Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

[Guilty Gear] Field Study, Part 2

Continued from Part 1 because LJ has a horribly restrictive character limit.

Staging a rebellion, Sin soon discovered, took a lot more care and planning than he'd thought.

He'd sat through Parent B's quick-n-dirty History 101 (quick because Dad was better at hands-on demonstrations than lectures, dirty because that course had involved a lot of mud and swearing) and Parent A's Politics and Negotiations (101 by Mom's count, 201 by Sin's because he was still convinced most problems could be resolved with the killer tactic of puppy-dog eyes).

Hence, he had a pretty good grasp on how a run-of-the-mill rebellion happened and how it tended to get out of hand really quickly because everyone involved was mad at each other. He knew considerably less about teenage rebellion, though judging from the kinds of questions in Deirdre's Advice Column, there were a couple of similarities.

Getting mad about stuff was hard, though, not least because Sin found it to be kind of a waste of time when he could be fixing things instead (especially because "fixing things" usually involved a pie at some point). Since there wasn't anything to be mad about, he couldn't even pick a purpose for his rebellion, other than to get the 'rents to dole out some good old-fashioned parental oppression.

He'd pretty much ruled out rebelling against the handful of iron commandments the 'rents did lay down, even if it went against the things the Teen Survival Guide suggested. Given the kinds of problems it dealt with, none of the writers seemed like they needed to climb out of megadeath gullets very much, and Sin liked being not in pain and people being not dead entirely too much to do something as dumb as, say, whipping off his limiter in front of a crowd of terrified peasants.

Just because he was rebelling didn't mean he had to be stupid about it.

That left him with trying to find something that could shock and scandalize the 'rents without summoning mortal peril to their more-often-than-not metaphorical front step – a formidable task indeed, given that Dad was Dad and Mom had been putting up with Dad for something like twelve years running. Perhaps he needed to think smaller. For a start, every rebellion needed a motto, and a flag on which to paint said motto, even if it was a rebellion of no specific purpose.

His mind made up, Sin spread out his flag on the ground and went about locating his set of glitter fabric markers, courtesy of Uncle Axl's mad future-past skills.

Once he got the basics of the business down, the ideas were sure to come flooding in.

"The Rebellion of… No Specific Purpose."

"Yup!" Sin beamed, waving the flag to show off his noble cause in all its sparkling, technicolor glory.

Parent A had paused in checking the supplies for the upcoming job and was squinting at him in what Sin chose to think of as disbelief, but which was actually closer to mild bafflement.

"Really? That's the part that gets you?" Parent B said, pointedly not looking at Sin as he marched into the other room to retrieve his sword.

"It's the only part I could safely look at," Parent A shot back, squinting against a burst of brightness when the morning sun chose to lend a hand with the special effects.

Entirely too pleased with himself, Sin did a little twirl, causing the walls of the inn to light up in a kaleidoscope of colors as every rhinestone, metal stud and sequin got its moment in the limelight.

"Whatever it is you're doing, stop it," Parent B's voice came floating through the closed door. "I swear I can fucking hear you through the wall."

"Sparkling doesn't make a noise," Parent A pointed out reasonably, though Sin noticed with no small amount of delight that a frown was beginning to edge onto his face.

All those days and nights he'd spent hunting down the raw materials and pricking his fingers were finally starting to pay off. It was killing two birds with one stone, even – he'd been dying to recreate some of those inspiring outfits from the magazine, and the Teen Survival Guide had been pretty clear that a new and individualized wardrobe was a surefire way to offend his elders. The 'rents, who were all about practicality and not calling out your attacks and not doing triple backflips unless absolutely necessary (read: never), were sure not to take this disruption of their austerity quietly.

"Well, I was gonna add some more hoops but I figured they'd kinda drag down the whole design," Sin admitted, tugging at the lapels of his new jacket to make the fringes swoosh and sway. The stuffed shoulders were a little bit uncomfortable for moving around, and the weird, shiny pre-war fabric was quite stiff, but he was sure to get the hang of it soon.

"Are you, uh, sure you want to keep wearing that?" Parent A asked, and Sin somewhat generously chose to interpret his doubtful tone as the first step to being properly horrified.


"I meant in battle."


"…Alright, then."

"No, not alright," the door said before Sin had time to deflate. "We're talking acid wash here. That is never alright."

"Oh? Are you shocked?" Sin asked, perking up at the possibility of invoking the ire of the infinitely less patient Parent B.

The door seemed to consider this. "…It's you. So, no, not really."



"Ready to ground me and confiscate my phone and take away my Nintendo?" Sin asked hopefully, because if there was one thing Parent B could be counted on, it was head-thumps for all situations.

The door opened again to reveal Parent B's thunderous scowl, though it was less the one that promised grievous bodily harm and more the one that signaled an oncoming migraine. "Do you even know what any of that is."

"Uh, punishment?" Sin said, though he was just guessing at this point. Judging from the teens writing to Deirdre, phones and Nintendos were just one step below vital organs in importance, so taking them away basically meant throwing a fish on dry land, leaving teens to listlessly flop around their bedrooms.

"Right." Parent B seemed to relax a little.


"Considering it."

"Sol, you can't punish him for… this. Whatever this is," Parent A said, completely failing to understand that such things were part of his promise to be supportive. His frown deepened as he stared at the collection of straps and multicolored strings that were holding Sin's pants together. "I mean, how do you even put this on?"

"Stop encouraging him."

"I'm not encouraging him, I'm just saying we should assess the extent of the– "

"Damage?" Sin volunteered, grinning.

"Not what I was going to say, but yes," Parent A said, slipping past Parent B with one of those indecipherable looks. "If I'm right, by the time this job is over, this will have worked itself out."

The job should have been simple enough. Small town, Gear plague, lots of terrified farmers and their pretty daughters who needed someone to save their crops. It was one of those assignments that didn't even need all three of them, except it was quicker that way and apparently one of Mom's associates wanted to talk to them. Sin wasn't entirely sure what had tipped the 'rents off to this secret message, whether it was the "help" part or the "Gears" part, but who was he to complain about action?


Part of Sin found the time to be impressed with this expansion of his own vocal range, while the rest of him, primarily his lower half, most decidedly was not.

"Hey! Stupid! That's not– OW!"

The Megadeath eyed him placidly, before deciding that the best course of action was to ignore its noisy superior-in-every-way-except-not-currently prey and continue dragging him through the dust by the hem of his pants.

"Hey! It's not like I– mind having– legs or anything! Let go!"

Sin managed to get the lacings on one of his pant legs unstuck from the Gear's front teeth and did his best to deliver a kick to its jaw. The lightning spell fizzled out against its thick hide, but getting a boot stuck up its nostril at least made it grunt in surprise.

"Alright, buddy, you asked for it! I'm not gonna pull my punches– HEY!!!"

With a weak cracking sound, the see-through belt with the sparkling buckle started to give, readying his pants for their inevitable descent into a smelly Gear maw. Sin dearly would have liked to make good on his threat, except the shiny pre-war fabric had gotten thoroughly soaked with sweat and spit during the fight and had shrunk enough to cut off the circulation to his arms. He couldn't even get his elbows to bend enough to reach for the stupid eyepatch and go to town.

Maybe it was time to resort to drastic measures.

"...Mom? Dad? Help?"

Unbeknownst to Sin, help had finished steering the rest of the herd away from the delicious temptation of the wheat fields and was now camped out a safe distance away, watching the proceedings from the shade of a tree with an air of barely contained mirth.

After a few minutes of watching his son flail around in a graceless heap, Sol shot Ky a sidelong glance. "So this is what you meant when you said it's gonna work itself out."

"My thinking was more along the lines of him getting tangled in the underbrush with those ridiculous straps, but yes, this works, too."

In the plain, a particularly ill-conceived RTL caused Sin to light up like a Christmas tree. The Gear staggered briefly, squinted, and went back to attacking the pants with renewed vigor.

"…Mom? Dad? A little help here?"

Shaking his head to get rid of the sudden whining noise in his ear, Sol snorted. "Heh. Even nature wants the eighties to stay dead."

"Wait a moment," Ky said, tilting his head the way he always did when he was gauging Sol's sincerity on the subject of ages past. "You mean, that was a thing? People really used to wear stuff like that once upon a time?"


"Of their own free will?"

"God, yes."

"Even you?"


Before Ky could press for further details, a distinctly more pleading "Mom? Dad? …Guys?" came floating towards them.

In the plain, the Gear had managed to snap most of the plastic belts in an effort that was starting to look less and less like an angry mauling of an eye-searing pair of pants, and more like a surgical procedure.

"Think we should go help him?" Ky asked, pity starting to win out over his amusement.

"Nah. Doesn't look like it's hurting much except the brat's pride."

"…Actually, what is it doing?"

Sol shrugged. "Beats me, but I like it."

There was the long, drawn-out sound of fabric tearing at the seams before the Gear threw its head in the air with a triumphant bellow, and carried the glittering atrocity off in its jaws. A short while later, Sin came stumbling towards them, newly pantsless and pouting.

"You guys suck. You guys suck so hard."

He struggled with his jacket, every single fringe of which was now dripping in Gear saliva, and gave up when he realized that trying to peel it off his arms to preserve the sad remnants of his dignity might mean he'd have to peel it off his waist later.

"Consider it a lesson," Ky said. "Apparently that type reacts to... visual stimuli."

"That's one way to put it," Sol said, jerking his chin in the direction of the Gear, which was now wading back to its herd on the other side of the river.

As they watched, a smaller, less aggressively colored Gear broke away from the group and trotted up to meet the pants thief, who bowed his head and offered up the tattered, soaked mess of rhinestones for inspection.

"Is that…?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I think it is."

On the riverbank, the pants thief was now getting the muzzle-licking of his life, his tail twitching back and forth in profound satisfaction.

"Oh man," Sin groaned, leaning on his flagpole. "Well… I guess it's not all bad. My pants got a guy a date."

A few weeks later found Sin in a state of profound despondency.

Granted, maintaining that state of despondency was a bit difficult for someone with such a sunny disposition, but Sin was nothing if not determined to communicate his distress. Since the 'rents didn't seem to think much of the fact that their son had taken to slumping over and staring listlessly into space, Sin figured he was now allowed to consider himself both misunderstood and neglected (though it was hard to really wring a decently dramatic diary entry from it).

Still, the situation was more than a little frustrating. Thanks to the 'rents' lack of support, he was no closer to understanding what it was like to be normal, and what was worse, he was running out of ideas.

After the resounding failure that had been his new wardrobe, he'd tried giving himself an offensive haircut. It had seemed like a brilliant plan right until he remembered that half of his parentage had command over the ur-mullet and the other half had stories about people whose hair could double as a stabbing weapon, and by then, he was stuck headfirst in a bucket of glitter, glue, wall paint and immense regret.

Then he'd tested out the thing that was called "being bad at school" to even more disastrous results. It was going fine at first – he'd gotten pretty good at the apathetic stare, he'd fine-tuned his selective hearing, and he was enjoying an awesome daydream (the one with the giant octopus that turned into takoyaki for life). Then he went to bed and discovered that his brain was a filthy, filthy traitor who didn't appreciate being deprived of knowledge one bit. After three utterly sleepless nights filled with word-for-word replays of every parental lesson he'd ever received, Sin figured that being genetically unable not to pay attention was punishment enough.

Finally, he'd tried dating. Dating, he'd read, was one of the biggest sources of parent-teen disputes and it involved hanging out with girls besides, which was never not awesome. (It should be noted, in the interest of full disclosure, that Sin thought helping to carry a girl's shopping bags qualified as dating, and would soon be very surprised to learn that it didn't).

When he'd broken the news to the 'rents, there'd been a minute of dead silence, which had foolishly given Sin hope.

Then Parent A had said "Oh," in the tone of someone who'd received an unexpected invitation to dinner, and Parent B had ground out something along the lines of "Isn't that swell," which still sounded promising. Instead of doling out swift, merciless and above all utterly normal punishment, the 'rents shared yet another one of those long, annoyingly meaningful looks.

"Is this supposed to happen?"

"You're asking me."

"It just seems rather early, that's all. Well. Perhaps we should do something about it, then."

"Yeah, uh, like ground me?" Sin suggested, only to be entirely ignored.

Parent B’s expression was approaching that of an affronted whale shark. "You do something. I'm not gonna tell him how to make more of himself."

"As you're so fond of pointing out, I was raised in a Catholic army," Parent A said, examining his nails. "I'm sure your worldly ways make you much better suited to handling this."

"You're a vindictive little bastard, you know that?"

"I'm quite certain of my parentage, thank you."

Perhaps the sly undertone should have tipped Sin off that Something Very Bad was about to happen, but since Parent B was still looking properly steamed and stomping towards the Den of Pestilence, Chaos and Mad, Bad Science, he'd followed eagerly to receive what was shaping up to be a spectacular tongue-lashing.

It had taken him the better part of the day to stop screaming.

With a groan, Sin buried his head between his knees in the vain hope of blocking out the memories of various detailed anatomical models and the utterly bizarre things they could be used for.

Although the systematic destruction of his innocence was a terribly effective deterrent, it was more Parent B-style vengeance than anything approaching normal parental oppression. After all, normal parents were supposed to be terribly squeamish about the matter (not that Sin could blame them).

In any case, he wasn't sure he could survive another experiment gone awry, so maybe it was better to abandon his pursuit and live with the knowledge that there was one word he would never, ever understand and forever use in total ignorance.

The pop of a cosmic laundry chute put an end to his pity party.

"Whoaaa look ouuuu– ow!"

If there was one thing that could be said about Uncle Axl's time-traveling stunts, it was that they never got boring.

Sin spent a moment goggling at the sight of his enviably accurate and most definitely painful imitation of the King Pigeon Pose, before deciding that it was probably best to lend a hand.

"Ow. Ow ow, careful, ou– oh. Hey." Uncle Axl took a minute to carefully wriggle each limb and check whether his journey through the mysterious void of mystery had managed to fuse any of his body parts together. "Will you look at that, I can see my toes again. Last time I'm flying economy class, I swear. Thanks a million– oh, hey lil' buddy! Long time no see! Or short time no see. I can never tell. How's it hangin'?"

"It's hangin' in there," Sin said, or tried to, since Uncle Axl's enthusiastic hair-ruffling was dragging each vowel up and down until he sounded like one of Dad's skipping records.

"Aw, man. I'm gone for, what, two centuries, and that's my welcome?" Axl said, though his expression turned serious when Sin just shuffled his feet. "Must be some heavy stuff if it's got you moping like that, huh, lil' buddy? You having a fight with your folks or something?"

"I wish."

"Well, that's normal at your age, isn't it? You're like, what– "

Sin blinked. "You know what normal is?"

Axl stopped trying to solve the crazy math surrounding Sin's age with his fingers, and blinked back. "I… think? I mean, doesn't everyone?"

"I don't!"

"Oh. Um…"

"And Mom and Dad won't help me at all! They won't be shocked or scandalized and they especially won't ground me or yell at me or disapprove of my friends or stick me in remedial classes or–"

"Whoa, whoa, slow down, lil' buddy," Axl said, waving his hands. "You want your folks to act like control freaks? Why?"

"It's how parents are supposed to be! Normal."


"I read it in a magazine," Sin said, folding his arms and nodding sagely.


"Point is, it's not working. And it works even less when they're just doing it to humor me! I'll never figure out what it's like to be caged and oppressed and psychologically tortured–"


"You know, normal."

Axl coughed and scratched the back of his head. "Well. If that's really what you want… I kinda doubt the usual stuff's gonna work on your folks. Balls of steel, and all that. And the future doesn't have nearly enough bike tires. Hang on."

After turning a couple of pockets inside out, he produced a small, square, cherry-red device. "I was gonna prank the bossman with this, but now you can have it."

Sin tilted it, gave it a little shake, and poked at the dial in the middle. "What's it do?"

"Let me put it this way. With your idea of normality, this baby's a surefire way to experience the real deal."

It was a peaceful morning the day Sin implemented his plan.

The timing was crucial, since the combination of Kiske work ethic and Badguy everything meant there was rarely a peaceful moment to be found, much less one that would allow him to catch the 'rents by surprise.

Today, however, Lady Luck was smiling upon him.

Their current safe house seemed to be, indeed, safe (not that it bothered Sin too much when it wasn't). Parent A was engrossed in some light reading – the legal texts of ages past, because Parent A had his own ideas on what constituted "light reading" – and pretending that his lap wasn't serving as a comfortable head rest for Parent B, who in turn was pretending he wasn't using it as such.

There was a tea set on the table instead of a mountain of battle maps. There were no wary glances towards the front door and its tendency to be flung open by the panicked, the desperate or the really very murderous. There wasn't even a sword anywhere in sight, which meant they were parked at the other end of the couch, two full arm's lengths away, the furthest they ever got to being out of reach.

Nodding to himself, Sin disappeared back upstairs.

It had taken him a bit to figure out how to get the tiny, cherry-red thing to make sufficient noise, though from the way Uncle Axl had glanced around nervously when he'd helped to hook it up to the big boxes, even the lowest setting would have had the same effect.

Sin, however, was determined to go about this the normal teenage way, so he shut down the part of his brain responsible for enhanced hearing, spun the little dial, and unleashed upon the world a sound unheard in more than two-hundred years.

To appreciate the entire devilish brilliance of Sin's plan, one had to be aware that the house of Kiske-Badguy was a house of rock.

The Badguy half of it lived rock, breathed rock, was looking to replace all his red blood cells with rock, and had once, on a drunken Saturday night some centuries ago, attempted to propose to a cardboard cut-out of the embodiment of rock.

The Kiske half had a sort of distant fascination with rock for its ability to give the world moon-eyed Badguy and misty-eyed Badguy, and sometimes, when the right band was playing, downright religious Badguy. He was the only future-born person who knew what a Fender Stratocaster was and why it was the most glorious, godliest instrument on Earth, and who could name all the reasons why any band post-1990 was nothing but a couple of posers (though his deepest, darkest secret remained that he couldn't quite understand the difference between Queen and Nickelback and why it was so very, very important).

So what it came down to was one person who was tentatively used to the sound of guitar riffs and drum solos. The other felt secure in the knowledge that he was preserving the legacy of the Gods of Rock'n'Roll, and that all those lesser forms of music had thankfully, at last, been razed from the face of the planet.

It truly was the perfect stage for the sound that came hissing down the stairs like a ruinous gust of wind.


Sin had done well to remain at the top of the stairs, because Parent A went from leaning back on the couch to fully armed and combat-ready in the blink of an eye. After a few seconds, the thumping bass kicked in, gloriously amplified and familiar enough for Parent A to lower his sword and sigh.


Right on cue, Sin surfaced from behind the handrail in what he thought was a fairly apt rendition of a stage dancer. "Ye~es?"

"ICE ICE BABY~~," the singer hissed again.

"This," Parent A said flatly, not even bothering to raise his voice. "Whatever in the high heavens it is. Stop it."

"Ehh? Sorry Mom, I can't hear you!" Sin yelled back, which wasn't even that far from the truth since he was busy making up dance moves to match the thrum of the bass. "Maybe it'd help to–"

"Murders," the other side of the couch supplied. "Horrible murders."

The violently ejected Parent B resurfaced, wiping blood from his nostrils, his grip on the Fuenken slowly turning white-knuckled.

Sin wanted to clap in glee.

It had been a long time since Parent B had last found it necessary to make white-knuckled fists.

"Hey now, I'm expanding my horizons!" Two steps forward, one step back, bounce a little on the balls of both feet to match the rhythm of the rapid-fire lyrics. He was getting pretty good at this. "Who knew the past had such awesome beats? I mean, with the stuff you always listen to…"


"Yeah, no rhythm, no style. How are you supposed to dance to that?" Sin paused, grinned, and dropped the ultimate bombshell in self-expression. "Honestly, Queen is sooo passé."

The magazine had equipped him with all the knowledge necessary to bring about this moment.

It had schooled him in the day-to-day annoyances of teen-ages past and all the wonderful (if somewhat hazardous) avenues of personality development. It had informed him that normal parents had strongly averse reactions to loud parties, that they didn't appreciate having their values challenged, and that they were convinced the wrong kind of music could turn children into juvenile delinquents (whatever that was).

The magazine had not equipped him with the knowledge that a parent could make the noise that was currently clawing its way out of Parent B's throat.

It was a noise only matched by that of a liopleurodon that had been flung from the depths of its ocean home and onto dry land, howling its blind rage against the sky even as it was choking on the air.

Sin had never heard that sound in his life, not even when one of Dad's funny machines had eaten the last remaining tape copy of Sheer Heart Attack, but he knew he had maybe a nanosecond before some serious discipline was going to be coming his way.

The first fraction of that nanosecond went to glancing at Parent A, who was giving him a look usually reserved for Parent B, one that roughly translated to "You have to be fucking kidding me," along with undertones that seriously questioned the recipient's sanity.

Sin took the second fraction to enjoy the swell of pride at having earned a Dad-exclusive look, and to congratulate himself on the rousing success of his plan.

The third fraction of that nanosecond never really came to pass, because it was the moment the Fuenken burst into flames, and Sin decided to leg it like he'd never legged it before.

From a very early age, Ky Kiske had learned to treasure the little things in life.

During the war, this had meant a full four hours of sleep, dry feet, and having a convenient and fairly amoral fire user nearby who didn't mind orchestrating the disappearance of inconvenient paperwork. After the war, his understanding of the little things had broadened to include a cup of tea boiled to perfection, a good book, and a neighborhood bake sale, all three of which he was determined to enjoy to the fullest regardless of the circumstances.

Even when the circumstances were hurtling straight at his face.

Ky wet one fingertip to turn the page, glanced up, and watched some flaming shrubbery bounce off in a ripple of blue-green light.

The tea was getting just a tiny bit cool.

So were the waffles, due to the absence of a convenient and fairly amoral fire user, but he knew he couldn't have everything.

Across the clearing, his son narrowly avoided being neutered by a wooden beam, though it seemed to do little to dampen his mood. He cheered and backflipped over the remains of the kitchen counter, far too gleeful to even bother doing much of anything to keep the source of all the flying chunks of scenery away.

"Yay, I'm being oppressed!"

The kitchen counter exploded.

"Thanks so much, Dad!"

So did what was left of the staircase.

Heaving a sigh, Ky made a mental note to compose a formal apology to his First Lieutenant and tell him to deduct the repair costs from his paycheck. He hesitated for a moment, before making another mental note to ensure that the Lieutenant wouldn't be using his own.

A nervous cough drew his attention away from apologies and books to catch sight of Axl ducking out from behind a very large and sturdy-looking oak, his eyes widening as he surveyed the extent of the damage.


"Good morning," Ky said, and opened a man-shaped gap in the barrier to allow Axl entry. "Tea?"

"Uh." After a brief pause, Axl sat down in the grass, and gave a high-pitched giggle. "Wow. They're sure going at it, huh."

"I think that was the goal of the exercise," Ky said, holding up a second cup. "Milk?"

"Oh. Erm. I'm good, thanks."

If his fidgeting was anything to go by, Axl was counting his blessings to be able to say that.

"Here you go, then," Ky said, holding out the cup.

He would have liked to say that politeness was the reason he chose not to inquire after Axl's obvious guilt and what on Earth had possessed him to take part in one of Sin's schemes, but the truth was, he had waffles.

Waffles, even lukewarm ones, were infinitely more important than trying to figure out the lapses in judgment that had led to the present situation. Some things were best explained by the fact that Axl and Sin could be disconcertingly similar at times, since, as Sol liked to put it, they had the basic personality of an Irish Setter.

"Thanks." Axl shifted, relaxing slightly, and helped himself to a healthy amount of sugar. "Erm, sorry about the house. I, uh, didn't think the bossman would blow up quite like that."

"Sin is fairly good at managing that sort of thing on his own. At the rate he's been going, this was only a matter of time. I'm just glad it's not happening in a densely populated area."

"You're… pretty calm about all of this," Axl said, ducking his head when a shower of burning shingles came raining down around them.

Ky considered this, and shrugged. "They both know not to aim for the tea set."

"Um." For a moment, it looked like Axl was contemplating shifting outside of the barrier again. "You won't tell the boss, will you?"

"I– "

The ground rocked with another explosion. From the other side of the clearing, a column of smoke was rising up, along with Sin's now breathless voice. "Hey. Hey, dad? I think I get it now. The normal parent-teenager thing. You can sto–"

A tree uprooted itself, swung around in an arch, and hit something with a thud.


A flash of white made it clear that the thud had been Sin, now struggling to free himself from a raspberry patch. "Dad? Peace offering? Agreement of mutual respect and all that?"

The rest of the attempt at parley was swallowed by a roar and the bone-wrenching sound that marked the appearance of a pair of huge black wings, which in turn marked the disappearance of Sol's last intact attire.

Rolling his eyes, Ky spooned some milk into his own cup. Perhaps that was why he didn't feel the need to intervene – with so much overreaction to go around, somebody had to be the center of zen to keep the universe in balance.

Granted, insulting Sol's favorite music wasn't exactly a bright idea even by Sin's standards, who thought that subtlety and refinement were accidents that happened to other people, but still. Sol knew an obvious ruse when he saw one, and as far as Ky was concerned, the interruption hardly merited the literal and metaphorical headache of a Dragon Install.

"Ow ow ow ow! Dad?! Not by the belt hoops! Daaaaaa–ack!"

A particularly melodious yip told him Sin would be needing new pants, as well. Beside him, Axl winced in the manner of someone who knew what was happening and was wishing he didn't.

"Hey, hey, dad, you can't! That's on loan!"

Under normal circumstances, Ky was sure he wouldn't have been able to hear a clawed fist crushing a small, cherry-red piece of blacktech that might or might not have fallen through a hole in time, but for some reason, he was able to hear every circuit being ground to the consistency of moon dust.

"That's so cruel! I'm gonna tell Mom! Mom? Mooom! Dad's being too normal!"

Shaking his head, Ky turned back to Axl. "I won't say anything. There's one thing I'd like to know, though. Why that song?"

"It's kind of a long story," Axl said, glancing between him and the smoking patch of forest.

The ground shook yet again, but more faintly, since the caster was still far too intent on making his spells look cool instead of making them do anything useful. "I've got plenty of time."

"Uh, well then. It all started with the 1990s, and this little thing called Vanilla Ice…"