THE QUEENS VIEW AFFAIR

[Book IV, Act III, Scene I. The Suite. ALICE, AUSTIN, HARVEY, EVAN, STUMP and CHASTITY are here, having returned from LUCY's room. Also present are SNYDER, PETER and SPRUCE. The party are just finishing telling them what happened.]

Snyder : And you were sure it was Jerome? What happened then?

Alice : He just disappeared, he sprinkled some kind of dust and then there was no sign of him. We tried to help Lucy but, [glances at Austin] she was gone.

Snyder : Escaped?

Alice : No.

Chastity : [In shock] I still can hardly believe it. I know I voiced my suspicions earlier, but it still took me by surprise!

Alice : But why? Why would he do it? [Looks at Austin] I suppose this qualifies as having your heart ripped out.

Stump : [Slumps shoulders] Well, I guess I'll have to change the menu to be a funeral instead of a marrage. [Obviously distraught on how he is going to accomplish this]

Spruce : Perhaps you could cut the wedding cake into little coffin shaped pieces? Coffin cakes always go down well.

Stump : Yeah, possibly. But it's a white cake. Not really appropriate. I could put a torch to it to darken it. Maybe glaze the top. Hmmm.

Alice : [To Peter] Do you know what the path is?

Peter : Yes.

Harvey : I still can't believe it troop, the doctor, turned murderer! I know he was a little odd, well odder when last we saw him, but by the saints, to stoop to such a level! Surely it couldn't have been him?

Stump : [distraught over the cake] Uh, no. Met him for only about 15 minutes or so. Nice gent. Bit strange. Guess the Path got to him.

Evan : [Puts on an expression that somehow manages to smirk and grimace at the same time.] Don't s'pose y'd care to tell me 'bout this doctor fellow? It's not like I've met him before now, y'know. [Pauses] Not the 'good first impression' type, obviously.

Alice : [Annoyed at Peter] It was him, it couldn't have been a shapeshifter, given the amount of spots he had. He really did do it. I know he seemed to have that whole invulnerability thing going on, but was he really that different/?

Harvey : Well, I just can't believe that the doctor could turn into such a cold blooded murderer, dear niece. But, I must believe the evidence of my own eyes, I suppose. And therefore, the doctor has got to pay.

Alice : [Spreads her arms in a gesture of confusion] Well, up until today, he wasn't the type to kill people. He's been with us almost since the start, and was friends with everyone in the party, well, except with Austin, and, um, I think someone was engaged to him for a bit. Something happened to him in the Interior, though.

Stump : [off handidly] Could it be the lack of acne creme? One zit over the line? I can't get no zitti-faction? It's been a hard zits night?

Spruce : [To Harvey] Make him pay? [Shakes her head sympathetically] Poor Harvey, you just don't understand, do you? He was paying.

Chastity : [To Spruce] What do you mean he was paying? Are you suggesting that he was acting under some sort of coercion for past endeavours?

Alice : [Unimpressed at Stump] You're an idiot, Stump. We could be in serious trouble here - after the Interior, it didn't seem possible to hurt Jerome. He always healed immediately after getting hurt.

Stump : So you are saying that if we kill somebody we get massive amounts of future pleasure? Hmmmm. The Path sure is interesting. So the path must be a path to Pleasure.

Spruce : More in the sense that he was doing it through free will to ensure future pleasures.

Spruce : No, that's not what I'm saying. Usually if you kill someone you get killed. The amount of pleasure you get on the Path depends on the person. [Slowly turns her gaze on Peter] What do you think, Peter?

Peter : That Alice looks lovely in that bridesmaids dress.

Evan : [Raises an eyebrow.] Wait a minute. Y'saying that this 'Path' is actually a toll road?

Stump : [Backhands Peter] Keep your wide eyes shut.

[PETER reacts with incredible speed, and catches STUMP's and, throwing him over his shoulder and onto the wedding cake.]

Peter : [To Stump] My aim was off on account of my eyes being shut.

Spruce : [To Evan] Nothing in this world is free. [Looks a the cake covered Stump] Even stupidity has its price.

Alice : [Stands between Peter and Stump] Stop! Stop that right now, you, you...

Snyder : Scumbags?

Alice : Scumbags!

Austin : [Lies down on the sofa, nursing Maplin, slips of his shoes and covers himself in a blanket. Seems to be completely oblivious of the others]

Stump : [wiping the cake off his body and eating it as he stands up] I my younger years I would have broken your arm. But alas, try some cake, it's pretty good.

Chastity : [To Stump] I thought you'd grown out of that behaviour! The question is where do we go from here?

Evan : [Looks askance at Snyder and Alice.] Someone call the book a' records. The two of 'em are actually agreein' on somethin'.

Peter : [To Stump] Yes, but good for what?

Alice : Austin, are you okay?

Snyder : [To Chastity] You need to find Jerome and kill him.

Stump : Kill Kill Kill. Can't we just enjoy the little wedding and death meal I fixed?

Chastity : [Solemnly] I suppose we must. His corruption be evil must be halted. I can only hope it's not too late for his soul. [Looks over at Austin] I think we have something to do before that, though.

Alice : [Turns away from Austin to look at Chastity] Are you sure this is the appropriate time to tickle him?

Spruce : [Looks Stump up and down] The meal was ruined from me the minute that fat man was put on the cake.

Austin : [To Juiceilla] Do you mean that Jerome was paying something using Lucy's soul as currency?

Spruce : More like he was paying for something using the fear and shock of his friends.

Stump : I wasn't scared.

Spruce : You're not a friend of his.

Stump : Yeah. And as I said, I wasn't scared, was I?

Spruce : I don't care.

Stump : So why do you keep answering me? Sounds like we have some kill'n to do.

Evan : [Turning his head one way and then the other to watch their interchange.] Ah, yeah. Knights, the model of efficient discussion. [To Snyder] S'if we have to go off and kill this Jerome fellow, where're we likely t'find him? Y'guys are the ones who know all about this path business, so you're the ones who'll have a better idea where he'll be off to. 'sides, can't we bring him back alive, just like those old tattered posters always ask?

Spruce : [Gives Stump a lazy look] Bored now.

Snyder : How many times do I have to tell you? We don't know all about the path, we know very little about it. You're the ones who are more likely to know where he is, or maybe where he has friends or contacts.

Evan : [Waves a hand around the room.] Well, they might. I've never met the guy 'till now, 'nless y'count the crazy dream version of him that hacked me t'pieces. Don't s'pose y'have anything to keep him from just popping out for a minute on us again, though?

Alice : [Shrugs] He could be anywhere. Who knows what he's up to? Before all this started all we'd need to do is track down the nearest Linux conference or digital watch shop and he'd be there.

Snyder : All that's on in Asphyxia is our ultra secret symposium and that music competition.

Chastity : Perhaps we are looking at this the wrong way. [To Alice] Harvey seems to be drawn to you for some reason, dear, along with the rest of the group. Perhaps we should draw him out into a trap? [To Snider] What is this music competition in town. That could provide just the sort of exposure we require.

[ALICE and HARVEY give each other a curious look.]

Harvey : Perhaps that reason is because we are related, Sister?

Snyder : It's a boy band competition. [Face grows dark] With their fresh skin, matching clothes and banal tuneless warbling. Scumbags.

Chastity : [Also looking confused. To Harvey] What, you and Jerome? You've never mentioned that before? [To Snyder] That would be just the place to find Evil Jerome's inept henchmen that attacked us. When such bands lose a member they must make one last desperate attempt to recapture their fame. I think its a standard contract clause, but I'm sure the Austin would know more about contracting young boys than me, so he might be able to confirm that. Anyway, that could be a good place to attract Jeromes attention. [Looks round the group toughfully]And we have just enough boys here to form an entry!

Evan : Touch of jealousy there, huh? Don't worry, y'can warble with the best of 'em.

Snyder : [Glares at Evan for a moment] I know I can. [Turns away] I could have been huge, my accordian was my passport to the world. But who knew the bottom would drop out of the polka music market?

Alice : [Tentatively putting up her hand] Er, everyone?

Spruce : [Nodding slowly at Chastity's suggestion] And all the band members don't even have to be boys [gives Stump a lazy look] which is probably just as well. All you need are some shiny suits and a song with aggressively cheerful lyrics.

Evan : Y'want us to go sing on stage? [Dubiously looks over the rest of the group, then his expression clears.] Yeah, I don't s'pose it can do much more harm than anything else we've been up to.

Chastity : Just as long as we don't have to say "Yo".

Snyder : Hey, maybe I can accompany you on the accordian? All the kids love accordian music, right?

Evan : [Quirks an eyebrow.] Hmm. Y'know, they do have a pretty eclectic mix'a instruments in shows like that. An accordion at the right spots might just work. Depends on the song, though. Any ideas?

Austin : [Looks at Evan] How about this [Sings to the song "Duck the Pain away by Leeches] Sucking on my skullies like you wanted me calling me check out my rotting behind like bloodsucking leeches, what else is in the screeches of living dead peaches awww yeh awww yeh Suck the brains away Suck the brains away Suck the brains away Suck the brains away Suck the brains away Yo. [Sighs and turns over under his blanket]

Chastity : [Looks at Austin then turns away. To Snyder] Well, I suppose we shouldn't expect cheerful from Austin at the moment.

Evan : Oh, I dunno. If we make a habit out of this singing gig and ever have to perform for a gathering of necromancers, that song might work.

Alice : Not a bad suggestion, Austin, but I think maybe something along the lines of "Hooray for Everything" might be more appropriate.

Snyder : [To Chastity] We can make him the sullen moody one who writes poetry about dead puppies.

Austin : [To Snyder, muffled from under the blankets/pillow] Pervert!

Snyder : [Shaking his head slowly] No, I don't think you can be a pervert, we need a band that will be attractive to young girls, and we all know that they're not attracted to - well, I mean, each of you needs to take on a bright and shiny personality, something like the super relaxed one who's too laid back to even use full words or a nauseatingly perky bimbo.

Alice : [Jumping up and down excitedly] Me! Me! Me! I can be super perky!

Austin : [To Snyder] So your plan to kill Trindle is to form a dazzelingly sucessful boy band?

Snyder : No. My plan to get information on his whereabouts is to form a barely mediocre band that will get hold of his minions who might be at this competition. What's your plan to kill Trindle?

Alice : I know we saw what we saw, but, can we be sure he knew what he was doing? What if someone was controlling him?

Stump : [to Alice] Now THAT I can agree with. [general] Where do you want me to fit in?

Stump : Ah, the good doctor, a puppet of some diabolical evil scheme to rid the world of those seeking the Path.

Evan : [To Snyder] Well, it sounds like I'm pretty well qualified then. [To Austin] Y'got any better ideas?

Austin : [To Alice] He knew exactly what he was doing and no one was controlling him. He's been up to something since he became really hard to kill, when we were in the interior. If I have to boil him in a vat of acid for a thousand years to kill him, so be it.

Snyder : Yes, you're about annoying enough. Why don't you shave two lines into your left eyebrow? Then we just throw a white suit on you and we have the second member.

Spruce : [To Stump] Don't you mean rid the world by those seeking the path? [To Alice] Some people's paths are darker than others, it's as simple as that.

Alice : No it's not! This is Jerome we're talking about - are we just going to try and kill him without finding out why he did it?

Stump : [to Snyder] Whatever. [to Alice] Kinda looks that way doesn't it. Did you have a fling with him?

Chastity : We should really try and capture him to find out why he has turned. Unfortunately he is very powerful at the moment, so we may have to kill him. With his invulnerability he would be the perfect tool for being controlled. An evil master could well have tapped into a hidden weak point to control him, such as anger.>

Alice : That's not important right now, Stump. [To Austin] How do you know that? Since he became hard to kill, how many times has he saved our lives? In fact, it was Jerome who got you out of trouble in the Interior. [To the non party members] Is the path really so important that Jerry would turn like this?

Spruce : Sure.

Snyder : Absolutely.

Peter : [For once in his life sounding sincere] You betcha.

Alice : [Deflated at the answers] But it's possible, right? It's possible that he was being controlled?

Spruce : [Unconvincingly] Sure.

Snyder : [Lamely, not looking her in the eye] Absolutely.

Peter : [Back to his normal sarcastic self] You betcha.

Alice : There you go! Even Chastity has an open mind on this - and she's a blinkered raving religious maniac! [Turns to Chastity] No offence, Sister.

Chastity : [Looking at Alice with a slight glare] Hmmmmm. If we can question Jerome we might at least be able to stop ourselves falling into the clutches of evil and becoming bitter and twisted images of or former selves.

Austin : [From under his blanket] Okay, You guys capture him and hold him down and I'll pour acid into his eyes whilst you question him as to his motives. If he is immortal that's better because it'll take me ages to kill him.

Alice : Look, Austin, what happened is awful, but we need to know why he did it - we can't just cut someone off because we think they did something wrong. If it turns out that he has become all evil, then okay, we'll have no choice, but let's be sure before we kill someone who's a friend of ours.

Stump : You boinked him, didn't you?

Austin : [To Alice] Trindle murdered Lucy in cold blood. There were several witnesses and Trindle clearly admited that he murdered Lucy. It might be of interest to you why he did it, but he is still guilty and I'm going to kill him regardless of wether you know his motives or not. [Sulks back under the blanket]

Chastity : [Quizzically to Stump] Boinked? [To Alice] Don't tell me this is all about you hitting the good Doctor with a comedy rubber mallet! [Tuts] Really! [To Austin] We'll deal with killing or no killing of Jerome later I think. Best not get ahead of ourselves.

Alice : [Frustratedly to Stump] I did not boink him, okay? [Holds his eye for a moment, before looking down] Well, maybe I did, but [defiantly] if I did I was unconscious at the time!

Spruce : Woah, go Jerome!

Harvey : As ever, good Sister, you are a rock of sense. There's no need to make any hasty decisions right now.

Stump : [Whispers in Chastity's ear exactly the sexual meaning of the word boinked in full detail]

Chastity : [To Harvey] Thank you, Col... [Stops dead with a splutter] Mr. Stump. You vile dirty little monster. Whispering such profanities, especially to a lady, especially to a lady of the cloth is not the thing you do! [Tries to slap Stump and storm away]

Stump : Now. Now. Chastity. You can't tell me you have never done the beautiful deed. [does the hip motion]

[CHASTITY connects with STUMP and gives him a fine crack across the cheek.]

Alice : [Puts a hand over her eyes] Oh no! Does this mean he's going to take off his shirt again?

Austin : [To Chastity, muffled slightly by the blankets] I'll have one aswell, if you are making it.

Chastity : What you described to me was far from a beautiful deed. And that was before the image of you doing it was added! [Turns and looks around] I need a cup of tea! Quickly!

Alice : [Turns away from Stump, looking slightly ill] Suddenly the beautiful deed doesn't seem quite so beautiful.

Chastity : Ok [Goes to distract herself in some tea making]

Snyder : [Glares at Stump] Right, now that we're past that unpleasantness, we need to get the personality profiles for the rest of you. We've already got [gestures to Evan] annoyingly laid back, [to Alice] nauseatingly perky and [to Austin] goth who writes dark poetry. What's it to be for the rest of you? [Points a finger at Stump] And keep it clean, our key demographic is the all important 11-13 age group.

Stump : [Trying to get Chastity completely flustered] Yes, but two hot wet bodies in an intimate intwine should be considered a joyous occassion to be celebrated.

Stump : Belly Boy.

Austin : [To Stump, from under the blanket] You obviously have not seen yourself in a mirror lately.

Chastity : [Returning with two cups of tea] I will be the sincere looking one, who walks slowly to the front to support the sentiments of the main vocals during the heart-wrenching ballad. [Puts a cup of tea down on the floor next to Austin]

Austin : [Picks up the tea and sips it. To Snyder] What one earth is a goth? It's not one of those weirdos that dresses all in black and winges about being depressed all the time is it? I'm certainly not being that one. I'll do the fabulously well dressed one with flare and sophistication oozing out of every move, who writes dark poetry.

Harvey : [Doing a dodgy looking hand jive] And I'll be the funky dancer! [Starts to do a moon walk, wrinkling up the rug as he does so] Look! Is it a robot? Or is it a human? [Beams madly as he does a really unconvincing robotic type dance]

[Everyone watches in stunned silence for a few moments.]

Snyder : [Turns to Stump] Belly boy?

Stump : I'll be the uncoothed one

Harvey : [Stops his robotic movements] Well private Stump, that should suit you down to the ground, what! So, I guess we should begin to work on some material for this group. How about setting a song on the fields of Vietnumnum, where the forces of good are saved from an ambush by the timely arrival of a pop group, jumping up in front of the Vietnumnumese and giving away their position, much to the joy and synchronised dancing of the Kings soldiers! We could call it Khymer And Lets Trip Trip Trip Through the Trip Wires!

Snyder : I really rather think something about an infeasibly small bikini and the embarassment it causes its wearer might be appropriate.

Alice : Especially if the wearer is Stump!

Evan : Don't those guys usually stick to the implausibly cheerful stuff? War scenes and embarassment are a bit out'a line with that. Maybe we can do a cover version'a somethin' by the LareBaked Nadies.

Stump : No. No bikini. Thong would fit better. Accents my essentials.

Alice : Essentials? Or barely useful? Anyway, I think Evan is right - what happened to that "Hooray for Everything" song? That sounds much happier than a song about how uncomfortable Stump's genitals are in an itsy bitsy, teensy weeny, yellow polka dot thong.

Austin : [From under the blanket] Yes, we want the fans to like us, not vomit in disgust. "Hooray for Everything" sounds infinitely preferable.

Alice : Excellent. Now all we need to decide on is the name - how about Alice and Alicettes?

Austin : What about Lucy's funeral?

Harvey : Hmm, private, I'm not too sure that that particular sad event would make suitable in a song called Horray For Everything! I mean, we must draw the line at what constitutes everything, don't we, what!

Austin : [Looks out from under the blanket in disbelief at Harvey] Colonel! My fiance's still warm corpse lies in the next room! I think we should at least bury her in the proper manner before we start writing songs and forming boy bands.

Alice : [Glares at Harvey] He wasn't talking about the subject of the song, he was talking about the name of the band!

Snyder : The funeral will be tomorrow - my advice is to check out this boyband trail first, before the trail goes cold.

Evan : [Shrugs] Well, hey, if we can find a way t'make a song about a funeral really cheerful, it might work. It'd pretty much be guaranteed that no one else'd be doing it.

Alice : We could be the band who put the fun in funeral! [Catches Austin's eye] Er, I mean, no, that's a stupid suggestion, Evan. We need to think of a name - so far we've got Alice and the Alicettes and Lucy's Funeral on the table. Any others?

Austin : [To Alice] "Lucy's funeral" is not a suggestion for the name of the band. How can you be so heartless? [Ducks back under the blanket]

Stump : We could sing a song in honor of Lucy. Something like Lucy in the sky with diamonds, or something like that. As far as a group name, what about the Beagles?

Alice : [To Austin] But, you were the one who suggested it!

Harvey : [To Stump] I say, Private Stump, that's a capital suggestion!

Chastity : Or the Lucilles in her honour. We could sing something upbeat and defiant with good dance potential like "I will survive" [Face drops] Oh, sorry Austin.

Austin : [To Chastity, looking out from above the blanket] On one hand Chastity, you are a complete cow. One the other hand ... [Does a fake shocked look] Oh you've only got ONE hand! How insensitive of me! [Sticks his tougue out at Chastity and dissapears back under the blanket]

Austin : [Throws back the blanket, furiously. To Alice] No I didn't, you stupid stupid girl! I suggested that the event of Lucy's funeral should take precedence over the choosing of band names! You are just too stupid to realise that when I said "Lucy's funeral", I was refering to the event of the burrial of my recently murdered beloved, NOT some stupid bloody boy band name, you imbeciel! [Stomps out of the room furiously, slamming the door behind him]

Evan : [Eyebrow raised as he stares at the blanket-shrouded Austin.] Y'know, that's typical. Fiancee is murdered and the lawyer responds with a coverup. [Shakes head.] Even if it does spare us the gory details of what he's covering up. [To Chastity.] Think maybe "Help!" would be a good song for us? We could certainly use it...

Stump : In this case, I must side with Austin. He did loose his love, which I've done many times, but never by murder. We should give our respects to her and then decide what to do. [looks at everybody] What? I do have a heart every now and then.

Alice : [Recoiling from Austin's words as though stung] Oh.

Snyder : Well, that went better than expected.

[PETER gives a pained sigh and follows AUSTIN into the room.]

Last form Conor - 03.01.087

Harvey : I say, I feel quite bad now, troop! We should bury private Sleazes bride to be not, as soon as possible. [To Chastity] Dear sister, I hope you would be able to perform the ceremony?

Snyder : [Sigh] Like I already said, we can't have the funeral until tomorrow. Don't you scumbags ever listen? The cause of death has to be established.

Spruce : [Sounding bored] Maybe it had something to do with the ninety stab wounds?

Snyder : Possibly, but we're not ruling anything out at this stage.

[Enter AUSTIN and PETER, the former with a smile on his face and his arm around PETER.]

Austin : Thanks, Peter, I really appreciate that.

Peter : [With barely concealed contempt] It was my pleasure.

Austin : [Hugs Peter, to his obvious dismay and discomfort] I won't forget this. [Turns to the party, the smile fading from his face] What are we waiting for? The sooner we get to the competition, the sooner we can get back here.

Snyder : [To Chastity] That Peter, isn't he just the greatest?

Chastity : [Beaming] What a guy. [Looks happily nostalgic for a moment] I remember when he helped me out of a dreadful personal predicament as well. A champion! [Looks round the group] Lets go then.

Evan : I'm set. [Heads off with the rest.]

Stump : [Looks at all the food going to waste and picks up a handful, stuffing some into pockets, the rest in his mouth and hands] OK.

[Exit the party.]

Snyder : [To the others] So, do you think they have any chance at passing as a boyband?

Peter : They are certainly talentless and feminine enough.

[Book IV, Act III, Scene II. The Cheesy Chipper Hotel. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, HARVEY and CLINT are here, having just arrived, now wearing their sparkly white jumpsuits as made by PETER. Inside, there is a table set up with a banner over it that reads "Boyband Expo". There is a man, WALLY LOUCHE, sitting at the table, and there are three pretty boys around it, from the famous boyband N-Syck. These are SCARY SYCK, NICEY SYCK and SPIKEY SYCK.]

Wally : [Holding up a card with an eye on it, and pointing it at N-Syck] I hold the card with the little eye, and my little eye sees a successful group.

[The members of N-SYCK hug and high five each other.]

Alice : [Barely able to contain her excitement] Look! It's N-Syck! They're the best band in the realms.

Chastity : [Trying to copy the classic cool boy band strutting/waddling walk] Not for long. [Raises a hand and looks to high five someone]

Harvey : Stop troop! The Sister must have seen something!

Nicey : [Spots the party] Oh, hi! You must be here for the competition, best of luck to you.

Scary : [Turns to the party and makes what he clearly believes is a scary face] Roar! my last mail,

Chastity : [Awkwardly wakes her hand towards Nicey, trying to look like that's what she planned all along] Yes, the competition. [Points at Scary, talking confidently] We're the worst boy band in town. [pauses and looks flustered for a moment] Oh, oh, no, I mean we're the [emphasis] baddest boy band in town. [Turns to Harvey. Quietly] I wish they'd teach the youth some sort of grammatical skills, it's so confusing!

Alice : [Rolls her eyes at Chastity's foolishness] Tut! She proper no speak!

Nicey : [Shakes Chastity's hand] Hi, nice to meet you. I'm Nicey Syck, and this is Scary and Spikey. And this [as though expecting gasps of amazement] is Wally Louche.

Wally : [Holds up his eye card] I hold the card with the little eye, and my little eye sees a bunch of wasters who are probably more likely to scare the young people than to entertain them.

Chastity : That's where you are wrong! You're little eye is too little to take us in. We are [does little shimmering vogueing arm movements] the new wave, the next thing, the rising stars, [starting to struggle] erm, the new kids in the hat. You're in our cot now! [turns to the others and gives a thumbs up, before her face drops and she quickly turns back round to Wally] I mean crib. You're in our crib now! And we're [faltering] in the hood as well. [To Harvey] Maybe you would be better at this, Colonel.

Harvey : Of course, Sister. [Steps in front of Wally] Word. [Does the Vulcan greeting with his hand]

Wally : [Holds his card over his eyes] Please! You are just too awful. Please leave.

Harvey : Well, to put it bluntly, no, what! We are the best group ever to stand in front of you, and if you turn us away, you're missing out on the biggest thing ever! In fact, we'll go straight back to that chap called Limon Sowell, who enjoyed, no, was overcome with our retro style and, well, in the parlance of our times, funky struts, sir! [Folds his arms tightly across his chest and poses] Dadio!

Evan : [Smirks.] B'sides, if we're as bad as y'think we are, it'll make y'look all the better, now won't it? Y'know, boosting your own performance by contrast'n all that. So y'don't really want us to pull out'a this whole deal.

Wally : I don't care what Limon said, I hold the card with the little eye, and my little eye says anyone who's waistband is that high is wrong. You're too old, too fat and too girlish to be a proper boyband. You might be better off being a group of, [struggles to think of something] of old, fat, girlish people!

Spikey : [Laughs with an irritating high pitch laugh] Old, fat, girlish people! You're so much better than Limon, Wally!

Scary : [Getting right in Evan's face] Anyway, we're the best band in the realms - we don't need you to be bad to make us look good. [Puts on another scary face] Roar! We're going to win however good your mother thinks you are.

Evan : Well, since y'think I'm girlish, I'd better act the part. [Takes advantage of Scary's close-up to ambush him with a quick kiss square on the lips, then steps back.] There. Just like y'wanted.

Scary : [Shocked at this brazen assault] He - he kissed me! They've got a gay boy, a gay boy in a boyband! Whatever next? [Makes a big show of wiping his mouth]

[An brief but awkward silence passes.]

Wally : You are out of the competition, out, I say! [Pushes Evan back so he collides with Alice and Chastity]

Nicey : [Quietly to Scary] What was it like?

Scary : [To Nicey] He's not as good as you are.

Evan : [Mildly to the group.] Y'know, the tabloids'd love a story like this 'boud them.

Chastity : [To Wally] As much as that display sickens my stomach, this is an outrageous. Once the press hear that you use violent force, blatant discrimination to force competitors out of the competition and interview innocent by-standers at the public homo-erotic displays involving N-Syck band members, you will be completely discredited and your fan base will be destroyed.

Alice : That's right - and we might even be able to find someone to sell a story to them about how she went back to your rooms and you all really small todgers, and then she'd get to pose for pictures in the paper in really nice lingerie, [gets a little dreamy] perhaps on a bearskin rug.

Wally : You don't know what kind of fan base we have, [defiantly, but clearly lying] we could get even more popular!

[Enter JOHN SMITH, a slightly scruffy and unshaven, but quite handsome man, dressed casually.]

John : Woah, woah, woah! [Genially, but firmly] What's going on here?

Scary : They attacked us!

John : Well, that's okay, because I thought it looked like you pushed this [gestures to Evan] gentleman against these two lovely ladies, and, boy am I glad that that's not what happened. I'm really glad about that.

Scary : Why?

John : Because then I'd have to kill you.

Evan : [To John] Actually, he *was* being pretty pushy. In more ways than one.

Austin : [Looking at John] Hey, we found a statue of you in an old mine shaft! [Attempts to swipe the eye on a crad from Wally and tear it in half and throw it to the ground and stomp on it, whilst Wally is wondering what the hell Austin is talking about]

John : [Smiles] A statue? Of me? Well now, that's all very flattering. [Gives Alice a wink] I hope it wasn't naked.

Alice : [Blushing, and a little flustered] I'm starting to regret that it wasn't!

Wally : [Successfully keeping hold of the card] Look! He's just assaulted me! When I tell the organisers of the competition what he did, they won't let them register! sure that this who's statue

Stump : [Appears from behind the crowd, dressed in a roadies/groupies/fan outfit, and starts yelling] Oh my god, I can't believe it! Their are here. They are here! [yelling loudly enough to try and get peoples attention. Starts jumping up and down] I heard your latest song, Lucy in the sky with diamonds! And it was great. [Giddily walks over to Chastity] Would you sign my shirt!

Chastity : Why certainly, avid fan. [Looks around] Anyone got a quill?

Austin : [Hands CHastity a quill and ink. To Wally] Were you always such a gimp, or did you go through extensive training? [Checks his nails, and nods in a so-so fashion]

Stump : [Jumps up and down] Sign right here. [Lifts up shirt to expose his stomach as a tear of joy runs down his face, still living it up]

Wally : I'll see you never work in this town again!

John : [Gently] That's going to be kind of hard with a sword up your ass.

[Enter HERBY ZIDLER.]

Herby : I say! I say! I say! What's all the rumpus here? [Gives Harvey a surprised look]

Harvey : [Gives Herby a curious look] I say, sir, have we met?

Herby : I don't believe so, Chappie, but there is something oddly familiar about you, what?

Austin : [Nods in aggreement with John. To Wally] Then I'll peel you like a grape and pour balsamic vinegar on your open wounds. [Sneers at Wally]

Chastity : [Grimacing at being so close to Stump's exposed flesh. With a forced smile and a bit of a glare] Of course. [Makes an undecipherable scribble on Stump's stomach, making sure she ends it with a stabbing full stop]

Stump : [Tears roll down his face from the pain] SHE SIGNED ME!!!!! [he yells, jumping up and down like a fanatical fan] Alice, oh please, please do me the honor. [puts his stomach in Alices face, still trying to make as much sound as possible]

Herby : [Wincing as the quill stabs into Stump] Please! This is a boyband competition, there's no room for backstabbing, bitching and threatening!

Alice : [Looking away from Stump] What is it with this guy and taking his shirt off?

Stump : Alice, you are the greatest!!!! [please sign me!]

Chastity : [Offering the quill to Alice] Quill, dear? [Hurriedly] I mean, Dude.

Austin : [To the boy band] Of course, you realise that your days are numbered, you guys are so yesterday, tired and old, that you will probably be booed off the stage! [Flourishes Maplin] Behold, the most beautiful forearm in the world. [Showns it to the boy band] How can you possibly compete with Maplin?

Chastity : [To Herby] We are but a young and eager boy band, keen to entertain the population. [Dramatically points at Wally] This beastly man is robbing young boys of their dreams.

[ALICE takes the quill and starts to sign her name across STUMP's stomach, looking away all the time.]

Herby : By the saints! Is this true?

Wally : No!

John : I fear it is, Herby. These fine people were being intimated by Wally, his card and that. [Points at Scary]

Alice : Oh no! I'm not finished my name, and I've run out of space. [The others can see that all she has written is "Alice Bassett"] Do you have somewhere that I could write "Short"? [Involuntarily glances down at Stump's crotch.]

Stump : [lowers his shirt and drops his drawers, turning around for her to sign his hind end...shakes it a little] I'm ready.

Chastity : [Sniffs] What's that strange sme...[turns to see Stump] In the name of Phili! No! [Turns away, holding back a dry wretch] I don't think the quill will work on such damp a surface.

Chastity : In general quills do have trouble writing in damp conditions. And judging by the damp, yeasty and sweaty odours coming from that direction I'd guess that damp is the least of the troublesome writing conditions the writing implement may have to contend with.

Stump : OK, then just write it on my back [he says giddily, pulls up pants and shirt exposing a very hairy back]

Chastity : [To Herby] I must say that I'm glad a sensible organiser has been found. My I ask you're name, sir?

Alice : Oops! I've dropped the quill in!

Wally : Look at this digusting display, they have no right to be in the competition.

Herby : By the saints, sir! I am the one running this competition, and I will say who does and doesn't have rights!

Harvey : Eh? [Points at Wally] This imbecile told us we couldn't enter?

Herby : Eh? What inappropriate managerial drollery is this, what?

Alice : [Looks slowly from Herby to Harvey] Is it me, or is this very strange?

Harvey : Indeed, niece! It is very strange, that one competitor would try to prevent another from entering a competition.

Herby : Indeed, sir, it is most rum and uncanny.

Stump : [Pulling the quill out of his cheeks, To Alice] Can I keep this as a token? [To Herby] Oh you must allow them to compete. They are the greatest! They have voices that make even angels voices seem lame. [quickly glances to Chastity, grimmising slighly] Harvey actually saved a girls life with his singing.

Austin : [To Herby, waggling a finger at Wally] This scoundrel Wally here is attempting to pervert the outcome of the competition by excluding other competitors, in a most non-democratic manner!

Herby : [Bows to Chastity] I am Herby Zidler, it is a pleasure to meet you, ah, Harvey? You must indeed be a wonderful singer to have same a girl's life, what!

Wally : [Angrily to Austin] I was doing no such thing! I was merely trying to prevent you and your oafish band from wasting the valuable time of the audience.

Alice : [Looking at the feather sticking out of Stump's trousers] Well, it's Austin's quill, so you'll have to ask him, but, you know, I think it's a pretty safe bet that he'll be cool about it.

Harvey : [Bows to Herby] Indeed so, sir, had that poor little child not turned and fled, she would have been hit by an out of control carriage, which wildly careened right past the exact place where she had been standing, what! [Turns to Wally] Sir, you and your little cardboard eye were attempting to cut down the competition to just one band! Outrageous, I say, outrageous!

Austin : [Looks round to see what Alice is talking about, spots the quill and grimaces] Another Physovani Rakkoney quill ruined! [Looks away from the distressing sight. To Alice] Mr. Stump may keep the quill. Forever. I do not wish to see that quill ever again. [Shudders at the thought]

Alice : [To Stump] You can keep the pen, although, you know it's more common to put a feather in your cap, and to put a cap in your, well, you know!

Wally : [To N-Syck] Let's get away from these barbarians! [To the party] Just wait until you get sung, danced and finally booed off the stage.

[Exit WALLY and the band in a flourish.]

Herby : [To Harvey] Outrageous sir! They are absolutely outrageous!

Evan : Gonna be a fun night, I can tell.

John : Well folks, you all have a good time tonight. [Starts to head off]

Alice : Hey! Who are you?

John : The name's Smith, John Smith.

Austin : [To John] A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. Smith.

Chastity : [To John] Yes indeed. It is nice to meet a fair minded fellow in such wild times. Why are you here?

John : Just keeping an eye on things, you never know what kind of craziness can pop up these days. [Gives the party an easy smile] I'm the organiser of the competition.

[ALICE makes to say something, but suddenly looks very puzzled, and glances behind herself for a second, before turning back, looking even more puzzled.]

Herby : And an ill advised exercise it is too! [Puts on his glasses and looks up at the party] Fah! What is this? Some inappropriate musician drollery, surely?

Evan : Sounds like the two'a you have some things t'talk about! We're just here to play our parts in this whole shebang.

John : [Grins] So are we. [Looks at Alice, who is clearly somewhat troubled] Everything okay, Alice? [Takes out a beautiful silver cigarette case and opens it to reveal several hand rolled cheeserattes] Aus? You look like you could do with one. [Pops one in his mouth and holds the case out to the party]

Alice : [Glancing behind her again] I don't know. Who's that? [Juts her thumb back behind her]

Harvey : Why, that's Private Stump.

Alice : No, her.

[ALICE points out a woman at the far side of the foyer, who is clearly watching the party, with a very curious look. This is ALYSSA. She sees everyone turn to look at her and turns away, pretending to whistle nonchalantly, and running a hand through her hair to make it difficult for the party to see her face.]

Chastity : [Peering over a Alyssa] Alyssa, you say. There is a certain familiarity about her manner thsat I can't quite put my finger on.

Austin : [To John, lighting and taking some deep draws of the cheesearette] Thank you. [Nods towards Alyssa] It's a little early in the day for her kind to be out looking for custom isn't it?

Chastity : [To Austin] That's it! I knew there was somethng about her. [To Alice] Could she be a relative of yours, dear?

Evan : [Offhandedly] Or past associate? [Shrugs] But hey, we're gonna have a lot more people lookin' at us when we get up on stage. Includin', of course, two different bands who don't really like us all that much...

Herby : [Jumping up from his seat and thundering] Her kind? What the hell is that supposed to mean, you young ruffian? Why, I think I shall punch you in the nose!

Alice : [Watching Alyssa slip out through a door] I don't think so, but she really gave me the creeps.

Alice : [Clearly troubled by Alyssa] Two bands? Who's the other one?

John : [Stepping in front of Herby] Easy there, big fella, I'm sure Austin meant nothing by it, [still friendly, but surprisingly firm] did you, Austin?

Chastity : [To Alice] Maybe he's refering to the other competitors. THree bands isn't much of a competition though.

Alice : It depends on how good the bands are.

Austin : [Calmly to Herby] I merely meant I believed her to be a talent scout. Please calm yourself. [Blows a smoke ring passed Herby]

Herby : [Glares at Austin] Liar. You're all the same. Put a sparkly suit on you and give you one screaming fat fan with a feather sticking out of his ass and you think you're God almighty!

John : [Does a calm down motion with his hand to Herby, before turning back to the party] I think you'll all be fine. I'll see you later. [Gives Alice a wink and a "click-click"]

Evan : Well, actually, I kinda meant the 'band' that we're here t'flush out. Y'know, the ones who already wanted y'all dead before we arrived.

Herby : [Raises an eyebrow] Flush out? Wanted dead? You're not the most popular of groups, are you?

Alice : [Slaps her forehead with her hand] Oh, well done, Evan, why don't you just tell him it's Dangsten and be done with it?

Herby : [Shocked] Dangsten?

Alice : Er, no. Not at all. I said "Dan's town".

Stump : Are you talking about the Dangsten trio? They have that song...What is it called? [acting as though he is trying to think of a song]

Herby : Diabolique?

Alice : [Regarding Stump with a baleful eye] Yes, he is, somewhat.

Herby : No, Diabolique is the name of their song, as well as the name of their band. Have you heard them play?

Stump : Uh, that might be it. Been a while.

Chastity : We had the misfortune to be in the same hotel as them briefly, I think. Fortunately we managed to leave soon after we heard them playing. Tuneless nonsense. No melodies, no harmonies, and their use of the word love was, well, far from standard.

Herby : [Nods in agreement] Yes, yes. I fear that they will go far in this business. Now, name?

Chastity : Chasti...er...Chaz! Or do you mean our group name? Why it's [pauses and turns quickly to the others. Quietly] What is our name? So far we'd only had the Lucilles, the Beagles, Alice and the Alicettes and Lucy's Funeral.

Herby : Actually, I meant my name, but I also need your group name.

Alice : [Also quietly] I think Alice and the Alicettes and Lucy's Funeral is a bit of a mouthful, how about Alice and the Alicettes?

Austin : [Glaring at Chastity and Alice] How about the insensitive oafs?

Chastity : [To Alice, still quiet] Alice and the Alicettes isn't the most obvious name for a [emphasis] boy band. Looks round the group, counting. It's a bit silly I know, but how about calling ourselves "SIX".

Austin : Yes, The Sicks would suit you.

Harvey : How about The Privates, privates? [Clicks his fingers suddenly] I say troop, that's what's what! That strange woman, I knew I recognised her from somewhere! I never forget a shapely calf! [Quietly] She was one of those elves, wasn't she? In Euphoria!

Alice : The Privates? That'll make us sound like some gay band [thinks] it's perfect! You know, I'm pretty sure we didn't meet her in the Interior, and I'm also pretty sure she's not a calf, and if she was one of those elves, she isn't any more.

Stump : And I'll be the mascott.

Harvey : Well, I could be mistaken, dear Alice. But she certainly was acting strangely, eh! [To Ziddler] So, what time are we on, my good fellow?

Alice : Only if you take that feather out of your - out of there.

Herby : Why, we're on Brownwich Mean Time, of course! [Roars with laughter]

Harvey : [Suddenly laughs long and loud, tears pouring from his eyes] By the saints, that's the funniest thing I've heard in a long, long time! [Gasps for breath] By the saints, Brownwich Mean Time! [Laughs thunderously again, before wiping tears from his eyes] A capital joke, what!

Herby : [Beams selfconsciously] I say, sir, what a rare pleasure it is to meet someone with such a wonderful sense of humour! Right, and the name of the group is?

Alice : The Famous Five! [To the others] With Stump pretending to be a fan, or roadie, or chicken, or whatever the hell he's trying to do, that only leaves five of us. [Sings along rather horribly to the theme tune of "The Famous Five"] We are the Famous Five, Harvey, Austin, Chastity, Evan, and Alice the - hey!

Herby : The Famous Five it is. You'll be on at eleven tonight. Best of luck to you.

Harvey : [Bows to Herby] But eleven you say, surely our key demographic is safely tucked up in their beds by eleven?

Herby : Er, yes, that's what one would imagine, yes, but, well, it's different tonight, all the kiddies are being allowed to stay up late. [Hands over a key] You'll be in suite thirteen. Be careful.

Alice : Careful? What do we need to be careful of?

Herby : Er, over tired children, aggressive mothers, that kind of thing. Now, [surprisingly quietly] make sure you're in the function room at 10.30 sharp, that's when rehearsals begin.

Harvey : Rehearsals? Rehearsals? Preposterous, sir, we are at our best raw! However, we will certainly check out our competition at said function room at

Herby : Yes, yes, as long as you are there on time.

[Exit the party upstairs.]

[Book IV, Act III, Scene III. The Suite. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, STUMP and HARVEY are here, in a fairly comfortable suite. There are, of course, only five beds off it.]

Alice : Sorry, but that feather is driving me mad.

[ALICE pulls the feather out of the back of STUMP's trousers, eliciting a loud fart. A look of realisation comes across her face, and she makes to say something, but thinks better of it.]

Alice : Hey, wasn't Herby really familiar? And didn't he get really serious at the end? [Holds up the feather and looks at the end of it, giving a shiver] Why am I still holding this?

Austin : [To Alice] Why don't you throw the quill out of this window [Austin opens the nearest window for Alice]

Stump : [Scratching his pants] I think a drink might loosen us up a bit and help us be raw.

Harvey : Now now private Stump, what sort of example are you going to set the children of this town by turning up reeking of drink, what!

Alice : With all that scratching, Stump, I'm surprised you're not raw already. [Goes over to the window, but turns to the others] Hey, come over here - it's Herby outside, and that girl.

[HERBY, ALYSSA and DARIUS are outside, in small alleyway.]

Darius : How's my favourite part of a party? Herby, your face gets redder every day, and Alyssa, wow, every time I think you can't get any trashier, you just go and hitch up your skirt even further and prove me wrong.

Alyssa : [Folds her arms and gives Darius a dirty look] Look, have you got it or not?

Darius : Sure. [Tosses her a small package] Now be careful, messing with time travel can be dangerous.

Herby : Fah! We need to get the others here if we are to destroy that evil party.

Darius : Do you want to say that a little louder, Herby? [Points back at the party's window, but without listening] The walls have ears you know.

[The three slip away, with HERBY and ALYSSA going one way, and DARIUS casually strolling off the other, lighting himself a cheeseratte as he does so.]

Harvey : [To the others] I say, dirty tricks afoot, what! What did that woman mean by the evil party? And Darius is helping them to travel through time? To what purpose?

Stump : Probably to wipe our butts of the face of this planet?

Alice : [Gives a disgusted look at the feather] As long as they wipe your butt, Stump, I don't care. [To the others] It does sound like Darius is helping them - are you sure you don't know Herby Harvey? He, well, he kind of reminded me of you a bit.

Harvey : By the saints, dear niece, in what way? Well, obviously the rapier wit, dashing physique and outrageously grandiose sideburns! But how else?

Evan : Well, y'know, they do a pretty good imitation'a bein' yer evil twins. Alyssa and Herby, Alice and Harvey? And they look and act kinda like th'two'a you too. Maybe a bit more exaggerated and all that, but... [Trails off.]

Alice : Act like me? We only saw her for a second!

Evan : [Smiles.] Still bore more than a passing resemblance, y'know.

Alice : What about Herby? He bore more than more than a passing resemblance, didn't he?

Harvey : Hmm, I can't see it myself, dear niece! But I wonder what they are up to with Darius? Perhaps they're placing bets on tonights contest, and the rogues are going to travel through time to see us win, so will know to bet everything on us?

Austin : [To Harvey] It looks like they are no more evil than we are, [Looks at alice and adds] and we're not evil, so Darius is convincing them that we are, so that they try to kill us, and do his dirty work for him. [To Alice] Are you going to throw that disgusting feather out of the window or are you keeping it as a memento?

Harvey : Perhaps the Jerome we saw was one of them? He resembled Jerome, but was not actually Jerome!

Chastity : Good thinking, Colonel. I do hope that is the case. We've come across alternative parties before, so I wouldn't surprise me if this was another one. No doubt Darius is up to his old manipulative devices again as well!

Harvey : Whenever that cad is around, trouble and strife are hot on his heels, eh! It's obvious now that this competition is the setting for something a whole lot darker! Something bad is going to happen at ten thirty, I believe, when all the competitors are assembled together!

Chastity : That would explain why this Herby fellow was so flustered when you questioned the sense of such a late performance time. It could well be a trap.

Alice : If they are no more evil than us, and the Jerome that killed Lucy was one of them, that would make them pretty evil, wouldn't it? And, that Jerome was [emphasis] exactly like our Jerome, while Herby and Harvey are similar, but not twins, and as for that girl, she doesn't even have the same colour hair as me! [Looks at the feather and then at Austin] No, I think I'll throw it out. [Goes to another window] I don't believe it, there they are again!

[This time it is just ALYSSA and HERBY, standing over what appears to be a small sundial. ALYSSA adjusts it, and, after taking a quick look around, pushes the gnomon in, and the two are enveloped in a burst of light. When it clears, enter CHARITY, a beautiful and strangely innocent looking young woman, and PRINCE GEORGE, a regal and somewhat exotic man wearing a turban.]

Alyssa : You made it!

[All four exchange hugs, genuinely pleased to see each other.]

George : I see that terrible Darius didn't let you down.

Charity : I know it's sinful to think it, but I sometimes wonder if Darius is almost as bad as that evil party.

Herby : Fah! He's a queer fish and no mistake, a queer fish! We can get the other two later - tonight it has to end.

[Exit the four, disappearing down the street.]

Alice : Well, I don't think she looks like me!

Austin : Or it could be another distraction, to keep us away from what they are really doing.

Harvey : I say, rum things afoot! [Scratches at a sideburn] Do you think they are referring to us as the evil party? Could they actually believe that we are the bad eggs?

Evan : [Distractedly.] Assumin' that they *are* gathered t'gether... [More focused.] Y'know, could just be a setup. 'specially if the singin's s'posed to start earlier than that.

Alice : Well, we certainly seem to believe that they are an evil party. [Thinks] Or do we? [Points at Evan with her feather] Maybe we should sneak downstairs and see what time this thing is really on at?

Harvey : Indeed so, dearest niece. Or we could also trail the other party, nonchalantly, of course! Find out what they're up to, where they're off to. And possibly find out what Darius is up to.

Austin : [To Harvey] Colonel, I am certain that they think that we are the evil party. Darius is up to no good again, and it looks like he is trying to get us to kill our alter egos. Perhaps we should try to persuade them that Darius is the evil, not us.

Alice : [To Evan] Darius is a really sneaky evil guy who's constantly torturing us.

Stump : Darius? He's the guy who went off with Brandy after the Placebium mine, wasn't he? Didn't he save our lives?

Alice : [Defiantly] Yes, but he probably only did it because it suited him! [Thinks] Actually, it was a pretty decent thing to do, wasn't it?

Harvey : Hmmm. Good thinking there, private! We should follow them and try to persuade them of the facts!

Alice : [Looking out the window again] Well, they're heading back into the hotel. [To the others] So, who are they? Where did they come from?

Harvey : Darius is a puppetmaster dear niece. Who knows why he does what he does. One day he wants us dead, the next day he wants us saved and tomorrow, who knows? As for the other party, it's a puzzle and no mistake, eh! My guess is that Darius is gathering them from different timelines, but to what purpose?

Alice : [Shrugs her shoulders] Idunno, but Charity and Prince George seemed kind of familiar too, didn't they?

Harvey : Well private Starglow, we heard them mention that two more are also arriving, which would equal the number of our group. [To Alice] They certainly did, dearest niece! The prince reminded me of private Stump, and Charity none other than our dear sister Chastity! Which leaves private Sleaze and private Starglow.

Evan : [Shrugs.] Well, if they're yer alter-egos, then he's probably tryin' t'replace you with 'em or somethin'. That's what they always do in the bad novels, anyway.

Evan : [Arches an eyebrow.] Y'know, even if he is out t'kill me, it'll be kinda fun t'meet myself. Can swap stories 'bout the rest'a you, if nothin' else comes t'mind.

Harvey : Oh, so you'd have nothing to tell about your own life?

Chastity : [To Harvey] Very secretive these elves. [To Evan] You have to be careful when your around other versions of yourself. You could quite easily unset the future, em,thingy.

Austin : [Looks astonished at the thought] Well, my alter ego will instantly recognise my exquisite dress sense, savoir-faire and rare comlyness. It would be nice to meet someone who knows what good taste is. [To Stump] No I'm not talking about food.

Evan : [Smiles.] Well, if he's me, then he'd already know it anyway...

Alice : Why didn't they all arrive together? If they are us in the future, why arrive seperately? And what's the deal with John Smith? Why on earth was there a statue of him in the Placebium mine? I mean, I know he's kind of dreamy and all, but making a statue? Come on!

Stump : You all must be the unlucky ones. I don't have a twin. Just me, my, number one here.

Harvey : Well, the only way we'll find out is by talking to the other party. Get some answers. We should also ask around the town about this John Smith chappie! Get some history on him.

Alice : What? Yours was the closest of all! Let's go downstairs and see what we can find out.

[The party head downstairs and to reception. There is a man here, BEVAN RILLIAMS, sitting behind reception with his feet on the desk, reading a book.]

Alice : [Rings the bell] Hello?

Bevan : [Looks up] Hullo. [Carries on reading]

Harvey : By the saints, how rude! [Repeatedly and rapidly rings the bell] I say, you there chappie, we require some assistance!

Bevan : [Looks up with a crooked grin] I s'ppose y'don't need help with ringing that bell. [Puts his book down] What c'n I do for ya?

Harvey : We need to know which room Mr Ziddler is staying in. We have to speak to him urgently about tonights competition. Also, we need to find Mr Smith. Where does he live?

Bevan : 'fraid I can't give you that info, friend, but y'can leave a message for if you want. Smith? [Shrugs] It's a pretty common name, d'you know?

Harvey : We have no time for messages, man! It's of the upmost importance that we speak to him as of the now! Smith may be common, but I'm willing to wager that the name John Smith is not, especially in a hotel! Surely you know of John Smith!

Chastity : [To Bevan] He is organising the boy band competition. John Smith that is.

Austin : [Looks at the guest log to see what names are there] To Harvey, unfortunatley colonel, the name John Smith is used by many people who do not wish their real names to be known, especially in hotels.

Stump : Hey, maybe this is what Pesty was talking about when he mentioned 180? It might be a countdown, or it could be that we are going to have a showdown with ourselfs other selfs.

Evan : C'mon guys, let's get out of here.

[As AUSTIN leans over to look at the Guest Register, it becomes apparant that BEVAN is holding it.]

Bevan : [Ignoring Phull, shakes his head] 'fraid not, Miss, t'competition's being organised by Herby Zidler.

Phull : [To Bevan] Hey! What the hell are you doing here?

Bevan : [Cheerfully holds up the register] Checkin' out those who checked in.

Evan : [Eyebrow raised again.] Uh huh. [To Harvey.] Yer not the only one 'round here that rings a bell. Let's see if we can go find those fine folks about the place?

Bevan : [Cocks an eyebrow] Right, lessee what w'can do. [Picks up his book and glances through it] Looks like there're twenty three or so John Smiths stayin' here t'night.

Evan : [Hanging back] You know, why don't we go follow the others? This can wait.

[Enter PHULL MUTCHELL, looking quite concerned.]

Phull : Is there something I can help you with? I'm the manager.

Harvey : Yes, let's go! [To Evan] Looks like your double has arrived in town, private Starglow!

Alice : [To Stump] Didn't we already establish that 180 referred to a number of days? [To Phull] Does he [points at Bevan] work here?

Phull : [Indignantly] No! I've never seen him before in my life!

Bevan : [Tearing a sheet out of the book] Y'say it like it's a bad thing.

Phull : [Aghast, points at Bevan] Stop him! Please!

Chastity : I knew a face like that shouldn't be trusted. [Tries to get in the way of Bevan and hold him]

Stump : [Lunges at the feet of Bevan, and while doing so] What a queer name...Bevan.

Harvey : [To Bevan] I say you blackgaurd! Unhand that sheat of paper this minute! [Attempts to grab the page from Bevan]

Bevan : [Leaping off his seat with surprising speed] Got t'go! [Tosses the book to Austin, while easily evading Harvey, Chastity and Stump by vaulting over the desk with amazing dexterity] C'ya! [Makes a run for it between Alice and Evan]

Alice : I've got him! [Stretches to trip him, but a look of horror comes over her face as there is a loud ripping sound from the back of her tight trousers from the sparkly outfit] Gah! You get him Evan.

[EVAN makes what can only be described as a half hearted attempt to block him, and BEVAN heads towards the door]

Harvey : Damn and blast, he's escaping! After him! [Attempts to pick up the bell and throws it at Bevans head]

Stump : [to Evan] What, you scared you will hurt yourself by grabbing your other self? Or is it that you got distracted by the milky cheek skin of Alices tender butt?

Chastity : Halt! [mumbles an incantation]

Austin : [Casually put the book down on the table. Takes a deep draw from his cheesearette and blows some smoke rings. To Evan] It's a sorry thing to be scared of yourself. Perhaps you should seek the instruction of a councellor, or a shrink.

Evan : [Calmly] I'm not scared of him, just didn't want to get too close, guy kinda gave me the creeps. Anyway, he didn't look at all like me, what makes you think he's me? Or I'm he?

[BEVAN trips, causing the bell to fly over his head, before breaking into a head over heels and leaping to his feet again, and running out the door. Meanwhile, the bell continues and slaps STEPHEN, who has just come in, right in the face.]

Stephen : Ow!

Harvey : [Goes red of face before shaking with mirth] Oh look, a man has just arrived for the bell hop position! [Laughs long and loud and alone]

Austin : [To Evan] Oh, I do beg your pardon. But he does look very, very like you, and acts like you too. [Ponders] I wonder what the other me will be like. Almost as fantastic as me I suppose. [Examines Maplin] I bet his forearm is not a patch on Serendipity, let alone Maplin. [Austin admires and feels the smoothness of Maplin in a gleefully smug manner] Sigh!

[Enter MIKEY, KEITH and SHANE.]

Stephen : [Rubbing his head] He hit me with a bell!

Shane : [Puts on his angry face] Yo. Word. Let's kill him. [Sees it's the party] Oh. [To the others] Let's get out of here!

Alice : [Pulling out her sword] Come on! Let's get them! like. not

Harvey : Scum and villainy! It's your fault that private Sleazes wife to be was murdered! Attack! [Pulls out his sword and follows Alice]

Alice : For crying out loud, Austin! [Points at Stephen] Don't you want to kill him?

[The four all look terrified.]

Stephen : Let's get out of here!

Harvey : [Puts his sword to Stephens throat] You have a few questions to answer, young lad! Firstly, who murdered Lucy? Quicky now!

Stump : [to Alice] I don't mean to agree [leaning for another look] but it does look mighty nice. [Stump kicks Stephen] That's for admiring her hind end. [kicks Stephen again] That's for messing up the wedding. [Kicks Stephen again] That's for...well...for the hell of it.

Stephen : Ow! Ow! Ow! [To Harvey] I don't know, who's Lucy?

[AUSTIN kicks STEPHEN hard in the crotch, eliciting a major scream of pain.]

Austin : You bastard.

Alice : Hey! Let's all just calm down a minute! Let's not beat this guy to death on the street!

Harvey : [To Stephen] Okay, who hired you to distract us before the wedding?

Austin : [To Stephen, holding Beaucaphalus to Stephen's throat] Where is Jerome now?

Stephen : Jerome.

[The entire party give chase out into the street, where the brothers are loading into an already moving carriage, which speeds off, causing the unfortunate STEPHEN to fall off and roll across the street right into the middle of the party.]

Alice : [Points her sword at Stephen's throat] Now we've got you, what do you say to that?

Stephen : [Looking straight up] That big split in the ass of your pants shows off your red underpants really nicely.

Alice : Hey! [Slaps him on the head with the sword]

Stephen : [Terrified] I don't know.

Harvey : Perhaps you'd better start at the begining, scoundrel! How and where did Jerome contact you?

Stump : I have an idea. Where is that quill pen you pulled out of my crack and dropped out of the window Alice? We could use that to torture him into speaking!

Alice : [Still holding the feather] What feather?

Stephen : No! Please! [To Harvey] We met him in Dystopia, we were there to get the Placebium - you know, as well as being a top boy band, we're also a kick ass adventuring party. We figured that the basta- that you might be in Dystopia, and were asking around. He told us he might be able to put us onto you.

Harvey : I see, I see! And you were only too willing to aide in an innocent murder, weren't you! While you got beaten up by us, an innocent bride, on what should have been the most joyous day of her life was murdered by Jerome downstairs!

Stump : Not to mention a wonderful cake and banquet afterwards. Alice, use the quill pen.

Alice : [Menacingly] Right. [Leans in to the frightened Stephen, before turning back to Stump] Use it for what?

Stephen : [To Harvey] That wasn't our fault! That had nothing to do with us.

Austin : [To Harvey] Let's kill him.

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] For once you have the final say in this particular matter, private Sleaze, as it was your beloved who was murdered. But not like this, not here and definitely not now. Challenge the man to a duel at dawn, and settle this the gentlemanly way, what!

Stephen : [Shrieking like a girl] No! Please! I have information that you need, about the evil party!

Evan : D'you, now? So if y'admit that they're the evil ones, are y'admittin' that we're not? After all, we'd be being all good'n sparing yer life, even after y'repeatedly tried to get people here killed. [Glances at Alice.] And for the record, she didn't bump off your brother. [Glances at Alice again.] Well, not the way y'were thinkin', anyhow.

Alice : That's right Evan. [Confused] What? [Points the stinky end of the feather at him] What?

Stephen : If you spare my life, I'll admit you're not evil. >

Evan : [To Alice.] Worry 'bout it later. [To Stephen.] You'll admit the non-evilness'a this group and swear t'Philli t'stop all the attempts t'kill everyone here?

Stephen : Yes! Yes!

Harvey : Tell us this information about the other party!

Stephen : What do you want to know? Let's see, there were six of them at the start, and it looked like they would be together forever, but things are kind of falling apart for them - two of them are dead, another has turned against them and they've had to bring in two that they hardly know, who seem to have questionable motives. Of the others, one has really horrible hair, one is lost in a pit of despair, one sucks the life from innocent people and the last, well, he's a moron who thinks he's the leader. They're going to meet their death in Asphyxia.

Harvey : By the saints, they sound like an ill prepared and useless bunch, eh troop! Shouldn't be too difficult to deal with! [To Stephen] What are they doing here in Asphyxia?

Stephen : Well, they've entered the band competition, as far as I know.

Alice : What the hell do you mean by that?

Stephen : [Terrified again] What?

Alice : [To the others] He's talking about us, clearly! Six at the beginning? That's me, Harvey, Clint, Immaculata, Austin and Stephen. Immaculata and Clint are dead, Jerome seems to have turned against us, Evan and Stump have joined us. Austin is clearly in a pit of despair, and, well, people have used insults like that on the rest of us before, commenting on [points at herself] people's hair, [gestures to Harvey] the quality of leadership and, well, the church's abuse of innocent people.

Harvey : [Stops and stares for a moment, before bursting out laughing] By the saints dear niece, that's a good one! But seriously...[turns to Stephen] they've hardly travelled through time to enter a boy band competition! What's the real reason they're here?

Evan : [Gazes down at Stephen.] I was beginnin' t'wonder 'bout that. So you're talkin' 'bout us as the evil group still? Breakin' your oath t'Philli? [Looks at Chastity.] What's the goin' punishment for doin' that sorta thing?

Austin : [To Stephen, pushing Beaucaphalus a little harder into Stephen's throat. Coldly] Tell us now, or I'll slice you open and drag your entrails out whilst you are still alive to see it!

Stephen : [Swallows hard, pushing his Adam's apple against the sword] Ow! I mean, time travel? What do you mean? They've always been here, I don't know what you're talking about.

Harvey : I don't believe you scoundrel! Today we saw two of the group arrive through a time machine! You'd better start telling the truth, and telling it fast! What is this information you have about the other party!

Stephen : I swear I don't know what you're talking about! Dangsten and the others have always been here - I don't know why they would have been using a time machine! All I know is that there's a very powerful magical artifact beneath Asphyxia that can harm them, and that's what Jerome was looking for - it's something to do with Placebium, but that's all I know, I swear! [Bursts into tears]

Harvey : Dangsten? What about Ziddler and his group?

Stephen : [Between sobs] Who? The guy organising the band competition? I don't know, organising a competition?

Harvey : Hmmm. Where is Dangsten hiding out? And do you know of an entrance to the underground cavern?

Stephen : I don't know! What underground cavern?

[A voice from behind the party speaks up. This is DORCHADAS, a strange looking man with his eyes sewn shut.]

Dorchadas : I know where he is. I see him, and I see you, torturing an innocent.

[Book IV, Act III, Scene IV. The Street. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, STUMP, HARVEY, STEPHEN and DORCHADAS are here, with STEPHEN lying on the ground and the party gathered around him in a circle.]

Alice : [Turning to Dorchadas with her feather] I don't know what you think is going on here, but no one is torturing anyone.

Stephen : Help! They're trying to rob me! You've got to stop them.

Dorchadas : I'll stop them, but I won't help you.

Austin : [Take his sword away from Stephen and readys for battle. To Dorchadas] This piece of scum [Gestures to Stephen] help murder my fiancee! What is innocent about that?

Dorchadas : I see darkness in your path, my friend, so I have no argument with you. [Points at Stump] I see darkness in your past, [points at Evan] and in your future, so I have no fight with you. [Steps closer suddenly and points aggressively at Chastity] Liar! [Turns towards Harvey] Murderer! [Calmly] I know all your secrets.

Harvey : Murderer? I say fellow, what the blazes are you talking about? I'm no murderer!

Chastity : Who are you, and who are you to call me a liar?

Dorchadas : I know you, Chastity. [Turns to Harvey and smiles] You idiot, your stupidity caused you to murder a woman.

Alice : Excuse me, um, you mentioned everyone else, is there any darkness for me?

Dorchadas : You are the worst of all.

Stephen : He's one of them! He's one of the evil party!

Harvey : A woman? By the saints, I'll not have someone slur my character in such a way! [Raises his sword to Dorchadas] I challenge you!

Evan : [Keeps an eye on Stephen and addresses him, letting Harvey deal with the newcomer.] Y'did keep up t'your end'a things, so I s'pose we can let y'off the hook. Just remember, y'swore to Philli that you'd lay off the vendetta, and in front'a a nun, too. Y'know the kinda things that're likely t'happen if y'break an oath like that...

Dorchadas : Of course. [Holds up a hand and Harvey flies through the air and lands heavily against a wall]

Stephen : [Quickly to Evan] Yes, yes, of course, I swear, and I swear to tell my brothers never to bother you again, and I apologise for the inconvenience. Sorry to cause so much trouble.

[STEPHEN gets up and runs away, straight into THE PROF, who has just appeared out of the darkness on the other side. THE PROF immediately runs him through with a sword and kills him.]

Prof : [Smiles at the party] For a group who've been such a pain in the ass for so long, I think you're going to be suprisingly easy to kill. The null hypothesis is that you are a super strong group with magical powers who are a threat to Dangsten. We're here to disprove that.

Evan : So which'a us d'you have a problem with? [Waves at Dorchadas.] He only hates three'a us, y'know.

Austin : [Swings at Prof] Analyse this murderer!

Prof : [Parries Austin's blow] Ah, Beaucaphalus! [Punches Austin hard in the face and knocks him to the ground, turning to Evan] I have no particular problem, I'm just here to advance scientific and factual knowledge. If it means I have to kill you, then so be it.

[ALICE swings at DORCHADAS, but another wave of his hand sees her flying against the wall, crashing into HARVEY.]

Alice : Ow! Oops, sorry Harvey.

Harvey : [Winded] That's quite all right, dear niece, just glad I was here to cushion your fall! [Stands up] Right, I've just about had enough of Dangsten and his cronies! [Attacks Prof]

Chastity : [Takes out her mace and faces Dorchadas] Phili will protect me from your magicry! [Attacks Dorchadas]

Prof : [Swings his sword with amazing dexterity, and hits Harvey twice, knocking him to the groun] That's okay, we can look after that for you.

[DORCHADAS gives another wave of his hand, and sends each of EVAN, STUMP and CHASTITY to the ground, before turning to ALICE.]

Dorchadas : You're the link between good and evil. I rather think it's time it was severed.

[DORCHADAS makes a gesture, and ALICE immediately begins choking.]

Alice : [With her hands frantically feeling around her throat] Help!

Harvey : Alice! [Starts getting up, takes aim and throws his sword at Dorchadas]

[HARVEY's sword bounces off DORCHADAS, and sends him staggering, but it doesn't stop ALICE from choking.]

Prof : [To Austin, with a laugh] You're the one who thinks he's on the path, eh? The null hypothesis is that you'll still be able to walk without legs. [Hits Austin just as he's getting up] Let's disprove that puppy!

Chastity : Austin, use Beaucaphalus! I think only that sword can stop them. [Casts cure light wounds on Austin]

[AUSTIN gives a slight sigh as the spell takes effect. Enter JOHN SMITH.]

John : Wrong, Chastity, my sword can hurt them too. [Drives his sword deep into Dorchadas' side, causing him to scream in pain]

Alice : [With a gasp] Thank God! [Falls onto her back, gasping for air, but no longer choking]

Prof : Ah, an unexpected variable, I fear the entire experiment has been compromised.

Harvey : [Moves over to Alice, making sure she's alright. To Austin] Attack that leprous cur, private Sleaze!

[AUSTIN grabs BEAUCAPHALUS and swings at THE PROF, who parries his blow.]

Prof : Dorchadas, what's the health coefficient?

Dorchadas : [With blood coming out of his mouth] Low. [Mutters and incantation and begins to disappear]

Prof : [Gives a polite nod to the party] Another time, then. [Steps back into the darkness]

John : [After checking the Prof is really gone] Well, is every one okay?

Alice : [Hugging John] My hero! Not only are you handsome, but brave too!

Evan : I'll second that. [Casts Cat's Grace on Austin.]

Stump : Why can't we have any of those cool disappearing spells.

Harvey : [Bows to John] You have my thanks, good sir, for saving my nieces life! A timely intervention if ever I saw one, what! Did you know those two miscreants?

John : [With Alice still hanging onto him] Your time will come, Stump.

John : I'm afraid I do, Harv. They work for Dangsten now, he had to recruit two new members after some bunch of scallywags killed two of his group.

Stump : If we don't die first from all these blasted suicide attacks, assassination attempts, deadly no-way-of-surviving quests, and things of those nature. But cool. And thanks.

Chastity : [To Stump] I've wished the same thing myself numerous times in the last few days. [Walks up to John and forces herself between him and Alice] Thank you Mr Smith, you certainly did save the day.

Alice : [Awkwardly trying to hold onto John's hand even though Chastity is trying to get in between them] Yes, John, thanks ever so much, you were just great!

John : [Gives a slight bow to Chastity, clearly amused at herself and Alice] My pleasure, Sister, that's what I'm here for.

Stump : [Gets jealous over how both Chastity and Alice squeeze close to John and just ignore him] Well now, aren't we one big happy family full of love.

Austin : [Looks really pissed off] Why the hell did that geeky wanker think I was on "the path". I don't even know what the path is and don't want to be on the stupid thing anyway! And why can't we kill the bad guys?

Chastity : [Suddenly shocked] There'll be no pleasuring yourself here, Mr Smith! MP.

Alice : [Pushed back from John] Stop crowding him, Stump! [Goes around to the other side] We kind of killed Stephen, I suppose, and I guess that whatever happens, his crazy brothers will end up blaming us for it.

John : [With a wry smile as Alice takes his other hand] So it would appear, Mr. Stump, so it would appear. [To Austin] That Path's a strange thing Austin, but hey, what does he know? He was probably just trying to put you off your game.

John : Of course, Sister, my apologies. [Gives Alice a wink] I guess I'll just have to find someone else to do it for me.

Harvey : So you know of Dangsten and his cronies, eh! Blackguards, the lot of them! [Looks at Stephen] Another senseless death, which no doubt we'll be blamed for, troop! Come, let's move away from this scene before we attract a crowd.

John : Good thinking, Harv.

Alice : [Leading John along] You can come up to our room, John, we've got a suite!

[The party quickly slip back upstairs into the suite.]

Alice : [Pointing at one of the doors] That's [rather obvious wink] my room in there.

Austin : [Puts Beaucaphalus away, straightens his hair and suit, frowning as he brushes some dust off himself] Let's go and scout out the venue, tosee if someone is setting a trap for us. [TO the others] What time is it? [Starts towards the venue]

Alice : [Dismissively] Oh, there's loads of time for that.

John : [Checks his watch] It's about seven now.

Harvey : [Shifts himself slowly until he's standing directly infront of Alices door] Well, that gives us over three hours until the competition starts. Tell me Mr Smith, do you know anything about this magic item that Dangstens looking for?

Chastity : Oh, a very valid question, Colonel, but I didn't hear it very well. I'll stand by you and you can repeat it. [Stands next to Harvey, also blocking the door]

John : A little bit - it's hidden in a cave in the underground river, and can be used to destroy magical defenses. If someone uses it on him or his band, they can be harmed by ordinary weapons.

[ALICE face drops as she sees HARVEY take up position.]

John : I'm not sure where it is, though. Maybe you might try asking Darius.

Evan : Too late, we form one already. [Nods.] But I agree with the sentiment. Problem is, it sounds like our little mission here's kinda kaput, since the bad guys we were here to scope out are the ones runnin' the show. Literally.

Alice : Darius? Do you know him?

John : Sure do. [Smiles at Harvey and Chastity, before turning slightly and looking at another door] Say, what's inside that door?

Harvey : That is the way out, Mr Smith. Do you know what Darius is doing in this town?

John : [Smiles at Harvey] Easy, Harv, you of all people should understand just how honourable my intentions are to the girl. [Shrugs] Darius is either in town to kill Dangsten and the others, to kill all of you or to kill that party from the South.

Harvey : I am confused sir, why on earth should I understand how honourable your intentions are? I have no idea who you are! Please explain yourself!

John : Sorry, Harvey, I thought you might have figured it out by now. [Big smile] The name's Faern Short, good to finally meet you.

Alice : [Shocked, as she pulls her hand away from him] Faern?

Faern : [Now with a huge smile] In the flesh!

Stump : [Sarcastically] What he means by honorable, Harvey, is that he is going to be gentle with Alice and treat her body as a shrine while he boinks her. Am I right?

Evan : [Distractedly.] Such cheerful people.

Faern : [Laughs at Stump] Haw! I see not everyone here knows who I am! [Leans in close to Stump and gives him a wink] Or maybe my reputation preceeds me after all. [Steps back, and gestures to Alice and Harvey] I'm their ancestor.

Alice : [Highly unimpressed, and with her hands on her hips] And what the hell was all that throwing yourself at me about?

Faern : Hey, come on! The legendary Alice? I had to see if you'd be tempted!

Alice : [Sulkily] Well, I wasn't!

Chastity : So this is the famous Faern Short? I see that stories of your wild and wicked ways were not exaggerated! There are entire species of elves who look down on humans because of you!

Fearn : I know, but [happy sigh] man, what a weekend that was!

Harvey : Gah! Sir, while we do appreciate you saving us, I must take exception to your cavalier attitude - we very nearly died getting the wand back, the wand that was entrusted to Kelly, that you squandered, most likely on cheap thrills and other, useless trinketry!

Faern : Hey! That's not true. [Points to himself] I'm the one who bought that Golden Turnip so beloved of the Short family!

Austin : [To Faern] Well, the elves turned out to be a bunch of junkies anyway, we had to show them the error in their ways. Their problem was that they're so bloody good at everything, when they started taking Louis XV, they became hardcore addicts over night. Sad really. [Offers Faern his cheesearette]

Chastity : I hope your sinful weekend was worth the eternal disgust of the elves for humans. [Sadly] With ancestors like you and Clint, [gestures to Alice] what chance has she got?

Faern : It was Chas, not to mention the enormous amount of cash I got for the wand. [To Alice] Where do you think all the family fortune came from? The huge house?

Alice : [Defiantly] Daddy inherited it!

Faern : That's my girl! [Takes the cheeseratte from Austin] Thanks Aus. [Takes a drag] I'd heard all about your party, and I figured that if you managed to go back in time and get the wand in the first place, the chances were you'd be able to get it back from the Interior to. Looks like I was right, so what's the harm in making my family and descendants millionaires in the meantime?

Evan : S'you're the one whose descendants I was sent chasin' after. You time traveled too, or have y'extended your life somehow?

Faern : A little bit of one, and a little bit of the other.

Austin : [To Faern] A cunning way to make yourself rich. [To Chastity] And look at us, out witted by a short, and all we got was a glass or two of Louis XIV and a cup of tea! [To Faern] Nicely done, I must say. Do you know where Trindle is at the moment?

Alice : True, Austin, but still, Louis XIV!

Faern : 'fraid not, Austin. That was a pretty bad business with Lucy, everyone was sorry to hear about that. I wish I was there to help.

Alice : So, Faern, you've done some time travelling, have you?

Faern : [Enthusiastally] Loads! [Big smile] It's like a drug!

Alice : [To the others] Why don't we go back in time and save her?

Evan : Uh, wouldn't that kinda be beggin' for a paradox? Y'know, we change our own past, so the thing that caused us to change it doesn't happen, and 'round and 'round we go?

Faern : Something like that - time travel's a strange business, and there are all sorts of implications for changing the past. Time finds a way.

Alice : Time finds a way? What does that mean?

Faern : Whenever you try to change something, something crazy and improbable happens to prevent you from changing it. [Thinks] You know, you should really talk to Darius about it, he's the expert.

Chastity : Yes, but what exactly is he an expert in?

Evan : Sounds t'me like he could be an expert in anything he wanted, 'cause he has all the time in the world.

Chastity : Well, he seems to spend most of his time getting other people to do his dirty work.

Faern : You'd be surprised at how organised he is. He has lots of spare time - man, he spends almost as much time travelling through time as I do!

Faern : Not true, my friend. [Takes another drag of the cheeseratte] He's still a man, and ages like any other man does.

Alice : And is that true for you too?

Faern : Yep, there are certain things even time travel can't stop.

Austin : [To Faern] And by what means do you achieve your time travel?

Faern : There are a few different ways - there are time machines, which look rather like a sundial, but there are also one use devices and even spells, but each of these are pretty rare.

Alice : What's to stop someone going back in time and changing their present?

Faern : [Gestures to Evan with the cheeseratte] It's like he said, that's not possible - if you change it, it almost always changes back.

Alice : What happens the rest of the time? [Takes the cheeseratte from Faern]

Faern : I'm not sure, remember, I'm no expert, but either the universe gets destroyed or you get transported to a different dimension.

Evan : Don't s'pose y'd care t'show us how these sundial machines work? Could come in handy sometime. [Pauses.] And I'll try to resist the temptation t'play pranks with the past.

Austin : [To Faern] As you know, we have used the sundials several times. However, our knowledge of how to operate them is incomplete.

Faern : If we can get our hands on one, I'll show you how they work. Any idea of someone who might have one?

Austin : [To Faern] That Alyssa girl that looked like a prostitute, and her Pimp Herby had one. They used it to bring Charity and Prince George from sometime. [Checks his nails] They were just outside the hotel.

Harvey : By the saints, Private Sleaze! I'll thank you not to make such personal comments about people you don't know! I don't know much about pimps, but I'll wager few of them have such extravagent or well groomed sideburns!

Faern : Ah yes, the timetravellers. I didn't realise you knew them.

Chastity : Do you know them? You seemed quite friendly with Herby.

Faern : Yep, I've met them once or twice, they're quite a decent bunch actually, for a group of Southerners. They don't think much of you lot, though.

Austin : [To Harvey] Colonel, you are completely correct, I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. With sideburns like that he must, without doubt, be a sterling fellow, a pillar of the comunity and a veritable bastion of dignity. Likewise the girl Alyssa, was probably just trying to go incognito, so as not to attract too much attention, a disguise to boot. Frilly dresses are probably no good for time travel. You could get those gnomens stuck anywhere. [Flicks a spec of fluff from his jacket that no one else can see]

Evan : Don't s'pose y'can talk 'em out of tryin' t'kill us, huh?

Faern : [Shrugs] I suppose I could try, but they're a pretty aggressive, not too bright and insular bunch. [Looks around the party with a big smile] Say, I bet you lot have more in common with them than I do!

Evan : I'd be inclined t'agree, but the fact that they've already marked us makes it a bit hard for us t'talk t'them, y'know. Well, except for them makin' various death threats at us.

Chastity : They've probably been already been convinced by Darius anyway, and will be sceptical of any report contradicting that. The only way to really convince them will be by the power of actions over words. Our good deeds will exonerate us from this evil tag.

Austin : [To Chastity] Tell the truth has never been a good way to get anything done. [Paces a little] Everytime we do something good someone else takes the credit. Everytime something bad happens we get the blame. [Paces some more] Attempting to exhonorate ourselves with the otehr pary will probably lead to conflict, and possibly death [Pauses] Which is probably exactly what Darius wants. [Paces a little then pauses] Darius himself cannot kill us as it upsets the balance, but, if Darius gets us to kill the other party then the blood is on our hands. Wether we win or loose against the other party, Darius wins. [Does a matter of fact type gesture and expression]

Evan : Uh huh. So the best approach is t'take off and get clear'a this whole mess? In space, time, or otherwise?

Chastity : With regards to scuppering Darius's little scheme this time, yes. Unfortunately I'm sure that Austin has vengeance on his mind, and I doubt if wild horses could drag him into the distance until he's has confronted his debtors.

Austin : [To Chastity] I am quite prepared to bide my time, until such a time and place occurs which proves to be a suitable juncture for my revenge. [Pauses] However, I suspect that I will not have to wait long.

Alice : What do we want to talk to the other party about? I thought we agreed they were evil, no?

Austin : [To Alice, goes to give a long explanation and then thinks better of it] No. They are not evil.

Alice : [Goes to give a long answer and then thinks better of it] Oh.

Harvey : [To Faern] So, er, Grandad, what do you know about the artefact hidden beneath the town?

Faern : Haven't heard of it, [gives a smile] son, but I know where there's an entrance to the sewers, although it would be a real shame for your outfits to get ruined.

Stump : [Checks out the split in Alice's trousers] But they look so good!

Alice : Aw, thanks Stump! [Gives him a warm smile and turns back to Faern about to say something, but turns back to Stump again] Hey! Stop looking at them!

Faern : You've got to admit, Alice, they do look pretty well.

Alice : Ew! Your my ancestor!

Faern : Sure, but I'm also human. [Sexy growl] Roar! [Turns to Harvey with a serious face] But not interested.

Evan : I kinda get the feeling that fate's gonna make sure they get ruined, one way or the other. At least we'd be choosin' how it happens.

Austin : [Visibly horrified by the incsestuous intimations and prospect of going into a sewer. Checks his nails] Well, there is no way I am going into a sewer. We shall have to find another entrance, a front door. I've never been keen on creeping up the back passage. [Shakes his head] We should enter by the front door, with dignity and flare, so that our boldness intimidates our enemies.

Faern : I know what you mean. Anything that white and sequiny deserves to be covered in shit. [Thinks] Either that or worn by a contestant on the Nurovision Song Contest, and you'd be surprised at how often those two events coincide. So, sewer bound?

Faern : [Skillfully rolling up a cheeseratte while he talks] Flawed reasoning on three grounds, Austin. First, the enemies you're talking about don't get intimidated, second, if you did walk up to their front door, they'd kill you, and third, and really, this is the clincher, being a sewer, it doesn't have a front door. [Hands the unlit cheeseratte to Austin] Better get this down you before creeping up the back passage.

Stump : Come on, Austin, you'll look good in anything. [Coughs to cover up a snigger]

Harvey : He's right, Private. [Thinks long hard] About going to the sewers. That going to the sewers would be a good idea. [Swallows hard and turns away, looking out the window] I say! That bounder Darius is outside!

[Everyone crowds around the window to see that this is true. He is just disappearing around a corner at the end of the street. He seems very relaxed, and is humming the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", and is tossing a small glowing orange orb up and down in the air.]

Alice : What's that in his hand?

Faern : Not a clue. [Chuckles] You know Darius, though, he's always up to some mischief.

Chastity : Well maybe we'd best get going. We can see if Darius gets up to anything with his orb on the way to the sewer.

Evan : [Sighs.] Probably signalin' an impendin' attack or somethin'. Let's get outa here.

Faern : Sure, but he's actually going the opposite way. Let's go!

[Exit ALL.]

Austin : [Lights up the unlit cheesearette that Faern gave to him and takes several deep draws, blowing three perfect smoke rings] I'm still not going. I'll find someone to dig me a tunnel or something. [Frowns at the whole sewer idea, but looks out a large set of oilskins and wellington boots] You see, this is far to big for me, and I'm sure there are plenty of important things I can do up here, in the town. I can meet you all later.

[Book IV, Act III, Scene V. The Sewer Entrance. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, STUMP, HARVEY and FAERN are here, standing outside a manhole cover. There is no sign of DARIUS, who disappeared before the party left the hotel.]

Faern : Cheer up Austin, I'm sure there's nothing to be concerned about down there. [Lifts up the manhole cover, causing everyone to lean back and cover their faces from the smell] Well, maybe something, but not too much.

Alice : [With a tear in one eye from the overpowering stench] What the hell is going on down there?

Faern : I'm afraid Asphxyia is the curry capital of the world.

Austin : [Frowning with his arms folded] I'm not going in there. No way. [Takes a few steps back and schooshes some aftershave around]

Evan : Well, I can help a bit with that. [Casts Filter, centered on himself.]

Harvey : Come come private Sleaze, it smelled a lot worse in a confined space with private Scar, what! [Looks into the manhole] Well, in for a penny, in for a pound! [Starts to decend]

Chastity : [Looking after Harvey down the manhole, wafting her hand in front of her nose] Yes, but a pound of what? [To Austin] If you stay up here you're in danger of becoming one of those angry, brooding Goths you so detached yourself from earlier. [Takes a tea-towel from her bag, sprinkles some incense on it, ties it round her face bandit style and follows Harvey into the sewer]

[Amazingly, the smell dies down quite a bit around the party.]

Alice : [Sniffs] Come on, Austin, the smell isn't that bad. [Inhales deeply] Mm-mm, Korma.

Austin : Very well, but know it that while crawling through rat infested and disgusting sewers is probably second nature to you people, it is most certainly not my idea of time well spent. [Takes out an immaculately pressed silken handkerchief and holds it over his mouth]

[Everyone descends the ladder, and end up in a fairly large sewer, just too small for anyone to be able to stand up properly. There are eight dead MORCs here, who have clearly been killed recently.

Alice : [Prodding one with her sword] Hey, how come they didn't disappear?

Chastity : Perhaps they don't disappear if they are cut off from their source nascency fluid. More worringly, what are Morcs doing here?

Alice : [Prods another one with her sword] Uh, not a whole lot?

Chastity : [Shaking her head] Not these ones right now. Why were they here? Who killed them? [Looks down the sewer] I suppose we'll find out soon enough. Best see if they have any clues on them. [Pulls on a pair of bright yellow rubber gloves and starts to search the bodies]

Alice : [With a hint of alarm] Er, exactly what kind of clues are you going to look for?

[The MORCs don't have anything of interest, and were all killed by swords.]

Harvey : [Twirling his moustache furiously] By the saints, as if there wasn't enough scum on the surface without us importing more from the Interior!

Chastity : [Stands up and takes off her glove. Awkwardly and quietly to Harvey] Please, Colonel. Evan's standing right next to you.

Stump : [Giving the nearest Morc a kick] They don't look too tough. What's the worry? it)

Alice : They're not usually dead.

Harvey : [To Chastity] Eh? [Peers at Evan] He's not a Morc, is he? Half Morc, half man, [muses] then he'd be an er, man.

Evan : [To Harvey.] Your powers of deduction continue to amaze us. [To Alice.] Let me guess, they're usually chargin' at you with weapons wavin' and all that?

Alice : Except for that time when two of them dressed up as Austin and me, yes.

Austin : [Face wrinkled up in disgust at the state of the sewer] Judging by the stench of curry [points up the tunnel] that leads towards the main part of the town, while [points the other way] that leads out of town. Stephen said it was in a cave under the town. [Waits expectantly] Well, go on, then.

Evan : 'course, we only have anyone's word that we're not walkin' right into a trap. Then again, the concert's pretty dead certain t'be one. Alright, let's get goin'. [Draws his dagger and takes up a place in the midst of the group.]

Alice : You know, Evan, it is a boy band competition, so maybe us walking into a trap might be more pleasurable.

[The party carry on about thirty feet, and come to an opening in the sewer wall, that looks as though it has just been smashed open, and that there is another tunnel leading away from it.]

Stump : Maybe it's not a trap, but it sure looks like there is someone one step ahead of us.

Evan : [Shrugs.] No change there, then.

Chastity : You're right, Colonel, we'd best warily crack on. [To the rest] Come on. Best foot forward. [To Stump] Oh, sorry.

Stump : [Going towards the opening, passing Chastity forcing a smile] That's OK. Age before beauty. [Pauses for a response from Chastity before continuing on being blanked, mumbling to himself] I don't know why I bother sometimes.

Harvey : [Turns to Evan] I say sir, perhaps if you gave the odd helpful suggestion, rather than the usual snide aside, then we might not lag so far behind, what! [Turns back to the opening] Come on troop, let's be on our guard!

Alice : [To Evan] You know, Harvey's got a point. You're not as unhelpful as Austin is, but you're pretty close.

Austin : [Mimicking Alice] Not as unhelpful as Austin! Maybe he's seen how there is no point in trying to make useful suggestions in this group?

Evan : A'yep. If I'm gonna say somethin', it might as well be somethin' that'll be listened to. 'course, if y'really want helpful suggestions... [Mimicking Chastity's voice.] Don't touch anything, it's covered in filth and rife with disease! [Mimicking Harvey's voice.] Don't just stand there! We've got to press on and see what's what, what? [In his own voice.] There ya go.

Chastity : [To Evan] That's the idea. [Turns and carefully goes through the opening]

Harvey : [Thumps Evan hard on the back, sending him staggering forward a step] That's the spirit lad!

Alice : [To Evan] So, by that reasoing, you have actually said anything committal since we met you because you've nothing to say that's worth listening to? Fine. [Stomps through the opening after Chastity]

Austin : Whereas you, Alice, insist on speaking when you've got nothing to say that's worth listening to.

[The opening quickly leads to a large, 50' x 50' cavern, with a small dias in the middle, about three feet high. On top of that is what appears to be the orb that DARIUS had earlier.]

Evan : [Stops short.] Uh huh. [Mimicking Austin's voice.] Don't get close. It might explode and just ruin my suit.

Austin : That suit was ruined the moment you put it on.

Alice : [Exasperated] Oh for God's sake! Can you lot just behave yourselves for two minutes?

Chastity : [Peering over at the orb] That can't be the same orb we saw Darius with a few minutes ago, can it. I thought he was going in the opposite direction.

Stump : Not unless it the same orb but traveled in time to put it here now. This whole time travel business mean that anything could happen.

Chastity : [Throwing Stump a look] Not everything! But you could be right about the orb.

Austin : [Snottily] Not anything, but virtually nothing. Both Darius and Faern have established that the past cannot be changed.

[From out of the shadows come BEVAN, CHARITY and ALYSSA, all armed with crossbows.]

Alyssa : [To Charity] I know we'd said that we'd wait, but they were just making so much noise with all that arguing, I felt we had to move now.

Charity : That's okay, I can understand that.

Alyssa : [To the party] Drop your weapons.

Harvey : Hmmm, this time travelling malarkey gives me a headache, troop! [Slowly approaches the dias] I wonder why whoever broke in here left this orb behind? Unless of course they broke in here to put it here.

Austin : [Examines his nails, breathes on them and buffs them against his lapel] And what will happen if we decline? No doubt you'll attempt to kill us? Yet what happens if we aceed? No doubt you'll attempt to kill us?

Alyssa : [Fires her crossbow at Harvey, causing a bolt to stick into the thick sole of his boot] That was a warning, the next time I'll kill you.

Bevan : [Shrugs] But there'll be a whole lot less'f a mess 'f y'do concede.

Harvey : [Looks down at the bolt sticking from his shoe] I say, you seem to have us at an advantage, what! [Lays down his sword]

Alice : [Shocked] Harvey! There's only three of them!

[Enter HERBY and PRINCE GEORGE, from the opposite end of the passage, armed with swords.]

Herby : No, my dear girl, there are five of us.

Harvey : [To Herby] I say sir, just what is the meaning of this outrage? Members of your little troop hold us up by crossbow point? What a cowardly group are you?

George : Not cowardly enough to drop our weapons when threatened. Your reign of terror is over, you and your dark masters will be defeated this very night.

Herby : [To Harvey] By the saints, sir! The honourable Prince George is correct, we are here to use the orb to destroy Dangsten and his foul army, that the South may be free again.

Harvey : [Looks at his sword then back to George] There was enough blood spilt by this group earlier, fellow! [To Herby] You think we're working for Dangsten? [Laughs long and loud] By the saints, we've had more fights with him and his ilk than I've had hot dinners this week!

Austin : If you think we work for Dangsten then you're even madder than you look.

Alyssa : [Unimpressed, to Harvey] Yeah? And how many hot dinners have you had this week?

Alice : [Aggressively] A lot!

George : [To Austin] If you think we believe you, then you're even stupider than you look. Everyone knows that the Northerners have employed demons to do their fighting for them - why else would Dangsten make his headquarters in the North?

Harvey : How dare you sir! It is you southies who use demons to fight for you! I've heard reports that you lot just sit back and watch them rip and rend their way through our lads!

Herby : Oh! You liar! It was you who sat back and watched them rip and rend their way through our lads! Our entire army has been destroyed, but we're not going to just sit around and wait for you and your masters to invade!

Alice : Huh? I thought our army was destroyed.

Austin : Has anyone actually seen these demons? I mean first hand, not the scurrulous rumours we've all been subjected to. In fact, it would not surprise me in the least if Dangstens been playing both sides against each other.

Charity : Well, no, all that was found were the bodies of the soldiers.

Alyssa : [To Austin] Possibly, but what proof do we have that you're telling the truth?

Evan : [Rolls his eyes.] It's the only plausible explanation for this level a'confusion. I'm pretty much on the sidelines a'this whole war thing, bein' who I am, and it sure sounds like the whole thing's a setup. Y'know, both sides demonizin' each other. Literally. [Looks around at both groups curiously.] Y'know, we really do seem t'be mirror images'a each other. That can't be coincidence either.

Chastity : Unless there is some sort of cross dimensional travelling going on. [Looks at the orb] You don't think that Darius would be planning to wipe out [emphasis] BOTH parties at the same time, do you? Thus keeping a balance through the differnet worlds.

Bevan : Mirror images? Sounds like ya've got a pretty high 'pinion o' yourselves.

Alyssa : We're not from different worlds, we're all from the world.

Austin : Maybe we should just kill Darius?

Evan : Still, he has that whole "can't tip the balance" thing goin', doesn't he? So he's setting both sides up t'take each other out, causin' lotsa bloodshed, weakenin' both sides, and not tippin' anything. [Shakes his head.] 'cept maybe the celebratory bottle once it's over.

Chastity : Well that would be the ideal thing to do. [To Charity] Has Darius been as manipulative in his dealings with you as he has tried to be with us?

Stump : From what this lot tell me, he's a bit of a tricky character.

Charity : Sort of, but he's been more vague and misleading than anything else.

Alyssa : Why would he want to kill our two parties?

Alice : Because he'd probably want to see if he could.

Alyssa : True. It would probably amuse him to see us kill each other.

[Enter DARIUS and QUINTIN, the former dressed in his normal clothes, and the latter in a brilliant white suit. QUINTIN bears a startling resemblance to AUSTIN but, if anything, looks even more arrogant.]

Darius : It sure would Alyssa, but, ultimately, it would upset me. [Looks around smiling] Wow, my favourite party, all in one place, twice!

Quintin : [Walks passed the party, revealing that he has plastic bags over his beautiful leather shoes] I see what you mean, Darius, they are very different to us.

[AUSTIN and QUINTIN look at each other.]

Austin : That is an exceptionally nice suit.

Quintin : And that, my friend, is an exceptionally nice forearm.

Austin : [Continues to look approvingly at Quintin's suit, but turns to Darius] Is it true that you are trying to get us to wipe each other out? That this is another elaborate plan of yours to manipulate us into amusing you? That you have brought them from another world or another time?

Darius : Uh, [counts out his answers on his fingers] No. Not entirely. The second one.

Chastity : [Triumphantly] Ah-ha! Just as I thought!

Stump : Yeh, me too. [To Darius] You're not fooling any-one here.

Austin : Maybe we should just kill Darius?

Evan : Still, he has that whole "can't tip the balance" thing goin', doesn't he? So he's setting both sides up t'take each other out, causin' lotsa bloodshed, weakenin' both sides, and not tippin' anything. [Shakes his head.] 'cept maybe the celebratory bottle once it's over.

Chastity : Well that would be the ideal thing to do. [To Charity] Has Darius been as manipulative in his dealings with you as he has tried to be with us?

Stump : From what this lot tell me, he's a bit of a tricky character.

Charity : Sort of, but he's been more vague and misleading than anything else.

Alyssa : Why would he want to kill our two parties?

Alice : Because he'd probably want to see if he could.

Alyssa : True. It would probably amuse him to see us kill each other.

[Enter DARIUS and QUINTIN, the former dressed in his normal clothes, and the latter in a brilliant white suit. QUINTIN bears a startling resemblance to AUSTIN but, if anything, looks even more arrogant.]

Darius : It sure would Alyssa, but, ultimately, it would upset me. [Looks around smiling] Wow, my favourite party, all in one place, twice!

Quintin : [Walks passed the party, revealing that he has plastic bags over his beautiful leather shoes] I see what you mean, Darius, they are very different to us.

[AUSTIN and QUINTIN look at each other.]

Austin : That is an exceptionally nice suit.

Quintin : And that, my friend, is an exceptionally nice forearm.

Austin : [Continues to look approvingly at Quintin's suit, but turns to Darius] Is it true that you are trying to get us to wipe each other out? That this is another elaborate plan of yours to manipulate us into amusing you? That you have brought them from another world or another time?

Darius : Uh, [counts out his answers on his fingers] No. Not entirely. The second one.

Chastity : [Triumphantly] Ah-ha! Just as I thought!

Stump : Yeh, me too. [To Darius] You're not fooling any-one here.

Evan : [To Harvey, wryly.] And I was the one who noticed it first. S'much for never havin' any good suggestions. [To Darius.] Y'know, if y'like t'manipulate people for fun s'much, y'might think about takin' up cooperative story writin' instead. Can manipulate people all y'want that way, and without all the risks.

Chastity : [To Darius, pointing at the orb on the dias] What's the orb do?

Harvey : [To Evan] Eh? What nonsense are you spouting now, Chappie? We haven't trusted Darius for ages - long before we met you.

Darius : [Smiles] It's not fun without the risk. [Turns to Chastity] It's a shield, it'll protect us from prying eyes and ears.

[ALYSSA and ALICE both start to speak at the same time.]

Alice : Sorry, you go first.

Alyssa : No, you started, off you go.

Alice : [To Darius] Faern told us it was a way to harm Dangsten and the others.

Alyssa : Hey! That's what I was going to say!

[The two burst into giggles at this.]

Darius : [Lighting a big cheeseratte] Did he? I guess that's kind of true.

Austin : [Glares at the giggling Alice and Alyssa with barely concealed contempt, before turning to Darius] I've an idea. Why don't you see if you can tell us what's going on, without any misleading or false information?

Darius : It's an Orb of Cuineas, it basically prevents anyone or anything from knowing what is going on in this cave.

Alice : But, we know, don't we?

Alyssa : [Without a hint of sarcasm] I think he means people outside the cave.

Evan : Let's add the 'whole truth' bit t'that. Keepin' pryin' eyes out is *all* that orb does?

Darius : [Looks at Evan for a moment with a smile, and then glances at Bevan] No, it also picks up spare vowels. [Earnestly] I think it's almost full. It's also the way to kill Dangsten and the others, man, they're just so evil.

Bevan : [Glances at Evan] Let's kill him.

George : Who? [Looks at Evan] Him? Or Darius? Or Dangsten?

Bevan : [Sigh] Th'third, an' possibly th'third.

Evan : [Shakes his head.] When the playwrights get ahold'a this story, they aren't gonna know if it's a comedy or a tragedy. [Looks at Harvey.] Didn't I hear y'say Dangstens before? As in plural? Or was that just another slip of th'tongue?

Harvey : Slip of the ear, more likely!

Austin : [To Quintin] This is where they stand around arguing for ten minutes.

Quintin : [Sympathetic sigh] Ah, each trying to underline their superiority to the others, when in actual fact merely succeeding in underlining their inferiority to you?

Austin : Quite.

Chastity : Well does anyone know where Dangsten is at the moment? [To Darius] What do you mean, it's nearly full. Does the orb actually absorb everything until it reaches a certain capacity. And how can this kill Dangsten?

Austin : [Sighs as he flicks a speck what he hopes is dust off his sleeve] He was joking. It was a thinly veiled reference to Evan and Bevan's penchant for abbreviation and dropping of letters. [To Darius] Wasn't it?

Chastity : [Tuts] This is hardly the time and place for joking and frivolity. My final query still stands, regardless.

Darius : [To Austin] It was. [To Chastity] At this very moment, Dangsten is laying siege to the hotel where the boyband competition is, with the intention of killing all of them.

Alice : [Puzzled] I thought Dangsten was supposed to be evil?

Darius : [Tousles Alice's hair playfully] I know, it's all very confusing. [To Chastity again] I never said it would help kill Dangsten, it was Stephen who said that. [Adds helpfully] That brother of Dobbin's you all killed.

Evan : [To Austin.] As opposed t'droppin' writs? [To Darius.] So what's it t'you if we kill this Dangsten, anyway?

Darius : It'll mean the world will once again be a safer place, safe for good, decent folk who look after each other.

Austin : It certainly isn't for dropping wits, I can assure you. [To Quintin] See what I have to put up with?

Quintin : Indeed. It must be very trying.

Chastity : [To Darius] Really?

Darius : Sure. Why not?

Evan : [Is about to say something, then thinks of another issue and addresses the mirror group.] Say, d'you guys have a problem with yer friendly doctor havin' becomin' a mad doctor too, like this bunch did? [Waves indistinctly at the rest of his group.] Babblin' on about the path and such?

Charity : I don't think we have a friendly doctor.

Alyssa : Well, I did, but he was a little too friendly, if you know what I mean.

Alice : You too? God, I hate that!

Herby : Gah! Damn that confounded path! It causes nothing but trouble! [Does a double take on Darius] I say, chappie! Did you say that Dangsten and the others are attacking that band competition?

Darius : Yep.

Herby : And wasn't the plan to kill them before they attacked?

Darius : That was the plan that you were told about.

Austin : [Sigh] And what is the real plan?

Darius : To sit here and wait for Dangsten to kill all the bands.

George : [Steps forward] Mr. Darius, you cannot be serious! We cannot allow such a slaughter to take place!

Chastity : [Stopping half-way to sitting down] Erm, yes that's right. We must save those boy bands. [Sighs and stands up]

Stump : Us against Dangsten's mob? You're right, we'll slaughter them. [To Chastity] But in Phili's name, so that's alright, isn't it?

Darius : Must you? Why?

Chastity : [To Darius] Hmmmm, that's a strong argument you've put forward there, but there is a principle at work here. Evil is at work at the competition ground, and we have a duty to destroy evil! Brutally and with no mercy, in the name of Phili.

Stump : Do we kill Dangsten and his mob as well?

Chastity : That's who I was refering to.

Stump : Oh.

Austin : [Smiles and chuckles] Ah, I see! [Gives a little bow to Darius] Very well played, Darius. [Turns to Chastity] And how do you propose to do that, old woman?

Harvey : By the saints, Sister! I believe you are right!

Darius : [Gives a little bow back to Austin] It's our old friend balance, again. [To everyone] What do you say? Are we prepared to sacrifice the boybands?

Alice : Well, I suppose they are only boybands and... hey! You want us to stand around here and let them all die, so this [waves her hands around in the air] balance will be tipped in our favour?

Darius : That's about the size of it.

Evan : Well, that depends on what he's stormin' the place with. If he's brought an army of units along with him, I don't think we're gonna be doin' a whole lot t'stop 'em.

Evan : [Nods sagely and addresses Alice.] See, with the rest of the bands dead, we'd win th'competition by default.

Chastity : [Looks dispprovingly at Evan] That is most certainly not our plan. Knowingly doing so would be cheating!

Stump : [Shrugs] Sounds fair enough. It's dog eat dog in the entertainment business, let me tell you. I once had a creepy illusionist called Daniel Pauls try and make my stump dissappear so that he could win a contest between us!

Chastity : We've met him. That sounds like the twisted thing he'd try and do! [Grimaces] And that catch phrase! [Shudders]

Alice : [To Evan] Maybe that's what Dangsten wants?

Herby : [To Darius] Sir! You are an utter blackguard, we can't let this massacre happen! [To this own party] Everyone, deploy your talisman.

[Each of the new party, except for QUINTIN, take out an identical blue jewel with red flecks, worn on a chain around their neck. Each then squeezes it. To their obvious dismay, they then freeze.]

Alice : [Pokes Alyssa] Hey, did you mean to do that?

[No reply.]

Chastity : [Looking at the alternate group. To Quintin] Are those pendants meant to be transportation devices by any chance? And dare I ask why you didn't try to use one?

Quintin : They are protection devices, given to us by Darius when we first got together. Given that your party seemed to mistrust him even more than we did, I figured he would be able to make them do something bad to us. I chose not use my one, to see what would happen to the others, and now I see that my mistrust is vindicated.

Darius : [Nonchalantly] Incorrect, my friend, [emphasis] my mistrust of your party has been vindicated. [Waves at the real party] I know I could trust them, and I had a fairly good idea that you would be okay, but [gestures to the frozen party] they're just so keen to do good they can't be trusted.

Alice : What's that supposed to mean? We're not keen to do good?

Darius : No. Just that people on the Path usually can take a longer term view of things.

Austin : [Snottily] Path? Path? I'm sick of hearing about the Path. I don't want to be on it, and don't want to have anything to do with it.

Darius : That's unfortunate. [Smokes some of his cheeseratte] So, what's it going to be? Go charging to the rescue? Or wait it out until the balance is tipped in your favour and then sort out Dangsten and company?

Austin : While I think this is almost certainly a trap for your own nefarious needs, I say we let them die. After all, they are only boybands.

Alice : Come on! We need a better reason to let them die than that! [To the others] Do we believe him? In fairness, it is Darius, and he has proven to be less than reliable before.

Darius : Not true, my bleached friend. You've got to take the long term view. If you do that, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how good I really am. [Holds his hands together as in prayer and puts on his angelic face]

Evan : [Sighs.] Well, we found out what some people were up to, but not quite the right ones. On the other hand, the ones we didn't find out about are probably gettin' thrashed t'bits up there, so that's one worry outa the way. [Pauses.] Unless we really want t'play heroes, charging in against unknown odds and all that. [Peers at Darius.] And assumin' he'd let us do it if we tried.

Austin : Can you provide even one piece of proof that what you say is true? [To the others] Do we believe him? After all, he is a murdering swine.

Chastity : I doubt that very much, no matter who you say you've done deals with!

Darius : [Shrugs at Evan's suggestion] You can do that if you want, but that's the short term view, as you'll be dead before the fan clubs are set up. [Turns to Austin, wounded] Murdering swine? Moi? I think you're confusing me with your old pal Nigel, and I do believe he used a similar trick back in Insomnia, but the people who died then were good, Phili fearing folk, not some girly boys who destroy good music with their sweetie pie voices.

Alice : You mean Boddy? When he killed Iok?

Darius : Hey! Who said she was an idiot?

Alice : Yeah! [To the others] I much prefer Boddy, he's a whole lot nicer.

Darius : [Big smile at Chastity] That really annoys you, doesn't it? [To Alice] Yes, but deep down, he's the evil one. I'm the one on your side.

Chastity : [Huffily to Darius] Not at all!

Darius : [Smiling] Good! So, are you going to go charging up to help them, or not?

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] You blackguard, sir! You absolute blackguard! On one hand we have the chance to save a bunch of harmonious soft lads, on the other, a chance to let them all die in favour of tipping a balance, as you say, in our favour during our fight with Dangsten! Well sir, I do not believe your balance story, more likely we would tip it more in Dangstens favour, as we all start on a slippery slope to becoming evil, what! I cannot stand idly by when innocent people are going to massacred!

Darius : Off you go.

Chastity : Quite right, Colonel. Ours is the better fight for the greater good, and we can't let ourselves sink to the level of our evil foe just because it may suit us. We would be no better than them. Onward now to battle. In the name of Phili! [Makes towards the exit]

Alice : [Steps in front of Chastity] Hang on, Sister, maybe he's right? Remember what happened back in Insomnia? That was Boddy who did that, [gestures at Darius] and he's the nice one of them!

Evan : Y'know, I hate t'be th'one t'point this out, but we've only got one source who says that th'attack's even happenin', and y'don't seem t'consider him entirely reliable in th'first place...

Quintin : There are actually two sources. The whole reason we were here in the first place was to arrange the music competition to get Dangsten to come out. You surely remember that it was Herby at the registration desk? Last fro mConor #95

Austin : I think we should let them die. This is war, there are always innocent casualties. Anyway, it's not like anyone's going to miss them.

Alice : Before we decide anything, isn't this cheating? I mean, if we deliberately tip the balance in the knowledge that it will help us, surely it won't count?

Darius : That depends on whether or not Phili and company know what we're up to.

Alice : And don't they? You're saying that God himself doesn't know what's going on in this cave?

Darius : [Points at the orb] Click-click! [Normal demeanour] You wouldn't believe the trouble I had getting hold of that.

Evan : Well, that might be considered a second source, but then where'd y'get the idea that Dangsten'd come out if y'arranged it? If it came from our pal over there...

Chastity : Surely the balance with good and evil is a case of natural order and not purely of who knows what. Phili isn't up there with a good and evil set of weighing scales, taking pebbles from one side or adding them to another. [Laughs] That would be silly.

Austin : Almost as silly as having a God who permits innocent people to be murdered.

Darius : Who do you think imposes this natural order? It's not just Phili, Seth is involved too, and none of them know what conversation is going on here.

Alice : Won't they know when we're finished.

Darius : Nope. They'll never know, that's why they hate these orbs so much.

Harvey : Then why the blazes were you brazenly wandering around with one earlier?

Darius : Because I'm cool.

Chastity : Or arrogant.

Darius : Or both.

Harvey : Regardless of whether or not Phili can see or hear us, how can we, as a troop, decide who is expendable and who isn't! Is this the path we want to take, where we become judge and jury? Well sorry troop, but I for one will not be the one to let those people die!

Austin : [Sighs] As I said, this is war, colonel. And who can say whether our intervention in the massacre will even change the end result? We may step in, and find that they all die anyway! And us with them! Our previous fight didn't go too well, remember!

Darius : So it's better to let more people die, because you don't know who they are? [Enthusiastically] So what's it to be? Chas and Harv are in the pro-boyband camp, Austin and Quintin are in the pro-sanity camp. Evan probably doesn't have an opinion, so it looks like it's up to you, Alice, you've got to convince them that you're right.

Alice : [Taken aback] How do you know what I want to do.

Darius : [Rolling up another cheeseratte] Because you're the link between good and evil. [Does a ludicrous slurping sound as he licks the paper]

Alice : What the hell is that supposed to mean? [Turns guiltily to Harvey and Chastity] I hate to say it, but I think he might be right.

Quintin : He is correct, as is Austin. Even our, vastly superior party, would fail to stop them.

Harvey : [Still shocked, looking at Alice] Dear niece, I don't know what to say! [Turns to Stump] And what do you think? Darius left you out of the vote, though I wish to hear your opinion.

Stump : I think this is a moral question, therefore, I will vote however Chastity does.

Alice : Oh for God's sake! Get an opinion, will you?

Stump : [Pretends to wipe some of Alice's saliva off his face] I'm of the opinion that if we're going to do something, we need to do it now. I'm also of the opinion that you should say it, and not spray it.

Chastity : I must say that I'm both surprised and delighted at your attitude, Mr. Stump. You have truly gone up in my estimations.

Stump : [Stands beside Chastity with a big cheesy grin and folds his arms] Truly, I bask in the light of the lord.

Austin : [Angrily] As if it matters! Look, this is probably the only chance we'll have to tip the scales in our favour in a fight against Dangsten. I vote we stay here and let them die. And I'm sure every parent of every prepubescent girl would be right here with us given the chance.

Evan : Y'know, there's th'sayin' that anything procrastinated for long enough eventually becomes irrelevant. Like the whole "rescue the boy bands" proposal if we keep banterin' about down here. So if we're gonna go deal with that music critic, we'll have to get movin'. [Looks around.] 'course, by now it might be too late anyway.

Darius : Not to mention every real musician!

Alice : [With a snort of derision] By which you mean you're not going to offer an opinion, but just sit back and bitch about whatever we do?

Harvey : So Darius, will you release the other party from stasis to help, if we decide to help the bands? It was quite obvious that they were going to fight!

Darius : Good question Harvey. [Ponders for a moment] Yes.

Harvey : [Bows to Darius] Well done sir! [To the party] Listen troop, I am going to help them, but I obviously cannot force anyone to join me. I believe this is the right thing to do!

Alice : [Steps in front of the opening leading back to the sewers and turns to face Harvey, swallowing hard and breathing fast, clearly very nervous] I can't let you do that, Harvey. It's certain death.

Austin : [Stands next to Alice] Even more important, it could lead to my death, so Colonel, if you wish to leave, you'll have to go through Alice.

Harvey : [Stunned] Alice, why are you doing this? Treachery and mutiny I'd expect from private Sleaze, but from you? [Eyes harden] Please move aside, niece!

Alice : No. [Short pause] This isn't treachery, nor is it mutiny, it's to save your life, and Chastity's.

Stump : And mine!

Alice : [Glances passed Harvey at Stump for a moment] Sure, whatever.

Harvey : [Swings around to Darius] What have you done to her, you fiend! What have you done to her mind! [Attempts to grab Darius by the collar] You bring back my Alice this moment!

Austin : [Snorts derisively] Oh of course, if Alice doesn't agree with her dear uncle, she's obviously not in control of her own mind! It would never do to think that she actually just disagrees with you, would it colonel!

Alice : Oh, shut up, Austin!

Darius : [Holds his cheeseratte up] Not to mention cheese, sister, that leads to moral corruption too, don't forget.

[HARVEY succeeds in grabbing hold of DARIUS, who promptly burns him with his cheeseratte, causing him to let go, before punching HARVEY with a left hook that sends him to the ground.]

Darius : Now look, Harvey -

Alice : [Drawing her sword and pointing it at Darius] No, you look! Back off. [Pleadingly to Harvey] He hasn't done anything to me - someone needs to think straight, and you're not. [Thinks for a moment] Not thinking straight, not not straight. You can't go out there.

Darius : Oh-kay! [Straightens out the cheeseratte and takes another drag]

Chastity : [Glaring] I hadn't. [Goes to help Harvey] Colonel, I'm afraid we may have no choice. We've been warned already to stay together. We can't split up the group.

Chastity : [To Austin] It's that sort of nonsense that spreads disharmony in the happy home and leads to the breakdown of the moral society that we so frequently see around us.

Alice : She's right, Harvey, we have to stay together, and we have to stay here.

Stump : We could stay together while doing Phili's will on the surface.

Evan : [Covers his face with one hand for a moment and shakes his head before lowering his hand again.] Look, let's go have a look at what's goin' on. If it looks too dangerous, we can always come back here instead'a chargin' in. And knowin' what this Dangsten fellow's got in his pocket'll make it easier if we do confront him later.

Alice : No! We're not leaving. It's difficult enough to stay here knowing people are dying, without actually having to watch them.

Stump : Conscience's a bitch, isn't it, Alice?

Alice : So are you, Stump.

Stump : The question she asked was how will we know when it's finished? Are any of us allowed to check? Or are you afraid that someone might actually trying saving someone?

Alice : How am I supposed to know? Darius?

Darius : [Shrugs] I don't know how you're supposed to know either.

Alice : No, how do we know when the - when they're finished?

Darius : Let's see. [Rolls up his sleeve to look at his oversized novelty Scoby Don't watch] It will start in about three minutes, and it should take about another three. They're really pumped about this one.

Austin : [Checks his nails] How tiresome. Will we be able to hear them in here?

Chastity : [Looks round the cave] I truly hope not. Between the acoustic amplification and the echoing we will be in danger of losing our sanities.

Darius : It's a bit late for that!

Quintin : So has it been decided? Are we to stay here? [Looks at Harvey before glancing at Austin] He looks very angry.

Evan : [Glances at Harvey, then shrugs.] Th'nobility thing tends t'do that t'people. Can't say I'm happy 'bout a buncha innocents bein' slaughtered, but from th'sound of it we're in no shape t'be doin' anythin' 'bout it.

Chastity : [To Quintin] It's too late now. We'd never get there in time. As Mr. Starglow pointed, our procrastination has rendered any intervention impossible. With the fate of those poor souls sealed, it is our duty to make sure that their blood was not spilled in vain.

Darius : [Helpfully] You could still get there if you rush, Chastity. It's your choice.

Harvey : [Sighs wearily and rubs at his face] No sister, you are quite correct, though it pains me to let it happen so callously, we have not enough time to get there, recon and map the scene, formulate a plan and then put that plan into operation.

Austin : [Smirks to Quintin] Sounds like a pretty poor excuse to me.

Quintin : Indeed, it all seems very convenient.

Darius : Well, Harvey? Are you going to stay here?

Harvey : [Angrily] Of course it's a poor excuse, private! Unlike you, I'm not happy to remain down here, cowering behind my niece!

Austin : [Smugly] I'm not cowering behind my niece.

Harvey : What on earth are you babbling about man?

Austin : [Does a crazy sign to Quintin] See? The old coot is insane.

Quintin : Indeed. [Peers at Harvey, but from a safe distance] That does not surprise me.

[Some faint sounds of explosions come from above.]

Darius : Right, sounds like it's begun. That should give us just enough time to get ready. [Turns to Alice] Right, Colonel, what's the plan?

Alice : Huh? What do you mean?

Darius : Well, you're the one who wanted all the himbos to die, and your the leader here, aren't you?

Alice : [Looks down, sulkily] No.

[Book IV, Act III, Scene VI. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, EVAN, HARVEY, STUMP, ALYSSA, QUINTIN, CHARITY, BEVAN, HERBY, PRINCE GEORGE and DARIUS are here. All but QUINTIN of the other party are still frozen. DARIUS takes out a small crystal which he smashes, causing the others to become unfrozen, with most of them falling to the ground.]

Herby : [Thundering at Darius] By the saints, sir! What trickery is this? Why were we frozen and not the others?

Darius : [Points at Herby with the cheeseratte] Because someone had to make a hard decision, and you lot are a little too heroic and duty bound to be able to do the right thing. Killing demons isn't always best achieved by good people, sometimes you need someone with a foot in both camps. [Gives Alice a wink] Click-click!

Alice : [Very pissed off] What's that supposed to mean?

Darius : [Gives her a little smile] I think the others want to rant at me for a little bit first.

Harvey : [To Darius] Why didn't you freeze Quintin?

Evan : [To Harvey.] 'cause he's cold-hearted enough already.

Darius : Killing demons isn't always best achieved by good people, sometimes you need someone with a foot in both camps.

Alyssa : [Disgusted with Alice] Hey! That's not what I would have said!

Charity : [Goes to comfort Chastity] You poor dear, how awful for you, to be prevented from helping all those innocents who brought such joy to the world.

Bevan : [To Evan] Looks like ya've go t'tough end o'the deal.

Evan : Well, y'take the cards y'get, y'know. But it does have its amusin' moments. Don't'cha find it the same?

George : [Bows graciously to Stump] You sir, are a man of honour, and I admire the way you sided with the holy sister.

Darius : [To the party] See what I mean? You lot are a whole lot nastier and grittier. [Beams] That's why I prefer you!

Harvey : Nastier and grittier? That's not exactly a badge of honour we would wear proudly around our necks, what!

Bevan : [With a wry smile] Sure, it's kinda nice t'meet someone who can 'preciate it, they're all a bit serious.

Darius : [To Harvey] Sure it isn't.

Austin : [Gleefully] I believe I shall wear the badge of "gritty", and perhaps Alice could wear that of "nasty"?

Chastity : [To Austin] I believe a badge saying grimy would more appropriate!

Stump : [Glancing hesitantly at Harvey] I think I'd better keep what Alice's badge says to myself.

Alice : Why don't you just keep everything to yourself, Stump?

Harvey : [To Chastity] Dear sister Chastity, perhaps we should all say some form of prayer for the souls of the boyband members? Would you like to lead?

Herby : By the saints, Sir! That's a capital idea!

Evan : Well, can't hurt t'do 't, y'know. Pass the time 'til it's over.

Chastity : [To Austin] Entrance into heaven is based on the goodness of the intent not the quality of it. As long as they singing was good is matters not that it is bad. [Looks round the group] Let us pray. [Quickly pointing round Darius, Austin and Quintin] and no pulling faces, giggling or pilfering while our eyes are closed. [Looks up with outstretched arms] Oh holy Phili, please hear our prayers. Do let the whimsical souls of the innocent boybands into your kingdom, they have been brutally slain by evil. They are ready to be taken into your arms, and are already dressed in the requisite white shiny suits. Teach they how to sing their soulful ballads properly, so they may join your heavenly chorus and sing the hymns of your love and mercy. May you also help us blood, chop into little pieces, slay the evil Dangsten and his cohorts. In your merciful love, Amen.

Evan : 'men.

Harvey : Amen, dear sister, amen! By the saints, that was a beautiful prayer, sister Chastity! But gah, I just thought, with that orb, Phili can neither see or hear anything we say!

Darius : [Loudly] A-men! [Makes a big production of blessing himself]

[Each of the new party, except QUINTIN, who were deep in prayer at CHASTITY's words echo this, but with entirely more sincerity.]

Charity : [To Chastity] That was beautiful, Sister.

Darius : It's okay, Harv, I disabled when you lot saw sense. I'm sure [joins his hands in prayer and lowers his eyes] Phili will shine his perpertual light upon them.

Herby : [To Harvey] Well, Sir, you and the good Sister are no doubt honourable people, but I fear I must tell you, we are disturbed at what has happened here.

Darius : [Barely audible over the sound of Alice's irritated "tut" in the background] Hey, those boyband members deserved a good praying as much as anyone!

Chastity : [To Charity] Why thank you. [To Harvey] I'm sure that even that object cannot stop a prayer direct to Phili from being heard.

[Cut scene to Heaven, where PHILI is part of a group playing cards as in the dream sequence]

Phili : [Looks at his hand of cards, pauses and looking round the group] Did you hear anything just then? [Puts his hand to his ear listening intently] Nah! [Throws his cards onto the table] Fives Aces! Ah-ha, what are the chances of that! Eh? [procedes to gather the a huge pile of coins]

[Back in the sewer]

Chastity : Do you thing the killing has stopped yet?

Darius : We've about another two minutes, it should give you plenty of time to come up with a plan.

Quintin : [To Austin] Just wait for it, they'll argue for ten minutes and then agree to attack head on.

Chastity : I think that an attack spearheaded by Quintin and Austin is best, what with their combined intellect and weaponry the victory would surely be as good as ours.

Harvey : [To Herby] I say, that Quintin is quite the tactician, far better than our version, what!

Herby : [With a baleful look at Quintin] Indeed sir. Without him, I simply don't know where we'd get all our negativity.

Alyssa : [Annoyed] Look! Can we just stop this one moment? We need a plan. Can everyone be relied upon?

Harvey : Well, we have two groups, so we could capture those blackguards in a classic pincher movement, draw them into the middle with private Sleaze and Quintin, then the rest attack them from either flank!

Evan : Well, can't speak for 'tothers f'sure, but I think y'can rely on them. They sure have no love for D'sten.

Alice : [To Alyssa] What do you mean by that?

Alyssa : I mean is everyone going to help? [Looks to Harvey] I don't know what kind of party you're running here, but we're about to attack Dangsten, and we need to be sure that everyone is prepared to help. We can't have people deciding at the last minute to make sacrifices.

Alice : [Mutters to herself] What a bitch.

Alyssa : [Glares at Alice, before turning away, muttering] Bitch.

Quintin : [Watching the two gleefully, before turning to Harvey] A splendid notion Colonel, absolutely splendid. However, I suspect your talents lend themselves more to charging headlong into battle, and suggest that you take up that position.

Herby : [Bewildered] Eh? Speak English, chappie! You're as difficult to understand as [points at Bevan] him, what? You make about as much sense as one of those foreign servants who's trying to make a muffin out of paratha bread, what! [Roars with laughter at the notion of this, before turning to Harvey] The question sir, is can your troop be relied upon?

Harvey : [Roars laughing with Herby] By the saints, those foreign lackeys eh! [Wipes a tear from his eye before turning serious] Yes, my troop can be relied upon to do all in their power to fight Dangsten.

Alyssa : [Coldly] I hope so.

Darius : Right, now that we're finished the bonding session, off you go. [Starts rolling up another cheeseratte]

Chastity : [To Darius] I take it you won't be joining us?

Darius : Oh, God no. It's far too dangerous.

Austin : Showing your true colours again? Setting us up, yet again?

Evan : [Shrugs] Seems t'be pretty good at doing that, isn't he. D'ya think he'll help if things get sorta tough up there?

Harvey : Well troop, let's make a move, eh! It's possible we can enter the fray unnoticed, while those blackguards are busy finishing...other things.

Darius : Well, if all the cool kids are doing it. [Pops the cheeseratte in his mouth] Just so as you know, I'm not much into violence and such. [Gives Chastity a wink] Me and Lord, you know, you've got an understanding.

Chastity : [To Darius with a hint of sarcasm] Well be careful up there. We wouldn't want your deal to be cashed in so soon, would we.

Harvey : [Picks up his sword, sheaths it and moves towards the door] Well, shall we all go?

Darius : I know, Sister, it would be awful!

[Everyone heads out through the sewers.]

Darius : [Before they reach the outside] Right, they will have a guard at the door by the name of Pourke. He's pretty nasty, but he'll be affected by the balance too, so you shouldn't have too much trouble taking care of him.

Harvey : Well, we shall see, Darius. And it will also be a good test of this theory of yours.

Chastity : We'd best us this balance advantage sparingly. We don't want to end up meeting Dangsten all balanced out.

Alyssa : Perhaps we should sacrifice one of us to them?

Alice : Guess who's top of the list?

Harvey : Actually good sister, you've raised a very valid point! [To Darius] How long do we have before the balance balances out? Is it one of the blackguards for each of the boy band members?

Darius : [Now at the exit of the sewer] No can do, Austin. I'm a non-violent type [turns to Chastity] part of my deal with Phili, you understand. [To Harvey] Come on, Harv, these are boy band members we're talking about here, it's probably more like a hundred boy band members for each one of Dangsten's mob. The simple answer is that I don't know, and my bet is that they'll leg it before time runs out, so it's important you do as much damage as possible as soon as possible.

Harvey : Then by the saints, they'll regret ever stepping foot in this town! [Unsheaths his sword]

Evan : I think th'idea is t'not need unnatural advantages any more than we can help it. If we can deal with somethin' properly, we won't be usin' any a'it up. So we've just got t'catch this porky fella unawares.

Alice : [To Darius] You? Non-violent? You just burnt Uncle Harvey with a cheeserate five minutes ago!

Darius : Sure, but that was self defence. That was part of deal, he gets my soul and extracted that promise. Oh, and I have to wash his car once a year, that's a real pain in the ass, let me tell you.

Alice : Huh? In exchange for you not killing people, you're going to go to heaven, despite all the awful things you've done?

Darius : [Shrugs] What can I say? It's a sweet deal, he was in a bind at the time, but I think you're confusing me with Boddy, awful things are much more his style.

Harvey : Indeed so, let's go blackguard smiting!

[Everyone slips out of the sewer, and make their way towards the hotel. The streets are unnaturally quiet, and there is no one around.]

Alice : Maybe they didn't come after all?

[The group rounds a corner and spots the hotel. There is a small but significant fire burning on one side of it, and there are at least thirty bodies strewn about on the steps leading up to it. Sitting at the top of the steps smoking a cigar is POURKE.]

Quintin : I believe they were here.

Austin : Indeed, the massive swathe of white suits, shiny teeth, brylcreem and blood certainly suggests that there is something amiss.

Chastity : [Looking at the scene] Oh the horror. Those poor innocent people. [Looks round the group] Anyone got a good ranged weapon to deal with that monster?

Darius : Whoever it is had better be an excellent shot. If he raises the alarm we're screwed.

Alyssa : [Takes out her bow] I can do it.

Alice : [Sighs and folds her arms, muttering] Of course you can.

Harvey : So it would seem. [Begins walking up the steps] You there, Porkie, or whatever your name is, prepare to meet your death, murdering villain!

[Cue the sound of everyone slapping their forehead in dismay, as POURKE laughs and draws his sword.]

Pourke : What are you going to do, old man? Have a heart attack on me?

Alyssa : [Turns to Darius] What are we - hey! Where's Darius gone? That's just great, Darius desserts us, while that other senile old fool draws attention to us!

Alice : [Jabbing her finger into Alyssa's chest] Hey! You shut your mouth!

Alyssa : Or what?

Austin : [To Quintin] Chick fight!

Harvey : My heart has already been broken this evening, villain! Have at you! [Attacks Pourke] [HARVEY quickly closes the gap to POURKE, who hammers on the door.]

Pourke : There's something going on out here, you'd better get the others.

[HARVEY and POURKE clash, with each parrying the others' blow.]

Alyssa : What happened to having a plan?

Alice : You know what, you're really annoyingly whiny. [Heads towards Harvey, but stops, and turns to Alyssa] And I don't like your hair.

[ALYSSA recoils as though slapped, while HERBY, CHARITY and PRINCE GEORGE charge towards HARVEY.]

Herby : This is it troop, he needs our help - let's show those devils what for!

Harvey : [To Pourke] Have at you again villain! [Swings his sword again]

Pourke : Quickly! There are more of them!

[HARVEY hits POURKE, wounding him on the leg, as THE PROF and DORCHADAS come out, and go either side of POURKE, however, ALICE and HERBY go either side, with ALICE hitting THE PROF and HERBY hitting DORCHADAS, as well as DORCHADAS inflicting a wound on HERBY.]

Quintin : [Sigh] I suppose we'd better help.

Alyssa : Oh, stop your bitching and come on!

[AUSTIN, ALYSSA and QUINTIN take up a position some way back from the steps, with ranged weapons drawn, while GEORGE, CHASTITY and STUMP go to the left, and BEVAN and CHARITY to the right, all with ranged weapons now drawn.]

Chastity : [Struggling To get a shot in past the battling Alice and Prof] Dash that girl's big hair! We'll have to get in close.[Draws her mace and goes in to attack the side of Prof]

Stump : I'll see what I can conjure up out here.

Harvey : Hah, take that, fellow! [Swings again at Pourke]

Austin : Fortunately, Harvey is thinning on top. [Fires at Pourke using his sling]

Pourke : Where are the others? [Hits Harvey, who also strikes him, as well as taking two hits from Austin]

Prof : I believe there is something sinister afoot here. [Swings at hits Alice]

Alice : [Hitting the Prof back] You mean, other than the fifty dead baby faced guys behind you? [CHASTITY moves to the side of the steps and takes a swing at THE PROF, but misses, although GEORGE does hit him with two arrows. STUMP, on the other hand, begins to mutter an incantation.]

Herby : [To Harvey] By the saints, sir, we have the measure of them! [Hits Dorchadas, who hits him back] [BEVAN and CHARITY fire arrows at POURKE and DORCHADAS respectively, with DORCHADAS getting hit. ALYSSA also fires at DORCHADAS and hits him.]

Evan : [Closes in behind the battle-line and casts Cat's Grace on the injured Herby.] There y'go.

Austin : [Fires again, while talking to Quintin] My, this is all terribly exciting.

Chastity : [Swings again at Prof] For Phili!

Harvey : [To Herby] Indeed so, good sir, indeed so! We'll have them atoning for their atrocities in no time! [Swings at Pourke]

[There is another melee round between ALICE, HARVEY, HERBY and THE PROF, DORCHADAS and POURKE. HARVEY hits POURKE, who also gets hit by AUSTIN and CHARITY, while ALICE and HERBY also get hit.]

Herby : Fah! I am hurt!

[CHASTITY strikes the PROF, whole also takes a hit from GEORGE.]

Alyssa : Where are the others? I don't like this. [Fires and hits Dorchadas twice] [Enter DANGSTEN, ANIMAL and STRAHD, who seem to appear from nowhere behind CHARITY. STRAHD fires an arrow at ALYSSA and hits, while DANGSTEN and ANIMAL both hit CHARITY.]

Charity : Oh, no! Where did they come from?

Dangsten : [Big smile] Hi, I'm Dangsten Blackheart, who the hell are you?

Chastity : [To the others up front] Dangsten has arrived round our back. [Swings at Prof once more]

Harvey : [Attacks Pourke again] So, the main villain shows his face atlast eh! [Tries unsuccessfully so hide his sudden fear] Austin : Hm, it has all suddenly got a whole lot more exciting. [Fires at Dangsten]

Pourke : Getting too much for you, old man? [Swings at Harvey and misses]

Stump : So much for that spell! [Fires an arrow at Pourke]

[Both STUMP and HARVEY hit POURKE, who staggers back and falls down.]

Herby : [Weakly] By the saints, sir, well done! [Misses Dorchadas]

[DORCHADAS swings and strikes HERBY, knocking him backwards down the stairs where he lies unconscious.]

Alice : Come on, Chas, we've almost got him!

[ALICE, CHASTITY and GEORGE all hit THE PROF, who staggers back, gravely wounded.]

Prof : Oh no, this won't do. This won't do at all. [Regains his composure]

Charity : [Swings at Dangsten and misses] Oh no! They are upon me!

Dangsten : Fools! [Swings and hits Charity, as does Animal]

[CHARITY screams, and falls to the ground, dead.]

Bevan : Charity! Y'bastards!

[BEVAN swings and hits DANGSTEN, but his sword just bounces off.]

Bevan : [In a small, very worried voice] Oh.

[ALYSSA runs towards DANGSTEN, while ANIMAL fires and hits her again, knocking her to the ground. Meanwhile QUINTIN and AUSTIN both hit him.]

Beaucaphalus : [Roaring] What the fuck is going on here? Why amn't I being used? Come on, Austin, you coward!

Austin : [Pulls out Beaucaphalus] Right. [Looks at Quintin and swallows nervously] Time to charge into battle. [Races towards Charity]

[HARVEY vaults over the side of the steps with surprising ease, and hammers his sword against DANGSTEN, but does no damage.]

Dangsten : [With a big, big smile] Not as much as your niece will regret you leaving her behind. [Swings and hits Harvey]

[CHASTITY, ALICE, GEORGE and STUMP all hit the PROF, causing him to fall backwards onto the steps.]

Alice : Yay! We got him!

Dorchadas : [Smashes Alice across the face, knocking her backwards down the steps, and striding up to her] Yes. And now I've got you.

[BEVAN swings at ANIMAL and hits, while while AUSTIN strikes him with BEAUCAPHALUS, and QUINTIN hits him with two arrows.]

Alyssa : [Swinging and hitting Strahd] Got you!

Animal : [Hitting Austin] Hey, it's Beaucaphalus, good to see you again.

Beaucaphalus : [Covered in Animal's blood] Hi Animal. Die Animal.

Austin : [Screams] My suit! Get him, Beaucaphalus! [Swings with all his might]

Harvey : [Realises his mistake] Gah, Alice! [Will attempt to get back and attack Dorchadas]

Dangsten : It's okay, Dorchadas will look after her. [Hits Harvey as he turns]

[BEVAN, AUSTIN and QUINTIN hit ANIMAL, sending him staggering back, reeling in pain.]

Animal : Beaucaphalus, no! Remember all the good times we had together, remember that old people's home we attacked?

Beaucaphalus : Hit him again, quickly Austin, before he tells any more lies!

Strahd : [Flinches after being hit by a dagger thrown by Evan, to Alyssa] My, you're pretty, even sluttier than the other one. [Swings and hits her, but also gets hit in return]

Chastity : [Tries and fails to hit Dorchadas] Get off her!

Alice : [Pinned down] Help! Get off me! [Spits a huge bloody and phlegmy gob of spit into his face]

Dorchadas : It is better for them all if you die.

[GEORGE and STUMP both run towards the stairs, but it is too late, DORCHADAS lifts his dagger and brings it down, only to stop inches away from ALICE's throat, having been shot in the back of the neck with an arrow.]

Darius : [The archer, up in a second floor window] She said get off.

Dangsten : [Turns and looks at Darius with a smile] Thank you, brother. [With a big, big smile] Looks like the balance is back in our favour, and you've just broken your deal with Phili.

Austin : [Panicking] What the hell does that mean? [Tries to hit Animal again]

Evan : [Mutters] S'much for tippin' in our favor. [Casts Slow on the villains from behind the battle-line.]

Alice : [Covered in a combination of her own, the Prof's and Dorchadas' blood] What the hell is going on? [Pushes Dorchadas off and down the steps]

Dangsten : [Hammers his sword down on Harvey, who tries and fails to parry] You really are a stupid, stupid man.

Animal : [With a squeal of delight] Now they're ours!

[ANIMAL engages BEVAN, AUSTIN and QUINTIN again, hitting BEVAN, and, although the other three all hit him, he only takes damage from AUSTIN.]

Strahd : [Hits Alyssa, who also hits him] The tide is turning.

Alyssa : Maybe, but not fast enough!

[QUINTIN fires two arrows at STRAHD, both of which hit him.]

Quintin : I say! Another strike for Quintin! What would they do without me?

Evan : Seems t'me we're havin' a worse time than t'be 'spected.

Harvey : [To Chastity] Dearest sister, please take good care of my Alice! Please keep her safe from harm. [Coughs suddenly and dies]

Dangsten : I think I'm gonna cry! [Gleefully swings his sword at Bevan, only to cry out in pain and surprise, having been shot in the with an arrow, before turning around] Still here, brother? Looks like Phili hasn't cashed in on his deal yet.

Darius : [Half out of the window, looking as though he's been beaten up] Not quite yet, brother. [Fires again]

Animal : Dangsten, we need to get out of here! [Hits Bevan, but gets hit by Austin, and expires with a scream]

Strahd : He's right, Dangsten, we need to get out of here. [Hits Alyssa and knocks her to the ground]

Dangsten : [With a smile, as he steps back] Let's just call this one a draw.

[DANGSTEN and STRAHD start backing towards a large carriage parked behind STRAHD.]

Alice : [Staggering to her feet] What's going on?

Austin : [Warily, with his sword still drawn] I believe we have no choice.

Evan : 'greed. Best to live t'fight 'nother day.

Stump : I knew something like this was going to happen! You should have listened to me! [Sidles close to Chastity] Are you hurt sister? Better take off your habit so I can check for any wounds.

Alice : [With realisation dawning] Where's Harvey?

Dangsten : [Sitting into the carriage with Strahd] Harv's dead baby, Harv's dead.

Chastity : [Irritated] Oh, do be quiet, Mister Stump. [Catches Alice's arm] Hold on, child. There's nothing we can do.

Strahd : [As he starts up the horses] Isn't there a really strong smell of oil?

[DANGSTEN and STRAHD look behind them, into the back of the carriage.]

Dangsten : Oh, shit.

[FAERN leaps off the back of the carriage, lighting a cheeseratte.]

Faern : [Tossing the match back in] No one kills my relatives and gets away with it.

[The carriage begins to explode in slow motion. The party will be knocked down by the blast, but are too far away to get injured by it.]

Chastity : [Shooing Stump away] Get off me! Alice is the one injured. You should be trying to check out her wound! On second thoughts maybe that's not such a good idea either. [To Alice] How are you, dear.

Stump : Look out Chastity! [Leaps on top of Chastity, forcing her to the ground, leaving his hands wander on the way down]

Alice : I don't understand - they were supposed to be vulnerable, we were supposed to kill them!

[The carriage explodes in a fiery ball of flame, knocking everyone to the ground. STRAHD sits motionless inside it, clearly dead, while DANGSTEN miraculously staggers out, crawling away from the carriage, burning away.]

Stump : [To Austin] This is the part where you run over and chop off the bad guys head with your magic sword!

Chastity : [Pointing at Dangsten] Austin, quickly, use Beaucaphalus on the fiery fiend.

Austin : [Testily] Yes, yes, I know that. [Glares at the two] I was in the thick of the battle, you know, bravely fighting the bad guys, not standing back hiding. [Swings at Dangsten]

Alice : [Catches Austin's arm] You know, I think that's altogether a little too quick. Let's all do it.

[Everyone gathers around DANGSTEN and begin hacking and slashing, until soon there is little left other than a mushy puddle of blood and DANGSTEN bits.]

Faern : [Takes a drag of his cheeseratte, before handing it over to the blood covered Alice] Sorry about Harvey.

Alice : [Takes the cheeseratte and has a drag] No biggie. [Pats her stomach] The Knights are in town, they'll surely be able to ressurect him.

Faern : [Awkwardly] Er, I wouldn't be so sure about that. Dying that close to Dangsten would probably have dragged his spirit towards him rather than to you.

Chastity : [Looking distressed at the bloody gunk at their feet] Your not trying to say that we've just butchered the Colonel, are you?

Faern : [Putting his arm around Alice] Oh, no, Sister. Just that the soul sanctuaries wouldn't work for him. [Downcast] It also means that his soul has been dragged into whatever hellish dimension will have Dangsten while he recovers.

Alice : [Hands over her eyes] I don't believe this, what the fuck is the point of having the fucking things if they don't work? This is the second time this has happened* - do they serve any purpose other than to give me an extra four pounds of weight and to scare off potential boyfriends?

Alyssa : Look, Alice, it isn't as bad as it might seem?

Alice : No? So Clint isn't dead? Uncle Harvey hasn't been pulled into some hell dimension and Jerome hasn't turned all evil? [Clearly ranting] Well that's just peachy! I'm going to check on Darius.

[Exit ALICE into the hotel.]

Faern : [Picking up the cheeseratte she dropped] Man, it's true what they say about Short women and their bad tempers.

Quintin : What do they say?

Faern : That they have bad tempers.

Quintin : Who says it?

Faern : Usually their male relatives.

Austin : They appear to be correct. However, what concerns me is that you mention the Colonel will be stuck in a dimension with Dangsten while he [distastefully] recovers. Does that mean Dangsten will be back?

Chastity : I pretty sure that as demon Dangsten is technically not alive anyway. All we've done is destroy his physical presence in this world, but his soul goes on. Probably has something to do with maintaining the good and evil balance in the universe. Maybe we'd better join Alice and see how Darius is. [Heads of after Alice] I wonder what Dorchadas meant by "It is better for them all if you die."

Stump : [Shrugs his shoulders] Tough break for the old colonel though. Stuck with Dangsten for eternity. Wonder if he'll up in his next band?

Alyssa : [To Faern] What about us? Do we need to return to our own time?

Faern : I think it's for the best.

Alyssa : [Looks after the disappearing Alice and Chastity] Do we even get a chance to say goodbye?

Faern : I'm afraid not. Darius told you this might happen. It's now or never.

[Each of the alternate party gather around together.]

Quintin : [To Austin] Although I'm leaving with them. I have a journey of my own to make. Do you want to come?

Austin : [Arches his eyebrows] On The Path?

Quintin : [Smugly] The Path.

Austin : [Glances up after the others, before turning to Faern] Even if they don't understand, I'm sure you will. I need to go.

Faern : Yep. I understand.

Austin : [Hands over Beaucaphalus] Give them Beau.

Faern : Yes.

Austin : Tell them I will be back.

Faern : Yes.

Austin : Tell them that I'm - [heavy, depressed sigh as he looks at Harvey's body] Tell them that I'll be back.

[Exit ALL but FAERN, BEAUCAPHALUS and the dead bodies.]

Beaucaphalus : You humans! That Path is such a pain in the ass.

Faern : That only means you're not doing it right. [Slings Beaucaphalus over his shoulder] Come on, let's check on the others.

[Exit FAERN, into the hotel.]

[Book IV, Act III, Scene VII. A hotel room. ALICE, CHASTITY, STUMP and EVAN are here. This is certainly the room from which DARIUS fired, and there is a massive burn mark on the floor, in the outline of a human figure.]

Alice : [Tartly to Chastity] What's this, Chastity? Phili's version of a carpet burn?

Stump : [Looks at the burn and begins picking his teeth with a knife] Barbequed! Which reminds me, could really do with something to eat!

Alice : You're an idiot, Stump.

[Enter FAERN, carrying BEAUCAPHALUS.]

Faern : Austin said to give Beau to you lot. He left with Quintin.

Alice : What? I don't believe it! That selfish bastard!

Faern : [Gently, but firmly] It's The Path, Alice. He had to go. [Sniffs and looks over at the burnt outline] Ouch. Poor old Darius.

Stump : [Does a quick count] And then there were...four. So why did Austin have to go?

Chastity : Well I hope he gets back in time for Lucy's funeral tomorrow. [Looks at the burn marks] I wonder why Darius looked so beaten up before Phili summoned him.

Faern : Himself and Quintin are soulmates, as were you and George, Chastity and Charity and Alice and Alyssa. Each pair are effectively the same person, even though they won't necessarily admit it.

Alice : Not true. I'm nothing like that old witch.

Faern : Sure you're not. Anyway, when two actually do realise and admit to it, things like the Path suddenly become a whole lot easier. He didn't have any choice.

Beaucaphalus : So, who's going to carry me?

Chastity : [Shrugs her shoulders and looks out the window] Its a real shame about that Charity girl. Such fine manners. [Turns back] I think that Alice is probably best suited to carry Beaucaphalus, [at Alice] as long as she can behave.

Alice : Behave myself? What's that supposed to mean?

Beaucaphalus : Now come on, I am a Wondersword! I can't be carried by some little girl!

Alice : Fine. Then we'll melt you down and produce some Beaucaphalus Wonder Horseshoes. How's that?

Beaucaphalus : I think you'll be just fine.

Alice : [Big sigh] Let's go back to the hotel. Hopefully there'll be something to cheer us up there. [Looks at Faern] What's coming up there?

Faern : Lucy's funeral.

Stump : Hang on, [brightens] I've just thought of something which will definitely improve the mood! With Austin and Harvey gone there'll be more of that wedding/funeral cake for me...er, us!

Chastity : [Scolding] Really, Mr. Stump. I don't think that a large slice of cake compensates us for the traumatic demise of the good Colonel. Really! What a callous thing to say. Especially as his niece has just been given a magical sword!

Stump : Would you like to have a feel of my magical sword, sister?

Alice : Beaucaphalus, how are you at detesticulations?

Beaucaphalus : I've done my fair share.

Alice : Interesting.

Stump : Girls, girls, there's no need to fight over me, there's plenty of Stump to go around!

Chastity : But quite possibly not for long! [To the others] Shall we go to the hotel now, before the party number are whittled down further?

Alice : [As the party head downstairs] Are you sure we couldn't just do a small bit of whittling? You know, Stump, things are going to change around here. I know you have this [waves her hands around] crazy idea that I'm so kind of ditzy bimbo, but you're wrong. Completely wrong.

[ALICE notices FAERN looking at her.]

Alice : What?

Faeran : Beaucaphalus?

Alice : Oops! [Runs upstairs and gets Beaucaphalus, returning a little embarrassed] Er, sorry about that. [Sighs to herself] At least things can't get any worse.

[The party are now in the foyer, which is covered in bodies. There are at least two hundred people here, not all of whom were boyband members.]

Stephen : [From up in the chandelier] Helloooo! Are those disgusting creatures gone? Are they? Are they? Are...[gasp of surprise] Alice! Chastity! It's me, Stephen! Up here! Whu-hoo!

Chastity : [With a look of suprise] Stephen? What are you doing up there? I thought that horror Prof killed you?

Alice : [Taken aback] Stephen? [Gives Stump a baleful look] No, not all the disgusting creatures are gone.

Faern : [Looking up] Hello, friend! Any more survivors?

[Enter ARAMIS D'ARTAGNAN, with a flourish.]

Aramis : I say! [Looks up and down the party] Hah! I should have known that you would have survived the carnage. I am quite sure you fought bravely to defend these young singers. [Inclines head to one side] Either that or you killed them all because they were so annoying. Either way is good with me.

Stephen : I think it's just me! I was up here recording the rehearsals, getting a birds eye view of the groups when five maniacs came in and started ripping people apart! It was terrible! Horrible! How could it have happened! Those poor, good looking, co-ordinated suited angels, ripped apart in their prime!

Alice : Aramis! [Runs and gives him a hug] What are you doing here?

Aramis : [Returns Alice's hug] Turning up too late, as normal, it seems. [Looks up at Stephen] I say, Miss, it is safe to come down now.

Stephen : It's Mr Stephen Hitchberg, actually! And I can't come down, I'm trapped up here! If you could lower the chandelier by gently releasing the rope it's attached to [points to a rope running from the chandelier through a pulley on the ceiling to the wall] then I'd be most thankful, dark mysterious good looking Latin type stranger!

Aramis : [Momemtarily taken aback, but covered with a laugh] But of course! [Quietly to Chastity and Alice] Should I just cut the rope?

Chastity : What an awful thing to suggest. Although I suppose he would have a soft landing on all the corpses.

Alice : [Nods] Yeah, sure. [Catches Chastity's eye] Hey! I'm only joking!

[ALICE helps ARAMIS lower the chandelier.]

Evan : [Leaning back against a wall] Ol' friends?

Alice : Yep, this is Stephen, and this [eyeing Aramis up and down] is Aramis. Guys, this is Evan. He's been travelling with us for a while, he's really nice and, although he doesn't say much, he's helped us out a bit. He's a half-elf who has some kind of connection with [squeezes Faern's arm] Faern here, but we haven't heard it yet, although I'm sure we'll hear in time. He's a nice guy. [Gives Stump her dirtiest look] And that's Stump.

Stephen : [Jumps from the chandelier] Oh thank you! Hugs! [Hugs Aramis] Hugs! [Hugs Chastity] Hugs! [Hugs Alice]. Hugs! [Big hug for Evan] Hugs! [Goes to hug Stump before reeling back] Er, hello. Well, isn't this a fine thing, meeting Alice and Chastity again after all this time! Alice, you should have said! [Roots around his back and holds up a brush] If I'd known you didn't have one, I'd have given you this!

Faern : [Pleased as punch, clicks his heels together and bows] The very same, sir! And you, are you the Aramis D'Artagnan who impregnated the daughter of the King of the Southern Territories? Who singlehandedly stole an entire flotilla of rum from the island of Cointreau? Who stole the Jewel of Arais?

Aramis : Guilty of the first two, and planning the third!

Alice : [Clearly glad to see Stephen again, but nonetheless giving a baleful look at the hairbrush] What's that for? You looking for a spanking again?

Alice : [Looks down] Harvey and Stinky are dead, and Austin [bitterly] has left.

Faern : Come on, now, Alice, it's not as simple as that, and you know it.

Aramis : I am grieved to hear that, sweet Alice. They were brave men. [Glances at Faern] The Path?

Faern : The Path. It pleases me that my niece will be in the company of one so brave and [glances at Stephen] him too. Forgive my slip of the tongue about the Jewel, sometimes I forget.

Alice : Forget what?

Faern : [Smiles and tousles her hair] I'm afraid I have to go now.

Stephen : Oh. [To Alice] I really am saddened to hear that, Alice. I'm sorry for your loss. [Looks downcast]

Chastity : [To Aramis] I think that if you are looking after Alice it isn't you I should be looking after! I have a dieing wish to carry out for the Colonel and I intend to see it through.

Alice : Thanks, Stephen. I -

[Enter WALLY LOUCHE, holding a huge trophy.]

Wally : My boys, my beautiful boys! All dead! All dead, and all I have to remind me of them is this wonderful trophy that they would have won. [Thinks] And that collection of their underwear I have. There are none left, everyone, every band, is gone! Gone! The card with the eye would have a tear on it if it wasn't for that vampire eating it.

Chastity : [To Aramis] I think that if you are looking after Alice it isn't you I should be looking after! I have a dieing wish to carry out for the Colonel and I intend to see it through.

Stephen : [Gasps] Such commitment, such heartache, such drama! What an episode! [Wipes tears from his eyes]

Alice : [In response to Faern's quizzical look at Stephen] He's a drama queen.

Faern : I'm sure he is. [Looks around the party] I really do have to go now, I'm afraid the Knights aren't too fond of me.

Aramis : Ah yes, I have a warrant here for your arrest. [Holds up a sheet with "Wanted For Time Incursions : Reward, 5000 GP"] Confound my luck for seeing you disappear just as I arrived.

Stephen : Five thousand GP, that's a fortune! What on earth have to done to warrant such a princely sum?

Stump : Sounds like an inappropriate relationship somewhere there, Faern! [To Alice with raised eyebrows] And you and he are related? A chip off the old block?

Chastity : [Sighs,To Stump] Mr. Stump, I suggest you desist in this line of conversion before Alice makes you nickname "Stumpier"

Alice : [Rolls her eyes] You're an idiot Stump. We already talked about this, ages ago. [To Faern] 'bye Faern, I know we're going to meet again.

Faern : Yup, but be gentle with me. [Gives the party a wave] See you around folks.

[Exit FAERN.]

Evan : So, what 'ppens now? Back t'funeral?

Stump : [Looking round] Whose funeral?

Chastity : I think he was referring to Lucy's. You remember? Cake?

Stump : [Rubbing his stomach as it gives out a loud rumble] Of course! Poor Lucy and her cake.

Stephen : My goodness, a funeral too? What have you all been through lately! Dark days! Dark days, indeed!

Wally : My boys! My beautiful boys!

Alice : Hey, how come he's got the trophy? He wasn't even in the competition!

Chastity : [To Wally] Excuse me, but how did you escape the whole sale slaughter that happened here? And Alice is correct, why have you the trophy?

Wally : I don't know, I just happened to be in the one place they didn't check when they arrived. I was very fortunate to have been in there.

Alice : Where were you?

Wally : Rooting through the laundry hamper. [Hugs the trophy to his chest] This is all I have left now. It's mine, mine!

Chastity : Why were you in the laun...no don't answer that!

Stump : [To Chastity] It's OK, none of your underwear was down there. I'd already checked.

Chastity : [Giving Stump a suspicious look before turning back to Wally] Shouldn't that trophy really go to the organiser?

Alice : Well, the organiser is dead, so shouldn't it go to the only surviving group?

Aramis : Indeed, sir! Unless you were a bona fide member of a band, I suggest you hand over the trophy immediately.

Stump : And none of that [quotes]the manager's the extra band member [end quotes] bollocks!

Wally : But, this is all I have!

Alice : Give it to me! [Grabs the trophy, but Wally hangs on, with the result that they pull it back and forth, struggling. Alice glances to the others] Hey, this is our trophy, how about a hand?

Stump : [Breaks into applause] Hurray, well done us!

Chastity : [To Wally] Let go this instance. [tries to harshly slap Wally's hands to get him to let go]

Wally : No! [Pulls the trophy back, but Chastity's slap makes him let go, sending him sprawling backwards onto Nicey and Spikey]

Alice : Hurrah!

[Enter PETER, MAXWELL HOUSE and SNYDER.]

Maxwell : [Looking around] Goodness me. Goodness me. [Takes off his glasses and cleans them, before putting them back on again] My goodness.

Aramis : Ah, the delightful Mister House. I fear you have missed a terrible battle, and feel your disappointment.

Chastity : [Lightens up] Peter! Great to see you. We could have done with your guile, skill and courage earlier in our battle with Dangsten!

Peter : Yes, I'm sure it would have been a delight to see your guile, skill and courage.

Maxwell : Goodness me, such awful carnage, and the poor Colonel. Still, I'm sure you did all you could to save these people.

Snyder : Really? I'm quite sure that they didn't!

Chastity : [To Snyder] And why would you think that. You, as ever, hold us in such low esteem.

Snyder : Because you were seen sneaking down to the sewers just before it happened.

Alice : How do you know that?

Snyder : Because I was sneaking in the shadows behind you.

Chastity : [To Aramis] My I just as that you just haven't seen his bitterness or aggression yet. Mr. Snyder is our watcher, so we are told. No doubt he sees his sneakiness as a means to watch us. [To Snyder] Before you make any more accusations, how far did you follow us?

Snyder : [Indignantly] I'm not accusing you of anything! Why? Is there something that you did that you're ashamed of? Are you in some way responsible for these [waves his hand around] deaths?

Alice : [Holds the trophy out] Hey! We won this, I bet you didn't watch that, did you?

Stephen : [Stands forward, to Snyder] Excuse me, I was an impartial observer and I saw the whole thing and I know for a fact, that these people did all they could to help stop the carnage! Why, if it wasn't for them, half the town would probably be wiped out now! You owe them your thanks, not your snidery comments! [Hands on hips] So there! [Sticks his tongue out]

Snyder : [Lifts his lip in disgust as he looks at Stephen, before turning to the others] What is this?

Aramis : [Puts his arm around Stephen] This fine young, er, man, is a survivor of the awful carnage. And these fine people [clearly talking about the party] are responsible for killing what remained of the Four Horsemen, and the good and gracious Colonel died, so why don't you keep your snidery silent, sir?

Stephen : [Mobile phone begins ringing, takes it from his jacket] Hello? Yes? I don't know, I'll see? I'll give him the message. Byeee! [To Snyder] I have a message here for a Mr Asshole, whom I presume is you. The message was, you left your underwear under Liberaces bed when you left this morning!

Snyder : Snidery? What the hell is wrong with you people? I'm just upset that the Colonel is dead - he was the only one of you scumbags I could bear to be around.

Maxwell : Oh, goodness me, I think we all need to calm down. Tempers are running high, and the tension is, er, well, that's high too. Now, first off, I would like to congratulate you on a job well done, and to say that-

Alice : [Interrupting] Where's the time machine?

Maxwell : I'm not telling y- I mean, I don't know, I mean, [nonchalantly] time machine?

Snyder : It sounds like the message was for you, scumbag. In my experience only scumbags have mobile phones, I see that hasn't changed.

Stephen : Ooohh, guess who was refused a contract by Fodavone!

Evan : [To Snyder] Look, we know y'have a time 'chine, so fess up and save us all time, y'know!

Aramis : [To Snyder] We are old friends of the party, here to help them in their time of need. What purpose do [careful to direct this at Maxwell too] you serve? [Cocks an eye at Alice] Time machine?

nyder : I'm their watcher. [Looks at Evan with barely concealed contempt] If I had a time machine I would use it to advise myself not to have this conversation, but I don't, so I couldn't.

Maxwell : But, er, why do you need a time machine? They are extremely dangerous, leading to all sorts of craziness and inconsistencies.

Alice : [Folds her arms and looks him right in the eye] Can you name one inconsistency that anyone has ever encountered?

Maxwell : Well, um, I - [takes off his glasses and cleans them again] I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Stephen : [To Snyder] I'm sure you must have a time machine, because those clothes you're wearing at the moment are soooo passee, they could only have been bought in the distant past!

Alice : Look, it's pretty simple. Faern said that he's been travelling in time for ages, and there haven't been any disasters, have there? I know you might all find this hard to believe, but a lot of my family are somewhat accident prone and possibly a little careless.

[A brief, but awkard silence descends.]

Alice : Believe me, if there was going to be a problem, Faern would have caused it by now.

[Enter SPRUCE.]

Spruce : Looks like they're all dead, except for Darius, there's no sign of him.

Aramis : [To Spruce] Well hello there. [Twirls his moustache] How quickly I forget the carnage that surrounds me in the presence of such beauty.

Evan : 'oom! [Spreads his hands wide]

Chastity : [Shaking her head] More like how quickly your libido centres from one victim to another!

Spruce : [Stands very, very close to Aramis, and inhales deeply] What an exquisitly oiled moustache. But a moustache it is, nonetheless. [Steps back and looks at Evan] Speak English.

Alice : Darius is dead. He's a stain on the floor.

Maxwell : [Big smile] Good!

Alice : [Prods him hard in the chest] Hey! I don't know what Darius' game was, but he saved my life, and I'm pretty sure that it's because of him that the Four Horsemen are dead. In fact, it's only because of [quick glare at Chastity] Phili that he's dead.

Maxwell : [Totally taken aback] Oh. Well. It's a funny old world, isn't it?

Aramis : [Still standing as close as possibly to Spruce without touching her] Not so, Sister, for I fear I am always easily distracted by the presence of beautiful women. [Back to Spruce] In your case, my lady, I believe you have my full attention.

Stephen : No, it not funny, not funny at all! It's mad! Mad! It's a mad mad mad mad world!

Snyder : [Steps between the two] Excuse me! [To Alice] What's all this nonsense about a time machine, young lady.

Alice : [Dramatically] We're going to [pulls out Beaucaphalus and holds him aloft] travel through time!

Beaucaphalus : Er, you do realise you've just stuck me in the ceiling, don't you?

Alice : Sh. I'm trying to look cool here.

Alice : [With her determined, and distinctly psychotic look] To save Uncle Harvey and Lucy.

Chastity : That's really going to go against everything we've been warned about regarding time travel, isn't it?

Alice : So? Everyone's doing it, some once or twice a weekend by the sounds of it. If it was that dangerous, surely something bad would have happened by now?

Maxwell : Er, we're still talking about time travel, are we?

Alice : [Exasperated] Yes!

Maxwell : I can't allow it.

Alice : I'm not asking you. [Nods at the others] I'm asking them.

Chastity : As much as I want to save the Colonel and Lucy I don't know if we can. [Looks round the room at the bodies. looking Alice in the eyes] I'm sure you aware that sometimes sacrifices must be made to service the bigger picture!

Alice : Like Darius' sacrifice, you mean?

Stephen : How far back in time are you thinking of going, Alice? Days, months, years?

Alice : Why don't we go back to before Horatio and Tommy were killed in the hut? That's really where it all started, isn't it? [To the party] What do you say?

Chastity : I'm still not sure about this travelling back and changing history. We could so easily just come back from their and find that things had changed enough that we all get killed by Dangsten the second time around!

Stump : But if you're quick, you get to taste my beautiful cake this time!

Alice : In that case, Chas, we'll just go back and fix that! Come on, what do you say?

Maxwell : I say that this is absolutely outrageous! You have a sacred duty, we cannot have people going off on personal missions.

Chastity : [To Maxwell] Look here. What Alice is suggesting is not a personal mission. We are trying to stop group members from dying so that we may continue our fight against evil with the greatest effect. Consider it post-mortem first aid, if you will. [To Alice] Dash, I seem to have argued my way into agreeing with you!

Aramis : [Twirling his moustache] I for one, would like to volunteer for this mission, [thinks to himself] for a second opportunity at one Lady Whitingale, if nothing else.

Alice : [Steps forward to stand beside Chastity] I knew you'd agree Sister. [Takes Aramis' arm] And you, of course. [Looks around at the others] Who else is coming? Stevie? Evan? Stump? What about you, Peter? Would you like to help?

Peter : Nothing would give me greater pleasure.

Alice : Really? Gosh, that's just great.

Peter : Here's a paper handkerchief, you'll need it to clean up the mess.

Stump : [Takes the paper handkerchief from Peter] We won't need it. I'll make sure no-one spoils the cake this time! Time travel is great!

Evan : S'ppose I'd better tag along too, t'keep an eye on y'all.

Stephen : Wonderful! The old group back together again! [Looks around the party] Well, not exactly, but we are a group, and some of us are old, so let's go!

Maxwell : No, I absolutely forbid it. You are Hierophantic Knights, your first duty is to them. I must insist you desist from this course of action immediately.

Alice : You know what, we resign. Find another chosen group. [To the others] Let's go. [To Maxwell] You are an ineffectual idiot who's pathetic attempts to control the Knights are only going to drive them away from you. [To Snyder, a bit angrier] You're even worse, you're supposed to be looking out for us but all you do is make snide comments and call us scumbags. [Turns to Spruce, absolutely red in the face with anger] I don't really know anything about you, but [prods Spruce in the chest with each word for emphasis] I'm really angry now, and I have no choice but to give out to you too. [In general] I never want to see any of you again. [Exit ALICE.]

Maxwell : [Appealing to the rest of the party] Please, she is stricken with grief, she isn't thinking straight. And, well, strictly speaking, those soul sanctuaries are the property of the Hierophantic Knights, [turns to Snyder] aren't they?

Snyder : [Clearly upset at Alice's words, but trying to cover it up] Shut up, you scumbag.

Spruce : [Amused at the discomfort of the two] Well, I like her!

Stump : [Eyes light up. To Spruce, rubbing his sweaty palms] Really? Excellent. Maybe there's a chance she'll come back and [quotes] give out to you [end quotes]. I'll just go and tell her. Don't go away. [Rushes after Alice].

Chastity : [To Maxwell] We were a group doing Phili's work before the Hierophantic Knights, so we certainly don't need the blessing of an organisation we founded to continue! I'm with the girl. [Looks at the door] And now if you'll excuse me, I'd better go and administer some healing to Mr. Stump in case he actually does ask Alice! [Exits]

Aramis : I fear, gentlemen, that it is time to go. [Bows deeply] I hope this will not affect my future employment possibilities with the Knights, [glances at Spruce] nor Alice my future possibilities with you. [Exits]

Stephen : [To Maxwell] My good man, perhaps you will our time away to think about your leadership strategies, and, for the love of Phili, to seek out materials other than tweed.

[Exit STEPHEN and EVAN, just as JUSILLA comes down stairs, carrying a dark green orb.]

Jusilla : Poor Darius, he's just a little stain, he must have angered Phili terribly. Look what I found in the room. Does anyone know what it is?

Maxwell : [Peers at it] It's certainly too small to be a soul sanctuary. Mister Snyder, what do you think? Snyder? Are you okay?

Snyder : [Looking out after the party, blows his nose and wipes his eyes] I've got something in my eye.