Chapter 13: 'Making It Easy' Was Never So Hard…

When we last left our hero, he was providing practical and responsible life advice to a flock of giant vomiting bugs. As the Novistadors (bugs) flew out of the earwax dome we were last standing in, Leon smiled happily, "Y'know, Ashley? I think I did a good thing here today."

Leon pondered for a moment, "You know, perhaps there's something to this 'good' thing. I've spent my whole life living for myself and trying to ignore the plights of those around me. But this has made me think. I could give up my selfish lifestyle and become a do-gooder! What do you think, Ashley?"

There was no response to Leon's life-changing revelation.

"Ashley? Where'd you go, sweetheart?" Leon looked all around, but there was no sign of the girl.

Psh crackle crackle "Meester Scott Kennedy?"

"Damn it all to hell…," Leon picked up his walkie talkie, "What the hell do you want, you creepy stalker? I'm trying to revel in the fact that I've really made a difference in some peoples'…bugs' lives."

"So it was your fault my Novistadors all just turned in their resignations!"

"Yeah, that was me."

"Bastard! How am I supposed to find replacement bug slaves on such short notice! No temp agency can possibly work that fast!"

"Maybe you'll think of that next time you decide to mistreat your employees. I hope they unionize on you!"

Salazar hissed, "How dare you!! The worst insult I could ever receive! I should come down there and kill you right now!"

"Oh, yeah? Why don't you?"

"I'm busy entertaining your annoying girlfriend. When are you going to come get her? We're tired of her constant whining and we'd consider it a great favor if you…"

"Since when do I have a girlfriend…I mean, yeah! What are you doing to her, you sick bastard! …You're talking about that Ashley chick, right?"

Ashley's happy voice squealed in the background, "He got my name right! Did you guys hear…oomph!"

"Shut up, girl!" Salazar yelled at Ashley. To Leon, he said, "Yes, that's her. Wait, are you sure you guys aren't dating yet? Haven't we already passed the part in the horror movie where the male and female lead make passionate love, since they believe they are about to die?"

"Two things wrong with that plan," Leon said, "Not once in the past eight hours have I thought I was going to die."

"What's the second thing?"

"Ummmmm…I can't remember."

"So you're sure you're not dating? Because the little snot is going on and on about what kind of cake you're going to have at your wedding and what you're going to name your first child."

"Are you sure that's the same girl? Because the chick that's been hanging around me hasn't done much more than scream and whine. And glare at me like a teenager."

"Well, she's doing that, too, in addition to the 'designing her love nest in the suburbs' thing. It's actually kind of uncomfortable to listen to." Salazar paused, "Oh, well! It's not like it's going to matter in a few hours anyway!"

"What do you mean?" Leon asked suspiciously.

Salazar sighed, as if Leon had asked him to solve a hugely complicated math problem as a personal favor, "If you must know, in a few hours, we're going to complete some sort of foggy blood ritual and make Whiny McBitcherson into one of us."

"What kind of ritual?" Leon challenged, his dander rising, "You sick short freak, you better not hurt her! Or hurt her, but don't do it somewhere visible, so I don't get in trouble when I bring her home."

Salazar giggled, "What a touching moment! Should I start shopping for baby clothes now or should we wait until you two can pick out matching wedding rings?"

"Shut up, you! You know what? Here's what we'll do. You leave What's-Her-Face there and then do us all and leave before the audience gets pissed off?"

"Oh…oh, yeah?" Salazar sputtered furiously, "You're nothing…nothing but an extra in my script, so don't get too carried away!! Your biggest scene is over!!"

"I don't remember being a part of your crappy script!"

"Well then, why don't you show me what a first-class script is like."

"You mean like this paperback copy of Othello that I carry around in my front pocket?"

"Through your own actions, Meester Kennedy Scott Leon!"

"Dude, are you ever going to get my name right? Didn't I tell you to just call me Leon?"

"Oh, but do you really think we've reached that level of informality? Because…"

"Hey, can you hurry? Because I'm tired of standing here listening to you."

"You know what? Just walk outside, go through the clock tower, and then allow me to kill you and we'll be all squared away. Capice?"

"…I don't know what that means."

"Just get your ass over here so I can kill you! Or your little girlfriend will be a pile of parasite-infested organs!"

"But how do I get out?"

"You're a moron! Do you see the drawbridge?"

"Uhhhhh…"

"Turn to your right."

"Nothing."

"Your other right."

"Uhhhhhh…"

"God, you're a brain-damaged idiot! Hold on." Salazar disappeared for a moment and then the glaringly obvious drawbridge crashed away from the chains that held it up and fell open. Salazar reappeared, "There. Can you see that now?"

"Oh, hey! Did you know there's a drawbridge here?! …Salazar?" Leon looked at his walkie-talkie, "He hung up on me. Huh." Leon pocketed his walkie-talkie and left the Earwax Coliseum behind.

Leon moved briskly through the next puzzle-challenge. Mostly, that's because Salazar, so thoroughly frustrated with Leon's inability to get his ass in gear, solved the puzzle for him. The other reason was that Leon was trying out his new 'nice-guy' shtick.

"Hey, cult guys!" Leon greeted the black-robed zombie-men with a sugary grin and a jaunty wave, "Hope you're having a wonderful, sunshine-filled day!"

The cult members were confused. The skinny over the Castle Radio was that the American secret agent was Death incarnate, not this happy-go-lucky guy who might as well have been skipping rope down the blood-stained path to the Castillian HQ. The cult members looked at each other, thoroughly baffled as to what to do.

"So…do we kill him?" Cult Member 345,115,991 said.

"I say we do. He killed my eight hundred brothers, after all," said another cult member (numbers really are superfluous at this point, aren't they?).

"Eight hundred? Are you sure?" CM Another One said, "Because I'm pretty sure I saw Jose at the castle cafeteria during dinner."

"Okay, so eight hundred is a rough estimate," the miffed cult member retorted, "But still. How am I going to tell Mom that all her sons were killed by some psycho American?"

"But he's not psycho…"

"…Or is he?"

The cult members all gazed in awe at Leon as he frolicked past, tossing flowers into the air like confetti and singing "The 59th Street Bridge Song". It was so simple, they thought to themselves! He's pretending to be a peace-loving hippie to lure those around him into a false sense of security!

Or.

He's pretending to be evil so anyone he ran into didn't think he was a sissy-pansy-face and discover his secret, tender side!

"It's so simple!" The cult members all said at once, "And so brilliant! He's a genius! Let's worship him instead of the bug-infested spider man we're worshipping now!"

But just as the cult members were about to worship Leon's everlasting presence, Leon frolicked by and tossed a bouquet of flowers on them. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, except that Cult Member One of the Crowd was deathly allergic to the flowers Leon was throwing.

Cult Member One of the Crowd erupted into a fit of violent sneezing. In his attempt to get his allergies under control, he grabbed onto the nearest of his brainwashed coworkers. But none of the coworkers could stop the allergic cult member from sneezing so hard that he fell over the wall and into the Conveniently Placed Pit of Despair below the castle. As he fell, the cult member dragged all his buddies over the wall, one by one until all that was left was screaming and the faint sound of extreme sneezing.

Leon timidly looked over the edge, "Gosh, I hope I didn't have anything to do with that! Good people don't kill people, do they?" He thought about this, gave up, and shrugged as he moved on down the amazingly easy path to the Cult Headquarters of Death and Pain.

"Golly gosh, it sure is a long walk to wherever I'm going," Leon remarked, pushing open the door to the HQ of D&P, as it's called down in da hood, "I hope I get there soon, or I daresay, I may run out of Fruit Roll-ups! And…something bad may happen. I…OMFG, MAN!"

Now, Leon is not a hard guy to please, as is evidenced by the entire beginning of this story. You can jingle your car keys in front of the guy and he'll bat playfully at them like a fluffy widdle calico kitten, yes he will! He's a good kitty, inn't he? He might even purr, if you're lucky. But for as much as Leon is unbelievably easily distracted, it takes a lot to get his attention enough to scream Omfg all in caps.

The thing that caught Leon's attention was not the four cult members bearing down on him with maces and the like. It also was not the two very angry and very hung-over Blind Slashers that stood on the landing in front of him, shaking their heads at the wild castle party they had crashed the night before (Blind Slashers generally aren't invited to castle parties. They tend to chug all the beer and feel up the ladies, which usually doesn't go over well).

Anyway, the thing that caught Leon's attention was not even breathing, really. Leon's eyes widened is pure, unadulterated joy. He sprinted forward as fast as his little legs could carry him and hurled himself onto not one, not two, but three! Yes three! bells that sat on the landing behind the hungover Slashers.

"BELLS!" Leon crowed, still taking advantage of the moment to use his capslock button extensively, "I LOVE BELLS! MY MOM HAD A BELL WHEN I WAS A KID!! RING, BELL, RING!!! SING YOUR JOYFULL SONG OUT TO THE MASSES!!!"

"ROARRRGH!" Blind Slasher #1 said (translation: What the fuck, man? Why is that guy yelling? My head is throbbing so fucking bad…)

"REEEEARRGH!" Blind Slasher #2 replied (translation: Now he's fucking ringing the fucking bells! Oh, God, I think my fucking brains are going to explode! Make him fucking stop, man!" Because apparently, the Blind Slashers are drunken frat boys. And in not the nice, help-you-change-your-tire sort of way.)

"Heeheehee," said the Illuminados cult members giggled. The Blind Slashers turned and glared at the cult members (well, 'glared' is a figure of speech in this case…) and the cult guys bowed their heads in ashamed silence. It's not nice to make fun of the handicapped.

"RARERAARARGH!" said Blind Slasher #1, pointing in the general direction of Leon (translation: Dude! Cut it the hell out! Unless you have some fucking Aspirin, because I could use a fucking ton of that shit right now, man! Know what I mean?) . But of course, in addition to not speaking any language ever, including body language, Leon was also incapable of recognizing the classic signs of a hangover in a genetically mutated being.

In fact, Leon was still completely oblivious to the fact that two blind men with adamantine skeletons built into their magical bodies were bearing down on him, angry to the point of painful dismemberment and embarrassing hazing. "Lalala," Leon sung happily at the bell, "I love you…Love you, love you, love you, bell…"

Suddenly, some synapse in Leon's brain twinged. Or it might have been one Utterly Impatient Ramon Salazar sitting in the very next room watching the whole scene on closed-circuit television forcing Leon's bloodthirsty head-rippy-offy parasite to nibble a little faster on Leon's brainstem. Whatever it was, Leon snapped to attention.

"There was something I was supposed to be doing!" Leon muttered in surprise to himself, surprise because he'd never been able to remember anything in the presence of a bell before. Automatically, Leon rose to his feet and began walking mechanically toward the door in the back of the room. Yes, the one with the bars over the front of it. What? I didn't mention bars? Or even a door? Well, there was one. It was there the whole time. It's not my fault you didn't notice.

So. The Blind Slashers looked at each other (ha!) in confusion. Why in Saddler's name wasn't this guy afraid of them? Normally, people wet their pants and pleaded for mercy when faced with the awesome power of the Blind Slashers' trademark Claws of Dismemberment (also useful for opening beer bottles in lieu of a bottle opener). But this…there were no words strong enough in the Blind Slashers' quite limited vocabulary for what this guy was.

"RARARARARRARARRAAAAAR!!!!" Blind Slasher #1 suggested (translation: Let's take this guy and shove his head in a fucking toilet, man!)

"WAAARRRARRRRAAAER!!!" Blind Slasher #2 replied (translation: No man! Let's make him streak through the fucking castle, draw on him with permanent marker and then steal his clothes and feed them to the giant fucking fish way back in Chapter 4!!)

This was something the Blind Slashers could agree on: humiliation in the form of nudity. They stalked closer to Leon, being as subtle about it as they could, bumping into a world record of one less than every single column on the way.

But Robot Leon had senses of…Senses of the Future. He was like the Bionic Man, only less Bionic, not computery at all, and not really very manly. He turned sharply, his cruel and malicious eyes flashing angrily at the not-so-hidden Blind Slashers as they crept forward with their black Sharpie ™ permanent markers in hand. A whirring noise came from the back of Leon's neck and all of a sudden, bright red lasers shot from Leon's eyes and burned off the first Blind Slasher's head exactly like Anakin got his arms cut off in the third Star Wars. It was pretty badass.

The second Blind Slasher would have stopped and run for his life, had he seen what had happened to his compadre. As it is, he kept stalking. This was a fatal mistake.

Leon turned his angry laser vision, his pupils actually spurting mini-fountains of laser, on the cult members. The cult members were at a supreme advantage over the Blind Slashers, being both vision-talented and alive. They blinked, then threw all the contents of their pockets at Leon and ran as fast as they could away from the dapper blonde robot American who didn't even need his snappy bomber jacket anymore, he was just that cool.

As soon as Leon was the only living creature in the room, his laser vision subsided and he returned to his normal, bumbling, slightly attractive but incredibly stupid self. Also, the door opened. "Sweet!" Leon clapped his hands, "I should hang out with bells more often!"

"…Should have been here by now! I mean, we cleared the path for him, we put our wussiest blind Wolverines out there, we even told him the way! Why is this taking so long?" Salazar sat on a giant throne in the room right next door to the bell room, tapping his fingers angrily.

Ashley sat on the floor, her hands tied behind her back and an issue of Spanish Cosmopolitan open on the floor in front of her. She periodically turned the pages with her knee and rolled her eyes at Salazar's bitching before returning to the Spanish sex advice columns.

Salazar's Verdugo slaves, Whitey and Redy looked at each other uncomfortably. Times were hard. They had to do something. If Salazar fired them because they couldn't make the stupid American man get here faster, they might find themselves jobless and living in cardboard boxes on the streets of Seville. They'd been through the unemployment line once before and they knew from experience that it's hard to find jobs as janitors or secretaries if you look like a giant bug from the depths of hell, even if you can speak as eloquently as an Oxford graduate.

"If we don't get this done soon, I'm just leaving!" Salazar shouted, pointing at the closed circuit TV to his right, "Desperate Housewives is on in an hour and if I'm not parked in front of the couch, heads will roll, I tell you!"

"Weren't you already trying to kill Leon?" Ashley said dryly, "Shouldn't his head roll anyway, even if he shows up late?"

"SHUT UP, YOU!!" Salazar held up a hand to smack Ashley, but instead of recoiling, she just stared at him distastefully. Salazar glared his most evilly, but then sheepishly gave up when it became obvious that Ashley wasn't afraid of his scrawny self.

"So…" Ashley said after a long pause, "Are you really only twenty years old?"

"Ashley." Leon burst through the door, looking all windblown and Clark Gable-y. He struck a heroic pose and the lights dimmed suddenly, throwing him into spotlight. Leon nodded smugly, "Yeah… That's what I was lookin' for!"

"Leon." Ashley replied neutrally, "What's up, dude?"

"FINALLY!!" Salazar shrieked, jumping in his chair, "Now I can kill you and get to Housewives before the first commercial break! You die now!" He gestured to the Praying Mantis in white robes, who just shrugged at his companion. "Press the button, you twit!"

Whitey looked at his partner and they both shook their heads in confusion.

"The button right next to you! The one that opens the Trap Door of Death right underneath where he's standing! Do it now!"

"There's a trap door here?" Leon stared intently at the floor, "Really? I don't see anything!"

"God!!" Salazar huffed, "Do I have to do everything myself?"

"Wow, because I don't even see the door creases," Leon was saying, "This is a damn good trap door then, because I've never seen one this secret-y! Where did you buy it? Sears? Because that's where I got my traaaaaaaaaaa...!!"

"No!" Ashley shouted, tossing her Cosmo to one side, where one of the Praying Mantises picked it up and stuffed it surreptitiously into his robes, "Leon!"

All four of the humans and humanoid things waited in heavy silence, Salazar cupping his ear comically in a manner reminiscent of Looney Tunes cartoons. After a good five minutes of silence, Salazar frowned, "Where's the satisfying sound of one's impalement?"

"Hey, hey guys!" Leon's voice drifted up from the gaping hole in the center of the room, "Can…Can I get a little help here? My Batgear Utility Belt is kind of acting up… and now I'm grapple-hooked to the wall or something…Could you toss a rope down or maybe one of those water-rescue stretchers? I've always wanted to ride in one of those…"

"GOD #$#& DAMMIT!" Salazar screamed so loudly that even Ashley snapped out of her teenage apathy to stare warily at him. "THIS IS SO NOT COOL!!" He whirled and glared in red-eyed fury at the nearest victim, who turned out to be Redy the Verdugo. "No more games! Kill him now!" Salazar spat (literally).

Brushing the flecks of spit off his robes, Redy looked sadly at Whitey. They both knew in his heart that he wouldn't come back from this task he had been handed. Tears welled in Whitey's eyes (if he had eyes) and he gloomily patted Redy on the back, the only affection that had been socially acceptable to express in their days as little Verdugo.

But Redy could stand it no more. He threw his arms around his best friend's neck and hugged him close, saying a wordless farewell to his one true friend in the world. Then Redy stood up straight and, with a deep sigh, set off into the sewers below to meet his doom. Whitey watched, his shoulders trembling. On the floor, silent tears of sorrow rolled down Ashley's face and, even where he dangled precariously over a patch of Ill-Placed Spikes, Leon was sobbing like a little girl, using precious green herbs as hankies.

When Redy finally left the room, Salazar picked up his TV guide and flipped hastily through it, "Now…what channel is ABC on…" He waved his hand at Whitey, who had collapsed into a pile of tears, "When my show is done, we'll complete the ritual! Don't forget it!"

"Leon," Ashley whispered as she tried to comfort the creepy Praying Mantis as best she could, considering she was afraid to come within two feet of him, "I hope you don't do something stupid and die…"

After dangling hopelessly on the wall of the trap door for a good fifteen minutes, Leon finally managed to untangle himself from his grapple-hook cord and he rappelled down to the bottom of the pit while miraculously avoiding being stabbed by the ridiculously large spikes.

"Hey!" he shouted happily, "It's dirty again! It feels just like home!"

"SHUT UP DOWN THERE!" Salazar screamed down the hole, "Or at least wait until a commercial!"

Leon rolled his eyes and wandered around the spike pit, picking up the random treasures, including one shiny crown that Leon immediately plopped on his head, and other junk that lay in the infected sewer water at the base of the pit. In one corner, he ran into the Merchant, who once again refused to sell him anything more valuable than a banana peel. After a few more minutes, Leon's walkie-talkie crackled.

"What the hell is with you?" Salazar shouted over the walkie-talkie, "Are you a freakin' CAT or something? With your nine lives and shit? Because I don't appreciate this at all, man!"

"Wait..what?"

"I'm not done yet!" Salazar interrupted, "You come into my castle, you shoot my minions, you vandalize my windows and kill my defenseless puppies…"

"Dude, if those were defenseless puppies…"

"Still talking! And NOW you interrupt my show and you don't die when I tell you to! Arghggh!" He sighed, "But it doesn't matter now, Meester Kennedy Scott Kennedy! I've sent my right hand to dispose of you!"

"Your right hand comes off?"

"Yes…no…No, you see, it's my…DAMMIT! SHOW'S BACK ON!! GO AWAY!" Click pisshle pisshle.

"He hung up on me!" Leon stared wide-eyed at his walkie-talkie. He raised his eyebrows at the crumbly skeleton next to where he stood, "Can you believe him? The nerve!"

A/N: After a long hiatus, I'm back! I've been working on other things and I've been too not-inspired to write, but here, dear fans who still subscribe to this story, is another chapter!

The one radio transmission right before Leon fights the Blind Slashers is from earlier in the game. I forgot to put it in and it was just so stinkin' hilarious, I had to put it in! So here it is. I love that you can take the dialogue almost word for word, stick it into the story, and it's still ridiculous.

Next will be the Verdugo fight and probably Krauser. Hopefully, Krauser. He'll be fun… Stay tuned!

NOTE: I don't own anything in here that was previously trademarked, copyrighted, or otherwise legally claimed. I just own all the words around those words.