This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
As the Hong Kong Cavaliers hurried into the conference room, their eyes automatically drifted to the head of the table. Buckaroo Banzai stood just behind his chair, his expression anxious and concerned. He watched the men and women who comprised his inner circle slide into their chairs, then cleared his throat and took a deep breath.
"Thanks for coming." His gaze moved from one side of the table to other, missing no one. "This morning I was given several dispatches that World Watch One had intercepted over the last twelve hours--dispatches originating from Sabah and routed to various locations known to be operation bases for the World Crime League." He gestured to the small pile of papers before each Cavalier. "You can guess what this means."
Rawhide looked up from his sheaf, reading glasses perched precariously upon his nose. "Xan's feelin' a mite mischievous?"
"More than a bit," Buckaroo replied. He leaned forward, eyes blazing with intensity. "I'm convinced that something major is brewing, and it's up to us to stop it. I propose we set up a series of strike teams to hit the locations listed on the front page and nip this in the bud."
"Sounds good," Perfect Tommy said, excitement in his voice. "I'll lead the Istanbul team…"
"Tommy," Little Red interjected coldly. "We have a parent-teacher conference tonight, remember? And Elizabeth's school play is tomorrow evening. And you promised the twins a trip to the zoo this weekend." She paused for effect. "Remember?"
"Uh…but Red," Tommy said to his wife with considerably less enthusiasm than a moment before. "It's, you know, Xan! The World Crime League! Big trouble, all that…"
"We've had to reschedule that conference twice already because of your 'emergencies'," Red coldly retorted. "Little Tommy's teacher has pleaded with us to sit down and talk to her. You want to go running off, fine. But you be the one to free our schedule up, buster!"
Rawhide snickered. "Looks like you'd best stay home, Tommy." He consulted the list of cities. "I guess I'll get some interns together and…"
"Rawhide?" Big Norse spoke up. "You have a dentist appointment tomorrow. The one you've been putting off for two months, remember? And you're supposed to talk to Ilsa's class on 'Parent Day' this Friday."
"I'm in the middle of a server upgrade," Billy said, raising his hands apologetically. "We're having some problems with compatibility--I've got calls in to Oracle and Novell, so I can't leave until we get that resolved."
Buckaroo Banzai slowly sank into his seat, unwilling to believe what he was hearing. Meanwhile, unnoticed, Eunice Banzai (still going by "Mrs. Johnson") got up, headed to a quiet corner of the room, and dialed a particular number on her Go-Phone.
Nightowl, the resident marksman among the Cavaliers, timidly raised his hand. "I...don't suppose this can wait a day or so?" he asked. "My new glasses prescription should be ready by then."
"I can go…" Pecos started.
"No, she can't," Reno jumped in. "She's got to have arthroscopic surgery on that left knee today."
"I do not!"
"It wasn't my knee that sounded like Rice Krispies when I got up this morning."
"No, it was your damned back! If you'd go to your chiropractor like you keep promising to…"
"PEOPLE!" The room suddenly grew still. Buckaroo's stare pierced each one of them to the soul. "I do not believe this," he continued, his voice once more controlled. "We are talking about a menace that threatens the lives of every man, woman and child on this planet, and you're telling me that medical appointments and parent-teacher conferences are more important to you? What has happened to all of you?" He turned to Pinky Carruthers, who was slouched back comfortably in his seat. "Well? What's your excuse?"
Pinky shrugged nonchalantly. "Hey, I'm cool."
Buckaroo shook his head. "One of you. Only one of you is willing to join me in stopping Hanoi Xan--in dropping all these, these petty concerns so that we can keep the fragile balance between good and evil intact…"
"Excuse me," Mrs. Johnson said, interrupting her husband's rant. "Buck, you promised Margaret you'd attend her soccer game today. If you don't leave in the next ten minutes, you'll miss it."
Buckaroo's jaw dropped ever so slightly. "What?"
"You missed the last two, remember? It really hurt her feelings, Buck. You owe it to her to make this one." There was a definite steel undertone to her words that gave him an odd chill.
"Eunice, we have a problem here, remember?"
"No we don't." Mrs. Johnson tidied up her stack of papers and stood up. "It's been taken care of, Buckaroo. No more crisis. So let's wrap things up here and you can get over to the Academy for the soccer game."
Buckaroo Banzai slowly rose to his feet, his expression clearly one of bewilderment. "Eunice," in a voice he saved for the simple and the insane, "Hanoi Xan is not going to stop his plans for world domination just because you say he can't…" Just then a Blue Blaze Irregular raced into the room and handed him a bundle of papers. As his eyes raced down the pages, his features slowly went from bewilderment to disbelief.
"Well?" Eunice said brightly.
"It…says here…that Xan has…cancelled his offensive…" Buckaroo looked up, confused. "How?"
"No biggie, Buck. I just called his number-one wife and talked to her." Eunice Johnson Banzai grinned triumphantly as she headed for the door. "See you later, guys! And Buck--get moving!"
The Cavaliers slowly moved out of the conference room, most if not all of them managing to hide their grins from their leader, who continued to stand there, frozen in amazement.
Lady Madeleine's Academy for Gifted Young Women had a spacious soccer field, complete with metallic bleachers for those who cared to watch the Cavaliers battle. On this autumn afternoon attendance was on the spotty side, enabling Buckaroo Banzai to choose his seat at leisure. He waved to his daughter, who smiled brightly and waved back before taking the field with her teammates.
He watched the teams battle back and forth across the field, neither side gaining a clear advantage over the other. The cold surface of the bleachers was slowly creeping up his butt, and he wished for some coffee or hot chocolate to fight the chill. Margaret had just intercepted a pass from the opposing side when a bundled-up stranger carrying a huge thermos came up alongside him and sat down.
"Greetings, Buckaroo Banzai," the stranger said in an all-too-familiar voice.
Buckaroo slowly turned to regard the figure next too him. He studied the vaguely Asiatic features and quickly placed them. To his credit, he refrained from cursing. "Xan," he finally said in acknowledgement.
Buckaroo glanced around. No Death Dwarves to be seen, though they had to be around somewhere--there was no way Xan would go anywhere without protection. Which was more than he could say. Eunice had been so damned insistent on his coming here that he'd neglected to make any arrangements with Rawhide. And to make matters worse, his Go-Phone was sitting in his car because the wrist band was too tight these days.
He was a dead man.
"I must admit I'm surprised to see you here," Buckaroo said as casually as possible.
Hanoi Xan, Scourge of the Asias, The Pivot of Mystery, The Spawn of Hell, smiled and pointed at a pretty teammate of Margaret's. "My daughter, Ling. By my first wife."
"You daughter and my daughter go to the same school?" Buckaroo said, stunned.
"So it would seem." Xan chuckled softly. "Fate makes fools of all of us, sooner or later."
He reached for the thermos and unscrewed the lid. "Coffee?"
Xan laughed. "My third wife believes it to be." He offered a cup to Buckaroo, who hesitated for just a moment before accepting it. The coffee was wonderfully hot, warming his chilled bones.
"Look," Xan said, pointing to the field. Margaret Banzai was driving downfield, surrounded by defenders. With incredible grace she faked one direction and passed the ball to Ling Xan, who fired a shot past the goalie for a score. A cheer went up from the bleachers.
"Good shot," Buckaroo said.
"Good pass," Xan countered. They sat in silence for a time, watching the game. "Your wife called my first wife," Xan finally said during a time-out.
"And that stopped you from implementing your plan?" Buckaroo asked.
"You have never met my first wife." Xan smiled slightly. "It would seem that several of my children have outgrown their clothes, several of my wives desired a shopping expedition of their own, and that some repairs to my mansion could no longer be delayed." He sipped at his cup. "It was…pointed out…to me that our available finances could either be used to further my schemes, or to ensure the health and comfort of my heirs. I'm sure you understand."
"All too well," Buckaroo said ruefully. Eunice was deadly with the family budget.
"Times have changed, my great enemy, and we must change with them or be left behind. Ah!" Ling had broken free with the ball, and now she drew a bead on the goalie. Her shot was miraculously blocked, but Margaret was waiting in perfect position for a second shot, which went in a second later. "Well done! Well done!"
Buckaroo clapped his hands and cheered as well, then turned to his arch enemy. "So what do we do, Xan? Exchange Christmas cards and forget you killed my parents?"
The Mandarin of Death said nothing for a moment, choosing instead to stare down at the soccer field. "I believe we should maintain the status quo for appearances' sake," he finally said with a smile. "You can continue to be the symbol for truth and honor, and I shall be…what I have always been." His smile grew slightly. "I can implement that plan any time I want, you realize."
"You do, and we'll be there."
"I would expect nothing less, honored enemy." The game had just ended, and the players were approaching the stands in search of their parents. "Good evening to you, great Buckaroo Banzai. Until next time."
"Until next time." Buckaroo watched his most hated foe descend the bleachers toward his daughter, who was standing beside Margaret. He replayed the day's events in his mind, wondering how the world could have gotten away from him without his realizing it. Xan had killed his parents, demonstrated incredible cruelty to both himself and his friends, and yet here they'd sat, sharing coffee and watching their daughters.
Finally he shook his head, smiled, and went down to find his wayward daughter and congratulate her on a good game.