Authors note:

Time ticker tales:

Non-plot incidents involving Irae and the rest of the Cast from the Anchrentor branch of the Campus of creative cookery, Academy of advanced alchemy, Senior school of sensible sorcery, Potion primary prepatory-school, Universal university and Ready-steady-Kast Kinder-garten (motto: we can spell). C.A.S.P.U.R Set-up solely by Sir Smedley, an avid alliteration and academic advocate, artist and alchemist.

This collection (Which will probably max out at half a dozen incidents) takes place between the first and second volume of the actual plot/series.


The Time Ticker- Tape one:

Irae walked over the warehouse floor. It was, like most of the Anchrentor academy for aspiring academic achievers, empty.
However, unlike the rest of the unused buildings, created so that the Academies mirror image (The CAS international academy) could accommodate for its much larger international student body...
This particular building housed something special.

Irae approached the centre of the room and inhaled deeply. This was where everyone else who'd come in here recently had stopped. The still, stale air had preserved their scents.
Making the mistake of breathing in deeply again, he coughed as dust clogged his nostrils.

The second hand light that filtered through the high and sometimes broken windows, the yellow colour of aged plastic, the walls with their rust red bricks and off-white mortar, the latter bulging out at every seam, putting him in mind of an overfull cream biscuit that had been squeezed too hard.
Hardly what you'd think of if you were to visualise one of the most important rooms in the school.
Yet... Irae thought as he kneeled on the dusty floor and let his fingers crawl over the smooth concrete, It really does make me feel. Nostalgic. He thought, finding the right place and swiping his card in the seam between one concrete slab and the next.

The concrete slabs in front of him began to rise up and slide sideways on robotic armatures, while in front, the main attraction rose up to take their place.
It was a gigantic clock made from gleaming brass and gold edged glass. It's size and its position on the floor weren't what was strange about it.
It had no hands. Instead in the centre there was a pole, with an old 'Clock-On' box attached to the top.
Years ago, you would have found them in factories and offices at the entrance to record when you arrived and left.

This had a rather different function. As Irae walked across the glass face, ignoring the gleaming gears and cogs that whirred in perfect time beneath his feet, he examined the box critically.
For its function, it looked very ordinary.

Then again, Irae would be the pot calling the cauldron black to judge it by appearance alone; he himself wasn't particularly impressive. Slightly below average height for his age with black hair, crystalline green eyes and a pale complexion.

The only thing that distinguished him from every other such boy you might see was his simple sable suit, with its silver trim and buttons, which only made him appear thinner and more lithe than he really was.

Only If you talked to him might you guess that he wasn't so much out of the ordinary for his age as out of the ordinary across the boarder of abnormal and past the ocean of uncanny to arrive at the calm and sunny waters of the unique.

Irae inserted his Staff-card into the slot. It's first use since the perpetual principle gave it to him.

"Welcome Professor."
The machine spoke in a mechanical monotone.
"You have Zero Credits In your Magi-bank account."
Irae rolled his eyes. His lack of magical money, valid throughout most planes of existence, was the whole reason why he was here in the first place.
"I'd like to Access the Time Ticker work exchange please." He enunciated clearly.
"Confirmed. Please insert Staff-card." It spat his out.
Irae grumbled and stuck it back in.
"Connecting. Kindly hold while Multi-U-net master Server is contacted."
Irae tapped his foot as elevator music began to play. "Clock-On. Easy listening was outlawed under the Geneva Convention. I am Armed."
The music stopped abruptly. "Much. Better."

A minute passed and the mechanism beeped "Connection Established. Would you like to access the Jobs available to you at your current level of expertise?"

Irae toyed with the Idea of accessing the Journeyman and master level job offers but discarded the thought. He didn't need that much cash and the Arch-principle was still itching for an excuse to tan his hide.

"Yes. Sort jobs by order of difficulty rated, descending."
"Affirmative." Came the response.
The sound of a old-style film reel projector clicking into life accompanied a cone of light that stopped halfway through the hall as though it had hit an invisible screen.

A flickering picture formed of a Lake, apparently situated in a mountain valley. The towering peaks of grey stone jutted out against the purple pastel sky and at their base were swaths of tall golden grass, waving in an invisible breeze.
"This is Inparel'ndir. A settlement is under attack and is offering seventy and a half credits to anyone that offers aide.
The assailant is a three headed snake (Jumbo)-" It actually spoke the brackets "- which appears to be immune to small arms and conventional weapons. It is likely that the creature in question is using a simulacrum or illusion as by all accounts, physical attacks appear to have little or no effect.
This mission's payment has landed it in the Apprentice category. The snake, most likely an illusion, should be dispelled with relative ease.... However despite this, there is the danger of actual combat, meaning that it is rated as a High Risk mission."
Irae looked through the list.
They all sucked. But that's what you get at the apprentice level.
He scrolled back up and selected the first one. Payment sucked. Mission did not involve playing doctor, wild goose chases, lost objects or pest control.
He cleared his throat. "Please. Clock-on, clock me for the Inparel'ndir assignment." "Affirmative be acknowledged, there is already another operative on this assignment. Continue?"
The contract brief had said a flat fee. He'd just beat up the creature and come back.
"Yes."
"Please dial time." The Clock on had a number selector on the front, like the dialling tool for really old phones. Fool-proof. Irae quickly spun the wheel and gave himself three days and set the emergency snap-back at one week.
"Confirm?" He asked the machine. "Confirmed. Please pull level. Thank you for using the Time-ticker work exchange multi-dimensional network."
Irae stood on tip-toe and grabbed the top of the heavy leaver, yanking it down and rewarded with a rich "Ca-chunk" from within the Clock-On.
The picture hovering above him disappeared, as did the clicking.
The glass sections of the clock face around him began to twist and turn. The sound of chimes filled the air, mingling with the soft swish and click of gears turning in unison.
The machine Ticked.
Irae disappeared.

Irae reappeared in the same place immediately.


Tape two: Enter Tak.

This is what happened in between:

Irae materialised six feet above the ground and about thirty centimetres from the edge of a cliff.
He checked his Staff-card. Numbers were ticking down on its surface. He'd be snapped back when they reached zero, unless he hit the extend button. Then he'd have a whole extra week to wait before he'd end up back at the academy... and by inference have to stay here.

Note to self. Don't hit button.

Irae pocketed the card in his inside jacket pocket and looked round, surveying his surroundings.
"What the?"
Briefly, he wondered if he'd landed in the right spot. But he knew he had; the damn contract must have been wrong.
He could see the settlement, but it was no village, it was an entire damn city, surrounded on all sides by smooth walls, it looked like it had been carved from a mountain or massive monolith that had once dominated the plains around it. Now golden grass licked at the edges of the wall, covering the lower half.
Irae blinked as perspective snapped into place. The grass was Huge, fully ten or twelve meters high....
Suddenly, he felt a lot more certain that this place might have a serious snake problem.
He was also sure that it was going to be one Hell of a lot more fun.
Grinning, he fished around in his left coat pocket and pulled out his bandoleer from it; ignoring the fact that the belt, laden with pockets, phials and containers secured by leather loops and other such arcane equipment was fully a dozen times longer than the space it was stored in.
He buckled it diagonally across his chest and took a phial from its spot, flicking the lid open with his thumb and shaking out a small Pill.
"I'd better get hopping." Irae chucked, swallowing the pill and returning the container to its place.

In minutes he was bounding across the plains to the city, eating up the distance with consecutive horizontal leaps. The city approached fast, but then something caught his eye.
A large section of the giant grass he was bounding across the top of was moving against the wind.
The disturbance would intercept him.
Irae watched horrified as a sparkling green head rose up from the grass and opened wide, Diamond fangs glinting in the setting sun.
It was as wide and as broad as an SUV.

"Oh Bugger!" Irae managed as he headed on an intercept course with the thousand carat smile.

"Tak-kalet!" A shout emanated from his left. The snake turned as a person, outlined against the orb of the setting sun, leapt directly at it. It was his opposite number, and they were attacking the snake head on.
The agent punched downwards as they passed over the top of the snakes flat head, bladelike contrivances attached to their hands sending a wave of incandescent sparks and the deafening screech of metal on crystal out across the plains.
The snake shook it's head, trying to dislodge the attacker. Irae landed atop a grass stalk and hesitated.

"Run. Get to the City! The other heads are waking up!" Yelled his apparent rescuer as they were shaken about by the snake's wild motion.
Irae didn't question them. They seemed to know what they were doing.

That and he could see the grass around the snake shaking violently.

In under a minute he'd reached the walls. They towered above him. He bunched himself up and jumped.

He cleared the wall by a good three meters and landed in a crouch on the battlements that surrounded it.
His rescuer had disengaged from the snake, and now was fleeing toward the city. The snake followed underneath the grass, rapidly gaining. The disturbance split to surround her. Irae went to yell, but whoever it was seemed to be expecting the attack.

When the heads rose up, mouths wide, tongues flickering as they tasted the air, the operative spun round, slicing the plants and sending the oversized grass-head's flying into the Maws of the snake, which having swallowed them, began to retch violently.

The person took the opportunity to scale the walls, in much the same manner that Irae had.
They landed next to him. They were about half a foot taller than Irae. Their face was covered by a long hood and the rest of their figure wore an assortment of well worn and mismatched Armour plates, buckles, belts and hard black shoulder on one side was crowned with a large steel epaulette and their hands twisted, causing the duel blades protruding from each to retract.

"Sup, squirt. Gonna thank me for the help?". "Uh..." Irae was surprised.
The person pushed their hood back, revealing their elbow length blond hair and freckled features.
"Just gonna stare or what? Snake got'cha tongue? Man. You must'a bit off more than you could chew to take this job." The accent was so heavy that it bludgeoned Irae over the head and stunned him into silence.
Irae shook himself. "Thank-you for the assistance. I Can assure you that despite my appearance, I can handle myself well enough."
The girl put one hand on her hip and shifted her weight, letting the other arm hang free.
"Really." She said dryly "Well, Howdy. Name's Tak. I do supernatural pest control."
"Irae, professor, teacher of home Economics at Anchrentor." The girl's face lit up as she heard that and she shook his hand vigorously.
"Mighty coincidence, but you're just what I need. I've been trying to get into the CAS but they're full up. Got no post code and all, so, if you don't mind, could you take my application to Anchrentor."
"Not my department." Her face fell. "But." He continued and inwardly smiled when her features immediately perked back up. "I happen to be a supervisor of one of the boarding houses at Anchrentor.
It's mostly empty. I could probably put this through in three or four days. If you hang around for that time, then I'm sure you'll get in.... How old are you."
"Mighty ru-" "I meant would you be in high-school? University?" Before Tak could reply, someone approached from behind.
"Good Afternoon!" The man said. Loudly. Irae turned and saw a Short, Portly man dressed up in red and gold. "I am the Mayor, and I'm glad we've got not just one but two, two! Master level operatives for such a difficult task. The fee was high, but it was worth it to attract such... Talent." He seemed to blink and focus on the both of them.
"Boyo, the fee we're lead to believe was Seventy and a half Credits."
The mayor waved his hands. "No no no, that can't be right!"
Irae nodded. "It was rated as an apprentice level task because of it."
The mayor looked panicked "It was seven hundred and five thousand to kill that Triceborus Rock Viper!"
Tak and Irae Exchanged glances.
"If it's of any help." Tak said "I've been doing this all mah life. I just never took the intermediate trial."
Irae raised his eyebrows and threw his two cents in. "I have three degrees, two masters and a doctorate. I am also somewhat above the norm."
It was Tak's turn to raise her eyebrows. "Busy life little man." "You could say that."
Tak looked at the mayor. "It would be a mighty help if you could tell us exactly what you've tried to kill this beast?".
The Portly man shrugged and said simply "Everything."


Time Ticker Tape 3: Everything.
Irae's eyes narrowed. "Have you fired a Supernova anti-photon emission missile at it?"
The portly man looked confused "No?" "Then that isn't everything is it? So how about you tell us what you have tried?"
Tak nodded "What he said." She reaffirmed.
The discussion with the portly man went for quite some time and the sun had just slipped beyond the edge of the horizon when the mayor had to leave and make arrangements.
Out on the battlements, Tak and Irae sat and Watched, feet dangling over the edge as the golden grass became edged with silver in the light of the rising moon.
"I like purple sky's." Tak commented drawing up one knee and hugging it to her chest.
"It's a good colour." agreed Irae after a long pause.
"You know, you're really cute, Irae. Everyone must love you as a teacher."
"Not really, I... hang on. Cute?" Irae raised his eyebrow.
"Well yeah! You're so small and serious, matching bla..." she saw his expression and stopped short.
"That's not the problem." Irae slid back his sleeve and revealed an iridescent silver bracelet.
"What's that?" Tak poked it, as you do when trying to find out the nature of something.
"Jewelry that's supposed to keep anyone, from thinking of me as cute; only way I've survived as a teacher." Irae could see the disbelief in her smile and tried to justify himself. "Seriously, I grew up in the female dorm in an international girls school; when they get bored it's only a matter of time before someone goes "Let's dress up Irae!" and my entire day is sent hurtling on a rollercoaster to hell. Pink Shirt and strawberry short shorts. Never Ever. Ever. Again.... I almost wiped my own memory. Again."
Irae shuddered at the recollection.
Tak laughed herself silly, It was infectious and Irae began to chuckle along.
Wiping a tear of mirth away from her freckled cheek, Tak shrugged, causing her shoulder armour to clank. "Most types of mind magic and suchlike ain't no good with me. I think I just have a mighty thick skull y'know?" She laughed a little and then her expression turned a little morose.
"Wish I had a cute lil' brother like you." She ruffled Irae's hair reflectively and looked into his eyes.
The Moon was rising higher, but it was so large that it still touched the bottom of the horizon. From within the town, there came the sounds of... nothing really. Silence reigned.

"Wanna go kill that Giant snake?" Tak asked. Irae nodded.
Sliding off the wall they hit the grass stalks, causing them to bend until they nearly touched the ground.

Boy and girl hopped off their stalks and landed lightly on the dusty earth.
It was dark below the stalks, the light of the gigantic silver dish moon freckling the ground and creating shadows which danced and as the tall grass swayed in the light breeze.

They Ran.
"Tak?" "What up tiny man?" Neither seemed at all puffed from the pace they were maintaining.
"I know some real reptilian snakes are nocturnal.... but uh, riddle me this. What exactly does a silicone snake see in eating us? And secondly, will it be asleep now?" Irae narrowly slid through the gap in a dense thicket of grass-stalks.
Behind him the shadows blinked.
" I don't know. I'm pretty sure she'll be more sluggish without heat, if she's anything like a normal snake or reptile then our best bet should be to track it to its den and attack in the early hours of the morning."
Irae looked at Tak, surprised at the total switch from accented pre-teen, to professional assessment.
"I guess it all depends on if that thing actually sleeps or not. I can't believe it's made of gems entirely; it must be just the hide and the teeth." She shrugged.
Irae stopped "What if it was?" "Huh?"
"What if that thing really was purely mineral. What then?" Irae looked serious.
"Then it would totally rock!" Tak giggled and Irae rolled his eyes, while inwardly clentching his muscles to keep his face serious.
"Sorry, couldn't pass that one up."
Irae inhaled to calm himself "What if the danm thing is just crystal like the outside?"
"Theyn I'd hafta say, we'd be in a pretty pickle by trying to hunt it at night on the ground. Why ah'd think it would be active all the time... Why're you lookin' at me like that?" Tak had barely finished speaking when the expression on Irae's face registered.
"The durn thing's right bi-hand me isn't it?"

Irae nodded, reaching behind his back slowly. Tak jumped sideways. The snake head, lunged.
"Gamma Guan Glacies! Haec Hasta heilo!" The word's split the air.

Tak hit the ground and rolled three times, expecting at any moment to feel the crushing jaws of the Rock-Viper around her torso. But there was nothing.

On the last roll she flipped onto her feet from her back, the action causing her stomach muscles to burn in protest.
She saw the head that had been about to attack her. It wasn't moving and the reason was obvious; it's jaws and in fact the entire head had been pinned to the ground by a frozen spear of ice. It thrashed, trying to dislodge itself from the earth.
Irae balanced on one foot atop the spear, his head shuttling left and right.
Why was he doing that?..... There was a hiss from behind her. Oh. Yeah. Them other two. Oh Durn!
Tak somersaulted backwards, drawing two long knives from behind her back.
She landed on the snake's nose and thrust backwards with both blades. They hit the snake's eyes... and shattered, jarring her hand's. Twisting, Tak looked at the broken stubs of blade, horrified.
She'd left deep scratches on the surface of the glowing red eye's though, and the Rock Viper was extremely displeased.
It let out a shriek that could only be paralleled by the Olympic synchronised blackboard-scraping teams of several nations performing in unison.

Tak was briefly stunned, the noise passing straight through her, disrupting her senses and leaving her blind and disorientated; unable to stop what happened next.
The snake opened wide and swallowed her whole. The razor edged fangs sliced through her outfit like it was made from rice-paper, gouging a deep scratch on her arm.
Paralysis began to claim the left side of her body. Desperately, she punched with all her might, jamming her blades deep into the hard stuff of the snakes throat and lodging herself in-place.
"Ah, guess, Ah need some help." She breathed, hanging limply from one arm as numbness spread through her body. Presently, Tak sighed, disappearing into unconsciousness.

She awoke to a shrill voice "No No NO! Bad Cearbokus. She's not one of them! Besides, she's blonde. I hate them." HISSSsssss "You should have thought of that before you stole her. Nothing for it, you'll just have to swallow your mistakes."

Tak opened her eyes. Her captors had quite sensibly bound her up on a table with metal clamps around her wrist and ankles. Rather than indicate she was awake, she attempted to free her hand. However the moment that she touched, she let out an involuntary gasp as an intense shock pulsed through her body. The rings were electrified.
"You're awake." The table suddenly swung onto a diagonal slant. Tak found that there were blocks inserted in the table so that her feet could support her weight without touching the electrified clamps.

"I really hate people who look like you do." A sinister figure slowly sashayed into view "Eye-candy, but nothing solid in that skull of yours to back it up." The woman walked into the circle of light around the table.
Glittering green dress that flowed over the shapely figure like liquid emerald, slender hands, laden with rings and bracelets and a face with sharp features; whitened with red lip gloss standing out against the deathly pallor.
" I am remora." The statement was barely out of her mouth when a rather familiar voice interrupted her. "Thank-you! I've been waiting freaking four and a half hours for that!"
"What the hell! Who are you?" Both Remora and Tak were stunned as Irae dropped in from the roof.
"Nearly two days , first tailing that snake to this pathetic excuse for a lair and now waiting for you to actually tell me who you are so I can kill you legitimately." Irae reached behind his back and swiftly drew his maginum, phials of elemental extract glittering in six colours and an iridescent wide-bore barrel.
Remora threw up her hands "Wait, I have done nothing illegal!"
Irae inhaled deeply and coughed. In that instant Remora's shifted into a fighting stance, her dress flowing around her.
"Oh. Durn." Tak muttered "Irae, She's a shaper!"
"I know already, listen I don't need you to tell me what's going on, I've been awake longer!"
"Hun, why the hell am I still captive then?"
"What do you want me to do ask the lady nicely for the key?" "Can't you shoot these things off?"
"Only if you want to lose your hand."
Remora tutted mournfully "I think you've forgotten that I'm still here."

Irae spun round and shot a single needle thin spine of ice directly at her forehead. The substance of what used to be her dress flowed up and blocked it.
"Emeralds. They always want to please you know." Remora grinned and clenched her palm. A stream of glittering green flowed down to form an emerald glove.
"Now kindly piss off and take the girl with you." Remora yelled.
"huh?" both Irae and Tak were perplexed. "You heard me! Scram!" Remora's glove sprouted viciously curved talons. "Be glad I'm not reporting the both of you!"
"Hang on." Irae waved his free hand "We're the agents. You're the one controlling the snake-" "Crystal Singer, It's my personal discipline."
Irae waved this aside "And so why are you letting us go? Moreover, we're both meant to take you out for threatening that city over yonder."
"He has ah point!" Tak said from the table.
"Hang on, they hired you?"

"Yes!" "Where'd they get the cash? You see I'm acting on behalf of universal financial co."
"Wait, those are loan sharks.... and you're-" Irae made the connection and tak began to snigger as he was cut off by Remora.
"Don't Say It! Moving on, my clients have employed me to get the city off the defaulters."
".... Huh?" "Flat pack town, a mobile home with only about twelve people living there. Well eight now. A very, very expensive mobile home. Unfortunately for me, to confront all the people there might damage the property, a no-no. So I'm picking them off one by one and keeping them here until I have all of them or the idiots back in the city agree to my terms."
Irae looked between Tak and Remora. "Those.... Blaggarts! They aren't going to pay us full rate at all."
Tak raised an eyebrow "How do you know she's even telling the truth?"
"I can smell it, even under all that crappy makeup." Irae's words had a dramatic effect on Remora.
"Crappy? Crappy! I'll show you crappy you little regurgitated piece of!" Remoras rage distorted her words.
Irae coolly spun the barrel of his Hexigun "Terra Arial Albricans!" He yelled firing at the earth directly beneath Remoras feet.
A storm of broken stone lightning emerged from the ground beneath her feet and enveloped her bodily.
"Well, that takes care of..." Irae's eye twitched as a long, thin, razor sharp blade of glittering green shot out of the hurricane, puncturing the cartilage of his left ear.
"Lux Li Zas" Irae fired back at the source of the blade, merely causing a second spine to shoot out of the whirlwind.
Irae dodged sideways, tearing his ear and rolling into a crouch. "Uh... ticking?" Irae looked round and then realised that it was his staff card that was ticking down, to his first recall point.
Irae leaped sideways, avoiding a fatal blow from the entity within the stone lightning whirlwind.
Scrambling, he dodged a series of attacks until he finally reached Tak at the table.
"No Idea if this will work, I hope it will!" Irae hugged Tak.
"What the hell Irae?" Tak was surprised, concerned, elated and exasperated.
"I'm Ticking down. You wanna stay here? With Her?" Irae's words came as behind him and in full view of Tak, the whirlwind exploded outwards to reveal Remora; Long, jagged emerald blades covering her hands, as though she was channelling a praying mantis.
She ran and leapt at the pair. Irae ticked down. White noise filled the air, once, twice and then-
Tak and Irae disappeared. Remora, unable to overcome her surprise in time to completely change the direction of her leap, hit the table.
The now empty restraints, were still electrified. She slithered to the ground, smoking gently.
"Revenge... Pshaw... Screw that. I'm going to stick to finance." She muttered, lifting up her head a little before passing out on the floor.

Irae reappeared. He looked round wildly. "Tak? Where the hell are youuu-" Tak appeared above Irae and landed on him, knocking the breath out of him.
"Ow." Irae commented as they picked themselves up. "Where are we?" "Back at Anchrentor. I figured if this thing does clothes and weapons it would probably transfer other things too, as long as me and my staff-card were in contact with them."
Tak put her hands on her hips "Hang on, I'm a thing now?"
Irae opened his mouth and closed it silently.
"Secondly, what the hell! You left me lying there, on the table, unable to fight."
"You might have gotten hurt." Irae said primly.
"Little-man, If you haven't forgotten, I saved you from being snake chow the first time."
"Your point is taken but-" "-no buts, thirdly, what the hell was with you hugging me at the end?"
Irae shrugged "I wanted to make sure you wouldn't get left behind, and I wasn't going to risk electrocution by holding your hand."
Tak rolled her eyes "Lastly, why the heck you do keep sayin' thing's before you shoot. Doesn't make a lick of sense."
"My gun is voice activated. I need to tell it how to mix and match whatever element combos I want."
Irae's answer was apparently adequate for Tak, because she didn't question him further.
Instead she told him "Thank-you for offering me a place to stay."
Irae's brow crinkled as he searched though his memories. When did I do that again? Oh, yeah... Didn't actually think she'd bother to take me up on it.
"So where am I staying? Don't tell me you forgot about it!" Tak's hand's flexed. After several flexes, nothing had happened and she twigged.
"Oh bugger. Ah need new blades... unless." Tak twisted her left hand, fist closed. A red and black short-sword shot out of her sleeve in line with her fist.
Irae was unworried "I have a gun. Gun beats sword. You can't threaten me."
Tak grinned "A. Ahm sure you're the type of person who can't hit a girl." "Uh... ten second ago!"
Taks grin faded a little "Secondly, when did you reload that gun of yours? Don't reach for it, or I'll be on you faster than-"
Irae reached for the Hexigun, while pulling a fresh set of phials from his bandoleer. Tak hit him, knees first, in the chest, pinning him to the ground. Below Irae, the clock ticked away silently.
Above Irae, Tak's blond hair hang down in his face. Irae, Tak's sword was half a centimetre from his throat. She took his gun with one hand and threw it aside before also knocking aside the reload in his other hand.
For a minute there was silence, as tried to think of the worst non-lethal thing she could inflict on a boy his age.

She had an inspired Idea.
"This is for rescuing me." She kissed him lightly and stood up. Irae immediately scrambled back, wiping his lips and coughing.
"That was low!" he growled, with all the menace of a boy whose dignity has just been shattered.
Tak had to laugh "Your ear is torn, you're bruised and nearly got fatally stabbed by tacky attacks and yet you can't stand a little kiss. Ah–ahahaha!" Tak laughed and eventually Irae joined in with her. At least until he felt wetness on his shoulder.
"Danm, I'm bleeding on my clothes! It's ruining my suit...." he fumbled for a handkerchief while trying to remove his jacket and shirt so he'd stop bleeding on them.
"Irae, we need to get your priorities in order."
"They are in order. In order of what's replaceable! Ear's come and go, but a good suit is hard to come by."
"That's just... Never-mind."


That was the first of the Time Ticker tales. Non-plot advancing fun filled filler to be written concurrently in line with the actual story.
Check it out some time. Plus a super extra fun happy deleted scene follows! Hooray!
Enthusiasm depleted. Require Review recharging.


"Good evening, I'm Remora and I'll be your captor for today."
Tak looked puzzled. "You're a thing which latches onto sharks?"
The woman swept up to Tak and backhanded her. Her jewellery left red marks on her cheek.
"Idiot. This is why I hate your type. I'm running a skull-sweat shop and what do I get delivered by my pet? An idiot with an IQ of three. That's the meaning of idiot you know; a technical term for the lowest level of IQ possible."
"Skull-sweat shop? You... You're harvesting intellectual property! That's Illegal!"
The woman grinned. "Exactly and once I have enough, me and mister Toothy are-"
Tak interrupted "Mister Toothy? The snake... the three headed snake."
Remora looked at her violently "Did I ask you to speak?"
"No. But illegal patenting devalues the currency. You're killing the credit!"
Remora shrugged "Like I care. I'll have so much credit by the end of this I'll be swimming in it." Hisss "We Will have so much credit.... Actually I don't think Cearbokus would be able to swim in it." She looked at the head which occupied the tunnel behind her critically.
"I don't think that it would matter anyway... because credit is only recorded on your card accounts."
Remora frowned at Tak "Did I ask you to speak?" "No. But you never said not to. What do you see in your cuddly crystal snake anyway?"
Remora looked over at the glittering viper-head. "Open wide dear." The snake did so.
"Take a look at these fangs! Aren't they magnificent?" "Uh...." "You should know dearie, Diamonds are a girl's best friend.... And now you should be happy that you'll have such a classy death. Swallowed by a jewelled giant snake; I can't think of a more opulent way to go."
Standing aside she let the snake-head Extend into the room.
"Then why don't you go first. Be my guest. I can wait." Tak spoke a quaver entering her voice as glittering death approached. The situation, such as it was, looked both grim and tacky. The worst of both worlds. She looked around for some appropriate final words.
"I... I was supposed to die on mars..... I've never even been to mars." The snake, with an appropriate sense of timing, slowed down. "...I haven't done anything. Haven't been to school, haven't won anything, haven't got any friends... I haven even kis-"

Tak was interrupted as the ceiling exploded downwards, an oversized spire of stone impaling the gigantic crystalline head of the viper and pinning it to the floor.
"Hah. I thought so!" Yelled a familiar voice " Surprise attacks break the illusion!"
Irae landed on the floor, moonlight spilling from the hole left by his unscheduled entry.
Remora's jaw hung limply "What the hell are you talking about?"
Irae looked at the woman "The snake? It's only a first rate illusion.... Right?"
"No. He's real." "oh. Well.... Dang. Sorry; I spiked it- I guess I hit a weak spot....." Irae looked round "Hey. Didn't you get eaten?"
This... is the WORST rescue ever. Tak thought, hanging her head in Exasperation.
"Yes. I did." Tak said, a trifle annoyed at Irae's apparent inability to grasp the obvious.
"Oh. So this person behind me is the one currently devaluing the credit by flooding the net's with massed produced inspiration and currently using this snake to kidnap people for her idea sweatshop?"
Tak scowled. "Yes." Irae turned round. "I guess I should attack her then."

Remora was standing directly behind him. As Irae turned round the woman grabbed his arm and put a hand on his sternum. "Die!" Irae beamed at her "Okay!".
The world paused.
Remora looked at Tak "He's even more empty headed than you are. Uh-?"
Irae was muttering something. Remora leaned closer.
"Three. Two. One." Remora's eyes widened. "Zero. Boom!"
The boy exploded. Remora examined the remains that now coated every nearby surface, including herself. "Simulacrum Soufflé? This is cookery!" She growled. "A simulacrum and a strong one at that."
Tak looked up, having been almost depressed by the absolute failure of Irae "That was strong?"
"Improvised simulacrums rarely retain even a tenth of the originals ability, intelligence or even appearance. Most can't even speak without sounding like simpletons." Remora explained and narrowed her eye's at Tak "Why am I explaining to you?" "because I'm not covered in soufflé?" "Insolence!"

Remora walked behind the table and re-emerged into view holding a rapier with a snake adorning the hilt. "I was going to let the snake eat you, but now I'm just going to cut your throat and be done with it."
Tak closed her eyes as the woman slashed downwards. There was the sound of clashing metal.
"I'm afraid I cannot allow that." A familiar voice said.
Tak opened her eye's "Irae! You took long enough!" she yelled. Looking round, she saw Irae standing in the entrance tunnel.
"How?" "He shot it from my hand while you were wimping out." Remora muttered.
"I've taken the liberty of keeping the other three heads pinned down and I've released all the prisoners."
"Th'hell you have!" Remora cocked her head to the side as though listening intensely "You have!"
Irae continued to walk forward.
"and hence because of that I'm just going to shoot you and get all this over with."
"What?" Remora managed before Irae drew his alchemy gun and pointed it at her.
"Glacies!"
Irae fired. A cone of Ice emerged from the barrel and enveloped Remora. "She's dead." He said, as though mentally ticking it off his list of things to do.
Spinning the barrel of the maginum he fired four shots in quick succession, blowing apart all the metal clamps restraining Tak.
"Tak's free. Now I just need to collect my reward and I'll be off."