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Animus, Chapter 7: "Evil Whispers"

"It's a little too quiet for my liking," Cyan mused. "No birds are tweeting."
"Maybe they can't handle my heat," Anna offered jokingly.
"Perhaps." Anthadd had a fist to his chin, pondering something. His nose twitched slightly. "Siris, do you think this odour I'm detecting is in anyway normal, in reference to the general odour of Deep Darkness?"
"I'd like to answer that," Siris replied, "but I wander. I don't remain in one place long enough to comprehend the 'natural odour' of it."
Anthadd's shoulders slumped visibly.
"However," Siris amended, "I do smell something."
Anthadd perked up.
"What?" Anna demanded, a crackling emanating from her body. It seemed she was ready to burst into flames. "What do you smell?"
"It's not normal. It's nothing like what I smelled before. When I travelled to Deep Darkness before Belch was reborne. It's closer to Belch. But it's not Belch."
The four stopped walking, shocked.
"Wonderful," Cyan muttered. "Little mini-Belches coming after us."

Pokey pressed the tips of his fingers against the other.
"Perfect!" he exclaimed. The replay of the past had finally returned to where it was, before the lag. "Those fools in Deep Darkness aren't moving. That'll make it easier for Deep Darkness itself to defeat them. If only they had been that stupid earlier..."
Pokey grinned. Slightly yellowed teeth glimmered in the dim light.
"Hurry, you fools," he muttered into the past, sending this message into the bones of the zombified denizens of Deep Darkness, "for your prey waits only a short distance away."

"Uh-oh," Siris muttered as he peered more closely. "It's as if the swamp has come alive!"
The group could see that people who used to be friendly Deep Darkness residents were now lurching toward them mindlessly. They had been turned into zombies, and the group could see that.
"They don't look amiable," Anthadd noted. "I hate to do it, but we ought to prepare for battle."
"Let's not waste time, then," Siris said, eager to use his magic abilities, though a bit skeptical. He reluctantly pointed a palm toward one of the zombified jungle monkeys. His hand glowed bright red, and he shouted, "Fireball!" A sphere of flame shot from his palm and struck the creature, burning it.
"They don't look too strong," Cyan noted. "But there are a lot of them." He drew his sword, and slashed at the burning zombie, finishing it off.
Anthadd clearly vocalized his next action: "Scorpius Blade!" From his hand he threw a sharp blade of energy, hitting another zombie-monkey critically. The zombie fell into the muck, but tried to keep moving.
Anna was about to be attacked, but from a hand she threw a ball of fire to incinerate her attacker. She turned to Siris. "You've got nothing on me," she joked.
Siris smiled, but warned, "Don't let your guard down... these guys mean business."
Anthadd stared at the relentlessly approaching zombies.
"If they're zombies... then they're Belch's flunkies now... does that mean he killed these people?"
"No," Siris replied, "he didn't. His stench did."
"Anthadd," Cyan mused, "perhaps we should use Adekae."
"Adekae?" the other three demanded, dumbfounded.

Pokey grinned evilly. "Those four are going down. A zombie's soul weakness is salt, and they have none!"

Apple Kid struggled awake in the Tenda Village. He had been escorted there by Siris before the groups split up.
The others had argued it was safer for all concerned.
"What's for breakfast?" he asked a passing Tendite, his stomach rumbling.
His heart sank. Tendakraut. Again? He'd had enough of it. It was too dry...
"Too much salt," he complained in a low voice.
But he was here until Belch was killed again. An unwilling refugee, to coin a term. Yet, he wondered, aren't all refugees unwilling?
He resigned himself to his fate, and trudged to the food table, where very salty Tendakraut was available for consumption.

Pokey looked to the past again. He tried to sense Apple Kid's life through his monitors. But he continually found a barren hill.
"No!" he exclaimed angrily. Then he found a way to choose alternate views for the specific location he was viewing. He rotated it until he found something he knew well.
His eyes widened, and a small bit of saliva dribbled down the left side of his chin.
"Deep Darkness," he hissed, licking his teeth with his tongue.
He quickly turned to the monitor the zombies were on.
"Zombies!" he cried. "Your Animus is now towards Apple Kid, not these four humans! Get Apple Kid!"

Mike had bought a lot of stuff from the various markets in Scaraba. He had a large sack that carried essentially everything that a person would need when wandering around in the desert: water, wet towels, food, antivenin, etc. Mike wandered about town before deciding to go to the gates.
Once there, he saw that Skulryk wasn't there. He shrugged and set his parcel down. Alright, I'll just hang out here and... hey, waitaminute, what's that? He saw what appeared to be a statue. Naw, must be a trick. Unless... HOLY GEEZ! This is cool!
Mike realized that that was REALLY a statue. It was headed right for Scaraba. He ran off, in search for anybody else that was in his group. He saw, after little searching, Luna, Poo, and SulamiTea.
"Guys! Sup? I just saw the coolest thing! A giant statue is headed this way!" Mike walked up to the trio.
"Yeah, we saw it too. We were looking for everybody else when we saw it. All we need to find now is Skulryk and Dan. Wonder where they're at?"
Skulryk walked up to the group with Dan closely following. "Hey Mike, I found Dan. I see that you found Luna and Poo."
"Yeah, kinda. Hey listen, there's a-" Mike was interrupted.
"A giant statue!! It'll eat all of our food! Run! Save the chickens! Save the burgers! Save the FOOD!" Poo started to flip out. Luckily, SulamiTea punched him. "Thanks, I needed that. Let's get outta here."
"I say we go to the pyramids. We may as well, right?" Skulryk looked to everybody, awaiting their response.
Everybody shrugged, then nodded in approval. They all started for the gate. Once at the gate, they each took a camel. Sulami flew, while Luna, Skulryk, and Dan had their own camels. Poo and Mike shared with each other. Before Mike got on to the camel, he picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. They then started to leave for a desert trip.
Dan suddenly had an idea. "Hey, couldn't we just fight the statue thing? It's not like we CAN'T take it. Right?" He then shook his head slowly. "Nevermi-"
Dan was interrupted by Poo. Poo, seeing some good in that idea, decided to take ownership and to initiate it. "Yeah! I say we go fight! Who's with me? We may be rewarded with all the food we can eat!"
Before anybody could answer, Poo took control of the camel. He had it start riding towards the statue. Mike tried desperately to regain control, but Poo just wouldn't hand him the reins.
The others followed, knowing that wherever Poo takes them, there's trouble.

Paula stood next to Mika as soon as Ness was out of hearing range. She growled, "Stay away from Ness."
Mika was rather taken aback from that comment and decided to do what she said. Meanwhile, Rusty was trying to decide something about the mutant behind the bushes.
"What do yer think we shold do?" Rusty asked Ness.
"Well, we could bring back a piece of that thing in the bush," Ness suggested.
"What if it's one of them mutant people?" asked Rusty, spying the bush carefully.
"I don't think mutant people have tentacles. Besides, didn't you hear it scream and fade away once Paula attacked it?" Ness pointed out, from their previous attack.
"Yer're right, mate. Let's bring a piece back... but how? What if we get mutated by dem?"
Mika stepped forward and pulled out her spear, which she used to rip a tentacle that was sticking out of the bushes and then held it aloft.
"That works. We should be getting back to the hut now," Rusty proclaimed, as the group jumped up and down in excitement, including Tracy, who hadn't been saying much.
The group walked back to the hut, ready to meet the group and present the sample of the tentacle to Anthadd, who was known to be a scientist.

Cyan looked at Anthadd, "Adekae ... we combine your Sugemo abilities with my sword skills to get a potent combination, remember...?"
The others still had no idea what Cyan was talking about and Anna wasn't too impressed, anyway. "I don't know what Adekae is, but I have my own fighting abilities," she said as she turned back to the oncoming zombies.
"I'm busy, myself," added Siris as he took out another attacker.
"I don't have any idea what you're talking about," added Anthadd.
Now it was Cyan's turn to be thoroughly confused. "How can you not ... blast it, forgot again."
"You forgot what again?" wondered Anthadd.
"That you're not the same Anthadd. I was able to synchronise attacks and movements with the first Anthadd I met on my travels when we were fighting a more powerful enemy. There's one problem ... I forgot how we synchronised!"
Anthadd hit his head, then thought for a moment. "If we have to synchronise, we probably have to keep fighting for awhile, first."
"Probably right, let's go!"
The two rejoined Siris and Anna in actively battling the zombies. As they continued, their movements became constantly more in sync, one attack coming in the opening created by the other's, until finally....

"The hut is empty," Mika reported, jogging lightly towards the others. "I wonder where they've gone."
"We were only gone for about half an hour," Paula mused, continuing to stare angrily at Mika.
Mika giggled meekly.
"They must have had to get out fast," Mika added.
"That worries me," Tracy commented. She shivered, feeling something in the air. "You would think they would have waited for us."
"Ahw, dawn't worry, lil missy," Rusty consoled. "I'm sure they're fine."
Suddenly, an odd noise arose from Deep Darkness.
"What was that?" the group exclaimed, and jumped onto a conveniently located boat. They hurriedly sailed to Deep Darkness.

"Bubble Sharp!" the two cried simultaneously.
The water Adekae cut through two or three of the zombies, felling them.
Anthadd slumped to his knees, Cyan sheathed his sword, and Siris and Anna relaxed slightly.

"Curses!" Pokey hissed, staring at the past again.
He pounded the keyboard, and the monitors went black.
"Why don't any of my plans work?" he wailed.
He lounged back, fuming over the loss of all those zombies.
"Wait! The zombies aren't dead yet! They're just dormant..." An evil grin grew on his lips.

"Greetings, Tracy, Mika, Rusty, Paula and Ness," Anthadd reported, struggling to catch his breath. "Beware of zombies underfoot."
"Gross!" Tracy was disgusted, and sidestepped each undead creature. "Zombies!"
"Don't worry," Siris added. "They're out of commission."
For now... Anna silently added. Who knows what could happen next?

To Pokey, it seemed as if Anna was thinking. Her pensive look betrayed her.
"Perfect," he mumbled, rubbing the palms of his hands together. "I can complete this plan with little or no resistance once I take care of these people."
He turned to another monitor. Many fish-like humanoids lay, slowly drying out, in a small area of Deep Darkness unexplored in the time he was fighting against.
"Manly Fish! Manly Fish's Brother!" Pokey screamed, jumping from his chair. "Two of those who intruded upon your land but years ago have once more intruded upon it! And even more horrific: They have brought more allies than before to deface your beloved jungle! Listen to the Animus within you! Destroy them!"
Pokey returned to his chair.
He sat in it, and waited for the next battle to begin. He hoped that perhaps this time his dreams would come true, and the one he hated would die...

The Manly Fish rose slowly from the muck around him. He blearily rubbed his eyes with his fins, and glared smartly at his brothers. The Manly Fish's Brother looked back at him. He grunted, and they started to swim toward the feeling of hate that had developed.

Anna flicked her head back and forth slowly, looking around. "I don't like it. Things are much too quiet for my taste...."
Cyan agreed hurriedly, and Anthadd nodded.
Suddenly, he felt a sharp jab in the back of his knee.
"Oww!" he said, as tiny needle-like barrages pricked him. He looked down, and saw dozens of Manly Fish poking him with their sharp spears.
Anna and Siris, meanwhile, had their hands full. The Manly Fish's Brothers had gathered around the two, leaving them battling in a tight ring back to back. Anna nodded slightly at Siris, and he powered up an Earth attack.
"Crag Press!" he yelled, and a giant boulder formed behind him. He threw himself to the ground, and saw that the boulder would go between two of the Manly Fish. He flinched, but when he looked up he saw Anna crack the rock in two with a fire spear. The two halves went hurtling at the fish, and they collapsed in the murky water on contact.
Ness and Paula were firing blasts of PSI at a particularly quick Manly Fish, and Ness finally got in a good bat swing. However, the fish dodged in time, and Ness spun out of control. Paula gasped, and she took out the jubilant Manly Fish with a Frying Pan to the jaw.
Ness wiped the muck from his eyes, to see a new group of Manly Fish and their Brothers join the fray.
"There's too many of them!"
Mika decided she had had enough of this, knowing that Manly Fish were water-elements and water is weak against ice. She began to cast PSI Freeze Omega on one of the Manly Fish, which froze into a block of ice.
"Well, I hope that cools you off..." Mika chuckled at her own pun.
Paula let loose a powerful blast of PSI Fire Omega on the other Manly Fishes and Manly Fish's Brothers, who ran away in fear of being scorched or frozen by any other attacks. Once they were alone, or at least for a short period of time, Anna reached out with her hand to the block of ice in which the Manly Fish was held captive. Rusty, Cyan, Anthadd, and Ness surrounded the ice, in order to stop the creature from escaping. Tracy, Paula, and Mika watched as Anna held out her firey hand, melting the ice within reach...

"Okay, my leg's broken, there's a Skelpion eyeing me, and I haven't got any rations... there's only one thing to do."
Despite being wracked with pain, SimonBob shouted "PARAFFIN HEAL!" A coat of white paraffin wax fell from the sky and encased his body, fully refreshing and immobilizing him. After spending a few minutes of wrestling out of the wax shell, he was all set to go again. "Good thing I know some Rallets," he muttered.
Leaping up on top of the Sphinx, SimonBob discovered a phone built into the neck, where nobody would find it. There was also a note next to it: "If the Guardian General escapes, phone this number. ~ The Scaraban Pyramid Guardians."
How about that? The ancient Scarabans had digital phone technology. SimonBob dialed the number.
"Thanks for calling the Guardian General Activation Service. We are automatically increasing speed from three to six hundred and twenty four. You're welcome!"
"Oops," said SimonBob as he watched the GG begin bounding towards the horizon.
Noticing a group of people on camels heading for him, SimonBob waved his arms in the air to flag them down. As the group got closer, he noticed it was Mike, Luna, et al., with Sulami flying close behind. "Hey, did you just see that statue dude get a whole lot faster?" shouted Mike.
"Uhhh, I think I might've been the one who caused that..." SimonBob glanced worriedly over to the horizon, and noticed that the GG was already gone. "I think it's headed for Deep Darkness."
"Hey, a phone!" said Poo, climbing up the side of the Sphinx. "Let's call Mach Pizza!"
"I have a better idea," said SimonBob. "We're gonna need a ride to catch that dude, and I have just the thing. When I whistle, everybody jump."
He let loose with an ear-piercing whistle, leaping in the air as he did so. Everyone jumped (more from fright than from directions) and landed in a jetcar that landed under them. SimonBob advised everyone to buckle up, since seatbelts save more lives each year than airbags and yaks combined, and then hit the accelerator.
Mike was in the front, next to SimonBob. Seeing Mike's half-freaked, half-exited look, SimonBob grinned at him. "SimonBob knows how to ride in style! OH yeah!"
Mike grinned back. "Aww, yee!"
SimonBob pulled a laser cannon out from his trenchcoat and gave it to Mike, then found an even bigger one for himself. "Let's take out that Guardian!"
They began to overtake the GG as it jumped the river separating the northern and southern halves of Scaraba. SimonBob got off a few shots, but narrowly missed the stone soldier. He circled around for a second run. Taking aim, he and Mike got several shots off before passing the GG again; checking his mirror, SimonBob saw a column of smoke rising from where the GG stood. "Yes! Got him!"
Skillfully landing the jetcar next to the hulking ruin, SimonBob started for the GG, but was stopped by Skulryk. "I'm a scientist, let me check it out."
After giving him a few minutes, the rest of the group joined Skulryk. "What'd you find?" asked Luna.
Skulryk pointed to the revealed innards of the GG. "It was a robot, and very well designed too! Susceptible to commands not only from a telcommunications network, but also from radio signals!"
"Meaning someone else could have told it to attack," suggested Sulami.
"Maybe this was the trap that the Pile o' Bile told me about," said SimonBob. He quickly explained the PoB's intrusion and subsequent confession to the group. "Belch could be controlling the previously defeated enemies in new ways," he theorized.
"So what are we waiting for?" said Mike. "Let's go get Belch!" Everyone hopped back into the jetcar and headed for Deep Darkness.

Meanwhile, in his hidden location, Pokey chuckled to himself. The clues had pointed those fools in the exact wrong direction! Could things be any better?

"Uh huh. A medium pepperoni pizza," Poo said to the Mach Pizza order taker. "What do you mean you're out of medium size?! All right, I'll take large. Make it pepperoni with extra cheese. What? No extra cheese? Fine, I'll have a large pepperoni pizza. Be here in thirty minutes? All right..." Poo hung up the jetcar phone.
"Poo," SimonBob said. "Didn't I tell you not to use the phone? It draws power from the main engine."
"Which means...?" Poo asked as he grinned, sheepishly.
"Which means that if we're unlucky, we're going to go down from insufficient power," Mike explained. Smoke started to rise from the jetcar hood.
"Oh no... tell me I'm seeing things," Luna said as she put her face in her hands.
"Nope, the jetcar is smoking," Skulryk said.
"I'll fix things!" Poo said as he started pounding on the hood of the jetcar.
"You idiot!" SimonBob screamed. "You're denting my hood!" SimonBob began choking Poo, violently. Dan tried to pull SimonBob's hands away.
"SimonBob!" Luna screamed. "Drive the jetcar!"
"Die, Poo, die!" SimonBob yelled, paying no attention to anyone.
"Ahhhletmegooooo!!!" Poo screamed as he kicked the steering wheel. The jetcar made a huge u-turn and started flying straight down, into the oceans below.
"We're going down!!!!" Mike yelled.
Luna dived for the steering wheel, and pushed the two struggling fighters into the back. "Okay, gotta tuuurnnnn!!!" she gasped, jerking the steering wheel as far in one direction as it could go. Seconds before hitting the water, the jetcar pulled out of its dive, and was flying upwards. "Gyaaa!" she yelled, "I don't know how to drive!!"
The car pulled several impressive loop-de-loops over the ocean, then a corkscrew over the coast of Deep Darkness, all the while Simonbob was trying to strangle Poo, while Dan tried desperately to break the 2 up. Skulryk was holding on for his life in the seat beside the driver's, while Mike was struggling to get to the front of the now spiraling jetcar.
"Lemme drive!" Mike yelled into the whipping winds.
"No problem!" Luna yelled back, scooting over to sit in the middle, while Mike jumped into the driver's seat, and righted the jetcar. In the back, Dan had managed to beat Poo and Simonbob into unconsciousness with a metal rod he had found in the back.
"I am NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, riding in a jetcar AGAIN!" yelled Luna loudly, glaring at the knocked-out Poo. Mike started laughing hysterically, Skulryk (who looked green) joined in with a weak giggle, and Dan was grinning, and rolling the metal rod in his hand. Meanwhile, Sulami observed the entire group from overhead.
"Weirdos..." he grumbled, and continued flying behind them, as the jetcar continued on.
SimonBob woke up and jumped back into the driver's seat. "Thanks a lot, Dan. I needed a quick nap." He wondered why Mike was yelling at him to pull up, and why everything was on a forty-five degree tilt outside the jetcar.
SimonBob looked down at the quickly-approaching water, suddenly noticing it for the first time. "Nonononono!" he shouted. "I'm not losing this car, I only have two payments left!" He closed his eyes and hollered "Cerberus Punchline!"
The jetcar came to a screeching halt, inches about the water. Though the engine completely dead, they were hovering exactly in place. SimonBob tapped the dashboard. "What do you know? Ran out of gas." An ethereal drumroll and light cymbal hit was heard.
"So, uh... what do we do now?" asked Mike.
The Mach Pizza deliveryman came running across the water. "Here's your pie, right on time!" Poo sat bolt upright, hungrily grabbed the pizza box, and tore into the largest slice.
"I take it he's broke?" asked SimonBob, nodding at Poo. Mike nodded back. SimonBob turned to the deliveryman and said, "Just put it on my green card."
"No problemo, Mr. Bob!" The deliveryman ran back across the water and out of sight.
Luna tapped SimonBob's shoulder. "How did he know you?"
"Everyone knows me, I'm SimonBob!"
"I think she's looking for a more detailed explanation," said Skulryk.
"Okay, okay. A long time ago, I was the guardian of something called the Temple of Bob, in another universe. That universe was crushed by Pokey, who I think exists in this universe, as well as a few others. Luckily, after the crush, a bunch of us got together and fixed it. The only problem was that when we recreated the universe, an extra one - this one - was created as well. I'm part of this extra universe, as my very own personality was split in two, but my memory as it was at the split was left intact. I know this, even though the other me doesn't. I took it as an opportunity to try something different; I started learning a skill called 'Rallets', since my own technological abilities were reaching limits. 'Cerberus Punchline' is just one of the moves I can perform now. It's very handy.
"As for the involvement with a pile of people, I had a little adventure while I was teaching myself about Rallets. The Mach Pizza Man is one of those who knew Rallets before me; I learned a lot from him. I met the Sphinx while I was looking for the Rallets Gem, which would augument my power to lofty heights. After I found the gem, though, I went to Deep Darkness, where Master Barf swiped it from me during a fight. After that, I had to take my flannel to the cleaners. Deep Darkness is kinda muddy, after all."
"I think you also have a connection to Apple Kid, don't you?"
"Yeah, he and I used to be regular members of Twoson's Second-Oldest Twice Re-Established Floating Poker Game. He owed me some money from when I called his bluff and he only had a pair of sixes."
"So, you're trying to get the Rallets Gem back from Belch?" asked Luna. SimonBob responded in the positive. "Then why didn't you just say so?"
SimonBob looked puzzled. "You asked why everyone knew me, not what I was doing here..."
Luna would have sweatdropped if she hadn't begun ignoring SimonBob and eating pizza. SimonBob shrugged and helped himself to a slice.
"Um..." Skulryk said. "I hate to be the voice of reason here, but since we're out of gas... just what should we do?"
They were out right in the middle of the ocean. From the looks of it, they were right in between the Deep Darkness and Scaraba.
"No way I'm swimming!" Poo said. "I can't even swim!"
Luna sighed. "It would be way too far to swim anyways, even if we were in the olympics... we'll need gas."
"That's it!" said SimonBob. "I'll just call Escargo Express to bring us some gas! Here we go!" SimonBob suddenly remembered that the phone ran on the gas, and the gas was currently... gone. "Whoops... That might be a problem."
Mike slapped his head. "Well, I'm sure we'll figure out something..."
"Hey..." Skulryk said. "I just thought... I mentioned my theory about the fifth pyramid in Scaraba... I didn't get a chance to check it out, and I know we're headed for the Deep Darkness, but I really want to see something about it... We could go after we find Belch, I suppose."
"Well..." Poo said. "We might be able to find something in Scaraba. Mike, I wanna buy a piggy nose!" Poo whined.
"Oh brother..." SimonBob said. "Before we go ANYWHERE, we need to get gas... any ideas?"

Anna touched the block of ice, which melted in an instant, releasing the Manly Fish. It began running around screaming. The others tried to get a hold of the slippery amphibian. The Manly Fish swung his fists around and gave Cyan a claw mark across the face, as Rusty and Anthadd grabbed the Manly Fish around the waist.
Paula and Tracy found some vines and then tied up the struggling prisoner, ready for interrogation. As this was done, Mika showed the tentacle on her spear to Anthadd, to see what he could make out of it. Anthadd was dumbfounded and couldn't make it out. It didn't seem to have any element of Belch's residence.
"We'll get some answers from this Manly Fish..." Anthadd sighed, as he stroked his chin.

"It doesn't seem very likely we can get any. Anyone want to get out and push?" said SulamiTea. This was met with a mixture of puzzled and angry looks, along with a rolling of eyes from SimonBob.
"That'd work if someone else could actually fly," remarked Skulryk. Then, he realized what he had said, and looked at SimonBob.
SimonBob took a second to decipher Skulryk's gaze, then shook his head firmly. "No! I don't drudge with this car. Either we get gas or we're stranded."
Everyone else groaned. SulamiTea tried with all of his energy to push the car forward, but it came to nothing, and he was also beginning to slip under the car in his efforts.
"But we're in the middle of the ocean!" said Dan. "How are we supposed to get gas out here if we can't call for it?"
He paused to think for a moment, but was interrupted by Luna. "Doesn't this car have ANY alternative form of power?"
SimonBob clawed at the air. "No!" he spat. "Honestly, I don't own a money tree. This car cost enough as it is."
"Oo shoul curry extra gas in case f an emergency," Poo spoke through a mouthful of pizza. Almost everyone glared at him. He just smiled and turned away.
The assembly sat around inside the car (with one floating outside of it), trying to think of a solution. Then, it came to Dan. "Oh, obviously.... someone should fly away and get us some more gas!" He glanced at SimonBob and Sulami cautiously and added, "If they can fly that far."
SimonBob shrugged. "I could try, but what if I couldn't find my way back? Besides, do I want to leave him unrestrained in my car?" The second half was spoken while pointing to the ravenous Poo, stuffing pizza in his mouth.
SulamiTea decided to snatch a piece before all of it was gone, and started to take a bite. Then he noticed everyone else staring at him. "Ah.... well. I - I could fly, but I might get tired and fall into the ocean and drown." The people in the car all radiated horror. "But, well - I could try teleporting to Scaraba!"
Skulryk took an interest in this revelation. "What, you can teleport, too?" This opened up a further thought to him, which made him become suspicious. "If you can teleport, why couldn't you just have taken us to where we wanted to go?"
SulamiTea was beginning to turn red again, and shifted uncomfortably. "Because of a few things. One, I don't know how many people I can teleport. More people means less chance of it working. Two, if I'm not familiar with the area, there's a much smaller chance of it working. These were my first times in Scaraba." Skulryk's head drooped. "WHAT? I don't visit this universe all the time, and even if I did, travel still isn't that easy! Especially if you don't have much money."
"Wait, you're from another universe, too?" SimonBob interrupted. "Just how did you get here?"
The left hand of Sulami waved back and forth. "Hold on! I'll explain later... I owed Skulryk an explanation of things. Anyways, three -" The caped kid closed his eyes, saying nothing. "Oh. Wait, no three." Mike nearly thrust his face into his hand. "Well, even if I did teleport to somewhere to get gas, what if I couldn't get back here? I can't easily teleport back here into this direct spot in the middle of the ocean. Unless.... well, a Tricks teleport might do it."
"So, there's a possibility," said Luna. "Can't you try?"
SulamiTea shrugged. "I guess I could... if you all think it's a good idea." Leaving the next remark to someone else, he began eating his pizza slice.
The group in the car turned to face each other. "Why is he with us anyway? Why do we trust him all of a sudden?" asked Dan, feeling left out on the story of how Sulami came to be with them.
"We don't....." said Skulryk slowly. "But he knew my name, and I wanted to ask him how that was, and what he knew about what's going on. Also, he got caught up in that panic with the General."
Poo, taking a break from pizza, decided to add his part of the story. "He knew my name too, and pratically attacked me while telling me about the statue."
"We don't even know if he'll come back for us, though," said Luna, getting back on topic. She smiled sweetly at SimonBob. "SimonBob, if we promise to guard Poo CAREFULLY, couldn't you go?"
SimonBob twitched, figuring that this situation wasn't really improving much.

"Perhaps now," Anthadd said, "we can find out what is going on."
Siris frowned. "I'm not so sure," he sighed. "I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if this guy has the intelligence of dirt."
"We'll let him decide that," Ness whispered as Anna melted the ice.
When the Manly Fish was free of his frigid prison, his immediate reaction was to attempt to jab Ness with a spear. As the Fish approached Ness, Siris held up his arms and chanted, "Bind my foes with unbreakable chains... Ray of Paralysis!" The Manly Fish stopped dead in his tracks, and the group closed in.
"Now then," Cyan spoke. "Why are you trying to attack us?"
The Manly Fish responded with astoundingly accurate English. "I have an Animus against those who trespass here."
"Animus," muttered several members of the group, in surprise.
"What do you know of this Animus?" Anthadd inquired.
"I know little," the Fish replied, surprisingly calm now. "I heard a voice speaking to me, saying that I had an Animus against you all."
Siris spoke softly. "You don't sound too bad anymore. Are you sure you hate us?"
"I no longer feel this Animus," it replied, "now that I have been defeated. If you free me, I will leave you in peace."
Siris looked around at the others. "Ought I?" he asked. The others in the group looked skeptical, but most nodded. Siris made a swift motion with his hands, and the Manly Fish sank away into the swamp.

"Curses!" Pokey shouted, pounding a greasy fist onto a keyboard. "They know too much already, and that fool tells them more?! Well, that plan seemed to be a failure. I'll have to see where they are heading to now..."

"Okay, I'll go get the stupid gas. Listen, does anyone know what a dead-man's switch is?"
"Umm, I think I know, but you might wanna explain it for these folks." Poo nodded and winked at SimonBob, who rolled his eyes.
"It just means that if I die, the jetcar explodes very forcibly. Pretty nifty, eh? Well, time's a-wastin'!" With that, SimonBob jumped off the edge of the car and skimmed across the water, flying for Scaraba.
"Explodes?! Lemme out!" Poo would have dived into the water, had Dan not hit him with the pipe again.
As SimonBob flew, he considered all the things that had happened. He needed to get back the Rallets Gem, that was for certain. And it might help to try to get some answers from Sulami; dimension-hopping sounded interesting. But he could develop plans later. For now, he needed gas.
He landed in Scaraba next to a pair of crooked gas dealers. "I need to buy some gas."
"Really? Let's see some identification."
SimonBob waved a hand in the air. "He doesn't need any identification."
The dealers stared at him. "What do you think this is," one said in his thick Scaraban accent, "a movie or something?"
"Perhaps he thinks he is at his little computer, typing a story!" chuckled the other.
"Ha ha, yes! Perhaps he thinks he writes fiction, with the help of other novelists just like him, over the Internet!" The two dealers laughed until they cried.
"Okay, mister!" one of the dealers finally said. "No identification, we'll sell you the gas, huh?" He looked around. SimonBob was nowhere to be seen. "Where'd he go?"
The other dealer turned around in time to see SimonBob fly off with a tank of gas. "Hey! Bring that back!" The dealers sent curses after SimonBob, but to no avail.
Back in the car, Poo was just waking up. He looked out over the jetcar's door, and was surprised to see someone walking across the water. "Woah, am I dreaming?"
"I hope not," said SimonBob, filling the tank with gas, "because I'm nobody's dream... well, maybe a lady's." He winked at Luna, who rolled her eyes at him. "The only person who needs to dream on is you, Simon."
SimonBob hopped back into the driver's seat. "Thanks for the self-esteem boost, I need rejection like I need a hole in my head." He revved the engine and flew for Deep Darkness.
"Whoo, back on course. This is very good. Very good indeed." Mike chuckled to himself. He then looked forward and noticed that there was a glove compartment, just sitting there. "Hey Bob, whatcha got in your glove compartment?"
"A man's glove compartment is a sacred area. You should never, ever ask what's in there..." Bob blinked, then grinned. "I'm just messin'. I really don't know what's in there. Take a look if you want." He continued to pilot the highwayman towards Deep Darkness.
Mike decided to look into the glove compartment. He moved some assorted pieces of paper and found the manual to the car. "Heh, awesome." He continued to look around and found a cell phone. He looked at SimonBob. "Hey Bob, check it out. A cell phone. It's fully charged, too. Ya know, we coulda used this to phone an auto club to hook us up with gas... We coulda avoided that whole fiasco with the flying and whatnot."
"Yeah, well, I figured that this trip needed some entertainment. Heh heh... Anyways, I forgot about the phone. What else is in there?"
SimonBob was rather curious. He hadn't had a reason to check the glove compartment for a long time. He figured that maybe there'd be some information that could help out.
Rooting through all the papers, SimonBob eventually found something of interest. "Yeeeah, a phone number. Phone call time."
He dialed the number.
"Yo, this is Bob. Sup?"
"Wazzup?!" The speaker on the other line had obviously been watching too much television...
"... Right. This is Belch, correct?"
"Whoa, Belch has a phone? Awesome." Mike chuckled to himself.
"*Ahem* Gwaaaaaarg. Yes, this is Belch. Bob? Umm-" Belch was interrupted.
"I'm comin' after you. Get me my stuff or you'll get it. Seriously."
"Only if you find me. Gwahahaha. *click*" The link was disconnected. SimonBob laughed to himself.
"Well, looks like we're goin' to have a little fun."
"Aww yee."
Poo continued to gorge himself on pizza. He took too big of a bite and started to choke. Skulryk hit him on the back and the food went down properly. Luna started to laugh hysterically, with Dan doing the same. Poo shrugged and downed another slice of pizza.
"What if thew's mo' zombief in Deep Darkneff, Mike," Poo asked with a lot of pizza in his mouth.
"Hmm... good question. Well, we'll just have to... deal with them, I suppose. I don't see why there'd be zombies there, but whatever. Gotta be prepared for anything."

Pokey pounded a fist onto the keyboard.
A small dollop of drool dripped onto the V key.
"Pokey, Pokey, Pokey," a new voice softly snapped. "You're too incompetent for this job. I'm taking over."
"What?" Pokey was dumbfounded. "B... but... but... you can't take over from me! I engineered this entire plan!"
"Don't stutter. It makes you look stupid."
"Go back to your baking!" Pokey shot back. "I think your Magic Cake is burning!"
Lucille, the Magic Cake lady swept a lock of hair back.
"Fine. I'll let you screw up further. It'll look all that much better on my resumé when I apply for future jobs involving ruining the world," she replied glibly.
She turned away, and began to walk away from Pokey, her body disappearing into the shadow of the door.