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Reality Based


Christmas Saga 3: And Good Will Toward Men
By d_Galloway

Voldar's rocket finally reached orbit around the Earth. Voldar looked through the telescope onto an Earth city. "Those foolish Earthlings still have such primitive cities," he said. "But enough about that! Take us to orbit over the North Pole!"

The rocket quickly made its way to the North Pole. "At last!" said Voldar. "Now, prepare to land!"

Meanwhile, Kimar's ship followed them, its crew prepared to make their own move.


Glenton and kiro stepped onto the stage, prepared to act through the first spirit scene. kiro lit a candle, setting it carefully on top of her head and attaching it to a strange head-shaped candle holder. Glenton, meanwhile, was acting asleep on a couch loaned by the hybrids. "Ebenezer Scroooooooooge!" she said. "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past!"

Glenton didn't even make eye contact. "Oh, really? Well, go humbug off! I'm trying to sleep here, you little brat!"

"That's what I'm trying to change!" said kiro, obviously improving her lines. "Your evil ways must be brought to an end!"

"They will never end!" said Glenton. He quickly pulled out a .44 magnum, despite the fact they obviously didn't exist during the 19th century. "I'm gonna snuff you out right-"

"Glenton, you already tried that," said Galloway. "It didn't work then, and it won't work now!"

Glenton pointed the gun at Galloway and fired. Galloway quickly threw up a ki shield, sending the shots ricocheting in every direction. He then charged at Glenton, tackling the thief to the ground. Glenton reached for his Dragon's Tooth sword, but Galloway quickly pounded him into submission, but not before mugging him for Glenton's flash money.

"...Is this how the rest of the play is going to turn out?" asked Kairi.

Trisha slowly stumbled out of the warehouse, her face, arms, and torso heavily bandaged. "With Galloway in charge? I'd put my money on it."


Belladonna and Nel continued walking down the pathway, desperately searching for an exit. Suddenly, several purple-robed figures descended, mysteriously floating around. Sighing, the two prepared to fight.


Galloway sat at the foot of the makeshift stage, hand on his chin, eyes crossed in anger. Behind him, the RPGC Task Force continued discussing possible escapes from the horrible play. Before him, Trisha and Kairi sat on the same kind of chairs found in an old elementary school classroom, engaging in some basic talk. Galloway finally turned his head to face the Task Force. "Some lousy superheroes you are. A play ISN'T going to kill you!"

"Only Mabat's an actual licensed superhero!" said Heaven's Soldier. "The rest of us are either amatuers, pure evil, or simply attempting to bring peace to the world!"

"Heaven, GG," said Galloway, "remember Nightmare the Clown? Captain 1980s? The Litigator? Dr. Doom...well, not him. Can you honestly tell me they didn't freak you out as much as this play?"

GG and Heaven's Soldier thought about it briefly. "Well...yes," said GG Crono. "At least with them, we didn't have to-"

"Go die somewhere, losers," said Galloway. He then turned his attention to Trisha. "So, when did this all start?"

"We first had problems a few weeks ago," said Trisha. "Some of us got jobs in the town, and everything was going fine. Then, they were somehow found out about them; they had to run back here."

"It seems they know a lot about you," said Galloway. "It could be one of Dr. Kaizer's lackies."

"That's very unlikely," said Glenton. "I managed to raid one of his labs a few weeks ago. All of his assistants were killed over a year ago..."

"Nevermind, then," said Galloway. "Alright, Kairi, ready to start-"



The rocket landed on the frozen wasteland, a ladder quickly descending from the bottom somehow. Voldar quickly descended, followed by the armored soldiers, Dropo held by two in the middle of the formation. They quickly made their way across the North Pole, stopping only to let Voldar kill a polar bear that had scared him off several years prior. Finally, they reached the outer regions of Santa' Workshop, completely walled off from any possible attack.

One of the soldiers raised his arm, revealing an arm cannon. With a single blast, nearly all of the outer defenses of the fortress were gone.



As Galloway was about to say something, Santa's face suddenly appeared in hologram form before them. "RPGC Task Force! Aliens have attacked the workshop! We need your help!"

As the face dissapeared, the Task Force mobilized to action. "Galloway, teleport us to the workshop!" said Heaven's Soldier. "It's time to save Christmas!"


The Task Force teleported into the workshop, only to find it in complete and total chaos. Elves ran to and fro, screaming from the weapons of death that rained upon them. Two armored figures raced towards the Task Force, only to be sliced apart by Heaven's Soldier and GG Crono. Another fired a blast at kiro, but the catgirl jumped into the air and fired her bazooka while still in mid-air, blowing off the soldier's head.

Another charged at Glenton, energy blade attached to its arm. The thief flipped over the figure's shoulders and onto its back, quickly pounding into it with his fists. After a few blows, a crack appeared in its helmet, allowing Glenton to run the Dragon's Tooth Sword deep into its face. Mabat threw a wind shockwave at a small group of soldiers, cutting through them like a knife through butter. Darkness Beckons decapitated one soldier, while Galloway jumped kicked another.

Finally, the battle had ended. The soldiers lay dead, and Santa workshop was safe...for five seconds. Suddenly, the dead bodies returned to life, their wounds completely healed, their armor completely repaired. "Glenton, Mabat, enter Santa's office!" said Heaven's Soldier. "Make sure the fat guy's safe!" The two nodded in acknowledgement, and jumped through the windows surrounding Santa's office.

To their horror, they saw that Santa was gone.


Voldar and the soldiers continued to lead Santa and Dropo through the sewers beneath the workshop. "Why are you doing this, Voldar?" asked Santa.

"Over thirty Earth years ago," said Voldar, "you humiliated us, turning Mars from the Planet of War to the Planet of Peace! I'm going to make you and Dropo pay for this crime!"


The Task Force continued to fight, but grew more and more exhausted with every passing minute.


One of the soldiers pressed a switch on his armor. Soon, the soldiers, Voldar, Dropo, and Santa all vanished.


The Task Force watched as their opponents dissapeared. Glenton and Mabat rejoined them, a few XBox 360s in Glenton's arms. "Wh-What the hell's going on?" gasped Heaven's Soldier.

Suddenly, several green-skinned figures entered the workshop, armed with what looked like blow driers. "What's going on here?" asked what seemed to be their leader. "Where's Santa Claus?"

"We don't know," said Mabat. "We just came her to save him, but he was already gone."

"Voldar," said the leader. "He must have beaten us to him."

"Can someone please tell me what's going on?" asked kiro.

"I am Kimar, leader of the martians," said the martian. "Over thirty of your Earth years ago, we kidnapped Santa Claus to bring joy to our children. Voldar, however, refused to accept our idea, and attempted to stop us at every turn. He was captured after several attempts to kill Santa Claus, but he escaped recently."

"So, we have to find Santa Claus?" said Galloway.

"It's time to kick some martian butt!" said Mabat.


Val and Weiila sat in Ukyo's old home in Kalevala. "'s your Christmas been?" asked Val.

"Pretty good so far," said Weiila. "How about yours?"

"Well, Santa Claus blackmailed me into getting Galloway a..." She handed Weiila a list. Weiila's eyes practically exploded out of her skull.

"He wants...ONE OF THOSE?" said Weiila. "I never thought Galloway would sink so low..."

"I always did," said Val. "Anyway, I guess I should start searching. Have fun with your chibi-free holiday!"


Galloway took the Task Force aside, while Kimar and the martians assessed the damage to the workshop. "Galloway, do you still have that spaceship you kidnapped Weiila with?" asked Mabat.

"Look, for the last time, I DIDN'T KIDNAP WEIILA!" said Galloway. "I simply blackmailed her into following me into space! And no, the Sattelite of Love's long gone." He stroked his chin. "Although...Of course! The Flying Bunker!"

"That old piece of junk?" asked Glenton. "I haven't seen it since the other Galloways attacked us. Where is it, anyway?"

"The US Government stole it a year ago," said Galloway. "Glenton, do you have any information on Area 51?"

"More than you can believe," said Glenton.

"Too bad, because that's not where we're going," said Galloway. "It's in a Florida air base, buried underground and guarded by more soldiers than anyone can possibly imagine."

"So what are we waiting for?" asked GG Crono. "Let's get in there and take that thing back!"


Meanwhile, in RPGC's local cafe, Videospirit, Manus Dei, and Sir Percival sat, the latter two drinking tea while Video simply watched them. "What is our plan this Christmas?" asked Manus.

"Tragically, I fear I doth have no ideas as to what actions to perform this Yuletide season," said Sir Percival.

"It seems like there's less and less for us to do every year," said Video. "Ever since the Task Force reformed, we've been given fewer and fewer assignments."

Suddenly, Galloway teleported next to them, accompanied by the RPGC Task Force. "Guys, we need your help!" said Heaven's Soldier. "There are innocent people that need defending!"

"Sounds like as good a cause as any," said Manus. "What's going on?"

"It's the hybrids in Alberta," said Galloway. "The Albertans have gone crazy, and they are in need of defending. We would do it ourselves, but we are required elsewhere."

"Very well, I shall commit to their defense," said Percival.

"I guess I am in, too," said Videospirit. ***

Two US soldiers patrolled a hallway, inside of which was the doorway to a control room. PC Glenton crawled through a ventilation shaft, appearing in a shadowy corner of the hall. He quickly replaced the grate, waited for the guards to pass, snuck into the hallway, and quietly opened the door. He managed to close it just before the guards turned around to continue their patrols.

Inside the control room was a single soldier, his eyes glued on a series of monitors on a large control panel, which included a small television displaying a recording of the 1994 Super Bowl. Glenton quietly sighed at the stupidity of the guard, and snuck to the far shadows, where a conveniently-placed grate rested in the floor. After using a jamming device to block the camera signal. His hands itching with anticipation, Glenton unscrewed the grate, quietly removing the screws and finally the grate.

GG Crono climbed out of the grate, being careful not to attract the attention of the guard. He slowly snuck behind the soldier and slammed his head into the control panel, rendering him unconcious. Heaven's Soldier, kirokokori, Darkness Beckons, and Galloway climbed out of the grate, and Glenton quickly returned the grate. Heaven's Soldier made his way to the control panel, and quickly shut down the security alarms in the sector, as well as reprogramming the security cameras and downloading a copy of the floorplans into his trusty PDA.

After analyzing the plans, Heaven's Soldier sent kiro into the hallway, armed with a bottle of purple gas. When the guards were in range, she quickly pressed a switch on the bottle, releasing some of the gas onto them. The two quickly fell unconcious, allowing the others to hide their bodies and continue deeper into the base.

After what seemed like an eternity, the Task Force (plus Galloway) found themselves standing before an enormous hangar, inside of which was the large, half-dome Flying Bunker. "Okay, now to get inside of the Bunker," said Galloway. "If one of us could sneak in, I could teleport the others inside."

(one daring raid later)

The Task Force finally slammed the loading ramp shut, as Galloway dashed to the controls and started the system. Within seconds, the engine was fired up, and the Bunker smashed through the base, leaving chaos and distruction in its wake.


The Flying Bunker landed outside the warehouse, where Trisha, Kairi, Percival, Manus, and Videospirit waited. "What's that?" gasped Kairi.

The RPGC Task Force (plus Galloway) descending the loading ramp. "Just an old creation," said Galloway. "We're going into space to save Santa from martians."

"And we get out of the play!" said Heaven's Soldier.

"Actually..." said Galloway. He quickly threw the others into the Bunker, grabbed Kairi, and ran back inside. "The play's still on!"

"What about us?" asked Trisha.

"Don't worry," said Galloway. "You can trust these three; they're among the best RPGC has ever known. Besides, I'll teleport in once in a while." Galloway quickly raised the loading ramp, and the Flying Bunker rocketed into space.


Kimar and the martians loaded into their own rocket, and blasted into space.


Wilfredo returned to his home, only to find a large golden mirror sitting on his couch. Beside it was a note that read, "Daventry's Magic Mirror. Prepare for your doom, Wilfredo Martinez!"

Sighing, Wil looked at the mirror, barely resisting the urge to do a generic Snow White parody. Suddenly, a massive blast of light emerged from the mirror, nearly blinding Wilfredo and the houses next to his. When the light faded, he saw a beautiful woman's face staring at him. "Hello? Can you hear me?"

Gathering his composure, Wilfredo approached the mirror. "Yes, I can hear you. My name is Wilfredo Martinez. Who are you?"

"My name is Genesta, a fairy queen," said the woman. "The world is in danger, and we need your help."

Wil chuckled at the stupidity of a fairy queen, but continued talking to her anyway. "How can I help you?"

"The Black Cloak Society has taken an interest in the power of my homeland," said Genesta. "The accursed witch Lolotte has stolen my talisman, which contains a great deal of my magic, and allows me to survive outside of my homeworld. Unless it is recovered soon..." Genesta suddenly started coughing and hacking; it was obvious she was gravely ill.

"All right, I'll help you," said Wil. "Just tell me where I can find Lolotte."

"She is in her homeland of Tamir," said Genesta. "I will use what power I have to bring you here, but from there you must recover the talisman before you may return home." Wil was suddenly teleported from his living room.


Wil found himself standing on a wooden pier, overlooking a vast ocean on one side and a sandy beach on the other. Tightening the grip on his staff, he walked down the pier, stepping onto the hot sands of the beach. Before him was a small land, with a forest, a valley, a swamp, and an evil castle on a sinister mountain.


After a long, drawn-out battle, Belladonna and Nel managed to defeat the robed beings, their bodies dissolving into green mist upon destruction. "Well, that was pointless," said Nel. "Come on, let's go."

Belladonna grabbed the child by the arm. "Who's the adult here?"


After hours of adventuring, Wilfredo stared at the night sky, his pack filled with a scientifically impossible number of items. Finally, grabbing his cupid's bow and arrow, climbed the side of the mountain, carefully grabbing every foothold he could find. After what seemed like an eternity, he stood before Lolotte's castle.

As he started to walk in, however, the figure of Lolotte herself appeared. Her dark eyes and black hair perfectly matched her dark outfit and vile personality. "Foolish human!" she said. "Did you really think you could escape from me?"

"Not really, since I wasn't running from you to begin with," said Wil.

"The Black Cloak Society is unstoppable!" said Lolotte. "You will not defeat me like Manannan!"

"Well, to be honest, Kairi turned him into a cat," said Wil. "By the way, why don't you guys, you know, fight me at once? If you're so powerful, you should stand a remote chance of taking me on."

"We thought about that!" said Lolotte.

"Then why didn't you?" asked Wil.

Lolotte was tounge-tied for a minute, then stammered, "Sh-Shut up, you dirty sex-crazed womanizer!"

"Hey, I'm not dirty!" said Wil.

"Whatever, fool!" said Lolotte. "Genesta's time is almost gone! Soon, her power will be mine, and the Black Cloak Society will be under my control! Prepare to die!"

Lolotte raised her arms, and the skies began to darken. Recognizing the nature of the spell, Wil rolled away while a lightning bolt struck the very spot he was standing on. Lolotte channeled flames around his arms, and Wil barely dodged a massive fireball. At last, Wil saw his chance; he aimed the cupid's arrow and fired, hitting Lolotte right in the heart.

"GRAAAH!" she screamed. "True did you know that" She fell to the ground, crumbling to dust as she did so. Enraged at his lack of sex, Wil threw the useless bow away and looked at Lolotte's charred remains. Within them was a beautiful talisman, no doubt the one stolen from Genesta. Sighing, Wil climbed down the mountainside.

After several minutes of walking Wilfredo found himself in front of Genesta. He handed her the talisman, and her glow returned almost immediately. "Thank you, Wilfredo Martinez. Although I regret Lolotte's destruciton, there was no other choice."

"It was no trouble, Genesta," said Wil. "Can you tell me any more about the Black Cloak Society?"

Genestra stretched her arms out, and a large book appeared within her hands. "This book contains the history of the Black Cloak Society. Take it, and I will return you to your home."

Wil grasped the book, and found Tamir fading around him. When reality returned, he was standing in his living room, the magic mirror still on his couch, the book still in his arms. Although he still had no love, he still had a lead on the Black Cloak Society...and a nugget of silver he had neglected to give back to the Seven Dwarves.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Wil swung the passageway open, and saw Val on the other side. "Wilfredo," she said, "we need to get Galloway a *guess*" Wil simply seethed with rage.


Galloway sat at the bridge of the Flying Bunker, looking at the many flashing buttons and doodads, until the viewscreen suddenly turned on, revealing the face of Weiila. "Hello, Weiila," said Galloway. "How'd you get this number?"

"Val told me," said Weiila. "What's this about Santa being kidnapped?"

"Well- Wait, when'd you hear about that?" asked Galloway. "And how'd you know we were on the Flying Bunker?"

"Turns out Mrs. Claus, who we never saw before despite visiting the North Pole at least three times, saw the aliens capture him and ratted them out to the news," said Weiila. "After I heard about the military break-in, I figured you would have stolen your bunker back."

"Alright, sounds reasonable," said Galloway. "How can I help you?"

"Why didn't you invite me?" asked Weiila. "I would have helped you if you had asked!"

"I figured you wanted to enjoy your holiday," said Galloway. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a play to rehearse." He quickly shut down the communication frequency, set the controls to auto-pilot, and stepped off the bridge and into the ship's lobby-like main interior. The US Government had, sadly, stripped the ship of many of its comforts, including the sofas, the bookshelves, the dinette set, and the Home Entertainment Center, leaving only several uncomfortable metal chairs, a love seat, and a copy of "God's Debris."

Glenton and Mabat sat on the loveseat, obviously very uncomfortable with being so close to each other. Kairi and kiro sat on two of the chairs, kiro talking about her superhero gig and Kairi about how she and Wilfredo defeated Manannan. GG Crono meditated in a corner, while Darkness Beckons sharpened his scythe. Heaven's Soldier, meanwhile, tried to read "God's Debris," but stopped when he saw Galloway enter.

"Hello, folks," said Galloway. "Let's get that play moving again, shall we?"


The rising sun shined above Wilfredo's neighborhood, slowly restoring life to the small corner of the world. Wil and Val both awoke, Val sleeping in Wil's bed and Wil sleeping on the floor, and made their way to the couch. After several minutes of silence, and the consumption of leftover pizza for breakfast, Wilfredo finally broke the silence. "Galloway wants-"

"-a girlfriend," said Val.

"Isn't know...cheating?" asked Wil. "Maybe Santa just grabbed an old list by mistake?"

"I doubt it," said Val. "I always took Galloway for a lousy, backstabbing, sex-crazed, illiterate, drunken, pot smoking, masturbating, porno-loving, polygamist psycopath!"

"...Didn't you just describe yourself?" said Wil. He backed off when Val pointed Gungnir towards his throat nodes. "Besides, isn't your marriage loveless and the result of a time travel incident that saved you from being erased, but ended in an arranged marriage?"

"Yeah, well, we tried to divorce before, but Galloway keeps going on about how we need to 'preserve the timeline,'" said Val. "Besides, I'm not getting him one, anyway."

"What about the blackmail?" asked Wil.

"I revealed everything on the Internet," said Val. "There's no way Santa could control me now!"

"What about...the dark secret?" said Wil.

Val's eyes expanded to the size of dinner plates, causing her a great deal of pain. After several seconds of absolute horror, her eyes returned to their normal size. "Oh God, no! Not that secret! If Santa reveals it, I will be destroyed!"

"Well, good luck with that," said Wil. "By the way, where did you park the Eskermobile?"

"Didn't you hear?" said Val. "It got into a major accident. My beloved vehicle has been completely destroyed, along with my driver's license and dignity. So, I'd better get going before my plane leaves." She ran out the door, hailed a taxi, and rode off into the sunrise.

Sighing, Wil looked at the book, scanning through its pages to learn anything about the Black Cloak Society. Finally, after several pages detailing satanic rituals, dark magic, and reality television, he found a series of pages detailing the story of the Black Cloak Society:



No organization can truly hold a candle to the dark evils that permeate this society. Its origins are long and complex, although it first rose to prominance during the glory days of the Roman Empire. Originally, the society was spread out amongst several regions, including Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Russia, and was composed merely of anarchists and common ruffians. That changed when Shaherizad took control. A powerful magic user, he united the fragmented society and breathed new power into its existance. It was at this time that the ruling body of the society became dominated by mages and wizards, their powers deeming them worthy of ruling over the weak.

Shaherizad, however, paid dearly for his powers. The gods physically struck him down and dragged his body into the depths of the Land of the Dead, where he became the Lord of the Dead. The society was thrown into chaos, and eventually crumbled. Just prior to the dark ages, however, the society was rebuilt in Europe. Using the religious dogma present during the period, they kept the population of the world in check by passing off magic as "evil." This allowed only those they saw as worthy of power to learn their secrets, thus creating bloodlines throughout the society.

This society, too, eventually crumbled, not due to internal pressure, but due to the Rennaisance. The religous control they had exerted was snatched away from them, forcing them to seperate once again. Their most recent incarnation appeared in North America, once again using the rising Fundamentalist movement to control the population. This time, however, there are very few underlings; only the council remains.

The society has always operated in secret, misleading the populace so that they blame other factors on their issues and problems, even those the Black Cloak Society lacks the ability or interest in tampering with. The current council is unique in that it is not fully human; there are reports of two fairy-like creatures ruling as well. They society also has a chain of command when it comes to threats; when a threat materializes, the society sends its weakest members first for analysis reasons, and then sends the more powerful members to destroy the threat. It is said that only one person has ever met the society's leader in combat; they were destroyed within one nanosecond.

Beware the Black Cloak Society. Doing otherwise will only lead to destruction.


Wil closed the book and sighed. "What if those two really WERE just scouts? Will the next one actually possess power?" He laughed inside, knowing that such a group probably wasn't a threat.



"So, Lolotte has failed."
"It was to be expected. My apologizes, my dear, but your sister was only a scout."
"There's no need to apologize. It was her failure."
"Still, that should be enough analysis. We shall send someone more...capable next. Ad Avis?"
"Yes, 'master?'"
"Is tonight not the night Iblis may rise?"
"Of course it is. But how does that-"
"It is time we killed Wilfredo...only this time, he shall do it HIMSELF!"


Santa Claus sat on his bunk, while Dropo was carted into the cell next to his. Voldar poked his head into the bars, sneering at Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. "Feel like ho ho hoing now?"

"You won't get away with this, Voldar!" said Santa. "Kimar and the others will be here soon!"

"I doubt it," said Voldar. "They still think we're going to Mars! They won't catch on until it's too late!"


Finally, the play reached the scene between the young Scrooge and his former fiance, whose character name Galloway couldn't remember. kiro, her head still holding the candle-holding device, showed Glenton to what was supposed to be a snow-covered bridge, where Kairi and GG Crono sat on a bench, the latter dressed in one of Glenton's spare trenchcoats. "Oh, my love," said Kairi, "we agreed to marry over a year ago. Why have you refused to set a date?"

"Well, for one thing, you look fourteen," said GG Crono.

"Actually, I'm eighteen," said Kairi. "I just...age...gracefully."

"Alright, that obvious coverup aside, I have a business to set up," said GG Crono. "What's the point of marriage if we don't have any money?"

"But Scrooge!" said Kairi. "We love each other so much, and yet you spend all your time in that business of yours! I still can't believe you betrayed your previous employer for that devil of a boss!"

GG Crono stood up, trying his best to act enraged. "Foolish woman! My pay is many times greater than with that Fezziwhatever, and Marley and I will soon own it for ourselves! We can have everything we've always dreamed of! We'll live like royalty!"

Kairi jumped to her feet, also enraged. "Is that all you care about? Do you think that only riches will give you happiness? Possessions are fleeting, Scrooge, but love is eternal!" GG Crono simply stared at her in cold silence. "If you love me, stay with me. If not, leave."

Glenton finally broke in. "Stay with her! Don't leave! You'll regret it the rest of your life!" GG Crono simply walked off, and Kairi sat herself on the bench and cried.

Glenton turned angrily at kiro. "Damn spirit! Begone and torture me no more!" kiro backed off in horror, as the flame on her head suddenly intensified. Realizing what was going on, Glenton grabbed a sheet and shoved it onto her, snuffing out the candle. kiro started to sink down, only to stop when the sheet caught fire. The fire soon spread to kiro's ears, hair and tail, sending her running and screaming. Thinking quickly, Heaven's Soldier grabbed a nearby bucket filled with water and splashed it onto kiro, quickly snuffing out the flames.

"Take kiro to the infirmary," said Galloway. "She'll be out of action for a while."

Heaven's Soldier lifted kiro into the air. "Good thing that bucket of water was sitting around."

"Uh...where did that bucket come from?" asked Galloway.

"Well...the toilet backed up a few hours ago," said Mabat. "I really had to pee, so..." kiro weakly lifted her bazooka, her eyes narrowed at the Finnish Blue Mage, but was unable to do so in her burned state.

"So, how'd we do, besides the horrible accident?" said Glenton.

"Not bad," said Galloway. "Thanks for not sabotaging the scene. forgot the musical number, Kairi."

Kairi's face blushed. "Uh...about that..."




Wilfredo leaned into the old trunk he had fished out of his bedroom. Inside was many of the old trinkets he had collected from his previous adventures. Among them was a crystal from Nihilanth, a mind-control hat, a Krankorian ray gun, a bag of gold, and a platinum amulet. Beneath all that, however, was an old waterskin and a lamp, which when rubbed turned on and off a small flame. Beneath that was a small hand mirror, given to him by a princess he had rescued during his superhero days.

Sighing at his lost youth and his helplessness in locating the Black Cloak Society, Wil curled up on his couch and took a nap.




Kairi finally finished her song. The others were moved to tears, except for kiro, who was in too much pain to cry. "That was beautiful," gasped Galloway. "Why were you so nervous about singing?"

Then they noticed Kairi had ran into her oom.


Belladonna and Nelimar continued walking throughout the orange-themed world, fighting off purple robed figures and dodging various death traps. Finally, as they neared the end of the pathway, a portal suddenly appeared, sucking them inside.


Nelimar awoke to find herself lying face-first on a patch of long, unmowed grass. She slowly picked herself up, surveying her surroundings. She was most certainly in a graveyard; crumbling tombstones were everywhere, surrounded by metal fences and soaked in blood for some reason. Belladonna, however, was nowhere to be found.

Suddenly, Nelimar realized her staff was missing. She looked around in a panic, but only found a long, rusty pitchfork. As she grabbed the weapon, however, her eyes slowly moved to a rustling piece of earth, lying at the foot of the nearest tombstone. Before she could process what was happening, a rotting yellow figure, dressed in brown slacks and holding a fire axe, jumped out of the ground and approached her, mumbling and screaming for blood. Terrified, Nel grabbed the pitchfork and stabbed the zombie until it was flat on its back, completely motionless.

As she started away, however, the zombe jumped back up, hungry for blood once more. Nel continued to stab the creature until it stopped moving, and in a moment of absolute mindless terror, ripped out its heart. She waited several minutes, but the zombie did not move.


Meanwhile, Weiila sat at the staff lounge, drinking some tea and enjoying smooth, relaxing music. As much as she tried to, however, she couldn't help but feel angry at Galloway. First, he asks for a girlfriend, and then he leaves her behind while he goes to save Christmas. She also felt sorry for the RPGC Task; they had to take part in a play version of a Christmas Carol. She was just glad she had a chibi-free Christmas...

"Hey, kid! What are you doing here?"

Weiila looked behind her, and saw demigod, still in human form, standing over her. "What did you do that for?"

"I just wanted to see how you would react," said demi. He took a seat in the comfy red chair across from Weiila. "So, how are you this fine yuletide season?"

"Not all that great," said Weiila. "I thought this Christmas would be perfect, but..."

"The whole mess with Galloway again?" asked demi.

"No, he's pretty much leaving me alone," said Weiila.

" is Galloway's fault?"

"DAMN RIGHT!" said Weiila. "Ever since Mox showed up, we've always been involved in each other's mad schemes! Now he goes off into space to save Santa from martians and doesn't even call!"

"Weiila, you aren't the only white mage anymore," said demi. "Besides, from what I hear, Galloway's been moving out of the spotlight, too, especially after Naar took away his SSJ form."

" does that-"

"There are other healers, and new generations of heroes," said demi. "You will always be a valued member of RPGC, but Galloway and the Task Force should be able to save Santa Claus."

"Well-" Weiila suddenly realized something. "Wait, when did you hear about the Task Force?"

"Galloway called me on his transdimensional transporter/phone," said demi, holding a small, box-shaped device. "This baby can teleport you anywhere with a corresponding device. Of course, Galloway's Flying Bunker is the only one with such a thing, so-"

Weiila snatched the device out of demi's hands and pressed the switch. After a few seconds, nothing happened. "I forgot to change the batteries," said demi. Cursing, Weiila handed the box back to him.


Nelimar made her way deeper into the graveyard, climbing down a set of stairs covered with ancient vegitation. She pushed open a gate at the bottom, and saw a large mortuary in front of her, and a flare gun somehow standing upright and spinning around. She grabbed the gun and started towards the door, only to stop when a shotgun blast struck the stone next to her.

Spinning around, she saw a hideous man, clad in a brown robe and holding a sawed-off shotgun. He shouted something in a twisted, demonic tongue and fired again. Nel quickly twisted aside, barely dodging the bullet, and out of desperation fired the flare gun at the figure.

The instant the flare struck, the robed guy suddenly caught fire. Completely immolated, he ran around, screaming, "It burns! It burns!" Finally, the doomed assailant collapsed into a pile of blood and gore. Horrified at what she had done, Nel simply stood silent for several minutes. Gathering her composure, she opened the doors to the mortuary and stepped inside.


Val finally got off the plane, looking into the night sky. She slowly walked to the waiting taxi and rode back home, her head filled with thoughts of torturing Galloway. Every moment she thought about her least favorite husband, her rage grew, until she could feel her skin turning green.

It wasn't until she was at her doorstop, however, that an epiphany finally slammed into her face. The vile spectre that is the Holiday Spirit took advantage of her momentary weakness and snuck into her very being, attaching itself to her own black soul. Finally, a tiny break of empathy entered her long-since angsty being, giving her an insight into Galloway's existance that she would have never experienced otherwise.

Just as quickly as it had come, however, her body rejected the kindness and well-being that threatened to take control of her, and she was back to her old self. Unfortunately, a small bit of empathy remained; through it, her resolve to get Galloway a girlfriend was strengthened, especially once she realized how everyone else would think about her secret.


Wil awoke from his nap, only to find he had oversleep. Cursing himself, he stepped outstide to take a walk, lamp and waterskins in hand. As he neared an alley, however, a tall man with a heavy black beard, fine clothing taken straight out of 1001 Nights, and holding a statue, emerged from the alley. Wil suddenly found himself unable to move as the figure stared at him.

"Wilfredo, it is I, Ad Avis," said the figure. "I am your friend. Look at my face. Look into my eyes, and trust me."

Wil tried to resist, but found himself being pulled in by the man's words... "Wilfredo, do you remember me?" asked Ad Avis. "We studied magic together. We promised to defeat evil wherever it appeared. Wilfredo, we must find the djinni, Iblis. With his power, we can defeat the Black Cloak Society and save the multiverse. Look into my eyes, and trust me."

Wil attempted to collect his thoughts, but was unable to even concentrate. The words seemed to flow and ebb in his mind. Before he could respond, Ad Avis raised his hands, and they were transported from the alley.


Nelimar finally pushed the door leading out of the mortuary open, her pitchfork soaked in zombie blood, dead cultists lying behind her. Unfortunately, the exit was caved in, except for a single hole in the wall. Sighing, she jumped down, landing on top of a stack of old wooden coffins. To her left was a set of train tracks, which led to what looked like an abandoned trainyard.

As she approached the first boxcar, however, two more zombies suddenly popped out of the ground, appearing right next to a barrel of dynamite. Sighing at the ridiculous ease, she fired a flare at the barrel. The dynamite erupted in a massive explosion, reducing the zombies to pieces. Having killed yet again, she climbed into the boxcar.

A sawed-off shotgun was lying in the center of the car, strangely spinning around for no apparant reason. She didn't want to touch the weapon; her uncle had taught her to never descend to the level of common criminals and the vile beings that are antiheroes. As much as she tried, however, a force seemed to take control of her mind, persuading her to take the weapon.

Her hands gripped the weapon, feeling its short, cold metal barrel, sensing its destructive power. To her side was a box of shotgun shells, which she quickly emptied. She slung the weapon over her shoulder and jumped down from the boxcar, following the tracks to a large train station, ironically called "Miskatonic Station."

The very second she stepped into the building, however, she heard the sound of gunshots, followed by men and women screaming. She ran into the lobby, only to find several cultists, surrounded by the dead bodies of men, women, and children. They shouted in their accursed tounges, turning their identical shotguns on her. Nel jumped back to cover as they fired, blowing apart nearly the entire section of the wall. Nel attempted to use a Shield spell, but the magic fizzled and died; something was blocking her spells.

She looked at the shotgun as the cultists drew closer, cursing and laughing in their strange satanic tongue. Time seemed to slow down as she looked at the weapon. "Uncle...forgive me..."

She turned round the corner and fired, blowing a hole into the nearest cultist. The others aimed to fire, but Nel quickly pulled out her flare gun and fired all six chambers at once, igniting them all. As they all fell dead in the exact same manner, Nel realized the truth. She had no magic, no idea where Belladonna was, and the only defense at the moment was a few guns...

Then she remembered what her uncle had given her. She slapped herself for not thinking of it sooner...



Wilfredo and Ad Avis appeared in a large desert at night, in front of a massive series of ruins. A full moon shined above them, giving a strange and sinister glow to the ruined city itself. Ad Avis raised his arms, and what appeared to be a large door began to glow, suddenly covered with a series of images. The wizard turned to his "partner." "Now, walk through the door."

Wil pushed against the door, only to find it not budging at all. "No, you fool!" said Ad Avis. "Cursed door, why won't it open?" Wil backed away from the door as Ad Avis continued to growl. "How did that prophecy go?" He then launched into a long prophecy about the "Year of the Scorpion" and "Iblis," but stopped when he realized something. "THE MOON! It's supposed to shine directly on the door! But it won't shine that way until tomorrow! The prophecy didn't say one thouand years and a day!"

Wil suddenly had an idea. He pulled the mirror out of his pants and raised it towards the door. The moonlight reflected off the mirror's surface and bounced against the door, causing it to brighten like a light bulb. Finally, the door slid into the desert sand, revealing a dark passageway. "Good thinking, hero. Now, you must pass through the ruined city and reach Iblis' chamber. You must pass the trials of darkness, water, wind, fire, wisdom, and greed. Now go, and find Iblis before it is too late!"

Wil thought about arguing, but the man's eyes convinced him otherwise. He stepped into the ruins...only to have the door slam shut behind him, leaving his trapped in complete darkness.


"And that's why my love life sucks," said Galloway. Everyone nodded in agreement.


Wilfredo grabbed his lamp and rubbed it, illuminating the entire cave. Using the lamp, he was able to dodge the deep chasms and stalagtites (or was it stalagmites) that peppered the cave. After a few minutes, he found himself in front of an underground river, which led to a waterfall falling into the bottomless pits. Strangely, a series of logs roared down the river. Wil jumped on one, riding it like a surfboard, and jumped onto the other shore.

Immediately, he was pulled in by a whirlwind of air, all coming from a small wind tunnel. Before he could be sucked in completely, however, he threw a magic missile at the rocks surrounding the tunnel, collapsing them in such a way that they covered the tunnel. Free from the evil wind, Wil climbed up a nearby set of stairs and passed through another passageway.

To his horror, he now stood in a lava-filled room, the heat of which was more intense than hell itself. Little flames erupted from geysers, and Wil found himself covered in sweat. He quickly poured the water from his waterskin on himself, cooling him down. He then ran through the chamber, barely escaping before all the water evaporated.

He now stood before a cliff, which overlooked a massive doorway. Wil jumped off the end of the cliff and quickly used a levitation spell, which caused him to float gently to the ground. He approached the door, but found no way of opening it; fortunately, a disembodied voice boomed out of nowhere. "All Who Seek to Pass! Speak the Name of Wisdom!" Wil quickly looked at his "Book of Power-Words," and found the correct entry: "Suleiman!"

The door roared open, revealing a chambed filled with gold and jewels, enough to make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. Still, Wil pressed on, ignoring the treasure and instead going through a wooden door at the other end, revealing a small chamber with a spiral pathway, which led to a small globe filled with what looked like purple mist. Drawn by a force other than his own, Wil climbed the spiral passageway and approached the globe...only to be suddenly frozen as Ad Avis teleported in, grabbing the globe.

"You fool!" said Ad Avis. "Thank you so much for disabling the defenses! Now, I will destroy the Black Cloak Society with Iblis, and from there, the world! The fools that sealed Iblis a thousand years ago will pay for their mistakes, and I shall become the Dark Master!" He threw a bolt of energy at the doorwar, collapsing several rocks in front of it. Wil was thrown off his feet by the blast.

"So long, fool!" said Ad Avis. He teleported out of the chamber, leaving Wil entombed in the ruins.

A half-hour later, Wil climbed to his feet. The lamp had fallen into a small but deep crevase when he was knocked over, but there was indeed a brief flash of light, coming from a stalagmite (or is it stalagtite) near the buried door. Still groggy from the blow, Wil climbed down the spiral pathway and examined the flash, finding only a small golden ring with a pink jewel. He slowly slipped the ring onto his finger, twisting it so he could get a better look at it.

Suddenly, the ring began to glow with an intense light, as pink smoke was released from the jewel. The smoke gathered above him, forming into what seemed to be a living creature, complete with eyes and a mouth. "Oh mighty master, I am the Djinni of the Ring!" He looked at the center of the chamber. "No! Iblis has been taken!"

"That's right," said Wilfredo. "We need to get him back, before Ad Avis releases him!"

"Aye, and I can grant you that wish," said the djinni. "But first, I must grant you two wishes." Wil thought long and hard about his wishes.

"Okay, my first wish is for Valkyrie Esker to be temporarily filled with the Christmas spirit," said Wil.

The djinni raised his arms, and a brief flash of light filled the room. "There, it has been granted. What is your second wish?"

Wil thought long and hard again. "My second wish is to be irresistable to women."

"I don't think you want that," said the djinni. "Everyone of my previous masters that made that wish died horrible deaths at the women they sought tore them apart."

"...Good point," said Wil. "Alright, my second wish is to have knowledge of the Black Cloak Society's members."

The djinni clapped his smokey flippers, and a list suddenly appeared in front of Wil. The black mage pocketed the paper. "There is only one wish left."

"Alright," said Wil, "I wish to be transported to wherever Ad Avis has gone." He knew that he could have very well gone back to the Black Cloak Society was, but was willing to take the chance.

"VERY WELL!" said the djinni. The two were instantly transported from the cave...


...and onto a balcony, overlooking a large city. Ad Avis was already there, raising his arms before a large pentagram. The middle of the symbol held the globe containing Iblis, while a candle was at each point. The evil wizard didn't even seem to know Wil was there.

The djinni's voice echoed through Wil's mind. "The Seal of Suleiman is nearly complete! You must disrupt the spell!"

Wil looked around frantically, but found only a single unlit candle and a flaming brazier next to Ad Avis. Sighing, Wil used a fetch spell on one of the candles, bringing it to him. The glow of the pentagram dissapeared, finally letting Ad Avis know about his visitor.

"You...You will pay!" he screamed. He threw a spell at Wil, but the mage simply bounced it off. He then threw a fireball, but it bounced harmlessly off Ad Avis. He then tried to affect the area around him, but Ad Avis' magical defenses were strong. Wil then noticed the angle of one of the walls, and had a plan...

He fired a Force Bolt at one of the walls. It bounced off the surface and slammed into the brazier. The device smashed right into Ad Avis, setting him ablaze and knocking him back. He tripped over the edge and fell to the depths below. Wil couldn't help but hear his last words: "MASTER! HELP ME!"

Suddenly, the djinni appeared, taking Iblis into its form. "Thank you, hero! Now Ibis will rest for another thousand years!" He then vanished, taking the globe with him. Wil looked over the edge where Ad Avis fell...and saw nothing. He levitated to the ground, and still saw nothing. Despite a five story flaming fall, there was no sign of his body, or any ash, or any evidence of disturbance.

Suddenly, Wilfredo's Trans-Dimensional Cell Phone started ringing. He quickly pulled up the viewscreen, revealing Nelimar. "Hello, Nel! How are things?"

"I need help, Uncle Wil!" said Nel. "I'm trapped in this evil dimension! My magic isn't working, and I don't know where I am!"

"...I see," said Wil. "Alright, I'll try to-" Then he saw the weapon slung over her shoulder. "Is that a shotgun?"

"Well, these wierd guys have been trying to kill me," said Nel. "I-I had to defend-"

"No excuses, Nel," said Wil. "What have I told you about guns?"

"Please, uncle!" said Nel.

"I can't stand anyone who would kill in such a way!" said Wil.

"Yeah, look who's talking, Mr. Put-Out-With-Rain-Water!" said Nel.

Wil practically snapped a vein. "Nelimar! You're not helping your situation!"

"Why are you judging me?" said Nel. "I'm trying to get out of here!"

"Are you arguing with me?" said Wil. "I have enough stress right now, Nel; I don't need anymore!" He threw the phone down, smashing it to pieces. As he cooled off, however, he realized how much of a mistake it was...


At long last, the play rehersal wound itself down. After Glenton had shot GG Crono in the foot, Heaven's Soldier had punched him out, followed by Darkness Beckons simply watching and Galloway knocking everyone out. "Alright, we'll call it a night. Tomorrow, we should be close to Santa."


After a few minutes of cooling down, Wil realized he probably should help Nel. He quickly used a teleportation spell, but the very moment he found himself being slammed into a wall of dark magical energy. As he struggled to punch his metaphysical self through, the wall changed to a bizzare mixture of fiery red and blood red, and what seemed to be a monolith appeared before him, covered with strange and obviously evil runes. "Foolish mortal! Who dares to trespass upon my world?"

"Who are you?" said Wil.

"I am Tchernaborg, ruler of this realm!" said the monolith. "And your soul is mine now!"

Wil struggled to maintain his form as a massive power plunged into his very being. The struggle continued to mount, as Wil used every power he could muster to defend himself. As much as he tried, however, realization quickly slammed into his face; he had never fought between two physical planes before, and was facing a being that didn't seem to exist at any specific place.

Then, just as Wil was about to be destroyed completely, he found himself being pulled back from the wall, and into the street. He fell to the ground, practically kissing the physical earth he had landed on. Then he looked to his side, and saw the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on. She had a fair complexion, with dark eyes and dark hair, which was hidden by a purple cloak. "You are alive? No person has ever survived a battle like that!"

"I guess I am," said Wil. "But, who are you?"

"I can't explain," said the girl. "Just know that my name is...Katrina." She quickly walked into a nearby alleyway. Desperate for answers, Wil ran after her, but when he reached the alley, he saw nothing but darkness.

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