Hey, y'all

Just a random helping of silliness to use up some old ideas I had
and maybe revive a bit of Crossover Poker Night. Hope it causes
a chuckle or two.


by BKWillis

"Say, Duchess," Ben began, but stopped when Polly rounded on
him with her clipboard poised to strike. "Er... I was going to ask
how work was going this evening, but it looks like I don't need to."

"Sorry, sorry," the Door Warden apologized. "This evening's
crowd has just got me on edge. More than they usually do."
She hugged her clipboard to her, as though expecting it to shield
her vitals from any high-velocity looniness.

Ben followed her gaze out over the throng of crossover characters
that had crowded into the pub. "Well..." he mused diplomatically,
"I'll admit they're not exactly what I was expecting."

"Not exactly, no," Polly repeated bitterly, voice rising, and not just
to be heard over the growing crowd-mutter. "When the Proprietor
told me we were hosting the First Annual Time Travelers' Crossover
Poker Tournament, I was actually game for it. I think 'time travelers',
I think H.G. Wells characters. I think nice Victorian gentlemen, or
Star Trek folks, or that cute McFly kid. Not... _those_."

The gesture that accompanied 'those' took in the group packed
around the Player Registration desk, where Adric was struggling
mightily to maintain some semblance of organization. And it
wasn't 'packed' because of the number of individuals as much as
it was due to the _size_ of several of them, and the fact that they
were mostly the sorts who require, demand, and generally receive
lots of elbow-room. A huge, buzzcutted blond man with a rocket
launcher slung on his back was arguing over seat assignment with
an even bigger, gloomy-faced barbarian with a golden circlet on his
head and a bloody axe in his hands. Another bloke, who Polly
would have definitely considered prime boyfriend material if not
for the fact that he was filthy, tattered, looked as if he'd just fallen
down a hill, and had a chainsaw for a hand, was trying to shoulder
both aside with a growled, "Yo! Steroid-boys! Take it outside,
whydoncha?" A blocky man in camouflage fatigues muttered
curses in guttural Afrikaans while trading hard glares with a
mountain man who stood toying with a long lever-action rifle
and staring back out of a beard that would've been at home on an
Old Testament patriarch or two. A chain-smoking ermine -- not
an anthropomorphic one or anything, just a regular ermine-sized
ermine -- was trying to spring up to the table to be seen. And a
three-foot tall, topknotted kender was--

Oh crap, where _was_ that blasted kender? Polly suddenly realized
her clipboard was missing.

"Hey!" she yelled at the kender, who was busily stuffing her official
Door Warden's Clipboard into his knapsack. "Give that back, you
little thief!"

The kender looked up at her, startled. "Oh! Hey, is this yours?"
He held the clipboard out. "You should be more careful with your
things, then. There's all kinds of thieves about, you know." He
pointed at a rugged-looking chap who was sipping a beer and,
unlike most of the other contestants, was actually waiting his
turn. "Like that guy. I bet he'd steal the clucks out of a chicken!"

"That guy," said Polly, snatching her property back, "is a cop.
A Time Patrolman."

"Ugh. Crooked watchmen are the worst," the kender whispered
conspiratorially. "Who watches the watch, after all? You'd have
to have a watch-watch to do that, then _they'd_ need watchers,
and pretty soon everybody would just be watching and no work
would get done. It's easiest if us honest citizens just keep an eye
on each other." He snapped a salute. "Don't worry, ma'am. I,
Tasslehoff Burrfoot, shall keep your valuables safe. Like this
tacky-looking bauble--"

"Give me back my ring!"

The kender shook his finger at her. "See, it's this sort of
carelessness that just invites thieves and other lowlifes to..."
He wound down as something caught his eye at Registration.
"Hey! Is that a talking ermine?! I always wanted to hear an
ermine tell a story, unless it's one of those sad ones, because
ermines must have a really unique perspective. Hey!" And
then he was, blessedly, gone.

"There, there Duchess," Ben soothed, though Polly seemed
past the point of soothing. "Things are bound to get better.
At least you don't have Adric's job, aye?" The boy currently
had the ermine jabbering in one ear and a tall, red-trenchcoated
woman purring in the other, while still trying to break up the
brewing free-for-all in front of him.

"If it isn't the lovely Miss Polly!" said a familiar voice from
behind her. "Set phasers to 'smitten'!"

She couldn't help but giggle, even though it wasn't the first time
he'd used that one. "Captain Kirk! Dr. McCoy! So good to see
you both." And she meant that, too. At last, some friendly and
familiar faces. "Registration is right over there. And are you
competing also, Doctor?"

The medical officer shook his head. "I'm just here as audience.
There's only one entrant allowed per series, and Jim's the best
poker player we've got. Besides, I'm a doctor, not a card sharp."

They made their way in, followed by another familiar face, young
Marty McFly. Normal people at last. Perhaps it was a sign that
the worst, or at least the weirdest, was over.

Or not. "...just ask this girl with the nice heinie if this is the
casino, okay?" someone was mumbling as they came up. Polly
turned to see a shaven-headed man with two right arms (one
of them was black, which the rest of him was not, and was where
his left arm should have been), a single protruding fang, and one
foot much larger and, presumably, greener than the other. He
was talking to a seven-inch-tall, four-armed lizard riding on his

"It's not a _casino_, I keep telling you," sighed the lizard. "It's
a pub located in an Outside Dimension."

"Oh," grunted the man. "I had Outside Dimensions once. Got
two days in sickbay for it."

"No, you had 'dementia', not dimensions, bowbhead."

"Don't call me no bowbhead, you bowbing Chinger, or I'll
remember that you're the enemy and do what I do best to bowbing
enemy Chingers!"

"Get drunk and retch all over me before passing out in a puddle of
your own urine?" replied the lizard.

Polly ahem-ed for their attention. "I _hate_ to interrupt," she
said with admirable self-restraint, "but could I get your name and
series of origin, please?"

"Private Bill, ma'am," the man replied fuzzily, making a sloppy
attempt at a salute. "From 'Bill the Galactic Hero'. That's 'Bill'
with two ells."

"Two ells are only for officers, Private _Bil_," she snapped...


"Ah, Jim, there you are!"

Captain Kirk found himself waved into a corner where the Seventh
Doctor was chatting with two other men -- one tall and elderly,
white-headed, the other middle-aged and carrying himself with a
sort of awkward, haunted detachment. Something about both
men's bearing shouted 'military' to Kirk's sensibilities, though
neither was in uniform.

"So, Doctor, we meet in the poker arena again, eh?" Kirk asked,
smiling. Their card-playing history went back a long way. It was
something of a relief to get to play at least one person who wasn't
a complete stranger.

"But of course," replied the Doctor airily. "I am Time's Poker
Champion, after all.

"Another new title?" Kirk retorted. "Bones has given you
several, himself."

The Doctor smiled at the two Starfleet men, then indicated his
companions. "Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, I'd like you to meet
my friends. I do believe you'll get on rather well. This is Captain
Oswald Bastable of the British Army, among various others..."
That was the stiff fellow. "...and Commander Owen--"

"If you please," the old man interrupted, "it's just 'Mr. Tideman'


James Bolivar diGriz -- better known by his alias 'Slippery Jim' --
resisted the urge to lift a few wallets or rifle a pocket or two to
pass the time. He'd had enough practice of late and besides, at
least one of the other attendees had the stiff, earnest, and
chronically underpaid look of a law-enforcer. (A look he knew
well, since he was one himself in his spare time.) He'd spotted the
fellow about two seconds after entering the room, the quiet beer-
drinker standing off to the side. A bit of discrete snooping had
put a name and title to the man's deceptively ordinary face:
Manson Everard, Time Patrolman. And, sad to say, he looked
to be a pretty canny customer. A few moments' surreptitious
observation revealed that even as the legendary Rat of Steel
was sizing up his foe, the cop had already pegged _him_ and
was moving to keep him under polite but constant surveillance.
That chafed a bit, or more.

Oh well. At least if the evening was going to be fouled by the
presence of large law-upholding proboscises, he'd have some
company on his own side of the law. He caught her eye and gave
her a slight nod of acknowledgment, master thief to master thief.
Her crimes might have lacked finesse, but you couldn't fault their
ambition or their scope. Still, it was less for her crimes, which were
mostly foiled, than for her skill at evading capture that respect was
due. Indeed, if anyone other than diGriz himself deserved the
monicker 'Slippery', it was her, although he had to admit that
'Slippery Carmen Sandiego' sounded less than euphonious...


Dr. McCoy was about to head over to the spectators' area when
he found his way blocked by the huge, bearded man with the
old-fashioned rifle. The man was regarding him with frigid,
deep-set eyes and toying idly with the hilt of the Bowie knife on
his belt.

"Er... something I can do for you?" McCoy asked after it became
clear the hillbilly wasn't going to move.

The man looked him up and down, then spat a wad of tobacco
juice to the floor between their feet. "I heared somebody name
you 'McCoy'," he said, more accusation than question.

"That's right," the Starfleet doctor more-or-less confirmed, "my
parents did. If that's a problem, you might take it up with them."
The man's tone was putting his back up. Big and tough and
dangerous he might be, but Leonard McCoy wasn't the type to
give ground to any bully.

"There'll be nary problems if youins start nought, McCoy, not
in this here place. 'Tis the warnin' I come over to give you."

McCoy met him glower for glower. "I'm a doctor, not a bar-brawler,"
he snapped. "So I don't know what your problem is or why you
feel the need to start some kind of feud with me--"

"The feud begun long ago," the hillbilly growled. "Have a care it
don't continue jist now." He loomed over the doctor, who stood
with his fists balled at his hips, unmoving. After a long, tense
moment, the mass of black beard twitched slightly, revealing a
brief, lopsided grin. "You're one of Ran McCoy's folk, all right,"
he grunted, almost approvingly. "Not one drop of scairt coward
blood in youins, and I fit and kilt enough McCoys to know it.
I'm honored to have a truce with you, then. But jist for this
evenin', mind..."


And so, eventually, the First Annual TTR Time Travelers'
Crossover Poker Tournament was on, with the sixteen contestants
split into four-handed groups. With the minimum bet set at 500
credits or its agreed-upon equivalent, the spectators oohed and
aahed as small fortunes were built, lost, and changed hands
repeatedly on the turn of a card or the skill of a bluff.

Oswald Bastable was the first casualty. As a good socialist, he
was just too darned earnest to make a decent poker player. It was
just as well that he lost, since he was far too British to have ever
been able to feel comfortable with winning at anything.

Andries Rhoodie was a casualty of a more literal sort. After a long
and involved argument with the other players over an attempt to
use his field slaves as a stake, he then made the error of calling over
to Roz Forrester, "Fetch me a drink, you lazy kaffir wench, and be
quick about it!" Roz had instead fetched the camo-clad Afrikaner a
steaming mug of whoop-ass. According to the on-site medical
staff (Grace Holloway and Harry Sullivan), there was slight chance
of him pulling through and almost no hope of re-attaching his
genitalia if he did. Few bothered to feign sympathy.

With typical undeserved kender luck, Tasslehoff Burrfoot easily
won the first six hands, then got bored and slipped away to see if
there were any interesting bugs in the wine cellar. Polly took the
opportunity to lock him in there, much to the Proprietor's horror.
A _kender_. In his cellar full of _expensive_ wines and spirits.
Mixing expensive, portable, breakable things and kender --
especially _bored_ kender -- was like sticking your sex organs
in a fire ant nest; you'd never be able to kill enough of them
afterwards to make up for the pain they would cause you. Still,
Polly had two persuasive arguments to back her up. One was
that the kender, if left to roam the common room, might eventually
try to abscond with Francois's beloved sock-puppet, Mr. Moggie,
and did Mr. Proprietor care to get in the middle of _that_? The
other was that, if anyone let the annoying little runt out, Polly
would shove her Official Door Warden's clipboard up their
lower digestive tract, sideways, with a parsley garnish.

Meanwhile, someone had made the mistake of pointing out to
Private Bill that the 'Round was offering complimentary drinks to
all the players. By the eighth hand, empty bottles lay scattered
around his chair like the aftermath of some whiskey massacre.
Disdaining any poker advice from the lizard on his shoulder, he
attempted to declare diamonds trumps, asked Marty McFly if he
had any sixes, yelled "Uno!" and passed out, per the lizard's
prediction, in a varicolored puddle of his own body fluids.

Sam Stone packed up his rocket launcher and threw in the towel
after a dozen miserably-played hands. "My game blows like a two-
dollar hooker," the famous monster-killer told the Proprietor, who
was emcee-ing. "I just couldn't seem to read anybody's expressions
right. 'Course, it's been a while since I've hung around with people
who have, y'know, _heads_ and stuff."

Carmen Sandiego was actually doing quite well when she was
abruptly disqualified. It seemed that her participation in the
tournament was nothing more than a distraction to keep the 'Round
staff's attention focused while her henchmen stole the parking lot.
Not the vehicles _in_ the lot, mind, but the actual carpark itself.
Asphalt, stripes, curbs, lights, potholes and all. Carmen herself
slipped quietly away in the confusion following the theft and no
one knew where in the world she might have gone. Manson
Everard, as the sole law officer present, volunteered to chase
after her in the name of the Time Patrol. He had lost badly early on
but had recouped enough to break even, so it seemed as good a
time as any to pull up stakes... so to speak.

Anderson 'Devil Anse' Hatfield, against his better judgment, drew
to an inside straight, got the nine he was looking for, and was so
pleased with this turn of fortune that he raised his bet seven acres
of good, watered, bottom land to his opponent's 2,500 ermine
dollars. When the ermine turned out to have a full house, the
mountain man quit in disgust, declaring that he didn't have any
more good farmland to 'waste on critters'.

Despite some pretty conservative play, folding out of several
hands, Marty McFly soon found himself running low of funds.
Sensing that he was due for a good hand, he discussed the idea
of putting up the title to the DeLorean to stay in, but wisely decided
to bow out when it became clear that his sole remaining opponent,
Kull of Atlantis, had not the faintest idea what a car title was, nor
for that matter, a car.

Ash Williams _did_ put his car up as a stake when the money ran
out, or at least tried to. He'd not had an easy time of it, especially
when it came his turn to deal, due to the chainsaw that was standing
in for his right hand. As he insisted on doing his own shuffling, his
table went through nine decks of cards before the night ended. He
felt confident that if he could just stay in for _one_ more hand, he
could win it all back. "The King is _due_, baby. The King is due."
Unfortunately, though, there was that 500 credit minimum for bets
and a quick value-appraisal of the semi-mobile scrap pile that was
his trusty Oldsmobile brought him the news that he'd still be 498.5
credits short. The King was bummed, baby. The King was

The elderly Mr. Tideman made an admirable showing against Jim
diGriz for many hands, but was eventually worn down and gracefully
conceded. DiGriz, a professional gambler and past master of card
games, complimented Tideman -- obviously an amateur though a
skilled one -- on his ability. "Thanks," the old man replied. "I
played a lot in the Na-- I mean, in my youth."

The longest-running match turned out to be, to no one's surprise,
the Seventh Doctor versus Captain Kirk. Having made quick
work of their other two opponents, Bastable and Stone, the game
settled into a pattern of back-and-forth, tit-for-tat. Kirk was a
bluffer extraordinaire, while the Doctor had a knack for building
good hands from nothing. Then suddenly, it all changed. The
Doctor called two of Kirk's bluffs, folded to his four-of-a-kind,
and proceeded to demolish the Starfleet captain's stack in short

"Ah, well," Kirk sighed, already running an eye over the female
spectators. Cute. Plain. Cute but short. Nice legs but a big
mouth. "Playing poker with you is like _Kobayashi Maru_ all
over again, Doctor: no way to win but to kick over the table."
Pretty. Cute but a big butt. Exotic but underage. Pretty...

Francois the Ogron shook a sausage-sized warning finger at him.
"No knock over tables!"

Kirk grinned back reassuringly. "I meant that metaphorically, my
good Ogron."

Francois scowled even harder. "No care if meant as rhetorical
syllogism in iambic pentameter -- no knock over tables!"

Very few people noticed the other Seventh Doctor -- the one who
looked identical to the one playing but who would have been seen
by anyone with four-dimensional eyesight to be a few hours
younger -- jotting down notes at the back of the crowd.


The Proprietor held up his hands for silence. "And now, we begin
the Final Round," he declared, "where our four best players square
off to determine who will be Time's Poker Champion! First we have
our resident god of gamblers, righter of wrongs, doer of daring
deeds, and savior of sundry stellar civilizations, 'Doctor Who's'
own Seventh Doctor!"

The little Scots-esque man took his seat, looking rather smug about
all the applause.

"Next, we have the honor of introducing His Royal Highness, the
King of Valusia, overthrower of Borna, and scourge of the Serpent-
Men, Kull of Atlantis, from the series 'King Kull'!"

This was, of course, the huge warrior with the moody face and
blood-clotted axe. He had done well based largely on the barbaric
indifference with which he won or lost wealth. After all, so long as
he had a good axe and a few loyal men, the world was his for the

The Proprietor glanced over toward the till, where several of
Francois's Francophonically-denominated kinfolk stood guard
with an array of weapons of the sort normally mounted on small-
to-medium warships. He waited for the 'OK' signal before making
his next introduction. "Our third finalist is wanted for more felonies
than every hiphop artist combined, saves the universe for fun, and
is currently Absent Without Leave from the Special Corps for the
seventy-second time -- James diGriz, the revered and reviled
Stainless Steel Rat!"

DiGriz, gray-haired but still as dapper and handsome as ever, trotted
out and shook the Proprietor's hand before taking the seat opposite
the Doctor. So intent was the Proprietor on checking to make sure
that his ring and watch were still there, he never noticed the pack
of cigars missing from his shirt pocket.

"And last, but-- Well, okay, he's probably least, too..."

There was an indignant, ermine-y "Hey!"

"...we have the familiar of the most powerful ten-year-old wizard in
the world, sought by the authorities in several cases of magical
fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor..."


"...noted collector of women's undergarments..."

"Um, you can stop now."

"...from 'Magical Teacher Negima', Albert Chamomile."

The little white ermine flicked a cigarette butt at the Proprietor's feet
and bounded out to take his place at -- or rather, on -- the table.

"Gentlemen and vermin--"

"Hey!" Chamo barked again, shaking a paw.

"--you may begin."

DiGriz cleared his throat. "Well, gentlemen, shall I deal first?" He
reached for the cards, then stopped as Kull held up a hand.

"A moment, sirrah," the barbarian said, voice tight. "I noted your
luck in earlier play. Uncommon good luck it was."

"It's because of my childhood," diGriz explained. "I was raised on a
diet of four-leaf clovers and rabbit feet."

"Then one so lucky would not mind the emptying of his sleeves."

The Stainless Steel Rat put a hand to his heart. "You-- you accuse
me of cheating?! Oh, how I swoon at the indignity of it! You
wound me--"

"Nay," said Kull, "but I might if you show me not what is in your
sleeves." He ran a thumb along the edge of his axe.

"And while we're on the subject," growled the ermine, jumping in,
"I'd like a word with _you_ on that matter."

"Me?" said the Doctor, surprised. "I have nothing up my sleeves."

"It's what's in your head, not your sleeves. You played almost as if
you already knew everyone's cards."

The Time Lord shrugged. "It's just simple math. Probability theory.
You take known cards and then factor the variables to--"

"Yeah, well I got to thinking," said Chamo, pacing across the table,
"that if a fellow had access to time travel and was going to be in a
poker game, he could first go there as a spectator and watch to see
how the hands were dealt, then could double back and attend the
game again as a player, using the knowledge obtained to defeat all

"So why did _you_ not use this plan you came up with?" asked
Kull, who was a pretty perceptive judge of character.

"Because cheating that way would be dishonorable," Chamo replied,
causing some loud coughing from the section where the spectators
who'd come with him sat. "And, er, to a _much lesser_ degree
because we didn't have enough magical power to make two time-
trips so close together..."

All eyes turned to the Seventh Doctor who just stared placidly
back, finger tapping at the side of his nose. "Well?" he said at
last. "What is it you want me to say? You seem to have figured
everything out well enough on your own so far."

"You mean, we _cheated_?" shouted the Fifth from his seat at
the bar. "That's _disgraceful_." There was a loud mutter of
general agreement from the onlookers.

"_Cheated_?" Seventh repeated, sounding genuinely offended.
"By no means. It would be _cheating_ if I were to be untrue to
my milieu. I am the _Seventh Doctor_, after all. The master
manipulator, the man who's always one step ahead, who's set
everything up. That's how I operate. That's what I _am_. If I
weren't true to that, if I weren't true to the fans' and the creators'
vision of me, what would I be? _That_, my friends, would be

"I agree," Jim diGriz added, striking while the iron was hot. "You
say I cheat, that I mark cards, hold out, substitute, deal from the

"Actually," Kull rumbled, "I just said you hide cards up your

"--that I cheat and lie and con my way to victory. And I say... of
course I do." The aging con man struck a heroic pose, spoiled or
possibly emphasized by the ace of clubs falling out of his shirt.
"I am the Stainless Steel Rat, nibbling and clawing at the
wainscotting of society, living by my own code and no other.
Cheating at cards is an integral part of not only who I am, but the
very fictional universe that spawned me. All I can say is that if
you didn't want card-cheating, you shouldn't have invited Jim
diGriz. So, you may take my ace of clubs, but you will never take...

"Um, what does your freedom have to do with any of this?" Chamo
asked, confused.

Meanwhile, King Kull was rubbing at his jaw, deep in thought. "I
find these arguments... most compelling," he mused, prompting a
stir of surprise from basically everybody. "Philosophically, one
cannot expect a man to be anything other than what he is. Indeed,
if we are not true to the milieu that creates us, what then are we?
It would be like demanding that a man dream another's dream. So,
I agree."

"Glad we cleared that up, your Majesty," the Doctor began.

"But of course," the Atlantean went on, "what is true for one must
be true for all." He placed his war-axe on the table. "In _my_ milieu,
the proper response to a revelation of treachery, even at cards, is to
cleave the offender's -- or offenders', as the case may be -- spine in
twain with a single blow of one's axe. After all, one must not
expect someone to be other than who they are, is it not so?"

In the gallery, the younger Seventh Doctor quietly tore his notepad
in two and made his way out as the playing Seventh Doctor smiled
mysteriously. "Of course, I knew you were going to say all that," he
said to anyone who cared.

Jim diGriz made a show of checking his wrist-terminal. "Hey! What
do you know, I've just been re-instated to the Corps. Since I'm an
official government employee now, I guess that means I should
play by the rules, ha ha." He shook half a pack of cards out of his
shirt and pants, rolled up his sleeves, and kept his hands in view.

"Well then, since that's settled, shall we get on with it?" The Doctor
reached for the deck, but stopped when Chamo held up a paw. "Oh,
for Time's sake, what is it _now_, ermine?" he sighed.

"It's just... I'd like to even up my stack a bit with yours, if you don't
mind," said the wizard's familiar, sounding a bit embarrassed. "You
all have such a monetary advantage on me, being so rich when all I
have is a few thousand hard-earned--" There was another
coughing fit from the audience. "--_hard earned_ ermine dollars."

There was an element of truth in this. While Chamo was actually
pretty wealthy for what was basically a magical weasel, his mostly-
scammed fortune was nothing to compare with the others' piles,
which were backed by several centuries' worth of sound
investments, the vast wealth of the Kingdom of Valusia, and two
dozen bank robberies, respectively.

"You play with what you brought, henhouse-raider," diGriz told
him. "Those are the rules." Said the man who had just finished
talking about how he was born to flout them.

"I know, I know," the ermine chirped. "Just let me go see what else
I can round up, okay?" Without waiting for a response, he skittered
off into the audience.

When he came back a few minutes later, he was riding on the
shoulder of the girl Kirk had labelled 'exotic but underage'. She
was about 15, with long fair hair bound up in twin ponytails tied
on with bells, and with strikingly mismatched eyes, one being a
deep sky-blue and the other a flashing emerald hue. She wore a
schoolgirl's uniform, but had a no-nonsense, almost war-sharp
air about her.

"Um, hi," she said awkwardly, then to Chamo, "So, what was it
you wanted me to do here, vermin ermine? I don't have any money,
and if you try to pawn Negi's staff again--"

"Just stand right here, please." He pointed a paw behind his spot
at the table. "Gentlemen, this is Miss Asuna Kagurazaka, my good
and dear friend. As you can see, she is a healthy Japanese
teenager, hardworking, and possessed of more useful skills than
you might think. While she might not be the sharpest knife in the
Ginsu box, she's an ace at anything physical. She has this _killer_
jumpkick that can take a grown man down with one blow. She also
has a near-total immunity to magic, for those times when sorcerers
cause problems."

"That is indeed useful," agreed Kull, who had more than any king's
share of sorcerer problems.

"Exactly. So, gentlemen, what am I bid for Miss Kagurazaka? Do I
hear a thousand cre--" He was cut off as the girl in question
snatched him up in her fist.

Chamo gulped. Hard. Even the mundanes had to be able to see the
battle aura that was streaming off her.

"How. Dare. You. Try. And. Sell. Me. For. A. Thousand.
Credits," she snarled, barely even able to speak, so pissed-off was

"I- I was just kidding, Asuna," the ermine gurgled. "I wouldn't
take less than ten grand for you." Her grip tightened and the battle-
aura actually started to singe his pelt. "What's the problem, Asuna?
They're middle-aged men. You always said you _liked_ middle-aged

"You perverted rodent!" she screamed. Chamo closed his eyes and
braced for the inevitable impact, but was surprised to find himself
lightly tossed into the air. Had Negi saved him with a spell at the
last second? He opened his eyes again.

Um, no. Asuna had tossed him straight up and was holding what
looked like her Pactio Card in her hand. Oh, sh--


Chamo came down as the weapon formed in Asuna's hand, a
harisen -- or Japanese paper fan, frequently used folded as a prop
in slapstick comedy. Except that this one was about six feet long,
with a rune-encrusted hilt and extra magical augmentation for
extra doses of pain. He dropped into reach of it like a softball
tossed for batting practice... and Asuna was a power-hitter. The
ermine soon found himself ricocheting off of things. The walls.
The floor. The bar. Various foreheads. Asuna's fist.

The three remaining players all shook their heads, watching for a

"He deserves some of that," sighed the Doctor, "but I do think that
the bit with the dart board and the salt cellar was rather much."

"I can't endorse animal cruelty," said diGriz, "but... do either of
you really want to get involved in that?"

Kull was pondering the violence as he picked his teeth with a
dagger. In a half-dreaming voice, he said, "You know, I once led
the Red Slayers in a charge straight into the teeth of the Grondarian
halberdiers. They had us outnumbered six-to-one and fought
beast-cruel, as is their way. I faced death a dozen times in that
sword-quenching. Most of my bodyguard were slain and I bled
from near twoscore gashes before it was over. Seven thousand
men died in the space of an hour and though we won it, it was a
hard-bought victory."

He put down his dagger and fixed the other two with a hard,
haunted look. "Frankly, I would do that five more times and with
a cobra in my loincloth before I will get in that demon-girl's path."

"I wish I could argue with that," agreed the Doctor. "Now, let us
get on with this game." He looked around the table. "Does
anyone know where the cards went? And the spare decks are
all gone, too!"

"No cards?" asked a high voice from low to the ground. "Oh, what
a tough break." The kender Tasslehoff Burrfoot was beside the
table, cinching down the fastenings on his bulging beltpouch. "I
_did_ warn everyone there were thieves about. Oh, and the wine
cellar door needs to be fixed, too -- it closes, locks, and triple-bars
itself when you go in, strangest thing I ever saw a door do, except
for this one time when I saw one turn into a two-headed hobgoblin
werewolf zombie."

"All right," declared Polly, arriving on the scene with her Official
Door Warden's Clipboard held sideways in one hand and a sprig
of parsley in the other, "whoever let him out has an appointment
with me..."


Copyright Notes:

'Doctor Who' is property of the BBC.
Capt. Kirk and Dr. McCoy are from 'Star Trek', created by Gene
Manson Everard is from the 'Time Patrol' story series, by Poul
Kull is from the 'King Kull' story series, by Robert E. Howard.
Sam Stone is from the 'Serious Sam' videogame series, created
by Croteam.
Ash Williams is from the 'Evil Dead' movie series, created by
Sam Raimi.
Marty McFly is from the 'Back to the Future' movie series,
property of Universal Pictures.
Albert 'Chamo' Chamomile and Asuna Kagurazaka are from the
manga series 'Magical Teacher Negima'.
Tasslehoff Burrfoot is from the 'Dragonlance' novel series, by
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.
Carmen Sandiego is from the 'Where... Is Carmen Sandiego?' series
of computer games and TV shows, originally created by Broderbund
Oswald Bastable is from the 'Nomad of Time' novel series, by
Michael Moorcock.
James Bolivar diGriz is from the 'Stainless Steel Rat' novel series,
by Harry Harrison.
Bill and Bgr the Chinger are from the 'Bill the Galactic Hero' novel
series, by Harry Harrison.
Andries Rhoodie is from the novel _Guns of the South_, by Harry
Anderson 'Devil Anse' Hatfield was a real person, but the iteration
used here is from the story 'Old Devlins was A-Waiting', by Manly
Wade Wellman.
Mr. Tideman/Commander Owen is from the movie 'The Final
Countdown', property of United Artists.