THIS TIME ROUND:
EVERYBODY WANTS TO GET INTO THE ACT
Francois the Ogron gave an exasperated sigh. "No, weird girl.
Francois not think such thing likely to work."
She pouted. "Not even with the bunny ears?"
"_Especially_ not with bunny ears. Gag older than Rani's training
bra, and Steve Martin combine with bunny ears back in '70's. Been
Katarina threw the fake arrow-through-the-head to the floor and
kicked at it disconsolately. "Darn. And I thought I was onto
something, too." She took off the bunny ears as well, and slipped
them into a pocket of her white leisure suit as she looked thought-
fully into the middle distance.
"A snorkel, then!" she said at last. "A snorkel and roller skates!"
Francois shook his head tiredly and slid another chocolate milk-
shake to the short-haired Japanese girl across the bar.
"Why not?" Katarina demanded. "Surely nobody's done that one
yet! A snorkel, and roller skates, and... and a fez!"
The Ogron squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed at the bridge of his
broad nose, grimacing.
"What? You don't think it would get the point across?"
"Francois sure point get made," he sighed. "Is not problem of
making point, weird girl. Problem is, point is _much_ stupid."
"No, no, no, Francois. Not 'stupid', 'kooky'. As in 'Kooky Kata-
"No, weird girl. 'Stupid', as in 'stupid weird girl make fool of
self for no reason'," Francois rumbled.
"It's _not_ foolish!" Katarina spat, stamping her foot. "It's worked
for others. Mistress Mel, Psycho Nyssa, and now Zany Zoe have
all got followings, so why not Kooky Katarina?" She glowered
at the Ogron, hands on her hips. Next to her, Nabiki Tendou
regarded the scene with aloof amusement as she slurped at her
"Tell me, Francois," Katarina demanded again. "What's so wrong
with wanting to recharacterize myself to gain a little popularity?"
Wearily, Francois replied, "Weird girl is not understanding how
is characterization, plot, and setting tie in to coherent whole."
Katarina blinked uneasily. "And your point is...?"
"...just beyond weird girl's reach, apparently."
"What Francois-baby is trying to say, is that Mel, Nyssa, and Zoe
all altered their characterizations in connection with certain plot
elements which were unique to their respective situations," Nab-
iki interjected. "Their personality changes didn't just occur in a
vacuum. They didn't just decide to change and then wander
around looking for a plot to fall into. They waited until an author
had come up with an actual story that required it, and then let the
author help them adapt to their new environment."
"Is well-put, devious girl," Francois said, sagely nodding his
shaggy head. "Weird girl do well to listen."
Nabiki acknowledged the compliment with a slight smile in the
Ogron's direction, then continued. "Recharacterization isn't
something to take lightly, Katarina. Like sex, it can be messy,
confusing, and embarassing if it's done improperly. Take it from
someone who's been there many times." Nabiki stopped and
mulled that over for a moment. "I mean, from someone who's
been _recharacterized_ many times. You don't want recharacter-
ization without a believable plot justification. Unless there's a
plot requirement for a 'Kooky Katarina', don't go there. Wait for
a skilled fanfic professional to do it."
Katarina looked at the floor, twisting her toes. "I just... wanted
to be written about," she muttered, pouting a little. "Nobody
writes about me..."
"Weird girl need to look at bright side," Francois offered, in his
rarely-seen 'Sympathetic Bartender Mode'. "Better to not be in
fanfic at all than be written by talentless loony hack."
Nabiki gave the distraught girl a grin that looked insincere, even
though it wasn't. "That's right, Katarina-baby. You could be in
the hands of someone like BKWillis, for instance."
The two girls and the Ogron shared a collective shudder at the
thought of working for the Roger Corman of fanfic authors.
"If someone would just come up with a plotline for me, though..."
Katarina trailed off thoughtfully as an idea seemed to strike her.
"Hey, now. That could be my plotline." She looked at Nabiki
and Francois with a pathetically earnest expression. "My plot
could be my quest for a plot that would make me into a popular
character! That would be--"
"...already being done, Katarina-baby. Wilcox and Zoe are
already using that angle."
"Buck up, kid," Nabiki said, giving Katarina a comradely pat on
the shoulder. "I'll tell you what I'll do. If it's really that important
to you, I'll help you get written into a fanfic, how about that?"
Katarina gazed at the Japanese girl, her eyes sparkling adoringly.
"Oh, Miss Tendou...," she breathed. "You'd do that... for me?"
Nabiki smiled, foxlike. "Of course, Katarina-baby. I always help
my friends. I'll get you a leading role in someone's fanfic, a fanfic
written specifically for you."
"A leading role?" Katarina whispered, overawed by the idea.
"Just for _me_?"
"Uh-huh. And I'll do it for a mere two hundred pounds."
This fazed Katarina not a bit. The thought of being the star of a
fanfic of her own had taken hold, and she was oblivious to all
else as she passed Nabiki a handful of cash. "Ooh, I hope it's a
good story," she said, half to herself. "Something classy, and
sweet, too. By a nice author. Somebody like May or Halliday
"You just leave everything to me, Katarina-baby, and I'll see that
you get taken care of. Now, why don't you just run along home,
and I'll get in touch with you as soon as I get the arrangements
"Thanks, Miss Tendou! You're the best!" Katarina threw her
arms around the Japanese girl in a quick hug, then raced happily
out the door.
"Devious girl really get author to write story for weird girl?"
Nabiki regarded Francois with her best 'Ice Queen' glare, causing
the huge Ogron to look away and shuffle nervously in place. In
a chilly voice, she asked, "Does Nabiki Tendou ever lie?"
"Uh, no, devious girl-ma'am," Francois muttered, which was true.
Nabiki might conceal, distort, or withhold information, but she
never actually _lied_. Her ethics were few, but absolute.
"Well, then," she sniffed disdainfully. Without deigning any
further response, she reached into her purse and pulled out a
small tape recorder, which was still running, and set it on the bar.
"Um, what for is tape machine, if devious girl not minding Fran-
Nabiki gave her milkshake a sensuous slurp, which made Fran-
cois even more uncomfortable than the 'Ice Queen' look had,
before answering. "That, Francois-baby, is Katarina's fanfic plot."
"Francois not following."
"A fanfic author's time isn't cheap, and the authors themselves are
notoriously untrustworthy about plotting what you tell them to.
You know how creative types are. You place an order for some-
thing like, 'a ten-page Fourth Doctor and Leela story about the
Silurians attacking Cornwall', and their 'creative urges' take hold
and you end up with an epic Hellraiser/Dragonball Z/Sapphire
and Steel crossover. This gets me around both problems."
"Still not following. How is tape machine make fanfic?"
"Simple. I've been recording our conversation with Katarina-baby
right from the start. I just take the tape to an author I know who
works cheap and has no pride. He transcribes it, adding a few
actions and dialogue tags here and there," Nabiki said, toying
with her straw, "and Presto! An instant This Time Round fic,
starring one Katarina! The author gets ten pounds for a few
minutes' work, I get a ninety-five percent net profit, and Katarina
gets her fanfic."
Francois's head shook in amazement. "Is most shameless exploi-
tation for money Francois ever hear of. Is so close to pure evil,
Francois worship devious girl if could. But, what author debase
self enough to attach name to such?" The Ogron froze suddenly,
a look of horror on his face. "Wait. Is not meaning... not stupid
"If you mean BKWillis-baby, you've got it on the first try."
Francois dropped the mug he'd been holding, letting it shatter on
the floor as a look of utter revulsion crossed his face. "Ugh.
Francois taking back what said. _Is_ pure evil. Francois do much
bad things for cash, but never sink so low. Poor weird girl!" He
shook a fist in Nabiki's direction. "How devious girl sleep at
"In an expensive bed, Francois-baby," she replied, ruffling the
handful of banknotes at him. "I don't like the little S.O.B. any
better than you do, but he's useful, so I use him." Unconvinced,
Francois began cleaning up the broken mug, muttering all the
while about 'amoral opportunism' and 'stupid hillbilly'.
At that moment, the door was flung violently open and a leather-
jacketed woman stomped in. "Who wants their ass kicked?!" she
shouted at the room in general.
"Peri, is that you?" Fitz asked, puzzled.
The woman said nothing, but simply stomped over to where Fitz
sat, yanked him up by the collar, and punched him on the jaw,
knocking him out cold.
"That's Pugnacious Peri to you dweebs!" she roared at all and
sundry. "I'm recharacterizing myself, and I'm not taking crap off
of anybody! Anybody don't like it, they can just tote an ass-
whipping! Any takers?!"
Nabiki regarded the young woman with a calculating eye. "Ah,
it looks like another potential customer for the Tendou Booking
Agency," she murmurred. "Just let me get a fresh tape--"