Here it is, extra long to make up for the long wait
As the Cantina Turns, Chapter Um, Subgroup III. The Knights of the Round Smibble
Several howls came from all around them. The man set Eye down at Ed’s feet. With the sound of metal sliding on metal, claws extended from the back of his hands.
“Crap,” Kricket and 10 said in unison.
Horrified, Kricket, 10, Shuemais and to a lesser extent, Ed Quinn -- he was not yet very attached to Eye -- watched the man's metal claws approach Eye's enormous, bulging eye. There was a silent beat and then the three heroic writers hurled themselves in slow motion at their friend to protect him from the half-naked savage.
"I beg thy pardon," Shuemais bellowed in a rather gentle tone as he tackled the ruggedly handsome clawed individual. "What dost thou think thou are doing? What be thy unholy plan... eth?"
"Calm down, bub," the man said. "Just checking out his eye."
"Are you a doctor?" Ed Quinn's scruffy facial hair was arranged in a skeptical format. "You don't look like a doctor."
The other man made a non-committal sound that was generally accepted as 'why yes, I am a doctor. Everything will be okay now, just you wait'. Everybody released the parts of the man they had been holding in a death grip, Kricket with some notable reluctance. The error of their ways became clear when the half-naked alleged doctor grabbed Eye by the nape of his neck, hauled him up and punctured his swollen eye with the tip of one gleaming metal claw, to horrified screams of everybody, not in the least from Eye himself.
"...No. Not a doctor."
The appalled writers launched themselves at the intruder again, the air thick with war cries, only to be stopped in mid-air by a decidedly British, "Blimey."
"What?" Shuemais had stopped the others from lunging at the fake doctor, which in hindsight was a clever thing to do as he was awaiting them with claws outstretched.
"My eye," Eye said. "It's, well, I don't want to use the word 'better', but..."
Meanwhile, Ed Quinn had sauntered up to 10. He aimed his most perfect movie-star smile at her. "So, this is kinda weird, huh?"
"Shut up," 10 huffed, moving to stand with her awesome and lovely friend Kricket.
Ed Quinn followed her like a very tenacious, scruffy and frankly luscious puppy. "What's up? Ten minutes ago, you were all--"
10 reached for her sword, but thought better of it. "I am not talking to you. Looking at me like I'm some psycho fan... I saved your life, like, six times in the past hours. Idiot."
She grasped Kricket's arm and tugged her along, leaving Ed Quinn standing like a kicked, scruffy and frankly still luscious puppy. Kricket linked her arm with 10's and pointed discreetly at the new, clawed and rugged arrival.
"He's kinda hot, don't you think?"
10 nodded. "Not my type, though."
Kricket snorted. "That's funny. Hot, half-naked, but not your type?"
"See those metal things? Imagine being in the throes and those things come out. Bam, 10 kebab. I guess Kricket kebab is an actual thing in some countries, so Godspeed, sister."
Shuemais stood forlornly while Ed Quinn and the half-naked not-a-doctor sized each other up, Eye was gingerly touching his eye, still seated on the grass, and Kricket and 10 were gossiping and giggling. "Guys?"
"Logan," the hirsute impostor said. "But they call me Huge."
Ed Quinn raised a vaguely annoyed eyebrow. "Why?"
The corner of Logan/Huge's mouth quirked up and he waited for the quarter to drop. Ed Quinn's eyebrow rose to fully annoyed levels. "Well, they call me
Massive," Ed said with a quick glance at 10.
Both men looked at Shuemais expectantly, who wisely just rolled his eyes and sighed, unaffected by the testosterone in the air. Because he was smarter than that.
"Boys, as exciting and interesting as your penile dimensions are, we will discuss these at a later date, okay?" 10 helped Eye up and pointed at the horses. "Are they ride-able?"
Shuemais gestured at the woods behind him, still emitting cries and wails at regular intervals. "I don't know, but we'd better find out soon."
"Your, y'know, tongue is gone," Kricket exclaimed. She gave Shuemais a quick hug. "Yay!"
Logan/Huge glanced at his hand-claw and then at Shuemais. "Wasn't me."
Everybody ignored him and started for the horses.
"Where to?" Eye asked.
At that point, the woods started moving as if strong winds were blowing through it. The wails and cries came closer at an alarming rate. They reached the horses just as the first monster broke free from the wall of trees. It was big and black and had teeth that gleamed even at that distance. Reason enough to flee.
Ed Quinn helped 10 onto her horse while Logan/Huge did the same for Kricket. Eye and Shuemais stood looking at each other for a second until both decided to mount their horses on their own to avoid any awkwardness in the future.
The monsters approached rapidly. The horses were spurred into a gallop and left the creatures in the dust, clearly wishing they didn't have to make a detour past the supermarket for lunch on the way back. But that's the way it goes for monsters that are either not fast enough or not smart enough. It's survival of the fittest out there, bro.
After hours of riding, a village loomed ahead. It looked just like a village from the movies or a famous novel, which kind of makes you think about what's going on, you know?
"Hark!" Shuemais said. "What looms there yonder? That be a village where our steeds can water and rest?"
"Your tongue is back," Kricket said disapprovingly. "And it keeps getting sillier."
"I be helpless against it, fair Lady Kricket." Shuemais shrugged. "It cometh and goeth."
"Oh, for frak's sake," 10 muttered. "Anyone opposed to me taking the lead, speak now or suffer stab wounds later."
"You?" Logan/Huge cast a disparaging look at 10, who looked innocent, delicate and lady-like, though responsible and mature. And particularly decent. "No offense, lady, but--"
"She is quite capable," Ed Quinn said. "I support her leadership."
It was an obvious ploy to make 10 like him again, and she realized it. Still, she smiled at him. "Thank you."
Kricket bounced up and down on her horse. The horse let out a dignified warning snort. "I call dibs on being 10's right hand."
10 high-fived her lovely, remarkably slender friend. "Of course. I wouldn't have any other. Girl powerrrrrr!"
The town was quiet as they trotted through, so much so that our intrepid six fell silent as well. When they happened upon a small inn, 10 raised her hand and gestured for them to ride on, as opposed to stop and get drunk.
"Um," said Eye.
"In agreement, I am," Shuemais said. "Sustenance, we need."
"Dude, now you're freaking Yoda
?" Kricket said, drawing her sword. "What is going on with you?"
Shuemais launched into an expletive-ridden rant. "I'm sorry," he finished. "I have no control over it."
"Okay," 10 said. "We'll stop here for a while and rest. But we gotta find--"
"Crystal!" a voice boomed from behind.
"Yes," 10 said, glancing over her shoulder. "How did you--"
"Crystal!" A man in his sixties barreled past, chasing a shaggy dog. "Come back 'ere!"
"I think I have found her," Ed Quinn said proudly.
"We need to politely ask that man to talk to us." 10 slid off her horse. The others followed her example. "Maybe he knows..."
She trailed off when Logan/Huge stalked past her towards the man and returned with a scruffy dog in one hand and the older man in the other. He released the nape of their necks and gave them a little shove so they ended up in front of 10.
10 folded her arms at the surly brute. "Polite
Said surly brute tapped his left knuckles with his right fist. "Kept these in, didn't I?"
10 acknowledged that with a nod and dispatched an eager Kricket to distract Logan/Huge. She turned to the older man, trying to ignore Ed Quinn's imposing but luscious presence close by. "Your dog's name is Crystal?"
"Yes," he grumped. "As is my pig's. What's it to you, lady?"
10 heard a distant sound of metal sliding against metal and led the older man and the dog a bit further into the shade of some nice trees just in case Kricket's feminine wiles weren't working. "Did you say your pig's name was Crystal?"
He took a large crystal out of his tunic's pocket and began to polish it with spittle and a dirty cloth.
10 gave the older man A Look and then turned to Ed Quinn, Shuemais and Eye. "We may have a tiny problem."
When she'd explained the issue, Shuemais shrugged. "If it were my evil scheme, I'd make sure it wasn't obvious. The crystal is too obvious. It's clearly the pig."
10 shook her head. "Too obvious. It would be something that's less obvious than really obvious and less obvious than allegedly 'not obvious at all'. It must be the dog."
Eye blinked. "Did that sound logical in your head?"
"I like dogs," Ed Quinn added, mostly unhelpfully.
10 smiled. Dog lovers were okay in her book. "We'll take all of them, just to be sure."
"Um, excuse me." The older man was backing up, leading his dog by its collar. "These are my possessions. I would like to keep them, thanks."
10 glanced at her second-in-command, who had succeeded in making Logan/Huge smile. The smile was replaced by a scowl again within seconds as they wandered back over, but progress was progress. 10 eyed Shuemais, Eye and Ed Quinn. Between the three of them and their swords -- no euphemism -- they could take the older man. But that would be wrong
"Okay, you're coming with," she decided. "What's your name?"
"Pthom," the man sneezed.
"Bless you. What's your name?"
"That is my name."
"Oh. Well, good for you." 10 fell silent as the enormity of their undertaking sank in. "Man, I wish Hillz were here."
There was a billow of smoke and a poof and there stood Hillary, bewildered and brandishing her shovel.
"I thought leprechauns didn't exist," Logan/Huge snorted.
The group let out a collective horrified gasp and turned their simultaneously expectant and apprehensive gazes to Hillz.
"Dude..." Ed Quinn said, trying to warn Logan/Huge, but thinking better of it. He didn't like the hairy bastard, after all.
Hillz's eyes lit up in recognition of her friends and then narrowed to terrifying slits when she located the source of the insult. She strode over and whacked Logan/Huge in the face with her shovel. Well, that was probably her intention. Unfortunately, Hillz is tiny, so her blow landed more in the general area of Huge's hugeness. Temporarily disabled, Logan/Huge crumpled to the floor, groaning.
Hillz beamed, opening her arms for a group hug. Then she held 10 at arm's length and whispered, "What's Shue doing here? He wasn't back at the house."
Somewhere, some unidentifiable instrument gave a musical cue to indicate mystery and shock.