When Idle Minds Go Astray...
Written by Kayorei (Ballade)
(It's another... some point in time for the Mercs. Day and night don't exist in orbit. From their vantage point, it's sunrise in India, so we'll go with that. Anyway. The Mercs. They're doing stuff. On the Marauder. In orbit.)
Kayorei: We're actually playing DDR right now and you're very distracting.
(Meh. It's just a stomp festival, anyway.)
Kayorei: To each his own. Am I even supposed to be talking to you?
Hunter: No, we're not.
Falling star: Okay, that has to be the craziest thing I've ever seen. Who would have thought a Joe could dance?
Iga: Go, 109, go!
*The song finally ends and Kayorei and her "dance partner" step off the dance pads.*
Kayorei: Hoo... That was fun.
Naoshi: What was with those teddy bears in that song?
Kayorei: I have no idea... Better not to think on it. You guys can have your Smash Brothers now. I've had my daily dose of stompy.
Iga and Stardust: Yay!
Shinobu: Why do we only have one TV here for seven, anyway?
Hunter: Who knows? Hey, I call green!
*Chuckling, Kayorei leaves the lounge for a while, the Joe following.*
Crew Joe: I did not see the point in rhythmicly stomping my feet beside you, Miss Ballade.
Kayorei: Don't call me "Miss". No one here plays DDR but me. I wanted a partner that run. Besides, you made my moves look less mechanical.
Crew Joe: If you say so.
(Little did they know... something evil was brewing back down on the planet...)
Sniper Joe: Your coffee, sir.
Wily: Meh. *takes the coffee* I'm busy. Go away.
Sniper Joe: Yes sir.
*Wily grumbles and turns back to his project... guiding a small ball to retrieve all the pellets from a ghost-ridden maze. The ghosts surround the little ball and close in, to which the ball turns itself inside out and disappears.*
(Okay, maybe not there.)
*In another sector of the fortress, a bright beam of light lances from the ceiling and into the sky. A figure in the darkened room laughs maniacally.*
Riff: *flicks the light switch* Warp Man... what are you doing...?
Warp Man: Hey! I'm trying to have an evil moment here!
*Warp Man quickly stomps over to the light switch and turns it off, then continues his maniacal laughter.*
Riff: Oy... *rolls his eyes and closes the door*
(Back at the Marauder, the Mercs continued their game... When suddenly...)
*The power blinked off and on. The TV screen showed a little cube forming a logo before moving to the intro of the game they were playing.*
Shinobu: What was that?
Naoshi: Divine intervention.
Stardust: You just didn't want to admit you were getting your butt kicked.
Hunter: In all seriousness, though, there shouldn't have been any reason for the power to do that. I'm gonna go check the core.
*Hunter stands and puts his controller on the floor, inviting anyone who wanted to take his place to do so, then makes his way to the ship's core. On the way, he hears a moan coming from Kayorei's quarters. Curious, he prepares to knock on the door, but it opens on its own, revealing a distraught Kayorei.*
Hunter: Something wrong?
Kayorei: *staring blankly* Ever have one of those times when you want to do something but nothing ever seems appealing?
Kayorei: That's what's wrong. Bored out of my gourd.
Hunter: Oh. Well, I was going to investigate that power outage from a while back.
Kayorei: There was a power outage?
Hunter, confused: Yeah, just a minute ago...
Kayorei: Huh. Wonder why I never noticed...
*The two shrug, then go their separate ways.*
(A little while later, back with the gamers...)
Falling star: Alright, which stage now?
Shinobu: I don't really care. Hit the randomizer.
Falling star: Okay.
*Falling star directs the cursor to the "Random" button and presses it, and much to everyone's dismay...*
Naoshi: Aw God... Pokéfloats?
Stardust: What the? I thought we took that out of the randomizer!
Iga: Heh heh heh...
*Hunter steps back into the room.*
Hunter: The Joes say everything is in perfect working order. No explanation or... geez, is that Pokéfloats?
*Hunter receives a cold glare from the gaming Mercs.*
Hunter: Okay, okay. Never mind.
(And so the battle raged. Many punches, kicks, fireballs, sword swings, and Pokéball throwings later...)
Announcer: This game's winner is... Samus!
*A crew Joe walks in.*
Crew Joe: Sir, there appears to be a problem in the main computer room. I believe Miss Ballade is acting strangely.
Hunter: Hm... She did tell me she was bored when we ran into each other last.
Naoshi: I'll go check.
(In the main computer room...)
*Kayorei paces around the room restlessly.*
Kayorei: Computer, any new missions yet?
*She continues pacing for a few seconds.*
Kayorei: Computer, any new missions yet?
*A few more seconds...*
Kayorei: Computer, any new missions yet?
*Naoshi walks in.*
Naoshi: What's going on in here?
Kayorei: Computer, any new missions yet?
Kayorei: Crags. *spots Naoshi* Oh, I was just checking to see if anyone had anything for us to do.
Crew Joe: She has been repeatedly asking the same question to the computer roughly every fifteen seconds for the past ten minutes.
Naoshi: ... You really are bored, aren't you?
Kayorei: Too much so. Hey, why don't you ask the computer if there's anything new? Maybe you'll get a different response.
Naoshi: *gives Kayorei an odd look* No, I don't think so.
Kayorei: Oh, come on! *grabs Naoshi by the shoulders and pulls him in front of the computer* Ask!
Naoshi: Whoa, fine, fine... *takes a deep breath* Computer, are there any new missions for us?
Kayorei: Ehh, it was worth the shot.
*Naoshi returns to the lounge where the others have switched games. Mario Kart.*
Iga: So... Anything up with Kayorei?
Naoshi: She is acting kinda weird... She keeps asking the computer about new missions. Even made me ask to see if I'd get a different response.
Hunter: Hm, that is a bit strange.
Stardust: Maybe she was traumatized after that whole Hasselhoff incident.
Naoshi: Who knows...? ... Come to think of it, what do we have to do here other than video games?
Hunter: Why do you ask? You're not getting "bored" too, are you?
Naoshi: No! Well, maybe a little.
Falling star: I'll let you take my spot after this race if you want.
Naoshi: Nah. I'm not really up for Mario Kart. I'll find something.
*Naoshi leaves and the remaining Mercs finish their race.*
Stardust: *stands* Hey, while we're at a stopping point, I'm gonna get some popcorn started.
Iga: Sounds good.
*Nodding, Stardust heads to the kitchen, but finds it blocked off by a desk... One that couldn't have made it into the kitchen by normal means and wasn't in there to begin with. Confused, Stardust begins to move the furniture out of the way, but no sooner does he place his hands on the table, Naoshi pops up from behind it like a bizarre jack-in-the-box, smiling broadly.*
Naoshi: Welcome to Order King! May I take your burger?
Stardust: Naoshi... Don't do that...
Naoshi: Do what?
Stardust: ... Never mind. Would you get out of the way? I'm trying to get to the popcorn.
Naoshi: Popcorn, is it?
*Naoshi snaps his fingers and Kayorei sidesteps into view, standing at attention.*
Kayorei: *nods* Yah-hmm.
*With a flourish, Kayorei sweeps a package of popcorn out of its wrapper and puts it in the microwave, rhythmically pushing the buttons to get Stardust's snack prepared, then disappears into the pantry, all to the bewilderment of the porcine Mercenary.*
Stardust: Um... What is all this...?
Naoshi: Oh. Heh, no one ever really understood our methods here at MercDonald's.
Stardust: I thought it was Order King.
Naoshi: Same difference.
*BEEP! BEEP! BEEEEEEEP!*
Naoshi: And that would be your popcorn. *fetches the popcorn* Your total comes to... *pokes the desk a few times* fourteen fragmars.
Naoshi: Sorry. We may be on the same team, but I can't give you a discount.
Stardust: This is getting old, Naoshi. Just let me get my popcorn.
Naoshi, somewhat impatiently: Fourteen fragmars.
Stardust: *grumbles under his breath* Don't even know what the heck a fragmar is... *spots a string on the floor and picks it up* Here.
Naoshi: *takes the string and grimaces a bit* Hoo... Kay! Change for a fifty!
*Kayorei topples clumsily out of the pantry and falls in front of Naoshi, a paper clip in her outstretched hand.*
Naoshi: *takes the paper clip* Thank you.
Kayorei: *hops up and salutes* Yah-hm.
Naoshi: *hands Stardust the popcorn and the paper clip, then shakes his hand* Good doing business with you, sir.
*Stardust returns to the lounge, glancing back over his shoulder as he goes and shaking his head in disbelief at what he had to go through just for some popcorn.*
Shinobu: Hey, what kept you?
Stardust: Naoshi. He blocked off the kitchen and turned it into some kind of fast food joint or something.
Hunter: Do what...?
Stardust: *puts the popcorn on the table* Just what I said. Kayorei was in there, too, going along with the whole thing. I had to pay fourteen frag-somethings for this popcorn. Apparently a string is good for fifty.
Iga: Really weird.
*The other Mercs nod in agreement, then resume their game. Stardust fidgets for a moment, then pulls out the paper clip and a rubber band he found under the table...*
Falling star: Ow! What was that?!
*Hunter narrows his eyes at Stardust... at least, you'd be able to tell if not for the visor.*
Hunter: Don't tell me. Bored, too.
Hunter: *puts down his controller* Something's wrong here... *starts pacing around the room, eyes at the floor* Kayorei says she's bored, then she starts acting weird. Naoshi leaves to see what Kayorei's up to, then returns bored... and starts acting weird himself. Now Stardust...
Shinobu: Who has just left.
Hunter: Wha? *looks up* Gah!
(Meanwhile, somewhere in the elsewhere...)
*Warp Man scurries around his darkened lair, flicking switches and giggling like a lunatic.*
Warp Man: Ooh, hoo, hoo...! This one's going to be perfect! *turns some dials on a device in the middle of the room* Whee hee hee!
*The door to the room opens and the lights turn on, shifting Warp Man's mood from giddy to startled to infuriated as he whirls to face the intruder.*
Lento: Unit wants to know what Warp Man is giggling about.
Warp Man: You! Out! I don't giggle! Out! *throws a wrench at Lento*
Lento: *closes the door* Strange.
Staccato: What has Warp Man been up to, anyway?
Lento: Unit does not know.
*The two glance at the floor under the door where green flashes of light peek out from beneath.*
Warp Man: Gah! LIGHTS! Lento, you blockhead, you forgot the LIGHTS! *grumblemutters* Can't aim with the frakkin' lights on...
*Lento opens the door to turn the lights in Warp Man's "lab" back off, only to be greeted by a pair of wire clippers, a soldering iron, and about three more wrenches of varying sizes.*
Warp Man: I thought I told you to stay out!
Warp Man: I SAID STAY OUT!
*Not wanting any more tools being launched in his general direction, Lento closes the door again.*
Staccato: That was very odd. Even for Warp Man.
Lento: Lento is... confused now.
(Oddities abound, it seems. Now, back to our quasi-heroes and their "crisis meeting".)
Hunter: I'd say our best option would probably be to check the security cameras. See if anything got in that'd cause this mess.
Iga: And to see what everyone's up to.
Shinobu: That's probably all we can do. We don't have any idea what's going on here.
Falling star: Well, let's go then. Time's a-wasting.
*The Mercs nod, then head to the door, only to see Naoshi with a pair of underwear on his head running across the hallway full speed away from Stardust.*
Stardust: Hey, come back here! I need those for... stuff!
*Naoshi knocks down a crew Joe to block the path.*
Naoshi: You'll never catch me!
Stardust: Wanna bet, you little-- *trips on the Joe* Whoa! *rolls across the floor and stops on top of Naoshi, crushing him.*
Hunter, Shinobu, Iga, and Falling star: ...
Hunter: All the more reason for us to get a move on.
Falling star: Weren't those Kayorei's...?
Shinobu: ... How would you know?
Falling star: Uhh... Let's just go, we're wasting time.
(And so the four hurry on to the main computer room. Yeah, they kinda just... left Naoshi as is.)
Naoshi: Jerks... Owieowie.
(Anyway. In the computer room...)
Iga: *typing* Okay... now to have a look at the cameras.
*The monitor in front of them flickers, then changes to a gridded format, all but a few of the cells showing static.*
Hunter: What the...?
Shinobu: Looks like either something's jamming the signal or someone's trashed the cameras.
Iga: So much for that plan.
Hunter: *mutters* This just keeps getting better...
Falling star: So now what?
Iga: I'll check and see if there's been anything useful recorded.
Hunter: Sounds good... though we'll still need to keep an eye on the others to make sure they don't do anything dangerous. Shinobu, Falling star. Think you can handle that?
Shinobu: Beats watching the security videos, I guess.
Falling star: Ditto.
Hunter: Okay, then. Be careful.
*Shinobu and Falling star leave the computer room*
Shinobu: Well, I'm sure we already know where Stardust and Naoshi are. Now which of is is going to watch --
Falling star: NOT IT! *runs*
(In the hallway, a struggle of epic proportions is taking place...)
Naoshi: *stares at cards in his hand* Hm... Red ace on black queen, then I tap out and cast Fireball. Your move.
Stardust: Ohh, you're good... but do you have any fives?
Naoshi: *recoils in shock* Gah, you sunk my battleship!
Shinobu: *walks up to the "game"* Uh... What's going on here?
Naoshi: We've decided to settle this dispute over a game of cards. Should I deal you in?
Shinobu: Um... I thought you got flattened.
Naoshi: I got better.
Shinobu: You're still wearing... those. *points to the underwear on Naoshi's head*
Stardust: I had to go through great peril to get those! I WILL win them back!
Naoshi: Great peril, yes. Many dangers for this treasure. And it's rightfully mine!
Stardust: *stands up* Oh yeah?!
Shinobu: *eases Stardust back into a sitting position* Hey, hey, cool it. You've... still got your game.
Naoshi: *sticks his tongue out at Stardust* Nyaaahh...
Shinobu: .oO(Geez, what's with these guys...?)
(Back with Falling star...)
Falling star: *mumbles* Man, I don't care what anyone says... I am NOT about to get caught handling a girl's underwear. Now... if I were an insanely bored chick, where would I go...? *hesitates for a moment* Ah, skew it. Hey, Kay! Where'd you go and disappear to this time?!
???: Someone out there...?
Falling star: *looks around* Wha?
*A door in the hallway opens and Kayorei pokes her head out of it, then urgently waves at Falling star.*
Kayorei: *whispers* Falling star! Over here, quick!
Falling star: What's going on?
Kayorei: Just come on! They'll spot you!
Falling star: Uh... Okay. *enters the room that Kayorei is hiding in* Um... The bathroom.
Kayorei: It's the only place I can think of that isn't under constant watch.
Falling star: I would hope so. What's going on, anyway?
Kayorei: It's... them. They've come for us.
Falling star: Who?
Kayorei: I can't say it out loud... but I'll tell you what I know...
(Well, while Kayorei's recounting her story, let's get back to the main computer room. Because I can leave you in suspense like that.)
Naoshi: You're a jerk, too.
*Hunter paces around the room, pondering the situation while Iga searches the video logs.*
Iga: Was it really a good idea to send those guys out without knowing what's really going on out there...?
Hunter: Don't remind me...
Iga: Hmm... Okay, got the stuff from two hours before that weird power outage.
Hunter: Let's see it. Hopefully this'll tell us what's causing this mess.
*Iga presses a few buttons and the cells of the grid light up with videos.*
Iga: Okay... nothing unusual so far... Whoa, hold up... *stares dumbfoundedly at one of the screens* Holy crunchmuffins, what are those Joes DOING?
Hunter: *also staring* Guh... That's... That's just... wrong...
Iga: *turning off the offensive screen* Moving on...!
Hunter: *shudders* Y-yeah...
*A bit of screen-watching later...*
Iga: There's the part where the power cut. No intruders, nothing weird happening... well, other than those Joes... Nothing!
Hunter: ... Let's keep looking. At least we might be able to find out some way to keep this stuff from spreading further than it already has.
Iga: *nods* Yeah... Come to think of it, why weren't you affected? You saw Kayorei first and she was the first to come down with this.
Hunter: That's what's been bugging me. ... Hey, speaking of which, there's where she was supposedly interrogating the computer when Naoshi went to check on her.
Iga: Hmm... ... Heh, and there's Naoshi's "fast food place".
Hunter: Hrm... I just remembered, we were all in the same room as Stardust when he came back bored, but none of us were affected. There has to be a connection between Naoshi's and Stardust's cases...
Iga: Wait a minute... *watches the videos of the "incidents" again* I think I may have found it... We have to warn Shinobu and Falling star!
(Meanwhile, at the epic competition, which has been relocated to the lounge...)
Shinobu: See? Wasn't it a good idea to get out of the hallway? Now you don't have to worry about being mashed!
Naoshi: Guess you're right...
Stardust: Yeah, yeah. It's still your move, Shinobu.
Shinobu: Oh, right. *stares at his cards* Um... Seven over three... and two creatures face-down. That'll do it.
Stardust: *raises an eyebrow* Hrm... I'm not doing anything this turn.
Naoshi: Guess that makes it my... Hey, check it! Lights! *points at the window where, sure enough, brilliant green streaks of light pass by, tracing a line back to the planet below*
Shinobu and Stardust: *turning to look* Ooooh!
Hunter (on Shinobu's radio): Shinobu! What's your status over there?
Shinobu: I'm in the lounge checking out the pretty lights outside. You should see this!
Hunter: Wha...? Were you...?
Shinobu: Been playing cards with the guys.
Hunter: Okay... Whatever you do, don't let them--
Shinobu: Whoops, sorry. Out of time. Call you back later.
Stardust: Who was that?
Shinobu: No one important. Whose move was it again?
(In the bathroom...)
Falling star: ... That has to be the most far-fetched thing I've ever heard. And out of you, that's saying a lot.
Kayorei: No one ever believes at first. But I tell you... I've seen them. They're here... on the ship.
Falling star: Kay... It's just the seven of us and the Joes.
Kayorei: Exactly! The Joes!
Falling star: But you just said it was --
Kayorei: *grabs Falling star and starts shaking him* That's who they are! IT'S A CONSPIRACY, I TELL YOU!
Falling star: *pushes Kayorei off* Whoa, easy there, Kay!
Iga (on Falling star's radio): Hey, Falling star! What's your status?
Falling star: Hang on a moment, Kay. *into the radio* I just found Kayorei.
Iga: Okay. Just be careful. Don't let her touch you!
Falling star: Um...
Iga: ... Mind out of the gutter.
Falling star: That's not it. She... already. Yeah. Why? ... Iga?
Kayorei: *levels her weapon at Falling star* You're in with them... I shot out all the cameras and they still found me... It's because of you!
Falling star: Hey! Wait a second...!
*A few minutes later...*
Kayorei: *dusts her hands off and leaves the room* That takes care of that.
Falling star: *bangs on the closet door* Hey! Let me out of here!
Hunter: We're too late...
Iga: Looks like it's just us now...
Hunter: Looks like it.
Iga: What do we do now?
Hunter: Keep investigating. It's all we can do. Shinobu mentioned something about lights that he saw from the lounge.
Iga: Come to think of it, there were some weird flashes on cameras by the windows at around the time of the power outage. No cameras there... guess we'll have to go in if we want a look. As long as they don't touch us, we'll be fine.
Hunter: All we can do. Just have to keep our guard up. Let's go.
*The two make their way uneventfully to the lounge where Shinobu, Naoshi, and Stardust await them.*
Shinobu: Hunter! You made it! Check it out! *points at the window*
Hunter: *walks to the window* Um... Yeah. They're... very pretty lights.
Naoshi: Aren't they, though?
Hunter: Think you can trace where it's coming from, Iga? ... Iga? *sees Iga extremely tense looking at the door, which Kayorei has just entered and locked behind her* Uh oh...
Kayorei: *stares at Iga and Hunter* We are bored... Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.
*The other Mercenaries turn their gazes to Hunter and Iga as well.*
The bored Mercenaries: We are bored... Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.
Iga: This... can't possibly end well.
(Ooh, suspense. But there's business back on the planet to attend to... where the Fatal Five, minus Warp Man, are assembled in front of Warp Man's hideaway.)
Riff: *bangs on the door to Warp Man's "lab"* Warp Man!
Warp Man: Graah! *throws open the door* What did I tell you about -- Riff! Perfect timing!
Riff: What the hell are you doing now?
Warp Man: Finishing the testing on my ultimate anti-Mercenary weapon!
Riff: Oh...? Let's see it.
*Warp Man nods and eagerly places a device on a large cannon-like device, then steps back to show it off.*
Riff: Okay, but what is it?
Warp Man: This device holds a very special program. See, it's a virus. I transmit it through this laser here and... it amplifies its victim's boredom levels to the point that it drives him completely insane within minutes!
Riff: ... A virus. A computer virus. That influences boredom. Transmitted through a LASER. *rolls eyes* It apparently works. You've infected yourself with it.
Karasû: Oh God, it's not contagious, is it?
Warp Man: Oh yes, it's very contagious! The slightest touch will cause it to spread!
Riff: *groans and takes the device attached to the laser emitter* Warp Man... If you're going to be shooting lasers at the Mercenaries, at least make said lasers able to do some damage, not give the world a light show.
Warp Man: No, you don't understand! It's meant to destroy them from the inside!
Riff: Uh huh. Yeah. Sure. *hands the device to Lento* Pull!
*Lento throws Warp Man's device into the air and Riff unloads his gun at it, leaving nothing but a smoking pile of scrap.*
Warp Man: Nooo! What have you done?! My perfect anti-Mercenary machine... ruined!
Riff: Right... Do us a favor and do something more productive with your time. Perhaps build something that'll really help us instead of some pretend weapons. *turns on his heel and leaves with the other non-Warp Man members of the Five, leaving Warp Man to sulk over his new scrap pile*
(Back on the Marauder, the remaining sane Mercenaries are backed into a corner...)
The bored Mercenaries: We are bored... Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.
Hunter: Nice knowing you, man...
Iga: Here's hoping our insanity will be fun...
The bored Mercenaries: We are bored... Resistance is... *stops*
Naoshi: *blinks* Huh...? What's going...? Ow, man, my head...
Stardust: I remember shooting Falling star with a paper clip, but it's all kinda hazy from there...
Shinobu: What happened...?
Iga: You back with us?
Kayorei: We were gone?
Hunter: You guys had all gone completely insane...!
Kayorei: Headaches... no memory of prior events... Naoshi with underwear on his head...
Stardust: Must have been a killer party, maaan...
All but Stardust: ...
Kayorei: Don't ever say that again.
Hunter: Well, this has certainly been a day...
Shinobu: Heh. Hey, wait a sec... Where's Falling star?
(Back in the closet...)
Falling star: Guys...? Guys! Can someone let me out of here? It smells like towels in here! Hey! I'm... I'm developing claustrophobia here...!
(Well, all's well that ends well, as they say. Even if you have no idea what the heck just happened. Until next time, never underestimate the power of a mind that seeks entertainment!)