Damsel in Distress versus the Knight in Shiny Armor
Carefree, joyous laughter followed the sounds of the explosion's aftermath through the corridors of Lagrange, Baron J's manor, um, lab, affectionately called L1. Due to similar, and rather frequent, occurrences, L2 was nearly completed and plans for Ls 3 through 5 were in the making.
"When is this honeymoon mission of yours--that you refuse to abort, I might add--over so we can get rid of him, 01?"
There was a grunt. "Current projection is sixty years."
"Six-sixty years? Have you lost your mind?"
Another grunt. "You are correct, Baron J. Life expectancies have gone up in industrialized nations like ours. I will revise it to eighty years."
A groan, as if in mortal agony, rolled through the lab. "He just blew up the southern part of the moat! My lab smells like a wet dog! Why are you smiling?!"
"I like to hear my baka laugh."
There were the sounds of someone choking, then gasping for breath. Finally, "Send a messenger to Khushrenada!"
"With the same--"
"Annette! Babe! You rocked in Muscle Beach Party last night! I did a little tweaking to your spare arm and now you got fingers, real fingers instead of those seriously creepy claw things. And look, isn't this cool? You point your index finger and whoosh! It goes off like a real gun. See?"
"Baka, what is that stuff?"
The cheerful laughter rang from the lab. "Silly string! I got him three cases of refills. I wanted to put in a coffee maker but I didn't know if the old guy could carry it while it was percolating. Not to mention that if he decided to tweak his beak while making coffee, the burns would not only be uber painful, but someone would have to apply burn cream and that's just really gross."
"Baka." This was said affectionately.
"Hee-chan, I'm horny!"
"Why me? Dear God, why me?" echoed the sound of something metallic, like a set of glinty goggles, repeatedly banging on a table.
The next kingdom over....
"Injustice!" The sounds of a slamming door followed by furious stomping accompanied that pronouncement. Another door slammed, probably into a wall.
"Chang, I specifically came here, again, to see General Khushrenada, not you!"
"Silence, Dermail! Khushrenada is tied up and will remain so for the foreseeable future."
"You said that last time!"
"He was tied up last time as well. He's a very naughty tyrant."
A careful listener would have heard eyes blinking in utter shock. This was followed by spluttering.
"You, guard. Escort the Duke out."
A few moments later, the portcullis dropped down and the drawbridge slammed shut.
"You haven't heard the last of this, Chang!" But it was outside and faint, so it was ignored.
"Une, are there any messengers from Baron J still on the premises?"
"They're arriving daily now, sir."
"Good. Tell Baron J that Oz has decided to declare war on Romafellar since the Bartons dropped off the face of the planet and are no longer keeping Dermail sufficiently occupied. And since J's offered so, erm, frequently, to help us in any war we might engage, ask him if he'd keep Dermail busy. Treize will sign the order as soon as I untie him from the bed."
"Oh, and Une?"
"If you happen to catch that braided idiot on Oz, I would be very amused if you would continue your plans to turn him into a girl." A self-satisfied air permeated the castle. "It would be justice."
At the foot of the mountains....
Herbert lumbered slowly through the undergrowth, looking for that blueberry bush he'd found a few weeks ago. It hadn't been quite as full as he'd liked, so he'd left it to ripen a bit more. His family might laugh, well, exile him, too, but he thought that there was nothing better than fresh berries with his salad. Add a little lemon poppyseed dressing, perhaps some melon with it, and he would be purring, well, if his vocal chords had been strung a bit differently he would be purring.
Herbert stopped, cocking his ear toward that curious noise.
He left his pail near the blueberries and ambled toward the sound. It was a sweet, coloratura soprano that trilled with delicate yet somehow robust beauty along the higher registers. Herbert was quite the fan of opera and a well done aria could turn him directly into mush. Yet another thing he'd found himself exiled for. He pushed through the underbrush, into the edge of a field.
And fell instantly and irrevocably in love.
She was gorgeous, and such an angel. Her hair, spun like the gold he slept upon, cascaded around her. Her eyes, richer than the sapphires hidden in his hoard, sparkled. Her skin, more luminous than the finest ivory he possessed, blushed faintly.
And that voice, oh that bewitching, beautiful voice.
"Heeeeeeeeeeeee--ack!" She'd spotted him, staring at him with her gem-like eyes widened and her breath coming quickly. The blush deepened. Was it too much to hope that she was as taken with him as he was with her? She must. He loved her and it was fated that she love him in return. He could no longer regret being a vegetarian in a strict society of carnivores. He could no longer regret his diminished size amongst a society of behemoths. He could no longer regret his refined tastes amongst a society of brutes. He now had her. Fate had smiled upon him. She was his gift. His. She would share his love of quiche. She would sing his favorite arias while lovingly preening his scales. He would lavish her with all the treasures of his hoard.
Gently, he singed the ropes binding her to the fence, tenderly cradled her in his right front claw, then spread his leathery wings and carried them both off, deep into the mountains.