Super Smash Quest² - Story - Chapter 53: Madness Returns


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Date: March 23rd, 2009.
Metal Man (GM): Let's see... the group was going to Carrington Institute, only to receive a distress call. They went to the source of it, Eggman. Only to then discover he was being attacked by... DUN DUN DUNNN... Time Cops?!?! Ael, a blue-colored omnimage, and Pandora, the most annoying reploid girl teleporting white thing you ever encountered who shoots EXPLOSIONS. The group was near death from concentrated explosions and evil spells when they called a truce and made a diplomatic solution. Once again, defying old SSQ 1 stereotypes.
Metal Man (GM): So they left... and stole Eggman's golden statue gold antenna of d00m. However, all was not lost, as the mystery disturbance which Eggman had contacted WITH the antenna just prior knew this was gonna happen, and told him where to get something even better than that antenna. So he told the Questers to get this strange power source.
Metal Man (GM): The Questers went down to a power plant. THE ruined power plant. They break on in and then steal it, ignoring 'Master Porky' who was mostly helpless. Welp, they're chased by an evil robot of some kind which gets knocked off their tail by a well-aimed shot from Panzer. Anyway, the robot was knocked into the ocean and we rejoin their group as they recover from that tense moment, about 15 miles off (short distance) from Eggmanland, on their ship.
Deloth: "Well, that was an exciting interlude. So... what do you think this power supply is?"
Metal Man (GM): The power supply device sits inside an extremely heavy box. It weighs the same as three lead safes. A very small window allows the Questers to peer at it. Schatze, Panzer's replica body modified to fit the tastes of Red Text, stands next to it.
Digifanatic: "Not really sure..."
Schatze: "It's... quite strange. Nothing less than what I'd expect from following the instructions of... an aberration."
Deloth: "...Chaos Emerald?"
Digifanatic: "Has to be padded a lot if it's one of those."
Metal Man (GM): The ship's coming up on the island and will soon be time to land it.
Digifanatic: "Don't think an Emerald itself weighs very much." *prepares the ship for landing.*
Deloth: "Just a suggestion."
Digifanatic: "An understandable one. This is Robotnik, after all."
Metal Man (GM): Digi would find the landing spot. Digi lands the ship.
Schatze: "I'll carry it. I may as well." He lifts it slowly and walks to the door.
Deloth gets out and heads for the base.
Digifanatic: *heads out.*
Dragoshi: *Moves on out.*
Flaeyn follows along.
Metal Man (GM): Something odd occurs as... once the Questers get to a certain path, it seems like they're not going anywhere anymore. Just... walking endlessly. It was never this long, was it?
Digifanatic: "Wait a minute... Are we stuck in some sort of loop?"
Deloth: "..."
Schatze: "Hmmm..." *Continues walking.*
Deloth turns around and looks.
Digifanatic: *looks back and forth... just letting Schatze walk ahead.*
Metal Man (GM): The ship's not getting any further away from the Questers even though they're moving forward.
Digifanatic: "Keep walking. I want to see something." *turns around.*
Deloth: "...Ael, if this is you, cut it out or give us a good reason. Right now."
Metal Man (GM): *CLICK* The sound of something touching the ground is heard.
Deloth turns back around.
Digifanatic: *Well, he'll probably see it.*
Pandora: "What do we have here... just as we leave, you find something that is clearly ours and bring it to us... how nice of you!"
Metal Man (GM): ...It's that cursed reploid-girl again. In the way!
Deloth: "Knew it. Is EVERYTHING on this planet your property?"
Dragoshi: "This isn't for you." :/
Metal Man (GM): A blue portal forms as Ael appears on the other side of the Questers.
Ael: "No. Simply that object. Turn it over to us."
Digifanatic: "How did you know we picked it up?"
Deloth: *blandly.* "Called it. Ael, are we endangering the world with this stuff or something?"
Pandora: "We can take what we want! Somebody told you something you SHOULDN'T have known... and those naughty people just wound up helping us instead! TSK TSK TSK."
Ael: "The object you have belongs to us. We require it to find the... aberration."
Digifanatic: .oO(Where's Aribar and a Mute spell when ya NEED IT?)
Metal Man (GM): Then, as if that isn't weird enough, the water begins to bubble near the path.
Deloth: *tiredly.* "Aberration?"
Ael: "Call off whatever summon spell you have. You will not succeed."
Flaeyn groans. "Who are these two jokesters again?"
Dragoshi: "...That isn't us."
Deloth: "We don't HAVE a summon spell, Ael."
Dragoshi: "Yeah."
Ael: "..."
Metal Man (GM): He looks at the water.
Dragoshi: "...I think it's that thing we shot down."
Pandora: "Hmph. Let me take care of it!"
Dragoshi: *Sighs, readies blaster and bread.*
Metal Man (GM): *BLAM BLAM BLAM* ...Explosions don't make the bubbles go away.
Deloth: "People, we should probably start running right about now." *takes out his swords.*
Ael: "If only you could run... I have enchanted you otherwise. You will not take the object."
Pandora: "It's not working, Ael! Whatever it is is... is... annoying!"
Deloth: "Okay, well, fine, let's all sit around and watch the giant mutant terrorbeast eat us and this power source."
Ael: "Now come, Pandora. It isn't anything. I'll detect its true form, here."
Flaeyn rubs his temples. "I... am so very confused right now."
Metal Man (GM): Panzer wakes up from 'sleep' mode in the middle of this next to Deloth.
Ael: "You think I am not confused?"
Deloth: "You must have survived through military strength so far, because you're not doing too well in the common sense department."
Panzer stands up, blinking. "Who invited them over?"
Metal Man (GM): He summons a spell. An image appears over the bubbling. Little of it is visible except a power rating, which marks it as 'CONDITION RED.'
Dragoshi: "They invited themselves."
Ael: "..."
Deloth: "My point stands."
Ael: "Those aren't supposed to be anywhere."
Metal Man (GM): *SPLOOSH.*
Digifanatic: "Hang on."
Deloth: "Exactly. Can we run now--too late."
Metal Man (GM): It's... it's... the Masked Man! With his saber! Missing an eye! Looking like he was set on fire!
Panzer: "Zero rip off."
Deloth: "Oh, not this shit AGAIN!"
Metal Man (GM): He lunges at Pandora.
Flaeyn: "What?"
Pandora: "Hmph, you won't catch me, FREAK!"
Dragoshi: "...oh jeeze."
Metal Man (GM): She teleports. IT teleports.
Pandora: "GAH!"
Masked Man: "..."
Ael: "Dispell."
Metal Man (GM): Ael's spell fails, bouncing off the Masked Man. The Masked Man slashes at Pandora, who is thrown backwards. She blasts him with an explosion, but he... just flies through it.
Digifanatic tries to take as much of a look at the Masked Man possible... He tries to determine the identity of the being.
Dragoshi: *Rolls eyes, and proceeds to blast the Masked Man with his blaster.* e_e
Deloth: "Ael. Seriously. It took a lightning nuke to kill this guy last time."
Panzer: "Awesome."
Metal Man (GM): Digi detects the man is... a machine! A cursed machine!
Ael: "Fine. I will do this the hard way."
Pandora: "GAH! OW!"
Deloth: "Well, not kill, apparently. More like 'annoy'."
Masked Man: *Begins punching Pandora relentlessly.*
Ael: "BANISH EVIL."
Masked Man: "...!!!"
Metal Man (GM): It flies backwards, on fire from holy energy.
Digifanatic: "A machine... huh..."
Dragoshi: "...well, then."
Metal Man (GM): ...Then stands up again.
Ael: "Hmph! You will fall. TURN EV--"
Digifanatic wonders if Ael and Pandora are distracted too much for them to make a run for Robotnik.
Dragoshi: *Casts Ward, like... 3 times, warding the area... and stuff.*
Deloth: "..." *sigh.*
Metal Man (GM): *BKZBTKZBTBZZBZKT.* Dragoshi casts ward. It's like flinging flies at a rhino. But not to worry... ?! A weird, man shaped disturbance appears out of nowhere and tackles Ael.
Panzer sits down and chills.
Ael: "Gah!"
Digifanatic: "That static guy?"
???: "*ZBKT* R... UN... Q... UES... ERS..."
Metal Man (GM): The spell is broken.
Deloth: "Book it, people." *takes off for Eggman's lab.*
Ael: "They have some sort of assistants! Stop them, Pandora!"
Pandora: "I wi--OW!"
Dragoshi: *Hoofs it to Eggman's lab!*
Masked Man: *Punches Pandora in the face.*
Dragoshi: "Keep doin' that!"
Schatze: "..." *He runs off with the energy to Robotnik's lab.*
Dragoshi: "Give her one for me!" *Yells this as he runs off into the lab.*
Metal Man (GM): Ael hurls spell after spell at the disturbance as the Questers run.
Digifanatic: *follows.*
Metal Man (GM): The disturbance walks through them and... fires a cloud of static at him? Ael curses and wipes it off, but both of them are distracted. The Questers reach inside the base, the doors shutting as the path they used is soon consumed by explosions and static energy.
Deloth: "Guys, if I ever suggest us forming a courier service, please punch me."
Metal Man (GM): Robotnik adjusts his glasses as the Questers enter, shaking his head.
Dr. Robotnik: "I think I have an idea of what happened now... and it is not a good one."
Dragoshi: "I'd imagine."
Digifanatic: "Please make it quick."
Dragoshi: "Yes. Please do."
Digifanatic: "Detailed but quick."
Dr. Robotnik: "Somehow, some... interlopers... have appeared to stop us from doing whatever it is we are doing. What does this mean?" He smirks. "Let us do it while they are distracted!"
Metal Man (GM): He smacks the panel, revealing a slot to stick the container in.
Deloth: "...think they'll be okay?"
Dr. Robotnik: "Bah! I want them DEAD! They're worthless... worthless!"
Digifanatic: "Can you tell us what exactly is in there?"
Dr. Robotnik: "Oh. Well, look for yourself."
Deloth: "They were the first people to agree to a truce in years. They've got some degree of worth."
Schatze: *Chucks it into the slot.*
Dr. Robotnik: "Truces. BAH! All to serve their own agenda."
Panzer is confused. x.x
Dr. Robotnik: "Whatever it is."
Digifanatic: *takes a look for himself.*
Metal Man (GM): A moment passes and the machine activates, scanning the device.
Panzer: "Where is my radiation at?"
Metal Man (GM): It is blown up on the screen for all to see.
Dr. Robotnik: "The radioactive device you retrieved is now in the console."
Panzer: "Aww."
Flaeyn: "Okay..."
Dr. Robotnik: "I will use it... to contact the disturbance."
Digifanatic takes a look at the image of the device... shapes, colors, and so on.
Metal Man (GM): The great radioactive energy turns out to be something rather simple.
Deloth: .oO(You'd think that somebody would wonder if they actually have a GOOD agenda...)
Metal Man (GM): It is an ancient computer cylinder. Some sort of fusion generator. It looks vaguely familiar.
Digifanatic: "Hmm... yeah, kinda looks like an energy rod." *Wonders if it is a Chaos Drive, perhaps?*
Deloth: "...Have I seen that thing before somewhere, guys?"
Metal Man (GM): No. Chaos drive is skinny. This is fat by comparison.
Digifanatic: "Maybe, Deloth..."
Metal Man (GM): It has Pokey/Porky's logo on it, as he apparently crashed here with it and improved it. This also explains why he wasn't happy to see the Questers take it.
Deloth: "The blue color kind of reminds me of that old blue stuff that used to cause so much trouble."
Metal Man (GM): And why his robot chased the Questers.
Kenku looks over as the item is canned.
Digifanatic: "Ah, yes..."
Deloth: "...Phaser? Something like that."
Digifanatic: "Oh, Phazon?"
Dragoshi: "Yeah. Phazon."
Digifanatic: "Thanks for helping me with the name."
Dr. Robotnik: "No, not phazon. It's just a cylinder which generates radiation from its normal processes."
Digifanatic: "...Oh."
Dr. Robotnik: "Some higher-logic object which even I don't understand."
Deloth: "Well, score another miss for me and technology, then."
Dr. Robotnik: "For all intents and purposes, a powerful power generator."
Metal Man (GM): An explosion occurs outside.
Digifanatic: "Huh? "
Dr. Robotnik: "Using it now... right..."
Deloth: "...Sounds like psychobitch is getting mad."
Dragoshi: "Just contact the distu--- Thank you."
Digifanatic: "Oh, that's what that was?"
Dr. Robotnik: "..."
Deloth: "Well, let's see. She throws explosions and she's right outside. Um... yes?"
Metal Man (GM): Static is heard.
Dr. Robotnik: "What did you see outside? I only got a glimpse of some people trying to stop you. In the time it took me to rally weapons you got in here."
Digifanatic: "Actually, Del, I was talking about the effects of Robotnik using the cylinder."
Deloth: "Oh."
Digifanatic: "Sorry."
Metal Man (GM): He drums his fingers, not receiving an answer.
Deloth: "That's probably because of some weird timeloop spell they cast, Robotnik. We kept walking and we didn't get anywhere."
Dragoshi: *Starts describing the craziness that happened to Robotnik.*
Digifanatic: "Maybe the static guy disappeared again."
Dr. Robotnik: "...So the static person is outside... fighting them... right now. Well, there's our problem. He's not going to carry on a phone call while fighting them."
Digifanatic: "Yeah. Can you get a better image of him, though? I mean, even if he's not trying to speak, does his form appear better?"
Dr. Robotnik: "No, he keeps moving, and those people out there are distorting reality worse than he is."
Digifanatic: "Bleh."
Deloth: "What happens if we get them to leave?"
Dr. Robotnik: "Since I need to be here to operate the equipment... could you get rid of them some way? I can't do anything with them here."
Deloth: "We could try."
Digifanatic: "Hmm..."
Dr. Robotnik: "Well, then go try."
Digifanatic: "Hang on a second... idea, maybe."
Dr. Robotnik: "I will send in backup."
Deloth: *relaxes his swords on his shoulders and turns to the door.* "Speak quick, Digi."
Digifanatic: "Borrow the Egg Carrier and use its weapons against them as they chase us?"
Dr. Robotnik: "They'd be in here now if they were chasing you, Digi."
Digifanatic: "Fine..." *heads out, just seeming to prepare for a typical fight unless someone's get a better idea.*
Metal Man (GM): The Questers walk outside. What you see is only more head-hurting.
Dragoshi: *Moves on out, blaster and Bread at the ready.*
Metal Man (GM): The dark being has been pinned to the wall by a massive holy energy sword summoned from nowhere.
Deloth: "..."
Metal Man (GM): Ael and Pandora are arguing with the disturbance.
Ael: "You do not understand. We will not destroy you. If you come peacefully."
???: "!...Y... DO NO... KNOW... I... ILL... YOU."
Deloth just sorta hangs back and watches the show for now.
Pandora: "C'mon, Ael, we can't talk to that bunch of dust! Not until we get the other piece!"
Ael: "The other piece is unnecessary when we have him right here. Within a few moments we shall use our array to expose this being and therefore take him in."
Digifanatic takes a wide gaze at the sword. "Huh..."
Metal Man (GM): The sword's just an energy thingy. It's a spell.
Dragoshi: *Glances at the holy sword.* "...really?"
Deloth: "I'm kind of leaning towards supporting the comedy group over there if they'll leave us alone, guys." *pointing a thumb to Ael and Pandora.*
Dragoshi: "That's just cheesy."
???: *Points.* "I a... UESTE... OO... ONTROL... ALL."
Pandora: "It doesn't even make sense!"
Ael: "Patience. I am deciphering what I can."
Panzer snickers. "This is hilarious and all, but damn... Make some sense."
Dragoshi: .oO(Is he saying that he's a Quester too? ...Though, the 'ONTROL ALL' part I don't get. Hmm...)
Pandora: "..." *Whips around.* "...And now we're no longer in the position to kill them all! Damn! Ael, stop failing and do something!"
Deloth: "So, wanna shoot mask-boy while he's been pinned?"
Ael: "Very well, it depends on... them."
Metal Man (GM): He points at the Questers.
???: "ES... K... EM..."
Panzer is drinking ATM.
Digifanatic: "'Yes, ask them,' I believe he said."
Ael: "The being we were sent here to decipher is before us. We will use the devices we have found to deal with him. Confused? Good. It's not supposed to make any sense."
Deloth: "And if he winds up being an innocent?"
Ael: "You're not supposed to know either way. I must apologize... Pandora demanded I chase you, and it is only a matter of luck our quarry then interfered with us."
Digifanatic: *Calmly.* "In all honesty... why can't we know?"
Panzer looks at the staticy person if possible. "Don't feel bad. You make sense to me." She swills down the rest of the bottle.
???: "IME... OP... IL... OU... F... IPHER... E... OOK."
Deloth: *snidely.* "It's above our pay grade, Digi. OBVIOUSLY."
Digifanatic: "Heh..."
Dragoshi: "Hilariously so, it seems." *Rolls eyes.*
Pandora: "Whatever... this is boring." *Shakes her head.* "So, will you let us deal with this person, or will we have to kill you again?"
Ael: "I don't think they care, Pandora. Which is all in well. With his... pesky little helper disabled... we can do what we want."
Digifanatic: "May we deal with him together?"
Pandora: "Work with you slobs? Never! I'd rather work with HIM!" *Points to near-dead robot pinned to wall.*
Ael: "Now now... there is the advantage of teamwork... And guidelines say we can do that if it would make the job go quicker..."
Deloth: "I don't have any real objection to that."
Pandora: "...If you work with them, I'm leaving!"
Metal Man (GM): He's standing there, yeah.
Digifanatic: "Let her leave then, Ael."
Dragoshi: "Yes. She'll probably screw things up, anyway."
Digifanatic: "You didn't want her anyway."
Deloth: .oO(I just want this to end. PLEASE, LET IT END ALREADY SO THAT I CAN GO HOME AND TAKE A DAMN BREAK.)
Ael: "Well, I would no longer be punished if you left, Pandora."
Pandora: "... Fine! I'm staying!"
Deloth groans and rolls his eyes.
Dragoshi: "Oh, wonderful. I can already see the ensuing trainwreck."
Digifanatic: .oO(Oh my g...)
Ael: *Shrug.* "Let us... find out what this accursed static man is... and get out of here."
Digifanatic: "Thank you."
Metal Man (GM): He waves a hand. The paralyzed Masked Man robot explodes into a billion pieces.
Panzer walks up to static man and tosses the bottle aside. "Think you can use me to speak properly?"
Ael: "Don't try anything smart, static disturbance."
Deloth: "Panzer, stay away from the dimensional rip, you don't know where it's been."
???: "O... IMENSION OO AR. ISE ACK OW READY."
Digifanatic: "Okay...'Dimension too far', I think..."
Panzer: "Just do what you need to. You're killing my buzz."
Metal Man (GM): The static man walks THROUGH Panzer as he and the 'Time Cops' wander inside.
Digifanatic: "'Back now ready,' not sure of the other word."
Dragoshi: *Walks on along.*
Digifanatic: *follows.*
Panzer shrugs, wanders on along.
Deloth follows the group, waiting for the inevitable explosion.
Metal Man (GM): Everyone gathers inside. Eggman stares at the two Time Cops.
Dr. Robotnik: "Who are you... and why are you interested in that THING? It's mine and the Questers' Not yours!"
Deloth: "New deal. ..."
Ael: "Calm down, fat being."
Kenku chuckles.
Pandora: "You keep saying that, fat, bald man, and I'll kick your butt!"
Deloth turns to Ael and Pandora. "I declare you both honorary Questers, in lieu of Metal doing it. There. Let them see it too."
???: "ONY HIS AH AH."
Dragoshi: "Jeez. A little bit too bloodthirsty, aren't we?"
???: "ARY UESTER... AH."
Dr. Robotnik: "So... you're working with them? Bah, whatever!"
Digifanatic: "Well, 'Honorary Quester' is too obvious, unfortunately that first part isn't."
Dr. Robotnik: "Just let me scan it. You... you keep disturbing reality!"
Ael: "Oops."
Metal Man (GM): He waves a hand. A shimmering energy field the Questers didn't see before vanishes.
Ael: "The anti-scribe field is a standard. We don't need it now, however. Let us begin. Scan the being so it can be re-aligned and properly... arrested."
Dr. Robotnik: "Arrested? You want to arrest static energy?"
Deloth: "Want me to read it its rights?"
Dr. Robotnik: "Hmph!"
Metal Man (GM): He presses a button.
Digifanatic: "Ael, hold yourself, please..."
Metal Man (GM): The computer generator module turns on.
Ael: "We shall restore your antenna, since we need it now."
Metal Man (GM): *SHOOMP* The antenna reappears.
Ael: "I didn't plan on this, but... you are unusually nice today, apparently."
Metal Man (GM): He holds out a piece of paper that says 'Questers: Irrational, bloodthirsty mercenary scourges. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.'
Dragoshi: "Ah, moronic hyperbole."
Kenku: "Well... someone doesn't like us..."
Dragoshi: "What could we possibly do without you? Oh wait. I already know the answer to that."
Deloth: "You forgot the 'bite heads off of live doves' part on that paper."
Pandora: "C'mon... get this done with! If I'm not killing people I'm BORED! BORED BORED BORED!" *Teleports atop Eggman's console and taps her foot impatiently.*
Dr. Robotnik: "Bah!" *Presses a button.*
Metal Man (GM): Futuristic scanning symbols shoot the static.
Dragoshi: "You forgot 'in public', Del."
Metal Man (GM): It falls over, then stands up again, coming into focus.
Dragoshi: *Is just dripping with sarcasm. hoorah.*
Deloth: "In my defense, doves are very delicious."
Dragoshi: "Eh. I prefer ducks."
Ael: "So now. Let us see." He points at the being, who is now in focus. It's a man... and a floating object above the man...
Metal Man (GM): ...
Digifanatic: *looks at the floating object.*
Metal Man (GM): It comes into complete focus, revealing a man in armor with a book floating above his left shoulder. He idly grabs the book and looks at Ael like he's nothing.
Metal Man: "It took you far too long to find it, didn't you?"
Dragoshi: "...Oh. Hey there, Metal."
Dr. Robotnik: "I must say. You have strange taste in fugitives."
Kenku: "Uhhh... Hey."
Deloth: "...Freaking finally."
Ael: "Yes... you! The TIME BANDIT!"
Digifanatic: "Yeah, which one though? "
Deloth: "Ael, this guy is--never mind."
Dragoshi: "...Time Bandit?"
Digifanatic: "Hello. Do you respond to Mr. Macgregor or Mr. Bell?"
Metal Man: "Look, I don't have time for your nonsense. I escaped from you years ago and have killed your predecessors across many worlds."
Metal Man (GM): He looks to Digi.
Metal Man: "I've used both of those as aliases before."
Dragoshi: *Just sways back and forth slightly as this goes on.*
Metal Man: *Looks to Panzer.* "You look... different."
Deloth: "She's gotten less shooty."
Metal Man: "Now, if you'll excuse me." *He points the book at Ael.*
Ael: "What... you have an entire world in your hands... "
Metal Man (GM): He looks like he's about to melt into the floor.
Digifanatic: .oO(THAT book...!)
Pandora: "Pft! He's just some kind of criminal!"
Deloth is a bit surprised that Metal didn't comment on him, honestly, but he seems a bit preoccupied now anyways.
Pandora: "I'll take care of him!"
Ael: "No! Don't!"
Deloth: "Might I ask where you got the world-book, Metal?" *steps over and in front of Pandora.*
Metal Man (GM): She warps near Metal. Metal Man smacks her with the book. She flies into the ground and stays there.
Digifanatic: "It must have been our last battle."
Pandora: "...Ugh."
Dragoshi: *Walks over to Pandora... And prods her with the Bread.*
Metal Man: "This book... is the place our old world was written on. Kuja tried to trick us into re-entering it so he could write the world as he chose. I killed him with this book."
Deloth: "You can't kill Kuja. Just sort of make him madder."
Dragoshi: "Sucks to be him, then."
Metal Man: "The only problem was I became trapped between realities."
Dragoshi: "Yeah, I can see how that'd be an inconvenience."
Metal Man: "..." *BZKT* "And... I haven't felt right ever since."
Ael: *Walks over to Pandora and helps her up... muttering a spell under his breath.*
Metal Man: "In fact, perhaps you could... *BZKT* GAH! ...Do me a favor."
Deloth: "You gonna be okay, Metal, or you want us to get rid of those two?"
Metal Man (GM): He lifts up the book. A freakish, violent purple energy radiates from it. It reveals itself to be stuck to Metal Man.
Digifanatic: "Ohhh..."
Dragoshi: "...Okay..."
Deloth: "Yeow. What's that?"
Metal Man: "NNNrgggh... AHAH! IT IS YOU, QUESTERS! AT LAST I SHALL KILL YOU! AND THEN THIS WORLD SHHALL BEBEBBEBBEBEB" *Slams head into walls.* "...That."
Dragoshi: "Is that thing radiating with evil grape juice or somethin--- Oh."
Deloth: "..."
Digifanatic: "WHAT."
Dragoshi: "It still has the Old Book's..."
Deloth: *deep breath. Deep cleansing breath. Count to 10.*
Dragoshi: "Fuck-uppedness, huh?" *Really couldn't think of a better term.*
Deloth: "...Okay. So. How do we fix what got screwed up?"
Metal Man: "You blew the book up. But some kind of curse remained on it. That curse... I WILL KILL YOU ALL LIKE CANDIED CHILDREN!! AHA AHAHAHA wants me to blow this place up with enough magic to rip this continent off the planet and send it into space."
Dragoshi: "I... see. And... you want us to find... some way to deal with the curse? Or is this something else?"
Metal Man: "So I ask you this as your former leader." *Shoots sparks.* "De... defeat iiiiittttGAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!"
Digifanatic: .oO(You know, Deloth, that purple reminds me of Ganondorf...)
Metal Man (GM): The room shakes as the ancient power overcomes Metal Man. He floats up, holding the book.
Dragoshi: "Oh jeeze." *Sighs, and readies his Blaster and Bread, getting into stance.*
Deloth: *swords out and pointing at Metal.* "Other person, if you're attempting to assert control, you'd best not."
Dragoshi: "I knew there was gonna be at trainwreck, but goddamn."
Book Man: "YES... YES! YOU MAY HAVE DEFEATED IVAN, BUT I AM A DIFFERENT STORY! FOR I AM A STORY BOOK! AH AH AHAHAHAHAHAH!"
Metal Man (GM): Mostly just Metal Man covered in evil purple energy.
Deloth: "Yes. Let's set the storybook on fire."
Metal Man (GM): Holding the book out facing the Questers.
Book Man: "THIS IS THE END! EITHER YOU OR I... DIE FOREVER!"
Kenku sees the poor man struggling and the others reading stuff, he draws his sword slowly in case.
Book Man: "FIGHT ME! AND WE SHALL FIND THIS OUT! IN THE STUNNING CONCLUSION! GAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Ael: "...Should we just--"
Pandora: "Let them fight it. That THING's possessing the criminal we want to take off to trial!"
Ael: "Right. No wonder why everyone sent before us died a horrible death. Er... kill it Questers!"
Dragoshi: "Way to be useless!"
Metal Man (GM): He weakly waves to the Questers.
Deloth: "If you two plan to arrest our boss, then I daresay that we have a problem."
Dragoshi: "No, seriously. Fuck you guys too."
Book Man: "BAHAHAHAHA... NOTHING TOPS OFF A BREAKFAST OF DEAD TIME COPS LIKE QUESTER ASHES!"
Deloth: "But. That comes later. Now are you two halfwits going to be backup or just stand there and gape?"
Metal Man (GM): BATTLE.
Ael: "I like living. How about you, Pandora?"
Dragoshi: "They'll just stand there and be useless, Del."
Pandora: "Yeah. I like it too."
Dragoshi: "Such worthless people, I swear."
Metal Man (GM): They vanish instantly.
Dragoshi: "Like I said. Worthless."
Dr. Robotnik: "Bah! I don't understand anything which happened. So you know what I will do?"
Book Man: "DECLARE YOU ARE GERALD ROBOTNIK AND STEAL THE LIFE OF THE PLANET ITSELF?"
Dr. Robotnik: "No! Shut up!"
Metal Man (GM): He gets out his mecha and sets his gun to 'DESTROY.'
Dr. Robotnik: "I'll introduce you to the new reading level: Direct bullet to face language!"
Deloth: "Ah, the universal language."
Dragoshi: "Best idea I've heard all die, Ivo." *day.
Schatze: *Shakes head.* "This... this is it, Questers. You ever wonder why what happened just now didn't make any sense?"
Deloth: "Nothing makes sense. Deal with it."
Schatze: "This... this is the thing that was opposing me! Not the... other people."
Deloth: "If things made sense, I'd be at home watching television right now."
Dragoshi: "I... see."
Schatze: "This thing possessed Deloth! It caused the weird people to come here! It... it is responsible for wrestling being scripted!"
Dragoshi: "...Makes me wonder if it sent Ivan as it's patsy or something."
Schatze: "It must die!"
Dragoshi: "Oh no!"
Schatze: "...Again."
Dragoshi: "Not scripted wrestling!"
Schatze: "Whatever it means."
Dragoshi: "Whatever shall we do!?" *Is saying this in an overly-dramatic tone of voice, not taking it seriously.* :V
Deloth: "I thought Ivan was the one that possessed me."
Book Man: "I'll ... I'LL SHOW YOU! JUST LIKE WHEN I MADE IVAN POSSESS DELOTH!"
Deloth: "Ah. Thank you for clearing that up."
Metal Man (GM): The Book Man powers up. Utilizing its extensive powers, it fires a machinegun of bookery at Dragoshi. It hits Dragoshi. Something very strange happens. The books... aren't very effective.
Book Man: "NO! WHY AREN'T YOU... CURSING ANGRILY? WHY... DIDN'T YOU THREATEN TO KILL THOSE COPS? MY POWER... NO! YOU WILL DIE!"
Dragoshi: "...Because they warped away. And were useless. Also, ow. Paper cut."
Metal Man (GM): He summons all his power and tries to use a Maxxed Up Falcon Punch at Digi.
Book Man: "FALLCON... CHEAP!!!!"
Dragoshi: "Seriously. They talk big, but all they are wastes of space it seems."
Metal Man (GM): He smacks Digi. But it is only minor damage.
Book Man: "WHY... WHY AREN'T YOU SENDING LETTERS TO A PLANET WHICH CANNOT BE REACHED? NOOOO!!!!"
Metal Man (GM): He becomes frustrated and attempts in vain to... drop kick Deloth.
Deloth: *And he just might be hit, thanks for nothing, glitch.*
Metal Man (GM): Deloth trips. Ironically, the Book deals less damage than the trip.
Deloth: "Ow." *stands back up and brushes himself off.*
Book Man: "No... even mistakes deal more damage than me!"
Deloth: "You've got little girly kicks, you know that?"
Dragoshi: "This is pathetic. Blow up the book, folks."
Dr. Robotnik: "Shut up, shut up, shut up! I'm tired of your nonsense!"
Dragoshi: "Just... blow it up."
Deloth has... what? A skinned knee?
Dragoshi: *Has a paper cut.*
Metal Man (GM): Dr. Robotnik activates his strongest vulcan cannon and fires a huge stream of bullets at the book. They bounce off.
Book Man: "Hah! I can still kick you around like you're NOTHING!"
Dr. Robotnik: "..."
Schatze: "He's invincible to us... Questers! Kill the book!"
Dragoshi: "Understood."
Kenku charges up and slashes at the book, before turning and thrusting at it.
Metal Man (GM): He dodges once, but the book is pathetic and slow.
Digifanatic just gives the book one big old ram with a golf club.
Metal Man (GM): He blocks the golf club. With himself. *SMACK.* Digi hits the book and it goes sailing over Metal Man's shoulder into the monitor. Then it hits the monitor and explodes violently.
Deloth: "Nice shot."
Dr. Robotnik: "No! Not my monitor! ...Whatever."
Digifanatic: "Whoa... I was just trying to knock it away."
Metal Man (GM): Julian walks in.
Kenku shields his eyes from the spray of sparks before looking to the Metallic Figure."
Metal Man (GM): It rains burnt book pages on him.
Dragoshi: "...Well, that was easy."
Julian: "...The fuck is this shit."
Dragoshi: "Man. And those time cops were afraid of that?"
Digifanatic: "Another day in the life of the Questers."
Deloth: "Hey, Julian, we just killed the Book again."
Metal Man (GM): Metal Man stands up, coughing.
Deloth: *sheathes his blades.* "You okay now, Metal?"
Julian: "Figures I missed it. Yo, Mets, long time no see."
Kenku sees Del, and puts his sword away.
Metal Man: "I apologize for my unexplained absence and/or being possessed by a book. But as I suspected, you have become different from who it was used to fighting..." *Points to where the Time Cops were.* "It has incredibly high strength against them however, as both it and them damage reality. ...But not anymore. It's dead. For the millionth time. I'm not taking any chances."
Deloth looks down at himself. "Become different. Gee, you think?"
Metal Man (GM): Metal Man takes a huge wrench and walks over to where the book was. He smashes the floor where it landed over and over again.
Metal Man: "DIE! DIE! STAY DEAD! STOP TRYING TO DO THINGS! YOU NEVER WORKED IN THE FIRST PLACE!"
Dr. Robotnik: "I am... still confused."
Digifanatic: "...Did we just kill our previous dimension off?!"
Dragoshi: *Helps Metal by shooting it with the blaster.*
Deloth: "Eh."
Metal Man: *Stops for a moment, coughing.* "Yes and no."
Dragoshi: "And stay dead!"
Metal Man: "The true death of it was when you pressed the remote button. That book? It had blank pages. I suspect it wasn't the book we encountered, but rather..."
Digifanatic: "The one we just ripped up was blank, right?"
Metal Man (GM): He whips out his smash dex and scans its remains.
Digifanatic: "Wait a minute."
Dex: "DING! Kuja magic detected."
Digifanatic: "How did you keep your Smash Dex yet all of ours stopped working?"
Metal Man: "Son of a... Kuja hit me with a spell before he died. ...They stopped working?"
Digifanatic: "Yeah..."
Metal Man: "Damn that Kuja. He must have enchanted the book to destroy them."
Deloth: "Yep."
Digifanatic: "I'm not even sure if I hung on to mine..."
Dragoshi: "...huh."
Deloth: "I lost mine somewhere along the line."
Metal Man: "No, they're gone. This one just has some cached information."
Digifanatic: "Ah."
Kenku: "Smash dex?"
Digifanatic: "An old gadget we used to have."
Metal Man: "And as my last privilege I am keeping it." *sighs.*
Deloth: "On the other hand, I got shapeshifting and the loss of needing nutrients and all that, so it's a fair trade."
Metal Man: "So. What has happened... in three sentences or le---" *Looks to Eggman.* "Why are you not attacking us?"
Digifanatic: "Yeah, Metal... did you ever notice that part about Deloth in the Book?"
Dr. Robotnik: "Why are you not attacking us?"
Digifanatic: "Oh right, blank book."
Deloth looks around, wondering if Ael and Pandora are going to show up and require some more head-breaking.
Metal Man: "I'm their leader."
Dr. Robotnik: "Ha-ha. And I am Borne."
Metal Man: "Who?"
Digifanatic: *turns to Deloth.* "Well, maybe nobody spilled ink on your name after all..."
Deloth: "So we're back to the dimensional hiccup theory, basically."
Digifanatic: "Yeah... oh, that reminds me."
Metal Man: *Looks to Deloth.* "Now... I have so much to say it will literally bore you to tears and cause everyone to fall asleep, so I'll condense it."
Digifanatic: .oO(Del, I gotta check Engie's computer when we get back. It might help you.)
Metal Man: "Those two whackjobs which came in after me? They'll be back."
Deloth: "How am I not surprised."
Metal Man: "I've... been lying... to everyone... ever since I joined the Questers."
Digifanatic: "Of course. You told me I couldn't return to Earth after the Void's last stand and I believed you for five plus years..."
Metal Man: "I'm not Illian this, I'm not Cal whatever. That was an excuse I used in yet another realm I hid in."
Deloth crosses his arms. "I see..."
Metal Man: "I will give you my name now."
Julian: "Here it comes."
Metal Man: "The real name. The real real real real real real real name."
Digifanatic: "We get it."
Metal Man: "Please don't shoot me, I promise, it's real this time!"
Deloth: "JUST SAY THE NAME ALREADY."
Metal Man: "Even if I have some other name I'll keep this one!"
Digifanatic: "WE GET IT!"
Dragoshi: "..."
Metal Man (GM): He stops and finally speaks.
Metal Man: "My non-work name is Xavier Ridgecrest. It's dorky, horrible, and gibberish. Heck, I forgot I had that name after years of working with the Time Cops."
Julian: "...Yeah, I'm gonna stick with Metal."
Metal Man: "Oh right. I didn't tell you about that other part."
Kenku: "That explains why they were after you."
Metal Man: "The Time Cops want me because I was one of them until I wasn't and now I accidentally created another dimension. Yes. That was how bad my old leadership was in the Book world. I LITERALLY ripped a hole in reality so big this filled it and we all landed up here. It's so bad... I'm not sure if there aren't two or three COPIES of us wandering around. Seriously. In other holes like this one."
Dragoshi: "So... this is all one huge trainwreck."
Deloth: "Can you explain why I happened to go furry, by the way?"
Dragoshi: "...somehow, this doesn't surprise me."
Kenku: "Interesting and weird."
Julian: "So now what?"
Digifanatic: "Well, maybe two or three copies of our friend Kenku," *points him out to Metal.* "But yeah..."
Metal Man: "Well, when we all went to this realm, we reverted to whatever we felt were our true selves. THAT is the saving grace."
Digifanatic: "That is NOT... That is NOT..."
Metal Man: "Like. I'm not going to reveal I'm Jay Leno or something, or Darth Vader's stepcousin."
Digifanatic: "Deloth's true self."
Kenku: "Uhhh... if I may ask... how do I fit into this picture?"
Deloth: "...uh, Digi."
Digifanatic: "Yeah?"
Julian: "You don't."
Kenku: "I... don't?!?"
Metal Man: "..." *He glances at Kenku.* "You're safe. You... weren't in the old realm. You're like Robotnik here. Your dimensional history is clean and clear, and will... stay that way."
Kenku says "Oook." fairly lost.
Deloth: *sounding slightly embarrassed.* "...never mind, nothing."
Dragoshi: "Yeah..."
Metal Man: "In fact, none of this should matter to you, because it's all over and done."
Dragoshi: "Us, on the other hand..."
Julian: "You showed up outta nowhere outta some freak accident wit' a VR machine. Like I said, you don't 'xactly fit with this whole 'Metal fucked up the dimensions' thang."
Metal Man: "Except for the Time Cops. They... want me dead. Or on fire."
Dragoshi: "I've noticed."
Metal Man: "Or both."
Julian: "So we'll return the favor. Where they at?"
Deloth: "Can we set THEM on fire?"
Metal Man: "Yes. Please. Kill them all."
Schatze: *ACKHEM.*
Kenku: "I dunno... that's asking a little much..."
Metal Man: "Ahhhh! Panzer has turned into a man!"
Digifanatic: "No, that's different."
Dragoshi: "Can I parade around the place with Pandora's corpse after this is over? Yanno, just as a warning to anyone that survives?" >_>
Schatze: "No. She is over there." *Points to Panzer, passed out against wall with schnapps next to her.*
Deloth: "I call dibs on Ael's shoes."
Kenku: "I mean... if they are still in our timeline, I am all for it... if not... we could be causing a paradox..."
Metal Man: "Oh, that's good. ...Two Panzers... AHHHH--okay, okay."
Schatze: "I have been watching carefully while all of you have been discussing."
Deloth: "...Metal, I suppose you wouldn't have any information on WHAT I am, would you?"
Metal Man: "You're a... thing... with... fur... which... is... a thing... unlike... a thing... with fur... Fur... thing... guy... thing... plus one... Yes. You are... Fur Guy+1."
Deloth: "Metal. Metal. METAL. You're going into a brain crash."
Metal Man: "A cross between... a carpet... and Alexia."
Julian: "You is what you is, and that's all that matters. Now we gonna get on with this 'Time Cop' thing or we gonna stand around discussin' this?"
Metal Man: "Cursed by five great cheese monks from the fifth dimension."
Deloth: "..."
Metal Man: "You are... destined to unite the five elder Swiss... then eat them."
Deloth pops his tentacles just to complicate the equation.
Metal Man: "...And an octopus randomly fell into the rug. No, I don't know what you are. I just began remembering things five minutes ago, anyway."
Deloth: *spreads the feathered wings, still keeping a poker face.*
Dragoshi: "I... see."
Schatze: "...The Time Cops... are now on the moon."
Metal Man: "Well, that makes perfect sense."
Deloth: "So. Find Time Cops, punch them in the face, steal their stuff. Got it."
Metal Man: "I mean... what the?!"
Julian: "Makes as much sense as anythin' else."
Deloth: "We've got a spaceship. Let's move, people, we're on a schedule here."
Metal Man: "You have a... Space ship?"
Deloth: "Yes. A spaceship. And a new Stadium."
Kenku: "Hmm... I bet if anything there there cause their time jumper is situated there."
Dragoshi: "Yes. We have no idea how effective it'd be, though."
Metal Man: "Oh no! Julian has turned into Locos! He's gonna kill us all after killing himself aboard a space ship!"
Dragoshi: *Bops Metal on the head.*
Deloth: "Metal, get on the damn ship before I drag you on with all six limbs."
Julian: "..." *Smack.*
Dragoshi: "Snap out of it, man!"
Julian: "C'mon, you can freak out later." *To the ship!*
Dragoshi: *Heads on over to the ship.*
Metal Man: "I'm sorry. I was trapped between dimensions. Deloth STILL looks like some kind of extra-dimensional being."
Metal Man (GM): He follows the Questers, along with Schatze.
Metal Man: "So... can I drive?"
Deloth: "I suspect that I am."
Kenku heads for the ship, moving into the weapons seat once there, just in case.
Dragoshi: "No."
Julian: "No."
Dragoshi: "Never."
Julian: "HELL no."
Digifanatic: "No... I am driving."
Dragoshi: "I still remember the whole bank mess."
Kenku laughs as he walks.
Metal Man: "But... I've... always wanted to fly near the sun!"
Digifanatic: *moves into the ship and just takes his spot.*
Deloth gets in the ship. "Metal, no."
Julian: "What'd I just say?"
Metal Man: *Sits down.* "Wait... wait! That's it! I'll find out what Deloth is."
Metal Man (GM): He takes his dex and points it at Deloth.
Dex: "...DING! What the heck is that?"
Digifanatic: *waits for it before--awwww.*
Deloth: "Biiiiig help."
Metal Man: "Silence! I made you! Tell me what Deloth is!"
Digifanatic: "I had a bad feeling."
Dex: "Deloth that is not."
Deloth: "..."
Metal Man: *Presses buttons.*
Dex: "That's not Alexia either."
Metal Man: "Oh well."
Julian: "Digi, jus' fly the damn ship."
Digifanatic: "Yes."
Schatze: "...I will simply observe this so-called leader while we go."
Digifanatic: *takes off.*
Deloth: "By the way, did I mention that I can shapeshift now?"
Metal Man (GM): Oh, and Aribar is there. Because... Aribar.
Julian: o/
Aribar comes out of one of the rooms of the ship holding a piece of bread. Which he promptly drops upon seeing Metal.
Digifanatic just tugs on his hair a little bit, just to relieve some stress...
Aribar: "Metal? Is that you?"
Metal Man: "...Dang it, I thought I'd at least get to be the second oldest Quester here."
Julian: "It's him."
Digifanatic: "Ahem. Fourth."
Metal Man: "But now I've accidentally destroyed the world, have the Time Cops after me, and still two people who joined before me are here... three..."
Aribar: "Bad day?"
Deloth: "Pretty much, Ari. Get ready to beat up Time Cops."
Digifanatic: "You guys want a break or you want the Cops' heads?"
Deloth: *buckles up.*
Metal Man (GM): Metal Man then walks over and stares at Deloth.
Deloth: "Let's go smash some skulls. I'm hungry for pain."
Metal Man: "I will find out who you are eventually!"
Digifanatic: "One for the moon. Else?"
Deloth: "Thank you, Metal."
Aribar: "As much as I want to beat up Ael, I do not think we are strong enough to face them..."
Kenku checks systems as he buckles in.
Aribar: "Metal, that's secretly Ivan Robotnik!"
Julian: "What's with people today, I said to the moon, why ain't you flyin' already?"
Metal Man: "You are... Deloth... plus... something else..." *Poke.* "Are you still somewhat draconic or can I give up on checking that?"
Digifanatic: "Cause I'm making sure I know what everyone wants."
Metal Man: "Oh. Ivan, thank goodness you're here!"
Dragoshi: "Can we just go already? I want to kill Pandora now, dammit."
Digifanatic: "Yes, sir. Sorry, Aribar."
Deloth: "I'd say there's at least a trace of that, Metal, seeing as no animal I can think of has red fur."
Metal Man: "The Questers have a space ship and I'm sure you're the true person who made it!"
Deloth: "Metal, I'm not Ivan."
Digifanatic: *makes sure he is strapped in before he goes over the usual entering-space procedures...*
Metal Man: "Damn. He owes me a new Stadium."
Deloth: "And I declare myself new leader, since you have seemed to lose your mind entirely."
Metal Man: "I'm sure he helped blow everything up."
Digifanatic: "Already taken care of." *pull handle, twist it... Tech check...*
Kenku: "Stadium's up courtesy of some odd new friends we ran into."
Julian: "We got one."
Metal Man: "Taken care o-- OOF!!!"
Dragoshi: "Yeah."
Digifanatic: *pulls off the autopilot and VROOM VROOM!*
Metal Man (GM): The ship speeds up, throwing Metal Man sideways. The ship makes it into space.
Dragoshi: "...and buckle up!"
Metal Man: "Man, space ships have become primitive."
Deloth is indeed glad he's learned lesson #1. Always put your seat belt on.
Dragoshi: *Shakes head in annoyance.*
Metal Man: "What next? Do we need space suits to breathe in space?"
Dragoshi: "Yes."
Deloth: "I don't."
Dragoshi: "Yes we do. ...well, Deloth and Panz don't."
Julian: "I do. Some freaks don't."
Aribar: "Deloth doesn't? Hm."
Metal Man: "Deloth both breathes and doesn't. Excellent. Maybe I died and this is... weird... thing... which is not... quite heaven... land..."
Julian: "You're like half robot, maybe you don't gotta either."
Kenku: "The ship probably has suits."
Deloth: "Were you asleep for the past eight weeks, Ari?"
Metal Man: "Like... Lawful Neutral Plane... or something..."
Deloth: *stops breathing, giving him an annoyed glare.*
Metal Man (GM): The ship has the radiation suits. But the Questers have no free oxygen tanks. As the ship approaches space the Questers see the one settlement has been blown apart and is most likely NOT full of air.
Deloth: "Oh, joy."
Metal Man: "I've got to be honest, I lost my tanks of air in that whole world explosion bit."
Dragoshi: "...Oh. Well, then. This is going to be fun."
Metal Man: "I'm no more useful than people who are not Deloth, Panzer, a clone of Panzer, or secretly Ivan Robotnik."
Aribar: "I was asleep during the nights of the past eight weeks."
Digifanatic: "Uh, you all sure you don't want to suffocate to death?"
Dragoshi: "Yeah. I'm pretty sure."
Metal Man: "Dex. Tell me what's goin' on!"
Julian: "...This ship's a piece'a junk. No space suits... Head back to the stadium if we ain't got the means to walk on the Moon."
Dex: "You tell me first. I have no central database to access."
Aribar: "You have a Smash Dex?!"
Digifanatic: "It's not much functional anymore, Aribar."
Schatze: "You have suits, but no oxygen tanks..."
Deloth: "Hey, Metal, hand that to me for a second. I want to test something."
Aribar: "And it actually sounds more useful than it typically was!"
Julian: "Whatever."
Aribar: "Wait, last time didn't we land inside of a dome of air?"
Digifanatic: "But it's blown open now."
Deloth: "It's BROKEN, Ari."
Metal Man: "I have a working Smash Dex. It doesn't know anything more than I do. Useless! ...It's mine. All mine! But here, have it for a second."
Kenku: "Great... how much oxygen can the suits hold then... 5 mins? 1 min?"
Metal Man (GM): He hands the dex to Digi.
Digifanatic: "Yes?"
Deloth: "...I was the one who asked for it."
Julian: "Zero. They ain't air tight."
Digifanatic: "Right." *hands it to Deloth.*
Metal Man: "Silence, Digi!"
Deloth: "Metal, have you been drinking Drano? Again?"
Kenku: "Right."
Aribar: "Why did we fly to the moon without any air tanks?"
Metal Man: "No. I was trapped between worlds."
Aribar: "Wait, why do we have space suits that aren't air tight?!"
Metal Man: "A weird man in a suit walked up and told me I was in a world of sound."
Kenku: "Cause we were uppity and wanted a piece of the time cop."
Julian: "Beats me."
Metal Man: "A world of the imagination."
Kenku: "There radiation suits, not space suits."
Metal Man: "I punched him when he told me I was inside Twilight. That book sucks."
Julian: "Thought this ship was equipped but it evidently ain't."
Digifanatic: "Aribar, I know he's our boss, but you have a Mute spell?"
Deloth sighs and starts shifting back into his old form. For those viewing it, it'd be rather... unnerving, what with muscles being exposed and internal organs rearranging and all that.
Digifanatic: "You may interpret the apostrophe-s as 'is' or 'was.'"

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