~a rather odd story by cat (with help from rissa, a visiting muse/OC)~
"War's too complicated. Let's just charge in and see if anyone comes to help us."
~G. W. Bush (Pres.)
"I still think this is a bad idea," Aahz complained sullenly as he twirled the dials on the D-hopper.
"You argue too much," Tananda told him. "Just set the stupid thing so we can go."
"Remind me again why you can't just blip us there?"
"Just the minor detail that I have no idea where Fan is…"
There was quite obviously a lot of tension among the group. In the absence of a definite plan, they had decided to just go over to Fan and see what they could find out. This put Aahz in a decidedly bad mood, and when Aahz was upset no one else was allowed to be cheerful either.
"Besides," Tananda added, "they said in the note our plans wouldn't work. So we're throwing them off by not even having one."
"We don't even have disguises," Aahz grumbled. "This has disaster written all over-"
"Skeeve's the one that does disguises, remember?" Massha reminded him. Aahz only glared at her before going back to the D-hopper.
"All set," he announced. "If we absolutely must go…"
"We must," Tananda said firmly.
"Fine." Aahz pressed a button on the D-hopper…
…and they were on Fan. An eclectic assortment of brightly colored buildings rose on either side of them. Neon signs blinked at them from all directions. Apparently, people were big on nightlife here. The place they had landed was a busy street… unfortunately, they had literally landed in the street.
"Look out!" Bunny screamed. A large, odd-looking magenta vehicle was bearing down on the group, headlights blazing. They threw themselves onto the sidewalk just in the nick of time - the vehicle went roaring past in a cloud of foul-smelling turquoise smoke.
"That was close," Chumley remarked as they removed themselves from the main flow of people. "What now?"
"We observe the situation," Aahz said.
"Well, apparently we didn't need disguises anyway," Massha observed. "Even I don't stand out in this crowd." She was right. The pedestrian traffic consisted of people of all shapes, sizes and colors. Most had two things in common. The first thing the group noticed was that everyone looked rather… outlandish. The second was that, with the exception of a small few, everyone was female.
"Someone check the force lines," Aahz instructed quietly.
"I'm on it," Massha said. But before she could report her findings, a force reached out and yanked them all backwards into the alley they were standing in front of.
"Are you all insane?" a voice demanded from behind them as they got to their feet. "Standing around in the open like that, it's only a matter of time before somebody recognizes you!"
Their assailant was a petite girl with short, tousled black hair, wearing a plain white tee-shirt and baggy blue jeans… in other words, she looked nothing like the gaudily dressed personages swarming the street. She was standing towards the back of the alley, leaning into one hip, arms folded.
"Where'd you come from?" Guido and Nunzio cried simultaneously.
"Who are you?" Aahz demanded.
"What do you want?" Tananda added.
"…Are you a Fangirl?" Bunny blinked.
"Hang on a minute," the girl said, leaning to the side in order to look around the group at the street. "We shouldn't talk here." She took a few steps toward them and twisted a ring on her finger, and they were suddenly somewhere else. A small apartment, by the looks of it. "My place," she explained. "It isn't much compared to what some people have got built up, but it's safe. Okay. I was on the street, I saw you and blipped myself into the alley, my name's Teesha, at the moment I want to save you guys from the rest of my wonderful race, and yes, I am a Fangirl, although I know I don't look like one." She shrugged. "It's my casual day. I wasn't expecting to meet anyone."
"Teesha," Aahz repeated suspiciously. "That's really your name?"
"Well, no, it isn't my real name, if that's what you're talking about," she admitted. "But it really is what I go by lately. So what's your story? I mean, you obviously aren't from Fan. What brings you here?"
"Well, my partner's been kidnapped-"
"Whoa! Slow down!" Teesha interrupted. "Names first… unless you were planning on making me guess…" Her eyes traveled slowly over the motley group, finally resting on Aahz. "Now you I think I recognize," she said with a wicked grin. "Perv's one of the dimensions I know best… oh, but you all look so similar sometimes. Ooh, hang on, I'll get this in a minute…"
Aahz shifted slightly. He wished the girl would stop staring at him. It was oddly disquieting. "I haven't been on Perv much lately. The name's Aahz," he said with his best Pervish grin- that is to say, lots and lots of teeth. When in doubt, intimidate.
"Ooh, scary!" Teesha exclaimed. "Let me try…" She grinned back. Aahz was startled to see a double row of gleaming, razor-sharp teeth, almost identical to his own. She definitely hadn't had those earlier!
"Anyway," he continued, somewhat shaken by the display, "this is Tananda, her brother Chumley, Massha, Guido and Nunzio- they're cousins- and Bunny." As he indicated each of them, they waved, nodded, or gave assorted greetings.
"Right," said Teesha. "Got it. And you said your partner's name was… Skeeve. Oh!" She snapped her fingers, grinning excitedly. Aahz was relieved to see that her teeth had returned to normal. "I recognize you now, you're M.Y.T.H. Inc.! I am so silly, how did I not know that? It's been all over the news, no one's actually pulled off a kidnapping for, what, two decades- but here I thought it was more rumors. Or clones, we get those occasionally as well. I mean it's getting pathetic, really, it used to be there'd be one every week or so-" The Fangirl cut herself off abruptly, realizing the group was looking increasingly alarmed.
"How are we supposed to get in with all the news coverage?" Aahz asked with a hint of despair.
"No, no, you misunderstand. It's an advantage," Teesha explained calmly. "They'll be beating off reporters for at least a week, and holding back rival groups for a week after that, and then a few more days squabbling among themselves… we're figuring on three weeks, at least."
There was a lengthy silence, while all eyes stared at her.
"And you know all this… how?" Tananda finally inquired.
"I told you, there used to be one every week… well, I am factoring a little extra for inflation and such, but seriously, how bad do you think my memory is?"
"But that was over twenty years ago," Aahz protested. "You can't possibly be older than-"
Teesha favored him with a little half-smile. "I'm a lot older than I look… let's just leave it at that," she winked. Then she was back to her earlier, overexcited self. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "My manners have gone off on vacation. Bringing celebrities over and making them stand up- just a minute-" She flicked her fingers a few times, and several overstuffed armchairs and a small sofa appeared to join the low coffee table and three beanbag chairs that were already in the room. Aahz tried not to gape. The spell she had just performed so casually was one that had eluded even him for the longest time. "Oh, don't look at me like that. Conjuring's easy enough on Fan, provided you own the stuff in question," Teesha said, correctly interpreting the look on his face. "I've been hoping for a chance to pull these out of storage. Please, sit!"
There was some shuffling, and finally all were seated. Aahz settled back in his armchair to avoid any further staring, letting Tananda take over his role as unofficial spokesperson. Somehow, this Fangirl had thrown him for a loop, and it unsettled him. There was definitely something she wasn't telling them, but he couldn't put a finger on it. Well, this bears watching, in any case, he told himself, and returned his focus to the conversation. Tananda was explaining the note, and their subsequent departure for Fan. "Well, if you need a base of operations, you're more than welcome to stay here," she said as Tananda wrapped up. "There ought to be enough room, if one of you doesn't mind sleeping on the balcony."
"I don't mind," Aahz volunteered, thinking he could use the vantage point to do some scouting in advance.
"Alright then, that's settled," Teesha said. She glanced at a clock on the wall. "Ye gods!" she exclaimed. "Look at the time, we have to get some sleep if we're going to scout tomorrow- Bed! Now!" She shooed them all out of the living room into their respective rooms. Apparently, her apartment was bigger than it had first appeared. Aahz slid the glass door onto the balcony open and stepped out, shutting it behind him. Almost as an afterthought, he stuck his head back in and drew the curtains hanging in front of the door closed- just in case.
Disclaimer, which I forgot last time: I do not claim to be associated with Robert Asprin or the Myth novels in any way, shape, or form, unless you count the fact that I have copies of them. I do, however, have Aahz locked in my closet, and no, I am not willing to negotiate a ransom. Nice try. Ha.
Claimer: The dimension of Fan, and its inhabitants, are copyright me. Double ha.