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May 27, 2013

I Hraet You (60)

Beat 60: Snakes on a Plain…Rampage

Arjuna fell backwards, and scampered behind Lloyd like a frightened crab.  “I knew it!  I knew it!  I knew this would happen!”  He managed to climb to his feet, but did so while using Lloyd as leverage -- and cowering behind him, of course.  “See?  You really are a troublemaker!”

“In many ways, yes,” Lloyd admitted.  He took a step back, forcing Arjuna to do the same.  “But in this case, I can’t quite think of a reason why I’d be targeted.  Least of all by serpent lovers like these.”

One of the masked men chuckled.  “Purple hair, glasses, and talks like a doofus…that’s our man, all right.”  He popped his knuckles, while the thug on the left brandished a chain, and the one on the right showed off his spiffy new crowbar.  “All right, b’s and g’s -- hand over Shakespeare without a fight, and we promise we won’t hurt any of ya…much.”

That got a response -- because nothing could rouse a student council like the threat of violence.

“Now hold on a moment!” Lloyd called out.  “There’s no need for us to come to blows -- especially if it means harming the innocent.”  He swept an eye over the council, taking note of their panicked gazes…along with more than a few of them itching for a chance to hand over Lloyd.  “Your business is with me, yes?  Then if that’s the case, I’ll follow the three of you without a fight.”

“Really?  Huh.  Heh, well, that was easy.  All right, let’s get ya back to the --”

Lloyd held up his hands.  “W-wait a moment!  I don’t suppose any of you have become endeared by way of my nobility, have you?”

The snake-men glanced at each other and laughed.  “He’s got a real sense of humor, doesn’t he?”

“Well, it was worth a try,” Lloyd muttered.  So much for that little gambit.

“Okay, then, I’ll get this guy wrapped up and ready to roll.”  The leader swept an eye over the classroom.  “You two go to town.  Make sure these kids remember our faces…well, our masks, at least.  Heh heh, guess I got a sense of humor, too.”

The gasps and cries in the room went ignored by the thugs.  “Hey, look at that little one over there,” one of them said.  “Mind if I give him a few whacks with Lil’ Gordon here?  This crowbar’s supposed to pay for itself, I hear.”

“Go right ahead.  It’s your birthday, after all.”

“Aw, man…I wanted the little one!  Look at him, all bulgy-eyed and whatnot.”

“We can share him.  It’s my birthday, but I don’t mind sharing the love.”

“Oh!” Lloyd said with a cheery clap.  “Brilliant!  To show such selflessness toward your fellow cretin…truly, you’ve a noble heart within your thuggish exterior!”

“Whose side are you on?!” Arjuna screeched.  He shook his head rapidly.  “Screw this -- I’m so outta here!”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen, and slammed a thumb into the button.  And sure enough…

Ka-SAVING THROW!  AND ALSO BOOM!

Arjuna’s knapsack burst into a cloud of smoke and powder, filling the room in less time than for someone to ask who farted.  Students and snake-men alike started to cough and tear up, and everyone who’d tried moving quickly found themselves tumbling over furniture.  In spite of that, the president made a quick escape, and Lloyd ended up tumbling after him. 

“What in the…Arjuna, you had a smoke bomb?” Lloyd asked.  He glanced back at the door.  He couldn’t even see inside anymore -- just a bunch of dark silhouettes, and shortly after some of the students came barreling out.  “You really are prepared for --”

He turned to his left.  Sure enough, Arjuna dashed down the hall at dizzying speed.  “I don’t wanna die!” he wailed, tossing a few tears into the air.   

“Hey!  HEY!  We aren’t done yet, Arjuna!”  Lloyd bit his thumb; if he let Arjuna escape, he’d lose more than just a skittish president.  The info he needed -- and the foundation of his plan -- would run away crying with him.

“Lloyd!  The hell’s goin’ on, pal?”

Trixie rushed to Lloyd’s side, followed closely behind by Mrs. Overdose; it took an immense amount of willpower to keep from shaking him like a dirty rag.  “All of a sudden I hear glass smashin’ and bombs goin’ off -- if yer throwin’ a party, ya sure know how to make some noise!”

“I’ll explain later,” said Lloyd (disappointed that Trixie hadn’t shown up in her skivvies); he hardly finished speaking before starting down the hall after Arjuna.  “Right now, we have a president to chase.  Follow me!”

“Wha- president?”  But Trixie shook her head and followed behind.  “Lloyd, that’s really the kinda thing ya’d wanna explain!”

Mrs. Overdose brought up the rear, groaning and shaking her head as she hit her stride.  “Oh, this’ll be great for my bones -- lots of runnin’.  Great.  Just what me and my feet always wanted.”  She peeked over her shoulder.  “Those guys friends of yours?  ‘Cause they seem like just your type -- ready to kill you at a moment’s notice.”

Lloyd glanced behind him -- and sure enough, the snake-men stomped after them, brandishing their weapons and shouting no shortage of swears.  The students that got in their way got flung and shoved aside, and woe befell any teacher that tried to give them detention.  “I’d prefer not to get any closer to them,” Lloyd admitted.  “Breaking my legs seems like a priority of theirs!”

The three of them rounded a corner -- one that Arjuna had long since passed -- and slid across the linoleum before continuing the chase.  The snake-men slid in kind, squeaking and squealing their way past the long-empty trophy case.    “Oh ho!  So our foes have mastered the art of the power slide as well!” Lloyd said with a grin.  “I’d expect no less from would-be adversaries!”

“Yer way too excited about this, pal!”

“Well, why wouldn’t I be?  If not for banter, I’d be bawling at the threat of broken legs!”  He spotted Arjuna taking a right in the distance.  “Now then!  Let’s pick up the pace, shall we?  Letting the president escape would be a threat to our efforts!”

Lloyd had given the order, but he had no hope of following it.  He’d started at the front of the pack, but Trixie and Mrs. Overdose had both passed him.  And now the snake-men looked primed to grab and pummel him to their hearts’ content.  “Oh.  I seem to be failing at giving chase,” he said glibly.  “Huh.  Well, I enjoyed my legs as they were.  So delicate and sylphlike, my limbs.”

Mrs. Overdose pressed a palm to her forehead.  “Oh, for cryin’ out…”  But she didn’t get another word out; she tripped and fell, landing on all fours and letting even the lagging Lloyd pass her up.

“Milady!” Lloyd shouted.  He tried to swivel around to go back and grab her, but ended up overturning -- and sure enough, he skidded across the floor and crashed into a trash can.  “Miss Walters!  Lend your aid!”

“Yeah, I’m on it!”  Trixie managed a tight U-turn and dashed back for Mrs. Overdose, but even with her speed she’d never make it in time; the snake-men caught up to her, and slowed to a halt as they swarmed around her. 

The crowbar-slinger laughed heartily.  “So what, we get to beat up an old lady?  Well, it’s not exactly good karma, but hey -- if we’re allowed to make a mess, I’d say we should make a mess.”  He raised his crowbar above his head and --

Mrs. Overdose leapt to her feet.  “Oh, I’ll help you make a mess, all right.”  She took hold of the thug’s arm before he could finish his swing, and clutched the other arm just as fast.  Try as he might, the snake-man couldn’t escape -- and the next thing he knew, he got tossed and tumbled across the floor.

“Need a rag?” Mrs. Overdose asked, dusting off her hands.  “I’m bettin’ you need to wash up after that.”

The other thugs backed off at that display, but the chain-swinger regained his nerve quickly enough.  “Why you little…!”  He started swinging his chain like a lasso, ready to give the gunwoman a real lashing.  He didn’t, of course -- somehow, taking a pair of boots to the head put him out of the mood for violence.

“HAVE SOME O’ THIS!” Trixie roared.  Her drop kick struck straight and true; she considered herself lucky that the snake-man had a mask on, because she didn’t want to see the blood and teeth no doubt spewing from his face.  He rocketed down the hall at mach speed, crashing against the floor just as Trixie sprang up from it.  “Yeah!  That’s how we do things in Rockwood!”

Mrs. Overdose raised an eyebrow.  “Nice feet.”

“Yeah, well…ya know, nice throw.”

The two of them nodded at each other…just before Trixie planted her knee into the far snake-man, and Mrs. Overdose caught the near snake-man’s ankle in a lock.

“Ah ha…marvelous.  Truly, this is the power of teamwork!  Of camaraderie!”  Lloyd wiped at his eye, but of course, no tears had come out.  They would soon, though; they’d left one of the snake-men out of the brawl, and he charged at Lloyd with knuckles a-popping. 

“Oh ho, you are SO getting your legs broken!”

“AHHHAHAHBA!  N-now let’s just hold off for a moment,” said Lloyd, holding up his hands in (pitiful) defense.  “We can sort this out through words, not violence.  Reason and compromise are what set us apart from the common beast; given that…er…”  He leaned forward a bit, a quivering smile plastered across his face.  “I don’t suppose you’re endeared by me now, are you?”

The snake-man clapped a fist into his palm.  “I don’t know the meaning of the word.”

“Well, you see, it’s when one person --”

“Kiss your legs goodbye!”

“AHHHGADAGAH!  I-if that’s how it’s supposed to be…”  He glanced at his foot, and his quivering smile turned into a devilish one.  “Then…I’ll show you…DIVINE JUSTICE!”  He grabbed a half-eaten pizza boat and slammed it into the snake-man’s chest.

Predictably, it didn’t do very much.  It just showed Lloyd that he had a chest best described as “rock hard.”

Lloyd looked at the smeared pizza, and then up at the snake-man’s mask.  “You’re quite the athletic sort.  Doubtless you’re quite popular with the ladies, yes?”

But to his surprise, the snake-man didn’t answer (or smear Lloyd’s brains across the floor).  He just stared ahead, his hardened body starting to tremble and chill.  And as he glanced past him, Lloyd saw the other snake-men grow just as rigid -- along with Trixie and Mrs. Overdose freezing in place.  And suddenly, Lloyd found himself doing the same.

He’d caught more than a fair glimpse of the space behind his comrades.  And with that glimpse, he saw hall monitors standing shoulder-to-shoulder, sealing off the hall with a solid ton of muscle.  He glanced behind him -- the same circumstance, save for a slight tweak.  Arjuna poked around behind the line of guardsmen, fidgeting and whimpering as expected.  But before that line…

“Well, well, well.  What do we have here?”

He might have looked like an old man -- one with slicked-back white hair, and a bushy goatee and ‘stache -- but something about those blue eyes of his made him look as young as Lloyd.  He strutted through the hall with hands in his jean pockets, his denim vest rustling and his boots clicking against the linoleum.  Between the rhythmic taps and the smirk on his face, he looked as if he might have broken into a jig at any second.  But he didn’t, of course.  He had a rep to maintain.

Mr. Hansen spread his arms wide.  “You guys know where you are?” he asked.  “Oh, you must not know where you are.  You’re in MY house now, bitches.”

TO BE HEARTINUED…

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