"Tremble my left hand," uttered Okabe Rintarou as though he were incanting a dark ritual, "by the pact we have sworn, I command you! Bathe yourself in unholy fire and grant my desire!"
With a tremendous roar, though subdued enough that Mr. Braun would not hear it through the walls, Okabe gave the jar of pickles a mighty and commanding twist.
"Succumbing to those delusions again? FAIL!" said Daru whilst focusing primarily on the latest development in his eroge. Kurisu, for her part, just sighed, having become somewhat inured to Okabe's raving lunacy.
The lid came off with a satisfying pop as Okabe delivered a final twist.
"Fuahahahaha! As I foresaw! Opening this jar of pickles was simply too much for you! Now, dear assistant, you owe me far more than you can ever repay! I! Okabe Rintarou! Born with an IQ of 170 points, the same as Isaac Newton, have finally ensnared you! Just as planned! Fuahahahahahaha!" raved Okabe.
"You know, I've had just about enough of that!" snapped Kurisu.
"Oh? Are you saying you'd do anything to be free of your insurmountable debt, assistant? Hmmm. How best could you repay me…"
"Shut up you pervert!" shouted Kurisu, "I'm not talking about that nonsense at all! The fact that you keep insisting you're as smart as Newton is becoming more painful every time you say it!"
"Oh? I'm getting a lecture on how smart I am from someone who couldn't even open up a jar of pickles without begging for my assistance?" teased Okabe.
"Shut up! As a scientist I am challenging your claim that you have an IQ that high! Have you even done an IQ test?" snapped Kurisu.
"A-I-err… OF COURSE I HAVE!" blustered Okabe, "But then, I'm so intelligent that I wouldn't really have to anyway. A true genius already knows how intelligent he is amongst his peers after all!"
"I see how it is," said Kurisu, seeing through his façade, "You've never even looked at an IQ test! I bet you don't even know what IQ stands for!"
"Shut up assistant! I'm smarter than you! That's all that matters! I! Houiouin Kyouma! Mad Scientist! You are but a lowly assistant! Know your place!" shouted Okabe.
Kurisu marched angrily right up to Okabe. The fact that he towered over her was not an obstacle to her rage. She looked up and glared her anger straight up towards him.
"Fine then! Put your money where your big fat mouth is! Let's get an IQ test done. A proper one! Not one of those terrible online ones and let's mail the results too so there's no cheating! Or are you too afraid that a mad scientist like yourself will find he's not as intelligent as he's been boasting all this time?" she yelled, matching his prior tone.
To her credit, Okabe was somewhat unsettled at her assertiveness. It lasted only a moment before his lips curved into a smile.
"Very well then, assistant, I agree to your terms… on one condition! Should I, Hououin Kyouma, win this battle of wits, then you shall have to work with Feyris at May Queen Nyan Nyan for an entire day!"
"And if I should win, you'll be working at May Queen Nyan Nyan for an entire day!"
"Maid uniforms. Haah. Haah," fantasised Daru.
"Shut up pervert!" harmonised Okabe and Kurisu.
"It's here!" shouted Mayuri as she ran up the steps leading up to the lab, "It's here! It's here!"
She burst through the door and almost tripped over the step as she kicked off her shoes, managing to come to an excited halt in the middle of the lab.
"Hmm? What's here?" asked Daru as he closed off several tabs that were not for Mayuri's sensitive eyes.
"The MyQ tests!" exclaimed Mayrui as she held a thick A4 envelope to her chest.
"IQ tests," corrected Kurisu patiently.
"Shut up assistant," grumbled Okabe as he returned from the back, having been tinkering with Future Gadget #10, "Your smugness should not be inflicted upon Mayuri, even if she loses to you."
"I wasn't being smug!" protested Kurisu.
After having heard about their little challenge the entire lab had thrown in on the IQ tests as a fun exercise. Only Okabe and Kurisu had approached the tests with a seriousness bordering on insanity, with both of them insisting that this was an 'honourable duel between competing intelligences', and that neither would brook interference or assistance on the matter.
Even so, Kurisu had been supremely smug all week long about the expected results and it had grated on Okabe's nerves to no end. To say that he desired nothing more than for his dear assistant to eat her words would be a colossal understatement.
"Very well then," said Okabe magnanimously as he took the thick envelope from Mayuri and held it aloft, "Let us now tread forwards together as Lab Members! I hereby request that a neutral party open these sacred documents and-HEY!"
Kurisu snatched the envelope from his hands and furiously tore it open.
"Oh shut up with your pontificating and let's read the results already!" she snapped as she tried to keep the sheaves of paper away from Okabe's eyes.
"Give them back here! Now! I order you, assistant!" shouted Okabe as he chased her around the lab.
"First results, Mayuri! Congratulations on receiving an IQ score of 132!" panted Kurisu.
Okabe, tired of chasing Kurisu even after only two laps around the lab, gave up and decided to replenish his reserves of Mad Scientist Energy with the cool refreshing taste of Dr. Pepper.
"Is that high?" asked Mayuri sweetly.
"It's well above average, you got higher than I thought!" said Kurisu before catching herself on the backhanded compliment.
"Ah, that's so nice!" beamed Mayuri, whom for her part, didn't seem to notice Kurisu's slip.
"Feyris, 156!" exclaimed Kurisu.
"Well, she does run her own business," reasoned Daru, "And besides! She's Feyris! There's nothing she can't excel in! Feyris! Ahhhhhhh!"
"Rukako, 136," read off Kurisu.
"Ah, Ruka did extremely well in mathematics and science last year!" commented Mayuri.
"Daru, 144," rattled of Kurisu, "That's actually lower than I'd thought. It must be your perverted energy getting in the way of your true intellect,"
Daru blushed at the biting remark, "If the price of being a Gentleman Pervert is a lower IQ score, then I gladly accept!" he exclaimed.
"That's not something to be proud of!" harmonised Okabe and Kurisu before glaring at each other angrily.
"Moeka, 122," read Kurisu.
Okabe's phone vibrated at this point.
"I'm so happy! 3" read the message from Moeka.
"Huh?" wondered Okabe, before casting about, looking for the interloper.
He eventually found her tucked into a corner, standing there perfectly in plain sight. She had so little presence in the lab that nobody had noticed she was even there until now.
If IQ tests could cover stealth, she'd be in the 300+ range. Easily. Thought Okabe darkly.
"Now for me… 194 points!" Kurisu grinned happily at the result, "I managed to push it up five points over last time!"
She showed Daru the result to curtail any accusation of cheating or lying on her behalf.
"Enough with the bragging! You're only setting yourself up for an even greater embarrassment when I, Hououin Kyouma, will definitely have an IQ far in excess of yours!" raved Okabe.
"Hypocrite," muttered Kurisu.
"What was that, assistant?" asked Okabe.
"Okabe Rintarou…" Kurisu ignored his question while reading off from the results she had before her. She paused deliberately to hold him in dramatic suspense, teasing him with anticipation alone.
"Just say it already!" he snapped.
Kurisu made eye contact with him. For the first time since this challenge had occurred, Okabe felt a tremor of trepidation run through him. It couldn't be a low score. He couldn't be dumber than his assistant… could he?
"102 points," said Kurisu, drawing out every syllable as though it were a death sentence.
"Wh-wh-WHAAAAAAAAT!?" shouted Okabe.
He lunged to see the paper for himself. At least, he tried to… but he found his legs glued to the floor, his legs felt as though they were iron weights. Even his labcoat, so often the wind that inflated his sails, seemed to suddenly feel as though it weighed him down instead.
Instead of lunging, he fell to his knees, dejected.
"Let me see that!" shouted Daru as he took the sheaves of paper for himself. He looked over the results for himself before giving Kurisu a meaningful look.
"You're the dumbest person in this room. Your IQ is so low you're just barely smarter than the average person! Idiot!" snarked Kurisu.
"I-It's true…" said Daru, lost for words, "You're a complete and total normalfag! WTF?! Okabe! You've lied to me this whole time!"
Okabe moaned with the pain of his ego undergoing dangerous levels of deflation. He hastily held the phone to his ear.
"It's me! The organisation is in league with the dark forces of the brotherhood! They have concocted a foul plot to damage my psyche by attacking me at my strongest point! But I… I shall persevere! El! Psy! Congroo!"
He stood up and unleashed a tirade of cackling laughter.
"Did you think that I, Hououin Kyouma would succumb to your little mind games, assistant? I, the possessor of the Magic Eye, I, guardian of the Three Trinities, I, the Mad Scientist who's enemy is the world?! DID YOU THINK SOMETHING THAT SMALL COULD STOP ME?! FUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Ah, I'm so glad!" exclaimed Mayuri, "For a minute there I thought Okarin was sad!"
"Mayuri!" exclaimed Okabe as he jabbed his finger in her direction, "Come! We shall celebrate my 'stupidity' with your favourite! Juicy Karaage Number One!"
"Hold on a second!" shouted Kurisu, "Don't think you've gotten out of our little arrangement!"
"Of course I haven't!" shouted Okabe magnanimously, "I will proudly work at May Queen Nyan Nyan! A Mad Scientist always bears his successes and failures proudly! As your mentor, assistant, I can do no less than serve as an example for you to strive for!"
With a flourish Okabe struck a pose, threw his head back, and cackled long and hard into the ceiling. Kurisu, meanwhile, was busily studying her palm with her face.
Right up until Mr. Braun started shouting at them to keep the noise down.
"Let us be off Mayuri! Juicy Karaage awaits!"
"So… does this mean Okarin isn't smart?" asked Mayuri as they walked down the streets of Akihabara to the store where she invariably bought her precious Juicy Karaage.
"No, it just means I did badly on the test," said Okabe.
"But, I thought an IQ test measure how smart you are? It doesn't?"
"That's the thing, Mayuri, an IQ test only measures how well you can do on an IQ test. It counts for nothing when it comes to solving the mysteries of the universe or resolving life's little problems."
"Ah, I see, I'm glad. But about life's little problems," said Mayuri.
"Don't worry. I know you've run out of pocket money for the week. This Karaage is my treat."
For Okabe, Mayuri's smile alone was more than worth the cost.
"I'm glad you followed my lead," sighed Kurisu with relief once she was certain Okabe and Mayuri were out of earshot of the lab.
"I feel bad about this, part of me wants to tell him the truth," said Daru uncomfortably.
"Do you know how bad things would get if we told him?" asked Kurisu exasperatedly.
"Yes. Even worse than they were with your smugness this past week."
"Oh shut up!" snapped Kurisu, "We have to agree here and now. We can never show him these results. We can never tell him what we know. He must never. Know. Never. Do you understand?"
"Understood," replied Daru, "This may very well be for the best."
Standing in the corner, unnoticed and unremarked, Moeka thought about what had just transpired. Her watchful eyes had noticed Okabe's real IQ score… it was just a matter of what to do with such information.
In the end all she could decide upon was to think about it.