All "Tenchi Universe"references are copyrighted by AIC and Pioneer/Geneon. All "Stargate SG-1" refernces are copyrighted by MGM. 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.
“Gather round, gather round ladies and gentlemen, gather round…”
It was like riding a bicycle. Once you did it, you never forgot how. Ryoko let the words roll off her tongue and let her instincts be her guide. A few slaps against the toad cage, a few quick words, and she was off and running.
“This frog is not just any frog, no ordinary frog this, this frog is different from any other frog, a very special frog I tell you…”
Ryoko was in the groove. She could feel it, touch it, almost taste it. As she worked the crowd into a buying frenzy, part of her (not the parts that were standing in front of her, of course) seemed to stand to one side, observing her impassioned spiel and enjoying every bit of it.
“It’s an inhabitant of Alpha Centauri and Chulak at the bottom of Mount Tsukaba, this is the famous frog known as CHULAK TOAD!”
She could smell the sweat on their palms. She had them, body and soul and in few minutes she'd have their money too. And they'd go home with their mystical toad oil (amazing what you could do with sake, food coloring, and this and that) and memories of a great evening, and Ryoko would be rich rich rich...
"Excuse me." The deep, rumbling voice shattered the magic of Ryoko's patter. An angry eyebrow shot up as she turned to face the man who'd dared interrupt her. He was a burly, dark-skinned fellow with a bald head and a weird gold...thing...on his...forehead.
"Oh shit," Ryoko whispered. "A Jaffa."
The big guy nodded slightly in acknowledgement. "I was born on Chulak," he said. "I lived there for many years. And not once did I ever encounter a creature such as this." His voice carried all too clearly toward the crowd around Ryoko's stand. They began to murmur uneasily, and their hands retreated from their pockets, purses and wallets.
Ryoko was nothing if not a pro. "Ah, my good sir!" she said. "Perhaps you didn't realize that this magnificent toad is in fact from Chulak, but it's a denizen of the southern provinces, not the northern ones, where you're from, based on your very distinctive accent! An understandable mistake, of course, but sir, you yourself should know all about the restorative powers of the creatures of Chulak!"
"I have traveled extensively through the southern provinces," the alien replied. "And I assure you I have never once seen anything like this animal."
Two people left. Others were glancing at one another with a look of 'show's over, let's move on'. Ryoko's brain fought against the rising panic, tried to figure what to do to salvage the situation...
"On the other hand," the stranger suddenly said, "it does strongly resemble a legendary animal often mentioned in the tales passed from father to son. I recall my own father telling me about its magnificent healing powers. It must have been about...thirty...years ago."
"Thirty?" Ryoko said weakly. "You sure it wasn't fifteen or twenty?"
"Definitely thirty," he answered firmly.
Ryoko sighed. "Thirty it is."
Suddenly the dark stranger's demeanor changed; he seemed to grow in stature, and a huge smile displayed ivory-white teeth. "And such great powers!" he bellowed out, causing everyone to jump. "Restoration of youth...healing of sore limbs and brain fever...renewed vigor and endurance with loved ones! Why, if this truly is the Sacred Healing Toad of Chulak, then I would be the first to buy a bottle from you!"
"Here," Ryoko croaked. "Have one on the house."
The man popped the cork out with the flick of one thumb and guzzled the entire contents down in one long pull. "Delightful!" he yelled, his already-bright smile growing even more spellbinding. "This truly IS from the Sacred Healing Toad! Another! I must have another!" And just like that, the crowd swept in on Ryoko, cleaning her table out (and filling her cashbox) in minutes.
* * * * *
"Here." Ryoko handed her extorting benefactor a wad of yen. "Thirty, like you said."
He bowed slightly to her. "A pleasure."
"Bite me." Just then another stranger walked up and grabbed the dark guy by the arm. "Teal'c? Where the hell have you been?"
"I have been conducting a bit of business, O'Neill."
"Really?" The silver-haired newcomer--obviously military, despite his casual garb--glanced over at Ryoko and spent a few moments appreciating 'The Big Valley', then pulled his partner away. "Geez, Teal'c. I can't leave you alone for a minute, can I?"
"I was simply assisting the young woman..."
"Oh yeah, right. First you frighten the hell out of that poor girl with the purple hair. Then we go to get some food, and the two cuties at the yakisoba counter try to arrest you. And then you take a potshot at that crazy little redhead..."
"If you knew who she was, you would have approved, O'Neill..."
"Yeah, yeah. You've always got a good reason for everything. I bring you along for a military conference, try to expose you to some Japanese culture, and what do you do but get into trouble the first time my back is turned…"
“You were attempting to flirt with the teal-haired woman.”
“Attempting, nothing. I was getting somewhere until you went AWOL…”
Ryoko watched them walk away, then looked down at seventy percent of her take and sighed. “Oh well.” She scratched her leg and considered her options. Princess Prissy seemed to be doing quite a business at her expense. Well, two could play at that game. Ryoko quickly gathered up her things and headed for the first available booth...and her next scam.
Life on Earth had its moments after all...