THE THIRDING OF THE STEVES

Collected and edited together by Steven Scougall. Co-written by Steven Scougall, Jason Heavensrun and Kenji Bashaw in about five posts.

(It is the evening after the Ranma - Blade battle comcluded. The three Steves are jogging through the late evening streets of Nerima. The tails of Steve2's aggressive headband flutter out behind him; Steve3's pitiful attempts at long hair attempt to flutter but in reality straggle behind him.)

As usual, they're bickering slightly.

Steve1: But you have to admit, Blade did have a point.

Steve2: Didn't give him any reason to try killing Ranma.

Steve1: If you hadn't noticed we ARE all slightly demented.

Steve3: Even me?

Steve1: ESPECIALLY you. You claim you're the weird one.

Steve3: Not the insane one. That's Sku-chan.

Steve2: HEY!

Steve3: (Doesn't miss a beat) ...is for horses.

Steve1: (Smugly) As I was saying, you're especially demented.

(They jog on in silence for a few moments.)

Steve2: But, seriously, guys. Blade was about to KILL Ranma.

Steve1: So? He was really really pissed with Ranma. And Ranma had been treating Ukyou extremely badly with no thoughts for her feelings.

Steve2: If you hated someone over a girl you were crazy about I seriously doubt you'd try to kill them. I WAS you once. And I was him once, too (indicates Steve3.)

Steve1: What if Sandy were to cause, you know, *her*, bad mental anguish? Or at least severely hurt her without even realizing it? That's what Ranma was doing to Ucchan. I'D feel like killing the bastard.

Steve2: Yeah... nah, but you should try to help her instead of killing the cause.

(Steve3 is surprisingly silent.)

Steve2: You're surprisingly silent, San-ban. It's out of character, you know.

Steve3: You two are being out of character too, you know. You (nods to Steve1) are being nastily agressive, which is what he (indicates Steve2) should be doing. Ni-ban is being the peacemaker which was your role.

(Steve1 slows down and leans against a handy wall. He slumps down to a sitting position and puts his face in his hands. The other two pull up and stare.)

Steve1: (Different goddish type of voice) THINGS GET DIFFICULT SOMETIME, YOU KNOW.

Steve3: Oh my god! He's having a still-in-the-body experience!

Steve1: ACTUALLY, SAN-BAN, IF YOU RECALL YOU WERE CLONED FROM ME. MADE IN MY IMAGE, NE? I AM YOUR GOD. NI-BAN WAS RIGHT.

Steve3: Oh supreme figure in whatever religious system you choose to believe in (except of course for Shampoo-ism!)

Steves1and2: EH? / Wha?

Steve3: Damn. It's hard to curse properly when you choose not to believe in anything.

Steve1: (confused look) ...

Steve2: Come on, Ichi-ban, settle down.

Steve1: THIS IS NOT EXACTLY ICHI-BAN. I'M JUST USING HIM AS A TEMPORARY SPEAKER.

Steve3: Hey, now I remember your voice. I was lying down, severely beaten, around about the end of the Blade and Ranma battle, and you said something like 'All will be revealed in time.'

Steve1: I STILL THINK THAT THAT CLICHE SOUNDS GOOD WITH A DAMN GOOD ECHO EFFECT.

(The wind goes 'Hwoooooooooooooo.' A random bell in a nearby house chimes 'chiring... chiring...' Steve3's hair and Steve2's headband flutter around madly, in a mad dance as the wind blows up.)

Steve3: (Quiet voice) You're the RL-Steve, aren't you. What are you here for?

RL-Steve: NI-BAN CAN STAY. BUT SAN-BAN AND ICHI-BAN I'M NOT SO SURE ABOUT ANYMORE.

Steve2: (voice of low menace) What's wrong with them?

RL-Steve: IT GOES WITHOUT QUESTION THAT STEVE3 IS A BIT TOO DEMENTED TO BE RUNNING AMOK. BESIDES, HE NEVER DOES ANYTHING BESIDES SIT AROUND (OR LIE MOANING AS THE CASE MAY BE) AND MAKE SILLY COMMENTS. HE'S HARDLY WORTH ANYTHING EXCEPT AS A HUMOUROUS SIDEKICK, PERHAPS NOT EVEN THAT. AND YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE WHO EVER DOES ANYTHING. AND YOU'RE PROBABLY THE BEST SUITED OF THE THREE FOR THIS UNIVERSE.

Steve3: I resent that. You never gave me any good lines. Anyway, the three Heavensruns exist fine.

RL-Jason: That they do.

RL-Steve: HEAVENSRUN IS A HIGHER CLASS GOD THAN I AM. HE HAS A BETTER NEWS SERVER FOR A START...

Steve2: Huh?

Steve3: (Aside to Steve2 as RL-Steve complains to the worlds in general) The way they influence things. If they have better news servers then they find it easier to change things in what they call 'threads.'

Steve2: (shakes head) They're insane.

Steve3: They're still our gods.

Steve2: How come you're so knowledgable all of a sudden, anyway?

Steve3: Being the weird one has its advantages.

RL-Steve: (In conclusion) ...AND THEN HE'S CLOSER TO THE ACTION, I'M MORE THAN SIX HOURS AWAY, DID YOU EVER WONDER EXACTLY *WHY* YOU GUYS WERE NEVER IN THE MAIN THRUST OF THINGS?

Steve2: But we were! I searched high and low for both Ichi-ban and Jason! That sounds fairly important.

RL-Steve: BUT YOU DIDN'T FIND HIM, DID YOU. NO, THE MADP GOD MANAGED THAT. ANYWAY, WHAT WAS I GOING ON ABOUT? OH YEAH... ANYWAY I JUST CAN'T MANAGE THREE OF YOU GUYS AT ONCE.

Steve2: But...

RL-Steve: (Totally ignoring Steve2) COME, SAN-BAN. THERE ARE THINGS YOU MUST LEARN. THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO. LET ME TEACH YOU THE WAYS OF THE -SOMEWHERE-.

Steves2and3: Eh?

RL-Steve: (Testily) OH ALL RIGHT, IN PLAIN ENGLISH, I'M CONVENIENTLY GETTING YOU OUT OF THE WAY SO STEVE2 CAN BE THE ONLY STEVE AROUND.

Steve2: Eh?

RL-Steve: (Even more testily) OMAE GA JAMA YO.

Steve3: Um...

RL-Steve: (Really irritated) TA BAKEIN KA NNA? TA YO -SAMKOOTA- NE TAKARRA.

Steve3: That was unnecessarily crpytic.

Steve2: Still perfectly understandable though.

Steve3: True.

Steve2: I don't recall ever confusing languages like tha- (He freezes. So does his headband. Steve3's bad long hair settles on his back.)

RL-Steve: YOUR HAND, MR. SCOUGALL.

Steve3: (Pauses for a while.) Well, name me one worse way to get written out of things.

(Steve3 tentatively holds out his hand. RL-Steve takes it. They glow briefly, then in a flash Steve2 re-animates and the other two

disappear to -somewhere-.)

Steve2: -t. (Looks around.) Bastards.

(And he starts dragging himself slowly home.)

--- Somewhere else ---

(As RL Kenji floats through cyberspace (don't you just hate that word?) looking for a server to post from, he comes across a strange sight...)

RL Kenji: Twins? They look familiar, somehow.

RL-Steve: Hey, he looks familiar, somehow.

--- Later, at the Tendo dojo ---

Steve2: Hi guys.

Ma-chan: Where are your worse two thirds?

Steve2: They've gone. Forever. Bastards. Anybody got any alcohol?

P-Word: Souun has some good beer in the fridge.

Kenji: Well, at least you don't have that confused look anymore.

Steve: (Confused look) I had a confused look? Since when? I don't remember being confused.

(Steve2 wanders into the kitchen and opens the fridge.)

Steve2: (sigh) This sucks. (looks around the fridge.) Beer's too weak. (pulls out a bottle of sake) This should do it. Must remember that this is stuff is *really* alcoholic.

Jei-san: Hey, S2.

Steve2: Huh?

Jei-san: (Hanging from the ceiling, of course...) Hey, I thought we should talk. I heard what happened.

Steve2: Already?

Jei-san: Yeah. RL-Jason read your post.

Steve2: Huh?

Jei-san: Long story. Listen. I'm not real good at stuff like this, but...

Steve2: (takes a drink of sake) How the hell do you hang like that without your guitar strap slipping off?

Jei-san: Longer story. But like I was saying, I know what you're going through. After I was cloned to replace Jacen, and the original Jacen was sprung from the asylum, I wandered off alone, kind of like what you're going through now. And then again, when we thought J-O was dead, well, my point is, anytime you need a friend, I'll be here. (drops from the ceiling into a momentary handstand, then springs to a crouching position the countertop. Again, the guitar mysteriously stays in place...) Okay? (Offers his hand to shake.)

Steve2: (takes the proffered hand and shakes it, smiling slightly.) Thanks, Jei-san. (Offers the bottle of sake) Want some?

Jei-san: Sure. (Takes the bottle and downs about a third of it in one swallow) ...erk... (starts swaying) ...dish ish shtrong shtuff...

Soun: My sake! (Soun cry #546 : Someone I barely know has just drunk a third of the sake I was hoarding for Akane and Ranma's wedding anniversary.)

Steve2: I was about to tell you to be careful. That was probably about the same as six bottles of strong beer in the space of three seconds. Have a good lie down. And not on the ceiling, on the floor here. Make sure you don't crush your guitar.