**In prehistoric times, Bartender, Monkey, and Bob the Ninja run away from the thousand horrible things chasing them.**
Bartender: (gasp) We're never going to make it!
BtN: We have to make it!
**Suddenly, the Bartender stops. This unexpected action causes Monkey and Bob to stop as well, although not happily.**
BtN: What is it?!
Bartender: Something just occured to me. *talks into the key he's holding* Take us to Warteen.
**The trio vanishes, and the rotten 'saurs are forced to find their meal elsewhere. This, however, does not go unnoticed by certain observers. In what most of our heroes know as the present day, in the Rhiona province, Lenore spits out the clear liquid she's drinking in shock when she sees the three adventurers disappear.**
Lenore: What... where did they get that key?!
**Lenore has realized something very important - the gate key that Bartender carries with him must be much more powerful than anything she could possibly create if it has the power to form gates anywhere and at any time. But, she was certain she was the only one alive who could make that kind of thing! The ramifications of these facts had not yet occured to her - what does it all mean? Lost in thought as she was, it surprised her to find that she was already back at the door to her chamber. Upon entering, she jumped in alarm when she noticed the figure waiting in one of the large windows that were evenly spaced in the circular wall. In this high a tower it would've been impossible to come in from the window. She heard a gruff, familiar voice.**
General Ira: Sorry to have startled you, M'lady.
**Slightly after this in the timeline, in a torture/brainwashing chamber of the Master's castle, where Queen Laine's spirit has followed Warteen and is currently in negotiations with a clearly higher being - or should we say, lower?...**
Satin (Looking innocent and sweet): Well, there is something...
QL: I knew it. Everyone always wants something.
Satin: (mock offended) Well, if that's how you're going to be about it, maybe I should just summon Hades back here and let you swim in an eternal river of death?
QL: No! I mean... What is it that you want?
Satin: Let's see... for you, Warteen will be saved from the Master's clutches, and you and your sister Raine will not die...
**QL doesn't know why something seems wrong to her about the way Satin phrased that - she doesn't realize yet that what makes her uneasy is the way that Satin promised to do nothing herself.**
QL: And, for you?
Satin: *her innocent smile returns* Hmmm... What's fair in exchange for two resurrections and a little saving grace?
QL: (anxiously) What?
**Satin's smile makes an amazingly rapid transition to seductive and deadly, and there is a touch of flame in her eyes.**
Satin: Your soul.
**Bob, Bartender, and Monkey land in a forest not unlike the one where they departed from.**
BtN: What? Where are we? What just happened?
Bartender: That was time travel. Better get used to it.
BtN: If we just traveled through time, why are we in what looks like the same place? I mean, the things that were chasing us are gone...
Bartender: Which I'm grateful for. But, you're right. I can't understand it myself. I told the key to take us to Warteen, and... *remembers something and slaps himself in the big, bald forehead* Of course! I didn't specify a time!
BtN: What does that mean?
Bartender: Well, I guess it means we're at Warteen's location in this time. This must be the very spot where Warteen will be conceived, millions of years in the future!
Monkey: Eek! *jumps back from the spot he's standing on*
Bartender: Ha ha ha. Well, we have to get going.
BtN: Wait. Could you please explain to me exactly what's going on here?
Bartender: Oh, sorry. We traveled through time after getting help from a future version of Milady to come here and save you from being killed by Chad.
BtN: So... he was really going to kill me?
Bartender: I'm afraid so.
BtN: Then I owe you my life.
Bartender: Thanks, but not now! Now we have to go save Warteen and Queen Laine from the clutches of the Master!
BtN: Well then... let's go.
Bartender: (speaking into the key) Take us to Warteen, five minutes before he is captured by the Master.
**The three of them disappear, and then find themselves ina forest, in the midst of a huge battle between the forces of good - Warteen, Queen Jaine, Erronius, The Great Chad, LemonLighter, Bartender, and Bob the Ninja - and the forces of evil - Alpha Werewolf and his mighty pack, and Ha-Kee the Dark Elf. They duck behind some nearby bushes.**
Bartender (from behind bushes): What the...?!
Monkey (from behind bushes): Ook! Ook!
BtN (from behind bushes): Where are we?!
Bartender (from behind bushes): When are we?! *realizes* Of course! Warteen was captured by the Master twice!! This was the first time, and we needed the second!
Erronius (Pointing in entirely the wrong direction): Look Jaine. The Dark Elf…
BtN (from behind bushes): Erronius!
Bartender (from behind bushes): Bob! No! We have to get the hell out of here!!!
BtN (from behind bushes): But...
Bartender (from behind bushes): You can't interfere here! You don't know what kind of changes that might cause to our timeline!!! (to the key, before Bob can object) Take us to Warteen five minutes before the second time he is captured by the Master!
**Bob, Bartender, and Monkey disappear once again - just in time to avoid the cataclysmic blast from the Master's hand that ends the battle.**
**About twenty years earlier, in the late Timeweaver Tribe's village, Diamina, the self-dubbed Princess of Evil, receives some bad news from her shady troops - they cannot find the treasure she sought anywhere.**
Diamina: FOOLS! All I want you to do is find one little ultimate artifact, but noooo! Even that is beyond you!!! *throws her purse at the nearest shadow creature in disgust*
Nearby Shadowbeast: Rrr, my queen...
Diamina: WHAT IS IT, you... thing?
Nearby Shadowbeast: Ourrr forrrces reporrrt having seen a chocobo with two riderrrs essscape the village.
Diamina: (suddenly happy) Well then, they must have the treasure! *steps around a car-sized pinto bean* I'll just go after them and- WAAAIT A MINUTE! I'm in charge here! AFTER THEM, YOU FOOLS!!!
**The princess and her army exit the village at a fast pace in pursuit of LemonLighter and, more importantly, his passengers, Palios and young Eleanor. LemonLighter takes them away from the village as fast as his chocobo legs can manage.**
Eleanor: Palios, they're coming!
Palios: I know!
Palios: I know! Hang in there, chocobo!
**But unfortunately, LemonLighter can go no further, not with two passengers and a hundred or more shadowbeasts chasing him. His left leg gives way, and Palios and Eleanor are thrown to the ground. Palios quickly pushes the large bird and the small girl behind some nearby foliage to hide them from the advancing forces. Then, Diamina is upon him.**
Diamina: OH HO HO HO HO!!! You thought you could escape the great Diamina? Think again! Now hand over the treasure you took from the village!
Palios: What? I don't know what you're talking about.
Diamina: Oh. Well, in that case... WAIT A MINUTE! ARE YOU LYING TO ME?!
**In response, Palios pulls out the key from the village and gets as close as he can to the bushes where Eleanor and the exhausted LemonLighter are hiding without giving away their position to his most arrogant assailant.**
Diamina: !! That must be it! Give me that!
Palios: Man, I hope this works... (to the key) Get us out of here!
**Palios disappears. Eleanor watches from the bush, amazed that her new friend would abandon her like that. Diamina's jaw nearly drops to the ground.**
Diamina: So... that is the power of the Timeweavers. Amazing. And one day, I swear... it will be mine!!! But it looks like it won't be today. (to her army) FALL BACK, YOU FOOLS! There's nothing more for us here. Damn!
**Diamina and her army retreat, presumably to go do some scheming as to how they can get their hands on that treasure in more successful future attempts. Eleanor and LemonLighter are left cowering behind some bushes, and except for each other, are utterly alone.**
QL: My... soul?
**Laine is, of course, horrified at the idea of giving up her soul to this girl, or whoever "she" really is. Satin's smile returns to looking innocent and sweet-natured.**
Satin: Oh, come on. It's not like you're using it anyway.
QL: Of course I am!
Satin: Give me a break! You don't even know you have it, so how could you possibly miss it?
QL: This is out of the question.
**QL turns and starts to walk away - but to her surprise, Satin is in front of her again.**
Satin: Think about what you're saying. You're going to condemn yourself AND your sister to death - you already know what awaits you there... Remember Hades? Not to mention, you're going to turn Warteen, noble lad that he is, over to the evil clutches of the Master for who knows what world-dominating purpose? And all this because you won't consider my deal - which I'm being very generous about, mind you!
Satin: Do it for your sister. Do it for Warteen.
**Laine is disgusted with herself, but she cannot allow all these horrible things to happen - even if it means dealing with this obviously evil creature.**
QL: I'll... do it.
Satin: Wonderful! Now, I'll just need you to sign this... *A contract and pen appear in her hands.* To make it official.
**QL looks away as she signs her name on the dotted line at the bottom of the last page. The contract disappears.**
Satin: Pleasure doing business with you.
**Satin disappears as well, Chesire Cat style, with her innocent smile lingering longest.**
QL: What have I done?
**QL gives one last look at Warteen as her consciousness fades.**
**Far in the future, the Master speaks to Diamina through her mirror.**
Master: There is a time machine... a key to time gates, if you will. It is a lower-level version of this ultimate treasure, but it will enable you to get to Cerberus and take it from him.
Diamina: Excellent! Where can I find it?!
Master: The one who has the secrets to it... *his eyes narrow even further than usual* is Milady Lenore, leader of the Council of Immortals.
Diamina: Great! One more thing.
Master: What is it?
Diamina: Where can I find my lipstick?
**The Master severs the connection.**
**The Great Chad, Ha-Kee, and Alpha Werewolf land on the ground in an unknown environment, where they will find the next ringbearer. For once, they don't land in a pile.**
TGC: Well, it's nice to know these time portals are getting more accurate!
Ha-Kee: Hasn't it occured to you that Lenore is controlling these portals?
TGC: Yeah, whatever.
Alpha Werewolf: (practically bouncing up and down) Enough talk, let's get to some killin'! Where are we?!
**The three bickering evildoers scan their surroundings to see that they are in a place where none of them have been before - Wall Street, circa 2000. The huge gray skyscrapers are completely foreign to them. The people walking down the street largely ignore them, assuming they're some kind of publicity stunt or something.**
Ha-Kee: People just aren't impressed as easily as they used to be.
TGC: So, where is this ringbearer that we're supposed to be killing?
Ha-Kee: How do I know? I assume he'll come to us soon enough.
???: You mean SHE.
**A beautiful young woman dressed in a business suit, sporting a golden ring on which is engraved a gaggle of lions, approaches the trio from behind. By this point, the people are starting to avoid this general area.**
Alpha Werewolf: Hooray! Killerdeath time!
Woman: Creatures of magic, there is no place for you here!
TGC: *immediately forgetting where he is and turning on the charm* I see. Say, is that a mirror in your pocket? 'Cause I can totally see myself in your pants! HA HA HA!!
**The woman is totally confused by this boy's combination of utter arrogance, charm, and stupidity.**
TGC: Right... well... much as I hate to kill such a beautiful girl, that's what I'm here to do. So...
**The three attackers and the woman square off for battle.**
**Bartender, Monkey, and Bob appear directly in front of Laine as she runs away from the Master.**
**Without hesitating, Bartender scoops her up in his arms and runs in the direction she was running, where he's not at all surprised to find Warteen.**
Warteen: Bartender! Laine! Am I glad to see you guys!
Bartender: No time to talk! We've got to get out of here, the Master is on your tail!
**Bartender is about to speak into the key when, much to his surprise, a lanky Grecian man appears about ten feet to his right.**
Warteen: Palios! You're safe!
QL: (woozily) Huh... what happened...
**Bartender, deciding that this man can be trusted, speaks into the key.**
Bartender: (to the key) Get us - everyone here except the Master - somewhere safe!
**The Master, who was chasing Queen Laine and Warteen, is utterly shocked to see Queen Raine, who was standing next to him and about to stop Laine from getting away, disappear.**
Master: What?! Milady! What just happened?!
Lenore (from her tower, via psychic link): We have a problem.
Master: Well, that much is clear.
Lenore: There's a time travel power out there that is... apparently greater than mine. That's what was just used, and they're all gone.
Master: The Psychic and the twin witches?
Lenore: No, all of them! For just a few moments, they were all there - the Ninja, the Bartender, one of the Ringbearers, all of them! And then they were all gone!
Master: Where did they go?!
Lenore: I don't know! I was unable to track them! This magic is beyond my own!
Master: Well that's just great. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?!
Lenore: Calm down. I have a plan.
Master: I thought you might.
Lenore: You still have my key. It should take you to the space and time of the ringbearer that's with them, since my magic is already with him. His name is Palios, if you'll recall.
Master: But, what if there's not a gate nearby?
Lenore: Then you will go as close as you can get.
Master: Sounds risky. You never know where one could land...
Lenore: It is. But it's the best I've got.
Master: Where are those cronies that you keep around? I'll merely send them.
Lenore: They're in the process of hunting down the other ringbearers... but, you're right, that can wait. This is clearly more important. I will bring them back here. You come here as well.
Master: (rudely forgetting the conversation and speaking in the key) Take me to Lenore.
Lenore: No, stupid, you have to get back to the gate you came through.
Master: (angry and embarassed) You WATCH YOUR TONE WITH ME!!!
**The Master runs back to the gate he entered this land through, and then uses the key to get back to Lenore through the gate. She greets him with a mocking smile, then chants into her mirror and Chad, Alpha Werewolf, Ha-Kee, and some unidentified woman come through the portal, landing in a heap.**
Woman: Get your hands off me! *gasp* The Master!!!
Master: Wonderful, another one of the Ringbearers, here in my castle to keep me company.
Lenore: Chad, Ha-Kee, Alpha Werewolf, we're giving you this time travel key. Use it to go after the Ringbearer, Palios.
TGC: What? We were already in the process of going after the ringbearers! You sucked us through the portal for this?!
Lenore: This one is more important, trust me. Warteen and his friends are with them.
Alpha Werewolf: Excellent! It's about time I tasted battle again.
Lenore: Down, boy. Now, Chad, be very careful about this. Speak clearly into the key when you're at a gate. Specify where and when you want to go. In this case, we don't know when Palios is, but since he doesn't exist in this time right now, where should be sufficient - it will take you to the place he most recently traveled.
Ha-Kee: (annoyed at having to play second fiddle to Chad) And, what do you want us to do with them.
Master: Capture the Psychic, ALIVE. Kill the Ringbearer. Do what you like with the rest.
Alpha Werewolf: HEE HEE HEE!!! Let's go, let's go!!!
TGC: Of course. Anything for you, my queen. (to the key) Take us to Palios.
**The Great Chad, Ha-Kee, and a very excited Alpha Werewolf step through the portal once again.**
Lenore: Now we wait for them to return.
Master: You can't monitor their progress?
Lenore: No. I still have no idea where they went.
Master: How long before you can make another key?
Lenore: Five years.
Master: WHAT?! And you gave our only one to those cretins?!
Lenore: Look at it this way - if they succeed, we won't need any key at all.
**Warteen, Bartender, Palios, Monkey, Bob, Queen Laine, and Queen Raine find themselves in a huge pile in what Bartender recognizes as the alley outside Milady Lenore's chambers in the far future. He picks himself up, takes a few seconds to be surprised that Queen Raine is there, and makes sure everyone is okay.**
Bartender: Come on, guys, get up. We have to go see Milady. She can explain everything.
Bartender: She will explain, really.
**Bartender pushes everyone along. They all fall silent as they are lost in confused thought - especially Laine. Did I really sign my soul away, she wonders, or was it just a bad dream? I can remember being saved by Bartender... but at the same time, I remember being killed. How can this be?**
Bartender: Come on, we're almost there.
**Bartender leads the newly reunited group through to the chambers of Milady. Strangely, there's no security forces to stop them. Bartender recognizes Milady Lenore, Mister Jon Marlinspike, and Miss Carrie Mac Elling as they acknowledge his presence with warm smiles and approach him to talk, but fails to notice the uncanny likeness that the fourth member of their party holds to the one he knows as The Great Chad.**
Milady: Cerbe- *Bartender stops her with a look.* Bartender! And Monkey! How lovely to see you both again! And, let's see... you all must be... (as she scans over the group) Warteen... Queens Laine and Raine... Bob...
**She frowns as she reaches Palios.**
Milady: You look familiar, but I can't put my finger on it.
Palios: No, I don't think we've met.
Warteen: Now, if you're "Milady", Bartender here promised you would explain to us what's going on. I, for one, would certainly appreciate it.
Milady: Of course, you deserve to know about everything that's going on. Please, have a seat.
**A loud crash is heard from the alley.**
BtN: What was that?
Carrie: Probably nothing. We get big rats around here sometimes.
Milady: Now, Bartender, you've heard this story before, so try not to be too bored.
Bartender: Oh, of course not! I love stories - I'm sure it'll be even better this time, now that I understand a little bit more.
Milady: All right. Perhaps you should all get acquainted with my friends here before we start. This is Carrie Mac Elling, a budding scientist and dear friend. *Carrie nods and smiles.* And this is Jon Marlinspike, my most trusted advisor. *Marlinspike bows gracefully.* And finally, this gentleman here, who has until now remained silent, is-
Chad: Very good.
**The members of the group, except for Raine who's kind of out of it at this point and Palios who doesn't know Chad, are appropriately amazed at this revelation.**
Warteen: I didn't recognize you at first. You look so different!
Chad: Indeed. (wistfully) How long has it been since we've journeyed together?
Warteen: *frowns* I don't know. I don't even know what year it is.
Milady: Well, all will be revea-
**The huge stained-glass window on the east wall smashes open, cutting off Milady midsentence. On the back of a large black shadowgriffin is Diamina.**
Diamina: OH HOHOHOHO!!! I'm here to take your time travel powers, Milady!!!
Palios: (burning with hatred) YOU!
Diamina: Huh? You look kinda familiar... *ahem* Did you hear me Lady? Ha ha ha... a play on words, I'm so brilliant! Now, hand over the - gwuh!
**It is at this time that Diamina realizes that the man standing there is, in fact, the Bartender, and he's carrying the ultimate artifact.**
Diamina: Wow! Small world! Well, that makes my job so much easier! HA HA HA HA!!! Hand over that key, Tubby!
Warteen: I don't know quite what's going on here, but if you want to get that key, you're going to have to get through all of US first!
Monkey: Oook! Ookook!
Diamina: Oh dear, well, whatever shall I do... let's see here... Oh, I know! I'll bring my freaking huge army in here and kill you all!
**At that moment, another voice is heard from the front door of the chamber.**
Voice: Not so fast!
**Everyone turns their heads to see that it is, in fact, the voice of The Great Chad, and he's backed up by the Alpha Werewolf and Ha-Kee the Dark Elf.**
TGC: I'm here to kill you all! Oh yes, and do naughty things to Raine.
Alpha Werewolf: RAWR!!! You're all gonna DIE!!!
Ha-Kee: Don't forget, we have to capture Warteen. Not kill him.
Alpha Werewolf: Oh... right.
**Diamina is, of course, unimpressed by this new face and his cronies. What a perfect pair she and TGC would make, yes?**
Diamina: OH HOHOHOHO!! I don't know what kind of trickery this is, but it matters little! I WILL have that key!
Milady: I hope you all will forgive me for cutting my explanation short...
Marlinspike: I think they'll understand! Fight first, talk later!!!
**The future version of Chad stares with hatred at his past self, TGC. As the three - no, four, since most of Bartender's group doesn't yet trust Milady and her bunch - groups of fighters square off, Chad purposefully walks over to stand face-to-face with TGC.**
TGC: What? Who the hell are you?
Chad: Chad... I AM YOUR FUTURE.
**All eyes are on Chad as he quickly whips out a light saber and cleanly slices off TGC's right hand, knocking him to his knees.**
**Ha-Kee and Alpha Werewolf step back, shocked. TGC just smirks and stands back up.**
TGC: (angry but still strangely arrogant) That really hurt. You're... going to pay for that.
Bartender: This is not going to be pretty!
**Diamina's shadow forces start filing into the room through the broken window.**
Diamina: GO, MY PRETTIES!!! GO, AND CRUSH THEM ALL!!!