Note: This work is annotated. If you see a word or words decorated with dashed underlines, hover it/them to see its/their 1.
Team Pyrrhic Victory:
- Legato Bluesummers, Trigun (after he demonstrates his powers and before he gets killed, obviously)
- Alexander Anderson, Hellsing (anime version, post final episode)
- Xelloss, Slayers Try (post end of series)
Doing the Challenges in the order of Hard, Easy, Medium, since that seems to be the order that makes the most sense.
(Last year, my team was:
- Vash from Trigun, post debut of #3 gun
- Xelloss from Slayers Try, post series
- Sagara from Full Metal Panic Fumoffu, after episode 5-ish. The Hard Challenge involved me trying to survive for a week in each of their respective anime series. I didn’t think I’d be able to last that long on Gunsmoke, so I surrendered.)
The Hard Challenge:
As your team arrives, there’s an arcing of energy from the gadget that is bringing them to you. This energy hits you in the chest, stopping your heart and knocking you unconscious while your team is still in transit, before they have a chance to react. The mission is for the team to save your life. You’re unconscious, so you can’t ask them to do anything…
(Near Death Experience)
The whole town is lined up, kneeling, in front of the graves they dug for themselves. Some are already dead, thanks to a bullet to the brain. The gun is in my trembling hands, and no matter how much I fight it I know I won’t be able to stop pulling the trigger again and again.
As before, The Voice sounds in my head. “Where is Vash the Stampede?”
How am I supposed to answer him? How do I explain that I switched places with Vash somehow and he’s light years away in a universe where Trigun is just an anime?
My finger twitches, and another casualty falls into the desert sand.
(/Near Death Experience)
Xelloss pokes the prone body a few times with his staff. “Hm. I don’t think that was supposed to happen.” Meanwhile, Anderson and Legato make their way over, having landed in a tangled heap from the violent transfer.
“What sort of devilry is this?” Anderson exclaims. Legato says nothing, contemplating the almost dead girl on the floor. Then he turns his gaze to Xelloss and tries to probe the mind of a Mazoku.
“Well, it’s sort of a long story,” Xelloss gives the body another poke, “but since we don’t have much time I’ll be brief.”
I brush the dust out of my eyes, coughing and sneezing. It takes a while for my eyes to adjust to the sliver of light filtering through the small window, but I don’t need it to know that Legato’s broken bones are sticking out of his skin in a rather gruesome manner by now. I didn’t exactly have the leisure to get him out in a safe manner as the Plant more or less freaked out at finding out what happened to the town. Even though I somehow got the two of us to our current locale, I couldn’t be sure whether or not we were still alive due to any effort on my part; after all, Legato himself had no desire to die unless the order came from Knives.
Legato watches me through his bangs as I squeeze through the tiny bomb shelter looking for materials I can use as a makeshift cast. It doesn’t take me long to find just about everything: a first aid kit, some bits of wood, cans and preserves, and even stale but potable water and some change of clothes. Too bad the well-prepared citizen I was looting couldn’t have expected that a mind-controlling psychopath would make me commit genocide on the whole town.
And yet, here I was, ready to nurse said psychopath back to health. As much as I hated Vash for his pacifism and wanted to put a stop to this insanity, when faced with the actual prospect of murdering a fellow human being, my conscience wouldn’t let me.
After all, I was supposed to love my neighbor.
And, right now, Legato was my neighbor.
I sit down next to him, gathering what was left of my resolve. “I hope you know how to set bones, because I sure can’t.”
Anderson, having been briefed on what’s going on by Xelloss, crosses his arms. “And we’re saving her wretched life—why?”
Xelloss puts a gloved hand over his mouth in a show of obviously fake dismay. “My, my, Mr. Priest, that’s not very religious of you, is it?” While Anderson seethes, Xelloss gives Legato a rather unabashed once-over. “You’ve been awfully quiet, Mr. Bluesummers. What are you thinking?”
Legato keeps his eyes hidden under his bangs. “You—aren’t human.”
Xelloss clicks his tongue. “You shouldn’t be so surprised.”
Legato still doesn’t look up. “What do you want?”
Xelloss points to the unresponsive form of the girl sprawled on the floor. “Why don’t we hurry before it’s too late?”
Irony sucks. But I suppose I should have seen this coming—that is, having survived most of the week without Legato trying to kill me (because I made a useful gopher girl, or something), I am now staring down the barrel of Wolfwood’s gun.
“I saw what happened,” he tells me. “Needle-noggin got sucked up in that whirlwind, and then you fell through.”
What he says next is lost in the roar of the gun as he fires. Funny, it doesn’t hurt anything as much as I expect it to—
Light. I see light. I only have one coherent thought that comes out as an agonized groan. “Ow.”
“Wow, that actually worked! I didn’t think it would, her being rather unconscious, but I guess something was still ticking upstairs.”
The purple blur in the distance isn’t any easier to make out, but I can recognize that 2 anywhere. “Xelloss?”
“Hello! Good to see you again!” Xelloss greets, his volume a bit too loud even in this sort of setting. “And you’re welcome.”
“Guh?” I ask, my brain not having yet turned around.
“What does she need to thank you for, demon?” A grumpy-sounding person asked with a heavy Scottish brogue; it took me a while to realize that it was Anderson, and was surprised that I could 3. “All you did was order us around. Blue-hair here did all the work.”
Summary: After some, um, convincing from Xelloss (because he is the most probable cause of the Medium challenge, and wants me alive at least until then), Legato revives me via telepathic (alas, sigh) CPR. Anderson trashes the house trying to “exorcise” Xelloss moments thereafter. Hard Challenge passed by the barest of margins.
The Easy Challenge:
That’s right – you’ve got a crazy and slightly idiotic European supervillain to worry about. Your mission is to do something about the Robot Controller and save the city. (For bonus points, don’t damage the robots. For more bonus points, come up with, and convince him to use, a less-idiotic code name.)
I’m staring at the television in a rather dumbfounded manner. “This has got to be some kind of prank.”
“Nope!” Xelloss, to be irritating I suppose, has seated himself upside-down on the ceiling. “Mr. Robot Controller is quite serious about world domination.”
“Then he should have just ordered the robots to kill us all,” Legato opines as he devours a 4.
Anderson just cracks his knuckles loud enough for the entire room to hear and disappears in a spray of holy writ.
“Wait—” I begin, but he’s already gone. I sigh. “Ah, crud. He’s so going to level everything in the area.”
“I’ll keep an eye on him,” Xelloss volunteers, smiling.
I shake my head. “No, it’s all right. Giving him stuff to destroy might mellow him out a bit.”
“You sure you don’t want to be left alone with Mr. Bluesummers?” Xelloss asks with an exaggerated eyebrow wiggle.
“Quite,” I stutter out, blushing all the way to my ears.
Summary: Working alone Anderson destroys Robot Conductor—as well as pretty much whatever else that gets in his way. (Between his wrecking ball tendencies and Legato’s eating habits, I am so going broke afterwards.) Easy Challenge is a piece of cake to overcome. It can be beat solo by any of the team members, but I picked Anderson for the task since Legato and Xelloss (despite his ability to win me more points by coming up with better evil villain names) would in all likelihood proceed to use the technology to commit worse evils.
The Medium Challenge:
So, instead of three characters, you have six. Any pacifists on your team have been mirrored as war-mongers, and vice versa…
The mission is to clean up the mess that this makes.
I emerge from a nice nap to find Team Pyrrhic Victory and their clones in a Mexican standoff. “Um—” I begin, wondering if I was in another one of those weird dream-loops that I tend to have. (Or, more likely, one of my team members got to me and I was dying, again.)
“It was the mirror!” One Xelloss exclaims, making a move towards me that almost breaks the uneasy truce.
“The what?” I ask, before I realize what he’s talking about.
“Oh, poo.” The other Xelloss pouts. “It was supposed to be a secret.”
Pretty much everybody else starts to talk at the same time, and among the jumbled bickering I manage to decipher that it’s not so much the clones as the originals that are the main cause of trouble. Anderson and Legato took an immediate and intense dislike (to say the least) of their counterparts, and while Mirror-Anderson and Mirror-Legato were much more mellow (to say the least), they weren’t about to just lie down and die, either. When Mirror-Xelloss joined the battle in an attempt to organize the mirror-clones, Xelloss threw his lot in on Team Pyrrhic Victory’s side “just to be fair”, or so he claims.
I sit down in front of the computer, nursing an immense headache but secretly happy that I didn’t go with Vash again this year; with my luck, I would have ended up with Knives as his mirror-clone and caused the end of the world. The scene remained a deadlock, for now, but I knew I had to think (and act) fast. To my misfortune, my mounting panic made it all but impossible to come up with any ideas. A few frustrated headdesks later, I finally came up with suggesting lunch, and the general consensus seemed commendable, so the entire group (me included) was whisked away to the nearest diner.
As we sit down to eat, I give the issue some more thought, fighting the temptation to just sulk in self-pity as there was very little I could do either way. Especially worrying is what would happen after the mission ended; from what I remembered of the Slayers series, the clones are real, living, breathing people, and destroying the mirror only created more shards that could spawn yet more mirror-images. (…good God, what would happen if a Mirror Clone looked into one of those shards…?) Definitely not letting anybody back into the apartment, no sir.
Half an idea begins to form in my mind. “Say, Xelloss—”
Xelloss put a finger to his lips. “Shh. Mustn’t let the others know. They’d never agree to it.”
“Agree to what?” Mirror-Xelloss demands, his face sullen.
“That’s a secret,” me and Xelloss answer back at the same time, causing Xelloss to smile even wider.
“My, I’m a bad influence on you,” he says, waving a hand to turn Anderson’s bayonets into plastic butter knives.
Summary: With a little “help” from Xelloss, everybody (clones included) get sent back to their home dimensions to work out their differences there however they like. As payment for said “help”, Xelloss takes all the mirror shards, no doubt to wreak more havoc. I’m left with a trashed apartment, a couple of maxed out credit cards, and the world’s worst headache. Medium Challenge – A questionable pass.
I realize that the most realistic outcome does involve me dying in some horrible manner, but I’m not big on death (or losing, for that matter).
-“Dot”, who has in all likelihood overestimated Xelloss’ level of cooperation and reliability again, but at least this year she didn’t try to blackmail him old tapes of Barney
Xelloss: And thank goodness she didn’t! (There are some things too evil even for monsters!)
- Like this!
- Since I can’t speak Japanese and Akira Ishida can’t speak that much English, I’m stuck with the David Moo version of Xelloss. Whee.
- I don’t remember what Anderson’s English voice sounds like, but in the graphic novel his accent is so thick that it’s very difficult to comprehend even for someone fluent in English.
- Anime Legato has a massive sweet tooth, whereas Manga Legato is just a glutton.