face.
"Oww! That really hurt!"
Suddenly, the Spectre stopped in his tracks. It seemed almost frozen in place. Slowly, a woman with long blond hair walked out from behind the frozen Spectre.
"It is time we meet!"
Ness's mouth hung wide open.
"Lucille?" he finally spat out, exasperated.
"Yeah." Lucille nodded. "I finally get to have revenge on you."
"What revenge?" Paula complained.
"Little miss Prissy again, are we, Polestar?" Lucille taunted.

"Stop whistling, stupid spectra!" Lucille whined.
She tried to tamper with the group, but failed again.
"Yield yourself to Passions, Lucille," Apple Kid beckoned.
"I will never!"
"Oh yeah. Bad TV show."

Mika, Ness, Paula and Rusty attacked together. Anna fired some flames from her hands.
SimonBob used a Rallets skill.
Sulami threw Bon-Bombs.
"Holy Water!"
And the three-way Adekae was used once more.
But Lucille somehow negated them all.

"Haha!" Lucille taunted. "See what your Passion will do?"
"Just wait," Apple Kid warned. "They'll show you. Both of you."

Lucille swept her hand in an arc, sending the battlers back.
It was just Tracy now.
"Stop!" she cried. "Please stop!"
Lucille stared at this single girl, who dared to defy her. She reproached herself; why didn't she just destroy her now? However, Lucille let her speak her peace.
"Why should I stop? My Animus for everything around me is always growing, and nothing can stop it."
"You don't know the people you're hurting! Even people who are rather innocent, like Master Belch!"
"He was never innocent! You silly twit!"
"YOU controlled his anger! Anger is something you should never control! It isn't right!"
Lucille rolled her eyes. Suddenly, Tracy knew what to say.
"Give in to your passions! There is love inside of hate!"
Lucille gasped. "Who do you think you are? The only Passion I have is for Animus!"
At that moment, Tracy smiled. "Give into your passions... you like baking, don't you?"
Lucille scoffed. "It's merely a hobby."
However, she knew this was not so. Baking was her favorite pastime! She licked her lips, thinking of her sweet cake...
"You have no animus towards baking, correct?"
"Of course not!"
Tracy crossed her arms. "Then you lied. You DON'T have an animus toward everything! Now what DO you hate?"
Lucille thought for a moment. "Fine. I'll humor you... No one ever seems to like my cake!"

15 years in the future, Lucille slammed her head in the keyboard.
"No! Why am I so weak! I HAVE NO PASSIONS!"
On an afterthought, she spoke again. "However, I DO like cake... but no matter! This isn't working at all!"

Tracy nodded. "Do you have any cake WITH you?"
Lucille nodded slightly. "A little!"
She pulled a mushy piece of dark cake out of her pocket, still warm from being pressed up against her body. Tracy wrinkled her nose, but quickly concealed her distaste.
"May I try some?"
"...Alright..."
She tossed Tracy a piece of the cake. Tracy looked down at the cake, and gulped.
"Bottoms up!" she whispered. She began to chew softly on the cake, and swallowed. "...Hey! This isn't bad!"
Lucille beamed. "Are you serious?"

Apple Kid appeared on Lucille's monitor. "It appears you DO have passion!"
Lucille hit her head against the wall over and over. "This CANNOT! BE! HAPPENING!"
With all the blows she had taken to the head, she began to feel a bit woozy. "Perhaps... I should just abandon this project. I could always work on it later!"
Apple Kid could hardly conceal his laughter. "That's the spirit! Why do today what you could put off to tomorrow?"
Lucille grabbed a piece of her cake, and nodded thoughtfully. "Yes... I'll do it later... but I WILL BE BACK! Hahahha!"

Tracy finished off the cake, leaving a small trail of crumbs in her hand. "That was really good!"
Lucille nodded proudly. "You like it? It's an original recipe!"
Tracy nodded, and Lucille smiled. "Perhaps... we could forgive this latest little engagement."
"Could we strike up a truce?"
Tracy nodded, and Lucille now grinned. "Hoorah for my delicious magic cake!"
Tracy motioned for the entire group to get up, and they immediately flocked to her.
Anna raised her eyebrows. "That was... anti-climactic."
"At best," cyan muttered.
"Oh well..."
On the way out of the room, Tracy made sure Lucille went out first. When she was gone, Tracy spit out the magic cake that had been sitting in her mouth.

The sun was rising over the coast of Carrillion Beach, and for the first time in days, the people of Summers did not have to smell an awful stench from the southern seas. They cheered with delight, and congratulated each other with hearty greetings. The Mayor of the town agreed there was only one way to truly celebrate such a joyous occasion: a parade!

At 8:00 AM, the parade in Summers started. It emerged from the back alleys of Toto, and floated through for hours on end, each float more lavish than the last. Various people sat in the audience.

On one of the bleachers, a woman and four ghosts sat lazily. "Mm! These peaches sure are good!" Indigo said, wiping juice from her lips. Chartreuse nodded, appreciating his favorite rice balls. Saffron was about to agree when Anna silenced the quartet.
"I have one last assignment for you four; and I promise, this will be a fun one."
She gave the four ghosts a camera, and a list of names. "Good luck!"

Luna, Skulryk, SimonBob, Dan, and Siris sat on the edge of the road, watching the various floats go by.
"We've done so much! I can't believe it's all over!"
Luna nodded, and Siris looked at her slowly. "Luna..."
"Yes?"
"Would you like... to go to the cafe sometime?"
Luna rolled her eyes. "I'll think about it."

SimonBob stood up, excused himself from the proceedings in Summers, and flew for Scaraba.
Landing on the shore of the ocean, he spotted the Sphinx sitting, staring placidly at the endless waves.
"Good view, eh?"
"Yeah, lots of fun. Hey, remember that Spectre you saw in the pyramid?"
"How do you know about that?"
"'Cuz he told me."
The Spectre flew out of the water with a loud, nearly incomprehensible growl.
The Sphinx would have smiled if several hundred stonemasons were available at that moment. "Sure, we're always up for a quick game! Right, Simon?"
"We're gonna need a fourth..."
On cue, two Krakens popped their heads out from under the water. Poker, eh? I'll take some of that action!
SimonBob grinned. "You guys are too much. Okay..." he drew a pack of red-backed cards from his sleeve. "I declare the Twoson Floating Poker Game back in session!"
As they played into the night, SimonBob suddenly realized he'd forgotten something. He withdrew a small rock from his pocket and tossed it over his head.
"You oughta be more careful with your stuff," observed the Sphinx.
"Naaah," replied SimonBob. "It knows where it's goin'."
They continued to bid and bluff the hours away. Nobody saw the plaid-sleeved hand that picked up the mystery rock from the desert sand, then disappeared.

SulamiTea stood with Ness, Paula, Tracy, Rusty, and Mika on the steps of the L'hotel Du Summers.
"It all ended so quickly..." Sulami said. "Is this really the solution?"
Rusty thought carefully. "You can nevah be too sure..."
"I think it is." Mika nodded. "Lucille really seemed to turn around, once someone mentioned her cake... Boy, i could sure go for some right now!"
Paula laughed, and Tracy giggled. "We could buy it from Lucille!"
Ness went blue across the nose. "Once is enough!"

Cyan and Anthadd stood under a streetlamp in West Toto, near the edge of Summers.
Cyan looked at Anthadd, his eyes steely. "I'm going to have to go soon," he said solemnly. Anthadd nodded. "I never stay for too long..."
"I understand. Plenty more Anthadd's to meet, right?"
"Oh I don't know about that!" Cyan laughed. "I think I've met them all!"
Anthadd grinned, and looked up. A sparkling rainbow of fire appeared over his head, and he could barely make out a person in the sky. "Anna?"
An envelope wafted down from the sky, and landed neatly in Cyan's hands. He ripped the edges, and emptied the contents. He read a letter that was inside first.
Dear Cyan;
Never got to repay you for letting me back in the group; here's a small gift. Hope this helps you prove that you aren’t a crackpot!

Cyan blinked, and looked at the other items. Photos!
He looked at each of the faces, recognizing people from his adventures. Multiple versions of Anthadd and Luna, a sea captain, a naval admiral, a blue haired gangster... and a group picture of all of his latest friends.
He smiled, and looked up instinctively. "Thanks..."
Anna watched him from the rooftops, with the four ghosts sitting by her. "All in all, a good day's work done. Now I can finally finish that daiquiri I started weeks ago!"

Mike and Poo stood outside the Summers Cafe, and looked inside. "I don't know if they'll ever let me back in there..." Mike said.
Poo grinned. "Why don't we find out? My treat!"

THE END...?