Perhaps by adding a chapter or two I'll get more interested parties in this little quirky tale. I hope I'm not making Joyce to OOC in this story... it's kind of tricky getting her character down pat when we only saw one or two sides to her character for most of the time she was around.Disclaimer Addition: The New Characters appearing in this chapter are also not the property of the author. They are the property of Sega and the author has only borrowed them to injest a bit more confusion in this wierd and wacky tale. So sayeth the author. Enjoy folks.
Joyce followed Janna through the cave she’d entered in the strange dimension known as Sub-Con – she wasn’t sure if she was really dead or if she’d been displaced from her body – however she’d probably have to admit that she hadn’t been as fortunate as the doctor’s had believed – if she were honest with herself.
Joyce was tired of climbing ladders and hopping across the waterfall’s intersecting pits – with a final leap she landed on a ledge close to the source of the waterfall and reached out to stop Janna. “I think we’re far enough away from those weird creatures to actually talk now,” she told her dead love interest.
Janna sighed. “I guess you’re right, I do owe you that much,” the gypsy woman said.
Joyce nodded and collapsed into a sitting position out of the range of the waterfall’s spray – she was wet enough for her liking. “Buffy told me what happened to you,” she said in a subdued tone.
“Angelus,” Janna said frustratedly. “He never realized what happened between us after Rupert and Buffy pushed me away for lying to them,” she added.
Joyce nodded. “I kind of figured. Rupert still loved you enough though to make a wonderful ceremony for you,” she said softly.
Janna smiled. “I know. This place… You can see what’s happening in our world if you can make it to Wart’s Palace… Ugly little toad,” she observed with a feral smirk.
Joyce blinked in surprise. “You’ve been trapped here this entire time?” she asked.
Janna shook her head. “Not exactly. I just haven’t been able to find the right spot to use one of these magic potions to leave Sub-Con, not like that plumber and his friends,” she explained with a sour face.
Joyce frowned slightly. “You’re the second person I’ve bumped into here to mention plumbers,” she said.
Janna laughed. “The heroes of this place are a pair of pesky plumbers,” she revealed. “The Mario Brothers, from Brooklyn or something like that.”
Joyce tapped her cheek slightly in thought. Her eyes widened in surprise as she recognized the names. “The Mario Brothers!” she repeated seeking confirmation of her thoughts.
“Yes, those Mario Brothers,” Janna agreed with a slight shake of her head. “Don’t ask me how it works. I was a techno-pagan not a dimensional physicist.” Janna smiled slightly at her off-color comment.
“But you weren’t exposed to Dawn at the time, shouldn’t you have gone on to…” Joyce trailed off with a sad gaze.
Janna crouched down next to her and gave her a quick hug. “My death was a violent one. The Hellmouth is full of mysterious energies and I was murdered directly above it – I can only surmise that my soul somehow became trapped here because of that… I am so sorry that I left you that way, Joyce,” Janna said trying to comfort the other woman.
Joyce smiled up at her. “I don’t blame you,” she said. “I was a mess all of that summer because Buffy just left me after everything, but I never blamed you,” she said.
Both women hugged one another and then got back to their feet.
“So… You know the way to this Wart’s place and those semi-nice creatures in the air ship gave me this magic potion… Want to try your luck getting to this Mushroom Kingdom now that I’m here?” Joyce asked with a shaky smile.
“The two creatures in the air ship,” Janna repeated her eyes filling up with concern. “They talked to you?” she demanded.
“Of course. They seemed pleasant enough. For strange turtle creatures,” Joyce said with a shrug.
“Whatever they gave you can’t be any good,” Janna said holding out her hand. “Joyce, those two are part of the Koopa Clan, I’ve long suspected that they originate from Japanese Kappa Demons. Give me the potion,” she ordered.
Frowning once again Joyce removed the potion from her pocket where she’d stored it. “I don’t see why they’d give me something that could hurt me,” she said. “They did tell me it was their job to help people sent here,” she added.
Janna shook her head knowingly. “I got the same line from them too,” she said. “They didn’t help me, they just cut me off from the one pulling my strings when I first got here… Called the thing Player One. And now that I know about the Mario Brothers I suspect I can guess who Player One actually is.” Janna eyed the potion jar carefully and then tossed it over her shoulder. “That is definitely not a potion of Sub-Con,” she said.
Joyce watched it sail through the air and impact with a nearby wall. A puff of sickly green smoke exploded from the jar and a curious looking red door sprang up in its place. “Janna, are you sure about that?” she asked.
Janna turned around to find the door with a look of surprise. “I wouldn’t open it,” she cautioned.
Joyce stubbornly brushed past her and approached the door. “You’ve been here for four years now, Janna, I think your judgment might have been affected just a little.” Joyce reached out and grasped the knob of the door.
Janna stared at her in hurt surprise. “I can’t believe you’d tell me that,” she accused. “I think I know a little bit more about this place than you,” she pointed out.
“Maybe so,” Joyce agreed with a slight shake of her head. “But this place could have affected your mind… There’s no harm in trying this door,” she stated firmly twisting the knob and opening it.
A foul wind escaped from the other side of the door. And a strange piece of music began to play – taking a nervous step back Joyce began second guessing her decision to ignore the more experienced Janna in this matter.
Lightning crackled in the dark and foreboding sky beyond the door and the wind started to blow even fiercer.
“Janna!” Joyce cried as she felt her feet leave the ground.
“Joyce, hold on!” Janna shouted rushing to stop her girlfriend from being drawn through the door.
“I… Can’t!” Joyce screamed as she was finally sucked through the doorway.
Janna felt the wind pick her up and draw her towards the door against her will – spinning around in its grip she tried to escape it, but to no avail – she too was drawn through the doorway and taken against her will to the other side.
The wind continued to howl for at least several minutes before finally the door slammed shut and popped out of existence as if it’d never been. And Sub-Con returned to normal.
Wart twisted several dials on his nightmare machine as he once again tried to get it working – it hadn’t worked the same since the Mario Brothers and their companions stormed his castle and smashed the thing to bits – to say that he was mad was an understatement.
“Gah!” he cried. “I give up! It would take an evil genius to get this working again,” he cursed.
“Did someone say, evil genius?” a mysterious voice asked with a sinister cackle.
Wart spun around in surprise wondering what was going on. A large rotund looking human was standing in the doorway to his inner chambers rubbing his hands together with wicked glee. “Who in Sub-Con are you?” Wart demanded of the stranger.
“Nobody important,” the man replied with a twisted gleam in his eyes as he drew closer to the nightmare machine. “At last I’ve found the perfect tool to use in defeating that pesky Hedgehog,” he said with a wicked laugh. “Oooooo, hoooooo, hoooooo!”
Wart took a step forward intending to deal with this intruder. Only to be frozen on the spot by a strange energy. “What?” Wart glanced around trying to find the source of the energy.
“I’ll be taking this machine now, Mister Wart,” the man informed coldly. “You won’t be needing it anymore anyway,” he added with a snicker. “Come along, Shadow,” the man instructed with an impatient wave of his hands.
“Chaos Control!” a voice cried out and in a strange blinking flash of energy the stranger and the nightmare machine both vanished.
Wart could move again and he didn’t like what had happened to him. “Bowser isn’t going to like this,” he muttered.
Moaning softly in obvious discomfort Joyce Summers managed to regain her footing on the sloping ledge she and Janna had both landed on after being sucked through the odd doorway.
The place was dark and foreboding. Lightning flashed intermittently in the sky revealing a large sprawling land of ash, rock and molten hot magma lakes. Off in the distance was a decrepit looking castle that had seen better days – the ruins of many giant war machines littered the land between the castle and their current perch.
“What happened?” Janna asked rubbing her backside as she got up.
Joyce sighed. “I think we just got sucked out of Sub-Con and deposited in the Dark World,” she said.
Janna eyed her disbelievingly.
“What? A woman my age can’t enjoy a good videogame now and then?” she asked.
Janna shook her head. “That’s not it, how did you recognize this as being the Dark World?” she asked.
“Super Mario Bros. Three was a favorite guilty pleasure of mine,” Joyce admitted with a sigh.
Janna smiled at Joyce and planted a quick kiss on her cheek making the older woman blush. “I suppose it makes sense,” she said. “Those two turtle creatures must have been related to Bowser,” she added studying their perch thoughtfully.
“I guess our next step is to get to that castle,” Joyce decided with a sigh.
“All while avoiding any minions, traps, and those very real lava lakes,” Janna agreed with a shake of her head. “I hate to say it, but I think we’re a little too old to be hopping around the Mushroom World,” she said.
“It beats sitting around waiting to be rescued by an Italian plumber,” Joyce pointed out.
“Ladies first,” Janna said with a playful smile.
Laughing slightly Joyce rolled her sleeves up and took a flying leap off the ledge – hopefully there weren’t too many Koopa Troopas milling around the falling apart and forgotten fortress of the Koopa King – then again they were already in enough trouble as it was considering they were already technically dead. What’s the worse that could happen?To Be Continued…