Twisted Paradise
Act 18: Hijinks of Heaven and Hell - Part One

Disclaimer: Still haven't gotten those legal documents in the mail giving me the rights to Kenshin, so... yeah. Not mine, not making money, please don't sue!

Opening notes: Waugh! Gomen nasai! Gomen nasai! *bows and apologizes all over the place* Tracking down my muse after Expo turned out to be a very big hassle ;_; But then, a ray of inspiration came down from the heavens and kicked me in the butt! (Okay, so one of my friends saw Seissouhen for the first time today...) So yes, without further ado, the much awaited Hijinks chapter! My revenge on Shishio for events in Act 17.5, and starring many of you guys who volunteered to risk having your personalities butchered for my own twisted purposes ^_^; Many thanks, guys!

Shinta and Kaoru stood at the edge of the cliff and stared in slack-jawed shock at the scene playing out before them. Yumi stood off to one side, restraining herself from laughing outright at the stunned pair. Call it morbid curiosity, but the two ghosts had decided to follow Yumi and find out just what the hell was going on.
Below them spread fire blasted plains and jagged black mountains, the non-sky a deep red, the 'sun' a baleful red circle that provided neither light nor warmth, warping shadows and generally providing a rather stereotypical impression of the underworld.
Granted, there didn't seem to be any tormented souls yowling for release, but rather two large armies rushing to meet one another far below. One group was toting a plain red banner, the other group hoisting a flag bearing a comical caricature of Shishio with a giant red slash through it. The faintly obnoxious sound of bagpipes carried on the stale air, along with rhythmic clanks and hissing steam. A two-legged contraption best described as the bastard child of a Gundam and a steam-powered locomotive strode forward, a pair of large catapults mounted across its shoulders.
"Ano... just what IS all that?!" Kaoru managed to inquire through her surprise. Yumi chuckled obnoxiously.
"That is what Hell is all about. An unending game played for supremacy! After all, everyone is dead, so nobody gets hurt! They-" she gestured to the force with the red-slashed Shishio banner. "-are against Shishio-sama."
With a loud rumble, a pair of boulders were loaded onto the mecha's catapults below, though how the boulders got from point A to point B was a mystery from the cliff, and with a steam-powered hiss, the mighty weapons fired, lobbing twin objects of cartoonish squishy death at Shishio's forces. At about the same time, a group of said forces charged forward and attacked the mecha, which fell over face-first in a massive cloud of steam shortly thereafter. It would almost be comedic if it wasn't a war the likes of which neither Kaoru nor Shinta had seen.
"Who... is in charge right now?" Shinta asked, a stern look on his face as he watched the non-slaughter playing out below.
"Well, it does change hands fairly often." Yumi looked thoughtful as she watched the antics below. "Sometimes Shishio-sama is in charge, sometimes it's those brats, and sometimes people change sides for the hell of it."
Everybody cringed at that one.
"Those brats?" Kaoru tried to survey the anti-Shishio forces.
"A bunch of people who rather dislike Shishio-sama, led by a couple of white barbarians." Yumi eyed the same group disdainfully.
"White barbarians?" Shinta and Kaoru both boggled at Yumi.
"Oh, I'm sure you'll see them. To go see Shishio-sama, we'll have to go through their camp."
"What?! You mean they're just gonna let us walk right through?" Kaoru stared in disbelief at Yumi, quite certain the immodestly dressed woman was totally insane.
"It's not as though they can kill us." Yumi pointed out matter-of-factly. "It's an odd relationship, at best. Yes, we are constantly fighting, but without them, ruling Hell would get so very boring. Shishio-sama thrives on conflict, and is quite happy with the back-and-forth warfare."
"If you say so..."
Yumi led the pair down a narrow path along the cliff face. As they got closer to the battlefield, more varied and interesting sounds carried to them.
"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOHOHOHOHOHOHO!!" A short, pale woman clad in... well, very little... cackled from atop her perch on the toppled mecha. "FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF...... good? Evil? HEY! Which one are we this time?"
"We're the good guys this time, Imouto. Could you get off the cockpit hatch now please?" A female voice yelled from somewhere within the steam-powered mecha. The battle was playing out to a background soundtrack that was, quite frankly, the most obnoxious sound ever. Polka music. Played on bagpipes.
"That would be the barbarian I mentioned earlier." Yumi noted dryly. The scantily clad woman on the mecha had a vein bulge visible even at that distance, and jumped high into the air, landing squarely in front of the group.
"I heard that, you lazy bum who can't be bothered to walk around in anything other than a bathrobe!" The scantily clad woman pointed the Finger of Accusation at Yumi.
"For the last time, it's a KIMONO! And it covers more than what YOU'RE wearing!" Yumi bristled at the comment.
"You're just jealous that I'm sexier than you'll EVER be! OOHOHOHO!" The newcomer smirked.
"Shinta, why is you nose bleeding?" Kaoru eyed the redhead for a moment before it clicked.
"HENTAI!!" As one, both Kaoru and the scantily clad woman delivered unto poor Shinta the Offended Anime Female Smack of Much Pain, also sending the poor rurouni flying into the thick of the chaos below.
Yumi sighed and shook her head. "Well, it's a good thing Himura can take care of himself. Come along, Kaoru-chan, let's go find him."
"... Chan?" Kaoru's eyebrow twitched.
"Yes, that's what I said." Yumi started down the path again. "If you want to track your husband down after so easily punting him, you'd best hurry, Kaoru-CHAN." She smirked, putting lots of emphasis into the '-chan'. One could almost hear the angry cat noises.
"Don't call me chan!" Kaoru took a swing at the woman with her bokken. Unfortunately for her temper, the older woman sidestepped, apparently accustomed to such tactics.
"... Oi, isn't that Yahiko's line?" A familiar voice stopped Kaoru dead in her tracks. She whirled to the side to see a familiar lanky figure, fishbone in mouth, hair defying gravity, and a weapon indicating compensation held casually across his back.
"AAAAH!!!" Kaoru nearly jumped ten feet in the air. "You're supposed to be alive still!"
"Oi, Jou-chan, all universes connect to the same Hell." The Sano-lookalike grinned. "Yeah, the Sano you know is alive an' kicking, maybe getting some foxy lovin'-" He stopped when Kaoru's glare started to carry the threat of bokken beatdown. "Anyway, y'could just say I'm from an alternate universe where none of the guys are straight."
Kaoru blinked uncomprehendingly at the red-clad Sano. "... You're GAY?!"
"No, that's part of why I'm dead."
Kaoru decided not to think about this too much. "So... who's side are you on?"
Sano glanced at the battlefield. "Either or. Whichever one's winning at the moment."
"Useless freeloader." Yumi muttered under her breath.

Meanwhile, Shinta impacted hard with the lump of metal that was the steam powered mecha. The battle had since moved beyond the trashed piece of machinery, though a female voice still emanated angrily from inside the contraption, cursing loudly about the hatch being stuck. "Oororo..."
"Ano..." Another female voice roused the rurouni from his swirly-eyed state. "Hi there... your kimono is falling open..."
Before the former hitokiri could figure out what was going on, somebody pounced him from behind at Fangirl Speed and... touched him.
"ORO!!!!!!" The rurouni jumped some twenty feet in the air, and found himself surrounded by a group of women, and one very girly looking guy.
"You must be new to Hell!" A girl with red-brown hair smiled at the flabbergasted rurouni. "You poor thing, all alone in this mess! I'm Kan Shourin! Nice to meet you. ^_^" Don't ask the author how the girl is able to speak emoticon.
"Oro... hai... " Shinta found himself fighting off a very serious sense of imminent doom.
"I'm Valerie!" The first girl who spoke (and tried to unsheathe the rurouni's *ahem* sword) beamed. "So tell me, how do you feel about mummy men?"
"Ano... mummy men?" Shinta squeaked. Kaoru-dono, help!
"Like that Shishio bastard." The third girl spoke up. "Jennifer Li! We're part of the Anti-Shishio coalition!"
"I'm not terribly fond of Shishio, that I am not." The rurouni noted, hoping the conversation was turning away from the very frightening prospect of fangirl attack.
"Sweet, he's on our side!" The only guy in the group giggles, eyeing Shinta in a manner that reminded the redhead of a merchant sizing up his wares.
"Let's welcome the new guy into the ranks then, hrm?" Jennifer grinned wickedly at the redhead, who instinctively began to back away.
"HEY! Lemme out!" The female voice from inside the mecha was accompanied by pounding on the metal interior. "No fangirl-mobbing hot bishounen without ME, fragitall!"
"Oro..." Shinta started to look frantically for a way out. Ogling cute, scantily clad girls was one thing. Getting mobbed and... um... played with... by a group of rabid pervert fangirls was another entirely. Speaking of said rabid perverts, they were closing in on him rapidly, and the crumpled heap of the mecha was cutting off his retreat path.
"Damnitall, lemme out or I'll let myself out!" The female voice from inside the mech yelled before the sound of some sort of firearm being loaded echoed from within the machine.
"Stephanie, don't-!"
The pervert squad scattered at the explosion, and an irate brown-haired girl stormed from the wreckage, gigantic firearm propped against her shoulder.
"Stephanie-san! The battle is going well at the moment!" A new arrival ran up to where a dazed Shinta was trying to figure out just what the hell was going on.
"Raijirou-san! Great to hear! I just broke up the hentai squad here while getting outta my rustbucket." The mecha pilot patted the crumpled mecha fondly.
"You broke it again?!" Raijirou's head impacted with the metal contraption in frustration. "Who's the new guy?"
"Got me." Stephanie gave Shinta a hand up. "Who are you, anyway?"
"Himura Shinta..." The dazed rurouni answered. "Ano... I was just visiting, but got separated from my guide."
"Guide? Oyie, probably Shishio's woman. What's that mummified bastard want with you?" Stephanie leaned against her huge gun.
"That mummified bastard probably wants to try and talk newbie here into helping his side out." Raijirou sweatdropped. "I'll head back to the front lines, why don't you take Shinta-san and find Yumi." With a final headbang against the battered mecha, Raijirou ran off.
"Yare yare..." Stephanie crossed her arms and shot a glare at the scattered fangirls. "Well, Himura-san, let's go find yer guide lady."
"Ano... if you're against Shishio so violently, why are you being so cooperative?" Shinta found his voice and asked.
"Why not? Everybody down here's already dead, the entire war for Hell is more like a gigantic chess game. Sometimes my crew is in charge, sometimes Shishio's is, sometimes we're on the same team against somebody else. S'lotta fun." The brunette beams. "Especially for people who thrive on conflict and strategy and combat and stuff."
"Ah... I see." Shinta boggled. So far, the equation was looking to him like 'Dead people + Hell + unending fighting = a lot of very crazy people'.
As the pair made their way toward the Anti-Shishio encampment, a small troop ran past, led by an all-too-familiar figure wearing a black hat. Shinta damn near froze, a weapon materializing at his side. "Him-!"
Stephanie glanced back. "Him who? Oh, Mr. Psycho Killer Blackhat Dude? Dun worry 'bout him. He's working for my group this time around. A real loose cannon though. C'mon, it'll be easier to track down Yumi from camp."
"Hai..." Shinta hoped that Kaoru was all right.

"I could swear Himura-san came down near this piece of junk." Yumi kicked the crumpled mecha disdainfully. "I suppose those barbarians will find him and send him my way soon enough."
"Send him your way?!" Kaoru fumed, barely held back from decking the woman by the alternate reality Sano.
"What I mean is we won't likely find him by wandering around here, Kaoru-chan." Yumi shook her head at the temperamental woman. "The first place they'd ask is at Shishio-sama's base camp, so you might as well wait there."
Kaoru froze. Go with this annoying woman, to the base camp of one of her husband's greatest opponents, by herself? "Why don't I just tie my wrists and ankles and declare myself a hostage!" She growled. "Do you think I'm going to fall for that and let this lunatic use me against Shinta?!"
"That isn't why Shishio-sama wanted to speak with Himura-san in the first place." Yumi recites in annoyance. "Is all you ever think about fighting and ulterior motives? Shishio-sama only wishes to ask Himura-san a question, nothing more. He has greater things to deal with than some washed up former swordsman!"
"Why you-!"
Sano couldn't hold Kaoru back after that shot, and Yumi got smacked in the back of the head with a bokken.
From the looks of things, the war zone was rapidly going to hell. Pun intended.

Closing notes: Oh dear... this was originally going to be a single chapter, but trying to work it that way would just be awkward, so I'm breaking it into a Part One and Part Two (I don't think I'll need to make a Part Three o_o;). Not all of the guest characters have made their appearance yet, and to those who have, I apologize profusely, for I am certain I have not portrayed any of you guys to your satisfaction. Sano, you were particularly hard to work into it, given that the real Sano is still alive and kicking =p Luckily my sister popped up with the idea that "Hey, have him be from a bad AU yaoi fanfic!", which I then tweaked to be... ah.. not quite so blunt. I also offer profuse apologies to Val, J.Liha, and JK the Nuriko Worshipper, who's characters ended up being the scary hentai squad. I also apologize if anybody is offended by some of the slightly racist insults flung by Yumi. For the record, she's basically calling me and my sister 'white barbarians', not anybody else =p (Yeah, that's my sister with the OOOHOHOHO laugh and the battle bikini. I'm the baka with the easily-trashed steam-powered giant mecha thingie.) Oh yeah, Sasura-san, you never specifiied (that I can recall) if Raijirou is a guy or a girl, so I skirted the issue entirely. Hope y'don't mind ^^;;;

Anyways, stay tuned, hopefully the next chapter won't take me nearly a year to write! ._.;;;;;;