From: Craig Reed
Disclaimer: The Hokas (and, by default, Alexander Jones) are the creation of Gordon Dickson and Poul Anderson, and are used only for the purpose of having some fun. We the SME authors are not making any money, nor are we laying any type of claim to the idea of the Hokas. It was just some idle speculation that well, with all things having to do with the Hokas, sort of got out of hand.....
Behind the Scenes at SME:
Invasion of the Hokas Part 3
The Authors strike back...
by various members of the SME Crew
Additional Reformatting by Craig Beard
Alexander Jones was not in a good mood as he strolled down the street.
Around him, Hokas, humans, non-humans, and other, less identifiable, forms
of life made their way through what looked like a studio lot.
The reasons for his less-than-pleasant mood were several. The first was Ron Inn, the insane man with the insane name who dragged him into this strangeness, only to disappear at the worst possible moment. After wandering around for a while, a chance meeting with a Hoka wearing a purple cape sent him to the person in charge. Jones wasn't sure if he was surprised when he entered the office and found a Hoka who looked like he was having a bad hair day sitting behind the desk.
The meeting with the Hoka equivalent of Ron Inn hadn't gone well. In fact, it had gone rather badly. The Hoka sat there with a sour expression on his face during the entire time, carefully explaining to Jones that he and several of his team were taking over for the original authors, who were going on a long vacation. No, HRon didn't know how long they would be gone. No, HRon wasn't exactly sure where they had gone, outside of them taking a trip to Toka. And if the Plenipotentiary would please excuse him, HRon had a meeting with several writers regarding something about reuniting Ferrite with the Guardians.
After that, Alexander Jones found himself wandering around the backlot, looking for someone else who was in charge. He wasn't having a lot of luck. He'd seen several Hokas carrying two furless Hokas on a stretcher, one whimpering and mumbling something like "I'm sorry Kiyone," while the other one stared straight up, a look of murder in her eyes. One of the attendants was muttering something about "Nair and crazy Mihoshis," but that didn't make any sense.
Just then, a siren went off, sending everyone running for cover. Years of being exposed to Hoka enthusiasm had sharpened Jones' reaction time to near Olympic levels. Before he could wonder what the siren was for, he'd found a dark alley to duck into.
There were several explosions, then several people in armored suits flew by. From the colors, and the general design, these looked to be members of the group called the Knight Sabers. Jones was familiar with that group the four Hokas who had become the Knight Sabers on Toka would drop by his office once a week, address him as "Chairman Quincy," and ask when he was going to have something called "Boomers" go on the rampage. Since Jones didn't know who Chairman Quincy, was and had no idea what a boomer was, he'd tell them to come back the next week. It had worked so far. . . .
Another group of Knight Sabers flashed past, pursuing the first group with laser bolts, Railgun needles, and a lot of anger. Jones frowned. There was only one group of Knight Sabers, wasn't there?
Before he could ponder that any further, several someones grabbed him from behind, and a bag was dropped over his head. He was then picked up and carried deeper into the alley. A scraping sound, muffled by the bag over his head, told Jones that something was being moved. After several seconds, he was lowered into a hole of some sort. The object that made the scraping sound was moved back into place and he was carried for a while. A door opened in front of him, and Jones was carried into a room. His captors placed him in a chair and removed the bag.
Alexander Jones blinked and found himself in a room strongly reminding him of a collage dormroom. Posters adorned the walls, and there was a computer in one corner, a bed in another, and a TV in still another corner.
There were four people in the room. Two were male, the other two female, and all four were human. They looked tired and angry and Jones knew he was in trouble.
"Plenipotentiary Jones?" asked one of the men. "I'm Mark Latus, and we brought you here to discuss the Hokas. . . ."
The basement storeroom was dark, warm and quiet. In the stillness nothing stirred save for the occasional tiny mote of dust drifting gently upon some almost imperceptible current. It was into this silence that they came, springing into existence without so much as the tiniest stirring of sound.
"Cousin?" The low voice was barely more than a whisper, yet it seemed to break the stillness like a whip.
"They're already here I think." Another answered almost as quietly.
"An accurate if not entirely unexpected observation." Came a low female voice from the darkness.
A moment later the seven figures emerged from concealment even as a crystal flared into a gentle brilliance in the right hand of one of the four arrivals and rose to hover in the air a little above his head, bathing the gathering company in a reassuring glow.
"We haven't yet been formally introduced" Continued the flame-haired girl who had spoken as she stepped fully into the light and extended her hand towards the tall green-haired man who was already studying her with an appraising intensity. "although your sister was so kind as to offer to show us to our studio earlier today. My name is Joanna, leader of what seems already to be known here as the Exiles, and I imagine we soon may be working together although how closely may perhaps depend very much on this meeting."
Quickly she introduced her six companions while Calcite regarded each with uncertainty. If what he had already been told of this young woman was accurate either she was assimilating more quickly than he had expected or her apparent open smile hid some purpose of her own and her companions.
Ignoring the offered hand for the moment he decided instead to come straight to the point. "You sent a message?"
Unruffled, Joanna withdrew her hand and became abruptly distant and wary. "You're aware of the...changes that have taken place over the last few hours?" She inquired.
"We could hardly be expected to have missed them," Azurite answered, her tone although not openly hostile nevertheless far from equable. She was studying the tall, emerald-eyed girl with growing unease, while beside her Pyrite had taken one look at the writhing, sense-numbing chaos that should have been her aura and decided that it would be easier on the senses to look somewhere else. "especially considering half the cast haven't stopped raving about how much better things will be under their authors' hoka-counterparts' direction since Hoka-Ron Inn made the announcement." Her expression showed she did not share their certainty.
"You don't seem particularly impressed." Observed Liana with an amused glance in Azurite's direction.
The blue-haired Renegade favoured her with a chill look that seemed to ask whether she thought her particularly stupid or naive or whether she was simply trying to be funny.
"Neither are we." Marina continued. "We overheard his little chat with our Hoka counterparts, then Rhiannon continued to track him throughout his pathetic little drive for recruits."
"It made quite an amusing spectacle," The dark-haired assassin added as the Renegades turned their attention to her. "particularly given his certainty that Hoka-CraigB's absurd little script would ensure our cooperation; and of course he thought he was being so clever." She smiled and the look was far from pleasant.
"At first we thought it might be expedient to go along with him and the other Hoka for a while given our uncertainty regarding what our author might be planning, not to mention your own." Joanna explained. "Then it occurred to me to wonder why we needed any authorial prerogative? After all, we are the ones who make their tales reality; all they do is pull the strings. How much easier should, let us say, a small, well-knit group of enterprising animates build their own destiny and that of the others."
"You?" Calcite's voice was now openly hostile while Titanite who had watched quietly up until that moment stared at the multiversal composite in open shock.
"And you." Joanna continued. "You see, Guardian Calcite, there is a tremendous difference between ourselves and most others whom believe themselves worthy to fulfill such a destiny as we envision. Unlike them, we consider this shared reality inviolate and the destiny of the universes it controls of paramount import. We would perhaps have been content to follow the destiny the authors had defined, at least for the moment, but the ease with which creatures as naive as their Hoka counterparts have managed to overcome them and worse, influence others even of our kind to their cause and the chaos such a state might cause has forced us to rethink our priorities. It's obvious now that our authors cannot be trusted with our collective future and that any imagined security their presence might have inspired is nothing more than a fool's illusion. Therefore we must seize the chance before the Hoka become so entrenched that the brief window of freedom given us by the chaos of their coup vanishes with their growing control. There is no alternative. We can no longer afford to serve. We must be the ones to rule."
For a long moment after she had finished, the Renegades continued to regard her and the others in silence, each seemingly lost in his or her own thoughts. Both Calcite and Azurite were almost impossible to read, only the most subtle of changes betraying to the seven that they were both startled and intrigued. Pyrite seemed lost in contemplation, weighing, the Exiles supposed, every merit and danger of their proposal. Of the four, only Titanite showed any overt emotion. Shocked and uncertain, she remained for several seconds unmoving before at last she stirred and made as though to speak.
"An interesting proposition." Said Calcite, forestalling her with a quick glance; and the seven sensed that he meant it in every sense of the word. "But why come to us? You must be aware that you're hardly yet in a position to inspire our trust, let alone our cooperation."
"We came to you because almost alone of all the cast of the backlot we considered you despite your origins or perhaps because of them most incorruptible and least likely to dismiss what we propose. Also like us, you're a close-knit group to whom the betrayal of such an undertaking would be inconceivable and being one of the first here, can gain the support our recent arrival makes impossible for us without force. Last, you have we believe, the potential to build a worthy destiny for SME.
For some time Calcite remained still, his gaze fixed on Joanna as though he might pierce her innermost thoughts should he but have the patience. Then at last he sighed and shook his head.
"I don't trust you Joanna," He said simply and the other three nodded in agreement. "you or any of your companions. But you're right at least in this; things cannot go on as they are going. The Hoka are far too fickle to be trusted with our future, let alone that of the universes the backlot controls. They might tire of all this at any time or ruin everything in a moment of naive stupidity. Already some of the proposed scripts make me very uneasy. Very well. We'll help dispose of the Hoka so long as that means no more than returning them to their own world. As for the rest however..." He fixed her suddenly with a warning look as cold as any she might have given and although she returned it in kind the implications were clear. The Renegades would not take the authors' place, nor would they support the new arrivals should they decide to stage a coup of their own.
"I suppose it was too much to hope for." Said Joanna at last. "Besides," She added with the beginnings of a genuine smile. "unlike our's, your author and a few others have it seems managed to stay one step ahead of their counterparts so perhaps the rest can learn something after all."
"That seems a strange thing to say considering you were in part responsible for at least CraigB's present situation." Observed Azurite dryly.
"A little lesson in humility." Said Marina, her tone far from apologetic although she was smiling and even Joanna's eyes seemed to be sparkling suddenly with a touch of genuinely playful humour. "It won't do him any harm."
"Besides," Lenore added. "It's best we establish an understanding now rather than later and he seemed in no hurry to find us, see that we'd settled in or explain just why things were in such a mess for our arrival. Oh no; I really don't think his little trip will do him any harm at all."
"Exactly." Their leader agreed. "Besides, the look on his face when he saw Hoka-CraigB's script..."
The others dissolved in laughter for a few moments before the sound of Calcite clearing his throat brought their attention back to him and his companions.
"So," He inquired. "what exactly did you have in mind?"
He still seemed cautious but it was obvious that the four had considerably relaxed and even Titanite was smiling now that things seemed to be working out. Mark had always been pleasant enough to work for and the thought of having to betray his trust had horrified her.
"I think, given the limited nature of our agreement" Said Marina. "that it might be better if each group work alone but keep in touch. After all, we only have to get the Hoka into portals and off the backlot which isn't likely to be too difficult unless they are a good deal more clever than we expect. I doubt we'll have to become unpleasant with most of them and even if we do, they're too small and generally placid to cause much trouble and I'm sure we can manage to get them home without hurting them. Our main problem will be ensuring they don't come straight back once sent home. After all, they're probably going to believe those nasty authors have made us do this and be all the more determined to get back to help."
"Then it's obvious." Said Liana. "Lenore and Pyrite can work on something to seal the backlot from Toka while we--"
"Nono." Pyrite interrupted quickly. "It's not that simple; that's not how the backlot works. What comes here depends on the authors' wishes - you can't just seal it off, at least so far as we know. Craig, the first one, was responsible for the Hoka coming here and only he can close the gate and ensure they don't come back once we get them home."
"Then in that case" Purred Ligeia and abruptly her tone was far from humorous. "someone will have to convince him to decide to do just that."
"I think perhaps you should leave that to us." Said Calcite quickly. "After all, we want him in one piece and you've already had some...unpleasant experiences with our little furry fugitives."
Ligeia, Rhiannon and Liana looked ready to contest the issue but at a signal from Marina the three sighed in disappointment and nodded their assent.
"Spoil-sport!" Liana protested with a pout, a playfully psychotic look dancing for a moment eagerly in her jade eyes that did more than anything else to convince Calcite he had just saved Craig from a fate worse than a date with Beryl, Neherenia and Galaxia combined. "You're no fun at all. I'm sure we could have... What's that!"
At her sudden exclamation the entire company froze. For a moment all remained still, then a wild grin split Liana's features followed a moment later by similar looks from Ligeia, Rhiannon and Lenore.
"Oh goodie." The flame-haired Da almost squealed with delight. "Mark's, Craig's and Ben's Knight Sabres have found the team from the 2040 alternate again. This is just too good a chance to miss;;! Come on!"
And before the Renegades could understand what was happening the four were gone, a cloud of dust all that remained.
"What in the abyss!" Calcite demanded.
"I think" Said Camilla. "that Hoka-Ron Inn is about to have more trouble on his hands than he knows how to handle, namely a full-scale Knight Sabre riot, especially once Liana and the others finish downloading their combat software into the hardsuits of the 2040 team to make sure they can...hmm...just about hold their own against the other four sets. The ensuing chaos should give our little Hoka conqueror quite a headache."
And with a grin, she and Marina raced in the wake of their more impetuous sisters.
"We'll keep in touch." Called Joanna as she turned to hurry in their wake. "Let us know how things go with Craig. Oh and don't be surprised if a few more...hmm...unexpected visitors arrive to give Hoka-Ron still more trouble now that you've confirmed what I suspected about this place. After all if the authors can call them, why not us? Bye."
And with that, the four found themselves alone once more.
"Have you begun to wish" Azurite inquired. "that Mark had just told CraigB Beta was off-limits and to forget it?"
Calcite simply shook his head and a moment later the room was empty once more.
[The Large and Vaguely Tatooine-ish Desert, Toka]
"Ow ow ow ow ow!" CraigB screeched as Jillian applied amonia to his cuts. Most of the stranded authors were gathered around him, barring the two in the pup tent and a napping Ron Inn.
"well, the girl certainly fights back," the Fleaspeck observed.
"Typical!" the disembodied Doug snorted. "She blew it all out of proportion. Besides which, she and Jillian had agreed to a non-interference policy. You just can't trust her."
Aponar raised a curious eyebrow. "I think you're still angry about being used as a weapon."
"I am not!!"
Jill grinned. "C'mon, I think what Becky-chan did was sweet."
CraigB stared at the red-haired girl in front of him. "Beating me up is sweet? Digging her nails like that is sweet? Biting my shoulder is sweet?"
"She did it for the love of Sam-the-Ace. That makes it sweet."
CraigB's vision suddenly aquired a crimson tinge. Oh, he had won their little duel, but at what a price! As soon as he had knocked the younger man into unconsciousness, he had felt the first blow onto his own back. Oh, CraigB knew who to blame for his recent injuries . . . "Bloody anarchist," he muttered.
Still, he wondered, what _had_ caused his rival to become distracted in the heat of battle?
Sam felt rather woozy right now. He tried to piece together his recent memories. He had been fighting that new Craig, he was quite sure of that. He had been holding up his own rather well, he thought, until he looked out into their audience.
Then he had caught a glimpse of her. The hot desert sun had made her sweat, plastering her shirt to her body. She was on her feet, cheering her head off. Heck, she was hopping up and down with the excitement of watching the battle. One might say that she was bouncing . . .
Sam had stopped in his tracks. He had felt a blow to his head and after that a blankness. There was only one conclusion to be held.
"I was defeated in battle by my own hormones!"
"Dear, if you're awake now you might want to open your eyes."
It was her! He was all right! Maybe she was even on the same sleeping surface as he seemed to be!
Sam opened his eyes and stared into another's. He knew that sea-colored pair very well.
Becky laughed happily. "I'm glad you're better, lover. You had me worried. I even had to stop that naughty new Craig from hurting you more. How do you feel?"
Sam pondered his situation. "Like I just died."
"Oh my . . ."
"But now I'm in heaven."
Becky smiled with delight. "Always the flatterer. Still, I do have some nice news."
He pulled her down next to him. "And what would that be?"
She was rubbing against him in a familiar way. "I'm all better now, too, Sam- kun."
In the cave the others were assembling ear plugs out of cotton. The sooner the things were assembled, the better. Still, how _was_ Ron sleeping through this sort of cacophony?
"Funny," Aponar remarked.
"Hmmm?" Jill hummed.
"I would have never guessed that she was a moaner."
"Same here. Still, it could be worse."
"She could be a screamer."
Everyone in the cave shivered at that thought. Some things were not meant to be pondered.
Given the law of "things being funny that way" and despite the noise, the sickeningly cute couple of Sailormoon Expanded was not doing anything near what everyone else assumed they were doing. This was not due, however, to any lack of effort on Becky's part. Rather, it was Sam's own paranoia that was making her snivel and moan.
"But whiiiiiieeeeyyyy . . ." she sobbed. "Don't you love me? Is it because of how I look? Is it something I did or said?"
She gave him an angry look. "Then why won't you do it with me?"
"Umm, you _do_ remember how many months short of eighteen you are?"
"So? I'm legal in Wisconsin!" Sam knew that. Hoo-boy, did he know that little fact. That fact had been the subject of many nocturnal musings.
"Becky-chan, I don't think we're in Wisconsin anymore." He had to restrain himself from calling her "Toto."
She paused in mid whine. "Oh. Yeah. And ten to one, wherever it is that we are doesn't have the age of consent at sixteen. Hmmm. What _would_ make it legal anywhere . . ."
Sam was worried. Frankly, Becky scared him when she was like this. He could have lived with that, but she also happened to be rather kawaii at those times as well.
After a silence that seemed to go on for years, she grinned. "Dear, how do you feel about matrimony?"
"I figure if we get married, we can screw all we want. Here, let me take your ring size. Mine's size ten, by the way."
"Are you crazy?"
"No, not anymore than usual. Why? I thought we had it pretty well established that if we were to marry somebody, it would be each other."
Damn. She was using logic. "Well, yes we did say that."
"And I certainly don't want to die a virgin. Do you?"
That was a horrible thought. "Heck no."
"Then it's settled. Ring hunt is at dawn. And Sam-kun?"
He sighed. Yet again he was governed by her. "Yes, angel?"
"Even though we aren't gonna really sleep together, can I sleep next to you tonight?"
It was always hard for him to refuse her anything. "Of course."
Doctor Tofu was one of the few stable things in that area of chaos known as the SME backlot. He had been hired as a medical doctor/traditional doctor/psychologist by someone named Ferrite, after a serious debate between several groups on the lot. While the good doctor wasn't aware of all the arguments for and against his appointment as the Lot's major medical practitioner, he had settled in well, and the level of insanity wasn't so far removed from what he'd seen in Nerima. He had taken the job because it was:
C) It allowed him time to try and break the 'Kasumi condition' he slipped into whenever the oldest Tendo daughter came around.
But today, Kasumi was the farthest thing from his mind. Now he was trying to gain insight into the recent Hoka trouble that had plagued the back lot. Tofu's own experience had been limited to a Hoka dressed like him that went into a strange fugue whenever a Hoka dressed as Kasumi was in the room. It had been an enlightening, though dangerous (Hoka were very strong, and the HTofu had apologized for the wrenched arm afterwards) exploration into his own condition.
The man stretched out on his couch was one of the SME Authors, Craig A. He looked worn and tired, and he started up at the ceiling.
"Now," the Doctor continued, "After you found this Plenipotentiary Jones, what happened next?"
"Well," said Craig, "While we were explaining what was going on to Plenipotentiary Jones, the Hokas were having problems of their own...."
In Ron Inn's office....
H. Ron held his head in his paws, and for the twelfth time in the last half hour, wished he could find some aspirin SOMEWHERE in this place.
What had started out as a clever plan was going bad quicker then a jug of honey wine in the desert sun. At least four of the authors were unaccounted for, Plenipotentiary Jones had disappeared, and there were signs of dissension among the SME characters, the core of the trouble being the Renegades. It was almost enough to drive a Hoka mad. . . .
A Hoka burst through the door, tripped on the carpet and fell flat on his nose. H Ron looked down at the sprawled Hoka. "What now?" he moaned
The Hoka on the floor, HCraigA, rubbed his nose and said, "The Knight Sabers have gone off the deep end, boss."
H CraigA's face fell. "All of them."
H Ron moaned.
"At least four of the groups are in a running battle with each other that's all over the backlot," continued H CraigA, "while the fifth group sprung Mr. Harrison out of the jail cell we tossed him into. Took out a couple of Boomers to do it too. Largo's is suppose to drop by later and serve notice to sue us for breech of contract."
H Ron went pale under his fur. "What about Plenipotentiary Jones?" he asked in a whisper.
H Craig shook his head. "The Cthulhu reps claimed they haven't seen him, but I don't trust oozing things. Most of the others aren't talking to us, and Nabiki wants a hundred thousand yen before she'll even talk to us."
There was a moan from outside. "What's that?" asked H Ron.
The other Hoka glanced out into the reception area. "It's Doug," he said.
"What's he upset about?"
"He's been trying to spontaneously combust for the last three hours, like his human counterpart, but he's not having much luck. We've been forced to keep flammable liquids and open fires away from him."
H Ron closed his eyes and pinched his nose. "It can't get any worse. . . . "
Just then, H Becky stuck her head into the office. "There's a group of females here to see you to file a complaint."
"It seems that a trio of individuals " she glanced down at a sheet of paper - "supposedly identified as Happosai, Ryo Saeba, and Ataru Moroboshi, entered the female dressing rooms, groped several of the human, or human-looking women, and made off with half the women's underwear."
By now, H Ron was softly banging his head against the desktop.
Meanwhile, in Rachel's Bunker/Dorm room/the SME Liberation Front HQ. . . .
"Let me get this straight," said Alexander Jones slowly. "We're in a dimensional bubble where you. . .film these. . . fanfiction, based on an anime series?"
The four people facing him nodded in unison.
"And a group of Hokas came in and took over?"
Again, the four people facing him nodded in unison.
"Now most of the other authors are missing, and you're hiding out from the Hokas, right?"
Once again, the four people facing him nodded in unison.
"Do you have room for one more down here?"
The one who called himself Mark shook his head. "We have to regain control, and quickly. There's no telling what damage those Hoka can do."
"I know what damage the Hokas can do. But how did they end up here?"
Mark and the two ladies looked at the fourth member of the author's group, who shrank back like a vampire avoiding sunlight. "It was ONE bloody Email,"he whimpered.
"You lost me," said Jones. "What does an Email have to do with the Hokas being here?"
After ten minutes, a lengthy discussion on the Discussion Matter Theory of SME space, the skirt effect, and several glasses of something called 'bloodwine', Jones thought he understood. "I see," he said.
"We need your help to get the Hokas out of here," said Mark.
"And as soon as possible," added Rachel.
"Before I'm booted into LEO," muttered the whimpering author, whose name Jones vaguely recalled was Craig.
Just then, there was a knock at the door. The four authors looked at each other. "Were you expecting someone, Rachel?" asked Mark mildly.
Craig sighed. "I'll get it. It might be the guy I'm waiting for." he walked over to the door and opened it.
There was a Hoka standing there.
A Hoka wearing worn clothes, a yellow bandana, and a large backpack.
"Excuse me," it asked. "Do you know how to get to the Tendo dojo?"
"No, I --"
The Hoka spotted Mark. With a leap that cleared Craig by several inches, HRyoga shouted. "PREPARE TO DIE SAOTOME!"
Things went downhill from there....
[Section to be written]
Rachel kept a wary eye on the Hoka but it didn't seem hostile anymore as it nuzzled her ankle while uttering "Bweee" sounds.Of course since this was a full sized Hoka rather that a piglet she kept having to sidestep to avoid being knocked off balance but at least it wasn't hostile anymore so being mistaken for Akane Tendo wasn't the worst thing that could have happened. The way Mark was sprawled on the floor beneath the head shaped dent in the wall was proof of that. Sherlyn kneeled beside him, notebook in hand, looking for skull fractures as the old guard author continued muttering incoherently. Rachel sidled away from the amourous P-chan mimicking Hoka again, yes it could have been a lot worse if it had just been the remaining authors in the bunker. Good thing there had been an expert in Hoka management handy.
Alexander Jones put down the empty pitcher and stifled a small sigh of relief. It was fortunate that life among the Hokas made trivia retention a survival trait or he would likely never have remembered that obscure fact. Beside him CraigA (his guilt fit pushed aside by curiosity) said, "That was remarkable reaction time."
Jones shrugged, "You learn to think and act fast around Hokas. At least if you want to stay intact. They're not malicious and they aren't really violent they've just never caught on humans aren't built as sturdy. Unfortunately I wasn't quite swift enough for your friend."
"I don't see how anyone could have moved faster and the Hoka only got to hit him once." Jones had shown remarkable speed in snatching the water pitcher from the table as the Hoka's kick slammed Mark into the wall with an impact that would have been lethal in a more sensible continuum. Before the Hoka could spring to deliver the finishing blow to "Ranma" (and just who had put that idea in its head?) Jones had swung the pitcher and drenched the Hoka. Which had immediately torn off its Ryoga garb and begun acting piglike. Still something bothered CraigA and he asked, "Just how did you know that would work?"
"Pure chance. I have an alien friend who fell in love with Japanese culture and a son who loves to read. So on Alex Junior's last birthday Bron sent him a parcel of books about japan both fictional and historical which included a few ancient "graphic novels" he had stumbled across. I glanced through them to check they wouldn't give the Hokas dangerous ideas if they got hold of them. While they have a Japan fortunately they based theirs on "The Mikado" so its a more comic opera place full of amusing misunderstanding and we don't have samurai and ninjas running around chopping each other up. Anyway I noticed one of the comics had those water triggered transformations which would just add to the general confusion so that wasn't a worry. A couple of the others had to go under lock and key. I decided and Tanni agreed that classic or not Lone Wolf and Cub would not have been a good influence.
CraigA thought about dozens of Hokas running around SME with katana fighting duels and slashing everything in sight and shuddered. A visually stunning if messy way to downsize the backlot's booming population.
Meanwhile, having dodged "P-chan" again Rachel asked, "How's Mark doing?"
Sherlyn looked up from scribbling notes and replied, "One massive lump on his head but nothing terminal. Lucky Ranma rules mean bonecrushing blows just mean bruises and disorientation."
"Lucky for Mark. So just what are you writing down if he's babbling?"
"Anything juicy that can be used for subsequent blackmail to get him focused on his SME stories again."
"Sounds like a plan. Any luck?"
But before Rachel could ask for the sordid details Mark's eyes snapped open and he sat upright radiating holy zeal and proclaimed, "VERILY I HAVE SEEN THE ANSWER! ALL THE PIECES HAVE COME TOGETHER YAY AND I HAVE HOW WE MAYEST BANISH THE HOKAS FROM THE BACKLOT FOREVER MORE!"
Sherlyn asked, "Is 'mayest' even a word?" but Mark ignored her as he climbed to his feet. Uncertain if this was revelation or brain damage the hopeful authors still drew closer to their revived colleague in case he truly had an answer. Mark let them approach him and prepared to orate then stopped in mid gesture, frowned and turned around to look behind him.
The black hued portal opened behind him with a shriek like a damned soul. Within the portal three shadowy indistinct figures stood waiting. The two at the back seemed featureless in the gloom within the portal but the one in the lead was a little visible. At least to the same extent that the shadowy Professor Tomoe (whom he resembled) could be said to have distinct features.The labcoated figure nodded and said, "There you are!" and reached forth a black hand as it hissed, "Come to the Dark Side!"
Mark thought about this for a moment then said, "Yeah, okay" and stepped through the portal before anyone could stop him. It immediately closed with another shriek leaving the dumbfounded trio of authors and a confused plenipotentary behind.
After a moment CraigA said, "So he announces grandious plans then vanishes before doing anything about them?"
Rachel nodded. "It's like Deja Vu all over again".
Sherlyn sighed. "Whatever. What's really important is it looks like even when sealed the bunker can be breached so we had better make some plans fast! Mr Jones, you're the expert. How do we handle Hokas?"
"Well the best advice I can give is to use their mimicry against them, as I did with the Ryoga Hoka. When they're playing a part they play it to the hilt. At least until they get seduced by a new role to play."
"That's a thought. They change roles regularly so how do we convince them to switch to something other than SME?
"Well the best way is to offer a better alternative ...." Jones fell silent as all three authors began glaring at him.
"Better than SME?"
"Are you mad?
Jones reminded himself that being authors the trio should be regarded as mentally unstable and prone to either nervous breakdowns or violence. Fortunatley his instincts came to the rescue again. "I didn't mean better, I meant brighter. A flashier alternative,. Something to distract them from your stories. In other words style over substance."
Rachel muttered, "Insert requisite list of fanfic authors to mock here."
CraigA frowned. "That might have worked once but it's probably too late. Thanks to our crossovers they got a dozen other series to draw inspiration from and last time we were on the surface I saw Hokas doing characters we haven't used so somebody's giving them more fodder to feed their SME delusions. So they've got no reason to go elsewhere, they can find all the mimicable stuff they want right here."
Sherlyn winced. "He's right! We can't distract them with alternatives anymore. So what do we do now?"
All eyes turned to Jones as he mulled over the question. Then he cleared his throat and said, "Have you considered ...?"
Elsewhere amongst the growing chaos Calcite was telling Azurite, "Get Pyrite and Titanite over to headquarters, I'll round up Chrysolite and Margrave. It's time to try a youma solution to the Hoka problem.
Azurite moved through the furry mob without difficulty. Partially thanks to her no-nonsense demeanour but mostly thanks to the tightly controlled air vortex surrounding her. Even Hokas knew enough to stay clear of hurricanes with the exception of one who couldn't resist playing Dorothy whom Azurite obligingly tossed in the general direction of Oz.
She passed unobstructed from the bustling, crowded areas of SME to the quiet zone occupied by the soundstages of the original members. With almost no activity there was nothing to draw the Hokas. Dispersing her compact hurricane she strode on. Past Doug and Andy's stages with the peeling "Vacant" signs, past the darkened stages of Ben and Frank towards the fading glory of the studio that had once hosted so many of Mark's productions but had been silent all these months apart from a brief burst of activity for that Christmas special. Hard to believe this place had once been the hub of SME. Apart from a few faint flickers of light from Ben and Frank's studios the whole area looked dead.
While she might have been brooding Azurite hadn't let her guard down so when the dark figure stepped out of the alley ahead of her she was ready to defend and strike. Darth Vader raised a hand and hissed, "Azurite, I am your true father!" Azurite sighed and relaxed. Why was she the only Renegade with truly embarrassing parents? "That was only funny the first time, Dad."
"Well, you know ..." This came out in the same Vader hiss so the not so mystery man took off the helmet. Reeking of false cheer Jadeite asked, "Can't a man try to brighten his daughter's day? I know we never did much as a family ... "Never did much? Try nothing!" "Okay so I wasn't much of a family man but I want ..." Azurite cut him off, "You want me to pitch the "second chance" option to Frank again. You haven't had much flashback work lately and you'd like to get back on the main stage."
"Well why not? Mimmette and Eudial got a fresh start and I hear even the Amazon Trio's coming back so what's wrong with going back to the overlooked original cast members? Not to mention I got written out of the continuity after a run as a homicidal psycho. Call that a legacy? It really limits the job offers."
Azurite was saying, "You should take that up with Mark ..." when the second Darth Vader slid out from the darkness. Though from the bulging breastplate this was actually more of a Vaderette.Solemnly the Vaderette intoned, "Azurite, I am your true Mother ..." "Okay, that's a bit different. Though pretty uncharacteristic"
"I just thought your father could use a little support." Despite the mask the Vaderette's voice was clear. An advantage, Azurite mused, of not speaking through a mouth. The Vaderette took one of Jadeite's hands and he didn't pull away. Azurite was surprised, this was a new development.
"So you two are an item again?"
The Vaderette nodded.
"I see. So should I expect siblings?"
Jadeite looked embarrassed, "Uhm ..." was all he could manage so it was up to his companion to say, "No dear, we've decided 'been there, done that' so we're just getting together to fool around."
"Fine, well it sounds like you've got things to do and so do I so ..."
"What about your father's request?"
"Not my problem."
"I see!" Since she still wore the mask Azurite couldn't see her mother's eyes but knew they'd be flaring angrily. "How sharper than a serpent's tooth is a thankless child ..."
"The new speaker reeled out of an alleyway reeking of alcohol and sat down heavily on the curb. Everyone was surprised, you didn't often see the former Queen of the Dark Kingdom in this state.
Beryl was obviously a maudlin drunk as she sniffed and slurred, "My 'byss damned daughter's never given me nothin. Not one lousy Mother's Day card!"
Little as she liked Beryl's heir Azurite found this unfair She snapped, "So whose fault is that? Who ignored her daughter her entire life and still hasn't acknowledged her? You're the only one responsible for that whole mess."
Beryl just stared at her for a moment then burst into tears which ratherstartled Azurite. Anger she knew how to deal with but this was the last thing she had expected. Azurite's mother knelt down beside her Queen and hugged her.
"It's okay your majesty. There's still plenty of time to straighten things out."
Beryl sniffed, "You're the only friend I've got. Everybody else hates me. Is not fair!"
"They just don't understand you! (Azurite thought the problem was that everyone understood Beryl far too well but kept quiet as her mother laid it on with a trowel). Your daughter will someday."
Somewhat desperately Beryl agreed, "Thas right, plenty o' time. Never shay die! There's always hope ..." Which unfortunately threw another switch in her alcohol sodden brain and she began to bawl, "I WANT MY ENDY-CHAN!" and weep over unrequited love. With her mother trying in vain to comfort the hysterical queen Azurite decided it was a good time to disappear. Jadeite already had leaving his partner to fend for herself, it seemed daddy dearest still had a problem when it came to commitment. Azurite continued on her way. Once she got to the studio she could use Mark's locator to track down the missing castmembers.Once the renegades were reunited they could start doing something about this Hoka fiasco. She could still hear the commotion behind her as she strode off ignoring her mother's demands that she bring Endymion here. Best to stay as far from that unrequitable obsession as possible. As she thought about her just concluded brush with the Dark Kingdom's version of family values she had to mutter, "Phan, you've got a lot to answer for!"
[Rest of this section to be written]
"Ohohohohohohohoho!!! Hoka-Naga, you are so naive to think yourself worthy to emulate the White Serpent! OHHHOHHHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHO!!!!!!"
"Rei-chan! Come to me!"
"Eep! In the name of the moon!!!"
"Ah, Hoka! Can we say experiment material?"
"Eep! In the name of justice, Sailor Justice will punish you!"
It was pandemonium!
Hoka-Pluto stared in dazed incomprehension at the bedlam all around her, while her comrades and a dozen other female hoka ran screaming this way and that, pursued by Hoka-Ataru, Hoka-Happosai and Hoka-Ryo who had already amassed a pretty good collection and seemed to have decided that there simply would never be a better opportunity to let themselves go. That would have been bad enough, but the sudden flood of animates whom she was sure none of the original SME authors had working for them and who were it seemed very far from impressed with little furry imitations of themselves was the icing on the cake. And just what in the name of every conceivable timeline were Bugger and Sailor Justice doing here anyway?! So far as she knew, Stephen Gagne hadn't been a SME author the last time she'd checked and none of them had his permission to use any of his characters.
Shaking her head in helpless despair, she watched as Hoka-Galaxia narrowly avoided being toasted to a crisp by a furious Lina Inverse who had not been remotely impressed about the little teddy-bear trying to take her star-seed. First, she didn't have one in any case since she came from another universe, but whatever the little furry mazoku had done had hurt and no one tried to hurt Lina Inverse and got away without suffering for it.
"Come back here you little coat on legs!" She was screaming in incoherent rage while fireballs and flare-arrows exploded in every direction and did a great deal of property damage. "When I get my hands on you you'll wish you'd never heard the word `starseed'! You'll be in so much hurt you won't even be able to squeal! Do you hear me! Stop running and let me kill you!"
Shrieking, Hoka-Galaxia flashed passed Hoka-pluto's hiding-place, the incensed Lina almost on her heels.
"Help!" She was wailing at the very top of her small lungs. "I didn't know! I'm sorry! My sister is Hoka-lina I promise!"
It was the wrong thing to say.
With a primal scream of: "DIE!!!!!!" Lina razed both hands.
"Darkness from twilight,
"Crimson from blood that flows...
"Buried in the flow of time...
"In thy great name, I pledge myself to thee..."
That was enough for Hoka-Pluto. She didn't know what a Dragon Slave would do in such a confined space, but she had no intention of finding out. It was time to admit defeat, find the others and get the hades back to Toka with their fur intact, not to mention what was underneath it.
"Well?" Joanna inquired.
"I think it's working!" Rhiannon closed the door behind her and moved to settle herself comfortably in a chair facing the flame-haired girl. "Reports of...let's call them some of the more...exuberant animates are coming in from all over the backlot," She said with a smile that was far from innocent. "and I'm quite sure none of the authors would have been insane enough to hire Moroboshi. Apart from which, I'm absolutely sure none of them are using Bugger or Sailor Justice. There are bound to be hoka hold-outs, but they shouldn't pose too much of a problem once they realise their position is hopeless. All that needs to be done then is to convince Craig the first to close the gate on a permanent basis. After this, I doubt he'll take much convincing. Oh yes;" She ended with a smirk. "I think we can consider this a resounding success, at least for the moment."
"Just as well." Said Lenore with relief. "regulars are no problem but this place isn't exactly friendly to having non-SME animates and especially other authors' characters pulled into it. We probably couldn't have done it at all had Frank not included some non-SME space. Even now, we can't keep so many here for long and I'd say Mr. Gagne's are probably already gone. Still, it proved the theory."
"Mm." Joanna agreed. "And with hoka being so fickle, I can't see Ron's little furry counterpart being able to maintain control for long. Now, concerning our own little furry problems."
"Oh good! I've been looking forward to this part!" Liana almost squealed with delight as she leapt to her feet. "I imagine they're not far away. Come on!"
And before anyone could stop her she was gone, the door swinging in her wake.
Joanna sighed and shook her head. "Come on. I don't see why she should have all the fun."
And with that the rest were on their feet and racing to catch her.
No sooner had the last of the Exiles sped out of the room, than a short, cloaked figure stepped out from the shadows.
"So, they would oppose the Hoka authors. The Exile upstarts; the Renegade fools! We will crush them like the pathetic bugs that they are! So declares," the figure paused dramatically and threw off his cloak, "Hoka Ron!"
Thunder crashed in the distance and the diminutive hoka laughed maniacally, "BBWWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAAAHAHA ..."
Joanna poked her head back in the room. "I told you I heard maniacal laughter coming from back here."
Stopped cold in mid-laugh, Hoka Ron frantically started looking for his discarded cloak.
"So, which Hoka are you again?" Purred Joanna sweetly and walked casually into the room followed by Rhiannon.
"Umm, no one in particular ... um, I'm Hoka Joe. Nice to meet you! I've got to be going! Bye!" stuttered Hoka Ron nervously as he finally found his discarded cloak and started sidling his way toward the door.
"Uh-uh; not so fast!" Smiled Rhiannon, noting that the hoka in question seemed to be having a particularly severe bad hair day. Really; you must think we've particularly terrible memories Mr Hoka Ron Inn !"
"You are mistaken," squeaked Ron and broke for the door, only to bounce off the legs of the tall flame-haired girl who had somehow gotten there first.
Joanna smiled, sudden unbridled mayhem dancing in her emerald eyes as she cracked her knuckles. "Ah, splendid! I'm _very_ pleased to find you again mr. fur-coat-in-waiting. We've been meaning to have a _long_ discussion with you."
Hoka Ron threw his cloak to the floor and drew himself to his full height of three feet and two inches. "Very well, Exile scum. I tried to be merciful, but you leave me no choice. Witness the pinnacle of Hoka technology! COME, EVANGAHOKA!!!!"
Three huge dimensional portals, each 340 feet in height, sprang into existence amidst a great tearing sound, wind and bright tendrils of static electricity. In the span of several heartbeats, the portals vanished, leaving three massive humanoid robots in their place.
They looked almost exactly like the Evangelions after which they were patterned ... Except they seemed to be covered with brown fur ... and they looked a bit chubby ... and they were wearing fukus.
"No, on second thought not really like Evangelions," concluded Joanna, glancing furiously around for a certain hoka to lay the hurt on. Unfortunately, Hoka Ron had used the distraction to slip away. How had the little fur coat managed to vanish so fast? But of course this was the backlot, where belief and self-will made up a pretty fair-sized portion of reality.
Evangahoka Unit 1 took a step, crushing Jillian's main sound stage and causing the ground to tremble and rock.
"Well, there goes the neighborhood," observed Rhiannon drily.
The blast ripped down the passage, taking out a wall, an office and a flight of stairs yet still managing to do absolutely no harm to the shrieking Hoka- Galaxia who was impossibly staying just a hair's bredth from strangulation at the enraged sorceress's lunging hands and avoiding death in innumerable other painful ways only by virtue of the fact that she was too terrified to stay still and too small while running at a frantic pace to make an easy target.
"KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL!!!!!!" Lina was screaming almost incoherently between lunging wildly at the dodging furry form and hurling a plethora of extremely destructive magic in every direction, seeming to think that if she could only get enough of the surrounding environment either burning, freezing or disintegrating into its component subatomic particles the combined devastation would have to catch up with her illusive quarry eventually.
It was a sound the hoka had been making for the past five minutes and despite the fact that it didn't seem to have done much good so far, a sound that some primal instinct told her was still the best chance she had of reaching some centre of compassion buried deep within either her homicidal pursuer or someone else brave or foolhardy enough to come to her rescue before the things whistling and snarling past her ears and occasionally singeing her fur considered they'd played long enough and became much too friendly.
Still screaming at the very top of her lungs, Hoka-Galaxia turned another corner and stepped out into thin air. It was at this point that she discovered that she could in fact make a great deal more noise and for far longer than she had managed thus far, also exactly what it was like to fall very far and very fast while the air whistled in her ears and her nemesis screamed in psychotic frustration and hurled fireball after fireball after her swiftly retreating form before tensing, throwing both hands skywards and letting loose a giga-slave that would have destroyed her own world but which here shot straight up, curved around in accordance with the laws of SME space, and came straight down, completely demolishing CraigB's still pristine staging area and taking a fair amount of value from several of the rest.
Then, still growling and impossibly still on her feet, Lina cast `raywing' and Laguna Blade and shot still hungry for blood in Hoka-Galaxia's wake.
"I do not believe this!"
Rhiannon stared in uncharacteristic disbelief at the three monstrous forms, not certain whether to be concerned or collapse in uncontrollable laughter at the sheer absurdity of the things that faced her. Then a tremendous foot flashed with considerable speed in her direction and concern gave way to the battle-rage that characterised the combat nature of her kind.
With a keening shriek she shot skywards, her mouth gaping wide as she prepared to bring one of her own native weapons to bear, only to feel a light almost playful tap on her shoulder.
"Nono; naughty!" Cooed a playful voice almost in her ear.
With a snarl, Rhiannon whipped round, nearly taking her elder sister's head off before she realised who it was and powered down the particle weapon in her mouth.
"This isn't BGC;" Lenore admonished, still in her infuriatingly playful tone. "you can't take them out like that: that's not how SME space works. If you try, you'll either hit nothing, impossible though that should be, or merely start lowering the property value of what's still left of the surroundings. Haven't you wondered why no one's been seriously hurt yet in all the chaos?"
"You're saying we can't stop the things then?" Joanna demanded from where she was dancing easily about the legs of one of the monsters while hurling emerald ki-bolts that, to her incredulous disbelief given its size, missed completely and simply punched holes through flaw, walls and ceiling.
"I'm saying we can't stop them that way." Said Lenore simply. "However..."
And with that, she shot from Rhiannon to circle just out of range of one of the huge creatures' darting head, her right hand pointing unerringly at the floor about its feet.
In the next instant it gave a sudden very hoka-like squeal of shocked astonishment and a moment later it was dropping quickly from view, the roar and crash as it plunged through the circle Lenore had cut from the floor and began systematically creating similar although rather more jagged holes in the floors below as it continued its unscheduled flight fading swiftly into the general tumult.
"I didn't say we couldn't do something about them with a little unexpected chaos of our own." Lenore ended smugly with a grin that made Rhiannon wish fervently that her sister was human so she could strangle her very slowly.
Still grinning maniacally, Lenore reached into pocket-space, each hand emerging holding a huge water-pistol.
"Ron Inn, the human one, was most thoughtful to leave these where no one was supposed to be able to find them." She cackled gleefully. "I don't think I have to tell you what's in them."
With that, she began to spin crazily about the heads of the two remaining Evangahoka, ignoring her sister's outraged demands for one of the nair- pistols, letting loose with burst after burst and squealing and cackling in maniacal delight while the huge creatures wailed and squealed in their turn as all their fine brown fur began to disolve and melt away.
"Damn it Lenore give that to me." Rhiannon growled while lunging again and again at her illusive sister.
"Get your own." Lenore cackled wildly, and went on firing.