9 out of 10 people who've smoked Camels prefer... -----=====##### GUITAR(less) MAN #####=====----- [Episode 4: In peril in the Peril room!] "So I took your thing, and it was your thing, And your thing bit me, so I killed it dead. Now you're really sad, 'cos I killed your thing, So it's about your thing, that I've come to sing." -"Your Thing", Guitar Man, own composition. Last episode, in Guitar(less) Man: === The golem that Bladed Lad had killed split again as it stood. They were facing a veritable army. Guitarless Man lost his cool, and stepped forward into an aggressive stance, fists clenched. "Let's rock." === And now, on with the show: === Guitarless Man spun lightly on one foot and planted the other in the face of an approaching Golem, knocking it back. A second Golem raked its claws across his armour, but the armoured suit held, and the combo GM threw back felled the golem. Two more rose where it fell, but GM was already busy. Beside him, Bladed Lad was fighting furiously, blades whirling. Blood oozed from a slash across his shoulder, and he favoured his right arm. Golem after golem was felled by his blades, doubling each time. Marshmallow Lass covered their backs, swinging her baseball bat in wide arcs to keep the clawed fiends back. Amazing Dodge Woman did what she did best, and dodged. A lot. The room became quite crowded with golems. This is what the fight sounded like: "Haha, eat this." *crunch* "And this..." *crunch* "And here's your dessert..." *cracking noise* "Hop," said Amazing Dodge Woman, leaping to head-height. "Wow, amazing dodge," said Marshmallow Lass. Guitarless Man felt the adrenalin flow, and chose this moment to begin to begin singing, a capella. He picked a Tool song. "Choices always were a problem for you," he began, and the golems froze. Guitarless Man looked about in shock at the sudden lack of movement, then realization dawned. "What you need is someone strong to guide you," he continued. Marshmallow Lass put her hands over her ears, dropping her bat. The golems didn't move. The floor trembled slightly, as though the tower itself were afraid. "Living, loving, dying, born to follow, What you need is someone strong to guide you," sang Guitarless Man, his voice rising. The Golems moved, suddenly, as one, trying to get as far from GM as possible. The effect was like a ripple when a large stone is dropped into a calm lake, except that the ripple was a mass of black golems. Bladed Lad watched in amazement, and Marshmallow Lass was curled in a foetal ball on the floor. Amazing Dodge Woman stood, unmoving, a glazed look on her face. Where the golems couldn't get any further from him, they dematerialized against the wall. Suddenly the room was almost empty. "Like me..." finished Guitarless Man, as the last golem vanished. He stopped singing. Marshmallow Lass opened her eyes, then stood slowly. ADW reanimated with a jerk; her eyes were watering. Bladed Lad looked in frank admiration at Guitarless Man. "Wow, you can really sing," he said. Guitarless Man smiled. [** Story Break: It is dark. Several files sit crushed together in a filing cabinet. One buried in the middle is an application for LNH entry, from Daniel Wilson Andrews a.k.a Bladed Lad. Under disabilities, it lists: 'tone deaf.' **] "You're the first person to tell me that," replied GM, "apart from my mother." A door winked into existence in the cold black wall. "Our cue, I think," said Marshmallow Lass. They trooped through it. The next room was as dull as the last. As the last person entered, the door snicked shut. The floor transformed from a black plain to a boiling, seething mass of lava. GM took to the air, scooping up Bladed Lad and Marshmallow Lass, but he couldn't get a grip on Amazing Dodge Woman, and she was suddenly hip-deep in lava, and sinking. She screamed. "Noooo!" yelled Guitarless Man. "I have an idea," said Marshmallow Lass. "Program Abort," she snapped, as ADW sank to her neck, her scream fading as she did. "Aborting," said a soft voice, matter-of-factly. Suddenly the group of heroes-in-training were standing in the peril room, with just dim lighting. To one side was a small pile of dust, with scraps of Cannon Fodder's uniform in it. Amazing Dodge Woman collapsed lifelessly, her uniform and skin charred. "No," whispered Guitarless Man. "No." He knelt beside her, and Bladed Lad stood by his side. "Dodge," said BL quietly, "she's dead." Guitarless Man wept, tears falling from his eyes and dripping on his uniform and the floor. "Computer, Emergency," said Marshmallow Lass to the ceiling. Nothing happened. Softly, one of GM's tears fell on ADW's face. A pale blue glow flowed from her body, pooling on the floor. As it left her, the flesh healed and the skin reformed. Finally, she was whole again, and the room was lit by the blue glow. The glow moved slowly, and settled on GM, pouring into his body. Amazing Dodge Woman sat up slowly. Even her costume was whole. "What happened?" she asked. "I... don't know," said Guitarless Man. "You were... dead." ADW looked down at herself. "But... I'm not dead." "Well, duh," said Marshmallow Lass. Suddenly, the lights flicked on and the door snapped open, revealing a largish crowd of people milling about in the corridor. "What's going on?" asked GM. "The lights went out," came a voice from the back. "The Peril Room went on the fritz and blew the breakers," it continued. "Again," said someone else. "Could someone take Bladed Lad to the infirmary, please?" said GM. === When GM finally got back to his room, there was a large package leaning against his door. He picked it up, went inside, fed the goldfish, and settled down on the bed. The package turned out to have his guitar in it. I say "his guitar" ... really I mean a sort of long bit of banana-shaped wood that once was the fretboard and a few fragments of the guitar's body. He kicked it under the bed and lay down to stare at the ceiling and think. He'd almost nodded off when there came a knock at the door. "C'mon in," he called. It was Amazing Dodge Woman; she was dressed in civvies. "Um, hello there," said ADW. "Can we talk?" "Sure," said GM, folding his legs under him as he sat up. He patted the edge of the bed. "Take a seat." She did so. "Since ... this morning ... something's been different about me." GM raised an eyebrow. "Different?" "Yes, I felt so ... empty. So I went for a walk. I figured out what might be wrong, and tested it... I've lost my power." "Oh, no..." said GM, quietly. "So I'm quitting LNH training. From now on I'm just plain old Harriet Robinson, Amazing Dodge Woman is gone." "Dead, even," said GM. "Did you talk to Ultimate Ninja yet?" "Yeah. He offered to let me stay on and be a receptionist. I thought about it, I might take him up on it if I get too bored with non-hero life." "OK... well, good luck. I'm sorry about everything." "That's OK, it's not your fault. Hell, if it hadn't been for you I think I would be dead now." She stood up. "Bye, now." Guitarless Man stood up and hugged her. "If you want to talk, or need help, or anything, you know where to find me." Harriet walked out into the corridor with Guitarless Man in tow. She went lobby-wards while GM headed for Ultimate Ninja. He finally found him in the Peril Room, fighting pixelated foes. GM watched him, astounded at his martial-arts skills. UN caught sight of GM out of the corner of his eye and threw a shuriken at him, believing him to be another foe. GM winced, anticipating pain, but then found himself performing a neat handspring away to the left. The shuriken clattered against the wall, harmlessly. "Hey, nice dodge," said Ultimate Ninja. "Program end." "Ending," said the soft voice. "Wait a minute!" said GM. "I dodged!" "Yes," said UN, "quite well really." "No, I mean, I used Amazing Dodge Woman's dodge power. I've got her power, sir. Try and hit me." Ultimate Ninja launched a swift attack at GM, but wherever he struck, GM was a fraction of a second ahead of him. After two minutes of fast sparring, GM totally on the defensive, he still hadn't managed to land a blow. UN got more and more annoyed at his lack of success, and finally threw a massive triple-feint, feinted again, and GM collapsed on the floor attempting to dodge four ways at once. UN kicked him lightly on the leg as he fell. "I thought I was never going to hit you," said UN, smiling. "I think I pulled something," said GM, gasping as he flew up from the floor to stand on his feet again. "Ow. Hey, is that power-meter that List Lad had last episode - I mean yesterday - still about?" "It might be in the control room," said Ultimate Ninja. They walked up the steps, and found it on the console panel. UN waved it at GM. The expected sparks and melting failed to eventuate. "What's it read?" asked GM. "Ummm... this scale crossreferences to a percentage index, ah, got it, 61%" "61%? I seem to be short 133%-odd somewhere." "Maybe... it was used up in saving Harriet's life." "It bothers me that I saved her life by absorbing her power." "And do you know of any way to give her power back?" "No. But..." "Look, it happened. Harriet was dead, and you saved her. OK, so she's not quite the same as before. But Amazing Dodge Woman died, and through you both halves of her, her power and her body, have survived. It's a good thing, don't cut yourself up about it." GM sighed deeply, then smiled. "I guess you're right, sir. I'll just learn to live with it." "Good. Oh, and by the way, I'm taking you off Cadet training." GM looked up sharply. "Why, sir? I'm trying my best." "No, Guitarless Man, I want you in the LNH. And drop the sir crap." "Yes, sir... I mean, yes. Oh, and I think I'll be Guitar Man again." "Why?" "I miss my guitar, sir- d'oh." UN smiled. "Judging by your martial arts skills, I'd better call you Sempai." === Irwin just wanted what every other storekeeper wanted - a nice shop, stock continuously moving out the door, and dollars in the till. He sold guitars, but he didn't deserve _this_... "Mmmmmm-mmmmmm-yeah, hum yeah," sang Guitar Man, accompanying himself with a noise like a jet-engine meeting an unfortunate demise at the hands of a combine harvester. He shifted down a string and chocked out some power chords. Beside him, Bladed Lad tapped his foot and nodded his head along in (for want of a better word) time with the noise. With a loud crash, GM finished his song. The room was quiet, like a small island after a hurricane. Sort of... devastated. "That was better," said Bladed Lad, breaking the silence. "This is the best one so far," said GM. Irwin rushed forwards, hoping to make the sale before the customer played any more. He was too late, and sank to his knees as the sound assaulted him. It was almost Stairway to Heaven, almost - as if played underwater on a guitar made with fencing wire. using a live shark's tooth for a pick. In short, it was not a sound most guitars were designed to make. Forcing himself into action, Irwin crawled forward and flicked off the amplifier. GM blinked at the sudden quiet. "Hey, uh..." "No!" said Irwin. "Take the guitar. It's yours. Take the amp, too and get out of my shop. Never come back. Please." Bladed Lad looked at GM. "Guess he's not a fan." They left. ===================================================== Coming in GM#5... *Bladed Lad & Marshmallow Lass in their only ever issue except the one they were just in and the one before that. *Guitar Man saves something, probably, or at least tries to, once I figure out a plot :-) *It'll probably be funnier. Guitar Man, Bladed Lad & Marshmallow Lass are copyright me - Campbell "Sasquatch" March Ultimate Ninja is property of wReam, used without permission, sorry.Back to the Index.