*Once again the huge, multi-tiered arena is filled to bursting with gods, goddesses, demi-gods, creatures, and mortals.* *Beloved Author is heard sniffing and muttering nostalgically about State Championship football play offs somwhere called 'The Astrodome'* *Jett is standing backstage, peeking through the curtains at the crowd*
Jett: "Damn. There are two people I've done work for just in the front row." *looks up* "This better work."
Beloved Author: "Or what? You gonna kill me?"
Beloved Author: "Ya can't. Nyah."
Jett: "I could cut off sex with your avatar."
Beloved Author: "Ha. Like you could resist. Anyway, why should -I- worry about that?"
Jett: "I'll tell her it's because of you, and remember, BA--this IS you we're talking about."
Beloved Author: "Oo. Myself pissed at me. You're right, I don't want that. Don't worry--it'll work." *zap* *A pair of horn rimmed glasses appear in Jett's hands--complete with a fake nose and Groucho Marx moustache attatched.* *Jett glares up at her.* "I had to try." *zap* *The glasses are now plain.*
Jett: *Jett slips on the glasses.* "Well?"
Beloved Author: "I've always found geeky kind of sexy. Wear those when you see my avatar later, and suggest that you play 'professor giving personal tutoring to co-ed'."
Jett: "I love you--all your incarnations."
Beloved Author: "You guys are so easy. Get this party started."
Jett: "Here goes nothing. And I mean that literally. I've seen the talents they have ready." *Jett whips open the curtains and steps out.* *There is an immediate confused murmur* "Settle down, rabble." *He may be disguised, but he can still do the 'I'm lethal. I'd advise you to LISTEN to me' voice (patent pending)* *Rabble settles down* "Right. Welcome to the 2nd Annual Best Lover Pageant. We're here to determine which one of the entered main- squeezes fits the bill. I wasn't allowed to make an entry."
Scribe: *From offstage* "LET IT GO!"
Jett: "I've been asked to make a few statements. First of all, there ARE chamber pot rooms on each level, so don't go peeing in corners. And you know damn good and well I'm including the OTHER bodily function in that directive. Gods and goddesses, Bacchus is running a special on mead fortified with nectar. If you have mortal companions, don't go slipping them any. It tends to give them delusions of invulnerability, and do you REALLY want to have them picking fight with the war dogs that have been assigned to security? And finally, Salmoneus is once again in charge of the concessions, and he urges you to pig out. He could use a few extra dinars to finance his current custody suit." *Loud whinny from off stage* "Don't blame me, Argo. You wouldn't have this problem if you'd just ease up on the visitation restrictions." *Shrill, much younger sounding whinny* "See? You're only hurting the kid with this fighting." *looks out at audience* "Sorry about that. I get a little choked up over family, and anyone who laughs at that can expect to lose an internal organ of my choice. Now, let's bring out the contestants for the introductory parade."
*Musicians start playing 'A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody, but a Hot Guy Really Rocks'*
Jett: "First up, because he threatened to wait till I was asleep and put pink streaks in my hair--Apollo's entry, Jayce."
Jayce: *Jayce floats out onto the stage, shimmying in rhythm to the music, wearing more bright gauze than a Dancer of the Seven Veils* *Somehow, though, the veils seem to cover less ground* *sings* "Hiyam too saxy for my shurt..."
Beloved Author: "You know, the video has that done with strapped T- shirts, but this works, this works."
Jayce: *keeps dancing* "Hand hayam too saxy for my cat. Poor, poor pussy cat..."
*multitudinal chorus of mews from offstage* *cats charge out onto the stage* *Cats love stuff that flutters* *The rest of the veils don't last long*
Jayce: *shriek* "Hyou mischeevious moggies!" *Strife's cackle is heard* "Sabotage! I hwasn't planning hon doing the full Monty!"
Scribe: *offstage* "Go, kitties!"
Scribe: "Okay, okay. The big fluffly Persian that looks like a cross between a fur muff and a powder puff big enough for Tammy Faye? I rescued him. He's declawed."
Jayce: "SAVED!" *Jayce snatches up indicated Persian and manages to hold him in front of his crotch just as the last wisp of cloth is shredded by the other cats.* *Jayce starts to edge off stage, while the crowd cheers.* "Hwell, that weent better than... Kitty, don't start purring NOW!"
Jett: "You know, if he had a cat for each hand he could whip them back and forth, letting the audience think they're bout to see something, but..."
Scribe: *offstage* "They'll do it in the future but use feathered fans and balloons."
Jett: *sounds interested* "Really? You never took me anywhere they had that when we were in your time."
Scribe: "I took you to Hooters, and I gave you permission to visit a titty bar. What do you want from me?" *Jett leers* "Don't answer that in public. They don't have fan dancers in my time. Society built up to them, then shot right past them. The vast majority of the population do not want to be teased--they want it pushed in their face. Now will you get on with it?"
Jett: "Moving along to our next contestant. From the floaty to the fierce. Welcome Gabriella's entry into this farce..."
Beloved Author: "A-HEM!"
Jett: "You've called it that yourself. Welcoming Gabrielle's entry into the competition--Xena." *Xena comes out. She's dressed approximately like Jayce was.* "Whoa."
Xena: "Don't start. A true warrior will use every trick at her disposal, and feminie charms happen to be one of them." *Music starts, and she begins to belly dance* "This has gotten me into more than one tent."
Jett: "Where the hell's the tiara? She wins."
Scribe: *Offstage* "You're getting it when this is over. Or rather you're NOT getting it."
*Xena shimmies. Xena wiggles. Xena shakes her cakes.* *Bloodpressure goes up among the males of the audience as their survival instincts war with their libidos.* *Xena finishes the dance with several of her trademark flips, landing in a split, which causes everyone in the audience to groan--from admiration, lust, or sympathetic pain--take your choice*
*Huge applause* *Xena bows, then swaggers offstage*
Jett: "Day-um. All I can say is that there's gonna have to be some pretty spectacular talent to beat that. Next up--Autolycus."
Autolycus: *comes out on stage* *cheers and hisses* "Thank you, thank you, fans and former targets. For my talent I shall demonstrate the skill I developed when I began my career. Mistress?"
*Eris comes out, waves her hand, and creates an object in a shower of red sparks, pinches Auto's butt, and strolls out.*
Autolycus: *rubs his bottom* "Please observe my demonstration model. As you can see it is a typical tailor's dummy, dressed in the garb of a successful merchant."
Heckler: *calls from audience* "Or a sober dressed jester. What's up with all the jingle bells?"
Autolycus: "If you'll shut up I'll explain. I was just coming to that. As you can see, there are a multitude of tiny bells sewn all over the garments, clustered especially thickly around any area that might be used to store valuables. Before I begin my talent, allow me to demonstrate how this works. I need a volunteer who is generally assumed to have a nimble and precise touch."
Scribe: *offstage* "ASK THE EMCEE!"
*Jett mimes a kiss at her*
Autolycus: "I was thinking something more in the line of a craftsman or someone in the medical profession."
Apollo: "I'll do it."
Autolycus: "Sorry, but you have a vested interest in the competition. How about Asclepius?"
Ace: "Okay." *Comes out on stage.*
Autolycus: "Ace, where would you think that a man would be most likely to carry his valuables?"
Ace: "You mean other than that money belt hanging on his belt in front of Zeus and everybody? I'd say his trouser pocket or possibly inside his vest."
Autolycus: "Yes, those are the most typical areas. Now, there are several dinars hidden on that figure. Try to find one without disturbing the bells. If any of them rings, that means that your touch probably wasn't light enough to go unnoticed."
Ace: "Oh, come on. I'm a healer--I work with my hands. My touch has to be precise and delicate." *Ace is reaching for the moneybag hanging on the figure's belt.* *jingle* "Um... Okay, I wasn't really making an effort. Let's try that again."
Autolycus: "Go right ahead."
Ace: *tinkle* "I wasn't ready. This time..." *chinktinkle* "Aether, are you blowing a breeze up here?"
Aether: *offstage* "I'm waiting to see if anyone wears something floaty during the dress up part. They're gonna end up with it over their heads."
Jett: "Are you sure you want to do that, considering the significant others of the contestants?"
Aether: "I have to. Strife threatened to go through with that talent he considered for the last pageant."**
Ace: "I know. It's just that the moneybag is more sensitive to motion. I bet if I try for the dinar in the vest pocket..." *JINGLE! * "Oops."
Autolycus: "Thank you. I believe that illustrates my point."
Ace: "Oh, yeah? I'd like to see you do better." *Auto hands him something.* "What's that?"
Autolycus: "The moneybag."
Ace: "Wha-huh?" *checks* *Yep, it's gone, but Ace isn't about to admit it* "I didn't see you take that. I'll bet you had a duplicate hidden, and..."
Autolycus: *cracks his knuckles* "Stand aside, and you in the audience--remain quiet." *Hoots and derisive remarks* *Auto looks at Jett* "If you would?" *Jett steps toward the audience, scowling* *Audience shuts the Tartarus up.* "Thank you." *Auto slinks up to dummy, slithers hand into right pocket* *silence* *Hands dinar to Ace* *moves to other side* *slips hand into left pocket* *PROFOUND silence* *hands Ace another dinar* *slides hand inside the dummy's vest* *crickets chirp, wind blows* *hands Ace the last dinar*
Ace: "I'll be damned." *starts to leave*
Autolycus: "Wait a minute. Let's have the dinars back. I had to supply my own props." *takes back dinars, and Ace leaves*
Jett: "Very impressive, but I hardly think you could do that well with an awake and aware victim."
Autolycus: "Oh, yeah?" *hands Jett a small wad of black material*
Jett: *Jett examines it* "What is this?"
Scribe: *offstage* "It's the underwear I gave you for Winter Solstice!" *Jett quickly slaps a hand on his butt, feeling, then quickly stuffs briefs in his pocket* "I'm touched. I didn't think you wore them any time but when you visited me."
*Autolycus bows to applause, and leaves stage*
Jett: "Another reason to keep your moneybag on a chain instead of a belt, gents. Our next contestant is a master of the Art of War. Let's see what else he's artistic at. Presented by Eirini, God of Peace (also known as Joxer)--Ares, God of War."
Joxer: *As Ares walks out, Joxer calls from offstage* "And he doesn't want you to take his divinity into consideration when you vote!"
Ares: "I don't?"
Ares: "Oh, all right." *mutters* "He's gotten even more obsessed with fairness since we had Accord." *raises his voice* "I finally agreed to sing for my talent, but Joxer..." *he looks off stage* "I'm sorry, babe, but I will NOT sing I Know That My Heart Will Go On."
Beloved Author and Scribe in chorus: "THANK YOU!"
Ares: "However in deference to the Beloved Author I will sing a song from her formative era. Credit to Strife for getting me the music for this." *Music starts*
Beloved Author: "That DOES sound familiar."
Ares: *starts singing* "Somebody's going to hurt someone before the night is through." *His tone of voice makes it a promise* "Somebody's gonna come undone--there's nothing we can do..."
Beloved Author: *screams* "HE'S SINGING THE EAGLES! I LOVE THIS SONG!"
Apollo: "Oh, like this isn't fixed!"
Beloved Author: "Shut up or I'll screw up the shocks on your chariot."
Ares: *He's not exactly boogying, but he's moving to the music in a cool, pantherish way* *Panties are dampening all over the arena* *Some loincloths are getting stretched, too* "We can beat around the bushes, we can get down to the bone, we can leave it in the parking lot but anyway there's gonna be a heartache tonight, a heartache tonight, I knooooow..."
Scribe: *Offstage* "Do Hotel California! Or Life in the Fast Lane!"
Beloved Author: "I'll send you an 8 track, but we have to get on with this thing."
Beloved Author: "This is for adults lists."
Scribe: "Well, then shit."
Beloved Author: "You're welcome. Next?"
Jett: "Next up--Hercules, presented by Iolaus."
*Iolaus and Hercules come out on stage. Hercules is pushing a small, tarp draped cart.*
Hercules: *mutters* "This is embarrassing."
Iolaus: "Why are you embarrassed? I'm the one who's going to be juggling."
Hercules: "But people are going to think I put you up to it."
Iolaus: "Don't sweat it. This will just prove that I'm good with my hands." *Iolaus whips the tarp off the cart* "I will now juggle this wine bottle..." *checks it* "Empty, darn it. These two hard boiled eggs, this hatchet, and this live mouse."
Beloved Author: "What the fuck? I thought it was going to be rubber balls and Indian clubs."
Beloved Author: "But safe. I disavow responsibility for whatever happens next."
*Iolaus starts to juggle* *Say, he IS good with his hands* *The objects whizz through the air, rising and falling in a steady rhythm* *When the bottle is at the top of the loop, the cork pops out* *glug* *Sour wine splashes down on Iolaus*
Hercules: "I thought you said it was empty."
Iolaus: "It WAS, I swear! I emptied it myself last night. It was light and fruity, with a grassy undertone and a strong bouquet. Plus a high alcohol content." *Iolaus hasn't lost a beat, though he tosses the bottle out of the loop* *SMASH* *YELP!* "Sorry about that! Ace--front row."
Ace: "On it."
*Iolaus keeps juggling.* *One of the eggs bobbles, then drops, landing right on Iolaus' head* *smeck* *Bits of shell and bright yellow yolk drip down his face* "Herc! You were supposed to get these hard boiled."
Hercules: "I DID! You should be able to bounce them."
*The second egg breaks open in mid-air* *Iolaus finds himself juggling a peeping chick* *Cats immediately run out and surround him, avidly watching the tiny chicken and the mouse*
Scribe: "Oh, no, you don't! Get back here, you heathens." *Cats leave the stage, grumbling* "Yeah, yeah--I know. All cats are naturally heathens. It was just a figure of speech." *calls* "Keep going, Blondie. Grace under pressure is sure to win points."
*Iolaus tosses the chick to Hercules. He tries to toss the mouse, but somehow his aim goes wonky* *Demeter isn't showing much cleavage, but that's where the mouse lands, and immediately heads South*
Beloved Author: "I haven't seen that kind of dancing since the mosh pit at a punk club."
*All that's left is the hatchet* *Audience holds its breath* *Sure enough, Iolaus reaches for it, and misses.* *Crowd gasps* *The only thing the hatchet cuts before it buries itself in the stage is the waistband of Iolaus' trousers* *snapwhishplop* *Iolaus is now wearing only a shirt and a VERY skimpy loincloth* *CHEERS!*
Apollo: "He did that on purpose! He's trying to unfairly influence the crowd." *crowd is still cheering* "And it seems to be working."
Beloved Author: "Get your toga untwisted. Remember, this isn't a popularity vote. The judges are going to carefully weigh the merits of each contestant and... and..." *bwha ha ha!* *sniff* "I'm sorry. I can't say that with a straight face."
Jett: "Moving right along, prepare to be awed by the talent of our final contestant--Strife, God of Mischief."
Strife: *strolls out on stage* "What just happened ta Blondie? That WAS my talent." *A small table bearing three walnut shells appears before him* "But if ya must have somethin else, I can show ya somethin I learned from Salmoneus." *Lifts walnut shell* "Keep yer eye on this pea, an' try ta remembah which shell it's undah..."