A number of things had gone wrong.
Xeno was not in his right frame of mind, certainly, after licking the epidermis of his very own Beanstalk of Urine. And he was probably still smarting a bit from the blow to the peripherals by the Rapidly Accelerating Dildo of Doom. And, well, when Mr. Pointy Hat meets up with Mrs. Tubular Weapon Or Other Device Designed To Discharge Projectiles Or Other Material, bad things tend to happen...
But at least Xeno had an iron hat, metallic skin and the warm, loving embrace of Chaos to fall back on.
Chaos, it turns out, hung back until Kobayashi showed up.
For as soon as Xeno's limp, nearly lifeless body slumped to the ground, Kobayashi sprung into action. He reached out with his Jade Hand and felt under the now-flattened hat. Nose? Hmmm, nope. Mouth? Nope. Jaw? Oh, that's probably it over there on the linoleum. And this feels like what I imagine what a cerebral cortex feels like...
There was nothing for it. He would have to summon some Chaos to help.
"I summon forth... some Chaos... to help!"
There was a sickly flicker of yellow/green light. Kobayashi could feel things moving beneath his hand. Synapses were being restitched, sinews restretched, muscles and skin regrew at an enhanced rate. And, oddly enough, Xeno's head was almost perfectly restructered, with only a few, moderate side effects*.
And all the while this took place, Madmartigan looted the corpses.
Xeno snapped back to consciousness with a start and immediately regretted it. His skin was now a damp, smelly mess; his codpiece had a permanent sag; he was hated and reviled by every squirrel and fawn; and he now had a dirty child by the name of Troy to look after. Death looked like an improvement.
So it was with self-loathing in his heart that he attempted to fling himself into the abyss of the coliseum. As he squelched past Iryien, however, his progress was halted by the 'mailled goddess. With a wave of her hand, Iryien stopped his suicidal attempt and refocused him. "Kill Billy," she whispered in her bedroom voice (if her bedroom contained a rack, a full set of graduated manacles and about a thousand whips). She then gently tossed (read, hurled) Xeno towards the sound stage door where Billy had last been seen. She also conjured up a mighty wind that gathered up Takemiya, Kobayashi, Saladin and Madmartigan and hurled (read, hurled really fast) them down the runway and out through the sound stage door behind Xeno. They were all carried with a swirling cry down, up and out the tunnel until they were spat out the other end...
...on a gray and desolate beach.
Away to the left, a cold, rolling sea brimming with dorsal fins. To the right, a high, impenetrable cliff. Ahead, a deep, mysterious crag, from where the occasional glint of gold (or was it brass?) could be seen. And from behind, the shuffling, cursing, broken-bottle-wielding mob led by Iryien and Xoe.
Xeno, still adrift in a melancholy sea of self-loathing, tried to use his one really useful new power to change himself into something useful. His self-loathing, unfortunately, got in the way.
He rolled a mud bat.
Kobayashi, again trying to seize control of his life, attempted to summon an animal helper to assist the party in it's hour of need. His inability to seize control of anything, unfortunately, got in the way.
Her name was Evelyn, and she had just been circulocuting a banza tree in the depths of the jungles of Gleg. It was mating season on Gleg, and her little mud bat flaps were flipping out, trying to find a mate...
She had just spotted a weak-willed specimen, perfect for dominating in the ancient rite of fFlarGha'a'aa when POOF! she was suddenly transported away from the lush jungles of Gleg and into a dark, gray land utterly devoid of hope and reason.
But there, flapping erratically before her very sonaculars, was an even weaker, more morally pliable specimen of the mud bat species. It looked like fFlarGha'a'aa would happen this day after all...
Xeno had just come to grips with the basic functionality of flying when he was hit from behind by a damp, flapping assailant. Claws, teeth, and some rather invasive appendages made Xeno's head and new body spin as he and the stranger would plummet, rise and plummet again in what would always be remembered by the somewhat flummoxed onlookers as 'the Mud Bat Dance of Love'.
Madmartigan, trying to seize control of reality, decided it would be prudent to see what was awaiting them in the distant crag. Cube-tipped polearm at the ready, he lurched across the gray sand, readying himself for whatever terrors the crag held. He could see one, two, a dozen shining shafts of reflected light standing tall in row upon row of... spears.
Brass, stripper pole spears. And under the spears, hundreds of grim-visaged strippers were eyeing him, death in their kohl-lined eyes. One stripper, larger and more buxom than the rest, was pacing back and forth in front of the undulant legienne, shouting curses and taunts at Madmartigan, and raising heady jeers from the girls behind her.
Madmartigan turned on his heels and ran.
Iryien stood on the beach, devoid of 98% of her clothing, in front of thousands of drunken, leering men.
And she'd never felt better.
"Must be the sea elf in me being actually useful, for once," she thought. She had the men in her thrall. She could feel them behind her, their eyes boring into her like lasers. "And I am the diamond," she thought, "the diamond that will focus these drunken lasers into a force mightier than the armies of Alexander, an army greater than the hordes of Ghengis Khan, a horde fiercer than- whoa. Is that Xeno?"
Iryien bent over the broken and discarded body of a mud bat. It was heaving and sighing in a mix of agony and ecstasy. Iryien could see the poor thing had suffered a number of broken bones, had severe dehydration, and on top of it all had contracted gonorrhea. She took pity on the poor, mad gnome and reached out her dainty hand to heal him...
Xeno sat up with a start. His skin had returned to normal. HE had returned to normal. And his has was a little pointier than it had previously been. Now only the dirty kid with the lollipop remained.
By now Madmartigan had returned and informed the party of what lay in wait for them in the crag. The party huddled together to strategize. The conversation went something like this:
"How many warriors await us in yon crag?"
"About 299, Iryien."
"Surely my army of thousands can dislodge such a puny force?"
"The mathematics lay squarely on your side, to be certain."
"I'm gonna summon another animal helper."
"Try to get one that actually helps and isn't a rapist this time."
"Oh, look! A shark jumped out of the water and landed right next to me! I think it wants me to ride it!"
"You got any tricks up your sleeve, kid?'
"I kin turna balla fire."
"I kin turna balla fire."
"Let me see."
"Whoa. Cool. Think you can roll yourself into that crag over there?"
It was then that the charge was blown, and the battle was joined. Behind a rolling, flaming child rode a half-android monk riding a shark who decided to even things up a bit by casting a three-foot-high fog into the crag. The smell of burning hair extensions was only drowned out by the high-pitched screams of strippers who could not see the shark that was tearing through them to impale it with their stripper-pole spears.
It then, if you can believe it, got weirder.
Madmartigan now found himself caught between two different, but no less imminent, certain deaths - the mad, panicking strippers on one hand, and the horny, bloodlusting drunks on the other. So he did what only Madmartigan can do and attempted an Improbable Escape. (MM's subterranean life and penchant for fungus has allowed him to 'see', at certain times, a highly-improbably path out of almost any predicament.) Madmartigan relaxed, opened his third eye, and looked around to see a way out of this mess.
The charging mass of drunks in his immediate vicinity stopped dead in their tracks. Many of them fell over themselves to get away from him. Some were even heard to start crying. The strippers, seeing a large segment of the charge stop charging, stopped to take stock of the situation. Most of them were quite confused.
But SOME of the strippers, mostly the ones who didn't take exotic stage names like Tiffini or Starrlyte - the ones who actually kept their given names, like Gretchen or Trudy - some of them stepped to the fore and sashayed over to the new girl, lust glistening brightly in their kohlless eyes.
A couple licked their lips. A few made rude licking gestures. And one, a strapping six-foot specimen named Gert, brandished a hairy-knuckled fist that was as big as a canned ham.
Madmartigan blenched. A quart of blood dropped out of his body. And in the flash of panicked inspiration that occurs when your life (and your cherry) is on the line, he clicked his heels together three times and whispered to himself "There's no one like me, there's no one like me, there's no one like me..."
Slowly, inexorably, the succulent mound of flesh that was Roseanne morphed back into the hulking, man-beast that was Madmartigan. The aggressive strippers, whose object of lust now had far more hair and far fewer wattles, grew repulsed, and ceased their advances.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Well, everyone except the few dozen strippers who were being actively mauled by a land shark as it cut a swath through the fogy crag.
Iryien smiled as she looked over the violent and chaotic scene.
"It has been a good day," she said proudly to herself. "A good day indeed."