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Animus, Chapter 8: "Chaos Effect"

"Poo, you've been eating that pizza for hours, and you're still not finished?" Luna asked.
"I like to fully experience my food," replied Poo with a smirk. Just as he said that, the jetcar landed on a land strip in Deep Darkness.
"Wow, it's dark here," Poo commented as he climbed out of the jetcar. Mike rolled his eyes and climbed out as well. One by one, the rest of the group climbed out. But just as they did, a monkey ran up to them. "Eee ee!" it screamed.
"Does anyone speak Monkey?" Skulryk asked. Dan and SimonBob looked at each other and shook their heads.
"Maybe the monkey is scared," Luna suggested.
"Maybe we need to beat information out of him!" Poo exclaimed as he pulled out the metal pipe.
"Poo, put that down!" Mike yelled as he took the pipe away. "We don't want to alarm it."
"Eee ee!" the monkey screamed again as it pulled some leaves down to reveal a hotel made entirely out of plants.
"Wow..." SimonBob said in awe. The group was mesmerized, as they followed the monkey into the hotel.

Lucille plopped down into a chair in her own control room.
"Why can't I get my way?" she whined.
A small tear dripped from her eyes and landed on her dress.
"Curse you, Pokey," she hissed as far from blithely as she could have been. "Curse you all!"
She quickly questioned why she had cursed everyone, but dismissed the thought. Her thoughts now turned to ways of foiling Pokey's plans.
Her eyes sparkled suddenly, and she knew what she was going to do.
Lucille turned to one of her monitors. It showed a Manly Fish sinking into Deep Darkness.
An evil looking smile appeared on her lips.
"Manly Fish!" she cried, beads of sweat beginning to drop from her hair. She was worried Pokey might come across her.
The Manly Fish stirred slightly on the monitor.
"Manly Fish!" Lucille repeated. "Now, I command you to be reborne of Animus!"
The Manly Fish stirred again, more noticeably this time.
"Manly Fish!" she repeated for a second time. "I order you to be reborne of Animus! Animus towards Master Belch!"

The Manly Fish opened his eyes. He stretched his limbs, and began to surface again.

"What's that?" Tracy cried, leaping into Ness' arms.
Ness blushed slightly as the others stifled giggles, and politely asked Tracy to get down.
"Wait!" Mika warned. "I hear it too."
"What?" Siris demanded. "What do you hear?"
"Turn around, Siris," Anna replied. "Look where the Manly Fish sank."
Everyone turned around.
They stood in awe as the Manly Fish they thought had died arose once more. Alive. Covered in seaweed.
"I must theek out... mathter Belch," it slurred. "I mutht find him. And then dethtroy him..."

Lucille kicked back.
"Wonderful," she mouthed.
She sniffed the air.
"Oh no! My Magic Cake's burning!"

Pokey placed his face flat against the monitor.
"What in the world?" he demanded angrily. Lucille? he thought.

The party filed into the mossy Deep Darkness inn, wondering what it was that they were supposed to see in there. The monkey bounced ahead of them and lead them to a room full of beds. He chittered expressively, waving towards them.
Luna listened to the chittering carefully. "You're saying you want us to rest here?" The monkey hopped up and down in reply. "I think that's a yes - what say, everyone?"
Poo ran and leaped onto a bed. "I think we should, I'm HORRIBLY tired, and we don't even have to pay!" He settled down as if he would fall asleep in a half minute.
The rest of the group considered. Dan agreed with the suggestion. "It has been awhile since we've gotten any rest, right? I mean, we did stay at that ridiculously expensive hotel, but since then we've found Anna's shack, traveled to Scaraba, and dealt with a huge statue." He glanced at Poo, then back at the others with embarrassment. "And, I hate to admit it, but Poo's right... it's free!"
"We might as well," mumbled Mike. "We could use some rest." Everyone gave a positive reply, and headed to a bed. The monkey chittered excitedly, and scrabbled out of the room. The others failed to see the glossy green bumps covering its back and feet.
A discolored blob waited outside of the inn, oozing behind some large plants. Now was the time. When they all fell asleep, they would become slaves. How fitting that they were the ones who had come to destroy him!
Of course, Master Belch didn't know that someone else was also coming to try and kill him. But even if he had, what would it have mattered? He'd make that person meet the same fate as these people were about to!

"Hm.... Good thing it went the opposite direction. I thought it was going to attack us again," said Ness, relieved.
Mathter... Paula thought aloud.
"Heh... Reminds me a Buster Melts!" chuckled Rusty.
Anthadd, Cyan, Siris, Anna, and the ghosts stared at Rusty uncertain of what to think.
"I guess his master would be Master Belch. That's what makes the most sense," reasoned Ness.
"Let's follow the Manly Fish then!" suggested Saffron in a cheery mood.
"You're still alive?" pondered Cyan, rather surprised that the quiet ghosts said something.
"Quiet you!" yelled Scarlet.
"Yeah! Leave us alone, Joe!" exclaimed Chartruse.
"His name is Cyan, you moron. Let's quit bickering and follow that fish before we can't see him anymore," Indigo spoke up.
So, the people with pants rolled them up, the people with armor put on their rust protectors, and the people who could fly prepared to fly behind the group. Everyone except Tracy stepped into the water.
"I don't wanna get my feet wet!" complained Tracy.
"Dontcha worry, li'l missy!" Rusty picked Tracy up and put her on his shoulder. "Let's go."
The group proceeded to follow the possessed Manly Fish. Whether it was walking, flying, or sitting, they were at least getting through the murky Deep Darkness waters. Hopefully, the Manly Fish would lead them to wherever Master Belch was.
As Siris began to rise into the air to float over the murky swamp, he suddenly felt a handful of familiar auras...
"The others!" Siris exclaimed. "They're here!"
"Pardon?" Anthadd raised an eyebrow in Siris's direction.
"The other group, the people we met on Anna's island," Siris explained. "They're close by."
"They're in Deep Darkness?" Anna asked.
"Yeah," Siris confirmed. "They're somewhere... in that direction." Siris pointed to the northeast. He was excited, mainly because he wanted to see that girl, Luna, again. There was something about her that intrigued him, and he wanted to find out what it was.
"But we need to follow this Manly Fish," Ness pointed out.
"He's right," Anthadd said. "We do need to keep track of this Manly Fish."
"But..." Siris sighed.
"Reuniting with the others," Cyan said, "is not our highest priority, I'm afraid."
"Oh well," Siris hung his head. "I guess we'll meet with them later..."
The group followed the Manly Fish for some time. After a while, they reached the shore where Deep Darkness ended and the sea began; the Manly Fish kept right on swimming.
"What do we do now?" asked Paula.
"Do ya think s'possible t' swim all th' way 'cross this big ol' sea?" wondered Rusty.
"Those of us that can fly could follow him," suggested Siris, "but what about the others?"
Anthadd had a solution. "I can transform into Anthdrgn and I could give them a ride."
"I wonder where he's going?" pondered Cyan.
"Maybe he doesn't know where Belch is and is just heading for Belch's old base in Grapefruit Falls," replied Ness.
"Should we follow the Manly Fish or should we go find the others, though?" asked Siris.

"I wonder why that monkey was flipping out like that..." Mike wondered out loud. He noticed that everybody was dozing off. Poo was sleeping like a rock. Luna had drifted off as well. Skulryk was still standing, yet he was asleep. Dan and Bob essentially collapsed upon the floor. "Hmm... everybody's asleep. Perhaps I should go to sleep as well..."
He pulled up a pile of leaves and fashioned a pillow of sorts. He put his head down upon it, and closed his eyes. Before drifting off to sleep himself, Mike noted that something was wrong. He couldn't quite place his finger upon it. He opened his eyes, and looked around. He did this constantly at his own home to assure himself that the world hadn't disappeared.
Hmm, the world is still here. Everything appears to be okay. Maybe it's just my imagination. After assuring himself that everything was alright, he closed his eyes. Yet no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't go to sleep. He knew that there was something wrong.
Wait. That smell. I've smelled it before. Wasn't that the stench that... That's when it hit him. OH GEEZ! This is the smell that I noticed in Summers before the zombies hit there. Except it's much stronger. That means... He awoke the others carefully, knowing that danger could be lurking anywhere.
He went over to SimonBob. "Bob, hey Bob, wake up. Something's wrong."
"What is--"
"Shh. Smell. Do you smell that?"
"Yes. What's your- oh. I understand. This is interesting..."
"What do you mean?"
"Nevermind. Just get the others up because we gotta get away from here. I'm sure that this place is surrounded."
Bob and Mike went around, waking everybody up. Sulami flew in through a break in the canopy to check on everybody.
"Guys, bad news." Sulami started to explain the situation, at least until he was interrupted by Mike.
"Sorry, but we gotta get outta here, and fast. We can't go out through the front. I mean, that's where any person would leave a hotel from, ya know?"
Luna had an idea. "Didn't he just fly in through the canopy? Couldn't we climb out and avoid anything that's lurking outside?"
"Yeah. We could." Mike began to think it over carefully.
"Then let's do it, silly!" Luna pushed him into climbing the tree. Upon completing the climb, Mike motioned to the others.
The group climbed up the tree and out of the hotel, one by one. Poo hadn't even caused much of a ruckus, much to the surprise, and relief, of everybody else.
Once out of the hotel, the group slunk away. About 100 meters from it, a sound of confusion could be heard from the enclosure. It was the sound of about one hundred monkeys in a fight over a bunch of bananas.
At the hotel, a monkey had climbed up and looked through the break in the canopy. The monkey looked around and spotted the group getting away. It alerted its comrades to the situation. The other monkeys ran out of the hotel and after Mike, Luna, Sulami, Dan, Skulryk, SimonBob, and Poo. Apparently a chase was on.

Anna yawned. "Siris, You can ask Luna out later. We have more important things to do."
Siris blushed hotly. "I don't wanna ask Luna out!"
Anna rolled her eyes above Siris' head, and Saffron chuckled. Scarlet batted her eyelashes at Siris, and the four ghosts howled with laughter. However, Anna and the ghosts righted themselves with a reproachful glare from Cyan.
"We should really figure out what this Fish is trying to do before we meet the others," Anthadd said. "We don't have time to squabble; its getting father away as we waste time."

Lucille cackled with delight. "This is perfect!" Suddenly, a brilliant plan came to mind. She grabbed a microphone from her desk, and yelled into it.
"Master Belch! Master Belch! You now have an Animus toward the Manly Fish off the coast of Deep Darkness!"
She snorted into a fit of giggles as she looked at the screen Master Belch was in. He suddenly changed directions, and headed toward Scaraba!
"Excellent! Now those little hero brats can wipe the floor with Belch, and Pokey will be crushed! I am brilliant!"
She delicately touched a piece of her crispy magic cake with her finger. "Now I can see to repairing THIS!"

Anthadd began walking, and Cyan followed closely behind. Anna started walking with her ghosts, then looked back to see Siris pouting. She rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, I didn't mean anything by the Luna comment. Cool your jets."
Siris raised his eyebrows, and then smiled. "Alright." He stepped into line, and the group began walking.
Suddenly, Anthadd grabbed his nose. "What IS that smell?"
Saffron looked up to see a large blob floating toward them, from across the ocean. "Cripes! It's Belch!"
"Wonderful," Mika muttered.
Paula raised her frying pan into a battle position. Tracy moved to the back of the group, and Ness wielded his baseball bat.
Rusty and Mika joined Tracy at the back.
"B'careful, Paula," Rusty whispered.
"Wait!" Siris sounded worried. "He looks bigger now..."

"Of course he's bigger!" Pokey laughed. "I willed him so!"
"You did what?" Lucille demanded, visibly irritated.
"When you'd get here?" Pokey snapped.
"But seconds ago," Lucille retorted, "and I have something to send into the past."
"What?" Pokey's heart began to beat faster than it had.
Lucille's eyes sparkled evilly.
"Manly Fish!" she cried, the cry emanating through time. "Grow! Grow beyond Belch's size!"

Meanwhile, the fight against Belch raged on.
The Manly Fish was able to get in a few good blows, as were the others.
Siris' mind flashed back to a conversation.
Adekae... Adekae... his mind cried, echoing it throughout his brain.
"Adekae!" he exclaimed.
"Adekae?" Cyan and Anthadd echoed simultaneously.

"Adge-kuy?" Pokey and Lucille echoed. "What's Adge-kuy?"

The Manly Fish convulsed for a second.
"What's wrong?" Anna inquired prudently.
"No... thtop..."
"Stop?" Mika asked from afar. "Who?"
"Lucille?" Paula stopped suddenly. "That name sounds... so familiar."
"Yeah, it does." Ness continued his onslaught on Belch.
"Eeeek!" Tracy shrieked. "He's... growing!"
"What?" everyone else shouted, dumbfounded.
They stared at the Manly Fish.
Indeed, he was growing...

Mike, Luna, Dan, Sulami, SimonBob, Skulryk and Poo ran. They had to escape the monkeys.
What could that odor be? SulamiTea mused.
Poo surveyed the horizon, also wondering as to the origin of the odour.
"Ugly thing!" Luna cried. "Is it a jellyfish?"
"Looks too big to be a jellyfish," Mike corrected. "Belch, I believe."
"Sorry to interrupt," SulamiTea muttered, "but the monkeys are catching up."

Anthadd heard something in the distance.
"Sounds like a skirmish," he quietly mused, temporarily ignoring the pain of the growing Manly Fish. He turned in the direction of the sound, and cried, "Sagitta Halt!"

SimonBob stopped suddenly.
"Dodge to the right!" he warned his group, who obliged.
Sprawled in the jungle undergrowth, they saw a golden arrow fly by them, and explode in front of the monkeys, apparently and effectively paralysing them.
"That was too convenient," Skulryk noted.
His group ran towards the sounds of the skirmish taking place just beyond them.

The stomach of Pokey jiggled as he stomped the floor. "Lucille! Are you defying me?!"
"Yes, I am, little boy!" sneered Lucille. But for all her bravado, she was on the verge of panic. Pokey did have power, after all, which he would use on anyone who was interfering with him.
Pokey fumed. "The Manly Fish. I knew that was you. You're not getting away with this!" He charged the baker.
Lucille was too distraught to move. She moved her eyes around the room in broken swerves, looking for something to keep her from harm. Her eyes fell on the pan. Burnt... but with any luck, it will still have the same effect it had on that Ness kid. She deftly spun around and grabbed the pan. Tearing out a chunk of the blackened cake, she thrust it (with some disgust) into the mouth of Pokey Minch just as he reached her.
Pokey toppled over as the cake was forced down his throat. "NO!" He got up, and leaned on the table. "Lucille..... What is this? What makes you think that you have any worthy ambition to control Animus? I am the only one worthy to control it!"
Lucille cackled some more at the now sweating Pokey. "Like it? Cinnamon flavor. I decided I had to try something new. But that's beside the point." She stood up straight, towering over Pokey's bent form, so it seemed. "I will get my revenge on everyone! Do you know what it's like, little Minch boy, to not have anyone regard your craft as any good? To have to rely on some obnoxious oaf for your livelihood? And I nearly escaped! In the Stoic Club, I felt worthy! But that Lee kid gave me false hopes!" Her voice was a shriek now. "I will take out my hatred on everyone! And it starts with your precious Master Belch being turned into burnt, fetid, chemical waste!" She ran out of the room, in search of an escape, or at least a place from which she could continue her work.
Pokey laid, near delirium, on the floor. The room began to rotate, then appeared back at its original angle, then rotate again. The boy felt feverish. As his body seemed to burn inside, his eyelids drooped. Drowsy, he began to drift into sleep. "Lucille..." he croaked. He didn't have enough energy, though. He fell asleep through the warped effects of the charred cinnamon cake.

The entire group together again, a melee of gigantic proportions was beginning. Mike and the others quickly joined the group who had already engaged Belch, but the monkeys were close behind.
Although Anthadd had managed to paralyze the monkeys, the sheer number of them caused the attack to be effective for only a short time. Everyone used whatever weapons they had and did their best to help or at least protect themselves. Even a few zombies joined the fray.
Cyan and Anthadd battled near each other - watching each other's back occassionally as they becme more and more synchronised again. Siris wasn't too far from them and he was fitting into their attacks too. Anna fried a zombie then moved on to another target, her ghosts doing their best to assist her in battle.
Skulryk did all right for himself, too, removing a couple of the monkeys from the battle. SimonBob and and Dan took down several zombies with their fire arms as Sulami did his own damage with his magic and tricks. Ness and Paula were doing fairly well, too.
Despite having little trouble dealing with the individual enemies, there were just too many of them. Belch was an almost unstoppable force, as well. Even the large Manly Fish was not having much luck.
"This isn't going too well!" shouted Anthadd.
"These monkeys and zombies are one thing, but Belch is something different entirely!" yelled Cyan in response.
"We need to do something about Belch soon!" added Siris.
"I'm busy enough with these other things," came Anna's analyzation of the situation.
"We're a bit busy too," agreed Ness.
"Then let's do it ourselves!" exclaimed Siris.
"And how?" asked Anthadd.
"That Adekae stuff is really powerful, right?"
"Yes," agreed Cyan, "but can three people use it?"
"I don't know," answered Anthadd, "but we can try."
Everyone continued fighting and Anthadd, Cyan and Siris became synchronised. "Holy Water!" they shouted as one.
Cyan ran up to Belch and took two powerful swipes with his sword - forming a cross - as Anthadd used Breaker and Siris used a water ability of his own. The attack staggered Belch, and they watched to see if it was indeed enough to finish him off...
Splash! The giant tidal wave of sparkling water hit the giant blob square in the eye. He howled in anger, as the holy water began to drip down his body.
"Hey, look at that!" Chartreuse said. "He's going tiny!"
Indeed, the incredible Master Belch was now shrinking at a rapid rate. He gurgled and shrieked, but his moans did nothing. In a matter of seconds, he had become his normal size.
He let out a single belch, and stared ahead. "Must hold on..."
Anna giggled as she formed a small fireball. She pitched it at Belch with amazing accuracy. "Nice try, sucker!"
The fireball connected, and Belch screamed. He doubled over, and he slowly formed into slimy goo. The puddle receded into the murky swamp waters, and his only remains were a hiss of steam.
Anna cackled triumphantly. "Woo! What A rush!"
Anthadd scratched his head. "I still don't understand... what was controlling Belch?"
"Oh, come on," Anna said. "Canít we just believe he acted of his own free will?"
Anthadd and Cyan blinked. "No."
She sighed, and threw her cloak up over her head. "Well, I got what I came for; revenge on Belch. I suppose it's time we part..."
Cyan gaped at her. "What? You can't duck out now!"
She rolled her eyes. "And why not? My ghosts and I have our dignity back, with a sludge free hut. What more could I want?"
"If we don't find out what caused this," Cyan said, "more creatures could come and attack your hut! You wouldn't want that, would you?"
Anna grimaced, and made a dangerous gesture toward Cyan's throat. "I outta rip your stuffing out..." Suddenly, she dropped her hand. "But no matter. I suppose I can stay a little longer... I don't have much else to do."
Cyan smirked with satisfaction, then turned to Anthadd. "When you say something caused Belch to do this... do you mean something could be controlling the Animus itself?"
"Quite possibly," he said, nodding. "I want to know why though... and from where?"
Cyan chose a small log to sit down on, and he rested for a moment. "We should really discuss our plans from here, don't you think?"
Anthadd agreed, and the entire group sat down in a small ring. Before the discussion began, however, Anna took a small piece of paper from her cloak. She licked the edge of one of her pens, and wrote something down.
Like the moon over
The day, my genius and brawn
Are lost on these fools.

Satisfied, she earnestly joined the meeting.

"Well, well... looks like my Manly Fish is hungry." Lucille giggled to herself, as she stepped over Pokey's unconscious body.
"Manly Fish, time to use your Animus against something else..." Lucille said with a small evil smirk.

SimonBob knocked one of the monkeys out and shouted, "Mike! What's going on?!"
"No idea!" Mike yelled back.
Suddenly, the rabid monkeys collapsed to the ground, exhausted. The group stood there in disbelief, had they really fought them that bad? Poo sniffed his nose and then his eyes opened wide.
"Well, at least the smell's gone." Poo chuckled.
The others breathed in as well and agreed that it had faded away.
"What's going on? The monkeys fell to the ground, and the smell's gone," Luna said, as she rubbed her arm uneasily. "This is getting too freaky for me."
"No idea... what the hey?" Dan shouted out, as a large Manly Fish, poking out of the trees, caught his sight.
Dan immediately pointed in the direction of the Manly Fish. Skulryk looked and said, "Wow. That's enough food to last Poo for a week."
Poo laughed sarcastically, "Har har... that won't last me for a week."
"You're right... three days at the least." Luna giggled to herself.
Poo glared at Luna and said, "At least I'm not anexoric like you...."
Luna jumped up and yelled, "Who said I was anexoric?!"
Poo and Luna bickered as Mike tried to figure this out.
"Should we go over there?" Mike asked SimonBob.
"Don't know. It might be a trap... or a tourist trap, whatever comes first," SimonBob stated.
"Skulryk, what do you make of this? Don't you think this is... abnormal?" Mike asked.
"Uh... don't ask me. This is way out of my league."
"Dan, can you use your Game Genie to show us spoilers of what will happen?" Mike asked.
"Hey! This is an IF, not a game!" Dan shouted out loud.
"Pardon? IF?" Mike asked, with a puzzled look.
"What? IF? What the hey are you talking about?" Dan remarked.
Mike shook his head and said, "Never mind."

Lucille rubbed her hands together, pensive.
"What shall I do to make those people's life more miserable than it already is?"
She looked at the Manly Fish, heading towards the deep ocean.
"Those college science courses... I knew they'd pay off. Eventually," she added as an oversight.
She thought for a second.
"No!" she exasperatedly muttered. "I've forgotten!"
She tried remembering...
She focused on her college science teacher, Doctor Andonuts.
"What was it he said about the relation between Manly Fish and Kraken? That they evolved from a similar creature?" she mused.
Lucille snapped her fingers!
"Of course! That's it!"
She fell into a chair.
"Manly Fish!" she cried through time. "Become a Kraken!"

"Have we decided on a course of action?" Anna demanded.
"We're discussing," Siris replied curtly.
"We know that these things don't happen naturally," Mika noted, "so logically there's an outside force working against us."
"Wait," Paula hissed, her eyes twinkling slighlty. "There has to be at least two. The Manly Fish obviously couldn't have been brought back by the same one who brought Belch back."
"Right," Anthadd picked up. "And I'm betting the pyramid collapsing was similarly related."

"How bright that one is," Lucille noted. "It was a stroke of genius, trying to kill them that way. But how could they have survived?"
She glared at Pokey.
"Did he guess it was me then, and interfere to keep them alive?" she mused.

"Perhaps any odd occurences were a result of these meddlers," Cyan proposed.
"But there's so many!" Ness protested.
"This is s'confus'n," Rusty complained.
"Can't these meddlers NOT meddle?" Paula added.

"Foolish woman," Lucille muttered. She looked at the Manly Kraken, halfway through the transformation.
Hurry up, you stupid fish, she added for good measure.

"Hey, is that a fish or a snake?"
SimonBob's comment brought the group out of its bickering. Everyone turned to look at the Manly Fish, which was now turning into a green-tailed monstrosity. It gained several feet of height in a matter of seconds... or was it length?
Skulryk caught on first. "It's turning into a Kraken!"
Mike decided to take charge. "Okay, Skul, you go left; Luna, go right; I'll sort of stand my ground... Simon!"
SimonBob Matrix-jumped over Kraken's head, and shouted "Chew on this!" He threw a bag of cookies into the Kraken's gaping maw.
"NOOOO!" shouted Poo. "Those were Macamademias!"
The Kraken chewed, swallowed, and then emitted a pale green light. Everyone felt the effects of PSI on them drift away.
"Hey, Kraken-dude," asked SimonBob, "What's up with the evolution bit?"
"You're expecting just to talk to it?" asked Dan, incredulous.
Of course he is, said the Kraken in a deep telepathic voice. Now that my evolution has been forced, my mind is strong enough to ignore the commands of the Animus.
"Someone forced you to evolve?"
Yes. I am not sure whom, but whomever it was, they also forced my angry feelings upon people when I was a Manly Fish. Animus is a powerful tool, when it is controlled.
"So who's controlling it?"
As I said, I am unsure. However, I do promise to gain vengeance on them, as soon as I find them. I'll accompany you, but there's just one thing...
"He wants more food," moaned Poo. He lunged towards SimonBob. "Where'd you get those cookies, anyway?!"
No, no, no. Not the cookies. The Kraken licked its lips. A tourist once dropped a BLT, though, and...
"A BLT-loving Kraken?" SimonBob slapped his forehead. "Someone get me some Romano, and I'll start killing wild pigs..."

Soon the group was sitting around a fire, discussing the events that had happened and those that were about to come. "So... we want to stop this anonymous?" Poo asked.
"Animus," corrected Mike. "And at the center of this Animus would be Belch."
"You mean Barf?" Poo asked again.
"No, Belch," Luna said.
"Well, what's our next move?" Skulryk asked, casually.
"I say we roast marshmallows," Poo suggested.
"Poo, will you quit making remarks?" commanded SimonBob with a frown.
"Ok..." Poo trailed off. "I wonder what the pyramids have to do with this..." All around the fire, the group exchanged looks with each other as they tried to figure out their next move. Meanwhile, Poo had ripped open a bag of marshmallows and was roasting them. "Mmm... delicious!" Poo exclaimed as he ate a charred marshmallow.
"Poo, that's not how you roast them!" Luna cried as she took the bag away.
"Like you would know anything about roasting marshmallows, Luna," Skulryk said. SimonBob and Dan exchanged looks, trying to avoid the fight that was about to occur.
"Guys, guys," Mike interrupted. "Let's be civil about this."
"Guys, let's be civil about this," mocked Luna. "Shut up, Mike!"
"You're both idiots!" Poo yelled as he dumped the marshmallows over Luna and Mike's heads.
"Poo, I'm sick and tired of you!" Mike said as he grabbed Poo by the shirt collar. Without any of them knowing it, the Animus that was drifting around had spread to even the closest of friends...
Dan joined the fray as well. Before he could do anything, though, Skulryk intervened by tripping him. When it appeared as if a brawl were about to take place, Sulami appeared.
"GUYS," he shrieked, "look what you're doing!" He whipped his head around, looking on in amazement. "I can't believe you!!! Quit fighti-" Before he could finish, SimonBob had bum rushed him.
The group brawled, at least until the Kraken interrupted by emitting a pale green light. Apparently, it had an effect upon them to cause them to stop fighting.
Luna began to apologize profusely. "I'm incredibly sorry! I didn't even mean to act like that!!"
"It's okay. I'm sorry for acting the way that I did too. I wouldn't REALLY want to kill you, Poo..." Well... He quickly shook that thought out of his head.
The Kraken spoke up. "It appears as if somebody has a hold of your actions from afar as well..."
"Do you think that... maybe whoever had control over your actions has control over us?" Mike offered.
The Kraken appeared to shrug, even though it didn't have shoulders. Poo pulled a BLT from his pocket.
"POO! You've been holding out on us!!!" SimonBob lunged after the sandwich, successfully stealing it. Poo started to cry.
"First you feed it the cookies, and now the BLT?!?!?!?!" he sobbed.
SimonBob blinked. "Yeah." He tossed the sandwich over to the Kraken. The Kraken gulped it down.
"Ahh, thank you. That was the crispiest bacon and the freshest tomato that I've ever tasted. Now, I shall do whatever it is that you want me to do."
Skulryk's ears perked up. "Say... do you think you can take us over to Scaraba? We should go check out the pyramids."
Mike shrugged, then nodded. "May as well... I don't see what it is that we can do around here..."
The others agreed as well, some more readily than others. Poo had reservations.
"I won't have to give you any more food, right?"
"Perhaps..." the Kraken responded.
"Well... alright."
They all climbed on. Dan went first, then Skulryk, then Poo, followed by SimonBob. Luna climbed on, then Mike.
"Well... let's go, I suppose." Mike pointed to the north, rather dramatically. "Heh heh... I always wanted to do that."
The Kraken started moving for Scaraba. Sulami flew after them a safe distance away.

Skulryk looked with shining eyes northward. The fifth pyramid! I know it's out there.... and when I find it, I'll discover the secret of this dagger! Maybe unlocking its true power can help us quell the Animus!
Everyone was busy thinking to themselves about the insanity of the situation and how they could defeat the Animus. Meanwhile, SulamiTea was considering something else.
The others. I sensed all of them some distance away. We seem to have left them.... but I can still use my magic to call them. Let's see, who's the most receptive? He thought of each person in the group. Of course, probably Paula. After all, she was the telepathic wonder in the game.
SulamiTea said something in an old, old language to himself. Mike noticed, but figured that SulamiTea was just taking care of something. SulamiTea whispered to himself. "Now, let's talk to our friends! Telepathy!" Sulami felt the range of his mind expand, and focused on Paula's consciousness.
Paula! It's me, SulamiTea, he spoke over space. We were in Deep Darkness, too, but now the Manly Fish turned into a Manly Kraken, and he's letting us ride him north to check the pyramids. Skulryk says we might find something important. What did your group find?
SulamiTea? was the surprised reply. I didn't know you joined the others! Well, we were discussing who's controlling the Animus. We think it's more than one person. Oh, also, we defeated Belch. We're deciding what to do now, but I'll tell the others where you're all going.
SulamiTea smiled to himself. Thank you, Paula. I hope we'll see you all later.
Right! We'll meet again, I'm sure. Good to see you've calmed down. Well, bye for now! The connection was cut.

Ness, Tracy, Rusty, Anthadd, and Cyan had been waiting for Paula to respond after her meditative behavior. "Everyone, it's the others! We just missed them, but they're headed north to look for pyramids! They said they were hoping to find something helpful."
"Aw, we missed them? Great," sighed Siris. "Oh well. What do we do now then?"
"I haven't the faintest idea where to look," admitted Anthadd. "If you were controlling hatred, where would you be?"
Ness nodded his head, musing to himself. "We need to try to feel the source of the Animus.... as far as I can figure. Whaddiwe do? Can someone try to sense it?"

SulamiTea called out to the others. "People, I just talked to Paula!"
Dan blinked. "How? We haven't even seen them, and we're moving across the ocean now."
Sulami shook his head. "Telepathy. I used magic to mentally communicate. But they beat Master Belch, and are considering what to do next."
SimonBob was suddenly struck by a thought. "Wait a minute! My gem!" he groaned. "The Rallets gem, if I had known that Belch was beaten, I'd..." SimonBob slumped over. "Ah, darn it. He probably didn't have it with him, anyway. I wonder if I'll ever find that thing?"
"I'm sure you'll find it eventually," said Luna consolingly.
Skulryk also received an idea. "Oh yeah, SulamiTea, are you going to explain how you know us? I'm still curious."
SulamiTea sighed. "Well, for now I think we should concentrate on our search... but I'll tell you this much. A friend described most of you to me, although the people he saw weren't the same yous..... um, I mean..." Everyone stared at him, baffled. "Oh, I'll finish explaining later."
A nod came from Mike. "Yeah, that should tide us over for now. Let's get to this pyramid of yours first of all, Skulryk."

"Hey!" Anna shouted. "They left us behind!"
"Mm," Siris acknowledged. "Indeed they did... and they're pretty far out there now."
"Well," Cyan said. "We need to go with them."
"No kidding," Ness muttered. "But not all of us can fly, remember?"
"I can transform into Anthdragn," Anthadd noted, "and carry a few people."
"You can't carry too many people though, Anthadd," Siris pointed out. "Can you?"
"Probably two," Anthadd replied, "any more than that might slow us down."
"Okay then, here's what I'm thinking," Siris said. "I can fly, as can Cyan. Anna, can you?"
Anna nodded, and created a floating broom of fire, which she hopped onto.
"Alright," Siris continued. "I'm thinking Anthadd could transform to Anthdragn and carry Rusty and Tracy on his back. Would that be okay, Anthadd?"
Anthadd nodded. "Certainly."
"That leaves Ness and Paula," Siris said, "who could probably Teleport, but for the sake of safety, I think they should stay with us."
"Like Ness said, though," Paula noted. "We can't fly."
"No problem," Siris grinned. He walked over to Ness and placed his palm on Ness's back. Siris's hand glowed light blue, and magical energy flowed into Ness. "It's a temporary flight spell," Siris explained. "It should let you fly the distance between here and Scaraba."
Ness tested this, and lifted himself into the air. "Neat," he said.
Siris then did the same to Paula. As he placed a palm to her back, he blushed and trembled nervously. He always had trouble casting touch-range spells on girls; it was a nervous feeling he couldn't shake. He laughed nervously as he cast the spell, and shortly afterwards, Paula rose into the air, ready to fly.
Siris backed away, and scratched the back of his head in embarrassment.
"Okay, are we ready?" Anthadd asked as he transformed. "Then let'ssshh be going!"
Rusty and Tracy climbed onto Anthdragn's back, and the group began to fly northward over the sea.
Hovering dozens of feet above the seas, the group pressed onward. Anthadd flicked his tongue slightly, noticing the increasingly dreary weather.
"It seemsss... stormy... does it not, SSSccyan?"
Cyan nodded, and sniffed the air slightly. A raindrop hit him on the cheek. "A thunderstorm would not be too out of place right now."
As he said this, he heard a small hiss that was unlike Anthdragn's speech. He turned his head, and wiped a tiny drop from his eye to see what was going on.
Tiny puffs of steam were coming off of Anna's head. As the rain hit her, it dissolved into wisps of steam, and after the rain picked up slightly she was almost covered in a fine mist. Suddenly, Anna looked up. "What are you all looking at?" she said, and then looked up into the sky. "Oh... that... heh. Haven't you ever seen a fire get hit by rain before?"
Cyan rolled his eyes at her, and ignored her. "Anthadd, I think we had better land. This storm could really pick up soon."
A crash of lightning and a blast of thunder caused Anthadd to readily agree. He saw the shore of Scaraba out of the corner of his eye, and turned into the shore. The others followed him, careful to dodge the striking bolts.

Once they had landed on shore, the rain began to become heavier. However, Anthadd suggested that they could at least walk as far as the pyramid remains. "At least it's not hot out..."
Ness was about to agree, but he saw something more interesting.
"Chartreuse... what are you doing?"
The group turned to see Chartreuse slipping on a pair of black sunglasses. "I have to be prepared for these long desert walks!"
Anna rolled her eyes, but the group pressed on. Each drop of rain felt like a lead bullet on their cheeks. Suddenly, Saffron reached out his tail and tripped Chartreuse, sending him flying into a rock.
Chartreuse looked up, his glasses broken and his left eye swollen.
"Yo, Anna!"
Anna glared at him. "What?"
"I broke my shades!"
"Serves ya right..." she muttered. The group kept walking, until Scarlet tapped Anna on the shoulder. "Yo, Anna!"
"My makeup's running!"
Anna sighed, and smacked her hand to her head. "Then change brands!"
Scarlet scowled, and faded into rank.
Anna had finally grown accustomed to the silence, when two voices yelled at her in unison.
"Yo, Anna!"
She wheeled on them. "WHAT?"
"My head hurts!" Saffron whined.
"You're way out of shape!" Then she turned to Indigo. "And just what do you want?"
Indigo quailed under Anna's sharp eye. "Iím.... hungry!"
Anna clenched her fists together, and grimaced. "Chew on your TONGUE!"
Indigo squeaked, and then Saffron dragged her back into line. "Come on, we've almost reached the pyramids."
As another bolt of lightning flashed in the blackening sky, Anthadd barely made out the edge of the pyramids. He noticed some other figures, moving faintly. "Looks like the others made it there before us.... Or is that them?"

Lucille smiled from the control tower of her NEW operation. "This is perfect! Soon, they will reach the remains of the pyramid... and my greatest and final challenge will await them!"
She cackled loudly, and walked out the door. In the hallway, she failed to do a check around. A piece of burnt Magic Cake lay in the middle of the floor. She slipped on it, and fell.
" back."