Final Fantasy Cheese

Disclaimer: I don't own them, they don't like me. Especially Tanker. I keep making fun of him. And Sam. I keep making fun of HIM. And Malcolm and Sydney. I keep trying to hook them up. And Jennifer. I openly loathe her. Amp and Yoli...well, they just say I smell.

Notes: [Sigh] I don't know why I can't stay away from this universe... I suppose obsession is just an ugly, ugly thing. But at least it's producing some nicely insane stories, and writing them serves well to distract me from the fact that I don't have a social life. Waay! ^_^

Anyway, I'd just like to say that I personally love role-playing games, despite the fact that I'm taking every opportunity here to mock them beyond all reason.

And now, oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon with the pointless parody goodness!

"Wow, this game is great, isn't it?" Sam Collins enthused as the jaunty victory music proclaimed yet another mark in his favour.

"When do I get to try?" Amp Pere pleaded.

"In a minute," Sam muttered, already engrossed in yet another battle of wits and skill. His opponent was crafty, but he, Sam, was better. This joker didn't stand a chance...

Amp sighed. Ever since Sam had installed that Solitaire game on his computer, it had been impossible to talk to him.

"Hey, if you think THAT game's good," Tanker proclaimed, barrelling down the stairs, "just check THIS one out!"

"In a minute," Sam muttered again, apparently too obsessed to be original.

"What is it, Tanker?" Amp called, too relieved for words that he finally had someone else to talk to. Sam, of course, was completely engrossed in his game, and Sydney, stretched out across Sam's bed and leaning against the wall, was equally engrossed in a thick volume that neither of the young men even wanted to try to pronounce, let alone read.

"Amp, this is truly a great day for all Funstation players. Ultimate Whimsy Twelve is out for Funstation!"

"Ultimate Whimsy Twelve?" Sydney repeated, glancing up from her book. "Are they still making those Ultimate Whimsy games?"

Tanker and Amp turned to stare incredulously at her, joined by Sam, whose astonishment at this question was apparently enough to jolt him from his Solitaire induced reverie.

"Sydney!" Tanker admonished. "Of course they're still making them! They're only the best games on earth!"

"I don't know," Amp said thoughtfully. "I kind of like the Mondoguy games."

"And Sonic the Bunny," Sam added.

"Yeah," Sydney agreed with a giggle. "Those are cute."

"You're such a girl," Tanker sighed fondly, smiling a rather dopey smile. "Anyway, Sammy, I just picked up my copy, so we gonna try it out?"

"Of course!" Sam scoffed, already on his feet, the Solitaire game still flashing, forgotten, on his computer screen.

'Great,' Amp reflected, edging slowly to the computer against the wave of (two) young men edging toward the Funstation. 'Maybe I can get a try on that Solitaire game now...'

However, the next moment, he, too, completely forgot all things Solitaire as Tanker reached into his jacket and withdrew a disc case bearing the words, 'Ultimate Whimsy XII.' Right beneath the words, the image of a young blond man, face solemn but blue eyes twinkling, with a sword slung over his shoulder, was splashed over the cover. From the other side of the cover, a dark-haired man, also with a sword slung over his shoulder, glared at the blond, dark eyes burning with hatred clear even in a computer-graphic.

"Wow..." Amp breathed. "It looks great."

"It is," Tanker said emphatically. "I saw a demo going on outside Bits 'n Bytes Bayou, and it was awesome! The characters are so realistic!"

"So, what's the story of this one?" Sam asked eagerly.

"We'll see as we play, man," Tanker chuckled.

"Right," Sam agreed sheepishly. "Well, slap that baby in the machine!"

"Alright!" Tanker exclaimed, slamming the disc into the Funstation.

Sam stared in dismay at the disc, now in two jagged pieces, in the game console.

"Okay..." he said slowly. "Go back to the store, buy a new copy, and then GENTLY set it into the machine."

"Alright!" Tanker exclaimed, darting out the door.

Twenty minutes later, during which no one had moved a muscle for some reason, he reappeared with a new copy and obliged, and the next moment, a stunning bit of computer-animated cinema filled the television screen.

It started with the blond man from the cover, seen from the back, standing in front of a castle, staring up at it.

The next scene was that of a young woman with long, dark hair and dark eyes running through the streets of a town, clad in a white dress and green cloak, with a bundle in her arms, watched from afar by the dark-haired man from the cover.

Then, briefly, the image of two people, identities unknown, clasping hands flashed across the screen.

Next was a shot of a knight, a strange purple creature, a large man clad in a leather jacket, and the blond swordsman marching through a forest, shoulder-to-shoulder, ready to take on anything in their path.

After that came a scene in which the blond man went flying backwards into a tavern table as a fist connected with his face. Then the camera angle changed to show a pretty blonde tavern girl glaring angrily at him, hands on her hips.

In the next flash of image, the blond man looked into the water, only to see the dark-haired man's face reflected back.

Then the scene was that of the blond man, the knight, the purple creature, the leather-clad man, the blonde tavern girl, now clad in a blue cloak, another girl with black hair and dark skin, clad in a red cloak, and finally the dark-haired girl seen running earlier, all seated around a fire on a grassy plain.

Then, as the music became more foreboding, the scene was of the seven, walking slowly through a dark castle. Suddenly, up ahead of them, the dark- haired man appeared in a flash of red light. The members of the party started back in horror. The dark-haired man disappeared, and then reappeared behind the dark-haired girl in green. Then, as he grabbed her shoulders, both of them disappeared in another spectacular flash of light, causing all the other party members to shield their eyes and step back.

Finally, the scene was that of the blond swordsman and the blonde tavern girl seated on the edge of a cliff, with the sun setting over them.

Then, as the music died away, the words "Ultimate Whimsy XII" scrolled onto the screen.

"Wow," Sam breathed. "That was awesome."

"And that's just the beginning," Tanker reminded him, grinning widely.

"I can't wait to see how it plays," Sam said enthusiastically as the three boys gathered around the controller.

"Is this the game with all the sheep?" Amp wondered.

Sam and Tanker exchanged helpless expressions, and turned to the television screen, which now showed a short, blocky version of the blond swordsman from the opening scenes, standing in the middle of a crowded street.

Sam set the little fellow into action, and from that point on, the boys were lost amid the lure of Ultimate Whimsy XII.

"Hey, guys?" Sydney ventured several hours later. "Does anyone want to go out for a walk?"

"In a minute," Sam replied absently, clearly not having heard her words.

"You guys have been at that for six hours! Isn't it time to take a break yet?"

"In a minute," Tanker replied absently.

Sydney rolled her eyes and turned back to her book. Then an idea occurred to her.

"Does anyone want to go out and step on small dogs with me?"

"In a minute," Amp replied absently.

"Well, I've gotta get home. I'll see you all later," she finally called to them, starting up the stairs out of Sam's basement room.

"In a minute," the boys mumbled together.

Sydney shook her head.

"I hate video games...NOW who will I find to step on small dogs with me?"

In her mind, Malcolm sidled up to her.

"I'd step on small dogs with you...but I fear that would be hopelessly out of character for both of us, even given the fact that this is a Rhianwen 'fic."

"Er, fourth wall, Malcolm," she reminded him in her head.

"Dammit! Four pages in, and already the fourth wall is shattered! This does not bode well."

"Er...right. So, how about being a gentleman and walking me home?" she asked, by now completely ignoring the fact that the Malcolm in her head existed only there.

"Now, I KNOW that would be out of character," Malcolm said, rolling his eyes in disbelief and disappearing in a puff of logic.

"Hey, Bob!" Tanker called to one of his football pals as he strode into the cafeteria the next morning. "You seen the new Ultimate Whimsy game yet?"

"Hell, yeah, man," Bob replied jubilantly with a huge grin. "Got my copy reserved. Julie and I played it all night. I'm crashed today, but damn, great game, huh?"

"Yeah! Sam and Amp and Syd and I played it all night, too."

"Cool. I'm surprised you didn't come to blows over who got to play, though."

"Well, Sam and I took turns. He'd play an hour, then I'd play an hour."

"What about Amp and Syd?"

"Hey, it's Sam's system, and my game. And anyway, Amp just wanted to watch. Syd...well, she doesn't like video games much."

"Oh, yeah? What is wrong with that girl? This isn't just a game! This is Ultimate Whimsy XII!"

"That's what I said, man!"

"Yeah...well, I gotta take off. Julie'll be wondering where I am...unless she fell asleep again. She's kinda tired today, too..."

"Okay. See you, Bob."

"Bye, Tank."

And so Bob turned and left the cafeteria.

"Hey, Sam," he called to the sandy-haired boy as they passed at the doorway. "Hey, Amp. Hey, Sydney."

"Hi, Bob," all three chorused together.

"Don't you just love Bob?" Sam asked in a hushed voice.

"Everyone loves Bob!" Amp declared. "Right, Sydney?"

"Yeah," she agreed, smiling fondly after him. "North Valley just wouldn't be North Valley without Bob."

"We love Bob," they chorused together as the much-loved young man, who oddly enough, had never had a speaking role, hurried past in search of his lovely redheaded girlfriend, who likewise, had never been granted a speaking role on the television portrayal of this great pageantry of teenage life.

And then the little elves that lived in the drinking fountain and made the water go emerged therefrom to patch up the fourth wall that Rhianwen so carelessly shattered to smithereens...again.

"Bye, guys!" Amp called after them as they slid back down the drain. "And say hi to Santa for me!"

"Okay, that was weird," Sam commented unnecessarily to Sydney.

"Not for this high school," she sighed, shaking her head.

"Yeah, I guess you're right," Sam agreed before his attention was diverted. "Oh, hey, Tank! We've been lookin' for you, big guy! Why didn't you come over before school?"

"I woke up late, Sammy," Tanker explained sheepishly as his three friends seated themselves around the table he had claimed as their own for that day. "Too much Ultimate Whimsy, I guess..."

"Why don't you tell him what you were doing when I came to pick you up, Sam?" Sydney suggested, glaring at him as ferociously as she could glare at anyone.

"Well...I was having a quick battle."

"Try TWENTY quick battles. I had to pry the controller out of his hands with a crowbar! I'm just glad Elizabeth had one on hand...although I'll never understand why a five-year old girl would need one...and I'm going to have a headache all day from where it hit me when she dropped it down the laundry chute," she finished sadly, rubbing a newly formed lump on her head, nearly hidden by her hat.

"It's an awesome game, Syd!" Sam protested.

"Oh, I know what's going on. You're addicted again," Sydney said grimly.

"I am not!"

"You are, too. I recognize all the signs. Don't you remember the hours and hours you spent on Super Mario Brothers when you first got a Nintendo? The weeks you spent on Tetris? The MONTHS you spent on Ultimate Whimsy VII?"

"Yeah! And what about all that time you spent staring at that patch of grass in the football field, waiting for it to grow?" Amp demanded.

"Amp...that was you," Tanker reminded him.

"Oh, right. Hey, I wonder how that's doing..."

"You're addicted, Sam," Sydney was meanwhile reiterating.

Sam fixed her with a stern eye.

"I have it under control this time," he assured her. "Tell you what: I won't even mention it again for the rest of today."

"I'm not optimistic, but deal," she agreed.

Silence reigned at the table for a grand total of eight seconds.

"So..." Tanker began, "we gonna play again after school?"

"You know it, buddy!" Sam proclaimed jubilantly.

"Oh, I knew he wouldn't last the hour," Sydney sighed, rolling her eyes.

"I can't stand it! I have to go check on that grass!" Amp wailed, leaping to his feet and bolting from the cafeteria, nearly colliding headlong with Mrs. Starkey, who was emerging from the hallway, motorcycle helmet in hand, leather jacket slung over one shoulder. "Sorry, Mrs. Starkey."

"Don't worry about it, kid. That grass again, huh?"

Amp nodded sheepishly.

Mrs. Starkey nodded thoughtfully, then leaned in closer.

"Let me know how that's doin', alright?" she muttered conspiratorially.

"Deal!" Amp agreed jubilantly before bounding away.

"What a weirdo," she reflected.

"Hey, Mrs. S.!" Sam called.

"Hi there, kids. What's new?"

"Sam's addicted again," Sydney informed her with the utmost solemnity.

"I am not, Syd!"

"You are, too."

"Hold on," Mrs. Starkey requested, holding up a hand. "Addicted to what? To Jennifer? Hate to tell you, Sydney, but we all figured that out a long time ago."

"No, not to Jennifer! Well...not only to Jennifer. No, this time he's addicted to Ultimate Whimsy XII."

Mrs. Starkey frowned.

"Are they still making those Ultimate Whimsy games?"

Sam gibbered incoherently, waving his arms about frantically as Tanker hyperventilated into a paper bag.

"Oh, but Mrs. Starkey, they're the best games ever," Sydney informed her sarcastically. "Right. Personally, I think the Sonic the Bunny games are the best ones ever. These...they're all graphics, and no plot."

"Hey, hold it, Syd. This one has a plot, which you'd have known if you hadn't bailed before we got into it."

"Six hours, Sam. I sat there for six hours, and I didn't see a plot."

"That's because you were busy playing that Solitaire game," Sam commented mildly. "For the entire six hours. I wonder who's addicted now..."

"What?! I am not!" Sydney sputtered indignantly. "And at least there's a point to Solitaire, besides beating things up."

"There's a great plot!" Tanker insisted in his best friend's defence.

"Let me guess," Sydney began, putting a finger to her chin as if in deep thought. "There's a blond hero, who's either really outgoing, or the strong, silent type. And there's a girl with long, dark hair, who is somehow the key to most of the plot, and who eventually hooks up with the blond hero, much to the chagrin of the villain, who is somehow connected to the hero, and wants the girl for himself."

"Actually," Tanker began smugly, "the plot's a lot more original in XII. The Ultimate Whimsy people threw us for a loop this time. The lead female - the princess - hooks up with the knight instead."

"Wow, what a revolutionary idea!" a voice from behind a nearby table noted sarcastically. "I haven't seen that done since...well, since Ultimate Whimsy IX! And Ultimate Whimsy IV! And about ninety percent of the role- playing games out there."

"Oh, shut up, Malcolm," Tanker requested gently.

"Have YOU played it yet, Malcolm?" Sam asked.

"Actually, I finished it at 11:00 last night," he informed everyone proudly.

"Wow!" Amp, Tanker, Sam, and various and sundry other students listening in breathed in awe, for once very impressed by Malcolm.

"A very wise man once said that your prowess at video games has no bearing on your...size," Mrs. Starkey told the young men pointedly. "You might all want to keep that in mind."

"Are you sure it wasn't a woman who said it, Mrs. Starkey?" Sydney asked. "A guy would never say that."

"True," Mrs. Starkey conceded. "Well, gotta get back to work."

"Bye, Mrs. Starkey," Sydney called after her mournfully, wondering who on earth would be her companion in sanity now.

"So, how was the ending?" Sam asked eagerly.

"Oh, you don't want me to spoil it, now do you?"

"Just...give us a hint," Tanker suggested.

"Well," Malcolm began thoughtfully, "it's the last thing you'd ever expect."

"C'mon, tell us! Tell us!" Sam pleaded.

"Why?" Malcolm asked, smirking. "Because you know you'll never be able to finish the game and see it for yourself?"

Sam drew in a breath, preparing to push himself to his feet and force the other boy to take it back. This was an attack on his honour! He glanced to his left. From the ferocious glare Tanker was shooting at the pasty, dark- haired boy, he seemed to see it much the same way.

"Never mind, Sammy. I'll bet he used cheat codes, anyway," Tanker muttered conspiratorially, but carefully loud enough for Malcolm to hear.

"Take. That. Back," Malcolm commanded, pushing out of his own chair.

"Why should I?" Tanker asked, casually folding his arms behind his head and leaning back in his chair.

"Truth hurts, eh, Malcolm?" Sam snickered.

"You'll regret that, Collins," Malcolm averred as he gathered his things together.

Sydney blinked, startled, her chair nearly tipping over from the breeze created as Malcolm stormed angrily past it.

"What just happened?"

Moments later, in the hallway...the only the entire school...

"My, my," Malcolm groused. "The author certainly is turning into something of a smart ass, isn't she?"

"I do not understand, meat-thing," Kilokhan droned. "What author are you referring to?"

Malcolm looked slightly panicked.

"Er, never mind. So, can you bring my virus to life, or not?"

"Explain the plot to me again, meat-thing."

"You'll bring my virus to life and send it into Sam Collins' Funstation gaming system. The next time he turns it on, he'll get a...nasty surprise."

Kilokhan made a sound remarkably like a snort of derision.

"I will have no part of this. It is disgraceful, the way you put my great power to such paltry use."

"Hold on a second, Kilokhan. Have I told you what this virus can do to Servo?"

"Negative. You have not."

"Well, it has the power to knock Servo right out of the circuitry of the game console and into the game itself."

"Ah! And there Servo will meet his end?"

"Well, let's just say that unless Servo is familiar with Dodecahedronsoft, he'll have a bit of trouble finding his way home."

"Speak plainly, meat-thing."

"Fine," Malcolm sighed, rolling his eyes. "Yes, Servo will meet his end."

"Excellent! We shall do this. And then, the digital world shall be mine for the plundering, and the fleshling world shall fall beneath my might!"

"And even better," the dark-haired teen smirked silently, "Collins and his Neanderthal pal will find themselves playing a much more vivid version of Ultimate Whimsy than they ever wanted to..."

A beam of light shot forth from Kilokhan's side of the laptop screen and hit the creature displayed on the other side, which immediately began to wave its arms frantically.

"Wait! I don't wanna go! Nooooooooooooo!" the virus whimpered as it flew down the blue tube-thingy into the digital world.

Malcolm frowned.

"Er, right. Kilokhan, why was it doing that?"

"I do not know, meat-thing," Kilokhan replied, sounding vaguely confused. "Perhaps your design this time was a little too...peaceful."

"Hmm..." Malcolm mused. "Perhaps designing Kiki based on that teddy bear I found in my attic was a bad idea..."

"Kiki!" Kilokhan exclaimed in disbelief. "You have named your virus Kiki?!"

"Well, why not?" Malcolm demanded, hurt.


"Yes, Kiki," Malcolm confirmed. "What of it?"

Kilokhan sighed as Kiki reached his destination and curled up in a little ball in the corner, whimpering in fear.

"Well, I believe that we have found the source of our problem."

"Oh, enough!" Malcolm exclaimed. "I have a class to get to!"

At this point, Malcolm stopped short.

"A class?" he repeated, frowning. "Since when do I attend my classes?"

"Just do it!" a voice remarkably like Rhianwen's barked from the sky.

"Fine, fine," Malcolm sighed, rolling his eyes as he shut his locked, grabbed his book bag, and started from the hallway.

End Notes: Alright; first things first, I promise that this story will be no more that three bits, total. Okay, maybe four. [Sheepish grin] Well, I'll shoot for no more than four at any rate.

Oh, and another thing: the character of Bob, although based on an extra from the show, is one that Bezo and I created for our own insane story in this same fandom. I have used him here without Bezo's permission. I don't think he'll sue me, though. He knows I'm flat broke. ^_^