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Demon Jazz and the Incredible Carnivorous Cauliflower

It was suppertime at Dr. Ferris lab. The good doctor was going about her usual evening tasks, cleaning the room and popping a few potatoes into the oven when it happened.

She opened the breadbox and screamed as dozens of tiny forms popped out. They flew around the room on tiny bat wings, squeaking and drooling. They were ugly as sin-so ugly they were almost cute, like Aria’s troll collection. But then one of them flew right into the doctors’ soup, which shocked her into action.

“Why you little *******!” She exclaimed, and grabbed a convenient (and heavy) frying pan. Slamming it into the counter, she squished and smashed almost a dozen of the little monsters. Then, swinging furiously, she waded into the action. Ichor flew everywhere, plastering the walls, the cupboards, and the floor. It looks someone had made the world record for most disgusting sneeze. We have snot on a rampage here, folks. The worst part was when a maimed demon, trying to fly on one wing, took a nosedive into the soup. The Doctors’ fury knew no bounds at that point, and she wasn’t interested in mercy.

Finally, she paused, panting with exertion. Scattered demon’s were trying frantically to get away, while most were crumpled corpses, leaking ichor. “What could be causing this?” She asked out loud. “I can’t imagine…” And then she stopped. A rhythmic thumping could be heard overhead. “Oh, no! It couldn’t be that, could it?” She headed up the stairs.

Going was not easy. Demons were everywhere, swarming over the halls and down the steps. Loud crunches could be heard as she trod heavily up the stairs. It was like walking over cockroaches, only worse. As she reached the door to the room Aria, Arpeggio and Andante shared, she stopped to gape. A foot long Viking sea ship, complete with demon crew and one demon with an eyepatch shouting orders came through the closed door. Tiny oars pushed it through the air, and it started the trip downstairs. Shaking her head, Dr. Ferris turned to the door and listened. The rhythmic pulse was incredibly strong. She could hear an electric guitar, bongos and a blazing sax, all creating incredible (and with that volume, ear shattering,) jazz.

“Open up!” She screamed, pounding on the door. No reply. “Open up now or you’re going to be washing dishes for a month!” The music cut off so quickly it left echoes. Dr. Ferris opened the door.

It was an interesting sight. A semi-typical teenage room. The walls were pitch black, and decorated with various rock and roll posters, and a few cartoons. A bust of Bach sat on the desk, surrounded by books and junk. Arpeggio was lying on the bed with his guitar, his spiky red hair contrasting nicely with the inky pillow. Andante sat on the floor, bongos between his legs. Aria sat at the desk, holding her sax in one hand. They all stared at her in astonishment.

“I didn’t do anything.” Arpeggio said almost automatically.

“He really didn’t.” Andante added as Dr. Ferris scowled at Arpeggio. She transferred her scowl to him.

“You all did something!” She shouted, causing her creations to cringe. “I want you to come with me right now and look at what you’ve done!” And, grabbing Andante’s arm, she hustled them off to view the damage.

“Ewww.” Aria stared in horrified fascination at the kitchen. Long ropes of yellow ichor oozed down the walls, and the floor was absolutely covered with the sticky stuff. Arpeggio stared gape-mouthed at the results of their music, his spiky hair drooping in astonishment. Andante put a hand on the counter, and jerked back with an expression of pure disgust. He tried to wipe off his hand on Arpeggio.

“Hey!” Arpeggio yelped, sidling away from his brother. Dr. Ferris glared at him, and his hair wilted even more.

“Well?” She asked the assembled bioroids. “What are we going to do about this?”

“Hire a house cleaner?” Andante suggested, only half in jest.

“I don’t think cleaners deal with demons, Andante.” Aria said dubiously, lifting a dead demon up by a tattered wing and examining the corpse. “At least, I think these are demons.” She cocked her head to one side. Dr. Ferris sighed.

“There’s also the fact that I am not rich, and you three did this.” She said crisply. “The logical thing to do is for you to clean it up.” All three were aghast at the idea.

“But mom!” Aria protested, glancing around at the devastation. “It would take forever!” Her brothers both chimed in.

“Yeah, c’mon-“

“Mom, we can’t-“

“Enough!” Dr. Ferris shrieked. Circumstances were wearing down her usually considerable patience. “You did this, you get to clean it up, and that’s the end of it!” And she stormed out, presumably to order pizza. The trio stared in gloom at their handiwork.

“Well.” Aria finally said. “Where’s the mop?” And they slowly got started. Before too long, the room was covered in suds. Still, it was taking a long time to get the ichor off the walls. Aria privately thought that the counters would never be the same again.

“Man.” Arpeggio whined. “This sucks. I mean, was I made to be a cleaner?!?”

“Nobody’s sure what you were made for.” Andante muttered. “Comic relief, I suppose. Would you shut up and scrub?”

“I was made to be a lab assistant, Arpeggio!” Aria told him, ignoring Andante. “This is hardly my line of work either!” She punctuated her complaint with a vicious stroke of the mop. Andante sighed, and scrubbed with a will.

“And none of us were meant to do this.” He murmured, and silence descended. It was the truth. Only a month ago they had discovered ‘Song Magic’, the strange ability to create things with music. It had turned out to be a mixed blessing at best, wreaking havoc whenever they played together. And they loved playing together. Fortunately, some songs were benign or had no effects at all, but it was hard to figure out which.

“Well.” Aria surveyed the amount of work done. “At this rate, we should be done in at least six hours.”

Her brothers both groaned.

“Very good.” Dr. Ferris surveyed the thoroughly clean kitchen with a bright smile. Her mood had improved dramatically from last night, probably because of the cleanliness of the kitchen and the presence of take-out Chinese. Aria and Arpeggio grinned, and Andante smiled. They had done an excellent job, especially considering the extent of the devastation. “I’m going to be out for the day, dears.” Aria suddenly noticed the doctor was wearing a skirt and a blouse, quite a departure from her usual blue jeans and lab coat. “There’s a convention in Winnipeg, and I want to be there. Keep the house clean. Other than that, do what you want. Good-bye!” Arpeggio blinked at the quick farewell, and snagged her arm before she could make it out the door.

“Bye mom!” And he gave her a hug. Dr. Ferris laughed, and hugged him back fondly.

“Good-bye, you great lout.” She reached up and tweaked one of his hair spikes. “Be good.”

“Who, me?” He grinned, his eyes glittering. Aria smiled.

“Bye.” She said simply. Andante echoed her.

“Good-bye, dears.” Dr. Ferris smiled at them, and bustled out the door. The trio looked at each other.

“The house to ourselves for the day! Oh whatever shall we do?” Arpeggio asked, gripping his chest in mock terror.

“A rhetorical question, I assume.” Andante replied dryly, looking towards the living room. “Shall we avail ourselves of the CD player?”

“Why, Andante, what a lovely suggestion.” Aria smiled at him, and started to pull out her opera collection.

Six hours later, the CD player had pretty much served its purpose. They had listened all of Aria’s opera collection, the assorted works of Bach (Arpeggio’s favorite) Mozart, Beethoven, the Pet Shop Boys, Genesis, Madonna, Great Big Sea and dozens of others. They were down to about a half-dozen CD’s that no one was particularly keen on, such as the Spice Girls. In fact, Andante was threatening to commit suicide if Arpeggio dared play that.

“You just like their boobs.” He accused his brother irritably. Arpeggio’s hair spiked up indignantly.

“I do not!” He retorted angrily. “I happen to feel they have some genuine talent-“

“Their only talent is between the-“ Aria interrupted.

“Guys, stop!” They both turned to look at her. She was sitting upside down in the love seat, so it was worth looking at. She righted herself quickly. “I think we’ve been at this long enough. Why don’t we go outside?”

“Hey, yeah!” Arpeggio’s eyes brightened. “Let’s go down to the river.”

“And do what? Catch snails?”

“Why not? You got anything better to do?”

“Hmmm.”

Ten minutes later, they were down by the river. Andante and Arpeggio were indeed catching snails, and Aria was sunbathing. The river was incredibly peaceful. Nothing but the chirps of animals and the splashing and laughter of her brothers. So naturally, said brothers got bored.

“This is dull.” Arpeggio complained, plopping down beside Aria and dripping water on her. She frowned slightly and edged away. “I want something to do!” He wrung out one of his hair spikes. Andante rolled his eyes.

“The world is a dull place. You have to make your own excitement.” Andante told him, shaking off water. Aria grimaced.

“Don’t give him ideas, Andante. Come on guys, sunbathe with me. The light’s fine…” Aria pillowed her head on her hands, and closed her eyes. Her brothers looked at her in disgust.

“Dull.” Arpeggio muttered. They sat quietly for a few minutes before he spoke again. “Hey, I was thinking…”

“So that explains that noxious smell.”

“Hunh?”

“Nevermind.” Aria murmured. “What were you thinking about?”

“Weeellll, this is a perfect time to try a little song magic, wouldn’t ya think? Nothing to damage, nobody around. C’mon, let’s do it!” Arpeggio beamed at them, his eyes bright. Andante chewed his lip thoughtfully.

“Well, maybe.” He said dubiously. “We want to be careful.” Then he shrugged. “Oh, hell, why not?”

“Yeah, here we go!” Arpeggio crowed, and started singing.

Little shop, little shop o’ horrors,

Little shop, little shop o’ horrors…

Andante raised an eyebrow and joined in. Aria wasn’t nearly as happy.

“Guys, I think that’s asking for trouble…” Arpeggio grinned.

“Oh c’mon Aria, quite being such a party pooper!” They swung into the chorus.

“Party pooper?!? I never…oh, all right.” And Aria’s soprano voice joined in, rising above the other two. Unnoticed to them, but noticed by someone else, a green mist started collecting…

Aria saw it first. “Umm, guys?” She asked, breaking off the song. But despite her withdrawal, the mist showed no signs of dissipating. “Uh oh.” She muttered, slapping Andante on the side. Her brothers both broke off their song to stare at the magical fog.

“I knew this was a bad idea!” Aria groaned as she tried to penetrate the mist. Was there something in there…? Her question was answered when a twelve foot long tentacle lashed out and snapped her off her feet!

“ARIA!” Arpeggio hollered. Aria screamed in terror as she was confronted with an immense, plant like mouth filled with serrated teeth. Drool oozed over the teeth and down it’s flabby lips.

“FEED ME!” The voice was deep and made her joints rattle. She would have screamed again, but she was having trouble getting air. Reacting on instinct, she reached for the only weapon she had….a vibro-knife in a foot sheath.

“EAT THIS!” She screamed back at it, and drove her knife deep into the tentacle that grasped her. Green fluid spurted out, dousing her in goo and the scent of freshly cut pine. The plant thing roared, and dropped her to the ground, tentacles writhing.

“Aria!” Andante slithered out and pulled her back as the creature struck out wildly. The trio crouched behind the sunbathing rock, panting slightly.

“What are we gonna do?!?” Aria demanded. “We have to destroy that thing! We can’t let it get out in the neighborhood!”

“You said it!” Arpeggio glanced out, and quickly pulled his head back as a tentacle skimmed by. “C’mon, let’s hit it with song magic!”

“You idiot! That’s what started this mess!” Andante practically screamed, shaking his brother hard. Arpeggio pulled free irritably.

“What else have we got?!? C’MON!”

We didn’t start the fire,

It’s been burnin’ since the worlds been turnin’…

Flames erupted, surrounding the monster in a corona of pure hellfire. For once, the Song Magic was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. The creature howled in pain as the fire ripped through it. It lashed out in pain and fury, trying to silence its tormenters, but they were too quick. Dodging its attacks, they kept belting out fire songs, until it finally slumped over, a smoldering mass of vegetation.

The trio stopped to catch their breath. “Man!” Arpeggio gasped. “Did I say something about being bored? Man, I can’t believe I said that!”

“You did.” Andante replied, scowling at him disapprovingly. “You started all of this, you pathetic loser!”

“Loser?!? Go tell it to the trees, you whiner!”

“I rather would, they’re smarter than you!”

“Oh…” Aria slumped down on the sunbathing rock, ignoring her arguing siblings. It had been a long day…

“Well, well, well.” A dark figure murmured from the bushes on the other side of the river. “Now that’s something you don’t see everyday.” The robotic wolf by his side barked quietly in agreement, and the dark armored robot chuckled. He had arrived in time to see the young bioroids singing, and the plant creature appearing. He rubbed the wolfs’ head, thinking. The fire they had created had been most impressive. Very, very powerful… He smiled softly. “Wily’s going to want to hear about this.” He glanced through the bushes one last time, and his gaze was caught be the blond haired girl. “Pretty…” He mused, and then frowned. It didn’t matter. “C’mon Treble. Let’s go.” Bass stood, and headed back to Wily’s Fortress to bring word about these new and powerful robots…

An Interlude at Skull Fortress

“Damn it, Doc, will you listen to me?” Bass snarled, bringing a hand down on the counter. If he weren’t my creator, Bass reflected grimly, I’d have disemboweled the bastard years ago. “Go tell it to Ripley’s Believe it or Not. I have work to do.” Wily crouched over the half-finished body of a new metool, his hair a cloud of dingy gray. “I do not have time for such nonsense!”

“Doc! I’m telling you, it really happened! Doc?” Wily was ignoring him. “Doc! I swear, I’m not going away! I really saw-“

“A group of robots singing up a monster plant? Really Bass.” Wily said disdainfully. “If you were going to lie to me you could at least come up with something more convincing.”

“IT’S NOT A LIE! It’s the truth – Treble! Where the hell have you been?!?” The ferocious metal wolf lowered his ears and looked at Bass like a kicked puppy. “Nevermind. C’mon, Treb, show this lunatic what we found.” His eyes glowed yellow, and the image of a very rotten bone was projected onto the wall. “Not that! The robots, you dumb dog.” The image this time was very clear. Bass glanced at Wily in triumph. The mad scientist had dropped his tools, and was watching the projection. He hissed when he saw the carnivorous plant appear, and hissed again when the trio reduced it to ash. He stood rubbing his chin for a long while. Bass endured it as patiently as he could, but finally he burst out.

“Well?” He tried not to sound sarcastic, but didn’t have much luck. Wily shot him a very dirty look.

“I recognized those robots.” He said, looking hard at Bass. “Did you?”

“No, I’ve never seen them before. Why?” Bass was slightly surprised. Where had Dr. Wily seen those bioroids?

“You remember that robotics conference in Winnipeg?”

“The one you attended incognito? Yeah, I remember. Were they there?”

“No.” He shook his head, smiling. “But Dr. Ferris was. She had pictures of them, her “greatest achievements”, and was showing them off. I remember that. So.” He murmured, staring dreamily into space. “They would make a fine addition to our forces, don’t you think?”

“Yeah. Especially…” Bass cut himself off before he could mention the girl.

“Especially what?”

“Nothing. Are we moving out? I know where the lab is.”

“Yes.” Wily grinned devilishly. “Oh, yes.”

Continue to Chapter 3 of Aria
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