Of Alnel, Toasters, and Insane Fluff

Chapter 4- And perhaps some yellowy butter-like substance.

A/N- Okaaay… before I am stoned, drawn and quartered, and hung simultaneously, can I give my last words? I'm sorry I haven't updated in forever! Anyhow, I went on a thirty-mile bike trip yesterday, so pretty much every muscle in my body doesn't feel like moving, so it's an ideal time to space out in front of my computer and catch up on my fanfiction. If all goes well, I may even be able to update a few others today, too. Ah, sweet, sweet laziness…

"That's just WROooOooONG!" Elena squealed, using one of her most fearsome powers, the ability to draw out a one-syllable word into eight while still pronouncing the capital letters and using a pitch that could break glass.

Dima and the other deities groaned (and possibly even writhed) simultaneously and pulled out their emergency earplugs. Unfortunately, their followers didn't have any such luxuries…

On the face of Elicoor, the town of Arias, whose residents had just completed the final touches to the last house they'd had to rebuild, was rocked by an earthquake that completely demolished the town. Again.

"Why don't we ever move? You'd think we'd have learned by now…" Tynave moaned from under the small mountain of bricks that used to be Headquarters.

"Uhhhh, I really don't know. WEEEiiIiiRRRD, huh?"

For reasons that Tynave would never completely understand, at the sound of Farleen's voice, she chucked a brick at her friend's head and sent her into the relative silence of unconsciousness.

"Huh. That was strangely satisfying…" Tynave mused, surreptitiously throwing the incriminating brick into the wreckage of the town.

"…'s my aardvark…" Farleen mumbled.

Sensing that the windows had stopped vibrating and that the blonde seemed to have run out of breath, Dima summoned her bravery and did what no one else dared: took out her earplugs. No one else followed suit. After all, you never knew when Elena was really finished throwing a tantrum and when she was just pausing for breath. Sure, the gods might not have been too wise on some aspects (like, for instance, allowing Apris to call himself the head god in the first place), but they'd all figured that spending the rest of eternity deaf was definitely not on their to-do list.

"Oh my me, Diiima! That was not even funny! How could you let something like that happen to one of your followers? He's too hot to be betrothed to a Thing! It could, like, burn his bishy little face! If it does, I won't forgive you. Why is there no smiting going on--?" Elena squealed hysterically, managing to squeeze seven sentences into seven seconds.

Dima gave her fellow goddess a Look and Elena froze mid-rant. Anyone who's ever had (or been) an older sister knows just how scary a normal Look can be, but give it a few millennia to mature and… let's just say a lightning bolt aimed at the face might be a bit more pleasant.

"He's not one of my followers. I haven't had anything to do with him since he was born. In fact…" she mused, cool dismissal boiling into something that would have been a lot like indignation in a more petty god, "I don't think he's ever prayed to any of us."

A small pop indicated everyone else taking out their eardrum-preservers and coming to attention.

No matter what kind of family a person has, it's a law of the universe that where there's a little row starting, a crowd of relatives will flock to the scene to try to straighten the fight out and ultimately make it ten times louder, more confusing, and, above all, worse. Accordingly, within minutes the whole pantheon of gods had converged on the spot, all clamoring at the same time.

"An atheist, huh?" Leiria, the eternally tweenaged, eternally annoying goddess of time piped up, a feral gleam in her eyes. "We don' take kindly to that type 'round these parts. Heeeeyy… let's issue a decree that requires all of his type marry appliances as penance! I'm sure a couple of my puppets could come up with some nasty designs…"

Leiria was lost in her decidedly devious thoughts for a few moments until her older (for lack of better word) sister smacked the back of her head with the flat of her sword.

"Don't be foolish. This doesn't concern us." Said Shar, the goddess of… well, to be fair, no one was quite sure what specifically Shar was goddess of, but no one had really pressed the issue after taking a few glances at her giant shape-shifting sword. Finally, Apris decided that since she had blue hair, she could be goddess of water. She'd accepted the title, but everyone suspected she was patron of a few other things, like people you really don't want to meet in a dark alley.

"Hey, that hurt! Don't make me start another holy war! You might've won last time, but my followers have gotten smarter. We won't fall for the give-us-a-giant-sugar-coated-marshmallow-bunny-Peep-as-a-gift-and-hide-soldiers-inside-so-they-can-attack-us-with-sticky-weapons-in-the-night ploy again!"

"Hmph. I've outgrown silly games like that." Shar sniffed

Leiria's face fell, though the feral look still didn't disappear.

"Yeah, I noticed. All you do now is moon over Solon." She spat, then continued in a higher, squeakier voice, "Dear Diary, Solon is so cute, especially his blue hair! …No, I don't have a crush on my mirror image! Although… I wonder if his sword is bigger than mine… It does take him two hands to hold it and you know what they say about guys who do that. Plus, he had that thing with Elena that one time. I'm not worried about that, though 'cause we all know I'm cuter than her. I can see it now: Mrs. Shar Solon! "

"Why you little—" Shar roared, lunging toward her sister with murderous intent. "You've been sneaking around in my room again, haven't you?"

Leiria, danced out of her sister's sword-range because being decapitated is quite annoying, even if you are immortal.

"Did I hear something about smiting? I haven't had a good one in ages." Apris grinned, laughing throatily and completely ignoring the chaos around him.

His eldest wife, Erinia, teleported into the fray next to him and gave him a Look.

"You're supposed to be getting ready for that drug-induced vision the High Priestess is going to have of you. You'll wear the Offical Loincloth, got it? None of that thong thing you tried last time; no one wants to see that."

"Awww, but—"

"No buts." Erinia growled.


"And didn't I tell you to take out the trash an hour ago?"

"Yes'm…I'm sorry…"

"WHO thinks they're cuter than me?" a distraught Elena squeaked.

"Who thinks I'm cute?" Solon mused, dumb in matters of the heart as ever.

Dima let out a scream of frustration and stuffed her earplugs back in. Sometimes, she wished she'd been born into a normal family. Preferably one where the more annoying relatives were mortal.

"Ahem." Coughed a familiar figure dressed all in black.

The rest of the gods quieted their arguing down to a low buzz.

"That mortal happens to be one of my followers, though admittedly, I think the number of prayers he's said in the last few hours is more than the number he's said in his life." Folstar paused for a dark chuckle.

"Now, it seems to me we have an interesting situation here that it'd be a shame to waste. Anyone care to play a game of peon poker?"

Mirage sighed and filed blackmail picture 7,892. It had been a pretty decent idea (Cliff and Fayt's girlish screams were still echoing through the castle) until Welch had to go and ruin her prank buzz. After that, she'd had to spend the better part of an hour convincing the two that Elicoor didn't have any real chainsaws, just really sharp axes and that Maria probably wasn't a mass-murderer. Of course, after all that had been sorted out, the group still had another, bigger problem looming above them.

"So there are screams coming from the old abandoned workshop, huh? Isn't that where Peppita is?"

"Yes, Fayt." Mirage winced, suspecting where this was going.

Maria gave the others a less-than-innocent grin.

"Jinkies! And Welch wants us to get to the bottom of things so that the citizens of Aquios can go on inventing in peace?"

"…That's the idea."

"Zoinks! Are there going to be ghosts?" Cliff quavered.

Mirage massaged her temples and took a deep breath.

"Oh no. We are not playing Scooby Doo—"

"I call dibs on Fred!" Fayt said before anyone else could.

"Then I'm Daphne!" Maria grinned, clapping her hands.

"Shaggy!" Cliff interjected.

Everyone looked at Roger expectantly.

"Heeey! Just because I'm a Menodix doesn't mean I'm going to agree to be Scooby! That's racist!"

Maria favored him with a hard glare.

"Or… ya know, I could go along with it so scary lady doesn't punch me…"

Mirage cursed Cliff for introducing the Elicoorians to Scooby Doo. Stupid twentieth century cartoons… but at least she and Cliff had an arrangement. She'd never tell anyone about his need to watch the Galactic Adventures of My Little Pony every Saturday morning and he wouldn't tell anyone about her one weakness.

"Damn it. Why do I always end up being Thelma?"

In the dimly lit room of Crimson Blade-turned-harlequin novelist Nel Zelpher, there was dead silence save the faint scratching of a quill. It wasn't however, the scribblings of a new novel in progress. Rather, the authoress had appeared to have snapped, judging by the writing on the wall. And in this case, it wasn't just a figure of speech. The wall was adorned from the floor to the ceiling with the same disturbing phrase she kept muttering under her breath.

"All work and no play makes Nel a dull girl." She whispered hauntingly, staring into space and rocking back and forth on her haunches.

As the pale light of dawn filtered through the window, a sound of hesitant knocking made Nel snap to attention.

"All work and no play makes Eln a dull girl?" she said, which roughly translated to 'who is it?'.

"Nel? I know you're in there! Open up!" Clair bellowed, hammering on the door harder.

"… makes Len a dull girl? Fatal Error 705: burnt toast syndrome."

Finally, at the end of her patience, Clair resorted to the last resort of all publishers (and police) across the galaxy: she kicked down the door.

"Nel, the insanity excuse won't work on me. You told me to use any means necessary to make sure you got the draft in by your deadline. Now, where is it?"

Nel straightened up and pouted.

"You know, I was sure that that method would work. Oh well… it was worth a try. But what am I going to say to the landlady about the walls… and the door? There goes Mr. Security Deposit…"

Clair had known Nel for long enough to know when she was stalling. Her green eyes tended to dart around more than usual, as if looking for any excuse to latch onto.

"Enough of that." Clair muttered, dragging Nel by the wrist to her desk "Hand over the book, please."

"I'm afraid that's impossible." Nel sighed wistfully, "I didn't finish. Not that I didn't try…"

Clair winced and took her friend by the shoulders. As panic took over, a hunted, feral look crept onto her face.

"Please tell me you're joking. Welch gets really scary if you don't make your deadline. Horns and cloven hooves scary. Not to mention all the fans who'll complain about a delay—"

"I can't help it. I have the beginning and ending, but the middle just didn't come to me." Nel snapped, irritably sleep-deprived as she was.

"Come on, there's got to be something that could pass as decent in your files." Clair grimaced… until she caught sight of a certain over-stuffed drawer.

"Err… you told me that you keep all the smut in that drawer, right?"

Nel's eyes narrowed suspiciously, but before she could move, Clair had already grabbed the manuscripts on the desk and the drawer and had run out the door at top-ninja speed. Immediately a blush crept to her face. Sure, her fanbase was more interested in the smut than the story half the time, but some of the stuff in the Drawer was unfinished or… very naughty. Then the second sucker-punch hit her. She'd never changed the names in most of the Drawer's contents to the ones of the fictional characters.

"Damn it." Nel cursed (along with a few other choice expletives), and did the natural thing for anyone in her situation: she jumped into bed, pulled the covers up over her head and prayed fervently to her patron deity.

Later she'd wish she'd never done the last part…

A/N- Well, I updated! Fwa! Take that, sore muscles… -tries to get out of computer chair- Yowch… Nevertheless, despite my current lack of physical strength, I still command you to click on the periwinkle box and leave me a shiny review if you liked this chapter. I will not directly threaten you due to my need to collapse in a comfy bed, but rest assured that if you don't review, a hoard of assorted minions (including the TM'd firabbits, moleamanders (my new genetic cross between moles and salamanders, which is the only breed of creature that can survive the general vicinity of the depths of the suburbs of the core of the earth), and possibly that cool midget that played Webster) will show up at your door and attack you in your sleep in the name of me, their creator.

Much love,


PS-- Oh, and try to guess which characters the Gods are mirror-images of. New CAT-dictionary entries will come later, but until then anyone who guesses them all correctly gets a shiny undisclosed prize. It's pretty easy…