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The Future RPGC (title pending)
by d_Galloway

Twenty-five years have passed in RPGC. After several long years of evil beings and countless battles, the beloved site has been enjoying a golden era of peace and prosperity. Finally, it got to be that the vigilance many had shown in the past had vanished. Only a few defenders remained to watch over RPGC.

Needless to say, bad things would begin to happen.


Val took a seat on the chair by the door, waiting patiently. Her appearance had never changed over all these years, a side-effect of her former status as an immortal. The years without any kind of fighting had taken a toll on her; all she did now was hang around the house and raise her children. All except one...

The door swung open. A young man with an average appearance and build entered the house. He looked very little like Val, but still had her cold, calculating eyes. He threw a bag to the side and shouted, "Mom! I'm home!"

Val cringed. "You don't have to fucking scream! I'm right here!"

"Sorry, mom," he said, "but I thought you would be smarter than to sit next to the door. Only a complete moron would stay over there!"

Val's eyes began to burn almost immediately. She pulled Gungnir from her side and stabbed the man in the arm. She then pulled him by the ear into the next room, where they each took a seat staring across from each other.

"What is it now, mother dear?" asked the man.

"Ryelandt," said Val, "you're a young man now, so it's time for you to prove yourself."

"What do you mean?" asked Ryelandt. "I can survive a stab from Gungnir, a slash from the Kris Knife, and staring at a naked photo of you for an hour. What else do I need to do?"

Val pulled out a knife and stabbed Ryelandt in the arm again. "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to kill all of my ex-husbands. Until they are dead, you may never return."

"What?" asked Ryelandt. "Nobody knows where the hell they all are!"

"All right," said Val, "I'll let you come back if you kill the husband I hate the most: d Galloway."

"What?" asked Ryelandt. "Do you mean THE d Galloway? Do you think I'm a fucking moron or something?"

Val then grabbed Ryelandt and threw him out the door. "And don't come back until he's dead!"

Ryelandt got back to his feet and pulled the knife and spear out of his arm. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a large roll of bandages, and began to wrap them around his huge wounds as he left the small town. The long road wound its way through trees and over rivers, leading west to the Mountains of Sorcerer. He had heard that the mountain range was one of Galloway's favorite spots, due to the inhospitable terrain and peaceful quiet. That seemed to be one of the best places to start.

He followed the road until sundown, where he reached the mountain pass. He began to climb the steep, ramp-like road, which was littered with thousands of small rocks and a few hundred large boulders, some of which had to be pushed out of the way. By the time he reached a large plateau, he was nearly dead from exhaustion.

Then he saw a small campfire nearby, as well as a pair of tents. A man was sitting on a dead log next to the fire, his back turned to Ryelandt. His red hair was kept in a small ponytail that reached to his neck, and he wore a kind of red cloak. Finally, Ryelandt realized who this was: d Galloway himself.

He pulled out his knife and snuck up behind Galloway. He was about to move it along his throat when Galloway reached his hand up and hit Ryelandt in the face with his pinky finger. Ryelandt went flying into a nearby cliff wall.

"Okay, Mr. Idiot," said Galloway, "why are you trying to kill me?"

"How'd you know I was there?" asked Ryelandt.

"You weren't moving silently enough," said Galloway. "That, and you tripped the trip wire that was connected with my hand." Ryelandt looked around, and saw a small wire attached to Galloway's hand, which led to a tiny hook in the cliff wall.

"Nice contraption," said Ryelandt, "but what if I do...THIS!" He jumped at Galloway, only to get kicked in the side of the face. He flew into the ground, creating a bunch of dust. Standing over him was a young, red-haired teenage girl, wearing a red cloak and silver armor.

"You little loser!" she shouted. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Shut up, woman!" shouted Ryelandt. "I'm just doing my job!"

"He's right," said Galloway. "A couple hundred people try to kill me every day. That's why I stay here, anyway." He finally turned around, and Ryelandt saw his face. It was actually that of a fairly young man, except for a large scar going down one cheek. He was wearing some silver armor, like the girl.

"What's your name?" asked Galloway.

"Ryelandt," said Ryelandt, "son of Valkyrie Esker, the greatest warrior to have ever lived."

Galloway's eyes opened, and he smiled. "Little Ryelandt. How you've grown."

"What do you mean?" asked the girl. "Do you know this guy?"

"I should," said Galloway. "He's your brother, actually."

"What?" asked both Ryelandt and the girl.

"Well, technically, I'm not your father, Ryelandt," said Galloway. "You see, your mother, due to a series of bizzare and hilarious circumstances, was married to about three different guys at a time. God knows who your father is."

"A-HEM!" said Ryelandt. "What is this about you and mom?"

"Well, I was the last of her three ex-husbands, and the first to be divorced," said Galloway. "Val decided to use it as an excuse to celebrate, so we both got drunk off our asses. Eventually, we reached the point where we both looked good to each other and went at it. Nine month's later, my daughter is born, Val shoves her at me, and I've raised her ever since."

"How touching..." said the girl, rolling her eyes.

"What's this gotta do with anything?" asked Ryelandt. "I've been told to kill you, and that's it!" He jumped up and knocked Maria aside before she could react. He then picked up Gungnir and threw it at Galloway

"You just don't get it, do you?" asked Galloway. He grabbed Gungnir and tossed it back at Ryelandt, who caught it in mid-air. "Let's see how good you really are..."

"Bring it on, you bas-" began Ryelandt. Then he noticed that Galloway's eyes were closed, as if he was in a trance. Then the wind began to vortex around him, as a glowing aura surrounded him. Ryelandt tried to build up the nerve to attack, but didn't know what was going on.

Galloway began to growl, then finally opened his eyes. His hair turned a bright gold, his eyes turned green, and the glowing aura became even thicker. Ryelandt finally raised Gungnir and charged.

The next thing he new, he was lying on the ground. Gungnir was lying next to him, his body was covered with blood and bruises, and he could feel a huge pain in his chest. When he examined it closer, he saw a huge amount of bruises. Galloway was standing over him, now back to normal.

"Wh-what was that?" asked Ryelandt.

"I see your mother never told you," sighed Galloway, turning his eyes away from Ryelandt. "I can transform into what is commonly known as a 'Super Saiyan'. When in that form, my strength and speed are multiplied several times over, which makes me much harded to kill."

"A...Super Saiyan?" asked Ryelandt.

Galloway sighed, then pointed to what Ryelandt thought was a furry belt. It unfurled, revealing itself to be a monkey tail. "Every Saiyan has a tail," said Galloway. "It's just a trademark of the species. Even my lovely daughter has one, although she hates to admit it."

"Daddy took you out big time!" said the girl, now hanging on the cliff wall overhead.

"Shut up, girl!" shouted Ryelandt. "What's your name?"

"First, you tell me to shut up, and now you want to know my name?" asked the girl. "Come on, make up your mind!"

"Maria," said Galloway. "Her Maria."

"Maria?" asked Ryelandt. "What kind of stupid name is Maria?"

Maria jumped down from the wall and walked away from Ryelandt, while Galloway picked up a nearby sword sheath and smacked Ryelandt several times on the head with it. "We're leaving for the Temple of the Wise Man Sorcerer tomorrow," he said. "You're coming with us. Don't bother trying to kill me; you won't be able to find your way out when it's dark."

"Fine, fine," said Ryelandt. "But, why keep me around if you know I've been told to kill you?"

Galloway smiled. "Because it makes things more interesting," he said. "Now, sleep outside. I don't trust you in my tent, and there's no way on God's green earth that I'm letting you near your sister."

"Do you think I'd kill her?" asked Ryelandt.

"Actually," said Galloway, "I'm afraid she'll kill you." He smiled, then entered one of the tents. Maria looked angrily back at Ryelandt, then entered the other tent. Ryelandt sighed, then fell back on his back.


Galloway and Maria broke camp almost immediately the next morning, then kicked Ryelandt a few times in the side, until he finally got back up.

"Man, you're lazy," said Galloway. "Come on, we have to get going." Ryelandt rubbed his eyes, stood up, grabbed his weapons, and plotted Galloway's bloody death. Galloway and Maria threw some backpacks on, then walked down the road. Ryelandt followed closely behind.

After nearly half a day of travelling uphill, they reached a small, oriental-like house, situated at the top of one of the mountains. A small koi pond sat at one side, while a shed and garden sat on the other. The front door slid open, and a young teenage girl stepped out. She was a brunette, stood about 5'4", and had brown eyes. She bowed her head when Galloway approached.

"Hello, Karen," said Galloway. "It's been a while."

"Yes, it has," said Karen. "Have you come to see my father?"

"Yes," said Galloway. "Is he available?"

Karen looked away briefly, then returned her gaze to Galloway. "He is dead. He was murdered only a few days ago."

Galloway's face became a mask of shock. "What? Why would someone kill your father?"

"I do not know," said Karen, her eyes beginning to water. "All I know was the murderer dropped one piece of cloth with a single symbol."

"A symbol?" asked Ryelandt. "Tell me, was it a black circle with three stars in it?"

"Yes," said Karen. "How'd you know that?"

Ryelandt looked away. "It had to be the Order of the Dead Star. They have a good deal of influence throughout this entire area. I guess your father pissed the wrong guy off."

Karen walked up to Ryelandt, her eyes never moving off the ground. "Don't ever...ever...EVER...TALK ABOUT MY FATHER LIKE THAT!" She then sucker-punched Ryelandt in the gut, sending him doubling over.


The four entered the back yard, where a single grave had been recently dug. The tombstone read, "Sorcerer: The Wise Man of RPGClassics." Karen bowed her head to the grave, then turned back to the others.

"I can understand if you wish to leave," she said.

"Not yet," said Galloway, looking at the setting sun. "If it's all right, we'll stay the night. Tomorrow, we'll leave for the next town. I just hope we can catch up with your father's murderer."

Karen smiled for the first time since the meeting began. "Thank you," she said. "That...would be nice."


"Damn," said Ryelandt, after finishing off his apple, "that was a small meal."

"We haven't been doing too well," said Karen. "The rain is late this year, and the wells have all dried up. This isn't exactly a pleasent place to live."

"I agree," said Galloway. "Going to town isn't very easy for you either, is it?"

"Actually, it's quite simple," said Karen. "We have a warp gate leading to The Domed City. However, I only got it working again after father died."

"So that means the murderer couldn't have used it," said Galloway. "And the pass leading back the way we came was cleared only yesterday, which means that if the killer went that way, we would have found him. Therefore, the only way they could have gone is down the other road, leading to the Zero Province."

"The Zero Province?" asked Ryelandt. "I've always wanted to see that place."

"Well, you'll get your chance," said Galloway. "It's our next stop. Karen, will you be joining us?"

"I don't see why not," said Karen. "Father is dead. This place is nothing more than a shell without him. It's time for me to leave."

Maria smiled. "How lovely," she said.

"That, and I want to rip the balls off whoever killed my dad," said Karen.


"Come on!" shouted Galloway the next morning. "Let's get going here!"

Ryelandt and Maria quickly dressed and packed. After nearly thirty minutes, Karen finally showed up, carrying a couple large suitcases.

Ryelandt slapped his face. "You've never travelled like this, have you?"

"No," said Karen. "Normally, we just use the warp gate, then take another warp gate to wherever we want to go. It's easier than walking."

"We don't know exactly WHERE the Order is situated in Zero Province," said Galloway, "so we're going the good-old fashioned way: by foot. And you can't take that much stuff when going down a mountain road."

"What?" said Karen. "Man, you guys don't know how to live! I mean, how the hell do you survive like that?"

"We just do," said Maria. "Now, just pick out a few things, and let's go." Karen sighed, then took her bags back, Maria following closely behind.

"The last thing we need," said Ryelandt, "is another prissy, high-maintainence, worthless girl! Let's just leave them here!"

Galloway grabbed Ryelandt by the neck and threw him out the door. "I should let you know," said Galloway, "that Maria is the daughter of two of the world's strongest warriors, and is trained in the Ancient Arts. And Karen, while not super-powerful like your mother or myself, is actually very intelligent, and is simply naive about travelling. Don't talk smack about them again, or I'll tear your throat out and feed your corpse to a bunch of Canadian hockey fans!"

Ryelandt froze in terror. The only thing he was ever scared of was Canadian hockey fans, with the deep insanity in their eyes, their wild and dangerous behavior, and their instability in handling the mind-altering effects of alcohol. Finally, Galloway helped him back up, and he snapped back to his senses.

Karen finally came back out, backpack in hand. "Let's go," she said. Everyone else nodded in agreement, and they made their way down the mountain pass.


As night began to fall, the group reached the Zero Province. The foggy mountains instantly gave way to rolling green grass, along with large trees and beautiful animal life. "I love this place," sighed Maria. "It's so peaceful."

"Just remember," said Galloway, more towards the two new members of his group, "keep an eye on everything when we reach Earthen. Do not trust anyone there; it's a place full of scum, but it's safer than staying near the mountains."

Finally, they reached a small town, filled with shops, hotels, and various run-down houses. People were crowded onto the streets, and the group struggled to keep together. Finally, they reached a large Inn, which they quickly entered.

The innkeeper was a small, wirey man, with a white mustache and greying hair. "Hello, Mr. Galloway," he said. "Will you be staying with us tonight?"

"Yes," said Galloway. "Can you add another room? I have a few more companions than usual."

"Of course," said the innkeeper. He eyed Karen and Maria, making them rather uneasy. He then handed Galloway two keys and turned away.

The four climbed a few flights of stairs, until they reached the third floor. Galloway handed Ryelandt a room key and said, "Stay with Karen. I want to make sure nothing happens to her."

"What?" shouted Karen. "What could be so bad that I have to share a room with that bastard?!"

Galloway sighed. "Trust me," he said, before taking Maria into his room, "you don't want to know."


Karen paced around the room anxiously, while Ryelandt tried desperately to sleep. Finally, he stirred back up. "Get some sleep, damnit!" he shouted. "We probably have a long ways to go!"

"It's too cramped in here," said Karen. "There's no window, the door's locked, barred and deadbolted, and I have to share my room with a worthless pervert!"

"Wait a second," said Ryelandt. "What makes you think I'm a pervert?"

"I have my ways," said Karen. "I am the daughter of the great Sorcerer, you now."

"I don't want to look at you," said Ryelandt. "Now do you feel better? Just get to sleep!"

Karen sighed, then turned off the light. She then flopped into the hard bed and tried to fall asleep. The last thing she saw and felt before falling unconcious was a tall figure standing overhead, followed by something heavy striking the back of her head.


Galloway and Maria were sound asleep, snoring loudly all the way. A side wall rotated, revealing a secret passage. A lone shadowy figure snuck into the room. It made its way to Maria and raised a heavy blackjack.

Suddenly, Galloway slammed his fist into the figure's head, sending it toppling to the ground with a sickening crack. Maria quickly woke up and turned the light on, revealing the corpse to be that of a ninja. On the ninja's shoulder was a circle with three stars.

"The Order," said Galloway. He then ran out of the room and kicked down the next door. He found Ryelandt and Karen missing, and a wall partially rotated. He and Maria quickly ran through, and found a stairway leading down.

They followed the stairs, until they reached the basement. Galloway slowly opened a large metal door at the bottom, and found a large meeting room, filled with ninjas, soldiers, and various other types. Karen was tied up to a post in the middle of the room, staring in shock at what was going on. There was no sign of Ryelandt.

"Ah, Sorcerer's daughter walks right into our hands," said a shadowy figure, sitting on a large, throne-like chair. "Luck is on our side."

"What the hell's going on?" shouted Karen.

"Be quiet, girl!" shouted the figure. "You serve us now. We need you for our future plans."

"What?" asked Karen. "I don't get it."

"We have been searching for people like you," said the figure. "We have great ambitions for the future of the world, and we need your kind to fulfill our dreams."

"Why'd you kill my father?" asked Karen.

"You were the first we went after," said the figure. "We decided that Sorcerer would be reasonable, so we asked him politely. He did not meet eye to eye with us, so we had no choice but to increase the severity of our negotiating. We would have had you that night, but our assassin was caught off-guard and had to flee. No matter; we were planning to kill him anyway."

Karen's eyes became filled with complete hatred. "You bastards!" she hissed. "I'll kill every last one of you!"

"Yes, that's it!" shouted the figure. "Give in to your hatred! Let it become your power!"

Galloway finally stopped twitching in anger and jumped forward, smacking two ninjas down with one kick. The figure shot straight up and shouted, "Kill him!"

Several ninjas and soldiers ran at Galloway, only to be beaten easily. Maria ran into the battle, fighting right next to her father. Ryelandt finally jumped down from the rafters and cut Karen loose, then pulled her towards the door.

"NO!" shouted the figure. "Everyone! Prepare for Technique Number 342!" Everyone desended on Galloway, kicked Maria towards the door, and threw the three out.

"We will deal with you later," said the figure, "but Galloway must pay first. Farewell!" The doors locked, and Ryelandt, Maria and Karen were dropped through a trap door. As they fell into darkness, they saw the entire area above them explode.


"Darn it," said Maria, as she rose back to her feet. She looked around, and found herself in a deep cavern. Ryelandt and Karen stood back up as well.

"Wait a second," said Ryelandt. "Where's Galloway?"

Maria looked around frantically. "I'm sure he's...fine," she said, twitching nervously. "He'll...come back for us...soon, probably..."

"Maria," said Karen, "I'm not 100% certain, but I think your dad's dead."

"No..." said Maria, "he's...fine...I'm...sure..."

"Whatever," said Ryelandt. "Let's just get out of here while we still can." They made their way through the cavern (Maria had to be helped through most of the way, though), until they reached a large supply area. Inside was a large carriage, complete with the usual mechanical horse.

"Man, this place is REALLY backwards," said Ryelandt. "I mean, I didn't expect the same level as many other provinces, but really, a CARRIAGE?!"

"It's better than nothing!" shouted Karen. "Let's just get out of here!" They threw Maria inside, with Karen following her. Ryelandt then pulled the starting cord on the horse until it started neighing. He jumped onto the driver's seat and snapped the reigns, and the horse rocketed off, up a ramp and out of the cavern. They were back outside the town.

"Okay," said Ryelandt, checking the OnStar mapping device nearby, "we're apparantly on the road leading to Zero City. That would be as good a start as any."

"Maria..." said Karen. Maria's eyes looked distant.

"I know daddy's probably dead," said Maria. "Let's just go." Her voice was cracked and monotone; she was still in a state of shock.

"We'll set up camp over there," said Ryelandt, pointing towards a large group of rocks. "We should be safe for the time being. It's after tonight that I'm worried about."


The next morning, everyone packed up and drove the cart down the road. "According to the map," said Ryelandt, "the next town we should reach is...unnamed."

"What?" asked Karen. Maria just looked out the window; she had apparantly recovered from the shock. "Since when are towns unnamed?"

"It's just a small settlement," said Ryelandt. "It's probably used more as a resupplying stop than an actual town. We should probably pick up something; the only food we got was a bunch of cheese and crackers."

"And what's wrong with that?" shouted Maria. "Dad and I used to survive on that stuff for weeks at a time!"

"Shut up, girl!" shouted Ryelandt. "Your dad's probably dead! I can go home whenever I want!"

"I know about mom!" shouted Maria. "She'd want proof that dad was dead! Do you have any of that?"

Ryelandt thought about it for a minute, then sighed. "You're right," he said. "I'll go back, after I killed you two!" The two girls sighed.


A few minutes later, they reached the next town. It consisted of nothing but a general store, a hotel, and a strip club. Ryelandt pulled the cart into a parking lot and turned off the horse.

"Okay, we're here," said Ryelandt. "Now, get out and let me kill you..."

"Excuse me," said a voice, "but why are you trying to kill someone?"

"None of your damn busi-" began Ryelandt. He turned, and saw a slightly muscular man standing behind him. His dark blue hair and clothing denoted a member of the Blue Mages, one of the most respected magic classes in the world.

The man looked over Ryelandt's shoulder, and saw Maria and Karen disembark. "I see," he said. "You tried to kill the daughters of d Galloway and Sorcerer. I guess I have no choice..."

Ryelandt sneered and charged at the man, only to get tripped, punched repeatadly, and blasted by a fireball. He rose slowly back to his feet, only to see the man kick him in the face. He feel back over, while the man stomped him in the stomach several times.

"Uh, dad," said another voice, "I think he's dead."

Everyone turned, and saw a young, green-haired girl standing where the man first appeared. She walked towards Ryelandt, pulled him out of the ground, and propped him against the wall.

"Yep," she said, "he's nearly dead, all right." She raised her hands and slowly began to chant. A light surrounded Ryelandt, and he gasped back to conciousness.

"Tell me," said the man, "why'd you try to kill those two girls?"

"I have my reasons," said Ryelandt. "Now, let me go."

"Don't worry," said Karen. "I doubt he'll be any more trouble."

The girl turned back to Maria and Karen. "Dad," she asked, "who are these two?"

"The red-haired one's Maria Galloway," said the man. "The brown-haired one's Karen, the daughter of Sorcerer."

"They've been an annoyance since I met them," said Ryelandt. "I was planning to dump them here, then go tell mom that Galloway was dead."

"WHAT?!" shouted the man.

"POSSIBLY dead," said Maria.

"Whatever," said the man. "Let's just talk about this later. My name's Mabatsekker. This girl's Anie-Shi, my daughter."


The hotel was dark and dirty, typical for a small rest stop. The wooden floor creaked from years of excessive wear and tear. The walls were covered with cobwebs and mildew. Behind a cracking wooden desk stood a large thug, wearing a shotgun slung over his shoulder.

"Three rooms, please," said Mabat.

"That'll be 500 GP," said the thug. Mabat did a spit-take with the water he was drinking and slowly coughed himself back into reality.

"What's going on here?!" he shouted. "500 GP?! That's highway robbery!"

"Look, fucker," said the thug, "do you want the room or not?"

"Fine, fine," sighed Mabat, handing over the 500 GP. "But this had better be the best rooms in the place!" The thug sneered, then handed Mabat three keys. The small group headed up to their rooms, divided them up, and turned in.


Around midnight, Karen finally got annoyed from Maria's snoring and stepped out of the room to take a walk. She had taken less than five steps when a hand fell onto her shoulder. In panic, she grabbed a nearby board and knocked whatever had grabbed her away.

"Ow!" said the mystery person. "What's wrong with you?" As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, Karen realized that it was Anie-Shi.

"Sorry," said Karen, lowering the board, "but please don't sneak up on me like that. I've had enough surprises this week to last a lifetime."

"Listen," said Anie-Shi, "do you know anything about the Order of the Dead Star?"

Karen's eyes quickly began to blaze. "Those sons of bitches killed my dad and Galloway! What do you know about them?!"

"SHHHH!" said Anie-Shi. She quickly glanced around the hallway before continuing. "It's the guy at the desk. Dad and I went through this town a few days ago, and that guy was NOT there. Also, I could sense what he wanted, and to be quite honest, he's not on our side. He could be a member of the Order."

"So you want to check this out?" said Karen. "Fine by me. Anything to get away from Maria. She's a nice kid, but a loud snorer. Should we wake your dad up?"

"No!" said Anie-Shi. "You see, dad's lost his touch with reality. I can fell his last bits of sanity slipping away every deay. He's been like this since mom died, you see. He doesn't want me to be a red mage like her; he wants me to just be a blue mage."

"Nothing wrong with that," said Karen.

"Yes, there's something wrong with that!" quietly snapped Anie-Shi. "You see, about a month after my last birthday, I started showing some...traits of my mother, one of them being a little skill in red magic. If dad finds out..."

"Okay, okay!" said Karen. "Let's just go!" They made their way down the stairs.


The lobby was completely empty. The two made their way to the front desk, only to find no trace of the thug. Suddenly, a loud squeek echoed from a few rooms down; someone was coming. They quickly ducked into an empty closet and closed the door.

"I know I have that thing somewhere..." said Karen. She finally pulled out a flashlight and turned it on...then instantly turned it off. After a minute or so, she turned it back on.

Lying in front of them was a freshly-dead body, riddled with holes. "That was the clerk from before!" said Anie-Shi. "The thug must have killed him!"

"That's right," said a heavy voice. "And now, you die too." They turned, and saw the thug aiming his shotgun at their faces. Karen tried to raise the board, but the thug kicked it out of her hands easily.

"Please..." said Anie-Shi, "!" She raised her hands, and the thug instantly flew back, screaming like a banshee. Ryelandt, Maria and Mabat tore down the steps, only to see the thug finally die, his body burned and mutilated beyond belief.

All eyes soon turned to Anie-Shi. "What the hell was that?" asked Karen.

"She IS the daughter of Mabatsekker," said Ryelandt. "It was probably some kind of blue magic."

"No..." muttered Mabat. "That was no blue magic. I'd recognize that anywhere. That was..." He then fainted, falling down the remainder of the stairs.

Anie-Shi looked down, and began to cry.


The next morning, Ryelandt helped Mabat get back to his senses by slapping him with a cold cloth, then stepped outside to prep the carriage. Anie-Shi sat on her bed, not moving. Maria and Karen grabbed their stuff and joined Ryelandt.

Mabat and Anie-Shi snapped back to their senses completely when Ryelandt let out a scream. They ran down the stairs, finding them standing in the empty parking lot.

"Someone stole your cart, I see," said Mabat. "Well, no wonder. Those things sell for quite a bit."

"Any idea on what to do now?" asked Karen.

"The only other way out of town is the metro," said Anie-Shi. "It's just down the way a bit. This serves as a refueling for the longer trips. Where are you going, anyway?"

"Zero City," said Maria.

"Wow!" said Anie. "That's where we're going, too! Come on, dad, let's go!" Mabat sighed, then followed Anie-Shi, with Ryelandt, Maria and Karen following him.


They went down a set of stairs onto a concrete platform. Strangely, the metro station was rather modern, in that things were made of stuff besides wood. Ryelandt approached the ticket booth, only to find it covered by wooden boards. Grafittied onto the boards was the sign of the Order. Everyone turned around while Karen tore the entire booth to pieces.

"Don't worry!" said Mabat as the long, silver train pulled up. "While you were dealing with the booth, I bought some VIP passes off a crazed guy living in a cardboard box." They insterted their passes into a card reader, then boarded the train.


"I thought I'd never say this," said Ryelandt, "but I've found a fate worse than death."

"Shut up, okay?" said Maria. She was sitting at a beautiful antique table, staring directly at her insane brother. Mabat, Karen and Anie-Shi were at the bar, downing any drink that could be thrown at them. "This isn't that bad!"

"Oh, really?" said Ryelandt. "Well, for your information, in the last week I have been thrown out of my house, sent to kill a man who very well might be my father, learned I have a bitch for a sister, nearly got blown apart, was beaten within an inch of my life, and now can't go back home because the man I was SUPPOSED to kill may or may NOT be dead. Okay, now how does that sound?"

"You don't know anything," said Maria, quietly. "You've had to go through this for a week. Now try having to live like a bunch of nomads for thirteen years, never knowing what would happen next, spending your days wondering if your daddy was going to be alive that night, getting teased by kids because of your tail..."

"What?" said Ryelandt. "You have a tail, too?" Maria sighed, then pulled her tail out of her pants. She quickly wrapped it around her waist like a belt.

Suddenly, the train stopped moving. "We're sorry for the inconvience," said a voice over an intercom, "but due to an explosion, the track area ahead has been closed off. We ask that you please remain seated and do not panic." Immediately, everyone began to scream and run around.

Ryelandt sat at his table, finishing his beer, when he felt something tug at his pocket. His hand quickly shot out and grabbed an arm, which was trying to take his wallet.

He turned, and saw a wierd kid looking at him. He had short, dark hair, and had barely any mass at all. However, the most outstanding feature was his ears; they were cat ears.

"Let me go, you idiot!" he said, struggling against Ryelandt.

"Sorry, kid," said Ryelandt, tighting his grip, "but no go."

"KERR!" shouted a booming, angry voice. Kerr gulped, then looked around in panic. A middle-aged woman walked out of the crowd, wearing a tacky green sweater with flowers and black pants. Her hair was tied in a braid down her back, which also had a pair of large angel wings.

"Uh...hi, mom," said the kid.

"Kerr!" said the woman. "What the hell are you doing here? We're in general seating, remember?"

"Uh...well...that is..." mumbled Kerr.

"He tried to steal my wallet," said Ryelandt. "One thing's for sure, though; he's a real stupid thief."

"KEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!" shouted the woman. The panicing stopped for a few seconds, then continued. "I WON'T LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!"

"Yes, ma'am," said Kerr.


Suddenly, the train was rocked by an explosion. "We're sorry for the inconvience," said the intercom, "but the train is exploding and we will all die a horrible death soon."

Now the panicing REALLY began. Ryelandt grabbed Maria and kicked off one of the windows. "We just need to get out of here," he said. "Crawl through."

"Wait a second!" said Mabat. He quickly used a spell, which caused the doors to blow open. A ladder was visible; however, there was barely a ledge between the wall and floor, which was electrified.

(After all of our heroes make it)

They quickly raced up the ladder, barely seconds before the train completely exploded. "There goes another ride," said Ryelandt. "This REALLY isn't our day."

They made their way to the top of the ladder, which led to a hidden manhole cover. As they opened it, they found themself in downtown Zero City, capital of Zero Province.


The three black stretch limos made their way through the streets, until they reached a large tower in the center of the city. The drivers simultaniously rushed out and opened the back doors, revealing three different figures.

One looked a bit like a wildman, with ragged graying hair and a small beard. His clothing was nothing more than an ancient suit of battle armor, worn and dirtied from years of fighting. An enormous sword was slung over his shoulder, and he had a black eyepatch over his left eye.

The second was much more elegant, with an elaboratly-designed tunic and a heavy cape riding on his back. His hair was a golden yellow, and was braided in the back. He had no weapons, except for a gold staff he caried with him. It hummed and glowed with magical energy.

The third wore a simple party tux, similar to a James Bond outfit. His dishelved hair was a chesnut brown, and his stature was not one of prestige. He carried no weapons at all, except for a cane that did not seem to have any powers of its own. He adjusted his cufflings, then joined the others into the elevator.


"Well, we reached Zero City," said Karen. "Now what?"

"First, we need to find the Order," said Ryelandt. "They'll usually pop up when something big's going on."

"Come to think of it," said Weiila, "there WAS something going on today...I can't remember what, though."

"Let's just look around," said Mabat. "Maybe we can find something that way."

They rounded a corner...and immediately ran into an enormous crowd. The street was sealed off on both sides, and various cars, floats, and marching bands made their way through.

"Now I remember!" said Weiila. "It's the province's 20th Anniversity!"

"Shit," said Anie-Shi, "we'll never get through there!" Mabat slapped her on the back of the head, then felt something in his pocket.

"Weiila," he said, "tell your brat to get his hands away from me." Weiila grabbed Kerr and pulled him away from Mabat. Then, Maria pointed towards a ladder.

"We could get a better view up there," she said. Everyone silently agreed, then began to climb up (except Weiila, who flew all the way).

The rooftop was completely deserted, allowing them to gaze at the streets below. Strangely, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. Then they noticed a tall man standing on the edge of the crowds. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a small, tube-like object.

Weiila flew overhead and landed behind the man. The object was no other than a detonating device; a bomb was planted in the area somewhere. She quickly grabbed the guy from behind in a neck hold.

"All right, punk!" she said. "What's going on?"

"Let go, you old bitch!" growled the man. "We aren't ready yet-" Weiila, however, lost it when the words "old bitch" were heard. She quickly snapped the man's neck, causing him to drop the detonating device. It landed trigger-side down, setting it off.

A huge explosion was heard from a large tower in the center of the city. The parade grinded to a halt almost immediately.


The three figures ran outside, where they saw their destroyed limos. They examined the remains of their drivers, and found Order tattoes. In panic, they ran back into the tower.


The explosions immediately brought the parade to a halt, as everyone began to run around in complete panic and horror. "Sad, really," said Ryelandt. "It's been a long time since I've seen a good parade."

"Just out of curiosity," asked Mabat, "where are you from?"

"One of the older villages, just by the Mountains of Sorcerer," said Ryelandt. "The only province that would take mom was the Zero province, and after she had sex with Zero's reploid creations, Zero kicked her ass and knocked her over the mountains with one blow."

"Yeah, daddy told me about Zero," said Maria. "Nobody has been able to defeat Zero for 20 years."

Weiila flew back up to the rooftop. "We need to check out Zero Tower," she gasped. "I think Zero's in trouble!"


They ran to Zero Tower, but the doors were locked. Weiila then saw an open window near the top. She quickly flew up, while Mabat blew one of the windows open. Robotic guards ran onto the first floor, but they were armed with such poor weapons that they were torn to pieces.

Weiila, meanwhile, just raced up to the top floor, where the three men were currently meeting in a large conference room. "Merl, Sin, Wert!" she shouted. "You need to get out of here!"

"What are you doing here, Weiila?" asked Sin. "This is a closed meeting with Zero!" The guards ran into the room, but the others finally reached the floor and tore the guards apart.

"Yes, our limos were blown to pieces," said Merl, "but this is important. Zero..."

The wall in the back of the room parted, revealing a large television screen. A bunch of static suddenly appeared, along with a small icon that read, "This TV is powered by Linux."

"Hello, my friends," said a robotic voice. "Did you bring the money...or do I have to destroy you myself?"

"Wait a second!" shouted Weiila. "That's not Zero!"

"Who is that?" asked the voice. "I told you not to bring anyone else to this meeting!"

"Who the hell are you?" shouted Mabat. "Come out!"

"I don't take kindly to orders," said the voice. "I guess I'll have to kill all of you..."

"You mean the gas traps?" asked Ryelandt. "We found the control panel on the way up here. We already destroyed it."

"Damn- I mean, this is of no consequence!" said the voice. A remote camera then dropped from the ceiling, scanning the entire crowd. However, it stopped when it went over Ryelandt.

"You...wouldn't happen to be related to Valkyrie Esker, would you?" asked the voice.

"I'm her son," said Ryelandt. "What's it to you, Mr. Mysterious Voice?"

"Hmmm, this could be interesting," said the voice. "You will come up here, to my inner chamber. Take the angel, blue-haired punk, and red-haired girl. I want to take a look at them, too." Ryelandt shrugged as a stairway lowered from the ceiling. He grabbed Maria, Weiila and Mabat and climbed the short set of steps.


Zero's inner chamber was filled with gigantic computer equipment, ranging from monitors to control panels, to storage chambers, and finally waffle makers and blenders. The only window was completely tinted, making it difficult for light to breach the room.

Sitting in a chair in the middle of the room was a large, red robot, armed with a light saber. "Let's just finish this, shall we?" he said.

"Wait a second!" shouted Mabat. "You aren't Zero at all! I could tell a fake anywhere!"

"You're that smart, huh?" asked Zero. "That's right, I'm not the real Zero. I'm an agent for the Order. The original was incorruptable, so we deactivated him so I could take his place. I blackmailed the other provinces, so we could take over all of RPGC."

"Nice plan," said Weiila. "Too bad it ends here."

"I think not," said the fake Zero. "I cannot be defeated." Weiila quickly pulled a whip from behind her wings and attacked, but Zero grabbed the whip and threw Weiila into a wall. Ryelandt jumped at him from behind, but he sliced him across the chest, sending him crumpling to the ground.

"Two down," said the fake Zero, "two to-" Mabat blasted him with the most powerful blue magic spell he could muster, sending the fake Zero flying into one of the computers. A shower of sparks and crackling electricity followed, completely enveloping the fake Zero. Mabat smiled and nodded...and the fake Zero jumped right back up and blasted him with an enormous energy blast, sending him flying through the window.


"Did anyone here a scream?" asked Sin, carefully watching the stairs.

"Yeah..." said Anie-Shi. "That sounds like...DAD!" She quickly ran out to the hall and looked out a window, and saw Mabat land in a dumpster filled with garbage.


"You...bastard!" hacked Ryelandt.

"Shut up, Ryelandt!" shouted the fake Zero. "He got what he deserved-" Maria jumped around the back and kicked Zero in the back, but was batted away without much effort. She went flying into one of the walls, shattering her back.

"So long, bitch!" said the fake Zero. He walked to Maria, his saber raised. "Your friends will die just as horribly!"

Suddenly, Zero's face twisted in pain, as the saber dropped to the ground. Maria looked down, and saw a huge spear sticking straight through Zero's chest.

"Go to wherever-robots-go-when-they-die," said Ryelandt. "Nobody tries to kill my sister...but me!"

"How...pathetic," said the fake Zero. " a mere spearman. Oh well...the Order's not end here. We will...control all." The fake Zero then blanked out, as Ryelandt threw it out the window.

"Thanks...Ryelandt," gasped Maria.

"Just remember..." said Ryelandt, "I father...." Maria then saw his chest; he was barely able to hold his organs in. She then blacked out, as he fell onto her.

Weiila quickly finished healing herself, then approached them. "Should I move them?" she asked. She then smiled, shook her head, took a picture, and began to heal the two.


"Dad! Dad!" shouted Anie-Shi, running to the dumpster. "Are you alright?" She looked in the dumpster, and saw Zero's body...

But not Mabat's.


"What now?" asked Weiila. "What'll we do about Zero?"

"We have his backup data," said Wertigon. "Fortunately, his body wasn't too damaged, so we can fix him up pretty quickly." He, Merlin and Sin went up the stairs, and quickly closed the entrance behind them.

"So now what?" asked Maria. "We've made it to Zero City, we've saved the land, and Mabat is probably dead..."

"The Order isn't gone yet," said Karen. "We should just keep moving on."

"Mom and I are going home," said Kerr. "There's probably some Order guys on the way. Want to join us?"

(Needless to say, they joined Weiila and Kerr.)

The next train ride to was short and sweet. Fortunately, nobody tried to blow the train up, so they all made it through in one piece. That night, the train pulled into the next station.

The beautiful plains of Zero Province had given away to a vast desert. The land was dry and spiteful, filled with death and destruction.

Ryelandt looked out the window, surveying the wasteland before him. "You guys sure pick one nasty place to live."

"We're a little ways from home," said Weiila. "This is the Desert of No Fucking Way Out. You DON'T want to get stuck here!"

"At least we aren't being knocked out," said Kerr, "and thrown into the desert, where we will die a horrible death at the hands of dehydration and exhaustion." Suddenly, their car doors slammed shut, and gas began to pour through the vents.

"My son," said Weiila, "I'm sorry I never taught you the forbidden words!" They all passed out, as mask-wearing thugs grabbed their bodies and threw them into the desert.


"What the heck?" said a young woman, as she watched the train speed away. She pulled her wagon over, grabbed the bodies, threw them in, and quickly rode back to the town.


Ryelandt woke up lying on a pristine marble floor. Maria, Weiila and Anie-Shi were lying on his left, while Kerr and Karen were on his right. In front of him was a large kitchen, where a tall, slender girl, with fairly-toned muscles and blonde hair, was cooking something. The smell inticed his senses; at last, it was someone that could cook!

"I know you're awake," said the woman. "You're lucky I came along."

"Who...are you?" asked Ryelandt. "Is this...heaven?"

"Sadly, no," said the woman. "You're in the upper-class area of Las Vegas, right in the middle of the Desert of No Fucking Way Out."

Ryelandt slowly rose to his feet. "Vegas? Isn't that place nothing more than a hovel for hookers and rigged gambling? If this isn't heaven, I don't know what is!"

The woman smiled, then returned to her cooking. Ryelandt kicked Maria a few times, then shook everyone else back up. The woman finished cooking, then handed everyone tiny pieces of bacon and burnt eggs.

"Sorry about the breakfast," she sighed. "I've dehydrated so much in the desert, I lost all sense of balance and reason. Water isn't exactly a luxury here, you know."

"I can imagine," said Weiila. "So, what's your name?"

"Ania," said the woman.

"That sounds familiar..." began Weiila.

"Yeah, it's the name of an angel," said Ryelandt.

"...please leave me alone," said the woman. Ryelandt began to lean in, but quickly backed up when he saw Ania reaching for something around her belt; a large sword.

"Well, I'm leaving," said Ryelandt. "The whores have called out to me. Anyone wanna come with?" Kerr jumped up immediately, but Weiila quickly pushed him back down. In the end, only Maria and Karen joined him.


Vegas was filled with nearly every kind of sin-house imaginable: casinos, brothels, crack houses, etc. The three just continued to walk down the empty streets, where only a few hundred people remained.

"I always thought Vegas was busy," said Karen. "There's nothing here."

"Probably because of the desert," said Ryelandt. "It makes it tough to live here, tougher to get here, and even tougher to get here with any kind of cash."

"Actually," said Maria, reaching into her pocket, "I have a couple thousand bucks dad gave me. It should-" Ryelandt immediately jumped at his sister, only to get knocked aside by someone's fist.

That someone was a fairly tall, spike-haired man, wearing a futuristic long-sleeve shirt and black pants. "Have a nice day," he sighed, before passing by the group.

Maria looked down suddenly, then back at the man. "Hey!" she shouted. "You can keep the buck you took from me! I have more!"

The man stopped suddenly, pulled up his sleeve, and looked at the bill he had stashed under it. Indeed, it was incredibly small. Enraged, he turned back to Maria.

"You lousy bitch!" he shouted. "Keep your money in a damn wallet!" He pulled out a small metal bar and flipped a switch, causing a large energy blade to instantly appear. Ryelandt sighed, then raised Gungnir.


"I hope those three get back soon," said the woman. "I'd hate it if they ran into Alex."

"Alex?" asked Weiila. "Never heard of the guy."

"He's the toughest guy on the streets," said the woman. "He took out the entire police force after they tried to arrest a hooker, then destroyed an entire casino using an energy sword of his. People can still get into Vegas just fine; they're just afraid of him." She then rubbed Kerr behind the ears, causing him to purr loudly.


"And you are?" asked Ryelandt.

"Name's Alex," said the man. "And you are?"

"Ryelandt," said Ryelandt. "Next question: why're you attacking us?"

"I've seen enough of you high-class punks around here," said Alex. "Punks like you killed mom, killed her friends, and even killed that one bitch two blocks up the road-"

"Wait a second!" shouted Maria. "High-class? My dad and I didn't even have a home!"

"I lived on top of a fucking mountain range!" shouted Karen.

"I live in a small village, in a home with no discernable income!" shouted Ryelandt. "What makes you think we're high-class?"

Alex stared at them for a few more minutes, then lowered his sword. "Okay, I'll trust you," he said. "But the minute you try raping someone..."

"I'm here to drink, gamble, and maybe seduce a couple hundred whores," said Ryelandt. "I don't plan on raping anyone."

"Fine," said Alex. "Follow me. I'll show you the only working casino left."


The only truely working casino was enormous, about eighty stories high and as wide as three football fields. Barely-clad seventeen-year-olds walked around the floor, which was filled with slot machines, table games, and various penniless drunks lunging at the various whores.

"Nice casino," said Ryelandt. "Back home, we had a crazy old woman who fucked whoever lost a bet with her."

"Actually, we have one," said Alex, pointing to a 100-year-old woman sitting in a corner. "Fortunately, she can't gamble worth a damn."

"I'm gonna run off for a while," said Maria. "I have...things to do." She then made her way to the bathroom, while the others made their way deeper into the casino.


Order goons walked through the dark alleys behind the casino, looking for a way in. However, when they finally found an open window, gunshots rang out from the top of the fire escape, killing all but one.

The only surviving goon climbed through the window...only to find Maria washing her hands. She turned, took one look at the guy, and punched him back through the window, where someone else shot him.


Ryelandt hired a few underage hookers, Karen was nearly hired by a drunk rich guy, and Alex outcheated the entire casino. Maria finally left the bathroom and was nearly hired by the same drunk rich guy. In other words, things were normal in the city of Las Vegas.


High Lord Kagon watched the excitement through his observation booth, between the first and second floor. Like always, the deluded fools were running around below, losing their life savings to his cause. This was perfect...

Then he saw Karen. "My lord," said a blue-robed figure behind Kagon, "it is time."

Kagon raised his hand. "Give me a minute. She's down there."

"The daughter of Sorcerer?" asked the robed figure.

"Yes," said Kagon. "She is still consumed with anger. She will side with any faction fighting against the Order. And are we not one such faction?"

"Sir," said the robed figure, "you know how secrecy is the key to our society. If she refues..."

"Then she dies," said Kagon. Then he saw Alex hanging around down there, and his expression turned to anger.

"I see him as well," said the robed figure. "He has opposed our organization in the past, correct?"

"Yes," said Kagon. "He knows too much about us. Like you said, we require secrecy. We will kill him once the time has come."

"Speaking of time," said the robed figure, "the others are still waiting. They've already consumed the three boxes of donuts you brought, and the sugar won't hold them for long."

Kagon sighed, then pulled his hood over his head and entered the next room, where a large conference table was located. Robed figures occupied every seat, nibbling on what little bits of donuts that were left.

Kagon took his seat at the head of the table. The others raised their hands in a kind of salute. Kagon stood up again, raising both of his hands to the sky, said, "This meeting of the Illuminati is now in session."


Karen watched as a drunk sat at a large slot machine, pouring coin after coin into the slot. After going through $500, and gaining a couple dozen pounds of muscles on his arm, he left in disgust, and Karen sat down.

She put in the maximum amount allowed, then pulled the lever. The three Jackpot symbols instantly popped up. Sirens popped down from the ceiling, confetti poured out through trap doors, and a small slip spat out of the machine. It read, "You won ten million dollars! Your life is now ruined, as people will hound you, trying to steal every last cent! There is a secret society that-" The rest of the message was blank, as if something was meant to be written there...


"Now she's both smart AND rich!" whispered Kagon to his lackey, as they watched Karen sneak off. "We need her services in our organization."

"But, sir!" whispered the lackey. "I've never done this before! I collapse when I talk to girls!"

"Oh, fine!" said Kagon. "I'll do it myself!" He walked up to Karen, who was now receiving her cash. "Excuse me, but would you be interested in joining a secret society?"

"Excuse me?" asked Karen. She walked off, only to be drugged and dragged off when nobody was looking.


Alex was looking for whoever won the jackpot when he saw Kagon dissapear. Realizing that something was wrong, he went to the cashier and asked, "Who came here recently?"

"There was Mr. Kagon, and that young girl, and that one mage that had eighty illegitimate children..." began the cashier, but Alex already realized who it was...and quickly gave chase.


(to be continued)

Will Karen join the Illuminati? Will Alex save her? Stay tuned!

Karen woke up expecting a large prison, but instead found herself in a lavishly-decorated room. The walls were covered with hundreds of books, many of which were hundreds of years old. She was sitting in a large, padded chair, with another one facing right in front of her and a coffee table, complete with two cups of brew sitting on top. The outmost wall was actually a large window, which showed the busy casino floor. In fact, the whole thing would have been very comforting, if it wasn't for the fact that her legs were strapped to the chair.

Kagon entered the room, a large book tucked under his arm. "I'm sorry about the nap, but we had to make sure you came. I apologize if my worthless men were too violent."

"Oh, they weren't," said Karen, not even trying to discuise her sarcasm. "I just LOVE being dragged against my will into some wierd room, where the most boring guy to have ever existed has me held prisoner."

Kagon laughed slightly, then sat in the opposite chair. "My dear, I am far from the most boring person on the planet. Take Wertigon, for example. All his 'XHTML this' and 'Linux that' was a bunch of crap! My God, why the hell didn't he listen to us for once!"

Karen just looked dumbly at Kagon. "I...see."

"But that's not important right now," said Kagon, quickly regaining his composure. "What is important, however, is the situation involving the Order of the Dead Star. We heard about your father, and you have our deepest sympathies."

Karen just sipped from her coffee as Kagon continued; she was still too angry at him to be sad right now. "The Order has been...bad for business, I guess. They seek to control all of RPGC. We, the Illuminati, want to stop this."

Karen spat her coffee out, which conviently landed on Kagon. "The Illuminati! You mean, you guys really DO exist?"

"Of course," said Kagon, silently cursing another ruined suit. "We simply work in the shadows, so nobody knows completely of our existance. I can tell you this much, though. The Illuminati, too, wants to rule the world, but we have a much nobler goal than the Order. They simply want the power; we want to guide humanity into a new era of enlightenment."

"That doesn't sound good either way," said Karen. "It's a dictatorship no matter how you look at it."

"You're a smart girl," said Kagon, "so think about it. Humanity is the dumbest race to have ever existed. People are selfish, arrogant, ignorant blobs of flesh and organs. If we give them free reign, the ability to choose everything for themselves, do you have any idea what would happen? The race would wipe itself out in 200 years, and then what? Wierd cyborgs would take over, that's what! Do you want CYBORGS to rule what's left of the planet?!"

Karen thought about it briefly, then sighed. "On one hand, there's freedom and certain death. On the other hand, there's complete rule and enlightenment..."

"It can be a hard call, I admit," said Kagon, "but I would also like to point out that we oppose the Order more than any government, Illuminati-controlled or not. If you join us, we will gladly help you in your quest for revenge..."

Suddenly, the door was blown open. Alex walked in, carrying a large shotgun. "Kagon!" he shouted. "Let her go!"

Kagon silently pressed a button, and the straps on her legs dissapeared. She jumped up, rubbing her now-sore legs. Kagon stood as well, his eyes never straying from Alex.

"We were having a nice chat," said Kagon. "I was asking Karen here if she wanted membership in the Illuminati."

"And what if she said no?" asked Alex. "You'd have her killed the first chance you got!"

"No, of course not!" shouted Kagon. "What kind of monster do you think I am?"

"Karen, don't listen to him," said Alex. "He wants nothing more than to rule the world, to keep people from living lives like they want to. They make mockeries of everything humanity has labored for all these centuries. People must have the right to absolute freedom."

Karen looked at Alex, then at Kagon, then switched viewpoints between the two, carefully weighing the pros and cons of both sides. Finally, she made her decision.

"I'm staying with Kagon."

Kagon's eyes lit up, while Alex stared in shock. "Do you have any fucking clue what he's doing?" shouted Alex. "He's trying to rule the world!"

"I'm trying to bring ORDER to the world," said Kagon. "There is a difference, Alex. You are just too blind to see it."

Alex's eyes met Kagon. Both were now filled with murderous intent. Finally, Alex shouldered his shotgun. "If you want to stay, fine. Just remember, the next time we meet, I WILL kill you." He then left the area.

Karen watched as he left, her mind filled with conflicting thoughts. "Don't worry," said Kagon. "You will have a hand in a greater conflict soon. The Order is still strong, and must be destroyed."


Ryelandt finished his eighteenth barrel of booze, but still didn't feel drunk enough. However, when he saw Alex storming through, he stopped worrying about alcohol.

"What's your problem?" he asked.

Alex gave him a cold, piercing stare. "It's Karen. She's joined the Illuminati."

Ryelandt stared for a few seconds, then broke out laughing. "Don't tell me you buy that Illuminati crap! They don't exist-"

Alex grabbed Ryelandt and shoved him against the bar. "They do exist, and they are trouble," he said. "Karen's with them now. Does that bother you at all?"

"Seeing as how I never wanted her with us," said Ryelandt, "I don't really care that much."

"Well, I do!" shouted Alex. "That's why I'm going with you!"

"Wait a second," said Ryelandt. "If she's joined here, wouldn't she stay here?"

"Knowing the Illuminati," said Alex, finally letting go of Ryelandt, "they'd send her to another one of the provinces, one that has just joined forces with them."

"And how do you know THAT?" asked Ryelandt.

Alex reached into his pocket and pulled out a small notebook. On it was written the names of several different leaders, as well as areas of Illuminati and Order control. "The Illuminati have gained a foothold in RPGCity. They still need a larger amount of help, though, so they'll probably send Karen in as an advisor. Besides that, I have no idea."

Ryelandt grabbed another barrel and downed it in one gulp. "All right," he said. "If you want to find some bitch that badly, we'll take you along. Just don't get in my damn way."

"Yeah, right!" shrugged Alex. "You're so drunk you couldn't hit the side of a castle if you tried."

"Shut up!" shouted Ryelandt. "Are you trying to become my mortal enemy or something?"

"No," said Alex, "I just have an urge to continually insult you to no ends, until we end it all in a bloody deathmatch." He then left, as Ryelandt thought about stabbing him in the back, then decided against it.


"So once everyone else gets back," said Weiila, "we get on another train and head to our house."

"Are you sure a train is a good idea?" asked the woman. "After all, you were ambushed and nearly killed on the last one."

"Mom's right," said Kerr. "We've only been nearly killed on a train twice. Besides, if I disagree with her, she will rain death and terror on me until I'm eighteen, at which point she'll unceremoniously throw me out of the house." Weiila smiled, then nodded in agreement.

"The fact is," said Anie-Shi, "we have no real leads, many of our parents are dead, and I have a wierd feeling that someone is leaving our little group, while someone else is going to join."

"Well, it's certainly not me," said the woman. "My dad needs me help, or he would have died years ago."


"Okay, bitch," said Alex. "Let's get going."

Maria looked at Alex, her face a mixture of rage and confusion. "Okay, what the hell made you say THAT?"

"No matter how much I hate Ryelandt for no reason," said Alex, "I have an even deeper desire to hate you." Maria frowned slightly, then grabbed her seven million dollars in winnings and went to cash them in.


"Our lord," said one of the Order lackies, "we have located the one known as Shalcar. Shall we eliminate him?"

"Yes," said the shadowy figure. "I will give the order. You, meanwhile, will now die for asking such a foolish question." He pressed a button, and the lacky fell down a pit into a pool of alligators.

The shadowy figure closed the trap door, then looked out his tower window. On a cliff in the distance, he saw what he feared; a robed figure looking at him. He expected an attack, but the robed figure simply turned and left.


The three returned to the woman's house, where they were busy sitting around and doing nothing even remotely worthwhile. "Let's get out of here," said Ryelandt. "There's nothing else here."

"Where's Karen?" asked Weiila. "You didn't dump her in the middle of the desert, did you?"

"No," said Alex, "although she certainly deserves it."

"He's just mad that she joined a secret society," said Maria. "He told us everything on the way back, after stealing all of Ryelandt's winnings." Ryelandt was about to hit her, but Alex beat him to it.

"I heard about your little quest," said the woman. "Perhaps you would be interested in meeting my father, Shalcar."

"Shalcar?" asked Ryelandt. "You mean, the complete lunatic Shalcar? The one-that-burned-down-a-Ponderosa-Steak-House-because-an-employee-stepped-on-his-foot Shalcar?"

"Yes, THAT Shalcar," said the woman. "However, I wouldn't talk about him like that if I were you."

"The guy's a nut," said Kerr. "He's just being honest." Weiila quickly shoved his head into the ground before the woman could respond.

"We'd love to meet your father," said Weiila. "Just take us to him."


Several hundred Order members surrounded the small, busted desert shelter of Shalcar. The shadowy figure watched from the distance, as the other robed figure watched from another angle. Finally, they got the word to attack...


"Man, that was fast!" shouted Ryelandt, as they sat down inside Shalcar's house. The actual Shalcar was less impressive than the stories made him out to be; his body was tall, but withered by age, with grey hair and even grayer eyes. He wore the same legendary chest plate that the tales said he used, and had a large, concealed weapon nearby.

"Ania," said Shalcar, looking at the young woman, "what did I tell you about bringing people here?"

"I know, father," said Ania, "but these people-"

"I don't help anymore," said Shalcar. "The world has no meaning to me. Now, please show them the way out." Ania sighed, then opened the door. Arrows flew threw the opening, and she quickly closed the door, just as even more arrows imbedded themselves into the door.

"We may have a small problem," she said.


"We're over the attack zone," said the chopper pilot. "Should we start firing?"

"No," said Kagon, sitting in a comfortable seat next to Karen and across from two suit-wearing men. "Search the area for the artillery. The others can handle the rest easily."


"We're trapped in a damn shack," said Ryelandt, "your dad's fucking useless, and Kerr's trying to steal my wallet AGAIN!" He stabbed Kerr through the arm, then pulled out Gungnir and stabbed him in the leg for good measure.

"We're outgunned and outmanned," said Alex, "but I have an idea. Shalcar, is there another way out of here?"

"Not really," said Shalcar.

"Try the side door," said Ania, pointing to a small side door. "I hid it from dad so he couldn't sneak out and go on a killing spree."


Alex and Ryelandt snuck out via the side door. The idiotic soldiers were too busy looking at the front door to pay any attention to them, so they easily made their way to the nearby cliff wall. Alex reached into his belt and pulled out several remote bombs.

They quickly placed the explosives into some old cracks in the cliffs, then snuck back into the shack. Alex smiled, then pressed the detonator switch. A massive explosion tore the cliffs apart; unfortunately, it was so powerful that only a few pebbles were still intact when it was over.


"Okay, he's screwed up," said Kagon. "FIRE THE YAMATO CANNONS!"

The helicoptor's guns glowed with a bright yellow light, then fired two enormous energy blasts into the Order army. All but three people were instantly vaporized by the blast, and the front of the shack was badly burnt. When it was over, all that remained was a giant crater, and the upper torsos of three others. The chopper then flew off.


The group continued their march through the desert, finally reaching the next train station. "Too bad Ania didn't join us," said Weiila. "She doesn't have to hang around Shalcar all her life, you know."

"I know," said Ania, hanging around the back of the group. "I was here the whole time. You need to turn around more often." Kerr would have laughed, but Weiila hadn't completely healed him, so it was painful to even move. The train arrived, everyone got on, and they departed for their next destination.


As the sun was beginning to set, the train pulled away from the Desert of No Fucking Way Out and reached the lovely TD Province. The train pulled into the station and stopped, while everyone on board was unceremoniously tossed off. The train then speeded off, along with many unclaimed bags of luggage on their way to China.

"Well, we're back," said Kerr. "Now where the hell's dad?"

"We're a day late, Kerr," said Weiila. "He probably thought I was busy dumping your body in a ditch somewhere, like we did with your brothers...crap, I said too much. I'll have to kill you know."

"Let's...worry about that later," said Kerr, slowly edging away from Weiila. "Just call him, okay?"

Weiila reached into her pockets and pulled out a nearly microscopic cell phone. As she was about to dial, Ania sneezed, sending the phone flying into the distance. Weiila sighed, "Another reason why smaller computers are a bad idea."

"Looks like we have a lot of walking," said Ryelandt. Then he realized who TD was...and began planning about how to kill him.


"We failed to kill Shalcar," said the Order lackey. "The Illuminati surprised us-"

"THE ILLUMINATI!" shouted the shadowy figure. "Those bastards did it AGAIN?!" He pushed a button, and pointy spikes shot out of the ground, impaling the lackey. A spring then launched his body out the window.

The shadowy figure continued staring off into nowhere. "First we lose Zero, and now we lose Shalcar? We must take out Weiila and Kagon next, or the master will have our heads."


A few hours of walking later, the group finally reached Weiila's decently-sized house, nestled deep in the expansive suburbia. The front yard was filled with various people, all covered with bandages and signs of disease. They swarmed around like zombies, waiting for someone to open the door.

"Aw, crap!" shouted Weiila. "We leave for a few days, and the meek come lumbering in! Kerr, take everyone else inside. I'll be with you in a few minutes." She walked into the middle of the crowd of zombies, and they swarmed around her. Kerr quickly pulled the group against the wall, pushed the door open, and ran inside.

The interior was decorated like any other upper-middle class house, except with many tacky cat statues. A staircase reached up to the second floor, which seemed to have more rooms than they could count. Weiila and her husband had to make a good deal of money in order to afford a place like this.

"DAD!" shouted Kerr. "WE'RE HOME!"

A door on the other side of the living room opened, revealing a greyed cat-human. "Three things, Kerr," he said. "One, what took you so long to get back? Two, where's your mother? And three, who're all these people?"


Weiila finally crawled back inside, covered with blood, gore and puss. "Honey!" she shouted. "I'm home! Get your butts over here!"

Starstorm quickly pounced onto Weiila, practically flattening her to the floor. As soon as she got back to her feet, a second figure entered and hugged her. It was a young girl, about thirteen years old, with a small pair of angel wings on her back. Strangely, she had no ears.

"Okay, Angela," said Weiila, patting the girl on the head, "you can let go now. Mommy's still sore in the back." The girl quickly let go and returned to Starstorm's side.

"Hey, no-ears," whispered Kerr. Star quickly slapped him along the back of the head.

"Kerr," said Weiila, "take the boys up to your room. Angela, take the girls up to yours. Your sharing your rooms tonight." Angela let out a small smile, while Kerr let out a groan, followed by a yelp as Star smacked him on the head again.


The Illuminati helicopter landed on a helipad deep in a snowy mountain range. Kagon and Karen jumped out, as numerous businessmen met up with the two. As if by some kind of routine, he easily made his way through the crowded halls, shouting bizzare ordrs to waiting men and women. Finally, they reached Kagon's private office, which looked more like a two-story chateau than an office.

"Your first meeting will be with the local chapter of the Illuminati tonight," said Kagon. "Now, if you'll excuse me..." He pulled out a magnum, turned around, and shot into the distance. A scream echoed to the office, followed by a thud.

"Those Order goons make lousy assassins," said Kagon. "I wish I had some decent opponents sometimes."


"Dear Odin!" shouted Ryelandt. Kerr's room was filled with a big-screen TV, as well as every single system released in the last five years. A computer sat on the desk, and it quickly turned out to be beyond gaming quality. Buried somewhere beneath the piles of clothing and assorted papers was a bed and chair.

"Pretty cool, huh?" said Kerr. He flopped down on the bed, letting out a certain grin...the kind that is only used by spoiled brats.

"This is pretty cool," said Alex. "By the way, do you have any large sacks I can use?" Kerr didn't even bother to answer.


Angela's room was just as fancy as Kerr's, only much cleaner. "Now this is nice," said Ania. "I haven't seen a place this clean since I left home."

"Thanks!" said Angela. "It's better than Kerr's, anyway."

"What is up with your brother, anyway?" asked Anie-Shi. "He's such a spoiled bastard."

"Well, mom and dad make a lot of money," said Angela. "Mom's a healer, and dad's...well, I'm not sure WHAT he does, but it makes him rich."

"Man, I wish daddy was like that," said Maria. "His way of getting money wasn't any better than Kerr."

"You mean, your dad smooched off his parents, too?" asked Angela.


A few hours later, Starstorm made his way to the front door. "Come on, Kerr!" he shouted. "It's time to go to work!" Kerr quickly ran down the stairs, and raced out the door after his father.

"Mom," said Angela, "what's dad do again?"

"Nothing that concerns you," said Weiila. It was pretty obvious that she was trying to hide something.


Starstorm and Kerr arrived at a large, run-down building. "I'll go inside," said Starstorm. "You work the corner, and DON'T try to hire hookers again! The pimps weren't laughing last time, believe me." He then went inside, while Kerr started picking pockets.

After a few successful wallets, Kerr reached towards a hooded figure's pocket. He was quickly thrown to the curb and tossed through some bushes, which concealed the city park. The figure jumped over the bushes and landed next to Kerr, who was still climbing back to his feet.

"You're a pathetic thief," said the figure. "You don't know the first thing about picking your victims wisely."

"I-I'm sorry, sir!" begged Kerr. "Please, just let me go!"

"You disgust me," said the figure. "I've never seen such a spineless coward since Valkyrie Esker.'

"Look, can you just let me go?" asked Kerr. "I need to get back to dad-"

"You mean, that cat was your father?" said the figure. "No wonder you're so pathetic."

"...what do you mean?" asked Kerr.

"Your dad is a weakling," said the figure. "I've fought him myself."

"Shut up!" said Kerr. "Don't talk about my dad like that!"

"We fought only five months ago," said the figure. "I beat him in one punch. Your mother was probably so ashamed that she took you on your little trip."

Kerr growled and lunged at the figure, slashing him hard across the chest. The figure looked at his spilled blood, and smiled. "You're not bad, kid," he said. "Nobody's been able to hit me in a long while."

"Take back what you said about my dad!" shouted Kerr. "I'll go for your neck next!"

"I wasn't serious," said the figure. "In truth, I kicked his ass fifteen years ago. In fact, I have a proposition for you..."


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