[Book IV, Act I, Scene I. Asphyxia. ALICE, CHASTITY, HARVEY, STUMP and AUSTIN are here, on a carriage, with HARVEY driving. The carriage is now a wreck, a victim of ALICE's enthusiastic driving earlier in the trip, with broken lights, scraped wings, unsteady wheels, traumatised horses etc., not to mention pale and tired passengers. There are some town guards here, but they simply wave the party in through the gates.]

Alice : This looks like a pretty big place, how are we going to find out who wanted us here?

[At that very moment, the carriage passes beneath a huge banner that is hung across the street and reads : "Asphyxia Welcomes Hierophantic Knights Ultra Secret Symposium 1280".]

Alice : They could be anywhere!

Chastity : [Pointing at the banner. Sighs] Why don't we check in there. Maybe we'll get some clues as to why we're here there.

Alice : It's attached to two buildings - so which should we check? The closed down laundrette or the hotel?

Chastity : [Looking at the state of everyone in the carriage] Well, we could really do with cleaning our clothes, so it's a shame the laudrette is closed down. Maybe the hotel knows of another one. Let's go there.

Stump : Great idea, Sister, but I'm sure your clothes are perfect.

[Everyone gets off the carriage, which immediately falls to pieces, and nonchalantly enter the "Fleapit Arms Hotel". There is a large lobby, with a desk that has a similar banner to the one outside. Sitting here wearing a nice suit is JANE DANE, who is surrounded by folders and badges, and she is talking to two other women, JUSILLA and SPRUCE, who are clearly giving her a hard time.]

Alice : Hey, maybe they might know where the symposium is?

Harvey : Excuse me ladies [bowing to the three] Could you tell us where we might find a laundrette in this town?

Spruce : [Turns to Harvey with a lazy look] No, but I could tell you where you could find someone your size that you can kill, so you can take his clothes.

Jane : [Clearly very flustered] No, no, sorry, there won't be any killing here?

Jusilla : [With a voice that is a curious mix of little girl and sex maniac] Not even a teeny weeny bit? Not even very, very naughty people?

Jane : No!

Harvey : [Bows to Jane] I quite agree my dear, killing a man for his clothes is quite unnecessary, as long as there is a decent tailor in this town! [Looks at the badges] I say, whats going on here, my dear? And secondly, we all need accomodation for a few nights.

Jane : [Trying to cover the badges, which are clearly name tags, with the two on top reading "Sebastian Lite" and "Tara Turquoise"] You'll have to go somewhere else, I'm afraid, the hotel is full on account of the - the [looks up at the banner behind her] on account of a meeting.

[JUSILLA starts walking between the party members, making no secret that she is checking each of them out.]

Spruce : It depends on what kind of clothes the man is wearing. Flares, for example, deserve death, while a mangled high class suit like this [rubs Austin's sleeve] probably deserves it too, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Jusilla : [From behind Alice] Spruce! This one has something special. [Slowly wraps her arms around Alice, still behind her] Oooh! Something very special!

Alice : [Thinks for a few seconds, looking down, and then, somewhat half-heartedly] Hey.

Austin : I can assure you, ah, Spruce? That there were indeed extenuating circumstances, including, but not limited to, being in a dragon's stomach.

Spruce : [Leaning in close to Austin] Well then, I guess I won't have to kill you.

Harvey : [To Jane] Well my dear, my name is Harvey Kingston Short the third, ex colonel of his majestys fifth fusileers, don't you know! And I'm sure you'll find, amongst your impressive collection of badges, one with my, and in fact, all of my troops names upon. Except for the little fellow.

Jane : The Colonel? Oh, of course, of course! We have you all down here. You, Sister Chastity, Austin, Alice, Clint and Jerome.

Jusilla : [Letting go of Alice] Knights? Oh goody, then I can clean those clothes for you.

Alice : [Looking a little flushed after Jusilla let her go] Well thank Phili for that. [Fans herself]

Chastity : [Looking for her name badge] Do we have rooms reserved?

Austin : [To Spruce, smirking, charmingly, nearly deadpan] Hi, I'm Austin, would you like to see my magic sword? [Moves closer to Spruce, clearly looking her over a few times]

Spruce : [Leaning in close to Austin] Is that a magic sword in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?

Jane : [Eyeing Spruce and Austin nervously] Er, yes, but I think Mister Snyder wants to speak to you first. Please, we can't have any magic going on here.

Jusilla : [Sad face] Aw! Not even a few potions? I've got a simply super love potion that I know you could make use of, Janet.

Jane : Actually, it's Jane.

Austin : [To Spruce, leaning even closer. Playfully friendly, whispering] Both, but which on is the sword?

Stump : [Impressed] Oooooooo, a super love potion? How does it work?

Chastity : [Quickly and slightly worriedly to Stump] Never you mind that. This seems to be a members convention. If you're to be included we'd better think of a loop-hole. [gestures towards Austin] We may need the lawyers may input. He's the most familiar in the art of slipping through hidden holes.

Stump : [Whispering breathily into Chastity's ear] Why don't I just go as one of the party members not here? Uh, what's his name? Jerome.

Austin : [To Spruce] Please excuse me for a moment. [Turns to Stump, frowning] You can't pretend to be Jerome because some one here might know what Jerome looks like, and he's not a one legged, obese, bearded dwarf with a nun fixation. [Ponders the problem] We could put 'Trainee' on your name badge. badge.

Stump : Oh Goodie [clapping hands together and jumping up and down] I can be a one legged, obese, bearded dwarf with a nun fixa...hey. Not funny. [blushing]

Spruce : [Does a whip sound] You tell him, Austin. [Notices that Austin's hands aren't pointing at anything in particular] And stop pointing.

Jusilla : Oh, poor little man, he just wants to be with his friends, and is he a little love sick? I have just the thing for him, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, an eye from something else and [spreads her fingers in front of her] whoosh! She'll love you forever.

[JANE waves at someone behind the party, beckoning them over.]

Jane : [To the party] Please, only knights can come in, and Mister House said there is to be no magic.

Stump : I AM a knight...a knight in training. How else can I train without being with my knights who hopefully will give me knighthood so I can become a knight with them. I have fought evil, been eaten by a dragon, fallen down mine shafts, attacked by a hydra, and had my leg cut off by ultimate evil.

[Enter MAXWELL HOUSE, a man in a nice tweed suit, who walks up to JANE.]

Maxwell : Ah, yes, what seems to be the problem?

Jane : This is the Queens View party, but this gentleman isn't on the list, he claims to be a knight in training.

Maxwell : [Looks Stump up and down with a frown] Well, you may be [emphasis] a knight in training, but I'm quite sure that you aren't a Hierophantic Knight in training.

Austin : [To Maxwell] I suppose a special guest pass for Mr. Stump is out of the question? [Austin tries not to wince at Maxwell's tweed overkill]

Maxwell : I'm afraid it is entirely out of the question, after all, this is an ultra secret symposium.

Alice : [Holding up a piece of paper] At least, that's what it says on all the flyers!

Stump : As Alice so graciosly pointed out, if this is an, and I qoute, ultra secret symposium, then why the flyers and larger banner stating this is the place for the secret meeting? Doesn't that defeat, secret. How about this? What if I don't tell anybody? Cross my heart.

Austin : [To Maxwell] Oh well, that's a shame. [Turns back to Spruce] You must be bored hanging around here, fancy going for a drink someplace? [In fun] I'm sure there's a well stocked mini bar in my room.

Chastity : Well we can see who's stepped into Clint's shoes in some instances anyway. [To Maxwell] When does the whole symposium start proper. Is there an agenda we can see?

Stump : Did I hear mini-bar? I am COMPLETELY parched. Hungry to, I might add. I'll just wait for everybody out here where I can get something to eat and drink. I'll keep an eye on our...ride.

Maxwell : [To Chastity] Er, yes, but it is secret, although the symposium has already started. Unfortuntely, no one was able to find it, which is why we put up the banners. [Sternly to Austin and Stump] As the Hierophantic Knights are footing the bill, we have asked that mini bars do not get touched - some of the Knights seem to have a rather cavalier attitude to their supposedly disiplined behaviour. [To Stump] If you are genuinely helping these people, I suppose we can make an exception.

Spruce : [To Austin] Mini bar? Is that all you can offer me? [Blank expression] Bored now.

Maxwell : Er, yes, quite. Now, perhaps you might go and meet your watcher, we can sort out registration later. Please, come this way.

[MAXWELL escorts the party to a room which contains a number of couches and chairs, as well as a trolley in the middle with some food. SNYDER is here, an angry, officious looking man.]

Maxwell : Here is your watcher, Mr. Snyder.


Snyder : [Glares at the party] So, the infamous Queens View party. [Looks at a clipboard] Where are Jerome and Clint? [Stands on his tiptoes to look down on Stump] And who is this?

Stump : [Stands on his tiptoes to look him in the face] I'm with them, sir! [leaning to one side to see the food cart] Back in a second. [In a feint to the left, Stump swivels to the right, stepping past Snyder. A huge stomach growl makes its present know] Foooooooooooood. [racing over to the bar, grabbing a plate, and instead of putting the food on the plate first, takes bites out of each handful, then places it there] Who is your cook? It's edible, but could use a bit more... [trails off with each mouthful] MMmmmmmmmmmm

Snyder : [Appalled] What is this?

Alice : We're sorry, Mr. Sniper, but he - oh look, wine!

[ALICE pours out six glasses of wine, and starts to hand out the glasses, starting with one for HARVEY and AUSTIN.]

Snyder : Now look! This is the dining room, you can't gorge yourself on food here!

[Enter EVAN STARGLOW, a fine-featured fellow who appears to be in his late teens, bursting in through the door.]

Evan : S'cuse me, pardon me. [squeezes through the party] Some folks left this little trinket behind, [snatches up the serving dish from the bottom of the trolley] and I think they were hoping you'd have a blast with it. [tosses it out through the window, whereupon it explodes] [arches a brow in apparent amusement] Yep, they were...

Alice : [Peers out the window, where the banner is now on fire, and people are just coming out of cover] Um, right, er, thanks.

Snyder : Unacceptable! This is unacceptable!

Stump : [Jaw drops completely to ground] What in tarnations did you do that for! I aught to stick this doenut up your...[looks at it] on second thought [eats it] that would have been a waste of time.

Evan : [crosses arms, seemingly amused] Sorry 'bout that, but it was that or letting all your fine food get blown to bits, and you along with it. 'Course, if you'd rather let that happen, I'm sure they'll be willing to try again soon enough...

Stump : That is all fine and dandy, but I hadn't had time to try the Fartars yet. Now move aside. I'm still hungry.

Evan : [steps aside with a theatrical bow] You got it. [casts a dubious glance at the food] I don't think they poisoned anything...

Stump : Even more reason to eat the food [Pats his belly as he walks to the window.] Let me see [Looking over some charred debree from the explosion] Ah, yes. [picks up a slightly charred leg of duck, and walks back over to the food bar] Tastes much better with a bit of char on it. Thanks.

Alice : But, but, who are you? What's going on here?

Snyder : [Stepping in front of Alice] I'm the watcher, I'll handle this, Missy. [To Evan] Who are you? What's going on here?

Evan : Name's Evan. [looks at Alice] Ms. Basset-Short, by any chance? Need to talk to you about something. Meantime, though, there's a little gang after you, claiming that you murdered their brother. Don't know your side of the story, [smirks] but I figured that I wasn't likely to find out if you were in little bitty pieces like they'd planned.

Alice : [Does a double take on Evan] Yes, yes, I am. [Thinks for a moment] Murdered someone's brother? Me?

Snyder : [Stretches as tall as he can to prevent Alice and Evan from simply looking at each other over his head] Look, this is a very important meeting. A very important, secret meeting. [Thinks] No, a very secret, important meeting. Now, while we're all grateful for you for saving our lives, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave.

[Time passes.]

Snyder : Please leave.

Evan : [Grins at Snyder] A secret meeting, huh? Well, then I guess I'd better stay here, 'cause if I leave, I might accidentally tell someone, and then it wouldn't be secret anymore, would it? [Standing on tiptoe to address Alice over Snyder's head] Yeah, someone named Dobbin. They were pretty descriptive about how the Basset-Shorts were behind his maiming and murdering. [Shrugs and smirks] 'Course, they didn't quite call you the Basset-Shorts most of the time, but their version of the name isn't exactly fit for polite company.

Harvey : [To Snyder] By the saints, sir! This is my troop and I'll deal with any confusion, what! [Swings around to Evan] You sir! Who are you? What's going on, miss? Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Stump : [Stops eating and looks at the three] Like she could do something like that...Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure [Turning to Chastity with a glass of wine in each hand] Thought you might like this [handing one to her] this aught to be good.

Evan : What's going on is that Ms. Basset-Short seems to be the last in line of the Short family, which means that I need to have a chat with her about one of her ancestors. In the meantime, I met a little gang of four angry men who're bent on doing you all in because of that little torture and murder bit I've already told y'about. Tagged along to find out where she [nods towards Alice] was, and just heroically foiled their assassination plot. 'Course, I'm not taking sides in that little spat just yet, but it's a bit difficult to get answers when the answerer's in pieces.

Snyder : Four angry men? From what I've read about you, Ms. Bassett-Short, there are considerably more than four!

Alice : Hold on a second! [To Snyder] Someone's just tried to blow us up, can you give us a moment? [To Evan, exasperated and with quite some disbelief] Dobbin? [To Stump] Wine for Chastity at this time of day? You have [emphasis] got to be joking! [Grabs the proferred glass of wine and knocks it back] Dobbin?

Evan : [Neatly sidesteps to address Alice around Snyder] Yep, that was the name they were going on about being oh-so-horribly mangled and massacred at your hands. [Smirks] And I'll bet you've got a story about having barely escaped from some horrible fate at his?

[ALICE also steps to the side, and so too does SNYDER, giving a tiny jump to try and get in the way.]

Alice : Well, actually, we really easily escaped from horrible fate, and, didn't he kill himself?

Chastity : Almost. [To Evan] Dobbin was an incompetent fool who tried to desired glory by killing us but only killed himself through his own actions. Tricked by Death he was, we didn't lift a finger to him.

Evan : [Sidesteps again, this time in the other direction, in an almost waltzing step, so as to once again address Alice directly] [To Snyder] A secret dance meeting, I see. [To Alice] Well, maybe you and them ought to have a little chat with them about it sometime. I'll let you know if I see 'em around again. But, you're related to old Faern Short, aren't'cha?

Harvey : [Groans] I might have known! [To Chastity] Well said, Sister, with any luck his brothers will be equally incompetant.

[ALICE does a feint to one side, sending SNYDER in the wrong direction, before stepping back to look EVAN in the eye.]

Alice : I am related to him, and so is Harvey, but what do you want with him?

Snyder : I must protest! This is a secret meeting! [Shouting, so several people on the street start to look in the window] Secret!

Chastity : [To Snyder] Well if it's so secret will you be quiet. [Goes to the window to pull the blinds] There is an important conversion going on here, which you should have no part in. [pauses] It's secret. Now would you be so kind as to go turn you back, put your fingers in your ears and hum a merry little tune whilst we have the [emphasis] secret meeting!

Evan : Well, I was told that his descendants might be able to help me track down a certain elf that I've never met. Namely - though I don't actually *know* his name - my father. [Reaches up with one hand to part the hair on one side of his head, revealing a slight but noticeable tip to his ear, and smirks again] Shocking, huh?

Chastity : Please don't start a competition in trying to expose parts of our bodies to shock people. Some people may get carried away. [nervously glances at Alice, who is fiddling with her top]

Snyder : Yes! It is shocking!

Harvey : Look, Mr. Sniper, can you just give us a moment to sort this out? Secret meeting and all that. [Starts steering Snyder to the door] Excellent, there's a good fellow. [Gently pushes Snyder out the door and closes it after him]

Alice : [To Evan] You're an elf? And you want us to find an elf? What's his name? Are you Euphoric or Paranoid?

Alice : [Glares at Chastity for a moment] Yes, it would be awful if Chastity showed you her little horns. Anyway, out with it, this elf who's name you don't know, what's his [thinks] er, story?

Austin : [Ponders a moment. To Evan] Well, we have met many elves - B'Urandacus Dubatos, Philipe Phillope [Austins winces at the memory of the dreadful fashion scene] Tristram Plath, Siegfried Weaving, Jefferson Jefferson, Kares, Ohmloss Heckler the policeman with the small penis [Chuckles] and Altho Kindlier, on of the more sensible elves, as I recall.

Evan : Well, let's see... [Counts on his fingers as he recounts each point] He and my mother had a little romance a while back. That didn't impress other elves much, so he had to break it off. End result: me. And then a little package shows up, telling me to contact the descendants of Faern Short, and if they trust me, they'll tell me how to contact him. Then I find that the Basset-Shorts' place has been destroyed, and that leads into the wonderful bit with the assassination plot. [Finishes counting, seemingly amused] Not exactly a lot to go on, but maybe saving your lives is worth something in the trust department?

Harvey : [To Austin] Sensible? Wasn't he the rogue that tried to sell us to a demon?

Alice : [Nodding enthusiastically at Evan] I should say so! [Looks down a moment, and carries on speaking] We can keep him around long enough to get him to identify Dobbin's brothers, and then just cut him loose, ah ha ha ha! [Looks up, startled] Did I say that? Or just think it? I mean, I guess your father figured we'd know where the entrance to the Interior is - that's where all the elves live.

Evan : [Smiling enigmatically] Oh, don't worry, you just thought it. [Murmurs] Out loud. [Normal volume] But it sounds like a fair enough trade anyway: I'll let you know when I see the four of 'em, and you let me know where I can find my way into the Interior.

Stump : [Handing Chastity another glass of wine, thing time staying away from Alice] Here you go. Sorry about it spilling last time. [To Alice] MISS! Chastity does NOT have horns. She is as sweet as they come. I think you owe her an apology.

Austin : [Suprised at Alice's outburst. To Evan] Well, that seems unnecessarily hasty, perhaps more details concerning your father will come to light when we have had a chance to think it over, consider the matter a little. Phillipe Phillope had been outcast, he claimed it was because he had been unable to come up with a great new fashion design in several hundred years, but perhaps there was another reason, his consorting with a humna female for example. [Ponders]

Stump : [Finds a seat near the action and listens, not really liking wine to much, but it was the only thing around]

Alice : The entrance to the Interior is a long way from here, and I think we'd probably have to show you. [Turns to the others] How about we let him tag along for the time being? He did save our lives after all, and I'm sure that nice Mr. Sniper won't mind us having another guest.

Evan : Well, I don't exactly have a whole lot else going on right now. Round about nothing, actually. So if you don't mind me sticking around... [Shrugs and smiles] Sounds like you're all up to something fun even without the assassination business, anyway.

Harvey : Well sir, I believe this troop owes you a debt. [Reasonably quietly, to the others] Troop? Any objections to this gentleman joining?

Alice : [To Chastity, with a mock childish voice] I'm sorry, Chastity. [Gently takes the wine off her] Here, let me take care of that. [Knocks back the wine]

Stump : [Hand against forehead, shaking head] I can't believe it. Sure.

Chastity : Keep that drink up, my dear, and you [emphasise] will be sorry, with a [mimics Alices childish voice] honky-wonky hang-over. [To Stump] Thank you for your offer, Mr. Stump, but I don't freely indulge in alcohol. [Looks at the trolley] Is there any tea available?

Alice : All things in moderation, good Sister. You know, and I say this with a considerable degree of confidence, I'm pretty sure that nothing bad can come of drinking this wine. Your tea addiction, on the other hand, well...

Harvey : Right, troop, can I take it we're all in favour of Mr. Starglow joining the party?

Stump : Sure Harvey, but let me introduce our new guest to our group. First [pointing to Harvey] he is our leader. Then there is Austin. He is our fashion expert and parttime lawyer. And here is Alice. A lot of wind ruffles through that head of hers, but she's all right if you don't ask too long of a question or use big words. Chastity here, well, she is the sweetest lady you could come across. But mind you, she will keep you in your place. And I'm Stump, illusionist extrodinaire and food critic slash cook.

Evan : [Does a dramatic bow] You honour me with your invitation.

[Enter MAXWELL and SNYDER, swinging the door open.]

Snyder : [Pointing at Evan] That's the one, he's the one that they didn't even meet and now want in the party. It's just not right, just not right!

Maxwell : [To the party] You must understand, it is most irregular to have someone here who isn't a Knight, but to bring someone in that you only just met, well, it is entirely without precedence.

Chastity : But we didn't bring him in, he was already here!

Maxwell : [A little flustered, takes off his glasses and cleans them] Yes, yes, I see. Well, he may be prevented from entering certain meetings, but if you insist that he is in your party, I'm sure we can make an exception.

Snyder : Another exception? [Shakes his head in disbelief] Like all Knights, these seem to be little more than spoilt brats.

Maxwell : Yes, indeed, but at least didn't insist on having us order a hairdresser for their pet dogs.

Stump : [hand faces up, then immediately drops down with two fingers pointing further down. In a slurred, bad impersination of a females voice] Oh, I see why the meeting was a secret.

Maxwell : I fear, Mr. Crosscreek that you are thinking of those who demanded a dog for their pet hairdressers. [Gives a shiver] Good day to you.


Snyder : [Glares at the party] Now, maggots, let me tell you how it's going to be. There will be no more interruptions, no more bombs, no more drinking wine, no more -

[Pheeeep! SNYDER is interrupted by the whistle of a boiling kettle.]

Snyder : [With a surprisingly big and warm smile] Ah! Tea's ready!

Austin : [To Maxwell] Evan has just saved our lives too, albeit because he required some information, and further more, we know him better than we know you, or Mr. Snyder here, therefore any accusations of who should and should not be here are spurious and potentially verging on negligence, not withstanding any further evidince, vis a vis proof of identities that may be forthcomming in the near future, partaining to either one or more of the parties assembles here, or not, as the case may be. [Checks his nails briefly]

CHastity : Looking out towards the sound of the kettle Is that tea you're making? [hopefully] Any spare? [MAXWELL is, alas, gone by the time AUSTIN speaks.]

Snyder : [Loudly to be heard over the whistling of the kettle] That may be true, Mr. Sleaze, but we know you [emphasis] very well, and do not know him at all, save for his dealings with people who like to hire assassins.

Stump : If only I had some more. [watching Chastity get some tea]

Austin : [To Snyder, hands on hips] How can you know me very well, we have never even met! Prove it, tell me something about me that you know that proves your claim of being knowledgeble about me.

Snyder : [With a hate filled expression] You are a lowlife scumbag that stole from the church and are only with the party because they were your ticket to freedom. You had to visit a wizard to have a curse lifted and you have more changes of clothes than a Shep Pot Boys concert.

Harvey : [Claps his hands] I say, Private, he's certainly got your number, what!

Alice : [Whispering to Austin] Put your hands down, that makes you look kind of gay. [Indicates Stump] Stand like Stumpy does, real manly.

Snyder : [Snaps into a big smile] Of course, Sister, of course! Let me get that for you. [Starts to make some tea]

Austin : [Puts his hands down laughing at Snyder] Is that it! Ha! Is that all you know [Gasps in hysterics] You had me going for a minute there, I thought you knew something real. Aaah [Wipes a tear of laughter from his eye. To Chastity] I need a cup of tea please Chastity.

Snyder : [Hands a cup to Chastity, before smiling humourlessly at Austin] I know you were almost raped by Dangsten and had half your face burnt off in Hallbridges because you were too stupid to check for traps. [Smile broadens] > Snyder : [With a hate filled expression] You are a lowlife scumbag > that stole from the church and are only with the party because they > were your ticket to freedom. You had to visit a wizard to have a curse > lifted and you have more changes of clothes than a Shep Pot Boys > concert.

Evan : (Evidently amused Well, all that could happen to anyone. Still, it's kinda strange that you hold all that against him, while saying that it's why you trust him *more* than me. You sure you're not just jealous? Y'know, that he was able to get someone interested in him, even if it wasn't in a nice way?

Stump : [Standing a little straighter] Ooooooooooooooooo, that had to hurt. Dangsten tried to rape you? Comedy of errors.

Harvey : [To Snyder] Tell me this, sir, how is it that you know so much about us all? Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Snyder : I'm your watcher, it's my job to keep track of your failures, drunken indiscretions and general rowdiness. Oh yes, and I have a list of your successes, too. [Takes out a tiny piece of paper, less than the size of a postage stamp] It all makes for grim reading.

Austin : [Smirking at Snyder] Almost, almost. [Sharply] so all you do is sit around on your bony behind watching us and then passing judgements on us? You obviously aren't even very good at that, because if you knew our successes you would be groveling at our feet with praises and thanks, scumbag!

Snyder : [Wrinkles up his lip in disgust] You are the scumbags. I am frankly shocked at the people the Hierophantic Knights admit to their numbers. In the past two days I've had to deal with every kind of freak imaginable, from crossdressers to lesbians to cheese addicts to virtually every kind of narcissistic self-indulgent behaviour outlined in Ptolemly's Almanac of Wierdoes. I am not here to grovel or praise you, I am here to tell you what to do, to protect you. [Pause] And that's Mister Scumbag to you, scumbag.

Alice : [To the others] Hey! What's all this about? I thought we owned the Hierophantic Knights, this doesn't sound right at all. There's entirely too little grovelling, praising and thanking going on for my liking.

Austin : [To Alice] We don't own the Hierophantic Knights, we were part of the founding group. [To Snyder] Only your ignorance surpasses your incompetence. We have saved the world several times over, and died several times in the process, and if you wern't paying attention then I am certainly not going to take any lip from you, you incompetent fool! [Sneers at Snyder. Checks his nails]

Snyder : [Sneers back] We'll see.

[There is a low knock on the door, enter BALLY MCEAL, a beautiful, if somewhat thin, well dressed woman. She smiles at the party before walking up to SNYDER and whispering something to him. He looks unhappy, before glaring at the party and storming out.]

Bally : [Turns to the party with a big smile, looking somewhat selfconscious] Sorry about that! He's a little too much, isn't he? Old Snyder doesn't really get you lot, well, he doesn't really get the Knights, in fact, now that I think about it, he doesn't really get people. [Thinks] Now that I think about it, it's probably that he doesn't get any sex. Anyway, I'm going to be your watcher, and let me just say, this is an honour! [Gets even more excited] We've all heard about your exploits, and I've even got a poster of you from StarSearch! You were just too much!

Alice : [Whispers to Stump] Well, she's perky, I'll give her that much.

Evan : [Arches an eyebrow again] [Wryly] Going to be the watcher? Sounds like you already have been. Guess that means I'm going to have someone following my every move, too. Fame at last! [Exaggerated pause] Come to think of it, someone looking over my shoulder all the time is going to put a bit of a damper on things...

Bally : [With a playfully dismissive wave] Oh you're silly! The Watchers aren't here to cramp your style, we're just here to, well, watch! We're here to make sure no one gets trapped on a desert island or tortured horribly by demons or kidnapped by those awful Fundamentalist Knights. You lot just keep on going with your cheese eating and orgy going and that whole [waves her hands around vaguely] defeat of evil thing. [Gives an even brighter smile] I've got that poster too!

Alice : [Excited] There's a poster of our defeat of evil?

Bally : [Smiling] No, of your orgy. You look really good in it, but I suppose that was before you put on all that weight.

Alice : Hey!

Stump : [to Alice in a quick reply] That she is. [nodding his head]

Chastity : [Shaking her head disappovingly] I'm glad I wasn't there. [To Bally] How do you do all the watching? What do you use?

Alice : [Face grows dark] A little too perky, if you ask me. [Turns to Stump, trying to sound reassuring] And I wasn't really at the orgy, well, I was, but I was too drunk to realise what was going on.

Bally : We use people! They are often hired on the pretext of helping you out, but really we just want to get information out of them to help us build profiles of you all. Of course, some of you are easier to spot than others! [Gives Chastity a playful pinch in the stomach]

Chastity : [Jumping back, spilling some of her tea into the saucer] Do you mind? Don't you know that over familiarity can breed contempt? [pours the tea from the saucer back into the cup]

Stump : [To Bally] Woman! I think you owe Chastity an apology! Watcher or no Watcher. Keep your hands off! [off handidly to Alice] Oh, I imagine you were the life of the crowd.

Alice : [A little taken aback] No.

Bally : Oooh! Feisty, I like that! [To Chastity] No offence, Sister, but, between you and me, you might want to keep an eye on how much milk you put in your tea. [Smiles brightly to the party] Now, I thought it might be a good idea to explain what's going with the symposium. Basically, the government has decided that they need to organise things better to try and fight the Four, or should that be two, Horsemen, and the Knights are clearly the best weapon, but they're not really known for their organisation, communication, discipline or even plans. [With conviction and a little punch in the air] With a little bit of focus, though, we can smash the awful evil once and for all!

Evan : [To Bally, amused] All that, huh? What other dodgy habits do these folks have? [To the others, curious] And what's all this about defeating evil? You guys on another of those "last hope to save the world" things?

Stump : [To Evan] Actually, I think its really more like bad luck.

Bally : Oh, it's not just these ones who have the dodgy habits, many of the other knights are even worse - I guess battling unspeakable evil can have that effect on people.

Harvey : [Faintly annoyed, but clearly not sure who he's annoyed at] We usually are, Private Starflow, but, to be quite honest, we have no idea what we are supposed to be doing.

Bally : [Clapping her hands together] And that's why we're here to bring structure and organisation to your battle with evil!

Alice : [A little taken aback] No.

Bally : Oooh! Feisty, I like that! [To Chastity] No offence, Sister, but, between you and me, you might want to keep an eye on how much milk you put in your tea. [Smiles brightly to the party] Now, I thought it might be a good idea to explain what's going with the symposium. Basically, the government has decided that they need to organise things better to try and fight the Four, or should that be two, Horsemen, and the Knights are clearly the best weapon, but they're not really known for their organisation, communication, discipline or even plans. [With conviction and a little punch in the air] With a little bit of focus, though, we can smash the awful evil once and for all!

Evan : [To Bally, amused] All that, huh? What other dodgy habits do these folks have? [To the others, curious] And what's all this about defeating evil? You guys on another of those "last hope to save the world" things?

Stump : [To Evan] Actually, I think its really more like bad luck.

Bally : Oh, it's not just these ones who have the dodgy habits, many of the other knights are even worse - I guess battling unspeakable evil can have that effect on people.

Harvey : [Faintly annoyed, but clearly not sure who he's annoyed at] We usually are, Private Starflow, but, to be quite honest, we have no idea what we are supposed to be doing.

Bally : [Clapping her hands together] And that's why we're here to bring structure and organisation to your battle with evil!

Austin : [To Bally and Evan] What the Colonel means is that we don't have any specific plans, we are fighting evil with a generalist sort of approach, foiling their dastardly plans, killing them if we can, making them uncertain of who and what they are doing so that they fight eachother etc [waves a hand generally] And of course, saving millions of lives as we go along, wherever people need to be saved. [Rises briefly on his toes] All free of charge of course.

Bally : [Gives a little clap] And well done to you for all that. Now is the time for your reward, however, we have a suite reserved for you upstairs. There are actually six rooms attached to it as we expected Clint and Jerome to be with you, so if you want these other two to stay with you, I'm sure that can be arranged.

Alice : [Defensively] Well, Stump is certainly going to stay! He proved his worth in the Placebium mine, and, well, I guess Evan should too [thinks for a moment] after all, we already asked him too. Hm.

Bally : Super! You are in suite number 13, and Lucy will be along to talk finance with you in just a few moments. I know we're all going to be great friends, and I'll see you at the party tonight. Toodles!

[Exit BALLY.]

Alice : [As soon as Bally is out] What a bitch.

Stump : [to Alice] I wouldn't say that. She is just perky. [generally to everybody else] Although I have a question. Why aren't we getting paid? I sure could use a real fancy magical magical stump! Yeah.

Alice : Well, I didn't she was a total bitch or anything like that, just that she was mean to Chastity.

Chastity : Yes, she touched me and spilled my tea. I've known nun's who've been like that. We may have to be wary. I must say that I've been a bit less impressed by the standard of person in the knights since arriving here. I'd always thought them as a band of elite! [Sips her tea] Like us.

Stump : Oh, I see what you were talking about Alice. Yeah. I didn't appreciate that at all. Somebody aught to smack her one for a stunt like that. [to Chastity] I think its all perspective. We KNOW we are the best. They just think they are.

Alice : I know, looking at the others we've met, it's kind of strange, I mean, when you think about Peter, Tara, Sebastian, Milicent, Nefiritiri, Himo, Corwyn, Faetan and - hm. I mean, don't get me wrong, they were all kind of cool, except for Faetan, Corwyn, Himo and that Peter, of course, but they're not exactly the kind of slick, cleancut heroes that we are, are they? [Takes a drink of wine, leaving a big wine moustache on her lip as she does so] Except for Sven, of course. [Goes a little dreamy]

Harvey : Indeed, niece, the Knights do seem to attract some oddballs. I wonder if Darius and Boddy are here.

Stump : Glad I'm not in that crowd.

Austin : [To Harvey] Possibly Colonel, who know what fettid detritus may have been invited [looks towards the window] or will arrive univited. No doubt Pestillence, Brandy and probably worse will arrive before long.

Harvey : Unlikely, Private Sleaze. When last I looked, Pestilence was plummeting into the Placebium mine shaft, counting down from a hundred and eighty, whatever that means. Come on, troop, let's investigate this suite!

[Exit ALL.]

[Book IV, Act I, Scene II. The Suite. ALICE, CHASTITY, HARVEY, STUMP, EVAN and AUSTIN are here, having just arrived, and not having encountered anyone out of the ordinary in the lobby. The room is extremely luxurious, and is filled with comfortable and well appointed furniture, and with a number of doors leading off. Almost as soon as the party arrive, there is a knock on the door.]

Harvey : Ah, that'll be those sandwiches. [Opens the door.]

[Enter LUCY ANGEL, a beautiful, if somewhat severe looking woman, who immediately hands HARVEY a wad of papers.]

Lucy : I am Lucy Angel, attorney at law, retained by the Hierophantic Knight Association to monitor the activities of its employees, agents and other associates. You are hereby ordered to immediately cease and desist from any and all activities that may incur any costs for the aforemention association.

Harvey : Er, Private Sleaze?

Lucy : [Looks to Austin and narrows her eyes] Austin Sleaze. My, how wonderful it is to see you, and how wonderful it is that you have managed to purchase a suit that was in fashion a mere three years ago.

Austin : [To Lucy, visibly suprised, straightens his cuff nonchalantly] Likewise Lucy Angel, how nice it is to see that you, and how plesant that you can still walk after all the time you have spent on your back. [Checks his perfect nails] I'm suprised you bothered to fish those shoes out of the gutter they came from and I can see that that dress did not incur the Hierophantic Knight Association any cost, although they may well have been paid to dispose of it. [Grimaces at Lucy's dress and takes the papers from Harvey, dropping them casually onto the couch] Thank you for the firelighters.

Lucy : I'm surprised that [indicates the party] they bothered to fish you out of the gutter. Please! Not too close, your ghastly "Scent of the Seaman" perfume is making it difficult to breathe.

Alice : [Quietly to the others] Isn't it great when old friends meet up?

Stump : Not to interrupt this most exciting [finger down throat, gags] fashion discussion, but Lucy, would you happen to know what one hundred and eighty means? I know it's a number, but it has been brought up several times by various people and it really is giving me the creeps.

Lucy : Perhaps it is the number of sandwiches you had for lunch this morning? [To Austin] I see your propensity for lack of precision has not been lost on these people. [To Stump] I have no idea what you are talking about. Context? up?

Stump : You know, you would be a nice person if you would get laid every century or so. As for the one hundred and eighty question, my good and hopefully splattered friend Pestilence said it as he hurled into the bowels of the Placebium mine. He started counting down from one hundred and eighty. Is not in context enough?

Austin : Unlikely, Stump, I believe Miss Angel has no problems in that department. She is more likely to have already reached a century of lays.

Lucy : Perhaps Pestilence was talking about the number of times Austin has taken [finger quotes] like a man.

Harvey : Please! People! Whatever history you have, can we please set it aside while she answers Private Stump's question. Now, Miss, does the number one hundred and eighty have any special significance that you know of?

Lucy : No.

Harvey : [Scrathes at a sideburn] Hmmm, I see. I'm sure we'll find out in time, that's for sure! [Gestures towards the papers] Now my dear, of even more importance to us all, where are our sandwiches? Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Lucy : I suspect you've eaten them all. In fact I fear for my life that I may be eaten too.

Stump : [to Lucy, snickering] All you have to do is ask. wrote:

Evan : [Mumurs, amused] And she's a lawyer, huh? So you're saying that she has a lot of experience in laying down the law. > Lucy : I suspect you've eaten them all. In fact I fear for my life > that I may be eaten too.

Evan : [Looks Lucy up and down] Uh, no. Sorry, but "ravishing" isn't quite the word that enters my mind. But maybe you could see about those sandwiches, just to be on the safe side? [Dubious] I know that I'm not into the whole cannibal thing, but I don't know about the rest of these rather hungry folks... [Casts an eyebrow-arched smile at the group]

Lucy : Why don't I just leave you here with them, and we'll see what happens.

Austin : [To Lucy] Yes, Lucy why don't you just leave him here with us, it'll give you an opportunity to got and brush your teeth, and perhaps have a gargle or five with some mouthwash. [Looks Lucy straight in the eyes]

Lucy : I'm sure you're used to having to wash awful tastes out of your mouth. [To the others] Perhaps you would like to hear about the renumeration package that the Hierophantic Knight Association is offering?

Austin : [To Lucy] Yes, Lucy why don't you just leave him here with us, it'll give you an opportunity to got and brush your teeth, and perhaps have a gargle or five with some mouthwash. [Looks Lucy straight in the eyes]

Lucy : I'm sure you're used to having to wash awful tastes out of your mouth. [To the others] Perhaps you would like to hear about the renumeration package that the Hierophantic Knight Association is offering?

Evan : [Smiles] Oh, I'm one of 'em now, so I'm off limits. [Shrugs, seemingly losing interest] But I can understand your disinterest in sandwiches. From what Austin says, you've been in enough of 'em already.

Lucy : [With a bored look at Evan] No wonder Austin likes being around you, you are banal and pedestrian enough to make him almost look interesting. [To the group in general] Now, do you wish to speak of renumeration or are you all too busy trying to show how clever you are by making glib comments that you don't care?

Chastity : [To Lucy] Yes, tell us please. I hope it isn't based on a percentage increase on any current monies we receive.

Lucy : The Hierophantic Knights Association has formulated a comprehensive payment structure for its members, direct employees, officers and consultants and temporary officers, be they employed either directly or indirectly, taking into consideration their knowledge and/or likely co-operation with the association. However, payments are temporarily suspended pending a thorough review of the expenses claims issued by past members, particularly those pertaining to alcohol, clothing or hire of prostitutes. I hope that clears everything up.

Chastity : Well I don't think we have ever filed for expenses [looks round the group] have we?

Harvey : No, sister, I don't believe so, but now that she mentions it, this old soldier can think of at least four high quality white cotton shirts that were destroyed defending the world from evil.

Lucy : I have neither suggested nor insinuated that any people currently in this group were responsible for fraudulant or excessive expenses claims, and, while this is not necessarily true of past members and associates of this particular group, I resent your implication that I am accusing this particular group of anything.

Chastity : [To Lucy] So, on the assumption that our renumeration will be un-effected by expense claims, can you give us any more, non commital details. Will it be by set amount, or a percentage of current values?

Lucy : Although you yourselves may not have been personally responsible for the expense claims in question, the fact of the matter is that their investigation will delay any and all payments to field operatives and that, depending on the amount that can be reclaimed from these errant claims, the exact renumeration will very, in accordance with the the amount reclaimed, work done and the number of surviving Knights.

Alice : So we get nothing?

Lucy : Yes.

Evan : [Seemingly serious for once] Thanks.

Lucy : [Expressionless] My pleasure.

[There is a knock on the door, and MAXWELL HOUSE enters, looking quite flustered.]

Maxwell : Sorry to interrupt what I'm sure has proved to be a fruitful session, but I need to speak with the party privately.

Chastity : No change there then. [pauses] litereally.

Lucy : [After a short pause] Do I have to leave?

Maxwell : Er, well, yes.

[Exit LUCY.]

Maxwell : [Gravely to the party] I believe there is a spy in our midst.

Chastity : Do you mean within the party or at the seminar?

Maxwell : [Cleaning his glasses] Oh, I'm quite sure this, of all parties is trustworthy, which is why I came to you with this information in the first place. [Puts on his glasses and seems to see Stump and Evan for the first time] I say, who are you chaps?

Chastity : [Gestures to Stump]Mr. Stump here is a recent addition to our party. He has nearly killed himself so many times in the short space of time we've known him I would find it difficult to beleive he was trying to spy on us. [Gestures to Evan] We have just recently met Mr. Starglow within this very establishment.

Austin : [To Maxwell] A spy? Working for whom? [Once Lucy has exited] Lucy Angel seems to now alot about the knights, could she be the spy? [Shakes his head] No of course not, not even a idiot would employ her. [Looks at Maxwell] Not as a spy atleast, perhaps as a chimney sweep or such though.

Maxwell : [Watching Evan carefully] For a bunch of demons, intent on bringing down the Hierophantic Knights. Given that your group has probably had most contact with those who have taken the path, it probably makes sense to spy on you. [Pulls out a dagger and points it at Evan, even though they are quite a distance apart] Stay where you are, spy!

Evan : [Raises both eyebrows, faintly smiling, then looks at Harvey] Is there someone behind me that I don't know about? Either way, since he's only ordering the spies in here to stand still... [Sidesteps in a exaggeratedly slow, walzing manner to reveal the (presumably) empty space behind him]

Alice : [Gasps, and points behind Evan] Oh my God! [Draws her sword]

Chastity : [Looking around. To Alice] What?

Austin : [Scanning through the papers that Lucy left, shaking his head alot and tutting alot. Stops and looks over to where Evan stands] What? Have you only just realised he's gay or something?

Alice : [As Evan turns to look too] Made you look! [Bursts out laughing, but sees how unimpressed the others are] Ah, come on, that was funny, don't you lot appreciate practical jokes - I bet you thought it was funny, Stump!

Maxwell : Yes, yes, must amusing, I'm sure. But it also strikes one as must unusual that this gentleman appeared at such an opportune moment.

Evan : [Rolls eyes] Uh huh. Last I knew, spies were supposed to be the types you didn't suspect and showing up at an obviously convenient moment isn't exactly great for not being suspected. Makes it pretty unlikely that I'm spying on anyone, since I'm an obvious suspect for doing so. Y'know, the same way that you conveniently showed up to warn us about spying at just the right moment? Makes you a pretty likely suspect, too, doesn't it? [Smirks]

Alice : [Warming to this game, puts her sword away] But maybe that's what you want us to think, Evan, if that even is your real name!

Maxwell : Please, please, [to Evan] that is quite the most preposterous suggestion I've ever heard. [To the party] How sure are you about this person? I have a means to identify the spy, but I can only use it once. Unless you can guarantee that he is not one, I fear I will have to use it on him.

Stump : [groins Evan with stump] If he attacks me, he's a spy. Otherwise, he's going to be talking for a while in a high pitch.

Chastity : [To Stump] With subtle trials like that, you didn't happen to be a witch-hunter in a previous life, did you?

[STUMP connects with the unprepared EVAN, sending him to the ground with a sickening squelch as stump connects with groin, causing all the other males in the room to clench involuntarily.]

Alice : Good shot, Stump!

Maxwell : Please! Control yourself, there is no need for such barbarity.

Stump : No my dear. If I remember correctly I...hmmm...don't remember.

Evan : [Quite naturally moves to evade the undignified assault]

Austin : [Wincing very slightly at Evan pain] At least we know he's not post-op! [To Maxwell] We know Evan better than we know you, and that isn't saying much. He saved our lives, which could have been a set up to get him into our party, which would make him a spy of the infiltration type, but that would hardly be of use to the Horsemen as we spend a considerable amount of time with one or other or more of the horseman as it is. [Condescendingly] You see it's easier to kill them if you get close. Of course the draw back is that they can then kill us, but he, we're still here and we've killed two of them, several times. [Goes back to the papers, and laughs at something.]

Maxwell : The Horsemen are not the only threat to the Realms. If they felt that you were a threat to them, you would probably already be dead. What matters is that I know you considerably better than you know [vague wave as he thinks of the name] Evan. The entire security of the Knights is at stake here - already one is missing. Unless you are prepared to watch the small chap beat a confession out of him, I believe that we have no choice but to use my means.

Stump : [helping hand to Evan, guarding his jewels] No harm intended. Just wanted to show Maxwell here that you can be trusted. But he still thinks you are untrustworthy. Are you?

Harvey : [Shocked at this behaviour] Private Stump, this is unacceptable! What on earth were you thinking about? By the saints, after what you just did the man is perfectly entitled to retaliated! [Thundering] What has your display of violence got to do with demonstrating trust, outside of the fact that you yourself cannot be trusted around unguarded crotches!

Alice : [Somewhat lamely] Come on, Uncle Harvey, he was just trying to help.

Evan : [Staggers to hold himself up against one of the couches, with a tear in one eye] I presume you have an explanation as to how this identifies one as a spy - to be honest, it smacks a little of a woman not being a witch if you can drown her, and, for both of our safety, I urge you not to try that again.

Stump : See [pointing at Evan] He didn't try to kill me. Pesty would have. He would have either gutted me or cut off more of my poor stump. But Evan did not. Thus he is not an evil person so he cannot be a spy. I rest my case.

Harvey : If you did it to me, Private Stump, I would be inclined to gut you. [Calmly] People in this troop do not assault one another, do not do it again.

Maxwell : Yes, well, if we're quite finished with the histrionics, it is still unproven as to the veracity of this gentleman's claims, the testicle crushing test notwithstanding.

Chastity : Very well, do your test. At least it will provide a solid footing for the group to investigate from.

Maxwell : Well said, Sister, indeed a sensible suggestion. [Takes out a small green orb] However, given the speed with which your other new member attacked him, it might be a good idea to try both.

Alice : Hey! We've already vouched for Stump! I'm sure he's on the level. [Thinks for a moment] I mean, honest, not straight, not that he's gay or anything, it's just that since that awful Pestilence incident he hasn't been on the level, not dishonest I mean, but -

Maxwell : [Mercifully interrupting] Let's test them both.

[MAXWELL throws the orb on the ground between STUMP and EVAN, and it disappears in a burst of green light, but nothing else happens.]

Maxwell : Ah, I see.

Chastity : [Sighs] You see what?

Maxwell : I see that neither of these is a spy. Well, that's most unfortunate. That was our last orb, and Jusilla has disappeared, and [clearly musing to himself] of course this use of magic will also attract their attention, but will they know what it was?

Alice : Who's they?

Maxwell : The demons, of course, and their filthy spy.

Stump : Do they have something to do with onehundred and eighty? I'm beginning to think its some kind of kinky body position that nobody knows about.

Chastity : [To Alice] Didn't we see a lady called Jusilla at the entrance? [to Maxwell] WHen and where did she disappear?

Alice : We did, she was the one who [pauses for a second] er, touched me. She seemed a little strange.

Maxwell : [Distastefully to Stump] I'm sure you do. [To Alice] Indeed, Jusilla, and her partner Spruce, like many Knights, are rather highly strung. However, Jusilla is a very powerful mage, unfortunately we have to keep magic to a minimum at the moment as we have heard rumours of demons attracted by its use. I fear she may have cast a spell, or given someone a potion that, when it was taken, led the demons to her. It all happened so quickly, it simply has to have been someone working on the inside.

Stump : Umm. [raises his hand] Potion. Wha...What type of potion?

Maxwell : [Removes his glasses and rubs his eyes tiredly] I'm afraid I don't know. [Puts them back on again] It may not even have been a potion. She was under strict instructions not to use any magic, which, by the way, holds for the rest of you too, but, like many of the Knights at today's session, she doesn't take instruction very well.

Stump : Well...Uh...I will definately not use one from this point on. You can count on that.

Alice : That's a great idea, Stump. I don't think any of us should use any, just in case something bad happens.

Maxwell : Er, yes, quite. Well, I trust Lucy, Bally and Mr. Snyder have made you all comfortable - we will be having a little get together in a short while. It will give you an opportunity to meet some of the other Knights, but, if you have any suggestions for flushing out this spy before then, please bring them to me immediately.

Alice : The spy?

Maxwell : Well, ideally, but you may also bring any suggestions to me.

Stump : Before you go, Maxwell. You never answered my question about the one hundred and eighty? Do you know what it is or means? or would you happen to know somebody who might?

Maxwell : It means nothing to me, but perhaps Jusilla might know something about it - she is unusually perceptive, or you do know some of those who have taken the path, it sounds like something one of them would say, they love speaking in riddles. [Gets a little flustered] Sorry, I shouldn't even be speaking about that, I will see you later.

[Exit MAXWELL, in something of a hurry.]

Alice : Speaking about what? [To the others] We've got to figure out what this one hundred and eighty means - it could be something dangerous for Stumpy otherwise!

Stump : Thank you Alice. This one hundred and eighty thing and paths and secrecy is driving me to drink. I could use a cold one right about now.

Harvey : Hmmm, a spy among us eh! We must be most vigilant troop! Keep an eye out for anyone looking or acting strange, or listening at doorways, or garotting people with their watches, but especially, watch out for anyone wearing a dinnersuit and drinking a martini, a dead giveaway, or so I hear! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Stump : [Elongated response] Yeah. What's for dinner?

Alice : [Bursts out laughing at Stump] Oh, Stumpy! You're just so funny! [Laughs again] What's for dinner? Brilliant!

[Book IV, Act I, Scene III. The Suite. CHASTITY is wearing a flowing white cotton habit, with a vivid deep purple scapulars, that has a gold braid edging and elaborate beading through it. AUSTIN has a dazzling white Hugio Choss tuxedo, immaculate shirt and velvet bow-tie. HARVEY is in full military dress, dazzling everyone with the frighteningly bright brass buttons and gold epaulettes on his red coat. EVAN is wearing fairly ordinary clothes, but with a slightly ostentatious feathered hat and cape and STUMP is wearing the same clothes as before, only they are slightly cleaner, and his stump is nicely polished.]

Alice : [Coming out of her room wearing her ultra short leather dress with large buckles across the front, and an unfeasibly high pair of white stilletoes, stops and looks at the rest of the party] Wow, you look great Stump! [Walks over to him and turns her back to him, very close] Can you zip me up? [Looks at Evan] You know, we do like to make an effort when we go out, Evan.

Stump : [To Chastity, most impressed] Wow, you look...secular. [Bowing slighly] I have never seen...[Sees Alice, mouth drops, speechless, tries catching drool] Uh, yyyyyyesss. I can zip you up. [turning one shade away from fire red]

Alice : [Gives a little shiver as the zip goes up, before looking up] Hey, I think there's a leak in here, at least it was warm though. Thanks Stump. [To the others] So, what's this path about? Anyone got the scoop on that?

Evan : [Smiles] I am making an effort, y'know. [Taps hat] Wearing this sort of silly getup is already taxing to me without getting into the whole ruffled collar and tights thing.

Harvey : My dear Alice, you look absolutely wonderful! By the saints, how proud Aldwyn would be if he could see you now! As for the path, [scratches at a sideburn] I'm afraid not. Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Alice : I'm sure he'd love it, Uncle Harvey. [Looking from Evan to Stump] Now, I want no naughtiness from you two from now on, no kicking, biting or gouging. Well, maybe just a little biting, but let's all be nice and calm and relaxed. Hey, should we bring weapons?

Chastity : It's generally regarded as bad ettiquette to bring weapons to the table at a black tie dinner. [To Harvey] Unless of course they are ceremonial or purely decorative.

Austin : [Produces a highly polished Beaucaphalus from under his jacket. Beaucaphalus is also wearing Hugio Choss white tuxedo collar and a black bow tie. Displaying] How about Ceremonial, decorative, and positively dazzling. [Smiles a dazzling pearly white smile]

Harvey : [Clicks his heels and nods at Chastity] But, of course, Sister.

Beaucaphalus : Come on! This is a party for the Ultra Secret Symposium for misfit Knights, I'll be surprised if there isn't a fight. Lookin' good, Austin. [Conversationally] So, do you know what the path is yet?

Evan : What, not even a stylish dagger or two? Fine, fine. But if we can't use magic either, it's really going to cramp my style.

Harvey : Indeed, it seems strange that even the Knights are against using magic, when, up until this point they seemed a particularly ill disciplined and cavalier organisation. I'm sure if you have the dagger concealed on your person, Private Starflow, that you'll be fine. After all, there is a spy in our midst, what!

[Exit ALL, downstairs to the lobby, where JANE is waiting for them.]

Jane : [Clearly stressed, but smiling nonetheless] Hello everyone, I've got your badges here.

Alice : Badges? We don't need no steenking badges!

Jane : But, it's a symposium, we've even got folders and bags and lunch tickets!

Chastity : What, none of those clever pencils with the impossibly brittle graphite?? Or specially monikered quills that either don't write or leak? [Takes a badge. To the rest of the group] We may as well take a badge. We'll look out of place if we don't. [Looks round at everyone's attire] Hmmmmm. [To Jane] Everyone else is wearing badges aren't they?

Jane : [Looks away for a second] Er, yes, yes they are. [Smiles again] And, Sister, you'll find that, although our special quills don't write, [triumphantly] they do leak! [Passes out some badges, including one for each of Evan and Stump]

Alice : [Reading from her badge] "Alose Bassets Allsorts"? What's this about?

Jane : [Huffily] Hey! I had to do everything for this symposium, you know, there were bound to be some mistakes!

Chastity : Come on everyone. At least we'll be able to see the names of the other knights for future reference. [Looks at her badge which reads "Sinister Crusty Brown" and sighs, putting it on. To Alice] Come on, Alose. [Heads for the dining room, stopping briefly. To Jane] Is there a seating plan?

Jane : No, it's more of a finger food type thing. You see, all the top Knights are here tonight, they want you to mingle with each other.

Harvey : [Putting on his "Herby Kingstown Shirt" badge] Indeed, Sinister Crusty, it will be very valuable to have that information.

[The party enter a large dining room, with a reasonable number of people milling around. Those present include SNYDER, MAXWELL, BALLY and LUCY, each of whom is wearing a nice tweed suit and conservative dress as is appropriate. Also here are SPRUCE, CUBE and DEMPSEY MAKEPEACE. SPRUCE is dressed as before, looking quite annoyed, while CUBE and DEMPSEY are wearing sylish seventies style clothes. There are four other men, sitting at another table, deep in conversation. From their dress, they are more likely Knights than Watchers. Needless to mention, no one else is wearing a name badge.]

Alice : [Taking Stump's arm as the party walk in] Wow! I can just tell this is going to be great!

Snyder : [Gives Alice one quick look] Oh my God, is this what the future of the world depends on?

Lucy : [To Austin] Nice suit, Austin. It's just a pity you forgot the big red nose, crazy wig and funny shoes. Oh wait, you didn't.

Evan : [Peers dubiously at the badge he's handed, not yet putting it on] [Mutters] As if we haven't been badgered enough already.

Evan : [As authorized, conceals a dagger upon his person] Ah, it's Starglow, not Starflow. And I'd really rather be called Evan, if you feel up to it.

Austin : [Who has not put his badge on, looks at his badge which reads "Mostin Fleas", snaps it in half and puts it in his pocket. To Lucy] Well Ms Angel if you stopped taking those magic mushrooms for a few days you would not hallucinate so much. Possibly. [Briefly stares blankly at Lucy and then wanders off to get a drink]

Evan : [Quietly pockets the "Devon Fargo" badge which he has been handed] Now, this is a party. Full of friendly, cheerful people. Or not.

Lucy : [To Austin as he walks away] Yes, but then I may have to deal with the horrible reality that is your presence.

Maxwell : [Approaching the party] Ah, there you here, good to see you, Crusty, and you, Herby. Alose, that's an interesting [looks Alice up and down] yes. Very good. The hotel has been locked down for the last few hours, and we are quite sure that Jusilla and the spy are still here, possibly even in this very room.

Austin : [To Maxwell] How doyou know there is a spy here? Who told you, and how do you know that Drusilla is not the spy?

Maxwell : Well, to answer your last question first, because Drusilla is a fictional character in the popular pornographic TV series Bufty the Vampire Layer. I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to tell you where we got that information, what with there being a spy and all, however, Jusilla is one of the most trusted Knights, and there is simply no way that she was involved. In fact, I fear for her safety. In fact, between you and me [leans in to talk to Austin]

[MAXWELL is prevented from speaking to AUSTIN by SPRUCE barging in between the two of them, and standing very close to AUSTIN, with a fairly expressionless look.]

Spruce : Her name is Jusilla, and if you suggest that she is the spy again, I'm going to kill you.

Evan : [Seemingly amused again] [To Maxwell] Touchy, isn't he? [To Spruce] Confirming how we just happen to know she isn't isn't quite the same thing as accusing her of being so, y'know.

Spruce : [Turns to Evan, leaning her head to one side] He? You'd better not be talking about me, or you'll find out just how [slight pause] touchy I really am.

Austin : [To Spruce] You should stand closer to the fire, it may cure your hypothermia. [Wanders off to have a look around the room]

Lucy : [To Austin] What a surprise, another woman hates you.

Maxwell : [Laughing nervously] Well, we're all on the same side here, aren't we?

Alice : [Still holding onto Stump] All except the spy, of course.

Austin : [To Lucy] What a suprise! Another bad case of hypothermia. Or is it that all reptiles are cold blooded [Does a fake ponder, considering Lucy] Hmmm.

Stump : [Slowly detaching himself from Alice] Of course. [Points at Dempsey, who is scowling over at the party] Do we know that guy?

Dempsey : Thy reeky milk-livered pumpions! Thy qualling dizzey-eyed barnacles! Thouest dost reek of impurity and ill will.

Alice : You know something, let's see what the others are like.

[There are four others in the room. They are MORRIS JIMSON, JACK CROWE, TOMMY ROTTEN and HORATIO BRATWURST, and are clearly having good fun, drinking and smoking a lot, and laughing quite a bit. MORRIS sees ALICE talking about them and gets up.]

Morris : Hey, it's the Queens View party, pretty good, pretty neat. [Does the finger pointing thing] We heard all about the revs and the cake, that was pretty far out.

Stump : [Trying to immitate Mr. Morris's hand movements] Wow dude, how about stepping aside and taking your eyes elsewhere. [looks at alice, his arm, shakes head] Quite potent stuff. I need a drink. [glances over to see if Chastity is fairing all right]

Morris : That's cool, I didn't realise she was with you, and if you're with her, then you're cool too. [Waves the party over] So, a cycling pyramid eh? Man, the best we've got was a knife throwing act.

[Each of MORRIS, JACK and HORATIO take off their hats.]

Morris : Poor old Sarah.

Tommy : I hated Sarah, she was a bloody fascist!

Horatio : [Stands up in welcome to the party] Hello, I'm awfully pleased to see you, won't you please join us?

Austin : [To Alice, looking at the other party] Who the hell are they? [Turns back to Lucy] More of your punters?

Stump : [flabbergasted] Oh, we're not...[reevaluating the situation] I..uh..guess we are. Who is Sarah? And what is the one hundred and eighty? [deciding to throw that in]

Alice : [To Austin] I don't know, but at least they're not [points at Dempsey and company] them!

Horatio : Oh, how terribly rude of me. I am Horatio Bratwurst, this is Jack Crowe -

Jack : [With a smile and a wave] Captain Jack Crowe!

Horatio : Dr. Morris Jimson, BSc, PhD -

Morris : Call me Morris.

Horatio : And Tommy Rotten.

Tommy : [Angrily] I'll stick my fingers right up your nose!

Horatio : Sarah, well, she was a party member until an ill advised clash with some circus folk. The hundred and eighty? [Shakes his head] Not sure, old chap. Never heard of them.

Harvey : [Gestures towards Tommy and whispers in a Harvey way to Chastity] I say sister, better get to the finger food before that rum cove, what! [Turns to the three] Good day to you all! We also have had more than our fair share of run ins with those circus people, and let me tell you, it never ends well! Why is it that people employed to give pleasure and joy to all, inevitably turn out to be the most sour, misbegotten, angry psycho grudge bearing ilk imaginable? Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Morris : [Nods his head slowly] Man, that's such a good question, the eternal paradox of the entertainment industry. You know, as soon as we heard how much Snyder hated you lot, we knew there'd be fun to had.

Horatio : [To the party] Please, please, sit down. [Looks at Stump and Evan] Oh, so, are you spies?

Alice : [Indignantly] Well, Stump isn't!

Harvey : [Gestures towards Tommy and whispers in a Harvey way to Chastity] I say sister, better get to the finger food before that rum cove, what! [Turns to the three] Good day to you all! We also have had more than our fair share of run ins with those circus people, and let me tell you, it never ends well! Why is it that people employed to give pleasure and joy to all, inevitably turn out to be the most sour, misbegotten, angry psycho grudge bearing ilk imaginable? Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Morris : [Nods his head slowly] Man, that's such a good question, the eternal paradox of the entertainment industry. You know, as soon as we heard how much Snyder hated you lot, we knew there'd be fun to had.

Horatio : [To the party] Please, please, sit down. [Looks at Stump and Evan] Oh, so, are you spies?

Alice : [Indignantly] Well, Stump isn't!

Evan : Oh, not this again. [Rolls eyes] I'm spy-free, according to all of the tests that've been tried. 'Sides, sounds like everyone knows what everyone's doing without any spying being needed.

Horatio : [Chuckles good naturedly] Just joking! We heard all about the test! [Goes serious] I say, I hope I didn't offend you, old chap, we're just a bit taken aback at all this bureaucracy that's taking over the Knights, awfully sorry, please accept my apologies.

Morris : What I want to know is why people employed to help us Knights are turn out to be the most sour, misbegotten, angry psycho grudge bearing ilk imaginable [turns to Harvey] entertainment industry people excepted?

Evan : [Waves a hand] Ah, I don't mind. Kinda have to wonder if the bureaucracy isn't the work of your enemies, though. Can't do too much knightly stuff if you're all tied up in red tape.

Evan: [Raises eyebrows, amused] Sorry if I've come across as a sour, angry psycho grudge bearing type. Must be another misfired illusion...

Horatio : So, chaps, any clues on who the spy might be?

[The party sit down.]

Jack : [Slightly drunk] I suggest we drink far too much beer, and then start blindly accusing each other.

Harvey : Hmmm, alchohol abuse is never the solution to a problem, sir! What I want to know is this, how are we so sure that there is a spy in our midst? And if there is, could they be a shapeshifter? Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Jack : Good point, sir! Now, alcohol and cheese abuse, well, that's something else entirely! [Takes out a huge, fourteen paper cheeseratte]

[MAXWELL approaches, and sits down.]

Maxwell : Terribly sorry to interrupt you, good Colonel, but I feel it only fair to answer your question. Jusilla is something of a prognosticator -

Alice : Keeps putting stuff off, huh?

Maxwell : Er, yes, and she foretold that a spy would try and disrupt the meeting. I believe she may have had another vision, and was intercepted by the spy before she had a chance to tell us who they are.

Alice : You know, I don't want to sound heartless, but if she hadn't kept putting it off, maybe you wouldn't all be in this mess.

Harvey : A very good point, dear niece! [To Maxwell] That is indeed unfortunate news though. So it could be a he or a she, but most likely someone we'd trust and never suspect. [Stomach rumbles] By the saints, perhaps we should start our search over by the buffet, what! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Morris : Hey, I heard about what you guys did in the Under City, that was way cool. I hear you're all very close to Peter, is that true?

Harvey : We do seem to keep bumping into each other! Why do you ask? Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Austin : [To Alice] Maxwell said she was a prognosticator, not a procrastinator. You too are a prognosticator, that's the boffins term for when you see the future. [Frowns] Of course if Maxwell spoke more clearly you whould not have misinterpreted wht he said.

Alice : And what do these boffins call it when I see things in the future, Mr. Smarty pants?

Morris : Come on, Peter is a legend! Where is Peter, Maxwell?

Jack : Yeah, where [emphasis] is Peter?

Tommy : [Stands up] Give us Peter or I'll ram my boot so far up your ass I'll have to reach down your throat to tie my laces! [Sits down, glaring at Maxwell for a moment, before standing up again, calmly] The laces on the boot that would be up your ass, not the other boot. [Sits down again]

Maxwell : [Taking off his glasses and cleaning them] I - erm, I'm afraid we weren't able to [mumbles something, before clearing his throat and putting his glasses back on] I speak perfectly clearly, Mr. Sleaze, thank you.

Austin : [To Maxwell] I know you do. [To Alice] That's just called plain clever, Alice. [To Beaucaphalus] So, great sword of Wonders, do you know what 'the path' is?

Maxwell : It's, er, it's quite a strange situation, actually. [Cleans his glasses yet again] But, er, certain, shall we say, types of Knight have refused to recognise us, and don't seem to appreciate the benefits of having a central organisation. [Puts his glasses back on and looks around the others before adding, somewhat unconvincingly] I know, preposterous, isn't it?

Harvey : Good grief man, speak up, what! You weren't able to what?

Evan : I know that first impressions can be misleading, but right now my first impression is that y'all seem to be doing a pretty good job of disrupting yourselves without the help of any spy...

Maxwell : [Nods at Austin] Yes, thank you.

Alice : [Thoroughly confused] I thought clever was when I put stuff off, knowing that someone else will do it eventually.

Beaucaphalus : I sure do, Austin. I sure do.

Maxwell : [Pales a little] Oh.

Beaucaphalus : Don't panic, Maxie, I know the rules.

Harvey : [To Evan] They certainly seem to making a good job of it, that's for sure! [To Maxwell] Are you telling me that you already know what this path thing is? And that you won't tell us? Is that it, sir? By the saints, I can see that those other knights might have the way of it! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Maxwell : [Somewhat bashfully] Well, thank you very much, Mr. Starglow.

Alice : So, this [finger quotes] type of Knight that doesn't like you and Snyder, is Peter one of these?

Maxwell : I'm afraid so, but I'm quite sure we'll be able to convince them otherwise.

Maxwell : Certainly not, sir! I don't know what the path. In fact, I believe it was your particularly well dressed sword that said he knew.

Beaucaphalus : He's right, Harv, I'm the one who knows.

Harvey : What treachery and villiany is this! Beaucauphalus said he knew what it was, and you sir, you went pale, to which he said not to worry and that he knew the rules! Which I take to mean that you also know what the path is, or at the very least, know the rules also! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Maxwell : I say! Steady on, sir! There is no treachery or villainy at work here - I know one rule about the path, the first rule. [Holds Harvey's eye, obviously uncomfortable, but very determined] All (except the party) : The first rule of the The Path is that you must not talk about The Path.

Austin : [To Maxwell] Well now that you have broken the first rule you may as well tell us, or we may just have to tell everyone we meet. [To Beaucaphalus] And I am quite sure that the sword of wonders is completely exempt from any such rule and only abides by his own rules. Is that not the case Beaucaphalus?

Beaucaphalus : I'm afraid not, Austin. It's something you have to figure out on your own - when you do, you'll understand why all the secrecy. I know other people have mentioned it to you, though.

[BALLY comes over to the party, standing behind EVAN, with her hands on his shoulders.]

Bally : [Big smile] Hi everyone! Are we all having a tip top time?

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] And who made this sill rule? And how did anyone find out about this blasted path if no one can talk about the path, eh? Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Maxwell : I'm not sure, but, apparantly, once you get far along enough this path, it all makes sense.

Bally : [Mock scolding] Oh! We're not talking about the path again are we? You know, between you and me, I don't think it even exists, and that it's just being used as an excuse for certain people not to come on board with us.

Chastity : [To Bally] If by tip top you mean frustrating, yes we are, thank you. [To Harvey] I suppose we'll just have to let fate show us the way, Colonel, as usual.

Harvey : [To the party] Indeed, Sister, although, given that the two people who mentioned this path to us where Pestilence and Darius, I fear there may be something very sinister ahead of us.

Bally : Oh, don't you worry, Chastity, that always happens when that awful path comes up. Between you and me, we're better off without them.

Maxwell : Bally! Please!

Evan : [To Chastity] Oh, I don't know. That whole speaking in unison thing they did thing was pretty entertaining. [Looks at them] How long didja have to rehearse that bit?

Tommy : Probably a shorter time than you spent on your hair, Missy!

Evan : [Looking around] Uh, doesn't that mean you've just broken the rule by talking about it? Might as well plunge the rest of the way and tell us everything else y'know.

Austin : Well, I can see Peter's point of view. [To Maxwell] Who said you lot could be our watchers anyway? WHo is your boss? And as we were at least fifty percent of the founding members of the knights, why were we not consulted? How can you possibly be bonafide if the founding members have not given their consent? [Checks his nails] It all sounds very suspicious to me. Peter is an excellent judge of character too.

Maxwell : The founding members, but that's impossible - those that aren't dead have almost certainly - [gets up] You'll have to excuse me, I need to do some research. To see who - or what - or - yes, yes, indeed.

[MAXWELL hurries away.]

Alice : [Squeezing into her seat, unnecessarily close to Stump] Aw, Austin! You've broken him!

Bally : Don't mind all that silliness, I've got just the thing - a special treat for everyone!

Tommy : [Curling up his lip in disgust] You're so perky you make me want to puke!

Evan : [To the party] Wait a minute. You guys founded this little club, but they're the ones giving the orders?

Chastity : [Sighs] Yes, well when you go missing for a few hundred years the bureaucrats do tend to move in. I mean look who's running the church until the second coming of Phili.

Alice : [Unhappily] True, you take your eye off the ball for two thousand years, and the next thing you know you have to make an appointment just to see yourself!

Bally : Why don't you turn that frown upside down? You know, it makes all those wrinkles on your face look even worse.

Alice : Hey!

Stump : [Glances at how close alice has moved towards him] Not to interrupt this fine insulting conversation, but since we have to find [finger quotes] the path, and nobody will tell us what the path is or where to start, Mr. Sword, do you know anything about One Hundred and Eighty?

Austin : [Remembers something] Allow me to correct myself, we are at least fifty percent of the [Emphasis] 'living' founders of the knights. Time travel does confuse the situation al little, not to mention the temporal disparity between this realm and the interior. [To Stump] His name is Beaucaphalus the Wonder sword, and you would be wise to remember. [To Bally] Are you the spy? You'd make quite a good spy.

Stump : [evil eyes Austin, the politely to Beaucaphalus] Mr. Beaucaphalus the Wonder sword, accept my apology for incorrectly saying your name. Would you, in all you're wisdom, know anything about the meaning of One Hundred and Eighty in the text that 'ole Pesty used it before plummeting into the mine? [pauses] Any information would be grateful.

Beaucaphalus : Nope, not a clue, but I do know who Athlacca is, and if he has anything to with the one hundred and eighty, then you should be very worried indeed.

Alice : [Rubs Stump's arm encouragingly] It's okay, Stump, we'll find out what it means.

Bally : [Laughs at Austin] You've got me! [Holds her hands out as though ready to be handcuffed]

Stump : [a few shivers go up and down spine] So, I would take it Athlacca is a bit worse than Pesty?

Austin : [To Beaucaphalus] Please tell us what you know about Althacca, I think we really need to know. Pestilence was certain we who meet some time soon.

Beaucaphalus : Let's look at it this way, if you ever do get to meet him, assuming the world hasn't been destroyed by then, if you are stupid enough to try and annoy him by calling him by the wrong name, [emphasis] I would kill you, just to get on his good side.

Beaucaphalus : Not a whole lot, I'm afraid. He was around before my time. Big, scary demon, lots of scales, horns, sharp pointy teeth, that kind of thing. Doesn't like killing people though.

Alice : Doesn't like killing people? He can't be all that bad, then.

Beaucaphalus : He doesn't like killing people because he prefers to keep them alive to torture horribly.

Tommy : I hate Athlacca. I hate demons. [Glares at Bally] And I hate you.

Bally : [Perkily] You know, it takes more energy to frown than to smile.

Tommy : Yeah? How much energy did it take for you to say that? [To the others, obviously including the paper] I think she's the spy.

Chastity : [To Beaucaphalus] You would kill us just to get on his good side? If previous experience is anything to go by you'd kill anyone anyway. And before you say anything, yes, yes I know you're a sword and that's what you do.

Beaucaphalus : I'm a sword, it's what I do. I have no conscience in the same way that Alice has no capacity for abstract thought. All I ask is that you treat me as you do her, you keep her around for, well, frankly other than her phsyical beauty which has been compromised by her proximity to Stump, I don't know, but the fact is you do. I, on the other hand, am [loudly and ostentatiously] a Wonder Sword!

Bally : So, the presentation?

Chastity : [To Bally] Yes please.

Bally : [Strides into the middle of the room] Everyone! If I could have your attention please! [Pauses for a moment] We're all aware of the difficult times we live in, and the adhoc and, frankly, mystifying recruitment strategy employed by the Knights. Today, all that is going to change. Today, we introduce, [dramatically] Unit 314! [Applauds]

[BALLY continues to applaud for a few seconds, but nothing appears, and no one else joins in.]

Bally : Er, just a moment. [Goes to the door for a second, and then returns] Ladies and Gentlemen, I present, Unit 314!

[Enter UNIT 314, what appears to be a well built man, about six feet four, dressed in very heavy armour, and with a metal helmet. He stomps into the room, making hugely heavy footsteps.]

Unit314 : [With a strangely metallic and monosyllabic voice] Greetings, Knights.

Chastity : [Quietly to the group] He sounds like one of the Queens View players! [Calling Out to Bally] What is the purpose of this Unit?

Bally : He's the new type of Knight! We've got a warehouse full of parts and wizards, all ready to go - total obedience, total control, total knowledge of his location and absolute control over his alcohol and cheese intake. Isn't he just too perfect?

[The resounding silence in the room indicates how unimpressed the other Knights are.]

Bally : I mean, obviously, he'll work with people like yourselves.

Austin : [To the Party] I think there may be more than one spy involved in this. [To Bally] This won't work, simply because the machines are totally in the control of their controlers. If the controlers are killed or usurped or infiltrated then the game is over. Appart from the fact we still don't know who the hell you watchers are, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm with Peter on this one, the watchers are not part of the knights until I have been told who why where and when the watchers were formed. [Pauses for effect] Further to this Maxwell seems to have run off to inform someone somewhere that we were some of the original founders of the knights. That sounds like spying to me, in fact, all of the watchers may be spies, unwittingly or otherwise. [Considers the reactions and expressions of all those listening] This smells like an an elaborate trap to me.

[Predictably, all the watchers react with horror and revulsion at this outrageous claim, while, in general, most of the Knights seem to be in agreement.]

Snyder : Even if you are the founders, you snot nosed little punk, it doesn't matter. I'm well aware of all the fancy time travel that young people today get up to, and, quite frankly it doesn't matter. We are operating under the highest authority here. Furthermore, Unit 314 and his soon to be created comrades will not be under control of their watchers, rather they will under the control of the Council of the Knights. [Pauses, as though expecting gasps of breath]

Jane : He does have a point, though, Mr. Snyder, what happens if someone gets control of them?

Snyder : [To Jane] You're a receptionist, you're not even supposed to be here. Get out.

[Exit JANE.]

Bally : [With a perky smile] You know, there are always a few who resist new technology, this is only to be expected. Wait until you see what he can do!

Stump : I take it that metal contraption doesn't have a stealth mode because I heard him two doors down, and felt his vibrations also.

Bally : Actually, it does! Unit 314, stealth mode!

[UNIT 314 takes two steps forward, making virtually the same loud noise as before.]

Bally : Isn't he great?

Stump : [Stands up] Here Here [clapping] An elephant could fart quieter than that!

Spruce : [Standing up, speaking to Bally] You are an idiot. I'm leaving to look for Jusilla.

[Exit SPRUCE.]

Bally : Well, I think someone is feeling threatened!

Evan : Uh, how're they at handling the old paradox test? Every tale I've heard about that sort of thing... [Points at Unit 314 with one thumb] Has 'em blowing sparks out of their head if you say something contradictory to 'em.

Stump : Actually Evan, I think if you let Miss Alice here speak with Unit 314, I think you would get your answer. [smiles]

Alice : Aw, thanks, Stump! [Walks up to Unit 314, but stops, and turns back to the others] What am I supposed to say?

Evan : Well, in the stories, people usually start doing things that don't make sense and say things that're paradoxical somehow. Y'know, the old, "I always lie" line, that kind of thing. Then the thing can't make heads or tails of it and goes up in a bunch of smoke. [Nods at Unit 314] If that doesn't happen then there just might be hope for the whole idea.

Jack : [Staggers drunkenly to his feet, swaying a little] I have one. [Makes his way into the middle of the floor] The Hierophantic Knights are holy and sacred organisation, characterised by their [thinks] decentralised approach to organisation, while you [prods Unit 314] my friend are little more than a chunk of man meat with a shiny helmet and sad little magic that turns you into mindless zombie. [Smokes some of his cheeseratte] Yet they claim you're a Knight! [Laughs at the craziness of this]

[UNIT 314 stands there impassively, although several of the Knights are starting to leave.]

Bally : See? I guess it isn't a paradox, is it?

Evan : [Smirks] Hardly rigorous testing, but it's a start. Anyone got other ideas to try out?

Alice : Oh! Oh! [Puts her hand up excitedly, but quickly calms down] Oh. No.

Bally : I think you'll find that Unit 314 will pass any and all tests! [Turns to the other knights] Do any of you have a - oh. [Face drops as she realise that it is just the party and Morris and company who are left] Well, that was rude.

Unit314 : Seach. Kill. Destroy. [Pulls out a huge sword and swipes it around, causing everyone to duck down, but immediately puts it back and roars with laughter] Only joking!

Austin : [To the others] Well I think we should all go and look for Jucilla.

Evan : [Shrugs casually] Sounds like it might be an idea... hey. [To Bally] If none of us're supposed to be using magic, how was he... [Waves at Unit 314] put together, and for that matter, how're you going to put all the others together?

Spruce : [Standing up, speaking to Bally] You are an idiot. I'm leaving to look for Jusilla.

[Exit SPRUCE.]

Bally : Well, I think someone is feeling threatened!

Evan : Uh, how're they at handling the old paradox test? Every tale I've heard about that sort of thing... [Points at Unit 314 with one thumb] Has 'em blowing sparks out of their head if you say something contradictory to 'em.

Stump : Actually Evan, I think if you let Miss Alice here speak with Unit 314, I think you would get your answer. [smiles]

Alice : Aw, thanks, Stump! [Walks up to Unit 314, but stops, and turns back to the others] What am I supposed to say?

Evan : Well, in the stories, people usually start doing things that don't make sense and say things that're paradoxical somehow. Y'know, the old, "I always lie" line, that kind of thing. Then the thing can't make heads or tails of it and goes up in a bunch of smoke. [Nods at Unit 314] If that doesn't happen then there just might be hope for the whole idea.

Jack : [Staggers drunkenly to his feet, swaying a little] I have one. [Makes his way into the middle of the floor] The Hierophantic Knights are holy and sacred organisation, characterised by their [thinks] decentralised approach to organisation, while you [prods Unit 314] my friend are little more than a chunk of man meat with a shiny helmet and sad little magic that turns you into mindless zombie. [Smokes some of his cheeseratte] Yet they claim you're a Knight! [Laughs at the craziness of this]

[UNIT 314 stands there impassively, although several of the Knights are starting to leave.]

Bally : See? I guess it isn't a paradox, is it?

Evan : [Smirks] Hardly rigorous testing, but it's a start. Anyone got other ideas to try out?

Alice : Oh! Oh! [Puts her hand up excitedly, but quickly calms down] Oh. No.

Bally : I think you'll find that Unit 314 will pass any and all tests! [Turns to the other knights] Do any of you have a - oh. [Face drops as she realise that it is just the party and Morris and company who are left] Well, that was rude.

Unit314 : Seach. Kill. Destroy. [Pulls out a huge sword and swipes it around, causing everyone to duck down, but immediately puts it back and roars with laughter] Only joking!

Austin : [To the others] Well I think we should all go and look for Jucilla.

Evan : [Shrugs casually] Sounds like it might be an idea... hey. [To Bally] If none of us're supposed to be using magic, how was he... [Waves at Unit 314] put together, and for that matter, how're you going to put all the others together?

Chastity : Maybe there's a little person inside operating it, like those drinks vending machines?

Austin : [Stands up and straightens a cuff that was already perfectly straight] Well, I think we should really go and look for Jucilla, instead of sitting around here discussing a psychotic robot with a sick sense of humor. Her life maybe in danger, and she may well know some critical information. [Looks at the others to see if they aggree]

Chastity : I agree, Austin. [To Bally] You'll never get away with these abominations.

Austin : [Moves towards the door] Meanwhile Jucilla could be being tortured to death. Shall we go and try to find out whats going on, instead of listening to the slanderous remarks made by one who spend their time doing very little bar watching our moves and criticising us. [To Bally, deadpan] Present company excluded of course.

Bally : I think you'll find that we will, it's just a matter of time before all the knights come on side. Already most of them are almost with us.

[There is now just the party and the watchers left.]

Snyder : [Disgusted] Magic! [Storms out]

Bally : Part of the reason we have to keep the amount of magic down is to ensure we don't attract too much demonic activity when generating these Units. It's a fair trade off, isn't it? Knights give up parlour tricks and ways to impress brainless women into bed, and we save the world.

Alice : They're not parlour tricks! Stump can make a dragon!

Stump : [To Alice] Well thank you. You know, they say Illusionists just think they are doing it.

Alice : [Laughs] Yeah, that's a good one! [Thinks for a moment] Doing what?

Harvey : Right, troop, a search of the hotel is in order. Let's return to the room to collect all our equipment.

Bally : Unit 314 can do it for you! Unit 314, fetch their armour.

[UNIT 314 walks over to a nearby fishtank and smashes it, returning to BALLY with a large goldfish.]

Bally : [After a moment's hesitation] Of course, there still are one or two bugs to iron out!

Chastity : If only the doctor hadn't wandered off. He'd have been in his element sorting out this monstrosity! [Turns to the door] Let us join the search parties.

Evan : [Accompanies the others out] Yeah, might as well form a search party, since this party's dead.

Harvey : Well said, Sister, let's go quickly, before that monstrosity tries to present us with any more fish.

[Exit ALL to the lobby, where most of the other knights are at the door, arguing with MAXWELL.]

Maxwell : No, I'm afraid the hotel is sealed - the spy is still in the hotel, and Jusilla almost certainly is too. We need to search the hotel completely first.

Stump : Hmmmmm. Locked in a hotel with a spy, a bunch of winey knights, and a missing person. Makes me hungry. [looks for something to eat]

Alice : I'll get you something, Stump, you wait here with the others.

[Exit ALICE, back into the party room.]

Harvey : I'd like something to, Ali- [too late. She's gone.]

Evan : [To Stump] Just a guess, but I hope you like fish.

Alice : [Coming back out of the room] Look what I got! [The fish flies across the room and hits Stump on the face, before falling on the floor] No wonder they keep them in tanks, they're really hard to carry!

Austin : [To Maxwell] What areas have not yet been searched. The basement?

Maxwell : Yes, that's correct. I believe there is a large wine cellar there. It was locked to prevent the kni - well, it was locked, but it would be a good idea to search it.

Alice : [Sniffs her hands] Hey, does any one else think there's a smell of fish off me?

Chastity : [To Alice] No more than normal, dear. Maybe you should consider wearing a longer skirt in future to prevent the scent travelling on the breeze.

Alice : Right, [nods] fair enough. [Puzzled face] Huh?

[The party head downstairs, and soon come to a locked door.]

Alice : I bet Stump could break that. Go on, Stump, give it a whack.

Austin : [To Alice] I think it might be best not to encourage Mr. Stump to start wacking. [Austin checks the door and lock and handle for traps and too see if it's locked. If it's locked he will pick the lock] Hmm, let me see.

Chastity : [To Alice] I agree with the lawyer. Having seen how Mr Stump has reacted to your dress tonight its probably taking all his concentration to stop himself having a quick wack! [To Stump] No offensive meant of course, Mr. Stump.

Alice : I don't know, I bet he does it all the time. [Stands beside Stump and feels his muscles] Mm-mm. [Steps back and looks him up and down] Have you been working out?

[Despite the distractions, AUSTIN soon as the lock picked.]

Harvey : Well done, Private Scar, although it is somewhat worrying that the fastest I've ever seen you pick a lock has been this, to gain entry to a forbidden cellar of alcohol!

Alice : [Defensively to Chastity] Hey! Leave him alone! [Quierly, and a little self consciously, clearly wanting only Chastity to hear] Do you really think he, you know, reacted?

Stump : Now now ladies, there is enough of stump to go around.

Alice : [Leaning in very, very close to Stump] And I'm enough of a lady to go around Stump. [Licks her lips salaciously]

Chastity : Alice, please! And you've not even [emphasise] had a drink yet.

Stump : So Chastity, any good prayers today? I think I need a HUGE drink.

Alice : [Putting an arm around Stump and snuggling up to him] I'm intoxicated by Stump!

Chastity : Yes, and probably any mans stump at that! [To Austin] How's that cellar looking?

Stump : [gives the "what do you expect" look, careful not to move too quickly as to not exite her] I don't know how it is looking, but I definately could you a drink. A COLD ONE!

Alice : Hey! Don't think you can get him by telling lies about me, Chastity! You back off with your awful stories about people giving blowjobs to football teams. [Squeezes Stump's arm reassuringly]

Alice : Really? I'm in the mood for something hot!

[The door leads into a large, well stocked wine cellar, with several kegs of beer too.]

Harvey : [Getting quite flustered at Alice's behaviour] Let's go in and investigate, but no drinking troop, not on duty.

Austin : [Bored of the petty bickering and attracted buy the potential champaign ahead, enters the cellar very carefully, brandishing Beaucaphalus, ready to defend himself. Scouring for traps and clues. Deadpan] Hush you lot! I can't hear which bottles contain the bubbles!

Stump : Harvey, we might be on duty, but if I don't get something to drink VERY soon, I might explode. [looks at Alice then Chastity then Alice, fakes a cry]

Alice : Aw, poor Stump! Come on, let's see what they have. [Tries to lead Stump in by the hand] A bottle of champagne would be just perf!

[The cellar is well stocked, but there is nowhere obvious for someone to hide or be hidden.]

Evan : It'll also lead to a 'pagneful hangover if you're not careful. [Looks around] 'Sides, if there really is a spy around, getting tipsy's not exactly a great idea.

Alice : Stump's a real man, he can hold his drink. [Gives Stump a sexy wink] And I think I'd like to hold his -

[Mercifully, ALICE is interrupted by a blood curdling scream from upstairs, followed by a woman's voice crying out.]

Voice : Oh my God! She's been murdered! Everyone, come quickly!

Stump : There IS a god!

Evan : [Turns towards the stairs, listening with his head slightly tilted] And I'll bet that they're laughing like a madman at this little show.

[Book IV, Act I, Scene IV. The Lobby. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, HARVEY and STUMP are here, having just arrived back from the cellar. Everyone else from the party appears to be here, gathered around what seems to be a cloakroom with their backs to the party. The party can just about make out LUCY talking to MAXWELL, she is clearly very upset, while he looks even more concerned than usual.]

Alice : [Starts to push her way through] Make way, make way! Stump's here, he'll sort all this out.

Evan : [Hangs back, looking over the crowd to see if anyone is conspicuously absent, or taking unusual notice of the party.]

Chastity : [Tries to follow Austin through the crowd] Make way, make way. Are there any last rights to be performed? [Keeps an eye on Austin for his pocket checking antics]

Austin : [Slips forward through the crowd to see who has been murdered and how] Too late! [Sighs]

[The party slip through without too much difficulty, and there doesn't seem to be anyone behaving too strangely.]

Maxwell : Yes, Sister, I'm afraid we do need you.

[JANE is dead, with her throat slit, with a lot of blood around. LUCY has quite a bit of blood on her, and is clearly shocked at what has happened.]

Maxwell : It's Jane. I simply don't know why anyone would want to hurt her, of all of us, she knew the least.

Austin : [To Maxwell] You're not too sharp are you Maxi old fella. Jane must have know the identity of the spy, and the spy killed her to cover their tracks. I can see why they just get you to watch. [Checks jane for a pulse, carefully avoiding all blood, and looks for footprints and clues. Did she have time to leave a message? To Lucy] Did you see or hear anything?

Maxwell : Of course, of course, she must have been onto something.

Lucy : Oh, it was awful, I came in to make sure she was treating my coat properly - it's a Vouis Litton - and found her here, it was - [face hardens] am I being accused of something? My God, that's just typical Austin Sleaze, isn't it?

Chastity : [To Lucy] I believe that Austin was asking you a simple question. A concept I know most lawyers have difficulty in comprehending. Did you?

Lucy : Did I what? Comprehend the hidden meaning in his question? Of course I did. I heard and saw nothing.

Evan : [Pointing at Lucy's bloodstains with one thumb] Looks like that doesn't include the sense of touch, though. How'd it happen?

Austin : [To Lucy] Vouis Litton! [Laughs] Ha! A veritable door mat. So you came to check that she was wipeing her feet on it properly [Austin starts taking notes] But you haerd and saw nothing, excepting the late Jane here of course. [Nods and notes] So how, pray tell, did you come to be covered in blood?

Lucy : I fell.

Harvey : [Examining the body too] Gah! What a savage attack. It must surely have been a man, ladies are far too gentle and civilised to do such an act.

Alice : [Again, very, very close to Stump, and whispering to him] I can be as gentle and civilised as you want. Or not.

[HARVEY says nothing, but gives a panicked look at CHASTITY.]

Evan : [Rolls his eyes] Y'know, that attitude makes it the perfect way for a lady to disguise having done it, if the perpetrator happens to be one. [To Lucy] Okay, so y'had her here playing laundress. When did you send her in here, and who else was around to see it?

Lucy : [Slowly but surely adopting her previous aggressive attitude] I didn't send her in here. I was in the dining room with all of you when she left. I only found her a moment ago, anyone could have done it. Do you remember that scream that brought you all running here a few seconds ago? That was me, upon finding her, and not, as some may suspect, Austin, upon realising just how out of date his clothes really are.

[Several of the other knights are listening, but most of them are talking freely amongst themselves.]

Alice : You know, Austin, you should really have a word with Stump about fashion, he could really sort you out. Look at the quality of this! [Runs her hand up Stumps rough cotton shirt] Mm-mm!

Chastity : [To Alice] Alice, will you please desist from manhandling Mr. Stump. If you have a burning desire to fondle persons of restricted size and mobility then maybe you should consider a career in Midwifery.

Alice : Oh, I see what's going on here, Chastity, a little jealous, are we? Can't take the competition? I'm younger, thinner, better looking, better dressed and have far nicer hair than you, so you should be worried.

Evan : Uh huh. And everyone who was here, was in the party then, right? So who left the party on their own, between then and now? There were enough people trailing out that I couldn't exactly keep track, what with the metal critter flailing around.

Austin : [To Evan] Lots of people left the party, we were among the last to leave. Hardly suprising considering the [looks at Lucy casually] low life they let in. [To Evan] Jucilla was absent of course, and Spruce Hannigan left early to find her, followed by Maxwell [Nods to Maxwell] and of course Snyder [Drops the 'r' a bit] had already gone to, amonst several others.

Spruce : [Steps forward from the crowd, up close to Austin] Jusilla is beyond suspicion. If any one is suspect it is your party, no one else encouraged magic use in the last two days.

Bally : Well now, I think we're all understandably tense at what's going on here. Why don't we continue searching the hotel? Unit 314 can stay here to guard the body.

Stump : That's good, let the tin-head who was made and is controlled by somebody watch a body that will probably disappear when we all leave. Sure, go for it.

Alice : That's a great idea, Stump! Wow, you're really decisive today!

Bally : I can assure you the body won't disappear - precisely because Unit

Evan : Right, well, if we're going to minimize the number of murders that go on here, it'd be a good idea for people to stick to groups of three or more. Safety in numbers, and pairs have the little problem of one half of 'em ending up dead when the other half turns out to be a bad guy, y'know. worried.

Stump : [A bit worried, but obviously enjoying the attention] Wow now pretty ladies. [Pulls Alice away from clawing at Chastity, then to Lucy] Why couldn't you, Lucy, be the spy, having killed Jane because she found YOU out. Huh. [grabs Alice and keeps her close away from the danger]

Snyder : [Watching with a baleful eye as Alice grabs onto Stump] I suggest you stick together in your parties, with associated watchers, although [looks to Bally] you might want to keep a hose ready just in case things get really out of control.

Alice : [Swoon] Oh, my hero![Makes a face at Chastity]

Stump : [Shrugs shoulders]

Chastity : [Sighs, shaking her head] Well had we best continue our search then. [Glances at Alice and Stump] We'd maybe best stay away from the bedrooms, just in case the temptation is too great!

Alice : Let's go for the kitchen! The kitchen! It'll be just like that film, Half of Nine Weeks!

Lucy : [To Austin] Incredible. A woman so insane in your party that she finds [waves dismissively at Stump] that attractive, and yet she has no interest in you. [Thinks] Actually, now that I think about it, it's probably not even surprising.

Stump : [to Chastity] I AM a man, though some of you think otherwise. At least SOMEBODY realizes this. [the last focused on Chastity, Stump takes Alices arm, putting his around it] So, where to?

Evan : [To Chastity] Y've got a point, there. Guess we ought to search the laundry room or the kitchen. Lots of cold water available in those places if things get out of hand.

Alice : [Sticks her tongue out at Chastity] Yeah! [Snuggles up to Stump] You know, let's not bother with this searching, let's just go upstairs, I'm sure they can manage without us for a while.

Snyder : [Outraged] What the hell is this? I mean, I'm used to scumbags like you trying to shock people, but this is outrageous! [To Harvey] Don't you have any control over them?

Harvey : [Getting more and more flustered at the two] Sir, I am as shocked as you are. Alice, what is going on?

Alice : [Defensively] Isn't it obvious? We're in love!

Spruce : [Rolls her eyes] Yes. It is obvious. [Walks off]

Chastity : [Quietly to Harvey] When we came into the hotel, wasn't Juscilla talking about having a love potion?

Harvey : [Very, very loudly] Gah! [Very, very quietly, especially given his previous attempts at whispers] Yes.

Stump : Alice, we should help now. Time enough for playing later. But if we do end up someplace convenient...[Whispers something in her ear]

Evan : Uh, and you think that she shared it around a bit? [Shakes his head] Great, just what we need.

Austin : [To Lucy] I'm not really suprised that you fine so many things suprising in the first instance, then not after a few moments, it's obviously a symptom of your apathetic thought processes and general mental slugishness. [Looks Lucy over] Which does at least explain your taste for prole work clothes.

Lucy : Indeed, Austin, and nothing brings on apathy and mental sluggishness like being in your presence.

Harvey : [Alarmed] It makes it all the more important that we find this Jusilla as quickly as possible, Private Starflow, and find out why she did this terrible thing. [More in hope than anything else] Because, she surely did this terrible thing, didn't she?

Evan : Starglow. And maybe she did, or maybe she wasn't the only one with a love potion around. Or hers fell into someone else's hands, which could also explain the missing bit.

Stump : Sorry, I was preoccupied...uh...what terrible thing are you referring to? [to Alice quietly] Soon.

Stump : [Heavy breathing and some moaning] What? [to the others]

Evan : [Amused] Well, y'gotta admit, it's one way to liven up a party.

Harvey : No, Private Starflow! No, no, and thrice no! Colourful balloons and streamers are the way to liven up a party, [winces at the twang from Stump's ear as Alice pulls it with her teeth] seeing your pregnant niece draped all over a man is, I can most certainly assure you, not!

Snyder : [Rolls his eyes and gives an exasperated sigh] I believe you [with disdain] people were about to search the kitchen?

Harvey : Eh? [Gives Evan an incredulous look] Sorry, sir, my apologies, I am distracted. But why would she make Alice drink a love potion?

[HARVEY is momentarily distracted by the sight of ALICE licking STUMP's ear.]

Snyder : I think I'm going to be sick.

Harvey : [Completely distracted] Kitchens! Kitchens! Who can think of kitchens when ones favourite niece is carrying on in such a way! Surely you can see she's bewitched! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Stump : Bewitched! Oh. No. Horny? Quite. [starts mildly groping Alice] Do you all mind?

Alice : [Playing along with the groping] I am bewitched, George, bewitched by your beauty of body and mind! I think I'm love.

Stump : [Smacks Alice on butt, glancing at Chastity] Don't you all have something better to do than drool? Somebody died didn't they? [plops a LONG kiss right on Alices lips]

Evan : Uh, I don't think you're gonna find Juscilla down there, y'know.

Alice : [Gives a mindless giggle at the smack, and returns the kiss, before slowly pulling away] We've got tot be thorough, Evan.

Evan : [Amused] Right, well, why don't you be thorough in the kitchen? Y'know, a place where she might actually fit?

Alice : What's that supposed to mean? Somewhere I'll fit? [Steps back from Stump, with a steely look] I see what's going on here. [Narrows her eyes and points at Evan] You're gay, and you want Stump!

Evan : [With a slightly bemused air of patience] Wrong on both counts. And you've already proven that you and Stump fit together just fine. I know it's hard to concentrate with all of those raging hormones coursing through you, but we're looking for Jusilla. Remember her? The missing one? The one that you're not going to find down each others' throats? Since she's not going to be found down there no matter how hard you try, we're going to the kitchen, and it'd kinda help if you came along.

Alice : Well, if you know so much about it, Mr. Smartypants, then why don't you suggest somewhere for us to search?

Harvey : He did, niece, the kitchen.

Alice : [Keeps her glare on Evan for a moment longer, before turning to Stump] Yay! I can make you some sandwiches, and pie. I don't know what goes into pie, but I think it's just like making a sandwich, so let's find some pie slices and put them together. [Heads off towards the kitchen, taking Stump by the hand]

Snyder : [To Lucy] You'd better go with them to keep an eye on things.

Lucy : [Rolls her eyes and glares at Austin] Of course, it's you that she should be concerned about taking off with her little ogre.

Chastity : [Looking after Alice and Stump with a look of surprise] In her current mood, I'd have expected Alice to know exactly what she wanted in her pie! [Follows towards the kitchen]

Austin : [To Lucy] Even if I were gay I would have better taste than you and your disgusting little ogre filled sex fantasies. [Looks disgusted and then tuts as he turns and heads to the kitchen. To Lucy] Come, watch and learn, if you must [Pauses and briefly considers. To Lucy] If you are capable.

Evan : [Shrugs and smiles at the theatrics as he follows to the kitchen.]

Lucy : Capable of not throwing up from listening to you? I'm not sure, Austin, I'm really not sure.

Austin : [To Lucy] Sounds just like the Lucy I remember, never sure of anything. Descisiveness never was your strong point.

Stump : So, why are we going into the kitchen?

Lucy : Unlike you, where decisiveness is your only strong point.

Alice : [To Stump] Good question, when there's a perfectly good bedroom upstairs. I think they're afraid that Jusilla might have got hungry and gone down there.

Stump : [Walking with Alice in hand] How do you like your food. Hot? Sloppy? Spicy? Quick Serve? Full Course?

[Book IV, Act I, Scene V. The Kitchen. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, HARVEY, STUMP and LUCY are here, in a very large, typical hotel style kitchen. There are a number of fireplaces, hobs etc. and quite a lot of apparantly half cooked meals, as though the cooks/chefs left in a rush.]

Alice : [Picks up a cherry, and leans provocatively back against a counter top] Well, what do we do now? [Slips the cherry into her mouth and starts chewing slowly, all the while watching Stump] Cough! [Immediately begins choking on the stalk, before eventually coughing it up onto the ground] Gasp!

Stump : [to Alice] Maybe a bananna would be easier on you. [Peels a bananna, slowly slides it into her mouth] Tis a shame about all this good food. Maybe I should finish up cooking?

Lucy : Capable of not throwing up from listening to you? I'm not sure, Austin, I'm really not sure.

Austin : [To Lucy] Sounds just like the Lucy I remember, never sure of anything. Descisiveness never was your strong point.

Stump : So, why are we going into the kitchen?

Lucy : Unlike you, where decisiveness is your only strong point.

Alice : [To Stump] Good question, when there's a perfectly good bedroom upstairs. I think they're afraid that Jusilla might have got hungry and gone down there.

Stump : [Walking with Alice in hand] How do you like your food. Hot? Sloppy? Spicy? Quick Serve? Full Course?

[Book IV, Act I, Scene V. The Kitchen. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, HARVEY, STUMP and LUCY are here, in a very large, typical hotel style kitchen. There are a number of fireplaces, hobs etc. and quite a lot of apparantly half cooked meals, as though the cooks/chefs left in a rush.]

Alice : [Picks up a cherry, and leans provocatively back against a counter top] Well, what do we do now? [Slips the cherry into her mouth and starts chewing slowly, all the while watching Stump] Cough! [Immediately begins choking on the stalk, before eventually coughing it up onto the ground] Gasp!

Stump : [to Alice] Maybe a bananna would be easier on you. [Peels a bananna, slowly slides it into her mouth] Tis a shame about all this good food. Maybe I should finish up cooking?

Alice : [Hoarsely] Of course. [Takes some of the banana, but clearly still hasn't got rid of all the bits of cherry stalk] Cough! [Turns away, coughing and with tears in her eyes] Yes, that would be great, Stump.

Evan : First place to check is the larder, just to make sure there aren't any people hanging from the meat hooks. Always happens in the horror stories, y'know. [Goes to check the larder]

Chastity : [To Evan] Best not go alone, if we're talking about horror story cliches! [To the others] We'll just be a minute. [Follows Evan]

Harvey : I'll come too, just in case there isn't a body.

[EVAN opens the larder door, with the traditional scary movie creaking sound. Predictably, a body falls out. It is SPRUCE, and she has been badly beaten.]

Lucy : [Screams] Oh no! [Turns and grabs onto Austin]

Austin : [Instinctively hug Hugs Lucy to his chest, sheltering her from the aweful scene. Cooly, in a dashing kind of way] It looks like we are too late! [Hugs Lucy a bit more]

Lucy : [Steps back from Austin] Get your hands off me!

Alice : [Still giving the occasional cough, bends down to take look, giving a good view of her behind to Stump] I don't think she's dead, just unconscious.

Harvey : Mm. Yes. [Mutters to himself] With the amount of raging hormones in this place, I'm only surprised that no one is trying to get intimate with her. [Realises what he's said, and gets very red of face] Excuse me!

Austin : [To Lucy, releasing her] And not a moment too soon! [Goes and checks Spruce's pulse and makes her comfortable using a clean dishcloth or towel for her pillow etc. To Lucy] So typical of you to go all amature dramatics at a time like this!

Lucy : And so typical of you to try and rob her!

[AUSTIN puts a bundle of teatowels under SPRUCE. She has been hit about the head a few times, and is bleeding, but it looks as though it isn't too serious.]

Alice : [Confused] When did this happen? Oh, she left earlier than the rest of us.

Stump : Alice, come with me. Let's get some wet towels.

Alice : Right, Stump. It looks like there are some near the sinks.

[ALICE and STUMP head towards the lower set of sinks.]

Harvey : [Gravely] Mr. Stump, these had better be for the injured Miss Spruce, and not for any kind of inappropriate behaviour.

Chastity : [Nodding her head] Quite right, Colonel. The only damp patches she should have to lie on should be from tap water. [Takes the opportunity to stock up on some more tea towels] These have proven to be indispensable weapons in the fight against evil.

Harvey : [Watching Chastity stuffing tea towels into every conveivable location] Er, yes, of course, Sister, of course.

[Just as ALICE and STUMP reach the sinks, the door of the kitchen opens, and enter UNIT 314. He steps in and throws the large bolt on the door, bending it up so it is now impossible to get the door open.]

Unit314 : Murderers.

Alice : Hey! We didn't do anything!

Unit314 : [Looks Stump and Alice up and down] Perverts.

Stump : [to Chastity] Yes, they are for the misses, not this one. [to Unit314, bows] Well thanks, but actually in love and lusting. Ever heard of one hundred and eighty? [grabs Alice pulling her close to him, slowly stepping back]

Austin : [To Lucy] So suspicious! I'm not trying to rob her, she needs help, can you see? She's hurt, or don't you care?

Lucy : Of course I do, I care so much that I want to be sure she can pay for her medical bills, healthcare doesn't come cheap in Asphyxia!

Unit314 : [Swiping his sword around with unbelievable speed] Come on, perverts.

Alice : Hey! You know nothing about us - if you had seen the way Stump grabbed my ass earlier, you'd know [emphasis] I'm a lady. [Draws her sword]

Alice : It's okay, Stump, we can take him, together, we're invincible, unstoppable, we can soar into the sky like eagles, we can - hey! [Realises that everyone, including Unit 314, is laughing at her]

Unit314 : [Stops laughing and draws his sword, now with his normal demeanour] You are murderers who must die. [Starts walking towards Alice and Stump] I will start with you two, because she reminds me of a Celine Dion song.

Austin : [Looks at Lucy] Well I'm sure sister Chastity will fix her up for free [Looks over to Alice, Stump and Unit314] It looks like that stupid robot has malfunctioned already. [Sighs]

Stump : [to Alice] Uh...sure. It's not that time of the month is it? Didn't think so. [In a completely suprised and astonished look, pointing behind Unit314] IT'S THE KILLER! R3D2! [grabs Alice and runs like hell]

Harvey : [To Unit314] I say sir! You claim we are murderers and perverts, then where's your proof, eh! Any fool can see we are trying to help this poor victim, not hinder her! Not put away your sword and help us carry this woman to safety, eh! [Bends down to help her up] Well come on then! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

[STUMP and ALICE head back towards the others, but UNIT 314 slashes ALICE across the back with his sword, sending her flying to the ground and crashing into large counter of ware.]

Unit314 : [Clearly trying to mimic Harvey, but failing miserably] Well, come on then!

Stump : [trying to pull Alice off her feat and away from Unit314, fighting her] You failed to mention that she was extremely fiesty! [Turns her around, his back facing Unit314 and plants a deep passionate kiss with a little tongue action for effect]

Stump : [In a poor attempt to mimic William Shatners voice] You bastard, you sliced my squeeze! [to the others] Are you all just going to sit there and play with yourselves or are you going to help? [Casts Magic Missile at Unit314's groin] Lat from Clayt #20

[The magic missile shoots out from STUMP and seems to momentarily stun UNIT 314, giving STUMP time to pull ALICE to her feet.]

Unit314 : Ow. [Slightly high pitched] The square root of pi is

Evan : [Backing away from the mad machine] Uh, we could really use one of those paradoxes right now...

Harvey : I'll sort him out!

[HARVEY runs passed the retreating ALICE and STUMP and hammers his sword against UNIT 314.]

Harvey : Grope my niece, eh? [Thunk!] Encourage her by feeding her phallic like foods, eh?

[HARVEY again hammers his sword against a somewhat surprised and puzzled looking UNIT 314.]

Harvey : Publicly cavort with her? [Shouting] I think not sir! [Hits him again, knocking Unit 314 back against one of the counters] Molest her when she's not in full control of her faculties? Bastard!

[HARVEY swings again, but the only slighly damaged UNIT 314 catches his sword arm.]

Unit314 : You fight well for an old man, and for a crazy one, but you cannot win. [Stabs Harvey]

Austin : [Picks up a handy jug of water and throws it at Unit 314] Go Colonel!

Harvey : You had that jug of water all this time and you didn't throw it over Alice and Stump? Damn your stupidity, Sleaze! [Strikes Unit 314 again, just as the water splashes on him]

[UNIT 314 gives a jolt, but regains control in time to hit HARVEY again, knocking him to the ground. Unfortunately, there are no more handy jugs of water, everything else down this end of the room are cooking ingredients and cake mixes, such as dough etc.]

Alice : [Disentangles herself from Stump] Come on, we've got to help Harvey! [Hits Unit 314, who makes no effort to avoid it]

Lucy : [Clings to Austin] What are we going to do? We can't stop it!

Austin : [Shielding Lucy. Picks up a bag of cake mix and throws it at Unit 314] It must have some weakness! Throw some cooking oil at it someone!

Evan : Let's see if I can slow it down. [Mutters an incantation]

[Five large strips of metal appear around UNIT 314, and lock his arms to his side, just as he gets a face full of dough from AUSTIN. It doesn't have any immediate effect, but some slips inside what appears to be his armour. Almost immediately, UNIT 314's face (or, what's visible of it) becomes wracked with concentration, as he strains to break the bonds.]

Alice : Yay! We got him! [Face drops slightly] Hey, is he doing a big poo?

[CHASTITY gives a stifled grunt of pain, and grabs her head in her hands.]

Stump : [Not noticing Chastity, draws his sword and hits Unit 314 as hard as he can in the back of the legs] Let's finish him off! > Stump : [Not noticing Chastity, draws his sword and hits Unit 314 as > hard as he can in the back of the legs] Let's finish him off!

Evan : Uh, I'd really rather get out of here before he gets out of there, if y'don't mind. [Circles around to the door and attempts another spell to force the bolt open despite the damage]

Chastity : [Drops to her knees moaning] Gnnnn...the pressure...!

AUstin : [Runs over and stabs Unit 314 right in the exposed mouth with Beaucaphalus] Stab him in the face!

Beaucaphalus : Yeeeha! Let's get him!

[Just as AUSTIN gets to him, UNIT 314 bursts free of his bonds, and punches him hard on the face, sending him crashing onto the middle counter top and onto the floor. As this happens the bolt in the door undoes itself, and EVAN is about halfway there.]

Unit314 : Thigh knife. [A small panel opens in his leg, and Unit 314 takes out a huge knife.]

Lucy : [With anguish] Austin! [Grabs a handful of dough and throws it at Unit 314, causing some of it to sink in as previously, and Unit 314's movement to become strangely more mechanical.]

Stump : [Yelling] CHASTITY! Are you hurt?

Austin : [Arrgh! Jumps away from Unit 314, back to Lucy] Lets go! [Throws more dough at Unit 314]

Chastity : [Still holding her head in her hands] Aargh...trapped...coats...pain...clothes...wardrobe!

Evan : [Ducking and weaving so as to make himself a more difficult target, Evan closes the remaining distance to the door to haul it open and call for help.]

Unit314 : [Clearly having trouble with the dough clogging up his insides] Traitors! [Swings and hits Stump]

[As EVAN gets the door open, ALICE and HARVEY throw more dough at UNIT 314, the latter pausing for a moment to taste some.]

Harvey : Mm-mm!

[AUSTIN suddenly drops to his knees, clearly in some sort of distress.]

Evan : Ducking to the other side of the door to use it as a shield, bellows at the top of his lungs Sorry to trouble everyone, but we need a bit of help with a berserk golem up here!

Austin : [Gets up holding his head] Ooow, what the hell is doing that? [Throws more dough at Unit 314. Then tries to get Spruce out of there. To Lucy ] give me a hand could you please!

Stump : Nice shot Alice. [Grabs Beaucaphalus from Austin and frantically attacks Unit 314, low targets - legs, knees, groin] Die Pesty...DIE!

Chastity : [Recovering from her ordeal and making for the door] Come on, come on. We've to get to the bedrooms. Someone's in trouble.

Lucy : I've got her, come on!

Alice : [Throwing even more dough at Unit 314] What about the people in trouble here?

[It looks like UNIT 314 has had enough cake mix thrown into his internals, and, just as STUMP hits him again, he gives an enormous bang, and covers the party in cake mix.]

Unit314 : [Singing] Daisy, Daisy, [tails off] Daiiiisy.

Chastity : Glancing back ayt Unit 314 That just goes to justify a live of poverty. Too much dough will do you in! [Heads quickly out the door]

Stump : [Heroically] To the bedrooms!

Austin : [Helps Lucy lift Spruce out of the kitchens. Heads for the bedrooms] Lead the way!

Stump : Alice. Would you mind finding the bedrooms? [following Alice]

[Enter MORRIS and SNYDER, almost colliding with the party.]

Alice : Sure, no problem. [Turns to Snyder] Where are the bedrooms?

Snyder : Sex? Is that all you people think about? Unit 314! What have they done to you?

Morris : [Pulls down his shades to check out Unit 314] Pretty good, pretty good, pretty neat, pretty neat.

Alice : Er, why do we want to go to the bedrooms?

Snyder : [Glances back from Unit 314] Probably to have sex!

Stump : Good idea Snyder, but wrong. Chastity said that we should go and search the bedrooms. [pausing for a second] Oh yeah, you might want to check it's speech. It's speaking at a higher pitch now. [Blows on hand as if blowing off smoke]

Alice : [Grabs onto Stump's arm] Stump was great! Pow! Zap! Without him, we'd probably all be dead.

Snyder : [Rolls his eyes] What bedrooms? This is a hotel, there are a lot of them.

Stump : [shrugging shoulders] No clue, ask Chastity [turning to see what she has to say] Though she might need something stronger for her head than hot tea. [To Alice in a giddy voice] Oh you were great. Though I thought you were going to die. I think I might have to tend that wound when we get upstairs where you can lie down on one of the beds. [skaking his head] Your clothes are torn. Pitty. [hand slides into open area on dress] A hot bath would help also.

Harvey : [Holding his stab wound] I say! Your confounded machine just tried to kill us all! Claimed we were traitors, perverts and murderers, what! Outrageous, I say! Outrageous! Alice my dear, are you alright after that unprovoked attack? [Looks towards Alice and Stump] Hmmm, perhaps you should come with me, Stump can search with Austin, Evan with Chastity! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Evan : [Smiling and nodding] [To Chastity] Right, let's go see who'll fall out of the closets when we open 'em.

Alice : Aw, thanks Stump! We'd better sort out this hotel room thing first though? Why are people talking about that?

Austin : [To Alice] We have to search the bedrooms at the end of the corridor with the red carpet. Let's hope there's only one corridor with red carpet. [Checks his nails, frowns and removes a piece of dough from his nail. To Snyder] If another one of your stupid machines attacks us I shall see that you rot in a cell for the rest of eternity. [Carefully put Spruse down] She needs medical attention, is there a doctor in the house?

Snyder : They are not my stupid machines. [To Morris] Why don't you see what you can do?

[MORRIS starts tending to SPRUCE in a surprisingly gentle fashion.]

Alice : Red carpet? Why what are you talking about?

Chastity : [Nodding] Yes, and somewhere there's a wardrobe.

Austin : [Indignantly to Snyder] They're not your robots! Well what the hell are they doing here then? It's killing people! [Shakes his head and move towards the staircase (giving the lift a disdainful look). To the others] Let's move, the spy is still atlarge [Becons in a hurry up manner]

Evan : [Closes his eyes and shakes his head, as if trying to clear his thoughts] Uh, ow. [Rubs his temples] I think something's going 'round. [Opens one eye] Is there a room 108 'round here?

Stump : Wait, is there a room number 180?

Snyder : [Clearly seething at Austin, but turns to Evan] Yes. [To Stump] Yes.

Alice : [Steps in front of Austin] Look, what the hell is going on? People just aren't acting their normal selves - what is this business about red carpets and a hundred and eight?

Chastity : During the fight in the kitchen I was stuck, quite painfully, by a vision. It was of someone stuck in a wardrobe, fighting their way through rows and rows of hanging clothes. I presume that Austin had a vision from the same source, but showing a corridor with a red carpet. Similarly Evan has maybe been shown the number 108. [Looks to Austin and Evan for confirmation]

Austin : [To Chastity] I neither confirm nor deny the occurence, or otherwise, of any such 'visions', should evidence or proof of such be provided, or not, as the case may be. [To all] Well, let's go and have a look at rooms 108 and 180. [Becons the others]

Alice : [With a snort of derision at Austin's legalese] How confirming or denying that you are a total asshole? Oh, no need, you just did!

Lucy : [To Austin] My my, how very petulant.

[Everyone, including SNYDER start heading up the stairs.]

Harvey : How do we know we can trust these visions?

Chastity : We don't but we have nothing else to go on at the moment. At best, we free an innocent victim who can lead us to the spy. If its a trap by the spy hopefully we can apprehended the spy with the evidence provided. At worst we all get killed and some of us are sent to stand by the right hand of Phili. [Brushes down her dress habit a bit]

Stump : [grabbing head] Man this is making my head hurt.

Evan : [To Chastity] That about covers it. [To Harvey] Well, we don't. But do y'have anything better to go on?

Harvey : [Watching Alice give Stump a head massage with a baleful eye] No.

Snyder : [As the party continue up the very long stairs] It's probably Jusilla, she has the ability to project thought sometimes, although usually only to Spruce. She sometimes gets flashes of things to come, too.

Alice : Like me? Did she get it when she joined the knights too?

Snyder : What? What are you talking about? completion.

Stump : [to Alice] You're not getting hot flashes are you?

Alice : [Leans in closer to Stump as she massage] Only from you, lover!

Snyder : What do you mean, got from the knights?

Harvey : Each of us were given a special ability by the Knights when we joined. Just after the initiation.

Snyder : [Clearly hasn't a clue what Harvey's talking about] Special ability? I don't know what initiation you're talking about, but it certainly wasn't the Hierophantic Knight initiation.

Alice : How do you know?

Snyder : Because the Hierophantic Knights don't have an initiation.

Stump : So Alice, what is your special ability? [turns slightly to get a better look at her butt]

Austin : [Chuckles] They've scrapped the initiation ceremony too! What will they think of next? [Ranting] Scrap the knights completely and just have psychotic killer robots. Ha! That won't save the world, it'll be the end of it. [Grimaces at Alice and Stump's smooching. To Lucy, nodding towards the love birds (Alice and Stump)] See the obscenities one happens accross in my theatre of operations! It's a wonder anyone can keep their lunch down.

Evan : [Shakes his head, amused] Oh, I can see that this is gonna be loads of fun before it's all over. [Accompanies Chastity to searching Room 108.]

Lucy : Indeed, it is most disturbing. Imagine if their offspring had his looks and her brains.

Snyder : [Leaning in close to Austin] Look, scumbag, I like those robots even less than I like you. My duty is to the Hierophantic Knights, not to become involved in the kind of pathetic politicking the likes of you seem to live for.

Chastity : [Up ahead with Evan, heading onto the first floor corridor] Please! Gentlemen! Come on!

Austin : [To Snyder, leaning closer to Snyder] Look, buster, I'm no scumbag, if you really knew who I was you'd know that I wouldn't be here if I was! [Turns away from Snyder. To Lucy with a fake shudder] I'd rather not imageine their offspring, or the event leading up to any such event either. [Shudders]

Snyder : It's because I really know who you are that I know that you wouldn't be here unless you had to. Scumbag.

Harvey : Gentlemen! Room 108 is just ahead. We must focus on the task at hand. Private Scar, kick the door in.

[A moment of silence passes.]

Alice : Er, Uncle Harvey? Clint is dead.

Harvey : Gah! [Glares at Austin and Snyder] See what your constant arguing has done! [Charges at the door]

[Book IV, Act I, Scene VI. Room 108. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, HARVEY, STUMP, LUCY and SNYDER are here, with HARVEY have just fallen through the door as it was opened just as he was about to hit it. Inside the room is BALLY, who miraculously managed to avoid being crushed by HARVEY.]

Bally : Super! The party are all together again! [Gives Snyder a stern yet perky look] I hope you haven't been annoying my party, Mr. Snyder. Off you go, shoo!

Evan : Yeah. Her construct attacks us, then I get a headache telling me to go to the room that she just happens to open the door to when we arrive. Coincidence must be working overtime today.

Stump : Excuse me. Coming through. Alice is injured. [pushes through everybody taking Alice over to the bed so her wounds can be tended.] Chastity, would you mind healing Alice for me?

Bally : [To Evan] Yes sir, just one big coinky dink after another. Now, what do you mean you were attacked?

[STUMP and ALICE go into the room.]

Alice : Aw, thanks Stumpie! You do love me!

Chastity : [Regarding the two with a baleful eye] I'm not sure anyone can cure Alice, but I may be able to cure her wounds. [Closes her eyes and mutters an incantation]

Alice : Yay! You're the best, Stumpie! Isn't he the best, everyone? The best!

Bally : He's super!

Austin : [To Snyder] If you had been observing us carefully enough you would see that I did not [Emphasis] have [Normal] to be be here since the terms and agreement detailing my, [Finger quotes] "punishment", were fulfilled sometime and a large number of heroic deeds ago.

Evan : Just what I said. Your little Unit decided to start swinging again, this time with us as the target. [Parodies the Unit's voice] Murderers. Perverts. [Normal voice] Malfunction or deliberate sabotage, I think those things need just a bit more work.

Bally : Well, that's just awful, simply awful! I don't know what could have gone wrong. Let's go down to the kitchen and check him out, I'm sure I'll be able to fix him.

Snyder : [Sneers at Austin] It's because I've been watching you carefully that I know you have to be here, even if you don't know it.

Bally : You know, I'm their watcher now, so why don't you just go away, Mr. Snyder?

Snyder : [Glares at everyone, but particularly Bally] My pleasure. [Storms off]

Stump : Well, I'm not going down to see that Alice slicer again. [rubbing the area on Alice where the wound is healing] We must get you out of these cloths and into something more comfortable. Stay here. [goes over to the closet to see if there are any clothes]

Bally : [Quickly steps in front of Stump] No, there are no clothes here that would fit her, she is much too [smiles] they are much too small. Come on, let's go down to the kitchen.

Stump : Step aside bally. [pauses as though thinking] Firstly, are you hiding something? And secondly, [emphasis] I will be the one to judge that.

Alice : [Standing up] Yeah! Stump'll be the judge of that, tubby!

Bally : [Big smile] Let's all just calm down a moment. If Unit 314 has malfunctioned, we should all go down to the kitchen to retrieve him, otherwise -

[STUMP suddenly grabs his head in his hands, clearly in great distress.]

Alice : Stump! [Draws her sword] What did you do to him?

Stump : [in pain, acting like it hurts WAY worse than it does] The horror! The pain! Darkness. Closet. Somewhere. Something. Need head rubbed.

Evan : [Addressing Bally, seemingly ignoring Stump] And another coincidence. A little too coincidental to be coincidental, y'know. B'sides, if y'don't have anything to hide, why worry about Stump looking in the closet? 'sides, he's your construct, you're the one who can fix him if he needs fixing, not us.

[ALICE immediately goes to STUMP's aid.]

Bally : I'm not worried, I just think a better use of all of our time would be to go to the kitchen - if Unit 314 is malfunctioning as badly as you say, I might need you. Come on, we're all part of the same team!

Evan : Aheh. Malfunctioning as badly as it is, I don't wanna get anywhere near the thing until it's been tinkered with. If it catches sight of any of us, it's likely to start swinging again, and we've got enough blood loss from the first go.

Bally : Oh, well that's just a shame. Now, if you could all just wait outside -

Chastity : Young lady! Open the wardrobe this instant!

Bally : Okay, but remember, I told you to leave.

[BALLY opens the door to reveal JUSILLA bound and gagged, and quite badly beaten.]

Alice : This - this is outrageous!

Bally : Hey, I did tell you not to open the door.

Alice : [Points at the clothes hanging up around Jusilla] They would so fit me! [Regains her composure] Oh, and I think you're a spy and a maniac and that we should probably kill you now.

Harvey : By the saints! You're the spy! Quickly troop, grab the scoundrel and release that poor woman! [Attempts to grab Bally from behind] Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Bally : You know, spy is such a strong word, I prefer -

[BALLY is cut short by HARVEY, EVAN, STUMP, ALICE and CHASTITY rushing her, with the first three easily overpowering here, and CHASTITY going to JUSILLA.]

Alice : [Quickly securing a dress from the wardrobe and holding it up to herself] See? That would fit me perfectly.

Bally : [Unperturbed at being restrained] You know, I'm kind of glad you're all here for this, it is only fitting that you will be the first of the knights to die. [Gives a classic evil maniac laugh, that seems to go on and on.]

[After a while, she eventually stops, and everyone stands around in silence for a few moments.]

Bally : What time is it?

Chastity : Quarter past -

[CHASTITY is interrupted by a the appearance of a huge swirling vortex on the opposite wall, through which step UNIT 315 and UNIT 317, identical units to UNIT 314, both carrying large swords. UNIT 315 immediately moves to block the exit from the room.]

Bally : Never mind! Here they are!

Unit315 : [With the same mechanical voice as Unit 314] Search, kill, destroy.

[JUSILLA is awake, but still bound and gagged, although CHASTITY is beside her. JUSILLA is clearly straining to say something.]

Unit317 : [With a very cultured accent] I say, unhand the lady immediately.

Chastity : [Quickly pulls down the gag on Juscilla, nervously glancing round at Unit317 and Unit315] I hope you have a suggestion.

Jusilla : Oooh, I have information, that mean old Bally, she's a spy!

[UNIT 315 and Unit 317 advance menacingly.]

Harvey : Quickly sister, remove the poor womans gag, she looks like she's trying to tell us something important! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Chastity : [To Juscilla] Thank you. Very informative. [Looks round at Unit

Stump : [Grabs Alice and throws her down on the bed, away from the Units] You won't take Alice without a fight.

Evan : [Backing away from the units as much as possible] "Uh, might I suggest that Bally probably has the power to order 'em to stand down? And if not, she goes down with us... or before us..."

Alice : [Prone on the bed, looking provocatively at Stump] But you can take me either with or without a fight.

[Both UNITs draw their swords.]

Bally : [Still being held] Threatening me won't stop them, but hurting me will get them ever so angry!

Jusilla : [To Harvey] I don't know how to stop them, but it's not really them that you should be concerned about, rather than two hundred thousand of them that are about to come through the vortex.

Stump : [To Alice] Oh, with a fight would be much more fun. [to Jusilla] Why can't be just throw Bally though the vortex?

Jusilla : I don't know. Did you try?

Bally : [Stilted] Oh, no. Please. Don't throw me through there. That would be awful.

[UNIT 315 and UNIT 317 attack EVAN and HARVEY respectively, each of whom manage to block the blows.]

Harvey : Gah! And you say there are more of the bounders?

Stump : [Bummed] Never mind, she wants that to happen.

Harvey : Good grief, why would you want to fill the world with these metal contraptions? And thousands of the damned things! Quickly troop, get water from somewhere so we can stop these metallic misbehavours in their tracks! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Stump : [unties his shorts, pulls out his stump, and proceeds to pee in the direction of the units] Ahhhhhhh. Will that do?

Chastity : [Turning away, disgusted] Oh, Mr. Stump! Could you have at least not used a beaker!

Alice : [Mercifully making it difficult for the others to see Stump's stump] Stump, are you sure that this is the - oh my! [Puts her hand to her mouth]

[UNIT 315 attacks EVAN, gashing him across the chest, while UNIT 317 has his blow parried by HARVEY, who is knocked to the ground.]

Alice : I'll get some water! [Runs to the sink in the room, and turns on the tap to fill a glass]

Austin : [Shielding his eyes from Stump] Oh, kill me now, please!

Bally : [Now free] Block the door!

Stump : [acting like he doesn't understand] What? I feel better. Maybe they will slip on it. [waves hand in front of face] does kinda smell though. [gives it the two point giggle and puts it back]

Evan : [Parries wildly with a dagger] Will y'please come up with something quickly? [Attempts to work an Invisible Mail spell into his defensive routine.]

Bally : [Reproachfully] You know, I did tell you not to come here, and I did tell you not to open the wardrobe door.

[UNIT 317 stands in front of the door, blocking it, but not trying to hit anyone. Meanwhile, there is a faint shummer around EVAN, who immediately gets thumped by UNIT 315, knocking him back onto the ground, but not appearing to hurt him.]

Alice : What can we do? We don't seem to be able to hurt them and [with a hint of panic] there's no cake mix in here!

Chastity : Looks like flight might be best [Looks round for a window] Unless there is a secret kingdom in the closet. [Also peaks down the closet, just in case]

Stump : We could jump through the vortex? Don't know if they would expect that, would they.

Bally : Now that's what I call a tip top idea! Escape from two units by going to a place where there are thousands of them!

[The wardrobe seems to be perfectly normal.]

Jusilla : Quickly, untie me!

Unit315 : [Hits Evan again] Die, little man.

Harvey : [Hits Unit 315 from the back, denting him, but not seeming to do any damage] How's that glass of water coming, Alice?

Alice : [Still at the sink, with the glass only half full] Confounded low water pressure!

Chastity : [To Juscilla] Oh, sorry dear. [Unties Juscilla]

Austin : [Looks disapprovingly at the knots] How very unprofessional.

[Just as UNIT 315 makes to swing at the prone EVAN again, JUSILLA is free, and a ball of energy shoots from her hand, hitting UNIT 315, causing sparks to burst all around him, and then to freeze.]

Bally : Now that was rude!

Alice : [With her back to the others] Nearly there!

Stump : [Clapping] Bravo. Bravo. You must teach me that one. [grabs Bally using her as a shield]

Bally : Ow! There's no need to be so rough! Unit 317, whatever happens, don't let them out of this room. [Looks over to the vortex] If they don't hear from me in the next few seconds, [turns back to the party] this room will be so full of units there won't even be space for him to take out his little stump.

Alice : [Turns from the sink, glass of water in hand] Yeah? I'd like to see what they'll with this baby!

[UNIT 317 reaches over, takes the glass and drinks it, before giving it back to ALICE and giving a big burp.]

Alice : Hey! [Starts filling it again]

Chastity : [To Bally] Well we should just do away you then, as your not going to call them back anyway. [To Stump] You may do the honours, Mr. Stump. [Watches Unit 317 for its reaction]

Evan : [Feeling seriously woozy, attempts to scramble back and get out of the way of the berserk units. If there's a path to the door, he takes it, otherwise he takes a path to the window, if there is one.]

Bally : [Laughs] He won't kill me, that's not the human way. The very thing that you think makes you civilised is the very that makes you weak.

[UNIT 317 makes no move.]

Lucy : [Who has been clinging to Austin (and vice versa) for the last few minutes] Take your hands off me! [Pushes him away]

Austin : It was you, madam, who molested me!

[EVAN staggers to the window, as there is no way passed UNIT 315. The window is large enough to get out through, and the party are on the first* floor.]

Bally : [Smiles at Evan making his way to the window] Now he, on the other hand, doesn't have quite the same distorted sense of duty. It's the elven blood you see, makes him think that by not bothering to help people, he's actually superior, but poor little bastard Evan, not quite human, not quite elf, a funny mix of that good old human sense of duty and the special kind of elven arrogance that stops him from ever fitting in. [Big sad face] How awful for you.

Chastity : [Goes over to Bally] I'm tired of this. [Hits Bally over the head with her mace] Truly a merciful act.

Bally : [Smiles as Chastity approaches her] I know you're not going to do it, Chastity, because you're just too much of a -

[Bang. CHASTITY hits her very hard.]

Bally : Ow! That really hurt!

[BALLY's face seems to ripple in front of the others, and quickly changes shape into an altogether more demonic one.]

Bally : Right. Now I'm really pissed.

Alice : I think I need a drink of water. [Looks at the tap] Come on! Come on!

Stump : Die knob head!!! [Attacks the creature]

Chastity : [To Bally] That'll be to dribble from Mr. Stump's stump. [Tries to hit Bally again]

[Both STUMP and CHASTITY connect with BALLY, both drawing blood, but UNIT 315 doesn't budge.]

Bally : Enough! [Spreads her arms wide, sending Chastity and Stump flying against the walls] You know, now I'm going to have to kill you. Okay, I'd probably have killed you anyway, but then it would have been for fun, now it's a matter of survival, and that's a whole lot less rewarding.

Stump : [trying to shake off the impact, to his companions] What IS IT with you all. All I do is stumble upon a juicy duck and a map, meet you all because I'm looking for the secret of Placebium, follow you to a Placebium mine, meet up with Pesty who is a real pain in the ass, cuts me all up, wants me dead, we dig up some undead, escape the dangers below, get swallowed by a dragon, finally rid ourselves of Pesty, come to this nice little meeting, and now THAT! [pointing at Bally the bone head] and Those! [point to the units] Can't you all just fight something small, like giants? Oh no. You all have to always be fighting something that just...won't...die! What is it with you all! [Stump runs straight into Bally, trying to knock him/her/it down]

Chastity : [Picking herself up] I'm so sorry to have ruined the whole thing for you! [To Austin] I think you should help now.

Alice : Yes, things have been kind of quiet since we met you, Stump, but things won't always be like this.

[BALLY gives a wave of her hand, which sends STUMP flying back and banging hard against the wall.]

Austin : [Glancing at his nails] And what would you have me do, woman? Uselessly charge at the dangerous and improbably ugly demon who will throw me against the wall, thus ruining this suit? Or should I just throw myself against the wall now?

Lucy : [Folding her arms] Oh, isn't this just typical of you?

Stump : [Leaning against the wall, starts making a tickling motion with his fingers at bally, some funny facial expressions at bally, and finally passes some gas]

Bally : [Bursts out laughing at Stump, but then stops abruptly] That's not laughing due to your spell, rather it's due to your stupidity in thinking that you can cast a spell on me. [Laughs again]

Alice : [Throwing the glass of water over Bally] Hey! You leave him alone!

Bally : [Gestures at Alice, sending her banging back against the wall] Okay, fun's over. [Points at the window, which shatters, but stays in place like a broken windscreen]

Evan : [Strained from wounds] Y'know, I really think this calls for a strategic retreat! [Casts Knock on the window to open it - in pieces or otherwise.]

Harvey : [Outraged] Right, you shape shifting harridan! No one does that to my niece and gets away with it! [Quietly to the others] Quickly troop, everyone try to get out through the window, while I try to hold off this creature! [Attempts to attack Bally] Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

[BALLY gives a dismissive wave of her arm, which sends HARVEY flying back against the wall, just as EVAN casts his spell. The result, however, is that the cracks in the glass become animated, and grab onto him.]

Bally : [Wags a scolding finger at Harvey] Looks like you couldn't hold me for long. Now, watch while I - [breaks off, and stays dead still, with her finger still in the air]

Stump : [taunting] Nan Nan Nan Nan Nan [Kicks her has hard as he can right in the ole groin area, hoping to break that bone]

[STUMP connects with her, giving a surprisingly loud noise, as though she is solid stone.]

Alice : Wow! What's she made of? [Knocks on her head] She's solid!

Harvey : [Picks himself off and dusts himself off, red faced] I think now might be the time for our strategic withdrawal, troop! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Evan : Yeow! [Trying to fight off the animated glass] Get it off!

Stump : [runs, crawls, whatever, over to Alice] Are you all right sweety? [sticks tongue out at Bally] Here, let me kiss it.

Stump : [starts dancing around as his stump stops vibrating] Damn. Her crotch put a dent in my stump!

Alice : I'm fine, Stump, but what happened to her?

Chastity : Let's help Evan. Stop squirming! It'll only get worse!

[The glass, although it is hanging onto him, doesn't appear to be moving any more.]

Austin : [Looks chuffed] Good, the situation has resolved itself without any damage to my suit. I should try that more often.

Harvey : [Starting to lift the unmoving but sharp strands off Evan] You must be very proud, Private Sleaze.

Alice : But what happened? Did someone cast a spell on her?

Jusilla : [Looking even worse than she did earlier] No, no, no, can't cast a spell on the evil scary demon. Spells can be cast on nice non-magic folk.

Austin : [Frowns] Well if she made of stone now why don't we throw her out of the window so that she smashes into pieces when she hits the ground. Who cares why she turned to stone,[Chuckles] She probably just saw Lucy's 'bad hair day' or something.

Evan : [As the last of the glass is pulled away] I'd rather get the other knights in on this before more of those things show up! Let's go! [Retaining some presence of mind, checks that there isn't an even worse situation waiting outside; if there isn't, out he goes.]

Lucy : You mean, Bally the evil demon was there eight years ago, when I was young and foolish enough to take hair care advice from you? My God, they must be everywhere!

[EVAN looks out the window, and everyone outside appears to be frozen too. The strands of glass are blocking the way, although it looks as though they can all be moved with a bit of effort, as they are quite pliable.]

Alice : Wait a second, what just happened here? [Looks at Unit 315] Hello? [Knocks on his chest, giving a distinct non-metallic sound] Ow!

Austin : [Grabs Beaucaphalus back from Stump and tries to decapitate Bally] Come on! Chop her to pieces!

Beaucaphalus : [As Austin hits Bally with him] Ow!

[BEAUCAPHALUS just bounces off.]

Beaucaphalus : What the hell are you doing, Braniac? I can't cut through her now!

Austin : [To Beaucaphalus] Why the hell not? You're the WOnder sword!

Beaucaphalus : Because she's out of phase, not in our time. Ask the witch.

Alice : Well, Chastity, what have you to say for yourself?

Chastity : I say you're a very wicked girl who will be punished in the next life your sinful thoughts, words and deeds.

Jusilla : [Stands up and limps over to Bally] Poor demon is moving too slow to see us. Spells don't work on this big bad, no no. Only on nice Knights. Spells don't work on this big bad, no no. Only on nice Knights.

Evan : [Working to clear away the glass to make the window passable] That's great, but how long's it gonna last? We kinda need backup, especially if there's a horde of them just waiting to come pouring through a vortex. Knights.

Stump : [listening to Jusilla] OK. Did you or did you not put us out of phase? [Walking over to Alice] You are a wicked girl and I can't wait to see just how.

Austin : [To Juicilla] I am a nice knight and I couldn't kill her even with a profound and magic wondersword! WHo can kill her, who are these nice knights?

Jusilla : [Stepping up close to Austin, running a finger along his chin] You're the nice nights, even though some of you [glances at Stump] are very, very naughty. [Steps back] Yes, I did cast a spell on us. Time is moving funny, like water with porridge in it, like lumpy custard, like [tails off with a peculiar high pitched noise, and stares into space, although she clearly hasn't gone rigid like Bally]

Alice : [To Stump] I'm so wicked I need to be punished, even Chastity said so.

Harvey : [Catches Alice's hand and pulls her away] There will be no punishing here! [Gets flustered] At least not, that, er, kind.

Lucy : [With an exasperated sigh of frustration] This is too much! What are we supposed to do? We've got crazy acid casualty witch here freezing time, [gestures at Alice and Stump] some sort of disgusting and embarrassing amateur porn flick being rehearsed in front of us, some awful demon turned to stone, and that absolute stench of cheap aftershave from Austin. [To Austin] Why don't you just run out the window like the coward you are?

[EVAN has about half of the shards pushed down out of the way, another few minutes and the window will be clear.]

Evan : [To Lucy] Great idea! Now how 'bout helpin' me with this window so he can do just that?

Lucy : Darling [gestures to her blouse] pure silk? I don't think I'll going anywhere near sharp pointy pieces of glass.

Alice : What happens when the window opens? Do we just run away?

Austin : [To Lucy] Pure polyester more like. [To the others] Well, we can either try and block the portal and then run away, stand here for a while and then die, and I'm not talking about Lucy's B O, or just run away, and maybe, find someway of defeating this evil.

Jusilla : Or you can go through the looking glass, and stop them at source.

Austin : [To Jusilla] I like the sound of that. [ To the party] Anyone got any better ideas? [Steps to beside the mirror. To Lucy] You don't have to come, this is a task for heros like us [Nods towards the others then sees Stump and Alice dribbling on eachother. Grimaces and looks back to Lucy] And them, unfortunatley.

Stump : Yes we could, but if we cannot stop one or two of these things, how can we stop a thousand? Hmmm. Or is time stopped there also. If that is the case, then we better make sure we have a lot of cake mix.

Austin : [To Stump] We don't need to kill the robots, just destroy their controller or controls.

Evan : Which's probably just as frozen in time as that controller is, y'know. [Points at Bally with his thumb for a moment before resuming work on the window.]

Stump : Just you and me babe. [looks at the others] They can come if they wish.

Alice : [Clearly torn] But, we can't leave the others, can we, Stump?

[LUCY says nothing to AUSTIN, but just turns away, arms folded.]

Jusilla : Time is only frozen here, it flows on the other side. I don't know what's through there, but I can only hold things here for a very short time, and then the statues become naughty again. You might get squashed like itty bitty bugs, but if you stay here, you will be. [Thinks for a moment, and looks at Evan's work on the window, which is almost finished] Or you could run away screaming, and have your heart replaced by blackness and darkness that will haunt you every time you close your eyes, taunting you with the terrible, awful deed you have done, leaving your friends and knights and all the little dollies to be devoured by tin men, who will come after you, and kill you in your fitfull and unsatisfying sleep.

[A brief silence passes.]

Chastity : So, you're not in favour of us escaping through the window, then?

Jusilla : Not particularly.

Evan : Y'oughta've been an actor. But I'm not flailing my arms and shouting, "Run away! Run away!", y'know. I *do* think we need to round up some more help t'deal with these guys, and since they're ever so kindly blocking the only other path to the rest of the knights... [Indicates the units and Bally with another momentary thumb-point as he finishes clearing away the window.] [The window is now clear.]

Jusilla : But Pet, the other knights are all cold too, only we are spellbound, not the meanie Bally.

Alice : It's quite simple, Evan. Time has stopped for everyone but us, isn't that right Juicy?

Jusilla : No. Time has speeded up for us. [Does a "whooshing" movement with her hand] Like the wind! Last frmo Neutronium - 01.06.077

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] Hmm, I'm not sure we have the time to round up the others, and to be honest, judging by those others, I'm not sure what help they would be, troop! I think it's up to us to stop those contraptions, by finding these controls. [To Jusilla] Do you know where we might find it? Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Stump : Oh...right. Just like how we were able to take care of 'ole bone head hear. Right? [tilting head in direction of Bally] Even the Wonder Sword couldn't put a dent in it. [Shrugs his shoulders] Well, since I've already releaved myself, I don't need to worry about my pants getting wet from fright. So. [grabs Alice's hand, gives her a big kiss] Let's GET IT ON! [Goes to step through the portal]

Alice : [Delaying at the vortex a moment] Hang on, Stumpy, let's wait for the others.

Jusilla : They are like puppets on strings, each with their own string stringies.

Alice : That's a no, right?

Jusilla : Yes. It's not just this [points at Unit 315] naughty dolly you need to worry about, it's all those others who are still in the toybox.

Austin : Well lets go before Jucilla's spell wears off. [To Lucy] You probably don't want to come, but I expect that you don't want to stay either, which is it to be?

Lucy : I certainly won't be going. [Short pause] But be careful. [Gives Austin a quick hug and backs off again stiffly, folding her arms] If you get killed there will be an awful lot of paperwork for me.

Austin : [Looks Lucy in the eyes] Take care, farewell [Steps into the portal, heroically]

Harvey : Let's go, troop!

[Everyone else follows AUSTIN through the portal, leaving just JUSILLA and LUCY.]

Jusilla : I've got a radio in my brain.

Lucy : Weirdo.

[Book IV, Act I, Scene VII. Through the vortex. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, HARVEY and STUMP are here, having been literally thrown through the vortex, and onto a hard floor. Everyone is feeling quite dazed and nauseous, and are all in a heap on the ground, with, predictably, ALICE on the bottom. They are clearly in some sort of alternate dimension, as the sky is black and orange, with no sign of a sun or moon, and are in the middle of what appears to be a huge valley, that is surrounded by massive jagged black rocks. There are thousands of UNITs here, standing in lines, chanting "Anodynus", as well as several demons, who are checking them, and walking around with various clipboards. One of them, ABUR, approaches the party.]

Abur : [Bending down] Well, well, what have we got here? [Sniffs, and then smiles] Humans? Tasty!

Austin : [Brushes himself down. To Abur] Who is, or will be, controlling these units [Gestures at the units] and where will they be controlling them from? from?

Stump : What our good friend here is trying to say is that two of the units on the other side have mechanical problems. They just stopped working for some reason. We need to find out why and fix the problem. [pointing around] We don't want all these to fail also. Now do we? [In an authoritive voice] DO WE!?

Abur : [Looks at Stump, with a smile forming about her lips, before bursting into laughter] Oh, that's just too funny! Let me guess, you've all come here in a desperate attempt to stop them?

Evan : [Pulls himself upright rather more slowly, still seriously wounded from the last battle.] Y'might ask how long until they do, too.

Abur : Why? Are you too afraid of the [waggles her fingers in the air] scary monster to ask yourself? [Sniff sniff] Hey! You're not a human at all! Are they your slaves?

Stump : [turning to Evan, then bowing] I'm sorry master. I tried. But he wouldn't listen. I didn't want you to have to speak. Forgive me. [Bowing continuously while backing up]

Abur : [Shouting] He? [Grabs Stump by the throat] He? [Lifts him off the ground] You disgusting piece of snot, I'm going to kill you.

[ABUR has STUMP lifted clean off the ground, and is slowly choking him]

Alice : Hey! [Grabs Abur's arm] Let him go!

Austin : [Takes a slice at Abur with Beaucaphalus] Put it down! You don't know where it's been, and I do [Grimaces at the thought]

[AUSTIN hits ABUR, and wounds her in the side, but she doesn't drop STUMP.]

Alice : [Jumps on her back] Hey! Leave him alone!

Abur : Stupid humans! [Throws Stump at Austin, knocking them both to the ground, before catching Alice by the hair, and starting to pull her off]

[Another demon, AARGH, approaches.]

Aargh : [Not amused] What's going on here?

Stump : Master. I beg of you. Don't let her be taken away. She is the only pet I have. [Grovelling at Evans feet...quietly] You must wash your feet sometime.

Austin : [To Stump] Get off me you idiot! [Pushes Stump away and sotrs out his suit] What is the matter with you?

Chastity : What's the matter with [emphasis] all of you?

[ALICE is uncermoniously deposited on top of AUSTIN by ABUR.]

Abur : [To Argh] These idiot humans came through the vortex. I thought it might be to stop Dolorion, but they are clearly too disorganised.

Aargh : [Looks at his watch] We've got some time to kill, why don't we torture them?

Harvey : Well, we don't have time to kill, so we'll just have to kill you quickly and be on our way. Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Aargh : They certainly seem stupid enough to be humans. [To Harvey] Come on then, Stinky, give me your best short.

Evan : [Sighs theatrically] This is what I get for having human minions. [To Aargh and Abur] Don't mind them, they're all bluster. I hope Dolorion's having more luck than I am, at least, though a couple of the darned things did actually malfunction back there. [Points towards the portal with his thumb, if it exists.] Been happening here too?

Abur : Some of the humans malfunctioned? How could you tell?

Aargh : You know Dolorion? [Leans in very close to Evan, and bends down to sniff him] Something here doesn't smell right.

Austin : [To Aargh] And it's not just his aftershave. [Lifts Alice off himself, grunting with the strain. Straightens his clothes] Oh, not Dolorion, wanting to inflict pain and suffering on us and stick it into a jar of nasty black stuff, what's that all about huh? [The chanting from the UNITs gets louder : "Dolorion! Dolorion!".]

Aargh : When Dolorion is finished with you, all that will be left is a jar of nasty black stuff. He's here to pave the way for Athlacca. [Gets much louder] Tremble, pungent human, for the great Dolorion will make a necklace out of your ears this very night!

Alice : [Mutters to the others] Okay, it's a scary thing to do, but doesn't it also sound just a little gay?

Aargh : Silence! [Waves a hand and sends Alice flying back against some of the Units]

Evan : [Sighing again, waving at the others] How can I tell? Just look at 'em, and tell me there isn't something wrong with this bunch! It's wearing off on those 'droidy fellows, too. One of 'em ended up stuffed with cake mix after it went nutty in a kitchen. Now, I've never met ol' Do in person, but it looks like we'll need 'em to solve both problems.

Chastity : [Goes and helps Alice back up] Are you alright, dear? [Has a quick look at the Units to see if they appear any different from the ones they've already encountered]

Austin : [Sighs. To Aargh] Ohh, this is all for Athlacca and 'The Path' and things ah! [Waves a hand dismissively] Well why didn't you say so in the first place, it would have saved a great deal of time. [Points at Stump] One-hundered and eighty.

Abur : One hundred eighty? What? Pounds?

[These UNITs seem to be the same as the ones encountered previously.]

Aargh : [Sneers at Austin] The Path? Well now, I guess that remark shows you know nothing about either The Path or Athlacca. Let's not even bother Dolorion with them, let's just torture them now.

Stump : [To Austin] What about One Hundred and Eighty? [Walks over to Alice]

Evan : [Clears his throat] How 'bout doing that after you tell Dolorion about the unit malfunctioning once it got mixed up with humans, and ending up mixed up in mix? [Waves a hand towards the collection of units] Don't want 'em all running into a fiddler and deciding to stop and do a square dance once they get onto the other side. That's not the kinda horror they're supposed to cause.

Aargh : [Grabs Evan by the back of the neck] You don't make any sense, I think I'll kill you first, so these human scum can see the torture that lies ahead. [Dramatically] Then they will know why people call me Aargh.

Alice : Because it's your name?

Aargh : Er, yes, but they'll know why it's my name.

Austin : [To Aargh] ALthacca, Althacca, Althacca, that's all you care about? Must not talk about the path etc [Waves a hand dismissively] It's all a ruse to drag you and every other fool in. There can be only one winner, and it's not going to be you. [Looks around to see if there are any buildings or contructs or natural features where a 'contol' system might reside]

Stump : Sounds like Aargh is being used and will be discarded once done. Eliminated. Just my opinion. But I've seen it happen before.

Chastity : [Nodding her head] Yes, that's what happens to the minions of evil. They are set a task and then [throws her arms in the air] POOF! they're a sulphurous cloud.

Aargh : [Shouts at Austin] His name is Athlacca! How dare you? [Turns to Stump, and backhands him across the face, knocking him to the ground] Seen it all before? How about I show you something you've never seen before. [Puts his hands on his hips for a moment, leaving everyone in no doubt about how loose his raincoat is] I'll show you Athlacca.

[Several of the UNITs come forward, and each grabs a party member, before setting off with them after AARGH and ABUR, towards what appears to be the only building in sight.]

Aargh : [To Chastity] You don't know what you're talking about - Dolorion is not like that, I'm going to be given a farm near a nice lake when we take over the earth, probably with a bunch of beautiful naked females to do my every bidding. If there are going to be any poofs here, [looks around the party, but at no one in particular] it's going to be one of you!

Stump : [reeling from the pain] Well Aargh, suit yourself. But when the time comes, just remember who told you so. I just wouldn't like to see you hurt like that. I mean. I've been promised many things by my blood brother, Pestilence, but he tried to kill me. Enough said. It's your life.

Austin : [Laughs nervously at Stump. To Aargh] Athlacca didn't get where he is today by giving out farms, for hell's sake. He got where he is by being a really nasty, schemeing, double crossing, backstabbing, torturing killer!

Stump : True Austin. And I must say, Aargh, you do know how to deal out pain. You might think about, well, er, making sure Athlacca doesn't screw you over. Were you hurt by your parents? I see pain in your eyes.

Aargh : Pestilence is your blood brother? Right, now I know you're lying, he'd never join forces with a runt like you. [Turns to Austin] Okay, maybe not a farm, but a torture camp, where I oversee the death and torture of thousands of humans, beside a lake of blood and entrails. [Shrugs] Either one works for me.

[The party are carried to the building, and AARGH and ABUR lead the way, pushing the doors open to reveal an enormous room, covered in opulent furnishings. Sitting on a massive throne is DOLORION, a fearsome looking demon, surrounded by UNITs, waving fans etc. He is wearing an exquisite looking crown, and each of ABUR and AARGH bow their heads as they approach. Once up close, the party are unceremoniously thrown to the floor.]

Aargh : Bow before the might of the all knowing, all powerful Dolorion!

Alice : [Looks up from the floor] So, what are you? Some kind of chief?

Abur : [Kicks Alice] Silence, you fool! He is your worst nightmare!

Alice : [With a look of terror] He's - he's bad hair?

Stump : [To Aargh] I'm telling you, blood brothers. He sliced off part of my stump, cut my guts open, and even called me a blood brother. [seeing the foot coming towards him] Ok. I'll shut up.

Chastity : [To Stump] That sounds wise. No need to give them any extra ideas. [To Dolorion] Just you wait until the mighty knights get wind out your foul intent. Then you'll be sorry.

Dolorion : [Laughs as Aargh's foot connects with Stump] Mighty knights? Are they the same mighty knights who photocopied hundreds of flyers advertising their ultra secret symposium? [Laughs again]

Chastity : No, that was the hapless administrative staff. I was talking about the fearless warriors who battle evil in all its forms. [pauses with a thought, glancing round the party] Well, most its forms, anyway. And you and your lot fit into that category.

Dolorion : I see, I see. I suppose I'd better call off my plans for invasion, so. [Thinks for a moment] On the other hand, maybe I'll kill one of you in the most painful way imaginable, and send the rest of you back to let the [finger quotes] fearless warriors know what they are up against.

Austin : [To Chastity] Dolorion is quite correct, the knights have many really stupid and useless members. If Dolorion here has even the most vague of sensible plans it'll be a walkover.

Dolorion : [Nods at Austin] Yes, I think my plan is vaguely sensible. However, for a human, you seem remarkably sensible. I will not kill you, but will trust you to reliably relay the description of the death of the one I choose.

Stump : Oh great. The round one gets it like always. Fine. Just stuff an apple in my mouth and get it over with. [Kicks Aargh back] Stop kicking me you twitty coward who won't stand up to his master's bidding because he [qoutes] thinks he is going to get a nice farm next to a lake with many beautiful naked women. [shakes his head in pitty] tsk. tsk.

Chastity : [To Stump, wincing and covering her eyes] I can hardly look! [Peeks through her fingers]

Dolorion : [Roars with laughter, and gives a little clap] I like you, ugly one, you've got spunk! [Shakes his head with laughter, but goes serious again] Kill him, Aargh.

Aargh : [Swings his sword and hits Stump] You have no idea what you're talking about, freak.

[The blow gashes STUMP across the chest, and sends him flying to the ground.]

Alice : Stump!

Dolorion : [To the party] Don't worry, we'll kill him and send the rest of you back. Use the shredder, Aargh, let's make this a long and painful one.

Stump : [Rolling in pain] Alice, my love. [Blood coming out of his mouth] I had so wanted to make sweet love to you. Remember this. Whatever happens. I will always be with you. [To Aargh] I spit on thee. [A tiny bit of spit comes out, but doesn't get past his chin. Tries again. Same thing.] Huh. [shrugs shoulders]

Aargh : Don't worry, you'll have plenty of time for drooling. [Takes out what looks like a potato peeler.]

Alice : [Steps in between them] No! [No weapon drawn] You can't kill him, take me instead.

Aargh : Get out of my way. [Slashes Alice with his sword, knocking her to the ground, still between them]

Alice : [Still on the ground] I mean it, if you kill him, I don't want to live. Take me instead!

[AARGH says nothing, but turns to DOLORION, who is clearly intrigued. He closes his eyes for a moment.]

Dolorion : [Flicking his eyes open] Wow! She really means it! She really does love [with a dismissive wave at Stump] that!

Chastity : [To Dolorion] And that lack of comprehension is why you will ultimately lose! [Aside to Harvey] Although it is a bit puzzling. [Back to Dolorion] If you take one of us, you'll ave to take us all! Even the lawyer! Who'll carry your message then?

Stump : NO! [shouting and standing, holding his wounds, and grabbing Alice] I won't let you die. If you die. I die also. [Grabs her and plants a passionate kiss on her lips, slides a bit of tongue in for good measure, then starts groping her, comes up for air] You are all I have now. [Brushes part of her hair up into position, then turns to Dolorion] If you want to peel me, then lets do it and get it over. But if you harm my girl one more time. I will take this stump and shove it up your ass.

Chastity : [Wiping away a tear] Isn't love beautiful!

Evan : Beautiful, if illogical. Hmm. Wonder if there's any more of that elixir around. Y'know, for you and Dolorion to have a toast to his victory and all that.

Harvey : [Stepping in front of Alice] No! Don't take her, take me!

[DOLORION looks from CHASTITY to HARVEY, somewhat bemused, before concentrating hard again for a moment.]

Dolorion : [Thoughtfully] Hm, the very thing that we thought made them weak looks like it makes them civilised.

Austin : [To Dolorion] It had to happen eventually. [Frowns] It's hasn't improved their dress sense though. [Shrugs]

Dolorion : Indeed, I had been led to believe you were little more than savages, more concerned with appearance and superiority than anything else, I mean, look at you, and yet you are in the company of people who would lay their lives down for you, [gestures to Stump] for that! And, although this doesn't fit in with our research, even you, a lawyer, appear to have the same misguided loyalty.

Chastity : [To Austin, with surprise] You do? [With more conviction] I mean you do! [To Dolorion] No-one more surprised that us!

Evan : Was a bit before my time with 'em, but I kinda gather that they *have* laid down their lives together once or twice already...

Dolorion : Very well then, I won't send any more Units through. Perhaps I'll choose a different dimension to invade and enslave.

Austin : [Nods at Dolorions suggestion] A wise decision. Build up your powerbase.

Dolorion : Yes, yes, and choose a dimension that will be a bit easier. [In an altogether much more friendly tone] Well, I guess you'd better be getting back. You know, I appreciate finding this out from you, so if you ever need a favour, give me a shout and I'll see what I can do.

Stump : [grabbing Alice] Will do!

Alice : Oh, Stump! You saved us all!

Stump : [blushes] Well, shucks.

Chastity : [Quickly get between Alice and Stump before anything can happen. To Dolorion] Well I'm glad we could be of help. Now if you could tell us how to get back we'll be on our way. [Turns to Harvey] It must nearly be time for a good cup of tea and some cake. [pauses and slowly turns back to Dolorion] You're not having us on now are you? [scrutinises Dolorion's reaction]

Dolorion : [Laughs at Chastity] Sister! You must have a terribly low opinion of me! [Laughs again but goes deadly serious, and turns to Aargh] Kill them.

Aargh : With pleasure.

Dolorion : Ah, come on! Where's your sense of humour, Aargh? Bring them back to the Vortex.

Harvey : [Stomach rumbles angrily at Chastity] Well said, Sister, that's just what we need, it'll help [glares at Stump and Alice] calm us all down from all the jokes.

Stump : What?

Harvey : You heard what I said, Private Stump. [To Aargh] You there, chappie, please show us back to the vortex.

Aargh : [Grumbling] My pleasure. [Starts heading back the way the party came originally]

Evan: Ah, don't worry, you'll get that farm someday. But if you haven't been 'round worlds like ours first, y'd better get checked for allergies before y'do. Wouldn't be a whole lotta fun being a farmer with hay fever, y'know.

Aargh : If I come to your world, mongrel, [emphasis] you had better get your allergy shots, because I'm going to kill you first.

Alice : [Indignantly] Hey! It was Stump who stopped you!

Aargh : Fine, I'll kill him and you first, so.

Alice : Yay! We're number one! We're number one!

Stump : [smiles at Aargh, motioning at Alice and giving the ole hip pumping motion] See you around. [walks off with Alice]

Alice : You were great, Stump! It all seemed so easy. I know we're both barely alive and my favourite dress is ruined, but I think it's safe to say we've seen the last of all these units.

[Everyone steps into the vortex.]

[Book IV, Act I, Scene VIII. Room 108. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, HARVEY and STUMP are here, having been spat through the vortex back onto the floor in the room. LUCY and JUSILLA are still here, as is BALLY (in her demon form) and UNIT 315. Somehow, AUSTIN crashes into LUCY, and they end up lying on the floor, with her on top. BALLY and UNIT 314 are still frozen.]

Jusilla : They're back, and I bet they know how to stop all those naughty dollies.

Lucy : [To Austin] You clumsy idiot!

Austin : [To Lucy] Get off me before you crush me to death! [Helps Lucy get up. To Jusilla] The units are not comming here any more, according to Dolorion, the head demon, they are going to invade another, easier, dimension. Unless of course, Dolorion is lying, which is probably the case. [Frowns and straightens his suit]

Jusilla : Well that's all very good news!

Alice : [Still holding Stump's hand] What about this Unit? [Points at Unit

Evan : [Sighing] Don't suppose we can chuck 'em through the portal while they're still frozen? And in the meantime, I think we could really use a healer or three...

Austin : [To Lucy] Good point, I'll have to wash my hands now [Grimaces at his perfect white gloves] Another pair of gloves ruined! [Sighs. To Evan] Well, it's worth a try.

Alice : Right, let's start with Bally, I really, really didn't like her. [Tries to lift Bally's leg off the ground, and grunts with effort] Hey! She weighs a ton!

Jusilla : That's because she's moving so slowly - remember, we're out of phase with everyone else, and can't really interact with all the lovely things we see around us.

Alice : Like this ashtray? [Tries to pick up a nearby ashtray, and fails, as though it is too heavy]

Lucy : [Slaps Austin again] How dare you! I will sue you for slander and general abuse, and see to it that you are thrown out of the knights!

Stump : Can't we find a way to reprogram this thing for our bidding?

Evan : [Smiling slightly] Y'know, given how erratic the things are even when they're doing what they've been told, I think we might want to take a pass on trying to own one...

Chastity : [Pointing at the Unit] They are demon created abominations and need to be wiped from Phili's holy earth!

Austin : [Furiously to Lucy] How dare I? Looks at you! Your body odour is almost a weapon of mass destruction, your breath is that of a fettid rat carcas in a barrel of offal! Your total lack of taste in clothing could turn milk sour and not to mention your illiterate attempt at writing that you call legal documents! I would be suprised if your parents were junkies, and that's why you're a brain damaged retard with an eating problem and a personality disorder that makes Bally here seem like Miss Queensview! [Inhales a huge breath] But Most of all I detest the way you belittle those ho you know a great heros who have saved the world several times over and lost their lives in the course of duty, whilst you sit back and take barely legible notes and then have the gall to criticise our method when you know nothing [swooshes his hand thought the air] Whatsoever! About the deeds we do! [Pauses breathless]

Stump : Just a suggestion. You could think about it as reforming the creation. Giving it a good heart. Maybe teaching it to crochet or fix a good pot of tea.

Alice : I think that's a great idea, Stump! Just think, we could get him to carry stuff for us, or go out and do the shopping, anything!

[LUCY flinches, as though slapped by AUSTIN.]

Lucy : And you, you pathetic excuse for a man, my god, if you were any gayer you'd be part of the Pillage Veople! Just because you tag along with people who, despite being entirely inadequate, at least try to do good, doesn't mean that you are.

[They hold each others' glare for a moment, before embracing in a passionate kiss that would put ALICE and STUMP to shame, while stirring romantic music and choirs play in the background.]

Alice : [Distracted by Lucy and Austin] Honestly! We're trying to discuss something serious here. [To Stump] Some people just have no self control.

Chastity : So much for the no-interactivity theory! [Loudly to Austin and Lucy] Stop that now. If it's one thing that should be kept out of the public eye, it's lawyers mating. [Turns away in disgust. To Alice] Isn't one of them meant to eat the other when they finish, or something?

Alice : That's hardly true, is it, Chastity? Otherwise most women would have gone through several husbands. [Thinks for a moment] I mean, I'm not sure, but I, er, wouldn't be surprised.

Austin : [Still kissing Lucy, and a sepia tone haze has started forming around the couple, framing them in an oval mist]

Chastity : [To Alice] I was talking specifically about coupling lawyers!

Alice : [Unconvincingly] So was I!

Lucy : [Pulls back from Austin] Stop that immediately, or I'll sue you for attempted bodily harm, sexual assault and for generally being a dislikable fop.

Harvey : [Shakes his head in puzzlement] Has the entire party gone mad? [To Jusilla] Am I right in thinking we can't interact with anything in this room?

Jusilla : No.

Austin : [To Lucy] You suing for sexual assault is like a tailor suing customers for browsing round his, or her shop, as the case may, or may not be. [To Harvey] We can interact with eachother. [To Jucilla] Can we interact with anything else? And if so what?

Jusilla : [Shakes her head] Nothing, all too slow for us to touch. We can only interact with the people the big spell was cast on.

Alice : How come we can interact with our clothes?

[There's a moment silence as JUSILLA considers this.]

Alice : And what about the air? Isn't that made up of molecules and things? Why are we able to interact with them? Why didn't they go solid too?

Jusilla : [Irritated] Look! I didn't write the spell, I just cast it, okay?

Alice : Oh-kay! [To Stump] She's only testy because she's not in love.

Harvey : How long will the spell last, my dear? And because time is slowed down, does this mean that the spell will last longer? By the saints, how long will it take to order lunch? Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Alice : It doesn't matter, Harvey, because anything you'd get would be rock hard anyway, as you couldn't interact with it. [Starts thinking hard] Hm.

Jusilla : [Shakes her had sadly] Only a teeny weeny bit longer, so we need a good plan. [Looks at Alice] Any ideas?

Alice : I'm just wondering what would happen if you someone did a big poo. Would they be able to interact with that?

Lucy : [In disgust] Oh, for god's sake, of course they would, it was in them when the spell was cast.

Alice : [Puzzled] Spell? Oh, spell! Sure, that's what I meant.

Harvey : So, we need a plan. A good plan! [Scratches at a sideburn] Hmmm. A cunning plan, what! A plan of wondrous mental dexterity! [Looks around the room] Nope, can't think of a thing! Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the

Lucy : [Rolls her eyes and sighs] How much time is left in the spell?

Jusilla : It's getting shorter and shorter, [holds her index finger and thumb up, millimetres apart] so tiny I can hardly even see it.

Lucy : God almighty! Give me a number! How many minutes?

Jusilla : [Does a handbags at twenty paces move] Ooooh! Two minutes.

Stump : Why don't we all take our cloths off and the unit full of all of it. Possibly disabling it. But since we are nude, we should be careful not to hurt anybody.

Alice : Good idea, Stump. Help me with this zip.

Harvey : [Stepping in between them] The only help you'll be getting with that zip, young lady, is in keeping it up. The zip! Keeping the zip up, not the, er, [gets increasingly flustered] Stump. [Closes his eyes for a moment and composes himself] Unit full of all of what, Mr. Stump?

Evan : Much as I'm enjoying the show... [Points at the presumably still open window.] Now might be a good time to head out and see who else we can find when the spell goes poof. I don't 'bout you guys, but to me, "cunning plan" looks best when it includes the phrase "calls for backup".

Jusilla : Oh, the scaredy little half man wants to run away?

Harvey : Back up would be useful, but from where? Who can we get? Perhaps it might be better to be at the ready, with our swords about to plunge into that [waves at Unit 315] monstrosity, or to slice off that other one's head.

Evan : [To Jusilla] Do you? Well, that's your choice, y'know. [To Harvey] If y'really think it'll do any good, we can try that. But it didn't do a whole lot to the 'droid last time.

Jusilla : [Pretends to hide behind her hands] Ooooh! I'm scared!

Harvey : True, Private, but then we weren't able to position ourselves properly. Perhaps if some of us position ourselves around Bally, and the rest around that infernal machine. Where's Beaucaphalus? Sleaze, do you think you can use him without hurting yourself?

Austin : [Brandishing Beaucaphalus] Why of course colonel, I have never yet cut myself with this sword and I do not intend to do so. [Examines the Unit carefully for weakneses or 'locks' or something he might be able to tinker with] We could put a rope around Bally's neck, ready to hang her as soon as time cathes up.

Alice : Good idea, Aus! I've got some rope.

[Takes a good thirty feet length of rope from her tiny handbag.]

Harvey : There appears to be a chink between his chin and breastplate, perhaps you could position Beaucaphalus there, Private Sleaze. [Gives Alice a quizzical look] Why did you bring rope to a dinner party, Niece?

Alice : Just in case.

Harvey : Just in case of what?

Alice : [Points at Stump] Click-click!

Chastity : [Produces some tea towels from her bag] I could use these as blindfolds for Bally and the abomination. It would at least delay them slightly. [Proceeds to blindfold Bally then Unit314]

Alice : I'll do the ropes! [Throws one end of the rope through a beam, and then proceeds to tie a noose. Seconds later she has her hands tied together] Hey!

Chastity : [Still blindfolding. Glancing over at Alice] Can someone see to her please? [Quickly, glancing at Stump] Maybe Harvey would be best.

Evan : [To Alice] Right idea, wrong person. Try tying *their* arms and legs up. [Assists in transferring the rope from Alice's limbs to those of Bally and the Unit.]

Austin : [Still checking the unit for flaws and weaknesses, or things that could jam. To Evan] A noose is usually placed around the neck of the victim. [Ponders] We could also put heavy weights on the other ends of the ropes, that way, when time returns to normal they will automatically be hung! [Looks very pleases with his idea]

Lucy : [Rolls her eyes and gives a snort of derision] And where are you going to get these very heavy weights? It's already been established that we can't interact with things in the room.

Alice : [Watching Evan with the ropes] Hold on, I'm confused - I thought we were going to try putting a noose around her neck? The rope isn't long enough to tie them both up. Speaking of which [turns to Jusilla] how come the rope didn't go all heavy like the rest of the things?

Jusilla : It just didn't, okay?

Austin : [Failing to find any flaws in the Unit, moves over to the window. To Lucy] The heavy weight I was refering to was you! [To the others] We can hld the other end of the rope and jump out of the window when time come back to normal, that way Bally will be hung and we shall lower to the ground safely.

Harvey : Well, Private, I must say, I'm somewhat surprised at the savagery of your suggestion, and quite impressed. The question is, however, who is more dangerous. Bally? Or the machine?

Evan : I know a noose is, but unless we can count on it actually working... [Looks dubiously at the unit] Then tangling 'em up's a better idea. If we've got enough rope, we can do both...

Stump : We could all pee on the weakspot on unit 314, so that when it comes awake, it will sizzle out?

Chastity : [To Stump] But you only just went a few minutes go? And must all your subtle solutions rely on exposing yourself? [To Harvey] I say we use Bally. The machine may provide a better counterweight for the party, but she is more dangerous. Without her the [waves at Unit314] thing won't do anything.

Stump : [Snottily to Chastity] Some of us are comfortable with our bodies. And yes, I do have to go again.

Chastity : Well some of us are not comfortable with your body. Or at least not comfortable with you exposing certain parts of it. So please don't unless its [emphasises] absolutely necessary.

Stump : Chastisty, there is nothing wrong with your body. Just live a little. Take a leap of faith. Look at me. I'm not the greatest looking person [grabs Alice] but she loves me, and she hasn't even had me yet, which, [to Alice] by the way, you and me should find some quality time. The rope idea was intriguing.

Austin : [Sighs] Very well. [Goes over to the UNIT and wedges Beaucaphalus between the Unit's chin and breast plate, ready to ram it in as soon as time goes back to normal. To Harvey] Is Bally's mouth open enough to pop in a rev or two? I have a few left over.

Alice : [To Stump] You do the tying, and I'll do the lying.

Harvey : Indeed it is, although I am somewhat disturbed that you still have those awful things. I'm not sure we can stoop to germ warfare. Gevena Convention and all that. What exactly are we doing with the rope?

Stump : And why not? Didn't we use chemical warfare against Pesty? I'm referring to the Placebium. Just plop a few in her mouth and be gone with it. [to Alice] As for you my dear. We need some more rope. But then again, if you are going to be on your back anyway, I can just climb on top.

Harvey : [Closing his eyes and rubbing his temples, muttering to himself] It's a spell, it's a spell. [Sighs loudly and speaks up] Yes, Private, good point.

[AUSTIN pops a rev into BALLY's mouth, while EVAN puts the noose around her neck, and throws the other end over a beam. Just as he catches the other end, BALLY and UNIT 315 come to life again.]

Bally : [Still wagging her finger] Kill you and your - [looks around, shocked] Unit 315, kill them!

[EVAN pulls the rope, which tightens around her neck, and lifts her off the ground. Despite this, BALLY remains surprisingly calm, and turns to JUSILLA, tossing a large ball of flame towards her.]

Bally : [Choking] Bitch!

Chastity : That's not very nice. [Hits Bally in the stomach with her mace]

Austin : [Tries to ram Beaucaphalus into the weak point between Unit's chin and breastplate. To Unit] Hold still, I'll have you fixed in a jiffy!

Bally : Urgh! [Pulls the blindfold down to see her fireball miss Jusilla and set fire to the wall, but cuts through the rope with her finger nails, and drops to the floor]

[AUSTIN sticks BEAUCAPHALUS deep into UNIT 315, eliciting a terrible, high pitched scream, while HARVEY also drives his sword in. In the meantime, ALICE joins CHASTITY by striking BALLY with her sword.]

Bally : Right. Now it's our turn.

[UNIT 315 knocks AUSTIN to the floor as BALLY lobs another fireball at JUSILLA, who is clearly in a very weakened state.]

Stump : [theme song to mighty mouse plays] Here I come to save the day! [dives to knock Jusilla out of the way of the fireball]

[STUMP connects with JUSILLA just seconds before the fireball does, and the two fall to the ground, as it hits the wall behind them, making the fire rage even higher.]

Unit315 : That really, really hurt. [Swings and hits Harvey, knocking him to the ground, before walking towards Austin] I'm going to kill you.

Bally : [Gives a dismissive wave of her hand, which sends Chastity flying back hard against the wall] You bitch.

Stump : [To Jusilla removing one hand from her breast] If you have any other tricks up your sleeve, you might want to do something, like now?

Evan : [To Bally] Don't suppose y've heard that Dolorion called off yer little invasion? [If this fails to elicit a positive response, casts Dispel Magic on the Unit in hopes of shutting it down for a short time.]

Bally : You liar!

[BALLY waves at EVAN, throwing him back against the wall, interrupting his spell.]

Jusilla : [To Stump] Aw, Stumpy saves Juice's life, she won't forget that, but now thinks we should have done what Mr. Spock said and escaped.

[Just as UNIT 315 swings his massive sword down on AUSTIN, enter SNYDER, holding a small metal box in one hand, and a glass amulet in the other. He points the box at UNIT 315, which stops immediately, with his sword less than an inch from AUSTIN's crotch.]

Bally : No!

Snyder : [Dropping the amulet and stamping on it with a smile] Yes.

[BALLY gives a gasp, clearly affected by the smashing of the amulet.]

Austin : [Gasps. Rolls aside, jumps up and rams Beaucaphalus into the weakpoint on the UNit 315 again. To Snyder] Good timing!

[The sword sinks into UNIT 315, but it doesn't react. Meanwhile, BALLY reverts to her human form.]

Bally : But - but why? You don't even like them! You said they were scumbags!

Snyder : [Punches Bally in the face and knocks her down] Yes, but they're my scumbags. [Looks around the party, pausing for a brief nod of acknowledgement to Austin] Everyone okay?

Austin : [To Snyder] Why, yes thank you Mr. Snyder, thanks to you I believe, and Juscilla. [Austin withdraws Beaucaphalus and straightens his suit, checking for dust etc. Gets his mirror out and checks his hair briefly, then checks his nails. To Snyder] Well, those we some neat tricks you pulled there, may I enquire as to how you came accross the box and the amulet thingy? [Points at the remains of the amulet on the ground]

Snyder : I figured Bally here was a bit too good to be true, so I took the liberty of searching her room. [Sighs with pleasure] Ah! Brings back memories of random locker searches in my days as a high school principal! It didn't take long to find those - when demons are in our dimension, they need an amulet to maintain their link with their own dimension. Break that and the link, [smiles] and their power, are gone.

Chastity : [Pulling herself painfully to her feet] Well, thank you, Mr Snider. A fine piece of sleuthing. Congratulations. [Retrieves her tea towels] Now what shall we do with Bally here?

Snyder : We could tie her up and beat the truth out of her. Try and find out what that scumbag is doing here.

Jusilla : She's a very, very naughty girl.

Evan : Oww. [Wincing] She's part of an invasion force. 'Cept their invasion's been called off. And she wouldn't believe it when I told her. [Rolls eyes] Typical.

Bally : You're a liar! [Checks her watch] They're coming in three, two, one! [Looks up at the others with a huge smile]

[Time passes, with BALLY's smile flickering slightly, as she glances to where the vortex was, and gives her watch an occasional tap.]

Bally : Well, something's coming, soon, and it's going to be bad!

Chastity : [To Bally] Yes. For you. [To Snider] Did you find anything else in her room, or should we let our expert have a look? [Looks to Austin]

Austin : [To Chastity] The prefered and accepted terminology is 'apprase'

Harvey : [Raises an eyebrow] And not steal?

Snyder : In the meantime, we need to figure out who broke the no magic rule, that let the vortex open in the first place. [Looks around the party, pausing on Stump, who has Alice wrapped around him] Anyone know of any powerful potions or spells recently discharged?

Evan : Well there've been plenty of spells going off since the droids and Bally started going berserk on us, but before that... s'pose it could have been Bally's own doing, what with her spells, or the love potion these two seem to have been exposed to... [Glances at Alice and Stump.]

Stump : [Squeezing his squeeze, then frolocking a kiss] Uhhhhh. Hmmm. Let me think. Nope. Might it have been Bally?

Austin : [To Snyder] You mean like a love potion [looks at Stump]

Snyder : It's unlikely to have been Bally, the whole [dismissive way of his hand] balance thing wouldn't let that do it.

Harvey : [Almost before Evan finishes speaking] Yes! Yes! Private Starflow is absolutely right! Well done sir, well said! [Claps him on the back so hard he almost knocks him over]

Alice : [Turns a baleful eye on Evan] What do you mean, love potion?

Stump : [Following Alice's lead] Yes, please fill us in? Hmmmm.

Snyder : That's precisely the kind of thing I mean. [To Jusilla] Do you know anything about this?

Jusilla : Yes, some, awful, naughty, naughty dolly stole one of Jusilla's love potions. [Gives Stump a long look, before turning to the party] I think it was the meanie Bally who did it.

Alice : [Getting more and more indignant, with her hands on her hips] Love potion?

Alice : [Turns to Stump] You know, I would have hoped they could be happy for us, but all I see is jealousy!

Stump : [to Everybody] What I don't understand is why when ANYTHING happens, everybody looks at me like [emphasis] I did something. I'm always the stupid looking one. I'm always the ugly one. I'm always the one who gets us in trouble. Why? [pouts a little for some Alice sympathy]

Austin : [To Juscilla] Presumeable, if a love potion ahs been use on someone here, it will eventually wear off, or be 'canceled' by you? Then we would know if it had been used, or are thera alternative methods of detection?

Jusilla : If it's one of mine, I can cancel it. Turn it all off!

Alice : [Rubs Stump's back reassuringly] Don't pay any attention to them. [Turns angrily to the party] You know something? I sick of the way you all treat George, things are going to have to change around here, and now! And as for this business of there being a love potion involved, is it really so incredible that George and I want to be together? [Points aggressively] You just don't understand our love, our love spans the ages, it is an epic love that will live for ever, it is a love that -

[Some sparkles leap from JUSILLA's hands, and sprinkle all over ALICE, who stops mid stream, mid rant and mid point. Slowly a look of realisation comes over her, and her eyes flick around the room as she brings her hand down.]

Alice : [In a very, very small voice] Hey.