PERILOUS PIZZA PARLOR!!!
by Noel Rogers
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon at the Snack J, and business was dead. Of the five people currently there, two were employees and three didn't pay. One of these three, an overweight teenager with unkempt hair, sat at the bar, completely absorbed in the newspaper he was reading. There were three hamburgers on his plate, each in various stages of consumption.
He looked at the newspaper as if he had seen something unbelievable. "Hey, Joe," he said, motioning to the adolescent sitting next to him, a tall young man with a feral look in his eyes, "look at this! The Scorpions beat the Reptiles, 85-0!"
His companion scowled, grabbing the newspaper away from him. "Okay," he said, "now you're fuckin' lyin' to me! Let me see that!"
"But it's true," Ryu protested, "see for yourself!"
Joe glanced down the sports page, mumbling. "Hmm. San Frangeles-Miampia, 13-8; Medard-Parinon, 15-3; New Jork-Dalworth, 85-0?!! That's a flawless victory!" He threw the paper to the bar, curing under his breath. Ryu just smiled, gloatingly. Joe turned to him. "Okay. So you were right. So what? I'm going down to Ernie's. Hooboy, the cashier there is hot!" He left.
"Also one of the biggest bubbleheads I've ever met," the bartender muttered, snorting.
Her sidekick grinned. "Awww, onechan, you're just jealous 'cause she's prettier than you." There was a snapping sound as a wet towel slapped his neck.
Jun looked at Jimpei, still whining and rubbing his neck. "Goddamnit," she said, "that Ernie's Pizza place down the street has been stealing all our customers! I mean, look at this place! Deserted! On a saturday afternoon! It's appalling! It's--"
"Hmmm..." Ryu said, contemplating the last bite of his hamburger, "I'd better be going." He swallowed the burger. "These burgers were great, but I'm in the mood for some pizza. If anyone needs me, I'll be at Ernie's." He opened the door to leave, not catching Jun as she looked skyward, almost in a plea to the heavens. He paused. "Oh, and thanks for the burgers!" The door closed behind him.
"That was the last straw, Jimpei," Jun said, in a low, deep voice. "Even our non-paying customers have been waylaid! Well, Ernie has stolen his last customer from us! We must stop the enemy at once, and annihilate them, no matter what! For the honor (and continued profits) of our beloved Snack J, THIS ERNIE MUST DIE!!!"
"Are you feeling yourself today, onechan?" Jimpei asked quizzically.
"Of course I am, Jimpei. Now hand me the plastique."
Jimpei's eyes widened at the word. "Plastique?! Why didn't you say we were gonna blow stuff up! That's neat!" He reached behind the bar and tossed her a chunk of the explosive.
"And now, Jimpei! We are off! We shall not rest until our quarry has been terminated!!" She marched toward the door.
"But onechan, what if someone sees us blowing up the pizzeria? Dr. Nambu wouldn't like that at all!"
"You're right, Jimpei! We shall go in disguise! Now, let us go and deal with the Hated One!!!" The went off, locking up the Snack J behind them. All was silent for a minute, and then----
A toilet flushed.
Ken rushed out of the men's room, doing up his pants as fast as he could. Had he just heard Jun and Jimpei plotting to blow up Ernie's Pizza? He couldn't let them do that! It was immoral! It was dishonorable! People could get hurt! Jun and Jimpei could get arrested! And Ernie made such great pizza, dammit! His mind was made up. He would have to stop them, at all costs. Only... what if he misheard them? Or what if they were playing a practical joke on him? If he confronted them, they'd just laugh at him and call him the Uptight Shadow That Slips In Unseen again! He hated that name! He'd just have to stealthily follow them, and unsabotage their schemes. And if they saw him? They wouldn't-- he was a master of disguise.
The phone rang.
"Hello. Ernie's Pizza. How the hell can I help you?" Ernie asked. Business was booming today, although the amount of fucking weirdos walking through Ernie's doors was amazing even to a man as hardened as Ernie was. At one stool near the end of the bar, there was what appeared to be a robot, busily stuffing pizza slices into a cannon on its hand. And in a booth by the door was an bearded guy in a lab coat sitting with two other robots, one male, in blue armor, and one female. There was some fat teenager at a stool, packing away pizzas like it was his final meal. Next to him were two squirrels. One, an elderly female in a green hat, the other, a young boy. And all the way in the back there was a neatly dressed redhead in a grey business suit, quietly sipping at champagne.
The voice on the other end was an extremely gravelly nasal voice. It said, in a most obnoxious matter, "I'M QUEUE THE FAT TRILL!!"
Ernie was not impressed. "So?" he asked. "Do you want a fuckin' medal or something?"
"YES!" Queue the Fat Trill said.
"Well you called the wrong place, then, asshole! This is Ernie's Pizza, not Ernie's fuckin' Medal Shop!" He slammed the phone down.
The phone rang ten seconds later. Ernie picked it up.
"Hello. Ernie's Pizza. How the hell can I help you?"
"YOU HUNG UP ON ME!" Queue the Fat Trill said, unbelieving.
"Twice," Ernie said smugly as the phone crashed against the hook. He turned to his assistant, Candie, who was chatting with that scumbag John, or Joe, or whatever. He started to say something, when the phone rang, again.
"So," Joe said suavely, "What do you do after work?" He'd been working this particular target for five minutes now, exactly three and a half minutes longer than scheduled.
Candie smiled sweetly. "I go to bed," she said cheerfully.
Joe sighed. "What do you do when you're in bed?" he asked, trying hard not to visualize answers.
Candie thought for a second. "I sleep."
Joe sighed, again. Picking this girl up was harder than he planned. Maybe he should stick with Galactor babes. At least they were easy. It was time to take up a different tactic. "So," he said smoothly, "what do you do in that period of time between when you get off work and when you go to bed?"
Candie frowned, in deep thought. Then she smiled again. "I walk home."
Joe grimaced, stumped completely. He would give this up now, as it was almost a sure thing he wouldn't get laid today, but then, he had never backed down from such a tremendous challenge before.
"Okay," he said, taking deep breaths, "what do you do-- hang on... could that be....?" He looked over at the two people stealthily sneaking around the restaurant. One, a tall girl in a trenchcoat, sunglasses and a fedora. The other, a small boy in another trenchcoat, but with nose-glasses and a huge red and yellow sombrero. The small one was holding a time bomb half the size of his head. "No," Joe said to himself, bewildered. "It couldn't be. Or.. could it?" For a few feet behind them, watching them intently, was a young man, in bell-bottoms, an open shirt, gold medallions, and the worst afro-wig Joe had ever seen. To top it all off, the guy looked just like Ken. But it couldn't be Ken. Ken was much to stiff to be seen like that. But maybe Joe should watch them anyway, just to make sure.
"Gee, onechan, I think these disguises are working! No one's recognized us!"
"Shh, Jimpei, be quiet," the girl in the trenchcoat said. "I've almost got the timebomb set." She finished twisting the wires together. "When this thing goes off, goodbye Ernie, hello customers!" She laughed evilly, as they snuck out the back, not noticing a man in a ridiculous afro coming over, defusing the bomb and tossing into the garbage can.
In a bright flash of white light which no one but Candie saw, two men appeared outside Ernie's Pizza. One stepped inside, warily. He was an older man, bald, wearing Bermuda shorts, a Hawaiian t-shirt, a huge button that read "Kiss Me I'm French" and a camera around his neck that he was unsuccessfully attempting to remove. His companion stepped into the bar, making the Bald Guy's tacky ensemble pale in comparison. He was wearing a heavy gold chain on his neck, over long black and red robes, culminating in a black hoodlike hat which resembled strangely a chef's cap. Bald Guy turned to him.
"Listen, when I said I'd do anything for you if you saved my people from the Kuatan Horde, I didn't expect we'd go out for pizzas!"
Silly Hat smiled. "Oh, mon capitaine, the unexpectedness is half of the fun! I mean, no doubt you were expecting I'd submit you to something really humiliating!"
Bald Guy looked at his own outfit, but didn't say anything.
"Now go order, um, three pizzas, with, um, chocolate sauce and gagh."
"I severely doubt they will serve gagh on pizza in twentieth-century Earth," Bald Guy protested.
"Of course," Silly Hat said, "how silly of me. Make that grasshoppers."
Bald Guy started to say something, but instead just walked over to the counter.
Candie smiled at him. "How may I help you, Captain?" she asked sweetly.
Bald Guy sighed, completely ignoring the title she gave him. "I would like," he said with a faint accent, "three pizzas with--" he gritted his teeth-- "chocolate sauce and grasshoppers."
Candie frowned for a second before smiling again. "I'm sorry, Captain, but we're fresh out of--" In a bright flash of light a can of Hershey's and a bag of dead grasshoppers appeared on the counter. Candie looked at it strangely, but continued, "right away, Captain." She took the food to the kitchen.
Meanwhile, Silly Hat turned to Joe. "Condor," he said in whispered tones.
Joe turned around in surprise. "What? How did you--"
"Never mind that for now," Silly Hat continued. "I have a very important message I must deliver to you and you alone. Are you willing to hear it?"
Joe thought about it for a second. "Sure, why not?"
Silly Hat looked both ways, as if to watch for eavesdroppers, motioned Joe in closer, and said, in overly melodramatic tones, "The circus is really a smuggling ring." He walked off and sat down at his booth as if nothing had happened.
"Ernie," Joe called. "Give me a big mug of brew. I wanna get bombed-- and I mean bombed!"
Ernie smiled knowingly. He had often had that same feeling while working here.
In the back,'Pete', the redheaded businessman, looked at Silly Hat, wondering if it could be the companion he was expecting. Well, the nose and lips were big enough, but his companion was supposed to be incognito. Rather unlike Silly Hat.
Meanwhile, at the Snack J--
"Okay, Jimpei! In five seconds, the world is free of Ernie! Three--- Two--- One---" There was no explosion. "Hmm. Maybe I mistimed it. Well, any second now, BOOM!"
"Are you sure you did it right?"
"Of course, Jimpei! My training as a Science Ninja makes me an expert on explosives! Besides---" her voice trailed off.
"Yes?" Jimpei asked eagerly.
"I saw MacGyver do this once. Now be quiet. It's about to go off!"
Ten minutes later--
"Onechan, I think you didn't do it right!"
"Shush, Jimpei! Any second now! I wanna hear it!"
"Onechan, it won't go off! It probably was a dud."
"A dud? Yes, that must have been it. Jimpei, go annoy Ernie while I prepare the next time bomb." Jimpei ran out of the snack J, towards a pay phone, completely ignoring the afroed man with his ear to the store window.
Ken smiled. Round one went to him!
'Emerson', a seemingly middle-aged man in a blue business suit, walked to the counter and ordered a pizza from Candie. Fifteen minutes later, carrying the pizza, he sat down next to 'Pete'. They commenced eating of the pizza, silent for a few minutes before 'Emerson' spoke up.
"Damn you, Andre, this is good pizza!"
"Shhh, Bei-chan, we're in disguise, remember? And anyway, 'Emerson', why 'damn' me?"
"Because," 'Emerson' said, " 'Pete' old buddy, I wouldn't be here eating pizza right now if you hadn't gotten me addicted to them in the first place!"
"Oh, B-- 'Emerson', how many times do I have to tell you; I wasn't the one who ordered those thirty-five pizzas!"
'Emerson' frowned. "Sure, 'Pete'."
The phone rang.
Ernie answered it.
"Hello, Ernie's Pizza, how the hell can I help you?"
The voice on the other end was extremely juvenile. "Hello," it said, "do you have Prince Albert in a Can?"
Ernie winced. Even he knew that one. "Yes. We stuffed him in there for pramk calling us." He hung up, barely hearing a girl on the other line saying "Jimpei, that is so immature!" before he put the phone down.
The phone rang again.
Ernie answered it.
"Hello, Ernie's Pizza, how the hell can I help you?"
The voice on the other end was that of an older man. "Hello. This is Kozaburo Nambu. I'd like, um, three white pizzas with extra cheese brought to my office at ISO headquarters."
"What the hell else do you want?"
"That will be all."
"You know, Dr. Nambu, you sound different than the last time we talked," Ernie said.
"Never mind." Ernie hung up the phone. "Delivery Boy!" he called. His delivery boy was tall and handsome, although unusually pale. Ernie looked at him. "Now, Boo, when this order gets cooked, I want you to bring it to ISO headquarters, okay?" His delivery boy nodded, and walked back to the back. Ernie turned to Candie. "You know, that Delivery Boy Boo is a nice enough guy, but he's so quiet!"
Candie smiled knowingly. "That's because he's a giant chicken!"
Ernie paused, taking a deep breath. "Go work the registers, Candie," he said, patiently.
Meanwhile, an oriental man in a blue outfit and a metal hat stepped into the pizza shop. He walked over to the register and started to order a vegetarian pizza when the pizza-stuffing robot jumped up onto the bar. He raised his arm cannon towards the sky as he shouted: "I, Pizza Man, shall conquer this pizza shop in the name of my creator and master, Dr. Wily! You shall submit to my commands!" At which point he started lobbing pizzas around the restaurant.
In the booth near the door, Dr. Light turned to his blue-armored boothmate, and said, "Well, Rock, are you going to do anything about this?"
"Chill out, Doc, it's only pizzas!"
"That's not the point! If we let Dr. Wily win this one, what's to stop him from subjugating the world?"
Rock sighed. "Yeah, yeah, you're right." He jumped up and started firing plasma shots at Pizza Man through his own arm cannon.
Pizza Man smiled. "So, Mega Man, you show yourself at last! Well, I tell you this now: You may have defeated my predecessor Robot Masters, but you shall not defeat me!" He fired a pizza directly at Rock, knocking him out the door and into the streets. Everyone turned to watch as Rock, struggling to his feet, was hit by a truck and carried off stuck to the fender.
Kung Lao rubbed his metal hat. He turned to Candie. "Put that vegetarian pizza on hold. I must first sharpen my skills for the upcoming Outworld Tournament!" He removed his razor-sharp hat and hurled it at Pizza Man. Upon striking Pizza Man it reappeared on Kung's head. The two started a war of the missile-attacks against each other.
At the bar, Ryu just ate pizza.
In the battle between Pizza Man and Kung Lao, a stray pizza struck Silly Hat on the face. Shocked, he turned to Pizza Man, and said "You hit me!" He gestured to Bald Guy. "He never hit me!" He took another look at Kung Lao. "Hmmm," he said, "I think I like his hat better than mine. In fact, I think that outfit would look great on me!" In another gratuitous flash of light Kung Lao was wearing Silly Hat's outfit, and Silly Hat had Kung Lao's. In a yelp of astonishment and disgust Kung Lao jumped up in to the air and disappeared, reappearing through the floor of the men's room, where he crawled into a stall, went fetal and whimpered.
Pizza Man continued his onslaught of the pizzeria. 'Pete' turned to 'Emerson'. "One of yours, Bei-chan?"
'Emerson' shook his head. "No, although we did have a Doctor Wily working for us at one point."
"We parted ways due to a difference in beliefs."
"And he lived?" 'Pete' asked, surprised.
"Every time we had him assassinated, it turned out to be a cleverly disguised robot."
"Speaking of clever disguises," 'Pete' said, "look at the guy in the afro there."
'Emerson' winced. "These youngsters have no respect for the fine art of disguise. It turns my stomach. Oh well, when I take over the world things'll be different."
'Pete' nodded, suddenly feeling queasy himself.
Jun and Jimpei giggled outside as they watched the melee.
"We might not need all these hand grenades after all, Jimpei. That robot is doing our job for us!"
Jimpei didn't say anything, his face white from the apparition that was in front of the door to the pizzeria. He blinked, hoping that it would go away if he did. But it did not. It grunted, lifted its foot, and--
There was a crash as someone, or something, kicked the door down. This person, or creature, was about six foot tall, and ludicrously obese. She wore purple spandex, high-heel hip-boots (which only went up to her knee before they had to be rolled down), an eye-patch, a black and blue cape with cheekbone-high shoulder pads, and emblazoned on her chest, in red and yellow, was the letter "Q" encased in a pentagon. Her belt, which looked suspiciously like the fan belt stolen from Joe's car last month, had what appeared to be a Dustbuster with flashy lights on it. She had long greasy blonde hair (with short black roots) running down to her ankles, and strange dots on her hairline that ran down her temples.
Silly Hat looked at her. "Woopsie," he said to his companion. "That looks like my cue." He disappeared, leaving Bald Guy to wonder quite how that last word was to be spelled.
The woman frowned. "WHERE'S ERNIE?!!!" she shouted menacingly, in a nasal voice.
"Who the hell are you?" Joe asked her, incredulously.
"ME?" she growled. "I'M QUEUE THE FAT TRILL!!!!"
Upon hearing this name, Bald Guy jumped under the table.
"Ernie," Candie called, "you might wanna come out here!"
'Pete' turned to 'Emerson'. "This one of yours?"
'Emerson' shook his head, disgusted. "Even Galactor wouldn't stoop this low!"
Ernie came out from the back.
Queue the Fat Trill looked him square on. "YOU HUNG UP ON ME!! TWICE!!"
"So?" Ernie said, still unimpressed.
"NOW YOU WILL FEEL MY WRATH, PUNY--" A pizza hit her on the thigh. She grabbed it, and after swallowing it whole, turned to the robot, now cowering behind a stool. She picked him up, threw him on the ground, and dived, belly first, onto him. There was the buzzing and squawking of electronic equipment being squashed, and Pizza Man crawled out from under her massive abdomen.
He said, in a voice punctuated by static, "Dr. Wily shall hear of this!", and limped out the door.
At the bar, Ryu just ate pizza.
Now Queue the Fat Trill turned back to Ernie.
"APOLOGIZE, HUMAN, OR ELSE--"
"Or else what?" Ernie asked.
"YOU WOULDN'T WANNA SEE ME NAKED!" she growled. Half the customers started towards the door.
Ernie just smiled. "I've seen worse."
"WHEN?!" Queue the Fat Trill asked.
"Lady, you know what your problem is?" Ernie smiled grimly. "Simply put; you are ugly."
Queue the Fat Trill's face contorted from one of simple anger to berserker rage.
"YOU... YOU... YOU...." she sputtered, amazed.
"Excuse me," the elderly squirrel at the bar said, "do you mind? Some people are trying to eat here!"
Her young companion tugged at her arm impatiently. "But Aunt Slappy, that lady's fat! She could sit on you and kill you!" Slappy ignored her nephew and confronted Queue the Fat Trill.
"You," Slappy pointed a finger at Queue the Fat Trill's roomy gut, "you remind me of a very young Barney the Dinosaur," she accused.
"WHY YOU--" Queue the Fat Trill exclaimed, appalled.
"And what's more, you look funny!" Slappy continued.
"Aunt Slappy," Skippy implored, "stop the insanity!"
Slappy turned to the fascinated customers of the pizzeria. "Kids," she griped, to no one in general, "what the heck can you do?"
The door that wasn't already off its hinges was kicked down with a crash. A creature, resembling a polka-dotted zebra with a saddle, only with five legs, trotted in. Perched serenely on the saddle was a small anthropomorphic hamster with a black and yellow ninja mask on and a mean look in its eye.
"We," the zebra declared, "have confiscated this pizza place in the name of wombat liberation!!!!"
"EXCUSE ME," Queue the Fat Trill said, flinging aside Slappy and facing the zebra down, "DO YOU ALL MIND LETTING ME FINISH MY SPEECH? I COME FIFTEEN THOUSAND LIGHT YEARS FOR A DAMN PIZZA, AND I'M NOT GONNA LET A BUNCH OF MEDARDIN' ANIMALS TELL ME MY BUSINESS!! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?"
The zebra looked up at the hamster on its back. "Take her out, Yofie," he said, in a faint but distinctive British accent.
The hamster removed its ninja mask, revealing a minuscule hamster-skull beneath. It breathed fire on Queue the Fat Trill's hip(?) boot, giving her a hotfoot she would not soon forget, thereby teaching her to rue the day she defied the iron fist of the Wombat Liberation Front. She ran out yelping. The hamster looked out the window at her massive bulk running off, and croaked, in a solemn voice, "It is only the beginning. Rattle."
"Now then," the zebra continued, passionately, "we, of the Wombat Liberation Front are sick and tired of you Evil White Male Patriarchs fettering our wombat brothers! And furthermore--"
"Um, excuse me," Joe said, using the skills of diplomacy that Dr. Nambu had spent many long hours trying to drill in his head, "much as I respect your cause, and all, why here? I mean, no one here oppresses wombats, or serves pizzas to wombat oppressors! There aren't any important people here you can hold hostage. After all, it's not like the leader of Galactor is here or anything!"
'Emerson' and 'Pete' smirked knowingly, but wisely refrained from comment.
"Gee," the zebra said. "I never thought of it that way! Guess we'd better mosey on along!" He turned to Ernie. "Sorry about the door. Yofie, give the man our card." The hamster flipped Ernie a colorful business card. "You can bill us for it. Come on, Yofie, let's get the hootenanny on the road." Yofie grunted in approval. And they turned around and left.
'Pete' turned to 'Emerson'. "Okay, Bei-chan, were those guys yours?"
'Emerson' smiled. "Actually, Galactor attempted to recruit them a few years back, before we found out they were all funny animals and stuff. A pity."
Four barefoot, green-skinned guys in trenchcoats and colored eyemasks walked in. One, wearing an orange eyemask, said to Ernie, "Whoa, dude, looks like a bomb dropped here or something!"
"Anyway, we'd like, um, eighty--"
"Mike!" one of his companions said impatiently.
"Okay, twenty, pizzas with marshmallows and pepperoni, dude."
The 'man' in the red mask said, with a faint Brooklyn accent, "Yeah, and extra cheese."
Ernie sent Delivery Boy Boo into the kitchen to tell Ernie's prize chef Marie (in actuality the avian fugitive known only as the Clever Hen) the order.
Boo walked into the kitchen, stopping in his tracks as he noticed the beauty of Marie. But he said nothing, thinking What if she finds out I'm a giant chicken?
Marie, the Clever Hen, looked at Boo longingly, stunned by his incredible handsomeness. But she demurred, realizing the tragedy that would occur should he discover she was really a giant chicken on the run.
She finished cooking the pizzas and sent them out to Ernie, a tear on her wide chicken eye.
The four teenage ninjas walked out, the pizzas stacked up five feet high, and exceptionally astute persons might notice them climbing down a manhole. Ernie, as usual, had nothing nice to say.
"Look at this fuckin' money! It's all slimy and covered with shit!"
Silly Hat appeared again, still in the purloined garb of poor Kung Lao, and asked Bald Guy, still cowering under the table, "Is she gone yet?"
Bald Guy sat up, looked around, and said, "I think so. You knew her?"
"She's obsessed with me. Why do you think she goes around calling herself Queue? For three millennia I have fled from her and for three millennia she has tracked me down." He shuddered in fear, something Bald Guy thought he would never see. "And, to top it all off," Silly Hat continued, with a tremble in his voice, "she keeps on sending me these odious stories she's written involving various graphic sexual encounters between us. All of them fictitious, I assure you." He seemed nauseated. "Although the one with the dolphins and the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter was rather imaginative."
"So why not just turn her into a dog? Or freeze her? Or better yet, trap her in one of those funny red net-things? You seem so good at that."
Silly Hat's look of revulsion quickly transformed into an arrogant smile. "Why, mon capitaine, are you actually attempting humor? Did you just make a joke? This is indeed a most momentous occasion!"
Marie looked at Boo. She didn't care anymore. She was going to tell him how much she loved him, even if she had to risk blowing her cover and being caught by Ze Crazed Chef. Even if he laughed at her. Or cried. She threw off her chef's hat and apron, revealing to him her true self. He looked at her for a few trembling seconds, and began to laugh. And cry. What was this? She steeled herself towards rejection. But Boo just smiled at her, and tossed off his delivery boy's cap. He was a giant chicken too! Marie was overjoyed. She grasped his arm, and the two lovers embraced before running out the back door wing in wing.
Ernie watched them go. "We lose more fuckin' employees that way," he muttered.
At the bar, Ryu just ate pizza.
Jun turned to Jimpei. "Okay, Jimpei. Phase two. Do you know what that is?"
"We get to blow things up!"
"Right. Now take these grenades," she said, handing him half of her twelve hand grenades. "And pull the pins, and throw them in the door."
Jimpei turned over to the wreckage by the entrance to Ernie's Pizza. "What door?" he asked innocently.
"Better still! Now, on my count, throw!"
Ken looked around. Maybe Jun and Jimpei had seen the light after all. He hoped so. His head was itchy from this damn afro wig. Maybe he should just go home.
KLUNK! KLUNK! KLUNK!
What was that? Ken looked down. A hand grenade! and another! And another! And another! Ken thought fast, grabbing the twelve grenades and throwing them towards the manhole those four green guys had left open. He turned back to survey for more grenades or time bombs.
By a 'freak coincidence', the grenades, instead of falling down the manhole and exploding harmlessly, got caught in a combination of updrafts that eventually dropped them down the chimney of a nearby restaurant, fortunately uninhabited that day.
Bald Guy looked out the window as the building exploded in a ball of flame, and observed with amusement a girl on the street yell "My bar!" and run towards the blaze, dropping a trenchcoat and fedora in her wake. She was followed closely by a small boy in a sombrero.
"Now if that wasn't one of the oddest things I ever saw... Did you see that?" he asked of Silly Hat.
Silly Hat blinked his eyes. "Oops, sorry, my mind was drifting. I was otherwise occupied."
"A bit of divine retribution." Bald Guy looked puzzled. "Changing the wind patterns on this street," Silly Hat explained. Bald Guy still look confused. Silly Hat smiled in a fashion that Bald Guy had learned from experience to be apprehensive of, but said no more.
Jun and Jimpei looked at the flaming ruins of what was once the Snack J. They didn't see Ken, sans stupid wig, come up behind them.
"What happened?" he asked innocently.
"Oh, Ken, it's all my fault! If only I hadn't tried to blow up Ernie's Pizza, God wouldn't have struck down the Snack J! Oh I feel awful!" She put her head on his shoulder and sobbed.
Jimpei looked at Ken's outfit. "Where were you? A 70's-revival party?"
Ken said nothing.
"So," Joe said to Candie after things had quieted down, "does anyone walk home with you?"
"No," Candie said.
"Can I walk you home?" Joe was finally making some progress.
"Sure!" Candie said. "You can even come in for a while, to have some cookies or something. Did you know I bake cookies?"
"No," Joe said. This was looking better and better.
"Well I do. I'll even let you come in and have some," Candie said, "on one condition."
"What is that?" Joe asked apprehensively.
"No crumbs in the bed."
Joe smiled the smile of one who has emerged victorious. "It's a deal."
'Emerson' and 'Pete' stood up to leave. As they walked towards the door, 'Pete' examined Bald Guy's button. He smiled evilly as he leaned over and kissed Bald Guy square on the lips, attempting to stick his tongue in but unsuccessfully making it past the barrier of clenched teeth.
'Emerson' frowned. "I think I'm jealous. If it weren't for that button I think I'd kill you in a passionate rage, Andre."
'Pete' smiled. "You wouldn't kill me, Bei-chan. Him, but not me. I'm too good in bed!"
"Are you? I'd forgotten."
"Well, then, let me refresh your memory," 'Pete' said, grinning broadly. "There's a hotel nearby." They walked out, arm in arm.
At the bar, Ryu just ate pizza.
Rock stumbled back into the restaurant. "Whoa," he said, rubbing his head, "those flying pizzas sure pack a wallop! Shoulda brought along an energy tank, or something." He turned to his companions. "Where's Pizza Man?"
The feminine robot said, unsuredly, "He got squashed by a fat Chill!"
Rock sighed, turned to Dr. Light, and said, impatiently, "Doc, I thought you said you took her off the medication!"
Dr. Light smiled paternally. "We'd better go home now. It's getting late and I just remembered I forgot to feed Rush before we left." They walked out.
Silly Hat looked at his wristwatch, a solid gold Mickey Mouse model. "Oh my, how time does fly!" he said. "I must get you back before that idiot security officer of yours goes into hysterics. But first, I must return that noble monk's garb." In a flash of light he was wearing his robes again. He handed Bald Guy a twenty. "Now go pay for this meal," he said.
"In this outfit? I already ordered the food, at great cost to my personal dignity. You can do it!"
"I suppose I must do everything myself," Silly Hat sighed. He walked over to the register and handed Candie the money.
"Thank you for coming, sir! We don't get too many twenty-fourth century godlike entities up this way," she commented effusively.
He blinked at her. "Yeah, and at these prices you're not going to get too many more." He walked back over to his booth.
"Before we go back," Bald Guy addressed him when he retuned, "could you change my outfit?"
"Why, certainly, mon capitaine! No sooner said than done!" In a flash Silly Hat was wearing a skintight red outfit with a black stripe over the shoulders and a funny golden badge on his chest. And Bald Guy was dressed as a clown. A very angry, although trying to conceal it, clown.
"This is not what I meant," he said through clenched teeth. "Now change me back!" He was wearing the tourist outfit again. "Before this!" In another flash he was stark naked.
Before they disappeared from Ernie's, the godlike entity was heard to say, "But, Jean-Luc, you didn't say how far before!" Then they were gone.
Ryu left, finishing his last pizza, and wandered back to the former Snack J. The fires were out by now, and Ken, Jun, and Jimpei all huddled on a bench nearby, watching the sun go down behind the smoking wreckage.
"What happened here?" he asked, in awe.
"It was smitten," Jimpei said. "Where were you all day, anyway?"
"Oh, just another boring afternoon spent at Ernie's. Nothing ever happens there, but those pizzas sure are good!"
Disclaimer: If you're looking for apologies, you're going to wait an awful long time. This story was the culmination of months of sitting around and plotting stupid cross-overs. I would like to thank, Alara for co-brainstorming and dialogue assistance, Charles for cocreating Ernie with me, and my close personal friends, the eminent husband-wife scientist team Drs. Flertiyukjlo for informing me of the threat of Scaroct and his wombat freeing minions. From Real Life I have cleverly extracted Yofie, the Clever Hen, and Queue the Fat Trill, of whom the less said the better. Also, for those of you out there wondering exactly why it is that Candie knows everything, I can say only this: She does. And in case you hadn't already suspected it, 'Emerson' is Jimmy Hoffa and, 'Pete', Elvis Presley. Goodbye all, and may Frosty be with you! -ERMAQ 94