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Thread: The Monstrous Creature Job Placement Agency (A FSN x Multi Cross) (Humor, maybe, possibly Crack)

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    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    The Monstrous Creature Job Placement Agency (A FSN x Multi Cross) (Humor, maybe, possibly Crack)

    The Monstrous Creature Job Placement Agency

    After dealing with yet *another* clean-up job for Alaya, a much put upon Counter Guardian asks to be assigned to anything other than his current job. His wish is granted...but as the old saying goes, maybe he should have been more careful about what he wished for.




    Chapter 1: The Dementor

    Of all the things Archer figured Alaya could think of to torment him in the eternal purgatory that was serving as a Counter Guardian, he’d never figured the collective unconscious of mankind would resort to paperwork. And not just any paperwork – improperly filled out paperwork – though even that was somewhat tolerable provided he could make head or tails of it, which he often couldn’t – and not because it was in a language he didn’t understand.

    His employer being the collective unconscious of mankind and had provided him with knowledge of every human language currently in use for his current assignment, he at least didn’t have to worry about that…at least when the individuals he tried to help were human, or spoke some human tongue.

    Which wasn’t most of the time, given that his current assignment was to manage, run, and otherwise ensure the day to day running of the Monstrous Creature Job Placement Agency, the part of the collective unconscious that connected the many monsters lurking in the shadows of human imaginings with various opportunities for work. Said monsters, of course, often being of alien geometries, of sub-human intelligence, or lacking anything in the way of common sense, making it very difficult to even figure out what they were, much less find a place for them.

    ‘How Dracula ever put up with this, I have no idea,’
    he thought to himself, before remembering that with all the abilities and feats ascribed to the great (and fictional!) vampire, the Count could probably both understand everyone who came through the door, and command them to do his bidding. ‘I guess it gave him something to do between jobs…’ he grumbled, glancing behind him at the larger than life portrait of Count Dracula, self-proclaimed Lord of the Night, founder of the Agency, and his immediate predecessor as Director. ‘A way to keep playing his role when not…playing his role.’

    That was probably why the interior of the Agency had originally looked like a castle’s audience chamber, allowing Dracula to entertain requests for placement from a rather imposing throne, like a Lord considering requests from lowly supplicants.

    These days, it looked rather different, since Dracula was on extended leave due to taking one of the many opportunities that came his way (something that had happened entirely too often, and was growing less and less acceptable to Alaya), and the hapless Counter Guardian who had taken up this thankless job didn’t share his aesthetic sensibilities.

    …or his advantages, at that.

    The interior of the Agency had adapted accordingly, altering itself into a more modern form to meet his expectations, with an uncomfortably furnished waiting area, forms for applicants to fill out, and an electronic queuing system which gave applicants the chance to fill out those forms while waiting to be called to a (well, his) service window.

    Not that he’d been able to get rid of Dracula’s presence entirely – hence the portrait, which loomed over him, seeming to stare down upon patrons of the Agency, as if reminding them just who was responsible for creating this place to begin with.

    ‘If only that would make these monsters fill out paperwork
    properly, I might not mind so much but…’

    Alas, some of his clientele lacked a comprehension of just what paperwork was, lacked an understanding of any human language, lacked the appropriate parts with which to fill out the required documents, or…all of the above, in the case of the rash of unemployed zombies which had come shuffling into the Agency some time ago, after the most recent wave of media about the undead had ended.

    That
    had been a bit of a mess to deal with, both from a placement angle (since there were only so many opportunities to go around), and from the more mundane angle of keeping the place clean – especially since he hadn’t swapped the rich (and easily soiled) carpets for linoleum prior to that. Still, despite the inconvenience, he’d felt a bit bad that he hadn’t been able to help most of them, given that those who didn’t get new opportunities eventually vanished altogether. Much like the gods of old, really – at least those who had actually been aliens or some such.

    The beings he dealt with were largely fictional – created by the fertile soil of the human imagination – and so required a measure of fame (or infamy) to survive. And well, there was only so much fame to go around, only so many seats at the table called happiness.

    ‘Some things never change, eh?’


    Surviving was easy enough for monsters like Orcs, goblins, and the like, who had long earned a place for themselves as staple antagonists in human entertainments, but for the rest…well, as vast as the imaginations of humans could be, their attention spans often left something to be desired.

    At any given time, people devoted the majority of time, money, and brainpower towards what was new and intriguing, and it wasn’t necessarily easy to predict just what they would take to and what they would not. Often enough, things that were popular one season captured little interest the next, with no rhyme or reason that a rational mind could grasp.

    ‘Not that I am in any position to comment about anyone not being rational,’
    Archer thought with a chuckle. One tended to lose that privilege after trying to commit suicide by temporal paradox. ‘Back to work then. There are more…beings to try and save.’

    However futile and thankless the job might be.

    “Next!” he called out, pressing the button to advance the electronic queue.

    “Now serving, FE-7. Repeat, FE-7.”


    The better part of a minute passed with nothing happening, with the Counter Guardian wondering if the individual in question had left without being helped while he’d been on lunch break (not that he needed to eat, but it was useful to take a breather now and again), before the being in question approached him, wordlessly sliding…was that…

    Yes! Yes, that was a properly filled out placement form, with attached CV, list of references, level of infam—

    …oh.


    “Mister…Binks?” Archer questioned.

    “Dassa me!” the being replied eagerly, looking at him with an air of desperation more intense than anything he’d seen in at least a few hours. “Yousa hava job for me?”

    “It says here you were a ‘Bombad general’ and a ‘Representative of Naboo in the Galactic Senate,” Archer noted, raising an eyebrow. “Is that correct?”

    Mister Binks nodded vigorously.

    “Mesa proposed given Emergency Powers to The Supreme Chancellor,” he added almost proudly.

    “…right,” Archer said after a moment. “Mister…no, Senator Binks, I’m afraid you’re over-qualified for any of the opportunities offered by the Monstrous Creature Job Placement Agency. Especially with your level of infamy.”

    “You say what?!”

    “You should be applying for work at the Heroic Talents Placement Agency,” Archer began, with a computer appearing before him so he could send over a referral for Mister Binks. Yet, no sooner had he punched in the being’s name when a notification popped up on his screen. “Or checking with the Mouse,“ he supplied, as a sheet of paper appeared in front of him, stamped with the infamous sigil of one of the most powerful entities of the modern day.

    This didn’t happen often, but he knew better than to interfere when it did.

    “Nosa!” Binks shrieked, almost leaping backwards at the sight of black mouse ears on white paper. “No! No, me…mesa was hopin’ you co—"

    Whatever else he’d been about to say would forever be unknown, as the sheet of paper leapt off the desk and onto the former Senator’s face, with Mister Binks vanishing into a swirl of shadow.

    “Next!” Archer said after taking a moment to process this.

    “Now serving, FF-7. Repeat, FF-7.”


    The next of his clients didn’t walk from the waiting area. Its three-meter-tall form glided menacingly over the floor towards him, its dark, hooded cloak rippling behind it as it chilled the very air around it, empty eye-sockets seeming to stare right through him. Anywhere else, this might have been intimidating, but at the Agency, this was more or less par for the course with their more monstrous clients.

    …that, and it wasn’t as if he didn’t relive his greatest failings every moment of his life anyway.

    “Right. Cut the act. Do you have your paperwork filled out this time, or do I need to put you at the end of the queue so you can take care of that?” he asked pointedly. “Again, I mean.”

    The paperwork had to be done for a placement to be made. No exceptions.

    It was one thing to provide reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities. He’d worked with clients who were blind, who were deaf, who didn’t have limbs – but one had to at least put in a good faith effort, and not try to take advantage of what little kindness he had left in his heart of steel.

    If they didn’t, well, it was back to the end of the line, and who knew how many years it would be until your turn came up again. Beings had withered and died waiting to plead their case for placement, while perfect opportunities passed them by.

    …it was, he reflected, perhaps crueler than Dracula’s habit of immediately executing those who offended him, but then, his job was to make sure everyone had a fair chance to get placed with a job, and nothing ever said that fairness was kind.

    The being before him gasped, almost as if it was trying to suck in a deep breath of air, but thrust a greyish limb in his general direction, with a crumpled-up sheaf of papers clutched in a hand scabbed and glistening with slime.

    …not the most sanitary thing he’d ever seen, Archer reflected as he took the papers from the entity that called itself a Dementor. Still, at least the paperwork was—

    …wait a minute.

    “…you got Mister Binks to do in your paperwork?” Archer commented, his tone utterly flat. “I thought I said—"

    The dementor hissed and rattled in protest, wringing its hands in an almost threatening fashion.

    “Yes, yes, I know you’re blind,” the Counter Guardian sighed in exasperation. “It’s written right on your paperwork, but that’s hardly an excuse for laziness!” Not that laziness was the worst sin he’d had to deal with among his clients, but he had standards, damnit. “I did offer to give you a braille version.”

    Again came the hissing and rattling, though this time, the hand-wringing was curiously absent.

    “Fine. You’re here, the paperwork is filled out. Let’s see what we have to work with,” Archer grumbled, noting the rather sparsely populated placement form and list of references. “Ok, so you’re representing an entire collective of your kind."

    The figure seemed to nod cautiously.

    “Right, so all of you are blind, but you can sense emotions. In fact, you feed off the emotions of living things, draining away any joy or happiness they feel, is that right?”

    Another nod.

    "And…here’s a surprise, you have a habit of slacking off at your job...and betraying your bosses.” The much put-upon Counter Guardian glared at the figure before him. "And you want me to give you a job?"

    The massive figure, looking like nothing so much as a decomposing corpse in tattered robes, made some kind of rattling sound while holding out both hands in a gesture that Archer interpreted as either "Yes" or “GIVE ME A JOB.”

    "Not the talkative sort? Well I guess you’re not supposed to be, so we can skip the whole ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ bit,” Archer reasoned, summoning his terminal to look for possible openings. “How about a horror movie?”

    This time, the rattling sounded almost like a screech, as scabbed and rotting hands tightened into claws.

    “Fine. No horror movie. Just thought that would be a good fit with your previous employment as prison guards, you know?” ‘Or as soul-sucking horrors serving as minions to terrible wizards, though we filled the last minion to the Dark Lord position some time ago.’ Archer shook his head. “What are you looking for, exactly?”

    Claws tightened into fists, and then dropped to the dementor’s sides as it shuddered and wheezed.

    “…a role that actually lets you do something that matters?” Archer interpreted. “Something where you’ll be noticed and talked about?” The Counter Guardian frowned. "That's a tall order with your work history. And your work ethic, at that.” He sighed. “Look, I’m afraid it’s going to be pretty hard to—”

    Then the Dementor moved.

    One moment, it was standing respectfully before him, the next it was right in his face, his body seeming to grow heavier and heavier as the darkness congealed around the two of them into something nearly solid. All at once, every bit of warmth seemed to vanish from the world, with its mouth yawning open as it leaned down towards Archer—only to freeze at the sensation of a white and black sword pointed at its throat.

    …a sword which hadn’t been there a moment ago, and which was held in the hand of a rather annoyed Counter Guardian.

    "Hey, none of that," Archer grunted. "I don't know what kind of workplace behavior your last bosses let you get away with, but we don't tolerate you threatening Agency employees.” Of which there was a grand total of one, for now, but the plural sounded more impressive than the singular. “Even if you're desperate and hungry. Even if you’re frustrated. I understand. I’ve been there. But it’s no excuse. Back off."

    Heeding the warning, the darkness receded, with the dementor gliding backwards as it quivered in its...well, not boots, since it wasn't wearing any, but something of the sort. With a wheeze-rattle of despair, it made to retreat back to the waiting area, as it would no doubt be put back at the end of queue again when…

    "Look. You ever do sci-fi?"

    The figure froze and tilted its head, as if to ask, "what is sci-fi?"

    “Futuristic weapons?” Archer prompted. “Advanced technology? Reactors?”

    The dementor looked blankly, almost forlornly at him, as he rattled off terms completely foreign to anything in its experience.

    "You know what, it doesn't matter," Archer grumbled, gesturing for the figure to glide back to the window as he dematerialized the blade. “As it so happens, there’s a position you might be qualified for,” he noted, stapling a sheet of paper to the packet that the dementor had passed him. “It’s in a place called Midgar which I doubt you’ve ever heard of. Something about making people feel like prisoners of fate.”

    The dementor cautiously held out its hands as Archer passed the packet to it.

    “Your contact for this job is a man named Nomura, who apparently is fond of belts. You’ll find the details on how to get to his unconscious on the sheet,” he explained with a friendly smile – or at least, baring his teeth. “Now get out."

    At his words, reality seemed to twist, and with a hiss-crackle-pop, the dementor was gone.

    Next!”
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; June 2nd, 2020 at 02:26 AM.
    "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

  2. #2
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Black Sword's Avatar
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    This is great, Alf! The digs at Disney and Nomura were appreciated, and how you stuck EMIYA in this miserable task is the cherry on top. I'm looking forward to the next installment!
    Quote Originally Posted by eddyak View Post
    That thread has simultaneously respawned my disgust for 4chan, and ripped away some of what little hope I have left for humanity.

    Was still hilarious, though.
    The first time I was overwhelmed by anime cuteness
    Quote Originally Posted by Black Sword View Post

    Oh my God they look like adorable kittens I want to take them home with me!

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    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    . . . And suddenly, the Kingdom Hearts series makes perfect sense.

    And the idea of Dracula running things previously also makes perfect sense; any version of Dracula, really. The Count's unofficial role always has been "Master of All Monsters" - or aspiring to such. I do look forward to seeing what the next client is like.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

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    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Chapter 2: The Incubator

    On rare occasions, Archer would (grudgingly) admit that working at the Agency might be something of a step up from his previous assignment, since whatever else he was doing, he was helping…someone. He couldn’t exactly call those he was helping people when they’d only been created by human imagination, but as frustrating as trying to match creatures with opportunities was, it was usually less of a blow to his conscience than wiping out the innocent and the guilty alike.

    …most of the time though, with today being no exception, he was pretty sure that he’d only been tasked with this thankless job because the collective human unconscious had a personal grudge against idealistic fools who took a deal that traded the assurance of short-term success for an eternity of servitude.

    (Not for the first time, Archer reflected that there were some alarming similarities between how Alaya went about signing up Counter Guardians and the Japanese/Korean idol industries, given that the contracts that bound both his idols and his hapless colleagues were fairly ironclad and not subject to renegotiation…unless one gained enough fame. Had the person who started that whole system asked Alaya for something to make them successful, and then simply aped it? Or was it just human for those with the power to grant wishes to take advantage of those who had no power of their own?)

    ‘Right. I’m getting distracted.’


    “So…” Archer summed up, looking up from the paperwork that had been deposited at his service window by a rather unlikely figure. “Mister…X, was it?”

    The goose perched on the ledge of his window ruffled its wings and honked, seemingly miffed that its identity was being questioned.

    “It says here that you are a genetically-altered organism, part of a series created for use as a…” Archer looked from the words on the paper to the goose standing in front of him. “…as a bodyguard, assassin, or corporate agent?” he continued, his voice about as strained as his credulity.

    The goose merely honked in response.

    “…I see.” Archer sighed. It was going to be one of those days. He just knew it. “You in particular were intended for covert operations, is that right?”

    This time, the honking was both emphatic and vociferous.

    “Right,” Archer said uneasily. In his experience, the only way a bird could be a military threat was if it served a vector for a biological agent, if it was tasked with carrying messages too sensitive to be broadcast over radio, or if it collided with an aircraft in flight. And while it was true that the Canada goose was ranked as the third most hazardous wildlife species to aircraft worldwide, resulting in damages of over a billion dollars each year…

    …something felt just a bit off about this.

    ‘I might not have any ranks in Instinct, unlike some of the proper Heroic Spirits, but somehow I have trouble believing that the paperwork it dropped off describing it as a Tyrant class weapon is accurate.’

    After all, from what he could see, the being in front of him was a stock standard domestic goose, if a more intelligent member of the species than he was used to dealing with.

    ‘Though, if it’s meant for covert operations then,
    maybe…?’ But even that was a stretch, and the Counter Guardian knew it. Maybe if it grew much larger once the power limiter described in its paperwork was released, as large as the three-meter-tall terror birds which had once been South America’s premier apex predator (crushing the skulls of deer-sized mammals, picking up caimans and other large reptiles and tossing them to the ground ruthlessly, and so forth), then it could be a threat worthy placement among monstrous creatures.

    Otherwise? From what he could say, this was a classic case of someone wildly exaggerating what they were capable of on their resume – or at least, that would have been his first thought if the paperwork hadn’t been notarized by one Albert Wesker.

    ‘Maybe a practical test then?’


    “Look,” Archer said, materializing one of his black and white blades and pointing it at the goose. “I don’t know what you’re playing at here, but—hey!”

    ‘Did…did a goose just steal a sword out of my hand?!`
    he thought incredulously, reaching out to grab the handle of the blade – only for the bird to backpedal and drop to the floor, out of reach. ‘What the…?’

    Archer shook his head, remotely dematerializing the sword, with the goose honking in outrage and flapping its wings as its prize vanished from its beak.

    ‘Ok. That just happened,’
    he thought to himself, as he took a deep breath. ‘A bird stole a sword out of my hand. I…you know what. Whatever. I’m not being paid enough for this shit.’

    Not that he was being paid at all, but that was rather beside the point.

    “Look, Mister…X, you’ve made your point,” he said, raising his voice just a hair. “Get back up here and I'll give you a job.”

    It took some minutes for the goose to calm down and return to the service window, minutes that Archer used to look up some possible opportunities on his terminal, before hitting on something he thought would be workable.

    “I know you were looking at something in survival horror, but given…what you look like, I think you might be better off looking somewhere else,” he said, raising a hand to pre-empt what would no doubt have been a spat of undignified honking. “To put it bluntly, you’re not intimidating enough to cut it in horror. I do have a job that might be a good fit for you though, taking advantage of all that covert operations training.”

    The goose honked inquisitively.

    “How would you feel about terrorizing some English villagers?”

    Honk! Honk!





    Some time later, after the goose had been sent off to some group called House House for more instructions and Archer was in the middle of checking on possible roles for a jolly band of what he thought were zombies – albeit skinless, eyeless zombies with large, exposed brains and very, very long tongues (and which were heedless enough of his instructions to stay back that he’d had to deploy a cage of swords to keep them a safe distance from him), he was distracted by a gloved hand slamming a sheaf of papers down in front of him.

    “Sir, please take a number and wait your turn,” Archer instructed, looking up to see a massive grey-skinned figure in a trenchcoat and fedora. “It’s only fair to everyone else—”

    Instead of complying, the figure merely slammed its hand down on the surface once more, with Archer’s eyes involuntarily following it to see—

    ‘Wait. What.’


    a very familiar set of forms, minus the cover sheet providing directions to House House.

    “Look,” Archer said slowly, looking the grey-skinned entity in the eye. “I don’t know who you are, or who you think you are, but you can’t just steal someone’s paperwork and expect to get placed. I already processed Mister X’s paperwork and sent him off a while ago.”

    The figure’s response was to point at the place on the form where “Mister X” was written, and then point at himself – twice.

    “Ok. Just to be perfectly clear, you’re telling me that you’re Mister X?” Archer asked slowly, getting the sinking feeling that he was about to discover exactly why something had felt off when he was comparing the abilities listed on the form to the goose who had—

    ‘…the goose who stole a sword right out of my hand. Goddamnit.’


    The figure – Mister X – nodded.

    “Right. And why exactly did you miss your slot earlier?” he inquired.

    What followed was rather a rather bizarre one-entity pantomime of Mister X walking along, minding his own business, when someone – or something, rather – filched something out of one of his trenchcoat’s pockets, followed by the Tyrant-class weapon moving to pursue in a slow, but implacably menacing fashion.

    “…I’m pretty sure I know who did this, but, for the record, who stole your papers?” Archer asked.

    In response, Mister X silently mouthed the word honk, making Archer regret he’d ever been gifted with the skill of how to read lips.

    ‘This is tipping the scale towards Alaya having a grudge against me, but what else is new?’


    “R…ight. Let’s get you a job, then,” the Counter Guardian said slowly, wishing he could scrub the last minute or two of utter wrongness from his mind. “Survival horror, right?” he recalled from the last time he’d processed these documents.

    The Tyrant nodded.

    “You sure you don’t want to go and start a band or something?” Archer joked, in a vain attempt to lighten the mood. “Mister X and the Tyrants has a ring to it, you know?”

    But the Tyrant didn’t respond at all, as if refusing to dignify that suggestion by acknowledging he’d made it to begin with.

    Working quickly, Archer pulled up a job that looked like a pretty good fit, considering Mister X’s background and his demonstrated aptitude at being intimidating, if not particularly fast.

    “Your papers say you’ve done a Raccoon City job before. Think you can handle another go?” the Counter Guardian inquired.

    Mister X nodded solemnly.

    “Right. I’ll put you down for the Umbrella Corp job then,” Archer noted. “You need directions, or can you find your way back to Capcom on your own?”

    The Tyrant slowly held up two fingers, with Archer interpreting that as no directions needed.

    “I’ll let them know you’re coming then. Maybe tell them to look for the bio-organic weapon with a great sense of fashion?”

    For a moment, he thought he saw Mister X smile ever so slightly, but when he looked again, the Tyrant’s face was as stoic as ever.

    As the Tyrant turned to go, Archer tabbed back to the open window where he’d been plugging in the details of the long-tongued zombies on a hunch, only to find that there was an opening for them in Raccoon City as well.

    “Oh, Mister X,” he called, halting the bio-organic weapon in its steps before it had managed to get too far. “Mind taking the uh…Lickers, with you?

    If the Tyrant had eyebrows, Archer imagined they’d be raised right about now.

    “I mean, you’re all going to the same place, and they’re ah…” He didn’t want to say difficult to manage, or contributing to his headache so… “They’re apparently bio-organic weapons like you?”

    Mister X’s shoulders twitched, which Archer didn’t know to take as amusement or offense or something else altogether.

    ‘This is why it’s frustrating working with beings that can’t just say what they want or don’t want!’
    he thought, though a heartbeat later he remembered that those capable of speech weren’t always much better.

    “Look, I’ll owe you a favor for next time. That good enough?” Archer finally offered.

    Mister X was still for a moment, before turning slightly and tipping his hat at the Counter Guardian, something that Archer chose to interpret as a yes, right before dematerializing the cage of swords.




    ‘…why did I think that having one monster take the others with him would be a good idea?’
    he found himself asking some time later, after the Agency had officially closed for the day. ‘There’s still blood all over the floor!’

    Sadly, the Lickers had not gone quietly with Mister X, instead choosing to try and attack the Tyrant.

    True to his designation, however, the Tyrant had proceeded to disassemble his attackers with contemptuous ease, with Archer sending them all off in the wake of that unmitigated disaster. Granted, this wasn’t the first time a fight had broken out, though the incidence of violent confrontations had dropped dramatically after he’d threatened to bar anyone who started a fight from further service at the Agency.

    It was, however, the first time someone – or several someones – had tried to pick a fight after they’d been given a job.

    ‘Have to say, it’s also a record for how utterly one sided it was, too,’
    he noted to himself. He hadn’t seen a fight where one side so utterly dominated the other since… ‘Huh. When was the last time?’

    He couldn’t actually remember, though he thought it might have involved tentacles.

    ‘Excuse me.’


    Now, what would be the best way to clean the floor? Magecraft? No, that would be a waste of energy, even if he were a magus from the Age of Gods (which he wasn’t). One of those fancy commercial floor cleaning machines? No, the interior of the agency wouldn’t produce that for him, and he wasn’t exactly proficient at projecting electronics so…

    ‘Fine, I’ll mop it up and disinfect the place afterwards.’


    ‘This is the Monstrous Creature Job Placement Agency, yes?’


    ‘It’s just more effort that—’


    “Yes?” Archer said aloud, as he glanced around the room, spotting a small, cat-like creature that had slipped through the door, which he must have forgotten to close after everyone had left. “Come back tomorrow, we’re closed.”

    ‘That may not be possible. I – my kind – may not have until tomorrow,’
    the voice of the creature spoke into his mind.

    ‘Great. A telepath. That’s the last thing I needed,’
    Archer groused. Against his better judgement, and cursing himself for being too damn soft, he nodded. "Come in then, let's see what we can do for you."

    He took a moment to study the creature as it approached him, noting that it didn’t seem very monstrous, what with its white fur, oversized ears, and bright eyes. Really, it looked like a mascot from one of those magical girl animes that Ilya had enjoyed when she was alive.

    “…do you have any paperwork?” Archer asked, knowing that it probably didn’t and being rather pleasantly surprised when it opened its mouth and spat out a perfectly filled out set of papers. Placement form, CV, reference list, everything. “Huh. You’re well prepared.”

    ‘It is only rational to make the experience as painless for both parties as possible,’
    came the response.

    “Wise words…Kyubey,” Archer agreed, briefly skimming the forms he’d been given. “So. You’re a Messenger of Magic, an Incubator, whose race is attempting to prevent the universe from dying to entropy. And to do it, you create magical girls.” He glanced at the cat-like creature. “How does this work, exactly?”

    The Incubator laid out a brief description of how his kind could harvest energy from grief cubes dropped by demons, which Archer supposed sounded plausible, given how True Demons worked, though whether that would provide enough energy to support an entire universe he had no idea.

    “I see. I think you might have the wrong Agency,” the Counter Guardian responded, taking note of all this. “None of this sounds particularly monstrous, and—”

    ‘My kind created magical girls by granting their wishes,’
    Kyubey interjected, a statement that drew Archer’s full attention. ‘We waited until candidates found themselves in a position where they are unable to achieve their aims through their own abilities.’

    “…and then you offered them power,” Archer filled in. It was a familiar enough story, given that he had made such a pact with Alaya an eternity ago. “There’s a catch, I take it?”

    ‘Yes. In exchange for granting their wish, they become magical girls.’


    “That doesn’t sound so—”

    ‘They were bound to an eternity of battle until they fell victim to the Law of Cycles.’


    “…the Law of Cycles?”

    “Something that prevented magical girls from maturing into Witches. A pity, given how much energy is produced when a Magical Girl becomes a Witches, compared to what we gleaned from the remnants of demons.’


    “I see why you came to the Agency for placement then…” Archer began, but then paused, as he realized that the Incubator had spoken about Magical Girls, Witches, even the Law of Cycles in the past tense. He flipped through the packet of papers, going over the list of references and comparing it to the Incubator’s employment history. “…wait, you’re currently employed.”

    Yes, but—”

    Archer chuckled, though the sound was a bit strained.

    “Incubator. I understand that it must be unpleasant to be forced to serve as the receptacle for the misery of magical girls all throughout history, but that’s just narrative irony for you. It isn’t any worse from what you and your kind did to magical girls by your own admission.”

    ‘You do not understand. In our culture, the phenomenon called emotion is a mental disorder. That is—’


    “You are being made to endure a state you find uncomfortable and wish you could escape,” Archer summed up. “Believe me, I understand that all too well.”

    ‘Then you will help us?’


    “Sorry, but I can’t,” Archer said with a bitter smile. “The Agency’s job is to match monstrous creatures who are out of work with opportunities, and you are still employed.”

    The Incubator froze as it looked at him, seeming almost stricken.

    “There’s nothing I can do,” Archer added, spreading his hands. He paused, summoning his terminal and pressing a few keys. “Well, except notify your current employer that is, which I have already done.”

    The Incubator turned to go, but found the way out barred by blades – blades, that as it turned around, kept materializing in its path, forming a perfect cage.

    ‘Wait. Please. You don’t have to do this,’
    it said into his mind, almost frantic, almost pleading.

    “Sorry, but I can’t,” Archer replied grimly. “I made a contract, after all. An eternity of servitude in exchange for the power to save a handful of people. And in my role, there are rules I have to follow.”

    The Incubator’s eyes seemed to widen as it tried to scrabble at the blades, to wiggle out between the gaps, to no avail, as Archer turned back to the dirty job of scrubbing the floor. He’d made a good bit of progress when he heard footsteps marching through the door, as…

    ‘Huh…’


    …a troop of life-size nutcracker dolls
    came through it, moved to pick up the caged Incubator, who was all but screaming now, nodded.

    “…I don’t suppose some of you fine gentlemen would be willing to help me cleaning up this mess?” the Counter Guardian joked, with the dolls looking at each other and nodding.

    The majority left with the caged Incubator, but two remained, with one marching over and taking the mop from his hands, while the other went to fetch a bucket, as Archer simply laughed.

    ‘Well, if that’s a thank you, I’ll take it. Come to think of it, I
    could use some help around here…’
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; June 3rd, 2020 at 03:21 PM.
    "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

  5. #5
    Pretty solid crack. There's really something cathartic about seeing Archer get stuck with shitty jobs...

  6. #6
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Really? I found the Kyubey's scene more cathartic (and I've never even watched Madoka and variants) . . . Yesss, very cathartic . . .

    And shame on you, Alfheimwanderer - you've made me feel sorry for a Tyrant; seriously, getting mugged (or at least, pickpocketed) by a goose, of all things . . . Though I suppose you'd expect it of that one. Still, not the kind of thing an eight-foot-tall super soldier prototype ought to ever live down.

    (Which is, of course, why it's hysterical - but I digress. )

    . . . As a final note - while I do appreciate your mention of my national symbol/pest, to the best of my knowledge, the species' name is simply "Canada goose," not "Canadian goose." I know, it makes no sense; nevertheless, that's how I've heard it referred to for my entire life.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  7. #7
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    . . . As a final note - while I do appreciate your mention of my national symbol/pest, to the best of my knowledge, the species' name is simply "Canada goose," not "Canadian goose." I know, it makes no sense; nevertheless, that's how I've heard it referred to for my entire life.
    Ah yes, thank you for pointing that out. I've gone about correcting that on both this and the FF.net version. If you have any suggestions for monsters you'd like to see, please, feel free!

    This chapter was partially inspired by...

    "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

  8. #8
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Hm . . . Specifying "creature" makes things a bit trickier - though I assume it's to avoid too-easy (i.e., specific, named) targets? Or perhaps just something intelligent enough to talk back. In which case . . .


    How about gremlins? The ultimate maker of swords (and other things) versus the ultimate wreckers of stuff could be funny - though the Goose kind of covered that, didn't it . . .?

    Ah! Here's a thought - the onryo from the various Ring films is all technically the same ghost, but has multiple identities, in truth; Yamamura Sadako in Japan (who was very much an adult), Samara Morgan in North America (a 10-year-old child), and Park Eun-Suh in the Korean version of the film. They all look relatively similar, and short of possessing someone else to do it (barring Sadako's "rebirth" abilities) none of them speak.

    In short, this seems like a glorious opportunity for paperwork mix-ups: each has a different birth and death date, Park Eun-Suh's is written in Korean, and Samara's in English (in fact, she can't read the paperwork in Japanese at all, and might not comprehend the legalese even if it was translated for her, being only ten). Given attempts to help any one of them in their native tongue, therefore, will not work for the others, with the language barrier - and with the sheer similarity in their appearances, Shirou might not realise he's speaking to the wrong one immediately.

    . . . And I'm sure you can think of other ideas yourself - I hope this helps.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

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    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
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    Was kind of expecting Goode to go to Shadow Moses, but stealing everything from X was also really in character.

    Gundam-a-thon Status: 0079 Zeta ZZ Char's Counterattck War In the Pocket F91 Stardust Memories Victory G Gundam Wing Endless Waltz 8th MS After War X Turn A SEED 00 Unicorn AGE Reconguista The Orgin Thunderbolt IBO

    DONE!!!!!! 4 years, 1 week.

    Bonus Rounds: Gundam-san Escalflowne Build/Try/Divers

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    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Chapter 3: The Emperor

    Working at the Monstrous Creature Job Placement Agency came with more than its fair share of surprises, Archer reflected, almost doing a double take as a very recognizable figure (who though certainly monstrous, wouldn’t usually be called a creature) made his way over to the service window, a piece of something that looked more like plastic than paper clutched in two pale, feeble hands.

    “Can I help you, Mister…?”

    “Palpatine,” the figure responded in a vaguely sinister hiss, confirming Archer’s suspicions of his identity. “Sheev Palpatine.”

    Archer blinked, taking the piece of flimsiplast that was floated over to him by the infamous Sith Lord.

    “…and what brings you in today?” he found himself asking.

    “Why…a job,” the old man replied. “This is a job placement agency, is it not?”

    It was that, but Archer was fairly certain that a former Senator – well, former Galactic Emperor – was not quite the sort of individual he was meant to be helping. He was fairly sure the man was in the wrong office, given how infamous he was and his previous qualifications, but…it wouldn’t do to be rude, especially given that it was rare enough that he could actually hold a conversation with one of his clients. As well, he didn’t want to set a poor example by antagonizing someone who’d waited patiently to be seen – or well, had convinced someone else to give up their place in the queue without the threat of violence, at least.

    Civility deserved to be rewarded, if nothing else.

    “You do realize that I probably can’t do anything for you,” Archer began, trying to make sure the old man didn’t have unreasonably high expectations. “After all, when Senator Binks came in the other day—”

    “—did you hear?” remarked the pallid old man, whose skin and clothes…and just about everything else had most definitely seen better days. “The Mouse gave him a job. Him. But not me!”

    “Mister…Emperor Palpatine…,” Archer said gingerly, now beginning to wonder just how stable the man was. “With all due respect, he’s not…” The Counter Guardian found himself fumbling for words. How did one inform one’s client that it was hard to get a job after one had been…terminated, with one’s position eliminated in the course of what might be euphemistically regarded as a sort of particularly violent corporate restructuring? “As of the end of your most famous job, the Empire no longer exists. As such, there is no longer a need for an Emperor – especially one which was recorded as dying.”

    "I was able to come back, you know," the old man replied querulously. "I enjoyed residency of several clone bodies, able to sustain my spirit and allow me to resume my path of conquest. If anything, I could have returned at any time, if not for.... certain impediments."

    Archer, not having heard of Palpatine having these particular abilities, pulled up his terminal and ran a quick query on his latest would-be client. Sure enough, the official file available to him did not record the former Emperor as having made such affordances. Though…it was true that the document seemed to have been recently altered, an entire section seemingly expunged as apocryphal by the Mouse so…

    “…you mean, canonicity?” the Counter Guardian probed.

    “Bah, canon!” the man – the former Emperor – grunted dismissively. “What use does someone such as I have for the judgement of an overgrown rodent?” Palpatine sneered. “It has long been established that the Force is a pathway to abilities some find…unnatural. That my former Master had learned to use it to keep people from dying. For someone such as I, who surpassed his master in those arts, to return would have been not only logical, but…trivial.”

    “I—”

    “I did it before, you know, in that timeline the Mouse has relegated to ‘Legend’,” the old man grumbled. “I was even able to turn young Skywalker to the Dark Side, like his Father before him.”

    “While that’s true—”

    “Yet the Mouse denied me. It cast me out from its New Order. And worse, it cast aside the talent I so painstakingly cultivated.” He frowned, his pale, thin lips twisting into a grimace. “Had they truly cared about diversity, they could have enthroned Grand Admiral Thrawn, who is a credit to his race?” Palpatine rambled on, waving one hand discontentedly. “Yet they prove as humanocentric as I, empowering second-rate villains with no depth as their First Order.” He sneered then. “A pretentious name for a band of warlords led by an over-theatrical Munn! A Munn in a bathrobe no less!

    Personally, Archer didn’t quite see how someone like Palpatine had any grounds to call someone over-theatrical, but that wasn’t really any of his business.

    “And then there are the others. These so-called…heroes,” the old man muttered, treating the last word with particular distaste, as if it was some curse. “Or perhaps I should say…scavengers.”

    “Scavengers?” Archer echoed dubiously.

    “What else can you call this rabble of maggots festering within the corpse of the Galactic Empire. This ineffectual New…Republic, even weaker and more corrupt than the Old ever was. This…Resistance – lawless Rebels in all but name. This…nobody of a scavenger girl and her all-too-human minions.” He snickered then. “In the end, they remain humanocentric, if far less…competent. A pale imitation of what the Empire was at its height!” The laughter intensified, with Archer beginning to wonder if the man had finally broken, until it finally trailed off. “Then again, I suppose Snoke’s pathetic band of…militants would have folded under the weight of anything more…substantial.”

    The Counter Guardian chose that moment to clear his throat, prompting Palpatine to pause in the midst of his diatribe. The Sith Lord looked up at him, his eyes seeming sunken and dark. “Yes…?”

    “Please understand that whatever personal opinions I might hold regarding the Mouse and how it goes about doing things, I don’t have much influence over the sorts of job openings it makes available, who those openings go to, or any of the Mouse’s other decisions,” the Counter Guardian stated, spreading his hands. “I certainly can’t make them revisit the question of your abilities.”

    “I suppose that’s would be asking too much,” Palpatine allowed. “I don’t suppose you have something for me? Anything of substance?”

    Archer grimaced.

    “Well,” he began, “the thing is—”

    “—yes yes, I’m overqualified. Of course, I am! I toppled a Republic that had stood for thousands of years, replacing it with the First Galactic Empire. I directed both sides of a Galactic Civil War! I destroyed the Jedi Order!”

    “Masters Yoda and Obi-wan Kenobi aside,” Archer commented, earning a contemptuous snort from Palpatine.

    “Two Masters do not an order make, young Emiya.”

    “…a fair point,” the Counter Guardian acceded. “Still, you clearly see the issue. After doing all of ah…that, how could a small role possibly contain you?”

    At that, the old man began to cackle, a sound that started off quietly, but slowly built and built and built until it echoed throughout the entire interior of the Agency. For several long minutes, Palpatine laughed and laughed and laughed, as Archer simply raised an eyebrow, noting that whatever else his faults, the former Emperor did have a rather impressive lung capacity.

    “It…is true that there was a time when I enjoyed…power,” the man conceded, after his spate of humorless mirth had abated. “Nigh UNLIMITED POW—” He stopped himself then, the sparks which had flickered into existence around his hands fading as he looked as if he’d bitten into a lemon. “Ah, forgive me, I just can’t help myself sometimes.”

    “…I suppose I can understand that, after the life you’ve lived,” Archer allowed charitably. “But we were talking about getting you a job outside of what you were used to, since whatever happened before the Mouse, what happened since is—”

    “Chaos,” Palpatine all but spat. “A miserable collection of convoluted knots and threads, as two of the Mouse’s minions battle for dominance over the ruins of a once great galaxy.”

    “…I take it this isn’t about the Resistance and the First Order anymore?” the Counter Guardian asked, curious despite himself.

    “Not at all,” the old man confirmed. “Not Snoke, or the scavenger, nor any of their ilk, save as pawns to a man who seeks to echo the glories of the past and one who seeks to sacrifice everything that has been built on the altar of subversion!” He shook his head, his lips curling into a snarl. “Why, they could have consulted me, at the least! I, who collected the finest works of art in the galaxy! I, who wrote the greatest political treatise in a thousand years! I, a master of storytelling who destroyed an ancient order of overly-goody two-shoes with a single yarn!" He paused. “Speaking of which, did you ever hear the tragedy of—"

    "...Darth Plagueis the Wise?" Archer filled in, raising his eyebrows. "I have. Can’t say I was overly impressed by it."

    "Well. I suppose that is fair," the man grumbled, though he seemed almost disappointed. “It’s not a particularly sophisticated tale, I admit, but that was never the point. The trick was in the telling of it.”

    "Telling the right tale to the right audience, in the right way, you mean?" the Counter Guardian probed.

    “Yes, yes! Exactly!” Palpatine agreed, before letting out a disgruntled huff. “Sadly, it seems that sort of…artistry is not something the Mouse tends to value as it expands its Empire. Or perhaps calling it an Empire would be too much. It’s mis-matched amalgamation of properties, perhaps?”

    Archer found himself raising a skeptical eyebrow.

    “I’m not sure I’d go that far,” the Counter Guardian noted, finding himself somewhat skeptical of the old man’s claims. “The Mouse’s power is great and terrible, and its influence vast.”

    “Vast and insidious, yes,” Palpatine agreed, seeming oddly approving of this. “Yet personal power does not an Emperor make. For whatever crimes an Emperor commits, he – or it – is at least capable of protecting and controlling those who fall within his Empire.”

    “Those who it chooses to protect, anyway,” Archer commented mildly.

    “Those who were not bent on treason from very beginning,” Palpatine muttered. “The Republic that I overthrew had long become a shell of its former self, incapable of protecting anyone at all, much like the so-called New Republic.” He chuckled again, a low, dangerous sound that bordered on becoming a spate of cackling, before the laughter abruptly came to an end as the man began to cough.

    Wordlessly, Archer handed the former Emperor a handkerchief, which Palpatine accepted with as much good grace as he could muster, under the circumstances.

    “Forgive me. I am somewhat…diminished from what I once was.” The old man paused, as if considering his words. “Being thrown into a reactor was rather hazardous to my health.”

    “Well, that was how you died, yes?” Archer asked, with the old man nodding. “Can’t say the same myself. All I ended up with was a good tan,” he joked, tapping the skin of his arm.

    “Heh,” Palpatine snickered, though his expression smoothed a moment later as he considered the person before him, who he had thought merely a bureaucrat of sorts a moment ago. “You have certain unnatural abilities of your own, then.”

    Archer simply looked over to the waiting area where monstrous creatures of all sorts were gathered, then gestured at himself, the one they were waiting to see.

    “…fair point,” the old man conceded.

    “Tell me something. Would you actually be happy with a small role?” the Counter Guardian asked.

    “No,” came the old man’s instant response. “Sadly, my personal feelings are a distant second to prospect of my imminent demise.”

    “Imminent demise?” Archer echoed. “Isn’t that rather overstating things, given who you are and what you can do? You’re rather famous, you know.”

    “And what has that gotten me?” Palpatine scoffed. “Nothing,” he all but spat. “NOTHING!” he growled. “You don’t understand what it’s like. To have mastered so much, some so far, embodied the wishes of all the Sith through history…to be reduced to this…a beggar groveling at the feet of an overgrown rodent.”

    The old man fell silent after that, as if he’d finally run out of steam.

    Archer, not wanting to provoke the Sith Lord, figured he might as well try to do his job, and began looking through the list of available jobs for something that might fit a former Galactic Emperor. As expected, he didn’t have much in the way of luck.

    “How about—”

    “Did you know,” Palpatine interrupted, “what job the Mouse gave Binks?”

    “No,” Archer admitted. “Should I?”

    “The Mouse made him a street performer,” Palpatine growled. “As if that buffoon could do justice to any performance worthy of the name.”

    “I understand your feelings on the matter, but—”

    “It was an insult most grave. An insult, atop the nigh mortal wounds inflicted upon me.”

    “That might be the case,” Archer began, “but again, I can’t—”

    “They spurned me,” Palpatine interrupted once again. “And everything I wrought. Turning order into chaos. Turning strength into weakness. Turning mastery into…incompetence. Fools. The lot of them.”

    “…I’m not disagreeing with you,” the Counter Guardian said cautiously, once the old man’s latest diatribe stuttered to a halt. “Still—”

    But his words were cut off as a glowing figure materialized between him and Palpatine.

    A cloaked, mouse-eared figure that only came up to his chest.

    “Golly Sheev, there you are!”
    the figure spoke in a rather squeaky voice. “Gee, you’re a hard man to find, ya’know?

    “…Mouse,” Palpatine growled, drawing himself up to his full height even as he took two steps back, a silver cylinder falling out of a sleeve and into a waiting hand. “Why are you here?”
    It struck Archer that the Mouse seemed rather less intimidating in person than what he expected, given what he knew of its works, but then, he’d had that reaction before.

    “Thing is, we could use your help,”
    the Mouse continued, with a slightly nervous laugh.

    “My help?” Palpatine repeated. “My help?” he said once more, his expression twisting into something quite incredulous. “After everything you’ve done to me, you have the gall to seek me out and demand my help?”

    well, yes,the Mouse admitted. “Our last two masterminds aren’t working out.”

    Palpatine blinked. He had not expected a creature as ruthless and powerful as the Mouse to simply admit it needed assistance, but perhaps the overgrown rodent had finally realized that there was more to running a galaxy than tired old tropes.

    “If you want my help…then I have demands,” the former Emperor said slowly, wanting to see just how far the Mouse was willing to go to secure his services.

    “Alright, Sheev. What are they?”


    “The return of my essence transfer abilities,” Palpatine growled. That had been the first, and most painful of the things stripped from him, and if the Mouse would not give him at least that much—

    Done. Is that all?

    Palpatine blinked. He…hadn’t expected that to be so easy. Clearly the Mouse needed him more than he’d originally thought.

    “A fleet of Star Destroyers with enough firepower and material to take back my galaxy and crush any who stand before me!”

    Sounds fair.”

    “A planet of my own, with a vast throne room suitable for my power,” the Sith Lord said.

    Easy enough.

    “A chance to demonstrate the extent of my power by wiping out an enemy fleet singlehandedly,” Palpatine added, thinking that this might be the point at which the Mouse finally balked. To his surprise, however…

    “That can be arranged.”


    …the Mouse agreed.

    Archer exchanged an uneasy glance with Palpatine. Even he was beginning to wonder if there was more going on than could be seen, and he’d never been the best at reading situations.

    “That Snoke was simply a clone – a puppet used by me – to bring about the downfall of the son of Skywalker!” Palpatine probed, smirking as he thought about the irony of a Munn being his servant, given the identity of his former Master.

    OK.”

    That every last being who shares the blood of Skywalker will perish!” the Sith Lord demanded, sure that this, if nothing else, would be the Mouse’s limit.

    “Already planning on it,”
    came the reply, much to the old man’s carefully hidden shock.

    “…that the scavenger girl will fall to the Dark Side, or die opposing me!” Palpatine pressed.

    “Sounds like a plan.”


    “I…” the old Sith Lord trailed off, unable to come up with any more demands.

    “How about bringing back a figure from the past to rally the galaxy against good old Sheev here?” Archer suggested, just to draw out this farce of a negotiation. “It isn’t victory if your opponent isn’t a worthy one, right?”

    “Yes, yes,” Palpatine agreed. “Well, Mouse?”

    “Sure thing, Sheev!”


    “And this? Luke Skywalker’s disappearance from the galaxy at large was because of me all along!”

    “Doable.”


    "A twist. A twist where one of the protagonists is related to me," said Palpatine, certain that here, at last, the Mouse would break.

    “Consider it done.”


    “I…”

    Anything else you want, Sheev?”

    "A daily sacrifice of interns to sustain my continued existence."

    "We have a surplus of those anyway,”
    came the response, prompting Palpatine to suggest something he had previously considered utterly impossible.

    "Complete liberty to take whatever jobs I please outside of your...empire."

    “You know I can’t do that, Sheev,”
    the Mouse responded severely, with the old Sith Lord sighing. It had been worth a shot, at least. “If that’s all…”

    “If you’re taking requests, could you spare some staff to help this... agency?" Archer asked, not even certain he believed it would happen.

    “I could loan you Captain Marvel?”
    the Mouse asked, seeming uncertain.

    "I... think we don't need another hero," EMIYA said, conscious of a hollow pit of dismay forming in his stomach. He rallied. "However, janitorial staff would be incredibly helpful."

    "Ah. We'll send along some Stormtroopers then. We have a surplus of those too,"
    the Mouse said agreeably. “Anything else?”

    “…not that I can think of,” Archer replied.

    “Sheev?”

    The old man shook his head, his expression full of puzzlement and wonder.

    “Then kneel and say the words.”


    “…is that really necessary?” Palpatine questioned, frowning. “After all, with all that you’ve offered me, what reason would I have to—”

    Kneel and say the words.”

    Palpatine staggered as if struck, one of his legs giving out from under him as he fell to one knee, his breath ragged.

    “I…”

    The Mouse looked at him expectantly.

    “What is thy bidding, my Master?”


    "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

  11. #11
    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
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    Should have grabbed a shot of Mickey from Kingdom Hearts. He's comes already dressed as Sith.

    Gundam-a-thon Status: 0079 Zeta ZZ Char's Counterattck War In the Pocket F91 Stardust Memories Victory G Gundam Wing Endless Waltz 8th MS After War X Turn A SEED 00 Unicorn AGE Reconguista The Orgin Thunderbolt IBO

    DONE!!!!!! 4 years, 1 week.

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  12. #12
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Black Sword's Avatar
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    This is pure comedy gold. I also find it hilarious that Archer is more willing to help Palpatine than Jar Jar. It's almost like he has standards or something!

    How about.... a pack of unemployed Couerls from Final Fantasy attempt to blast him and do 999,999 damage repeatedly, so he throws them into the CATS movie in revenge?
    Quote Originally Posted by eddyak View Post
    That thread has simultaneously respawned my disgust for 4chan, and ripped away some of what little hope I have left for humanity.

    Was still hilarious, though.
    The first time I was overwhelmed by anime cuteness
    Quote Originally Posted by Black Sword View Post

    Oh my God they look like adorable kittens I want to take them home with me!

  13. #13
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    While I do like the end line (and picture), and appreciate the effort you've gone to in order for Palpatine to sound correct (which, as the prequels show, is no easy feat), this chapter I like a little less than the previous ones; it seems more of an anti-Disney rant than something that focuses on the story's premise.

    . . . Ah, well - not every chapter can strike gold. Better luck next time?
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  14. #14
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Black Sword's Avatar
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    I disagree, Kieran. Alf established from the first chapter that named characters have tried to use this service to squirm out of contracts. Besides, the sequels were horrible.
    Quote Originally Posted by eddyak View Post
    That thread has simultaneously respawned my disgust for 4chan, and ripped away some of what little hope I have left for humanity.

    Was still hilarious, though.
    The first time I was overwhelmed by anime cuteness
    Quote Originally Posted by Black Sword View Post

    Oh my God they look like adorable kittens I want to take them home with me!

  15. #15
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Chapter 4: The Caverns Below

    After the Mouse had surprisingly kept its word and dropped off a squad of Stormtroopers at the Agency’s door, Archer had promptly set them to work cleaning up the place, as well as at least attempting to manually remove the remaining physical artifacts of Dracula’s time in power – including the oversized portrait of the Master of Monsters which loomed behind his service window.

    He didn’t imagine they’d have much success, given that reshaping the very fabric of reality had failed to do so, but life liked to surprise him, as he was reminded when the chrome-plated captain of the group reported to him that after removing the painting, they’d discovered a hidden passageway.

    ‘What is this, a villainous lair?’
    he’d almost scoffed, except that before he gave voice to his opinion, he remembered the nature of the previous operator of the Agency. It would be just like him to have a lair…

    “Send a squad and—” he began, only to pause. “Actually, I’d better go check this out myself, just in case Dracula left any other pleasant surprises behind. Could you man the desk while I’m away? I know we’re closed at the moment, but some of our would-be clients lack the basics of reading comprehension. Or civility.”

    “Yes, sir,” the trooper confirmed. “Several of my subordinates have already been dispatched to investigate what lies beyond this room. I’ll com them to expect you.”

    “Thank you, Captain,” Archer said, before making his way over to the hole in the wall that the painting had covered. A hole which would comfortably fit even him, with some evidence of what seemed like melted hinges along the bottom.

    ‘Was the painting supposed to swing down and serve as a ramp up?’
    he wondered, glancing down at the surprisingly large pile of rubble that had resulted after the troopers had employed to using explosives to remove the painting. ‘Or even…stairs?’

    But then, how was one supposed to access them? There was no switch. No…

    ‘Wait a minute…’ H
    e remembered some odd mechanisms built into the throne, and a rack of torches along one wall that had seemed rather out of place, both of which had vanished when he’d turned the audience chamber into what it was today. ‘Don’t tell me…’

    Archer had the sinking feeling that what he’d assumed was the be-all, end-all of the Agency was merely an antechamber into something much vaster, and in his rush to change things to his liking, he’d accidentally removed the means to unlock the way into the rest of it.

    ‘…I hate puzzle dungeons,’ he groused silently, hopping up into the passage. `It’s one thing to deal with them in a game, but I’m trying to work here!’ Even so, there was a small, traitorous part of him who found this business of hidden passages and clever mechanisms rather refreshing, a change from the day to day business of ruthlessly cleaning up after humanity’s mistakes or doing paperwork. It made him feel almost like he was still alive, and that there was something to look forward to in his existence beyond the prospect of eternally slaving away doing…whatever Alaya wished of him.

    Inside the tunnel, there were no torches, no windows, no means of illumination built into the walls, only strangely uneven stairs, as if actively trying to inconvenience anyone who needed to see in order to keep their footing – something that privately made him thankful that the Stormtroopers who had gone ahead of him had left some glowsticks on the ground to mark the path.

    Said thankfulness almost immediately evaporated once he emerged out of the other end of the passage to find himself in…

    ‘Oh, don’t tell me…’


    …an even more grandiose audience chamber than the one he’d remodeled, with an entire section for hundreds of beings to sit or stand, an ornate red carpet, and grand-stained glass windows that would be the envy of even Notre Dame, all framing a surprisingly plain-looking, if comfortable, throne.

    Honestly, he’d half-expected the Lord of the Night to have forged a throne from the melted down swords of his enemies, but he supposed it went to show that even monsters valued comfort over style.
    It appeared this was Dracula’s actual throne room, the richly illuminated grand audience chamber the vampire employed when he felt like reigning over proceedings in his full glory.

    ‘What the hell did I remodel then? Dracula’s casual sitting room?’
    Archer thought incredulously. He’d thought that was grand enough, but apparently the place below had been the room the Lord of the Night used when he wasn’t feeling up to being quite as ostentatious as usual.

    Up ahead, he saw several stormtroopers – four in all, presumably the scouts who had gone on ahead – with each standing near a rather elaborate door to the side of the room.

    “Sir!” a Stormtrooper saluted as he approached. “There are additional passages behind these doors. Given our lack of number, however, it seemed advisable to hold here until you arrived.”

    “That was wise,” he agreed. “We are going to need to make a full survey of this place at some point, but that can wait until we bring up more troops.” This was, after all, something originally built by Dracula, and it wasn’t a good idea to underestimate a vampire – or a vampire’s domain. “I get the feeling that going about carelessly might lead to needless death, and that’s not why I keep you around.”

    “Appreciated, sir,” the trooper vocalized, with Archer blinking as he processed the unpleasant implications behind the words.

    ‘Did they think I was going to just send them to their deaths?’
    He wondered. He supposed that if he were in charge of a Galactic Empire, with nigh endless reserves of manpower, then throwing bodies at whatever problems he encountered until they went away would be a viable tactic, but all he ran was a Job Placement Agency – one whose structure was apparently far vaster and more complex than he’d imagined. ‘If I hadn’t assumed that what I had seen was all there was, I would have discovered this room much earlier, and who knows what else…’

    “Report back to the main room for now,” the Counter-Guardian instructed. “I have a few things I want to try here, and I’m not sure it’s quite safe for others to be in here while I’m working.”

    “Roger that. Clearing out.”

    He said the same thing to each of the troopers as he passed them, with each of them saluting and heading back towards the passage at the far side of the room. And then he turned towards the throne, the first thing that anyone who came through the passageway would see.

    ‘Yes. I can imagine the impression it would make to emerge from a dark tunnel going who knows where into this cavernous chamber filled with light…’


    As he mused, his footsteps carried him closer and closer to the empty throne until he found himself standing before it, wondering what it would feel like to sit in it and look out upon a vast crowd of subjects and supplicants.

    ‘Well, it’s not like anyone will mind if I try it out, right…?’
    he asked.

    Since no fell omen or sign of impending doom made itself known, the Counter Guardian figured he might as well go for it. Even if something were to happen to this instance of him, Alaya would just dispatch another copy, so it wasn’t as if he had much to lose.

    …this was another reason he’d ordered the stormtroopers to clear out, since he figured if there was an effect, it would probably be limited to the throne room.

    With him having steeled himself for the worst, it was rather anti-climactic that nothing happened after he turned and plopped himself upon the throne. The ceiling didn’t start to collapse. The floor didn’t fall out from under him. Monsters weren’t released into the room to challenge his presence.

    Nothing.

    He didn’t feel any different either, any more prone to ranting about mongrels and filthy low-lifes, or asking if there would be any worthy of challenging him or merely women and children.

    …though he supposed it wasn’t really fair to use Gilgamesh as his example how a King acted. Artoria had been a King once as well, after all, and by all accounts had done a fair job, given how Camelot was remembered. Sure, there had been the whole debacle with Lancelot, the whole uprising of and being killed by Mordred, and destroying her own Kingdom in a civil war, but eh…no one was perfect.
    He certainly wasn’t.

    As for how he’d act as a king…

    “What…is a job applicant?” he asked of the empty chamber, pretending he held a goblet of wine in one hand. He didn’t know why – it just felt natural. Now, what would be the appropriate – ah yes, he knew. “A miserable pile of secrets!”

    It was true enough too, given that his average client couldn’t actually communicate with him through writing or via the spoken word, and the few who could were usually hiding things that would make it difficult to place them if so.

    Honestly, given the space available, he was strongly tempted to simply move his operations up here, though it was true it would need a bit of modernization, since it would probably be somewhat counterproductive for him to perch upon a throne, looking down at those who came to him for help. That, and it wouldn’t be enjoyable, since he wasn’t the type to lord over others.

    Never had been really.

    ‘At least the acoustics in this room are good,’
    he thought. That part wouldn’t need remodeling. The height and the illumination were good, too. He just needed to install some modern conveniences, which he didn’t imagine would be too hard.

    As he’d done with the audience chamber below, he began by envisioning the changes he wanted to see and willed it to be so, watching as reality shifted around him to accommodate his expectations. Or didn’t shift around him in this case.

    “Eh?” he remarked. “That didn’t happen last time.”

    Perhaps, since it was a larger chamber, he needed to have a clearer image, or to project his will more strongly.

    ‘If I cannot do the job I have been assigned in my current room, imagine one in which I could,’
    he told himself, visualizing the room as he desired it to be, a room set up for efficient, modern operations – something which processed more than mere Agency. Something like a Department of Monstrous Vocations.

    Synchronization.


    Analysis.


    Determining the ideology of creation.


    Envisioning the process of creation.


    Realization.


    In a moment, he’d fleshed out what he wanted, had perceived what would be ideal, and how it would be created, replicating a process of weeks or months in moments as he imposed his vision of the world upon the one before him.

    “Eh?”

    Yet, once again, nothing happened. The throne room remained stubbornly as it was, as if he hadn’t tried to alter it at all.

    ‘Something’s wrong,’
    he thought. This was considerably more difficult than it should be, considering his was the only will acting upon this place.

    …unless it wasn’t.

    ‘It sounds absurd when I say that, but if the impossible has been eliminated, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be true…’
    That was Holmes’ approach to things, and if it worked well enough for the famous detective, then he figured it would work well enough for him, even if he was no Holmes.

    This time, instead of forming a vision of what he wanted to see, he reached out with his will in search of whatever was helping the castle to maintain its form, and quickly found that it wasn’t exactly a mind that opposed him, so much as a series of whispers from all around. Echoes from a collective of minds that remembered how something should be. How it had always been. How it would always be, even if it was destroyed.

    The collective unconscious didn’t want this to change because…

    ‘…this is Dracula’s castle. Not just a symbol of his power, but a world bound to his very existence – a part of his legend. So long as he exists, every stone, every beam, every passage – every room – retains a memory of what he wanted it to be…’


    Knowing that, then perhaps the reason he’d been able to modify the earlier room to such an extent was because it was merely the “sitting room” or rather, a room that Dracula had put to use for many things in his time. Modifying other rooms would probably be possible, but it wouldn’t be as simple as overwriting the current state of things with what he wanted.

    No. He’d have to work with the Castle, if he wanted to do much about that. Or have the stormtroopers bring in materials and do some construction the old-fashioned way, but something told him that might lead to somewhat poor outcomes.

    An errant thought crossed his mind, and he decided to act on it, remembering the part of Vlad’s legend that had led to him becoming the basis for Dracula.

    ‘I wonder,’
    he mused, reaching into his inner world – the field of swords he carried with him, and imagining that imposed upon the floor of the Throne Room.

    To his surprise, it worked.

    Embedded in the floor were countless blades – Noble Phantasms of every make and era – just as was the case when he manifested his reality marble, even though he hadn’t.

    ‘Huh…that’s something,’
    he thought to himself, wondering how this could be.

    Still, he probably didn’t have the time to investigate now, since the agency needed to open up sooner or later, and the longer he waited, the rowdier the monsters outside would become, until they were literally beating on the door.

    …not that they could get in unless he opened it, but the sound insulation left something to be desired. That, and he didn’t exactly want his new hires dealing with monsters, since he had the vague sense that stormtoopers might not provide a wonderful customer service experience.

    ‘I’ll just send them to explore the rest of the Castle while I work,’
    he told himself, rising from the throne with a swish of his mantle. That seemed a suitable job for them, given their gear and their skillsets, and if they could take up the burden of exploration, that would be less for him to do.

    Even if there wouldn’t be this extra work to handle if they hadn’t begun helping him in the first place, which brought to mind the old Chinese saying that phrased politely, translated to “when you get help, you get busier,” and more rudely translated to “stop helping me, you’re making things worse!”

    ‘Still, now that they’ve found that this place is bigger than it seemed, I can’t very well just leave it alone.’


    He’d never been good at leaving well enough alone, he reflected, even in life.

    …even as he took a step into the passageway, and found that it had gone dark, with all the glowsticks left behind from before having vanished.

    ‘…did the troopers take the glowsticks with them when they headed back?’


    If so, that was rather rude of them. And after they’d seemed so polite, too!

    He was going to have words with the squad about this, he told himself, even as he projected a glowing blade before him to light the way, since he didn’t want to stumble and fall down a very, very long series of stairs.

    He might be a Counter Guardian now, and this place a piece of legend, but that didn’t mean he could escape the pull of gravity – or that it wouldn’t hurt if he tumbled down and down and down, till he eventually came to a stop at the dead end that awaited him.

    ‘What? A dead end?’
    Archer thought incredulously. The passage didn’t branch, so he hadn’t gone the wrong way. Had the troopers sealed it up? No…that would be a bit much. ‘But where’s the opening?’

    Sighing, he looked around, scanning the walls and floor for any clues of how to get back down to the renovated chamber, so he could actually start doing business for the day.

    Sure enough, he found something – an odd indentation along the right side of the wall that seemed like something should go inside it.

    ‘Oh no, not a fetch quest…’
    he groaned, trying to simply will the way to open, though as he’d half-expected and half-feared, nothing happened. ‘Fine. I’ll go back up to the rest of the castle and explore until I find whatever it is that I need to get back down. How long could it possibly take?’




    The answer, Archer would discover after what seemed like hours and hours of walking about, was a very long time indeed, with his wanderings taking him through a grand library that the Directors of the Clock Tower would kill for, a series of alchemical laboratories much like those of Atlas, a Dance Hall of some kind, a museum, a clock tower (one that was rather anachronistic, given everything else), an armory stocked with all manner of weaponry, quarters suitable for soldiers and servants, more lavish apartments no doubt meant for the lord of the castle, and eventually down into a series of underground caverns, lit only by a strange green glow coming from the walls.

    The last – and largest – of the caverns was mostly filled with an underground lake, whose waters teeming with strange, tentacled creatures that reminded him of some of the worst missions he’d been called upon to undertake as a Counter Guardian.

    Horrors, he thought they were called, reflecting that they were some of the first living things he’d seen in this castle.

    Why were they here?

    Why were there rotting corpses from all variety of oceanic beasts littering the shoreline? Corpses which suggested they hadn’t been attacked or preyed upon by the tentacled things in the lake?

    And why, in the name of sanity itself was there, of all things, a Spanish galleon run aground at the end of the path?

    …a galleon whose deck still gleamed with golden coins and jewels of all shapes and sizes, with something like a throne perched amidst the scattered treasure.

    ‘Rin would have loved this…’
    he thought to himself. ‘Either way, since this is the end of the line, I’m betting the key to open the door is on that ship.’

    And so it was, with Archer finding a cache of blue jewels cut into approximately the right shape to fit the indentation amidst the many scattered treasures.

    As he turned to go though, he saw that dozens – no – hundreds, of tentacled beasts had risen out of the water and were floating over to his position. In no more than a minute, they’d be upon him.

    ‘But why…?’


    It didn’t make sense.

    It didn’t make sense for there to be something living down here, unless…

    ‘…this place is also considered part of the agency,’
    he realized. ‘And these are my clients.’

    Meaning the corpses…

    ‘Damn. Things actually died waiting to see me.’


    Now he felt rather bad. He hadn’t imagined there was this much to the castle, and his ignorance had led to lives being cut short – even if they were only the lives of monsters.

    Still, the throng of tentacled horrors rushing at him wasn’t something he wanted to deal with. Not right now. Not after everything he’d been through to find the keys to get around the castle.

    Even so…

    ‘Let’s just get this over with.’


    He pulled up his terminal, letting out a silent breath of relief as it appeared, typed in the word “tentacle” and assigned all of the monsters coming at him to the first job that popped up.

    …it was only once they vanished, leaving behind only a massive shark swimming in the remarkably clear water of the lake that he realized that he’d sent them all to work for some hentai studio.

    ‘…whatever. They got a job. Which is more than some can say,’
    he told himself, shaking his head.

    “As for you, Mister Megalodon,” he said, turning his attention to the shark in the waters below, “I’ll deal with you later.”

    The only response he got was a flick of the shark’s tail, as it briefly broke the surface of the water.

    Archer chose to take that as a yes.

    After the day he’d had, it had better be.
    "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

  16. #16
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Black Sword's Avatar
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    …it was only once they vanished, leaving behind only a massive shark swimming in the remarkably clear water of the lake that he realized that he’d sent them all to work for some hentai studio.
    Well, that's a lot of happy customers, I guess?
    Quote Originally Posted by eddyak View Post
    That thread has simultaneously respawned my disgust for 4chan, and ripped away some of what little hope I have left for humanity.

    Was still hilarious, though.
    The first time I was overwhelmed by anime cuteness
    Quote Originally Posted by Black Sword View Post

    Oh my God they look like adorable kittens I want to take them home with me!

  17. #17
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    And now we have a much better idea of which incarnation of Dracula we're dealing with . . .

    Better yet, from the description, it seems like the Symphony of the Night one specifically, not merely Castlevania's; even leaving aside the classic line (and EMIYA really should have Traced that goblet ), the cavern/pirate ship level sounds like the one I remember. And even if I'm wrong, kudos to you for the wealth of details. This is where things get fun, for me.

    . . . I do have a couple of questions, though. First, that wouldn't be Captain Phasma, would it? The armour design is right . . .

    And second, given the difference in management styles, anybody want to take bets on how long it'll be before the First Order has yet another group of defecting stormtroopers on their hands?
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  18. #18
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    .. . . I do have a couple of questions, though. First, that wouldn't be Captain Phasma, would it? The armour design is right . . .
    It is, yes.

    And second, given the difference in management styles, anybody want to take bets on how long it'll be before the First Order has yet another group of defecting stormtroopers on their hands?
    Haha, not that they're in contact with the rest of the Corps.
    "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

  19. #19
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfheimwanderer View Post
    It is, yes.
    Excellent - as absolutely hysterical as her fates were in Episodes VII and VIII, I did feel she was criminally underutilised. I mean, a non-Jedi with a specialised uniform? Especially given the kind of gear the First Order was handing out to stormtroopers? She must be an absolute badass . . . Pity we barely got to see it.



    Haha, not that they're in contact with the rest of the Corps.
    Which might buy them some time - but sooner or later, The Mouse would come looking for them; and as was just demonstrated, you don't want The Mouse to have to come looking for you.

    . . . Although, if they submit the proper paperwork beforehand, they might actually get away with it. I've no idea what the turnover rate is actually like at, say, the parks - but one assumes there's a certain level of management's being accustomed to employees leaving, even in groups; particularly if they have a surplus at the moment. And Disney does sell enough (admittedly high-priced) replica gear that the troop could probably equip themselves reasonably well, at least enough for the sort of work Shirou requires . . .

    And Phasma herself doesn't appear in Episode IX, so it's not like she'd be missed, either. As long as she made herself available for future work, and maybe accepted a wardrobe change, I doubt they'd mind . . .
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette

  20. #20
    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
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    You know, I was hoping it would be a Bloodstained reference, even though Castlevania is way more memorable.

    Gundam-a-thon Status: 0079 Zeta ZZ Char's Counterattck War In the Pocket F91 Stardust Memories Victory G Gundam Wing Endless Waltz 8th MS After War X Turn A SEED 00 Unicorn AGE Reconguista The Orgin Thunderbolt IBO

    DONE!!!!!! 4 years, 1 week.

    Bonus Rounds: Gundam-san Escalflowne Build/Try/Divers

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