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The RPGC Xmas Story!
by Wilfredo Martinez

Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico: The inside of a one-floor concrete house:
A man in his mid-thirties typed furiously at his PC- as usual. He had short black hair, and wore a T-shirt and jeans. He was surrounded by piles of books, magazines, and other things that badly needed to be put away.
Suddenly, the stillness was shattered by a celestial chorus, and a golden light descended right thru the roof!
-"WHAT THE!!" the man said, startled. The light coalesced into a young woman with brown hair, glasses, a long white robe and dove-white angel wings.
-"WEIILA!?" the man said, surprised but not scared.
The angel-like apparition landed gently. "Hi, Wil!" she said.
-"What's with the angel look?" he asked, getting up from his desk.
-"Oh, it's just my Xmas costume. Like it?"
-"Sure! But I think I liked your S&M Angel look more..."
-"That was my HALLOWEEN costume... and you'd better not let StarStorm hear you say that."
-"KIDDING, KIDDING!! Anyway, what brings you to my humble abode?"
-"Hmm, humble indeed. Do you ever clean in here?"
-"Arr, not you too! My sisters never cease to give me grief about that!"
-"This house needs a woman's touch."
-"You came here all the way from Sweden just to comment on my love life?"
-"Actually, I came to ask for your help."
-"ALRIGHT! Do we have to go save the World?"
-"Nothing so dramatic! I just wanted to see if you had any ideas for the RPGC Xmas party"
-"Who, me? Aren't YOU in charge of that?"
-"Yeah, but I'm drawing a big blank about what to do this year!"
-"So why ask me? I'm the new guy here!"
-"Exactly! I figured, maybe what we need is for the New Blood to contribute."
-"I don't know... parties aren't my style..."
-"Pleeease? I *really* need help! (Bats eyes)"
-"Ohh, alright... I'll think of something..."
-"THANK YOU!! I gotta go now. Must keep an eye on Magus, you know. Contact me as soon as you have got something!" (Fades away the same way she faded in.)

Wil sits back, and thinks for a while...
...and another while...
...and another while.
*ARRRGH, I'm drawing a blank too! Why did I agree to this for!?*
*Because I'm a sucker for pretty women, that's why. Oh well... when in doubt, go to an expert, right?* Grabbing a Santa hat from a nearby pile o' stuff, WM puts it on on, and said aloud, "Next stop, the North Pole! WARP!!"
And in a burst of sparkles, he disappears!


The North Pole: the Magically-invisible town of Christmasland:
The air is stirred by a flash of Sparkles, and Wil pops out of thin air-
-and immediately falls to his knees, shivering!!
-"AGGHH!! THE COLD!! F-F-F-Forgot to cast n-n-n-nullfrost first! NULLFROST!!
Wil is suddenly surrounded by rotating balls of blue light!
-"Ahhh... MUCH better!"
-"Forgot about the cold again, eh, WM?" a voice said behind him.WM turns around; it was Hermie the Elf.
-"Oh, hello, Jaime!"
-"That's HERMIE!"
-"WHATEVER! Where's the Boss-Man?"
-"He's busy, of course. Xmas is THIS month, don't you know?"
-"Of course I know!"
-"Then why can't you come visit some OTHER time of the year?"
-"This isn't a social call, I need a favor."
-"Even worse."
-"Look, just tell me where old Saint Nick is, already!"
-"In the Toy Shop, where else?"
-"Thank you." (Hurries away.)
-"Geez. Tropical people..." Hermie mumbled.

A few minutes later, WM had located the Toy Shop among all the Swiss-Chalet-style Log Cabins of Christmasland. As he approached it, he could hear-
-an argument?
-"...But why can't I go out with my boyfriend?" A blonde elf-girl was saying to an old, fat man in casual clothes.
-"I do NOT trust that rastafarian!"
-"Dad, I TOLD you, he doesn't do pot!"
-"Sorry, Jingle, I do not trust you to be alone with him."
-"OH, so it's ME you don't trust!!
-"That's NOT what I meant! I-"
-"OH, woe is me! Why did I have to be born Santa Claus' daughter?? Oh, if only the children of the World knew what a tyrant you are!!"
-"ENOUGH, JINGLE! You're NOT going out with him and that's FINAL!" Santa snapped in uncharasteristic anger.
Fuming, Jingle stormed past WM without even saying "hi".
Wil walked over to the not-so-jolly Fat Man. "Hi, Nick!" he said. "I see Jingle is being a pain again..."
-"Every year is the same thing- she does NOT want to ride along with me in Xmas Eve."
-"Not to take her side, but she's a teenager, Nick. They are always rebellious. Maybe you should not push."
-"I know... it's just that... I wish she would learn to love Xmas like we do..."
-"Give her time, Nick. Xmas has won over worse scrooges than her."
-"And what brings you here, my Puerto Rican friend?"
-"Well, you see, I joined a group called the RPGC this year, and they need ideas for the Xmas party, so I thought-"
-"To ask me, right? Sorry, but I'm the old-fashioned kind. Judging by my daughter's attitude, I don't think I know what today's people like."
-"Too bad. I'm drawing a blank.."
-"Listen, why don't you just ask them?"
-"Ask my friends what they'd like the party to be like? I guess that makes sense... OK, I'll do that. Thanks, Santa!"
-"Wait, Wil. Could YOU do me a favor?'
-"Sure thing!"
-"Take my daughter along with you."
-"JINGLE!? What for??"
-"You know her. She ALWAYS tries to get her way. She WILL slip away to be with that Rasta-boyfriend of hers, I just know it!"
-"And you want ME to keep an eye on her?"
-"Not just that. MAYBE if she goes along, she might learn the True Meaning of Xmas."
-"Okay, I owe you that... but, no promises, OK?"
-"That's good enough for me."
With a handshake, Santa said farewell to Wil, and went back to the work on the Xmas Eve preparations.

Wil walked around town until he found Jingle sitting on a bench, pouting.
-"THERE you are! Get off your butt, you're coming with me."
-"HUH? Coming where?"
-"I'm going to travel all around the World looking for the True Meaning of Xmas, and your father said for you to accompany me."
-"WHAT!? NO WAY!!"
-"Sorry, you don't get a say on the matter."
None of the elves paid her any attention.
-"I guess people around here know you pretty well, huh, Jingle?"
-"Look. Missy, I take no crap from anyone. Now come along or I put a Hold spell on you!"
-"Ooh, alright!!" she fumed.
-"First Stop: The Tower of Babel! WARP!!" They both vanished in a cloud of sparkles!

The Tower of Babel, in the Land of Babylonia:

WM and Jingle appear in in the Throne Room in a burst of sparkles!

Several people, most of them young (and oddly dressed) are already in the room.
-"Hi, gang!" Wil waves cheerfully at them.
-"Wil!" a young blonde girl, wearing a partial suit of armor, smiles at first at seeing him, but then does a double-take when she sees what is accompanying him!
-"Wil! What is... SHE... doing here??"

WM is going to answer, but then gets a mischievious look on his face. "Why, it's my GIRLFRIEND, of course!" ( throws an arm around Jingle!)
-"YOUR WHAAAT??" the warrior girl gasps, angrily.
-"WHAAT! The HELL I am!!" Jingle snaps, getting his arm off her.
-"HAW, HAW!" Wil laughs at both girls.
-"What's going on here?" the she-warrior demanded.
-"Ho ho... Sorry, Val, couldn't resist. This is Jingle Belle, Santa Claus' daughter. Belle, this Valkyrie Esker, Queen of the Babylonians."
-"Harrumph, big deal" Jingle snorted. "My granma's the Queen of All Fairies. And I don't mean the ones in Castro Street, either."
-"Your- friend- there needs to learn some manners" Val said, very annoyed.
-"Look who's talking" the Elf-girl retorted.
-"Look, hussy, you don't HAVE to like me, but in MY kingdom you show me respect, or else" Val spat angrily- and drew out Gungnir.
-"AHH!" Jingle cried out, and hid behind Wil.
-"OK, that's ENOUGH, you two" Wil interceded, in his usual paternal tone. "Val, you have to admit, you weren't too nice to begin with. And you, Belle, are a guest here, so mind your manners."
-"I'm NOT a guest, I have been kidnapped!" Belle angrily said, but still eyeing Val nervously.
-"NO you haven't, your father TOLD me to bring you along. The sooner you get used to the idea, the better for you" Wil explained in a give-me-no-guff tone.
-"WHY did you bring her here, Wil? You know how I feel about elves!"
-"HALF-elf!" Jingle shouted from behind Wil. "Not that it's any of your business!"
-"Sorry, Val, I'm stuck with her until I fulfill my mission."
-"Which is?"
-"Oh, I just wanted to ask you guys what you want this year's RPGC Xmas party to be like. Weiila put my in charge of finding out."
-"Hey, wait a minute!" Jingle snapped, "I thought you were supposed to find the True Meaning of Xmas!"
-"No, YOU are the one who's supposed to find the meaning of Xmas for yourself. Santa seems to think you will if you hang out with me. Why, I have no idea. I have no intention to preach to you; you either figure it out on your own, or not. I don't care." Then, turning to Val: "So, what would you like for the party?"
Val didn't take long to answer: "BOOZE!!"
-"Booze!?" Wil said, somewhat surprised. "Oh yeah, I keep forgetting you're a Viking. Oh well, I suppose some alcohol would be OK... but try not to get drunk, OK?"
-" No promises!" Val said mischieviously.
-"Ohhh, that's very Christmasy, indeed" Belle mocked- again, from behind Wil.
-"Quiet" Wil told her. Pulling out a notepad and a pen, Wil wrote down: 'Booze'. "Hmm, would Absolute Alcohol do?"
-"Oh, YES!!" Val said with glee.
-"OK" Wil said, then moved to another person, a young man with long blonde hair, silver armor, and a silver sword. "What about you, ZX?"
Before he could answer, Belle suddenly said, "HEY! I KNOW you!!"
-"WHAT!?" was Val's reaction. "WHERE do you know him from??" she said, jealously.
-"I have never seen her before" Zero said, baffled.
-"Jingle? Explain yourself." Wil demanded.
-"Ohh, don't be like that! What I mean is, I have seen his video games! I AM Santa Claus' daughter, you know!"
-"Oh that" Zero explained. "Those games are based on a time-travel incident involving OTHER reploid warriors of the Zero designation. I'm not the only one, you know. Somebody saw them and created some games based on them"
-"You know, ZX, if you sued Capcom for using your likeness, you could make a ton of money!" Wil said.
-"Not interested" he said, shaking his head.
-"Whatever. What do you want for the party?"
-"Booze is OK by me, as well."
-"Gee, your friends really like to party hard" Jingle said, mockingly.
-"They're warriors; party hard and die hard are their philosophies" Wil explained. "What about you, Frameskip?" he asked of a young man with brown hair and casual clothes (who looked suspiciously like Locke from FF6)
-"Umm, I just want it to be...christmasy, I think."
-"Could you be a LITTLE more especific, Frame?"
-"Sorry... ask me later again, OK?"
-"OK" WM said, shrugging.
-"Ooh, Who is *this*??" Jingle said, going ga-ga on seeing Frameskip.

Before anyone could stop her, she had walked right in front of Frame, and sized him up hungrily.
-"I, uhh, I" Frame stuttered.
Wil was about to say something, but a voice suddenly rang out: "HEY!!"
A BEAUTIFUL young girl, with long magenta hair, and wearing a Xmas-themed red bikini-like outfit with a long white scarf, suddenly approached, looking VERY furious.
-"Nessa!?" Wil said in shock. "What's with the skimpy outfit?"
-"Uh? Oh, hi, Wil! It's my Xmas outfit. Like it?"
-"OH, YEAH!"
-"Hummph, just like I thought, you're a dirty old man" Jingle said acidly.
-"BITE your tongue, Elfgirl" Wil retorted. "Nessa's like a daughter to me!"
-"Suuuure" she responded, sarcasticly. Then, turning to Nessa: "Is he your boyfriend?"
-"Who, Frame? N-no, he's not"
-"Well, in THAT case, why don't YOU show ME around, handsome?" Jingle said, cozying up to Frameskip.
-"Frame doesn't go for hussies like you, you, you- HUSSY!!
-"Who're YOU calling a hussy, you-" but Jingle was interrupted by WM, who yanked her away.
-"Err, would you people excuse us for a moment?" Wil said to everyone, while dragging Jingle away from earshot.

Then he said to her: "Listen, Jingle, Dragonessa happens to be one of the most powerful spellcasters I know. I would *NOT* piss her off if I were you. Capeesh?"
-"You wouldn't let her hurt me! Dad would never forgive you!!"
-"Okay, not really... BUT, these people happen to be my friends, and I do NOT appreciate your teasing them. Now, BEHAVE, or I swear on my Mama's grave, I'm turning you into a frog and carrying you in a box until we get back to the North Pole!"
-"Y-You wouldn't dare!!" Jingle said, gulping.
-"TRY me" WM said, sounding VERY serious.

Jingle decided it was better to shut up for now.

Wil walked back to Dragonessa, who was hanging on protectively to Frameskip. "Sorry about that, I've put her in her place. Now: Do you want anything especific for the RPGC Xmas party?"
-"A TWISTER MAT!!" Nessa said cheerfully.
Wil smiled. Oh yeah, playing twister with Nessa was going to be a VERY popular game at the party, indeed! He wrote it down.
-"And snacks! Lots of snacks!" she added.
-"Oh, for sure!" Wil finished writing, then moved to the last person on the room: OmegaflareX, the royal Archmage.
-" Stuck babysitting, eh, Wil?" Omega laughed.
-"My luck is rotten, as usual" he said offhand, not looking at Jingle. "So, what do you want for the party?"
-"Hmm... could I perform on it? I know several pyrotechnics spells" the mage said, thoughtfully.
-"Hey, that would be cool! Thanks, OM!" (writes it down).
-"Well, those are all the Babylonians present here right now. Where will you go next, Wil?" Val asked.
-"Hmm... I really have no idea... you know, I should really get a list of ALL the RPGC's members..."
-"Why don't you ask Merlin to get you one?" Val offered.
-"Of course! Why didn't I think of that! Thanks, Val!"
-"You're welcome. But... is *SHE* coming to the party?"
-"Who, Jingle? NO WAY!"
-"Good. See you there, then."
-"See ya, Val. See ya, guys!" (walks back to the fuming Jingle, and teleports off with her.)

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC: The office of John Ashcroft:
-"SIR! SIR!!" a skinny, bespectacled man said, bursting into the office.
-"What is it, Fred?" Ashcroft said, looking up from his desk.
-"SIR!! One of our spies in Babylonia confirms that Wilfredo Martinez has been seen hanging around- with a minor!!"
-"A MINOR!! HOW young?"
-"18, maybe 16!!"
-"Hmm, I was hoping for someone younger, but that will do. Call the Thought Police immediately, Fred!"
-"YESSIR!!" (Runs off to carry the order).
-"AT LAST!!" Ashcroft gloated aloud, "At last I'll get you, Martinez! You'll PAY for having ruined my plans to take over the Internet!! Oh, HOW you'll pay!!!"

The RPGC Headquarters: The Staff Meeting room:

-"...Now for Section of C of Proposal 13" a young man with green hair, tied back in a tail, and wearing a grey cape, said to several other young, curious-looking people in the room; all of them were sitting at a round table. "All in favor say 'aye'." he continued.
Several ayes were heard around the room.
-"All against, say 'nay' " he added.
A few nays were heard.
-"The ayes have it" the young leader continued. "now for Section D-"


He was interrupted by a shower of sparks that burst out of thin air!
WM and Jingle Belle materialized in it.
-"WHAT THE-!?" the young man snapped. "MARTINEZ!!"
-"Whoops! Teleported on top of the table! Sorry, Merlin, you know how tricky these teleport spells can be sometimes!" WM said, embarrassedly.
-"Well, then, GET DOWN already!!" Merlin snapped.
-"Sure, sure!" WM said, laughing, and jumped down. Jingle quickly followed suit. "Oh, hi, folks!" he waved at the other, baffled people. "Hey, are you people having a staff meeting? Sorry, didn't know that. I just came to ask Merlin-"
-"I DON'T KNOW!!" Merlin said, interrupting him!
-"Huh? Don't know what?" Wil asked, baffled.
-"WHATEVER the problem with your PC is this time, I just DON'T know how to fix it, OK??"
-"Oh, that. No, I didn't come here for PC tips, Merl."
-"Then what?" he asked, flustered.
-"Actually, I just wanted to see if you could get me a list of all the current RPGC members."
-"Eh? What for?"
-"Weiila put me in charge to of finding out what to do for this year's Xmas party, and I want to ask all members personally."
-"??? You put Martinez in charge of THAT?" a teenager in golden armor said to Weiila, who was sitting next to her.
-"Well, I thought, maybe a new member would have new ideas..." the angelic woman said, sheepishly.
-"Oh, THERE you, are, Weii! Sorry, didn't see you! Don't worry, I'll soon have all the info I need to plan the party. I'll take it to you later."
-"Just WHAT the heck is this place?" Jingle asked, puzzled.
-"This is the Headquarters of the RPGC, the Adventurer's Guild I joined recently" he explained to her.
-"And who is this pretty lady?" a young man with long dark hair, said, standing up.
-"Oh, this is Jingle Belle, SG. Santa Claus' daughter." Wil explained.
-"What, for real?" another young man, with long brown hair, wearing a grey fighting suit, said.
-"For real, Orakio. Didn't you know? Santa and I go way back" WM explained.
-"Gee, just because you helped save Xmas once, doesn't mean you are THAT special" Jingle said bitterly. "So have other people."
-"...Did I mention she's also Miss Sweetness and Light of the North Pole?" Wil added sarcasticly.
-"What's she doing hanging with you?" a young man in a green suit asked.
-"Santa asked me to bring her along, Kagon. Apparently he thinks she'll learn the True Meaning of Xmas from the trip..." WM sighed.
-"Oh yeah, so far, I've learned that Xmas is about booze and twister" Jingle said acidly.
-" You could have the meaning of Xmas trust into your face and you would STILL not get it, Jingle" WM retorted. "Some things can only be understood if you have an open mind".
-"Ohhh, don't start! You sound like my father!"
-"Actually, Wilfredo has a point" a young man with long white hair, bound in a tail, said. "Today, the true meaning of Xmas has been lost, in a sea of self-gratifying consummerism."
-"I disagree, SK" Merlin countered. "Consummerism is the basis of our capitalist society after all. I see no wrong with earning money and helping the economy while celebrating a holiday."
-"As usual, your conservative views are too biased to appreciate the truth of the loss of spirituality that our society is experimenting" SK countered.
-"Loss, schmoss. I believe that people are aware more today of the TRUE spirit of Xmas, which is not religion but togetherness, than they have ever before. It is YOU who is too biased towards the left to realize that."
The argument continued, the two young men having totally forgotten about their surroundings, neither one willing to give in to the others' points.
-"...What's with them?" Jingle whispered to Wil, baffled.
-"Oh, they're always like that" Wil whispered back to her. "Ignore them... they should tire soon enough. Then I'll get the list from Merl."

Jingle decided to check out the guys while she waited. "Hey, there's more of those Megaman Game characters here!" she observed.
-"They are called 'Reploids' " Wil explained.
One of them, a blue one, approached them. "Ahem. Not going to introduce us, Wil?"
-"You SURE you want to make her acquaintance, Macc?" WM asked with an evil grin, knowing that it would annoy Jingle, who indeed fumed behind him. "Ah, what the heck. Jingle, this is Macc Maverick."
-"Enchanted" Macc said, bowing.
-"Well! Nice to see there are SOME gentlemen in here!" Jingle said, trying to spite Wil, who didn't care.
-"The golden one is Megaman X2K, the purple on is Megaman 984, and the Red one is Zero."
-"Not to interrupt" a man in a white Ninja outfit said, "But we were in the middle of a meeting when you arrived."
-"Sorry, Dragon Ninja, we'll soon leave. Hey, just WHAT do you people discuss in these meetings, anyway?" Wil said, grabbing some papers from the desk.
-"HEY! Only Staff can see those!" 984 protested, but too late. WM was already reading them aloud.
-"...'RPGC's Vacation Plans for Summer, 2003?' THIS is the stuff you're voting about??" Wil snickered.
-"Give me THAT!!" Zero snapped, snatching them off his hand angrily.
-"Now, now, let's not fight" a teenager with wild hair said. "I'm sure we can solve this peacefully"
-*Whoa, check out the afro on this guy* Belle thought, in awe.
-"It's OK, Mazrim. Sorry, Zero, curiosity got the better of me. Look, all I need is the membership list. I'll leave as soon as I have it."
-"Why don't you and Belle wait in the waiting room outside? I'm sure Merl will give you the list after the meeting" Maz offered.
-"Humm, good idea. C'mon, Jingle, let's wait outside."
-"Wait a moment" a young man, wearing a beret, glasses and a robe said. "Can I ask a question of Jingle?"
-"You like living dangerously, Cid." Wil mocked. "Jingle, this is Cidolfas, our local sage. Be nice and answer his question."
-"I just wanted to know your father's origin. I mean, I know magic is real of course, but Saint Nicolas, well, he sounds too fairy-talish to be real..."
-"Hmmph. It isn't our fault if people can't get their facts right" Jingle snorted. "First of all, he is NOT Saint Nicolas, that was someone else. My father's name IS Nicolas, but he was a norseman. Orphaned as a child, he was found and raised by the Queen of the Fairies. He dedicated his life to help the poor, mainly by making toys for children. He was rewarded for his kindness by the Council of Immortals with magical abilities. And before you ask, no, he can't actually deliver presents to ALL the children in the world... so he settles for helping in special cases. Even then, there are too many children who deserve toys but never get any..."
-'My, Jingle, you almost sound sorry for them..." Wil said, mockingly (but not completely.)
-"Hey! I never said I didn't care! ...But that is dad's gig, not mine. I wish he'd stop trying to drag me into the family business..."
-"Um, well, that answers my question. Thanks, Miss Belle." Cid said, returning to his chair.
-"Ahem. Well. Will you two PLEASE wait outside now?" a young man with silver hair insisted.
-"Keep your shirt on, Lunaris, we're going now" Wil answered, then walked out the nearest door, followed by Belle.
-"Um, Weiila" a young man with slick, short blonde hair, wearing a snazzy white suit, said to her, "I don't think putting Wil to handle this was a good idea..."
-"Let's give him a chance, Sin... he might pull it out" she answered, but without much enthusiasm.


Meanwhile, inside a room that officially didn't exist within the Pentagon, several members of a highly illegal government organization, the Tought Police, had gathered. They wore blue outfits that resembled nazi stormtroopers'. Their leaders, Ashcroft and Poindexter, entered the room.
-"SCIENCIA EST POTENTIA!!" all present saluted, in goosestepper fashion.
-"Sir" the latter said to the former, "Our report from Agent Sabin is that Martinez is no longer in Babylonia."
-"Curses!" Ashcroft muttered. "Damn him and his magic. Is Big Brother tracking him?" he asked, looking at the huge, ugly computer that filled half the room.
-"We're trying, sir, but no thanks to Martinez's tamperings, our ability to score the Internet for data was greatly reduced."
-"I know that!!" Ashcroft angrily retorted. "Have Skynet Satellite help as well! I want that loser tracked down. I don't care how long it takes! And summon our best men. He won't be easy to catch."
-"Yes, sir!" Poindexter said, and hurried to carry his orders.
-*Soon, Martinez... very soon.* Ashcroft raged silently.


And elsewhere, a dark, frightful, inhuman presence was watching the events unfold, from a realm one step removed from reality, and silently laughed...

The waiting room was larger and better furbished than Jingle expected.

Thought that wasn't what immediately held her attention.

It was the large TIGER in the middle of the room!

Upon seen her, the tiger perked up, and immediately bounded towards her!
-"HELP! HELP! WIL! SAVE ME!!" She cried out in a panic.
To her shock, Wil was just chuckling!
-"WHAT THE HELL IS SO FUNNY- AHH!!" she screamed, as the tiger bounded into her, knocking her into her butt, and took a bite at her head!
-"AYIIIIII" Jingle screamed-
-and then realized, the tiger wasn't BITING her- it was giving her a play-chewing, like the one a kitten gives her owner!
-"That's enough, StarS" WM said, in a lecturing tone. "You don't want Weiila to see you chewing on other girls."
-"Huh?" Jingle gasped aloud. The tiger got off her, and before her startled eyes, began to CHANGE its form- first becoming a half-human, half tiger creature, and then into a yonug, rather handsome man with slightly cat-like features. "My apologies, Ma'am. My animal instincts take over when I'm in cat-form. But I'm not dangerous even in that form. Honest."
-"Jingle, this is StarStorm. He's a Rahaksha" Wil explained, seeing she was still baffled. "StarS, This is Jingle Belle, Santa Claus' Daughter."
-"For real!?" he said, in awe.
-"REALLY!" Jingle quickly added. She was obviously VERY impressed with her attacker's good looks.
-" ...Did I mention that he's also Weiila's boyfriend?" WM interjected in purpose.
-"Yes you did...*You spoilsport.*" Jingle said and thought.
-"What are you doing hanging with WM?" StarStorm asked.
-"I think my father's punishing me for being naughty" Jingled sighed.
-"Funny, I thought I was the one being punished" Wil quickly countered.
Jingle humphed.
-"What were you doing in the Staff Room?" StarS asked.
-" Actually, I misteleported. I was just looking for Merlin so he could give me a list of all RPGC's members. You see, Weiila put me in charge of deciding what RPGC's Xmas should be like, and I want to survey all members about it. He'll give it to me after the meeting's over."
-"Do you know WHEN it'll be over? I've been waiting out here for Weiila for hours!" the tiger-man said.
-"Sorry, no idea" Wil answered.
-" Man WHAT can they be discussing there that takes so much time?"
-"Err, NO idea" Wil said, trying hard not to laugh.
-"Well, while we wait out here, you can ask those of us who are here about our opinions" StarS offered.
-"Good idea, StarS! I'll start with you" WM said, pulling out his notebook and pen. "So, what do you want?"
-"Err... to be honest, I have no idea" StarS said sheepishly. "I mean, if I KNEW, I would've told Weiila, don't you think?"
-"Hump, I suppose so..." Wil lamented.

Jingle then noticed to beautiful girls -one a Dark Elf, the other a Catgirl with green hair- approaching them. "Starsie!" the Catgirl said, "You REALLY have to learn to control yourself, you're giving us Cat-people a bad name."
-"Geez, I already apologized, Kai!" StarStorm said sheepishly.
-" Oh you're sooo busted" the Dark Elf said, and did the you-got-busted Dance.
-"Uh, Wil" Jingle whispered nervously, " That's a DARK ELF! They're my people's enemies!!"
-" Who, Jing? Don't worry, Jingle" Wil explained, smiling, "Jing's is actually Weiila's sister. She just likes taking that form."
-"Hey, your name sounds like mine! Happy to meet you, Jingle!" Jing said, and did the Happy-to-Meet-you Dance.
-"Um, nice to meet you too" Jingle said. *Man, and some people think I'm TOO party-happy sometimes!*
-"Hey, Jing! What do you want for the party?" WM asked.
-"DAAAANCING!!" Jingle said, and did the Dancing Dance.
-*Big surprise* Jingle thought.
Wil just smiled and wrote it down.
-"What about you, Kai?" Wil asked the Catgirl.
-"Oh, I don't care! As long as Maccy is in it, I will come!!"
-*Easy to see why these two hang together* Jingle continued to mentally condescend.

WM proceeded to move around the room, and approached a muscular brunnette, who wore dark glasses, a sleeveless t-shirt, pants, and seemed obssessed with the flame of a lighter she was holding."
-"Fire..." she mumbled.
-"Um, Faetan? Could you answer a question for me?" WM asked, sounding uncharacteristically shy.
The young woman looked at Wil down from her nose, then moved away without a word (other than her "fire" mumbling.)
-"...Guess not." He said to himself.
-"What's HER problem?" Jingle asked.
-"Doesn't like Mages" Wil commented. "Which is odd, 'cuz she's Merlin's girlfriend"
-"Maybe he's just too charming" Jingle said, half-jokingly.
-"None of our beeswax, anyway. Let's move on". Wil stated.

Just then, a hulking man in a hockey mask came out of a side room, with several papers in hand, and walked in wil and Jingle's direction.
At first, Jingle decided to keep cool, but when she looked at WM and saw a puzzled look in his face, she began to worry.
-"Wil? That's NOT who I think it is, is it??" Jingle said, getting nervous.
-"God, I hope not!" Wil said, but readied for battle just in case. "Excuse me" he said to the scary stranger, "but who are you?"
-"EH?" The giant said, surprised. "Oh. It's me, d Galloway".
-"Gallo? Why are you dressed like that?" WM asked, baffled.
-"This is my Xmas outfit" Galloway explained.
-"THAT'S suppossed to be a Xmas outfit??" Jingle said, almost offended.
-"I'm trying to outdo Tenchimaru" he explained. "He said he would come up with a really scare costume this year."
-"Man, people around here are REALLY weird" Jingle said, shaking her head.
-"Sorry we don't have normal things, like, you know, elves, living snowmen and flying reindeer" WM retorted.
-"Excuse me, I have things to do" Galloway said, and tried to walk past them.
-"Gallo, wait!" WM quickly said going after him, "I'm surveying the members of RPGC about what they want for this year's party!"
-"I'm already working on my contribution" Galloway explained without looking up from the papers in his hands. "I'm having RPGTheater set up a performance of "A Christmas Carol".
-"Really! That sounds cool" Wil said, glad that other people were also cooperating. "Who's playing Ebenezer Scrooge?"
-"Black Mage" the false giant explained. "Vivi's gonna be Tiny Tim."
-"Sounds good to me. I'll be sure to catch it. Good luck!" WM said, waving away at Galloway as he walked away.

At that moment, a noise came from the Staff Room. The doors opened, and the Staff members came out.
-"MAAACKY!!" Kai said, jumping with Joy into Macc's arms.

StarStorm walked over to Weiila, and they hugged each other.

Faetan also walked over to Merlin, and hugged him so hard it looked like she was going to crush him!

Jingle noticed that WM was looking at the scenes of affection with a curious look in his eyes.
-"Jealous, Wil?" she mocked, thinking she'd finally found a way to annoy him right back.

To her surprise, Wil didn't answer. Instead, he looked at her -hurt?- and then simply walked towards Merlin.
Jingle didn't quite know what to make of that...

-" Here you go, Wilf" Merlin said, once Faetan had uinlocked from him, and gave him a slip of paper with names on it.
-"Thanks, Merl, NOW I can do my job!"
-"Good luck" he said, and began to walk away with Faetan. So did the others.
-"HEY!" WM shouted after them. "Don't you people want to put in your 2 cents for the party?"
-"No offense, Wil, but we're all tired now. Right now, I just want to be with my girlfriend Astral" Sin said, nodding to the beautiful blonde in his arm. "Maybe later."
-"O-kay... I understand." Wil said, but sounding a little dejected.
-" Hey, you can ask ME" a voice said from behind them.
Jingle turned around.
A crystalline Dragon was standing behind her!
-"YIPE!!" she went.
-"CALM down, Belle! There are NO enemies here at RPGC headquarters, you should've figured that out by now. This is Dragon God, another of the Staff Members."
-*This place is DEFINITELY weirder than the North Pole* Jingle thought, as she calmed down.
-"Can I ask something?" DragonGod said. " Why all this fuss over the party? Can't we just have a traditional party?'
-"I'm old-fashioned when it comes to Xmas parties, too, but so far, it doesn't sound like most members want that" WM explained.
-" Well, then, be sure to include traditional elements for our sakes."
-"Will do. Thanks, DG!" Then turning to Belle: "C'mon, time to start jaunting around the World again!
-*Thank goodness* Jingle thought. *The sooner this is over, the better.*


Meanwhile, back at the Thought Police's Secret Headquarters:

A trio of more blue-suited stormtroopers entered the room. One of them was a strikingly handsome man.
-"Agent Cruise reporting, Sir!"
-"Ah, good!" Ashcroft said, turning towards the newcomers. " We're finally moving against Martinez. I want you to lead the mission."
-"...In public, Sir?"
-"Worried about your image, Cruise?" Ashcroft said, almost laughing. "Don't forget, Cruise, your being here is part of our arrangement with the Scientologists."
-"I haven't forgotten, Sir."
-"In any case, this will Black Ops, so don't worry about your reputation, Cruise" Poindexter explained.
-" I'd like to ask permission to recruit specialists" the handsome man said. "Magic is difficult to deal with."
-"Tell me about it!" Ashcroft grumbled, looking at his beloved, damaged Big Brother. "Very well. You have my authorization. But make sure they're discreet."
-'"Will do, Sir" Cruise said, bowed, and left the room.
-"By the way, Sir" Poindexter said, "the cargo of new Microsoft chips has arrived."
-"GREAT!" Ashcroft said with glee. "Nice to see Gates is keeping his end of the bargain! Have them installed in Big Brother immediatelly!!"

Unknown to the gloating tyrants, their every word was being spied upon- BY A MAGIC SPELL cast by a what appeared to be nothing more than teenage intern working at one of the Pentagon's offices.
Chris of the Brood was his name, and he had infiltrated the Pentagon in order to spy upon the Thought Police for the RPGC.
- *I MUST contact Martinez immediatelly!* he thought, grimly.

Chris tried to cast a communication spell, but failed. *Damn, Martinez must be out of range. Oh, well, there's always good old-fashioned technology* he thought, and pulled out a cellular phone.

BRRRRINGG!! A phone rang in a house in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
A young man with dark hair picked it up.
-"Hi, is Wilfredo there?"
-"No, this is the house of Peter Newton."
-"Eh? But this number was given to me by Wilfredo to contact him in an emergency!"
-"That is correct- Wilfredo is a friend of mine, and I told him he could give my number to the RPGC in case you people needed to contact him, as he's often away from home."
-"This is Chris of the Brood, an agent of RPGC. I have an important message for him; do you know where he's right now?"
-"Sorry, but he could be on the Moon -literally- for all I know."
-"Rats. Look, just give him this message when you see him: The Thought Police is after him. They're going to arrest him on Child Abuse charges. They're sending their best men to capture him."
-"OH, NO! I warned Wilf he was going to get in trouble for messing with The Conspiracy! I'll warn him as soon as I find him!"
-"Good. I'll report back anything else I find out." Then he hung up.
Peter began frantically calling all of Wilfredo's acquaintances, hoping one of them might know where he was...


Fairbanks, Alaska:

Wil and Jingle appeared in a snowy street.
-"Okay, according to this, Mudcap lives somewhere around here...Hmmm.." Wil thought aloud.
-"Something wrong?" Jingle asked.
-"Maybe... according to the notes Merlin gave me, Mudcap is an inmigrant from the planet Gaia 7. I've been there, it's not a nice place. Seems Like he was exposed to Mako radiation... not good, that stuff affects the mind..."
-"Look, if you don't mind my asking, what EXACTLY is the RPGC, and why is it full of such weirdos?"
-"RPGC stands for Righteous Protectors of Good Causes. We're an association of heroes from all around the Multiverse." WM explained while thinking over the notes. "Hmm, doesn't give an exact address. Where could he be?"
-"I'm up here!" a voice said.
Wil and Jingle looked up, to see a guy (surprisingly normal-looking- for an RPGC member) ...hanging from the top of a lamppost.
-"Mudcap?" WM asked
-"Errr... what are you doing up there?" WM asked again.
-"I woke up here this morning. Why?"
Jingle gave WM a very annoyed look.
-"Err, would you mind talking with us for a moment? I'm-"
-"Wilfredo Martinez, Sage of the RPGC."
-"??? Errr, the others told you?"
-"No. The voices did."
-"Voices. Rrrrright" Jingle commented.
-"You think I'm crazy, don't you?" Mudcap said, letting himself fall to the groung. "I'm not! The voices are real! It's the voices from the Lifestream!"
-"Umm, Mudcap, there is no Lifestream on Earth" Wil tried to explain.
-"Yes there is. You just don't call it that."
-"So, what do the we call it?"
-"How should I know? I just came here!!"
-"Ooookay... Look, all I wanted to ask you was, how would you like the RPGC Xmas party to be like?"
-"NEVER MIND THAT!!" Mudcap suddenly snapped. "He's coming! He's coming after you!!"
-"!?! Who? Who's coming after me?'
-"Well, not exactly. HALF of everyone!"
-"...Half the people in the world??" WM asked, totally baffled.
-"NO NO NO! ONE HALF of everyone is coming after you!!"
Wil looked at Jingle, who looked even more baffled than him!
WM turned back to Mudcap, but he was already heading down the street... dancing a Jig.
-"OK, don't tell me that guy isn't nuts!" Jingle remarked.
-" Man, I didn't think he was that far gone... poor guy... let's go..."


(OOC: Can ANYONE guess who the villain is, from Mudcap's clues...?)

San Antonio, Texas:

Wil and Jingle appeared in a street, right outside a Video Game store.
-"Alright! I found Mr. Saturn's store!" WM said, in triumph.
-"If this is a Video Game store, why are there Xmas Trees on sale outside?" Jingle asked.
-"Beats me. Let's ask Saturn" Wil said, and they entered the store.

The store seemed empty, except for a young woman in the back.
Wil headed towards the counter.
-"Hi, Saturn! How's business?"
Jingle looked around, puzzled, but saw no one on the counter. She did notice the UGLIEST plushy sitting atop it, though; it looked like that old video game character, Q*Bert,- a head with legs and a big nose. Ugh!
-"It's been slow lately" the 'plushy' answered.
-"!!! IT TALKS!!" Jingle said, in shock.
-"HA HA! Sorry, Jingle, should've told you. This is Mr. Saturn in his real form, he's an alien, you see" Wil explained.
-"I shall take a form more pleasing for the lady, then" Saturn said, and it the blink of an eye changed into a normal-looking man.
-"You know, I'm getting tired of being freaked out by your friends" Jingle said acidly.
-"Keep your eyes closed, then" WM retorted.
-"Please accept my apologies, Miss...?"
-"Jingle Belle- Santa Claus' Daughter" Wil exlained for her.
-"REALLY! Nice to meet you. Honest."
-"Ah, it's OK" Jingle said, calming down.
-"What brings you here, WM?" Saturn asked.
-"I just wanted to ask you if you wanted anything special for this year's RPGC party. Weiila put me in charge."
-"Hmm, sorry, but I don't know if I'll be even going. My business is just starting, and I must attend to it."
-"Oh, sorry to hear that. Say, does that have anything to do with the Xmas Trees outside?"
-"Indeed. I'm supplementing video game sales with Xmas Tree sales."
As they spoke, the young woman -who had green eyes and dark hair tied in a tail- approached them. "You're Martinez, right?" she said, in a cheerful tone.
-"Uh, maybe. Who wants to know?" he asked suspiciously
-"Hi, I'm Trillian. I'm a new member of RPGC. The others told me about you."
-"Trillian? Hey, yes, you're in the list! How lucky! Can I ask you what you want for the party?"
-"Hmmm... how about if we set up our own garage band?"
-"HEY! That might be cool! Thanks, Trillian!" Wil said, writing it down.
-"As a matter of fact, Trillian came here to buy a tree for the party" Saturn explained.
-"Really? Great! Have you picked one up?"
-"No... I can't make up my mind" she said.
-"We'll help you" WM offered.
-"Great! Let's go right now!" Trillian said, and the four of them came out of the store.

They walked around the tree-filled lot, looking closely at all the trees.
Jingle looked more bored than ever.
-"Bored, Jingle?" Wil asked her.
-"Of course!" she retorted. " I see Xmas trees ALL THE TIME in the North Pole!"
-"Well, you could help pick one up- the sooner we do, the sooner we leave" Wil offered.
Jingle decided that that was true, and actually tried to help pick up a tree.
Unnoticed by them, one of the trees began to extend its branches toward WM and Jingle...
Trillian turned around just in time to watch the tree about to grab them.
-"EH?" Both Wil and Jingle said, watching the suddenly-horrendous-looking tree heading towards them!
-"JINGLE! GET DOWN!!" Wil screamed, grabbing her and rolling with her onto the floor, just in time to avoid the tree's lunge.
-"I'LL GET IT!! " Trillian shouted. "FIREGA!!!"
-"WAIT! Trill, no! Not here-!" Wil tried to warn her- but too late.
The super-powerful fire spell hit the tree-monster, and consumed it in one blow, turning it to cinders.
Unfortunately, the blast was too large. It spread, and in the blink of an eye, ALL the trees in the lot burst into flames!!
-"MY TREES!!!" Saturn screamed in horror.
-"WATERGA!!" Will screamed, conjuring a huge amount of water from thin air. It soaked all the trees -and the four heroes- instantly turning off the blaze.
But the damage was done. The trees were all badly burned.
-"Total loss..." Saturn mumbled.
-"I'm ...sorry..." Trillian said, almost crying.
-"It's OK..." Saturn said. "It was an accident, you were trying to save WM and Jingle. Their lives are more important."
Wil decided not to tell them that he could've easily defeated the tree-monster on his own, so as not to hurt her feelings.
-"I'll pay for everything" Trillian said, still feeling guilty. "But it might take me a while to get the money..."
-"Don't worry, Trill, I'll pay for it all" WM suddenly said.
-"But, it wasn't your fault-" she tried to protest.
-"I insist" he said, then turned to Saturn. "Uhh, do you take Zenny? Or Gil?"
-"Sorry, I need Earth Money, WM." the alien said.
-"I guess. Geez, all the treasures I've found in other worlds, and none of them are worth anything on Earth. Bah." Wil complained, then fished for something in his pocket. "You think you'll get good money for this?" he said to Saturn, producing a gold pocketwatch.
-"HEY!" Jingle said, shocked. "That's EBENEZER SCROOGE'S GOLD POCKETWATCH!! Dad gave it to you as a reward that time you saved Xmas!!"
-"Yeah, it's made of solid gold, and it's an antique" Wil explained further.
-" Really...?" Saturn said in wonder. "This... this is REALLY valuable! I COULD get a lot of money for it!"
-"Take it, then."
-"??? You're REALLY giving it away???" Jingle said, still in disbelief.
-"Hey, it's mine, right? I can do whatever I want with it!" Wil said, sounding annoyed at Jingle- but in reality, sad at parting with such a heartfelt possession.
-"Gee, WM... If I didn't need the money-"
-"It's OK, Sat. Helping people is what I do."
-"I'm sorry, WM. I'll make it up to you-" Trillian tried to say.
-"Geez, don't you people LISTEN? I'm a HERO! No need to owe me anything! C'mon, Jingle, we still have places to go!" and he started walking away.
Jingle Belle was now really puzzled. She had thought Wil was a selfish jerk; she didn't expect this kind of gesture from him.
What kind of man was Wilfredo Martinez?
...And where the devil did that tree-monster come from??

...And in a realm one step removed from reality, a sinister, dark presence laughed out loud...

Jingle caught up to WM, who was exiting the Tree lot (wich was still smoking and dripping.)
-"Err, Wil" Jingle asked, "I'm no expert in Hero stuff, but, shouldn't you be trying to find out WHERE that tree monster came from...?"
-"No point. Trillian's blast obliterated any evidence. Besides, I don't think we would've found anything."
-"Why's that?"
-"What are the odds of a cut-down pine tree would turn into a monster- and attack US? NONE. Which means, SOMEONE transformed that tree -probably with magic- to attack us."
-"Who would do that- and why?"
-"Oh, I have made LOTS of enemies in my career. Any of them could want revenge."
-"Oookay. This is as far as I go, then. I *don't* want to get involved in any violence!"
-"Don't worry, Jingle, you won't. Whoever did that is not likely to be able to track us as we teleport around the world."
-"Before we go- could you do something about our wet clothes...?"
-"NULWATER!" WM said, and colored lights swirled around them.
In the blink of an eye, they were bone-dry.
-"Ahhh, much better!" Jingle said, relieved.
-"Let's go... I want to finish this quickly so I can investigate the tree matter."
-"No argument from me!" Jing was only too happy to say.

*********************************************** *********************************************** ***********************

A room in a military base near Washington, DC:

Agent Cruise was briefing two men: one had long dark hair, and covered most of his body in a long brown cape. The other was a muscular man of squarish features, with neatly-combed dark hair, and wearing a black suit.
--"Hey! Aren't you-" the second man started to say.
-"NO. And for the record, this meeting NEVER HAPPENED. But you're professionals, I don't think I need to explain that."
-"Suits me" the second man said.
-"I'll be brief, gentlemen" Cruise said. "We're going after a dangerous criminal named Wilfredo Martinez. He's wanted by the government for tampering with... National Security operations. However, due to the secret nature of those operations, charges can't be brought on him on that matter-"
-"Because then your secrets would be exposed, wouldn't they?" the first man at last said something.
Cruise didn't argue the point. "However" he continued, " We have now confirmed that he's also guilty of Perversion of Minors. As with Al Capone, any excuse to get him out of circulation will do. My men and I will be confronting him directly. However, he happens to be a powerful magician- our equipment might not be enought to capture him. That's were you come in: Ave Destron and PC Glenton- best freelance Black Ops operatives in the market."
-"In other words" Destron said "You want us to kill him off."
-"Wait" Glenton protested. "I do not engage in assassinations".
-"Do not worry, Glenton" Cruise reassurred him, "Deadly force will only be used if there is no other choice. HOWEVER, and I can't insist enough in this, this man is DANGEROUS. If in doubt, shoot to kill. You have a problem with that?"
-"I don't" Destron said.
-"Me either" PC agreed.
-"Very well, then. We leave immediately. A Stealth Jet is being prep in this base right now. We'll travel by suborbital route; our target can instantly teleport around the world, so we must wait until our spy satellites have tracked him down to attack. Follow me."
And with that, the dark trio left the room...

************************************************** ************************************************** *********

Jing and Wil appeared outside a nice little suburban house.
-"Okay, according to my notes, this is the home of X-Countryguy, an Earth Wizard." WM explained.
-"Geez, doesn't any of you have NORMAL names?" Jingle asked.
-"Actually, everyone in the RPGC uses code-names, in order to prevent the governments of Earth from tracking us down. We've made enemies of many corrupt, powerful people."
-"YOU don't use a code name" Jingle pointed out.
-"My identity has been compromised already, due to a certain incident I had with the US's Shadow Government a few years ago. So there's no point in hiding. Besides, they know I'm a powerful wizard... they would have to be pretty stupid to come after me- there's little technology on Earth that I can't beat" he explained casually.
He then knocked on the door.
-"Coming!" A voice said from the inside.
A young man opened the door. He had spiky blond hair, and blue eyes. He looked a LOT like Cloud, a warrior WM had met in Gaia 7.
-"Um, X-Countryguy?"
-"That is me" he said in a humble tone, very unlike his lookalike's. "Who are you?"
-"I'm Wilfredo Martinez, a Sage working for the RPGC."
-"Ah yes, I've heard of you. What brings you to my home?'
-"I'm surveying the members of RPGC to find out how they want this year's Xmas party to be like."
-"Oh. Well in that case, come in. Your friend, as well."
-"Why, thank you. This is Jingle Belle, by the way- Santa Claus' daughter."
-"Really. Pleased to meet you, miss Belle."
-"Why, thank you, you're very nice!" she responded.
-"Would you like some cookies? I just made a batch of Chocolate Chips."
-"No thanks, we have to leave quickly" Wil said.
-"Speak for yourself, I'm STARVING! SOMEONE I know hasn't thought of buying a lady anything to eat all day" Jingle jabbed at Wil.
-"A lady? Where?" He quickly retorted, once again showing his mastery of the Quick Comeback.
-"You know, I happen to have several RPGC guests right now. You can ask them as well" X explained.
-"Really!? What luck!" WM said, finally smiling a little, as X led them to a cozy living room.
There were three people sitting around a table there. One was a young man with blonde hair, whom WM recognized as Cless Alvin; the second was an Elven Warrior, whom WM also knew- Alwyn Aldarion; and the third-

WM froze in place, a look of terror in his face.
-"WIL!! What is it??" Jingle said, startled by his reaction.
The third person, on whom WM had his gaze fixed, was a man in a long black/red robe.
-"Q!!!" Wil gasped aloud.
-"Eh?" The man said, at hearing the name shouted. All three people turned around and looked at WM, X and Jingle.
-"Hey, Wil! Mon ami!" Alwyn said in a french accent, "Wat are you doing he-"
But WM interrupted him. "Q! What the Hell are you doing here?? I TOLD you I would NOT tolerate your presence on Earth any more!!"
The tall man stared at WM in puzzlement. "I'm sorry, I think you're mistaking me-"
-"The HELL I am!! I will NEVER forget your face!! Now I understand! YOU sent the monster tree after us, didn't you? Didn't you learn your lesson last time?? My power may not be as great as yours, but I WILL pit every ounce of my Time/Space magic against you if I have to!!!"
-"Please!" the Q said, "I have no desire to fight you. I'm not the Q you are familiar with."
-"You expect me to believe you? You're a master manipulator!!"
Jingle was scared now. She'd never seen WM freak out before. And if someone as powerful as he was scared, then how freakingly powerful THIS guy must be!?!
-"Umm, Wil" Cless Ness interrupted, "This isn't Q. It's Eclectic Priest Valen. He's also A Q, but he's a pacifist."
-"Huh?" WM did a double take. That name sounded familiar. Then he remembered- he'd read it in Merlin's notes. He looked at them, and found the following information:


-"How... do I know this isn't one of Q's tricks?" he asked.
-"Simple. I'll open my mind to you. I have nothing to hide"
It was a risk, but WM decided that, as a Hero, he HAD to give Valen the benefit of the doubt.
-"Very well. Do so" he finally said.
Valen began to glow, and the glow extended to WM.
For a moment, both stood still-

-and then, when it was over, WM had the absolutely worst look of embarrassment that Jingle had ever seen!
-"OH MY GOD! It's TRUE! You're not only NOT the Q I know, you're his TOTAL opposite! A lover of Universal Peace and Harmony!"
-"Indeed. The one you met is a rogue. My people doesn't usually involve themselves with other races, considering them lesser beings... I disagree, however. I believe we can learn much from each other."
-"Please accept my apologies!!" Wil hastly said. He was actually blushing! "You look IDENTICAL to the other one!!"
-"I know; I'm not familiar with human appearances, so I took the same one as he did... I see that was a mistake. My apologies."
-"But- WHAT are you doing here?" WM asked.
-"I came for a friendly discussion on the nature of Christmas with Cless, Alwyn and X-Countryguy."
-"Damn! Sorry, guys" Wil explained, still beet-red. "If you'd met that OTHER guy, you'd know why I overreacted."
-"No harm done, chap. Why don't you join us?" Valen offered friendly.
-"So, WM, what does it feel to be the one who freaks out, for once?" Jingle laughed.
-"Quiet, you!" WM retorted, as he recovered his color.
-"Err, I'll go get the cookies" X said, and left the room.
-"Ah, c'est nothing, Wil" Alwyn explained. "This things happen to me too. But!" he suddenly exclaimed- "Who ees this BEAUTIFUL girl??"
-"Everyone, please Meet jingle Belle, Santa Claus' daughter" Wil introduced her.
-"An honor to meet the daughter of the Purveyor of Joy" Valen gently said.
-" Hmmph! We don't NEED a Santa Claus in the Jewish Community!" Cless snorted.
-"She ees the most beautiful thing I've ever seen!! Madame, I be Alwyn Aldarion, Elven Mage" Alwyn continued to say, in awe.
-"Hey, you're not THAT bad looking yourself, you know! Hey, Wil! You wouldn't mind if Alwyn and I went out on a date, would you?" Jingle said, looking at Wil; she was watching his reaction to this.
To her surprise, WM seemed to ponder about it. *Alwyn and Jingle???* Then he thought about Alwyn. What did he know about him? Not much, other than he always seemed to get in arguments with other RPGC members... but that might be due to his short temper, and the teasings he got from the others. Not a real reason to distrust him... tho' he had a feeling Santa would NOT be happy about this.
But he believed in giving people chances. And that included Jingle, too. She might be bitchy sometimes, but he believed she had a good heart.
Maybe the two of them just needed people like each other to be with...
-"Sure, why not?" He finally said. This REALLY shocked Jingle.
-"?? You mean it?" she said, still in disbelief.
-"ALRIGHT!! 'Anhk you, mon ami!!" Alwyn said, almost jumping with joy.
-"AFTER we're done with our job, of course." WM clarifyed.
-"Aww..." both Jingle and Alwyn lamented.
-" What job are you doing?" Cless asked.
-"I'm interviewing the RPGC members to find out what do they want for the Xmas party" he explained.
-"It MUST have Hanukka Elements, or I'm NOT coming!! " Cless snapped.
-"My short-tempered friend has a point: all religious denominations should be covered, to be fair" Valen agreed.
-"Hmm, I guess you're right" Wil nodded, and wrote down: "Make Party Ecumenical".
-" I could do some magic tricks" Alwyn offered.
-"Hmm, OmegaFlare is doing some, but you could help. OK!" Wil said.
At that moment, X returned with the cookies- and another person: a man with purple hair, and glasses.
-"Hey everyone, our final guest is here!" X announced. "This is UF-Jabricruds. He's also a philosopher, and comes to discuss religion as well. I've already explained who all of you are-"
-"YOU!! It's YOU!!" Jabricuds suddenly started babbling, interrupting X and startling everyone. "I've FOUND you!! The ONE!!!"
With a fanatical expression in his eyes, UF came closer to Wil and Jingle.
-"EH?? Are you talking about-ME??" WM said, baffled!
-"Not YOU!" he retorted, "HER! X told me! You're the daughter of the Spirit of Xmas, are you not?"
-"Uhh, if you mean Santa Claus, I am" Jingle said, nervously.
-" And the Granddaughter of the Queen of the Fairies, are you not?" he continued to stammer.
-"Uhh, y-yes"
-"Then the prophecy is TRUE!! You're the one I've LONG sought! THE CHOSEN ONE! The SAVIOUR!!"
-"SAVIOUR???" Everybody said, utterly baffled.
-"The prophecy says it! "She who wields the Holy power, shall come at mankind's darkest hour to save us thru her kindness!!!"
-"Uhh, Wil? This guy's creeping me out. Take me out of here. NOW!"
-"I agree. Err, thanks for everything, guys, see ya later!"
-"Y-you can't leave!! Not when I just found you!!"
-"Sorry, wrong saviour, pal. Try the Yellow Pages. Adios!" WM said, waving goodbye.

Somewhere in Norway:

Wil and JB appeared inside... a snow-covered cemetery.
-"EH!?" was Jingle's reaction. "Uh, Wil, I think you misteleported.."
-"Nope. This is the place, alright."
-"??You kidding me? Who would live in a cemetery??"
Before WM could answer, a horrible hissing shattered the cemetery's eerie silence.
-"EH??" Wil snapped, quickly turning around. "YIPE!!"
A humanoid reptile, nine feet tall, with an elongated head, black skin, slime-dripping jaws, an NO EYES, was standing menancingly behind him!
-"CALM DOWN, Jingle! That was JUST a movie!"
Then, to the two travelers surprise, the Alien began to- laugh!
-"HA HA HA!! I GOT YOU! Admit it! You thought I REALLY was The Alien! HA HA!!
-"I should have known" Wil said sighing. "Charlemagne. Your jokes are getting dumber."
-"Waitaminnut- is THIS another of your freaky friends!?" Jingle said, angrily.
-"I didn't know he was going to be here, or else I would've been ready for him" Wil explained.
-"But you weren't! I got you! Ha-ha!"
-"You KNOW what REALLY would've been funny, Charlie?" Wil said, cracking an evil smile. "If I'd REALLY believed that you were a monster, and ended up cramming an Ultima Blast down your throat..."
-"Errr..." was all Charle could say.
-"Ba ha ha" another voice said "Now THAT I would've liked to see!"
Jingle turned around. A ghoul-like being, wearing a Santa Claus suit, was standing behind her.
She facepalmed. "No, let me guess- ANOTHER RPGC member."
-"Let me guess" WM said: "Gila Monster, right?"
-"Ahh, what gave me away?" Gila said.
-"Galloway told me you guys have this 'Ugliest Xmas Costume contest' thing going this year. And you ALWAYS liked to take the ugliest shapes.
-"You think I'll win?"
-"No way! Mine's freakier!!" Charlemagne said.
-"Maybe, but mine's more original!"
-"UGH! I'm SO tired of you and your weirdo friends!!" Jingle said, and began to walk away.
-"Where do you think you're going? We're in the middle of nowhere!" Wil shouted after her.
-"I DON'T CARE! I'll- I'LL PHONE HOME!!" she shouted back.
-"Good luck finding a phone around here!!" Gila shouted to her too.
But she still walked away, until she disappeared among the tombstones.
-"Bah. Let her walk a little... she needs to cool down." WM said. "Anyway, what are you two doing around here?"
-"We're hanging out with Nulani, of course!" Gila explained.
-"You mean you're pestering her." WM commented.
-"NAAH, nothing bothers THAT chick!" Santa Ghoul commented.
-"And what are YOU doing here?" Charle asked.
-"Weiila wants me to interview all RPGC members to find out what things they want for this year's Xmas party."
-"And who was that chick? She's HOT!" Gila remarked.
-"Her name is Jingle Belle, and she's Santa Claus' daughter."
-"No kiddin?? You think she would go out with me?"
-"HA! You would have to learn to dress better first, Gila!" WM laughed. "Anyway. Since you two are here, mind telling me what you want for the party?'
-"Sure, why not?" Charle said.
-"Um, would you mind taking human form first?" WM asked.
-"Hehe, I really creep you out in this form, don't I?" Charle laughed.
-"Hey, Gila" WM asked in a mocking tone, "What rhimes with 'Prima'?"
-"Ohh, I dunno" Gila said, playing along. "Maybe... ULTIMA?"
-"Ohh, ALRIGHT, I'll change back!" Charle said, annoyed. He then began to shrink, and in a few moments had turned into a long-haired, chalk-white humanoid, wearing a trenchcoat- his "day-walking vampire" form.
-"That's better" WM said, and pulled out his notebook and pen. "So, whaddaya want?"
-"OHH, can I perform in it?" Gila said, excited. "I'm in a band, you know- the 'Demon's Corpse!'"
-"Hmmm- doesn't sound too Xmasy..." Wil commented.
-"Oh, we can do Xmas songs.. but, we would them KISS-style!!"
-"Hey, now THAT would be cool! I think many of us would enjoy it!" Charle added.
-"Huh, well, no promises but I will suggest it."

Meanwhile, Jingle was still trying to find the way out of the cemetery. "C'mon, there MUST be an exit somewhere..."
-"The exit's over there" a monotone, a female voice said.
-"EH??" Jingle said, surprised, and turned around.
There was a young woman, with long dark hair, wearing a long black robe, and carrying a- schyte?- sitting on top of a large tombstone, and pointing to her left. Where did she come from? She hadn't seen her there a moment ago.
-"I must warn you, however" the woman added, "That there's nothing but miles of snowy wasteland around here."
-"Ahh... thanks... but if that's true, what are YOU doing here?"
-"I like it here" was her answer.
What was wrong with this chick? She looked either sad, or bored, or annoyed- or maybe all three things at once.
-"Ah, there you are" A voice said behind Jingle. It was Wil. "I see you've met Nulani."
-"Oh, she's ANOTHER of you weirdos. Should've known." Jingle said, annoyed.
Wil ignored her. "Hi, Null" he greeted her.
-"What are you doing here, Martinez?" was her monotone answer.
-"I came by to ask you what you want for the Xmas party" he said.
-"...You people want ME to come to the party?" she asked, still in monotone.
-"You're one of us, Null, no matter how you have... evolved of late" he said, puzzlingly.
Nulani shrugged. "I may or may not come. As you know, I go where least expected. And I don't want anything in particular."
-"Fine. I had to ask, anyway. C'mon, Jingle, let's go."
-"I SAID I wasn't coming with you!"
-"Sorry, JB, but you don't have a choice. You're MY responsability until I finish. Unless you think you can beat me in a magic duel...?"
-"Ooooh... ALRIGHT!" Jingle snapped, "But I'm NOT helping you at all!!"

As the two of them walked away from Nulani, Jingle couldn't help her curiosity, and asked, "What's wrong with her?"
-"Nothing" Wil said.
-"What do you mean, NOTHING? That's the WEIRDEST chick I've ever seen!"
-"...You don't wanna know."
-"OH? And why not??"
-"It would scare you."
-" I'm SO tired of you, and dad, and EVERYBODY treating me like a little girl!!" Jingle exploded.
WM had had enough of her attitude. "You REALLY wanna know? OK, I'll tell you. That was DEATH HERSELF!"
-"D-D-D...?" she mumbled. "N-No way. You're making that up to scare me!!"
-"I wish" Wil said, in a sad tone. "Nulani was just a gothic chick... but she got this- epiphany- last Halloween, that it was her destiny to be the next Avatar of Death- and she accepted."
-"A-and... you consider her... a FRIEND??"
-"Do not be afraid of Death" Wil explained, in his most calming tone, "She doesn't actually KILL people... she just picks up souls when it is their time to go... a very important function. Besides, she's not like that all the time... she can be really nice when she's not in one of her "I AM DEATH!" trips."
-"Uhh, whatever... just... let's go, OK?"
-"Okay. WARP!"

As she watched them disappear, Nulani wondered if maybe she should've told WM that they would meet again, and real soon....

Umea, North Sweden:

-"Oh, great" Jingle complained, "we're in ANOTHER winter wasteland!"
-"I would've thought you would be used to them, since you live in the North Pole" WM commented.
-"That's PRECISELY why I'm tired of them" Jingle snorted.
-"Cheer up, JB" Wil said, "I think you'll LIKE the next RPGC member."
-"I doubt it."
The two of them approached a house. WM knocked on the door.
The door was opened... by a small, orange, lizard-like creature, with a flame at the tip of its tail.
-"??? IS THAT what I think it is??" Jingle said in disbelief.
-"Charmander! Charm!" The creature said.
-"Well, yes and no" Wil said, almost laughing. "This is Pokefreak. He's a polymorph, and he enjoys taking the shape of Pokemon. How you doing, Poke?"
-"Yeah, charm to you too" Wil joked. " This is Jingle Belle, Santa Claus' Daughter."
-"...This is suppossed to be cute?" Jingle complained.
-"Sorry, to bother you, Poke. I just wanted to ask you, what things you would like to see at this year's RPGC Xmas party-"
-"...Look, Poke, a joke is only fun for so long. C'mon, I need an answer!
-"Charmander! Charm!!"
-"Ok, fine, be that way!" WM said, and began to turn around.
-"Wait!" a voice said from inside the house. A boy of about 17 came running out.
-"POKE!?" WM said surprised.
-"Ha ha!! Sorry, Wil!" Poke explained. "This is actually my Charmander, Pyro. I heard everything you said, but since you had mistaken him for me, I decided to see what would happen..."
Jingle giggled.
-"Humph. It was a logical error, considering that you often DO take a Charmander's form." WM explained, but still felt a bit foolish.
-"Sorry about that..." Poke said.
-"Anyway: what do you want for the party, Poke?" Wil asked.
-"Oh, nothing special... wait. Can I take Pyro with me? He chews the furniture when left alone."
-"Sure... long as he doesn't set the place on fire!"
-"Don't worry, I'll watch him!" Poke assured WM.
-"Say, Poke" WM asked, "Are you still having nightmares about Cthulhu?"
-"Ktul-WHO?" Jingle asked.
-"You don't wanna know" Wil said, in a serious tone.
-"Oookay" JB said, having learned her lesson with Nulani.
-"I stopped having them a while ago, but I had one last night."
-" I TOLD you not to read the Necronomicon!" WM lectured him.
-"Hey, I got rid of my copy! Honest! Hey, you know what, you were in my dream!"
-"Really? What happened in it?"
-"You were fighting one of the Old Ones... can't remember which one..."
-"Don't worry, Poke, the Old Ones were sealed away by the Elder Gods. It would take a miracle to free them. And dreams do NOT usually come true."
-"..If you say so."
-"Well, gotta go. See you at the party, Poke!"
-"See ya!"

(OOC: Yes, that's ANOTHER clue to the Main Villain's identity!)

The rest of the day was a blur to Jingle.

*FLASH!* To the Netherlands, to ask TenchiMaru Draconis (who was disguised as The Grinch, and was quite upset that the others had scarier Xmas costumes than him!)
*FLASH!* To England, to ask Amarant Coral.
*FLASH!* To Canada, to ask Igatona.
*FLASH!* To Germany, to ask Dragon Tear.
*FLASH!* To Canada again, to ask Walhalla.
*FLASH!* To China, to ask Sun.
-"ENOUGH ALREADY!!!" Jingle screamed. "Don't you EVER get tired?? Let's get a BREAK, already!!"
-"Sorry, Jingle! I'm not used to bringing someone along with me... I guess it would be good to take a break. Wanna go somewhere specific?"
-"ANYWHERE! Let's just REST!"
-"Okay... let's see, what country have I never been to? Ah, I know! WARP!!"
Jingle and Wil appeared in a snow-covered park, in a city full of Old-World Architecture.
-"...Where are we?"
-"Helsinki. The capital of Finland. Ever been here?"
-"Dad makes me fly with him all over the World each Christmas Eve... but we never get to stop and enjoy the sights."
-"Well, he's really busy... anyway. Sit here in this bench; I'll go buy something to drink from that vendor over there" WM explained.
Jingle sat wearily on the bench. A few moments later, WM came back with some hot cocoa cups, one for each of them. Jingle quickly downed hers.
-"Jingle, I want you to know... I understand you're NOT having a good time with me" WM explained. "Believe me, I would not have forced you to come with me, if it were up to me. But I promised your dad... and he's a very important friend to me."
Jingle was silent for a moment, not looking directly at WM. She seemed lost in thought. Then she finally asked:
-"That meant a LOT to you, didn't it?"
WM's gaze became lost in the distance. "...Yes. Not because it was made of gold- but because I got it from your father, when I first met him. I was younger, and more innocent then. So many happy memories..."
-"So, why did you give it away, then?"
-"...I don't think you would understand"
-"Try me!" Jingle insisted, but then, surprisingly, her tone softened. "Please...?"
-"...Everything in this world has causes and effects, JB. Everything one does, and everything one chooses NOT to do, always has consequences. Often SERIOUS consequences, but most people never even notice. Believe me, as a Time Traveler, I know that for a fact. I KNEW I could help Saturn; No, I did NOT have to help him, but if I didn't, and his business failed as a result, it would've been MY fault too. And I... can't stand that. It's just my nature, Jingle; some people, like me, can't help but put others ahead of themselves... even if we gain nothing from it. Even if we get screwed for it. Stupid, huh?"
Jingle didn't answer. Her first impulse usually would've been to say, "Yeah, that's stupid!" ...But somehow, today, she didn't feel like mocking Wil's feelings.
Her father always told her things like that. But he was "Santa Claus". She always felt like it was some sort of duty to him, and that he wanted to pass it on to her, and she hated the idea.
But she loved her father... and she really didn't mind Xmas that much, either. But, like any teenager, agreeing with her parents was just "uncool."
Besides, Jingle was secretly afraid... that she was unworthy.
A thought came over her: Why did her dad trust WM so much? Is it because they're so alike?
...Could it be... that he's grooming WM as his succesor, instead of her?
The idea, surprisingly, hurt her. She just HAD to ask him...
-"Wil... Has dad- ever- talked to you about- well, SUCCEEDING him?"
-"Who, ME? NAAH! I'm a HERO, not a toy maker! Besides- aren't YOU going to succeed him?"
-"I... I can't use it."
-"? Use what?"
-" ...Xmas Magic."
-"I HAVE it... I CAN feel it inside me... but... I've never been able to use it. I guess... I-I'm just not worthy."
-" Jingle- Xmas Magic was a gift of the Immortals to your father. It's not something that can be inherited. If you have it, then the Immortals must have judged you worthy."
-"But- if that's true, why can't I use it?"
-"Well, Nicolas told me that Xmas Magic can only be used in UNSELFISH ways... maybe you just have yet to find the proper motivation to awaken it."
That didn't exactly make Jingle feel better. WM decided that what she needed was a distraction. "Hey, I have an idea. Since we're here, why don't we go see the sights?"
-"Yeah... let's" Jingle responded, not too enthusiastic.

A 16-year-old boy was running as fast as he could down the street. He had long, spiky dark hair, and was wearing appropiate winter clothing. *God, I'm going to be late!* he thought.
He was in such a hurry, he failed to notice the couple that was turning around the corner in time.
-"Oh no! WATCH OUT!!" was all he could say- before running straight into them!
-"OOUCHH!!" all three of them shouted in pain, as they fell in a tangled mess into the snow.
-"HEEY! WHY THE HELL DON'T YOU WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING!!" Jingle Belle shouted, furious.
-"SORRY! SORRY! My fault! I-I was in too much of a hurry!! Please forgive me!!"
-"Are you okay, kid?" WM asked.
-"I-I think so... please forgive me!"
-" You said THAT already" WM said, almost laughing." You OK, JB?"
-"If by OK you mean "mad!'" she snorted, getting up.
-"OH NO!!" the boy screamed, "I LOST IT!!"
-"Lost what?" WM asked, getting up himself.
-"MY WALLET! ALL my money was in it!!"
-"Don't worry, kid, it must be in the snow around us somewhere!!"
-"I don't have time to find it! I'm going to be late for work!"
WM looked at Jingle.
-"...You're going to help him, right?" she said, almost with resignation.
WM shrugged. "To thine own self be true" he quoted. Then, to the teenager: "Stand aside, kid, I will find it for you."
-"Eh? You will? But how?"
-"With a magic trick. Watch. FIRE!" Wil shouted, and a small ball of fire hit the ground a few feet away from them.
-"HOLY... How did you do that??" the boy asked, astonished.
-"Sorry, a good magician never reveals his tricks" Wil said, smiling.
The heat from the fire quickly melted the snow in the surrounding street, including the one at their feet. The wallet soon came into view.
WM picked it up, and threw it to the kid. "Here you go!"
-"OH! THANK you! Thank you sir! And after I bumped into you-!"
-"Never mind that, just be careful. Say, weren't you in a hurry to get somewhere?"
-"Oh yeah! But, it's real close. PLEASE, come with me!"
-"Eh? What for?" WM asked.
-" I just want to thank you! Please, let me!"
-"O-kay..." Wil agreed.
The boy suddenly sped away, shouting, "follow me!!"
WM and JB started running after him, not even sure why.
-"Hey, WM!" Jingle said to him, out of the boy's earshot. "There's something you should know."
-"That boy. He has magic powers."
-"EH!? How do you know??"
-"I felt it when we collided. But they're latent- he might not even realize he has them."
-"Hmm..." Wil mused. Then he ran faster, and caught up to the boy. "Hey, kid. You haven't even told us your name..."
-"OH, sorry! You're right. My name's Chris. Chris Maxim."

************************************************** ************************************************** *****************************************

The Thought Police Headquarters:
-"WE HAVE FOUND HIM, SIR!!" Poindexter shouted. "The SkyNet Satellite finally found him! Martinez is in Helsinki!!"
-"Quickly! Where are Agent Cruise's forces?" Ashcroft snapped.
-"In a stealth jet in suborbital flight, sir. In fact, they're flying over Northern Europe now. They can be directed to Helsinki within minutes!" Poindexter explained.
-"Tell them to do so! Let's hope Martinez doesn't teleport away first!"
-"Yes sir!" Poindexter answered, and began to give the appropiate orders to his minions.
-*I KNEW you had to stop sooner or later, Martinez. Even you HAVE to rest sometime! NOW you'll be mine!!* Ashcroft silently gloated.

And in a realm one step removed from reality, a dark, figthful presence began to smirk with anticipation...

Part 2

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