One of the cruelest burdens literature has ever developed is the concept of the Number Two Character. He doesn't get the girl, he never wins the big fight, and often the best he can really hope for is a good death scene or a boring marriage to his corresponding number two female character.
Harry Champ, Zoid battle pilot and a Man Destined to Be King (as he regularly informs the world), and Prince Lotor, warrior prince of the vast, conquering Drule empire, are two such men: the first quite literally hopelessly in love, the other a villain in love without a hope, and both pretty much incapable of getting what they want (if only for the simple fact that they are not the primary characters). A person could get fed up with nonsense like this.
There are certain places in the universe which defy all logical sense. These places exist simultaneously, light years and whole dimensions apart, on the crossings of great ley lines of energy, twisted into knots of fate, and in some of the deepest wells of bad luck this side of the eternity of space. And, inevitably, these places manifest themselves as bars.
Harry Champ was on the drunken verge of epiphany. He was either about to faint, vomit, or something much worse, or begin talking to the terrifying blue man sitting next to him.
"Ya know what'sh wr-wro-messed up wi'the whole place?" he asked too loudly. The man sitting next to him growled, but poor Harry was three fingers of whisky (straight, no chaser, on an empty stomach) too far gone for his sense of self preservation to stop him from putting a companionable arm around the growling man's broad shoulders. It was a miracle he didn't slice his arm open in the wide, swinging movement on the man's large, sharp, bladed helmet. "Wimmin, that's what…"
The strange figure made a growl of assent. This, unfortunately, emboldened The Man Destined to Be King.
"Like my girl, my girl, taalkin' 'bout myyy gir-irl—my girl!" Harry laughed giddily at his musical genius, then nodded as he continued. "Back on Zi—she's gorgeous. My girl!"
The figure growled again, shrugging Harry's arm off roughly.
"OH, but don'chu get me wrong!" Harry protested. "It ain't all roses an' chocolates wither… wither… witherin' stuff, bad stuff… nope, not roses and chocolates, good stuff, them's are, chocolate an' roshes. What wuzzi talkin' 'bout? 'Bout my girl, my girl! Ah, but it ain't all roses an' chocolates wit' her! No-siree-bob! Bob…think I had a robot named Bob once… Nope, not all roses and chocolates. Hey, Mr. Barman!" Harry shouted, tapping the counter insistently. "Get me an' my friend here a coupla drinks! Summa them umbrella-doflicky ones, yeah…"
The blue, bladed man growled something like "with blood," which should have perturbed Harry.
"Yeah!" Harry Champ agreed heartily. "Whaddid I say? One o' them ones with the frilly cele-cele-vege-green things, go crunch… Bloody Marry, wossname! Couple those and don' go stinn-geee on the… the… stuff, stuff makes it good. Whacher name, buddy?"
The growl this time was menacing enough to sober any man. But Harry Champ was not any man—he was The Man Destined to Be King.
"I know how it goes, bruth'r," he continued in a sort of wet wisdom. "Ya give and'ja give, and'ja give, and whadya get f'r it? Nuthin'… but her smile, nuttin' but her smile and her smile makes it worth it all, am I right?"
"Dead wrong," the blue man answered with a bitter, cutting sobriety.
"Jou, my friend," said Harry, once again putting his arm around the man, "need a… a… wossname, a drink, that's what! Barman!" said Harry right as the barman put the drinks down and walked away. Harry said in a whisper, "I think that guy's psychic. Sho—what'sher girl look like?"
There was a rumbling sigh, Harry's arm was once more dismissed (still in one piece!), and the man drained his drink in one gulp with a significant crunch of celery. "Allura," he said. "Hair's like gold… wears a lot of pink… figure to kill for, and I have… bluest eyes you ever saw, prettiest thing in the galaxy, looks like every hope you ever had, looks like every idea for the perfect queen, looks like my mother…"
"Ah, lookin' for a girl like your mom, eh? My girl ain't nuthin' like my mom… Mom was always so sweet, an' proper, an' she always remembered my name…"
"They do, don't they?" the blue man asked wistfully. "And they always hide you when your father's in a murderous rampage to kill you on account of your being a half-breed piece of scum…"
"Yeah," Harry agreed, sucking on his celery. 'Whatwuzzure name? I forgot."
"Prince Lotor, Heir to the Throne of Doom, Slayer of Galaxies, Conqueror of Voltron!" the man declaimed, standing and pounding the bar. "Eventually. Errant husband of Queen Merla…"
"Wimmin," Harry said, shaking his head and taking an experimental sip of the rather coppery-smelling Bloody Mary.
"Women," Prince Lotor agreed, sitting and waving the barman over.
"But we luv'em," Harry said. "I'm gonna call'er!"
Prince Lotor growled his assent once more as Harry dug for and attempted to operate a small communications device. More drinks were ordered, all smelling very metallic. Harry fumbled with the device, turning it right-side up and then upside down, banging it on the counter, and then pressing random buttons. He banged it on the counter again, and the result was that his phone selected the most called contact: Leena Toros (he hadn't had the heart to update the contact name). Harry giggled at his success when Leena's holographic picture appeared over the phone, a dial-tone ringing. In the banging, he had activated the speaker phone. "Shuddup, Princey, I'm talkin' to my wom'n."
It rang about seven times—or perhaps double that; Harry's counting faculties were somewhat impaired—before Leena's subdued roar came over the phone.
"Son of a b—Harry? What are you doing calling me! It's past eleven at night, and I'm on my freaking honeymoon! Shut up, honey, I'm handling it!" she said to a confused, angry speaker in the background.
"Ah, but honey, I mish you, andjou should come back," Harry said in what he really thought was an enticing voice.
"No, Bit, I said I'm handling it!—Honey, just hand the phone over so I can take it and beat that rich, spoiled, delusional a—" There was a struggle for the phone going on, which made it very hard to hear the particulars of the argument—"what—Bit,yousonofa—Ha! Now, Harry, this is Bit—"
"Hey, you!" Harry yelled accusatorily, pointing at the phone. "What're you doin', getting married to my woman? Huh? HUH? HUH? HUH? HUH?Hey, Lotor buddy, who ish thish guy on the phone? He's real annoying! Keepshaying 'huh'! Hwhat a loser!" Harry was laughing and there was some hushed conversation on the other end of the line.
"Harry, you're drunk," Leena's voice said, requesting confirmation.
"Yep!" Harry answered proudly. "Drunk like a real man getsh drunk! Like my friend, Buddy Lotor over here! Say hi, Lotor!" Lotor didn't, and Harry instantly forgot that he asked.
"Okay, Harry?" Bit's voice asked. "What we want you to do—what Leena wants (BIT!) you to do, get out of wherever you are, call a cab, go home and sleep it off," he said slowly. "Leena and I are going to enjoy our honeymoon, because we're cool like that. And when we get back, I'm going to come over to your house and beat your rich, Zoid-buying carcass so senseless for drunk-dialing my wife that I swear you won't be able to feel your ego, okay? Sounds like a plan? (Bit!)"
"It'sh a date!" Harry agreed, smiling with his head down on the bar, drooling slightly. "Hope ta see Leena there." There was already a dial tone coming from the phone.
"I think that went well," Harry said with a stupid grin as he raised his face from the bar. "They're coming over. I should go and get ready. Nishe to meet you, borther, you're…you're…you're a real, real good guy. We make a good team, ya know that? Like…like…like…like, wossname, got the things go together… like five Sss—sh—zz—zhabre tigers, tha's what. All different colorsh, ya know? …Voltron, that'sh what! Make a good team, that'sh what! Ya know, I hear there's thish hopeless blue jerk who's after their prinshess—isn't that the stupidest thing, am I right? I mean, canna guy take a hint, am I right? I mean, way outta his league, am I right?"
The reader should know that Lotor, Prince of Doom, Slayer of Galaxies, (eventual) Conqueror of Voltron, is only half Drule, and that leads him to compensate. His Terran half is the one whose inhibitions are lowered by alcohol. The Drule half is the one depressed by alcohol. And now, with a number of chemicals and instincts reacting in interesting ways in his brain, two main impulses were striking the prince as Harry prattled on about "who's gonna end up wit' that princess anyway? Runs around wi' four guys all the time! Kinda gives a guy the wrong message, am I right?" The first impulse was to beat Harry Champ, The Man Destined to Be King, to death before Bit Cloud had a chance… but, stealing that honor from a newly married man seemed to go against Prince Lotor's honor somehow. The revision of that impulse, qualifying as premeditation in half the courts of this galaxy, was to beat Harry Champ anyway, maiming him somewhat, but allowing him to live. Lotor didn't know if he could stop himself before killing the boy, so when Harry was wondering aloud about the nature of Zoids connecting up—"no jamming together, or teamin' up or nuthin', jus' talkin' 'bout bein' like Voltron, ya know? Voltron is so cool"—Lotor decided to throw him bodily into the collection of bottles and glasses in the mirrored case behind the bar. Lotor then vaulted over the bar, picked up the limp and bleeding figure, and threw Harry into the pool table. Surprisingly, none of the other customers joined in the fight. Perhaps it was Lotor's double-bladed helmet and unnatural bulk, and silent rage. Prince Lotor then went over to the splinters of the pool table, where Harry's liquor-softened muscles and joints had saved his life. Lotor picked him up as Harry was asking his new buddy who'd thrown him over there, thought it was a big blue guy in a shtoopid helmet, have ya seen him? And Lotor threw Harry Champ through the bar's front window.
Eventually, two robots came and collected Harry, fortunately before he lost much blood. His injuries from the rather one-sided bar fight would later prevent Bit Cloud from beating him senseless and earn a sympathetic scowl from the new Mrs. Cloud, who would then tell Harry in no uncertain or softened terms that he was a total idiot who deserved what he had gotten for going to a bar alone, on an empty stomach, and with a heavy heart.
Back in the bar, Prince Lotor was then left to embrace his second impulse, his inhibitions too lowered to stop him from doing one thing he'd wanted to do for years.
"Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I'm only falling apart… Nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the heart…" floated through the broken windows of the impossible bar in several universes, as onlookers were able to see a blue man with a long white mane standing atop the bar singing, a crowd of people waving cigarettes, lighters, and electronic devices below him in time with the drunken tune.
A/N: Hmm… perhaps explanations are in order.
I checked this with my father, who spent many years in the military as the designated driver when the squadron had time off away from home, and they were supposed to stay together. From what he tells me, I in my (albeit Terry Pratchett reading) innocence have gotten this right.
I have to say my favorite part for Harry was "…always so sweet, and proper, and always remembered my name…" and for Lotor was definitely singing on the bar top. As for Bit and Leena—I don't really ship them together, but I see it being a happily argumentative marriage.
And as always, wine is a mocker and strong drink is raging. It's a bad deal all around to get involved with drinking. (Basic gist of Proverbs 23:29-35)
Goodness knows I've earned a few flames, but I'd thank those so inclined to leave them to please not trouble themselves or me with flame reviews. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed.