The Let's Play Archive

Mother 3

by Maple Leaf

Part 17: Chapter 14

Shouldn't have said it'd be ready Saturday. I knew I had plans that day, but I only expected them to take two hours of the day, not to go into Sunday night

By way of apology, have an update.

The front door to the club opened into a rather small lobby, but it was very colourful and adorned with DCMC merchandise all over its walls. Hats, shirts, and posters were all displayed prominently in the hall, practically directing a person through the centre doors and into the jazz hall of the club. A soft country tune was playing through a set of speakers lining the top corners of the room.

Violet was standing in the middle of the lobby, looking to Lucas expectantly. Once Boney walked in awkwardly, the two doormen closed the doors behind them. Lucas's heart was still beating a mile a minute, thankful they had managed to avoid that confrontation. "Thank you for-" he began, when Violet quickly silenced him.

Lucas stopped immediately, noting the urgency in Violet's face. Had he just walked out of the frying pan? She knelt down in front of him, leaning in close, wafting the thick smell of her perfume into his face. "Listen, but don't change your expression," she whispered. Lucas didn't know what to think, but did as he was told. As confused and as excited as he was, he did his best to keep his face as smooth as he could.

He resisted the urge to react. So that was why he found her so familiar! She had changed a lot the last three years, but it was definitely her. "We met in the Sunshine Forest, remember?"

"I re-remember," he stuttered, still caught a little off-guard from the whole series of events.

"I'm about to go play 'Waitress' some more, so I'll have to explain everything to you later." She leaned back, getting a good look at him. "You've grown into a real piece of work, kid. Working hard at the factory? Those clay stains are gonna be hell to wash out." She frowned a little when Lucas, still doing as he was told, refused to change his expression. "Put on a smile, will ya? Just because you're not changing your expression doesn't mean you have to look so soulless."

Kumatora was giving him a lot of conflicting orders, but, shyly, he put on the best smile he could muster. "That's better." She stood back up, speaking more casually.

Poo and Wuuf, go on in and try to find yourselves some empty seats. Enjoy the show!" With a giggle and a wink, she turned towards a room marked 'staff only' and left the lobby, walking with a lot of exaggeration in her hips. She must have to switch between herself and 'Violet' a lot to make the transition so quickly.

Opening the big double-doors into the stage area of Club Titiboo, he was treated to a sight of a huge throng of fans, all cheering and whooping for the DCMC's individual band members. One person was shouting for Magic, while others were hollering for Baccio and OJ, while still others wanted to see more of Zmizz and Lucky. Bronson and Jackie hadn't mentioned which one of them was supposed to be Duster, but if the resemblance was so uncanny, he thought he should be able to figure it out on his own.

"Tonda Gossa!" he heard a woman say to his left. At first he thought it was just something the regulars say, when she got his attention by pulling on his shoulder. "You must be new here," she smiled, "but 'Tonda Gossa' is the DCMC's greeting. You know, Tonda Gossa!"

Lucas looked nervously to the stage, then back to her. "Um...Tonda Gossa?"

"Now you're getting it! You're one step closer to being the DCMC's biggest fan!" Her smile waned slightly. "The next step is to not miss their shows. The DCMC's concert is long over now.

"Oh," he replied sadly. Although all he needed was a good look at the band, he was looking forward to knowing why everybody was raving about the DCMC so much. The floor was a little barren and practically hidden under a sea of litter bearing the band's logo; from drinking cups to food wrappers to entire shirts. But there were still a handful of the band's fans waiting impatiently for the band's encore performance.

Some were more abrasive than others in their forced idleness.

He even spotted Tessie, his nanny (or close enough), in the crowd, waiting for the encore to begin.

Although she was actually there for the band and not to confirm whether or not Lucky was Duster. At least now he knew which band member to ask, though.

Lucas waded around the crowd, trying to find a seat that wasn't sticky with soda that still had a decent view of the stage. Eventually, Boney got his attention with a quite woof, being careful not to give away his disguise.

Lucas couldn't tell what he was saying, but from the way Boney kept shifting back and forth on his hind legs, it was clear enough to him that he was starting to hurt from standing upright. "Okay," he said, loud enough to get over the crowd. "Let's go find a place to sit." Having to compromise, Lucas found an empty table a bit off to the side of the centre floor, taking a seat for himself and letting Boney take another.

Lucas kept looking around the room, trying to find if anyone else he knew was in the crowd, waiting for the DCMC. He didn't remember seeing Tessie at the factory, either, so did she have to pay for the ropeway? Or did she work behind the scenes?

Thomas came walking in from the large double-doors at the back of the floor. He walked that funny way he walked to an unused seat closer to the stage; right behind him was Kumatora, as Violet, and quickly, Lucas looked away, trying to act as casual as he could.

Pretending like he was just another customer, he turned around in his chair, looking up at her but avoiding her eyes. "Um," he mumbled, thinking about it. He didn't know what they had to serve, and his dad got mad whenever he even read the labels on his whiskey, so he played it safe. "I'll just have...water?"

Violet gave him a stupefied look, like he had just said the dumbest thing ever. "You want water?" she asked slowly, trying to hint to him that 'water' was the wrong choice. But he still didn't know what else he could ask for.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Thomas attempting to hold onto his sputters of laughter.

With a big grin on his face, he turned to look at the guy who was un-manly enough to order water, of all drinks, of all places like Club Titiboo. When he saw it was Lucas, he eased up very quickly. "Oh, hey there, Lucas!" he greeted warmly.

I mean, come on, a glass of water?!" He went right back to suppressing his laughter.

Lucas blushed sheepishly at Thomas's ribbing. "Yeah, I...I was just kidding," he defended, trying to save face in front of the adults. Still, he didn't know what else to order.

"Hey, Violet! Baby, honey, schnookums!" Thomas called. It was only a moment, but Lucas could see her face flinch at the names. Having to put up with the 'waitress' character must have been a lot to ask from her. "Get your cute buns a Fuzzy Soda for our hard-working lad, here! And a Big City Cola for his tall, dark and dog-like friend. It's all on me, the great Thomas, of course!"

"Certainly, sir!" she confirmed.

She giggled - it must have been a 'Violet' thing - and then left the floor, leaving Lucas and Thomas alone. "I'm surprised," he said, leaning back. "I never thought I'd see you here, Lucas. No offense or anything, but you're a pretty coddled, sheltered boy. Your old man finally make you get a job?"

"No," he said, shaking his head. "I decided to - to come here myself. Make some money." He decided to not mention that Wess had sent him to find Duster.

"Ah, that's even better!" Thomas laughed. "That's a real sign of maturity, Lucas. Going out and joining the hard-working class. Being a part of something great, you know? You get that feeling yet?"

Lucas looked down across his clay-stained shirt. "Sorta," he replied, getting another laugh from him.

Just then, Violet came back, carrying a large tray with two tall, bubbly drinks with ice in them. "Here you are, gentlemen!" she giggled, reaching onto the tray. "A Big City Cola for our handsomely dog-like friend here," she narrated, placing the tall drink in front of Boney. He had no idea how he was supposed to drink it. "And a Fuzzy Soda for our strong, hard-working boy here," she said again, doing the same for Lucas, only she took her time standing back up.

Lucas suddenly went rigid, trying his best to do as he was told. "There's a lot I need to talk to you about after the DCMC concert's over," she whispered. She looked around the floor, looking to see if anybody was watching them. Thomas seemed a little suspicious, but other than him, they were in the clear. "After it's over, don't leave. Hang out in the lobby. I'll be there to get you." Lucas, keeping his expression, did not confirm.

She stood back up, speaking more casually. "Alright, I'll see you later, then." Lucas thought that that meant he could relax his face again, and nodded once.

She stepped away from their table, and instantly, her body language changed once again. "Well, enjoy yourselves!" Winking and giggling, she turned and left the floor again.

Lucas turned back to the drink he was just handed - it didn't look like any drink he had ever seen before. It fizzed and bubbled a lot like the drink his dad had sometimes and never let him have any. Was he even allowed to drink it? Boney was looking hard at his own drink, trying to figure out some way to actually drink it without attracting attention.

"Hey, Lucas!" Thomas asked loudly once Violet left the room. "What were you and Violet talking about, eh? You've been here five minutes and already you got them crawling all over you!" Lucas turned back to Thomas, not understanding what he meant. "I suppose it's all in your boyish charms, eh?" He smiled lewdly, and Lucas didn't know what to say in response.

The lights began to dim, and suddenly, the crowd livened up once more. "Oh, the encore! It's starting!" Thomas said excitedly, turning back to the stage. A single spotlight came on, focusing on somebody Lucas didn't know, standing front and centre of the stage.

"Tonda Gossa!" the crowd yelled back simultaneously. Lucas was a little slow, but got into the act and yelled it too all the same.

"Are you all enjoying the show?" the man asked, getting a positive response. "We've been having a blast, too. Tazmily sure knows how to treat a guy! But

The crowd began to boo at the announcement. "Yeah, yeah, I know, it hurts me too," the man said sadly. "But I suppose we got enough time for one last song for everybody." The crowd began to cheer once more, happy that the band was going to leave with a bang. "So here's a crowd favourite, 'King P's Theme'!" He turned to face his band-mates. "Hit it!"

Lucas didn't know who 'King P' was, but he sure had one awesome theme song.

After the encore, everybody began to pick up and leave the floor, on their way home for the night to wait until tomorrow and start the whole cycle over again. Lucas and Boney left too, their drinks untouched on the table. One of the waitresses was handing out DCMC pamphlets at the door, passing one out to everybody as they left.

Just as Violet had told him, he and Boney pulled out into the lobby of the club and hung back, allowing everyone else to leave before them. Some people were so riled up from the performance that they hung back, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the members later. In the corner of the room, in the doorway marked 'employees only', stood Violet, looking towards them expectantly and mouthing the words 'this way' to them both.

The next room over held a simple locked door crudely marked 'keep out', but most peculiarly was that some of the tiles in the corner of the room had been rolled up like a carpet, revealing a ladder going straight into the mountain the club stood on.

He didn't see Violet in the room, and the door was locked, so he and Boney made their way down the ladder, checking to make sure they weren't being followed. Violet was waiting for them in the cold, drafty caves below, urging them onward through the darkness.

She went on ahead, going north into the mountain's belly. The caves looked like they went on for a while, and it quickly became too dark to see where he was going, so they had to feel their way through the caverns, tromping through thick mud all the way. It occurred to him halfway that he only had Violet's word that she was who she said she was; he gulped, hoping that he wasn't about to fall down a pit or walk straight off the mountain or something.

More than once he felt some kind of creepy-crawly find its way onto his hands as he felt around the narrow passage under the club. Not being able to see what it was, he yelped in shock more than once, his cry echoing down the walls as far as he could hear.

The tunnels went on and on, but eventually there was a single beam of light from the ceiling, showing them the tunnel's end with a rope ladder hanging steadily against the stone surface. They could hear the soft music from the club's speakers through the hole above, meaning that the ladder must have gone back into the building.

It was a little hard for Boney to climb, but they made it eventually. The ladder led straight into a room with a warm, pink decor. The sound of running water from an adjacent room was fairly clear over the music, as well.

Not to mention the sticky junk from all of those slugs." Between that and working at the factory, he could use a good wash, too. "I'm just going to wash up real quick," she called over all the sounds and from another room, "so you two make yourselves comfortable here, okay?"

It was a welcome suggestion, but he didn't want to make a mess of the room with all his dirty clothes and everything. Just walking anywhere was practically murder on the carpets with his muddy shoes. He considered leaving the room and heading to a washroom in the club, just for a moment, so that he could at least clean the soles of his shoes a little bit-

-but he decided against it. Awkwardly, he went back into Violet's room and waited for her to finish her shower.

He didn't have to wait long: she didn't spend a lot of time in there, just giving herself a quick rinse. She stepped back into the room, fully dressed and refreshed. "So," she asked, fiddling with the knot in her hair, doing it back up. "How do you like the room? Pretty fancy, huh?"

Lucas looked around. The colouring wasn't really his tastes, but the furniture was definitely something else. He looked at the bed and felt like he could sleep on it for days. "It's pretty good," was all he could reply.

"I can't say I like this whole 'Violet' gig," she sighed. "Being a waitress is...aggravating. Remembering orders an' tables is hard enough, but havin' to put up with perverts like Thomas just makes it harder." Lucas looked away, remembering the way Thomas looked at her and talked about her. "But on the flipside, Titiboo likes me so much they just gave me this room one day, and it's pretty boss.

But enough about me," she said, stepping to one side to let Lucas and Boney pass. "Go and shower, you two.

You look like you could use a good wash after today, and don't worry about the carpet. We can talk afterwards."

Lucas was more than eager to accept her invitation to a good wash. He felt disgusting. "Thank you very much," he said full-heartedly, showing himself into the washroom with Boney close behind.

He preferred hot springs over showers - to him, a shower felt like he was standing in the middle of a heavy downpour, and it was difficult to get comfortable with compared to the warm calmness of a hot spring. But showers were quite a bit faster, and while he'd like to use the time to soak, he and Kumatora had an awful lot to talk about.


But we'll never find out what happened to the Hummingbird Egg until Duster regains his memory," she sighed despondently. "At this rate, there's no tellin' when the pigs'll get their hands on it."

Kumatora had done most of the talking between them, but he had said he fair share. He had reflected on a lot of what they had discussed, and he knew that their next move would be a difficult one. With everything he knew now, this wasn't just a favour for old man Wess to find his lost son - he was just as certain as she was that the Pigmasks had to be stopped. And with his newfound PSI powers combined with her own, and with tricky Duster and loyal Boney, they had the skills to do it themselves.

"Lucas," she said, snapping him to attention. "See Duster an' try talkin' to him.

She shrugged her shoulders and faced the door to her room. "There are guards outside," she commented.

"I noticed," he replied. "The same guys, too."

"Yeah. They're not bad guys, but I don't wanna risk makin' things more complicated. So I'll let you in on a trick this room has." She walked up to the bed and faced a seemingly unimportant section of the wall; there were no breaks in the wallpaper or any sign that it was important, until Kumatora reached underneath the lamppost and pressed something. Almost soundlessly, a part of the wall simply flipped over, revealing another ladder going straight up.

You can get into Duster's room from here. It's not the most direct way of gettin' there, but you're less likely to get caught."

"What about you?"

"I'll get all the DCMC members together. I'll need to explain the situation to them, too." She looked almost hesitant. "I've been working her for a little while, and they all know me pretty's gonna be one hell of a bombshell to drop on them. But with you here, we can't stop now. I'll see you in a little bit!"

She left the room, casually slipping by the two doormen, leaving Lucas and Boney to themselves. Once she closed the door behind them, they set to work immediately, heading into the club's attic.

It was dusty and full of cobwebs. The wood was stained from some leaks that were apparently patched up some time later, and the path, such as there was one between the stacked boxes and large, rumbling pipes, was unclear. With how dirty and mouldy everything was up there, it wasn't too surprising to him when he suddenly began to feel a little under the weather.

He didn't really think much of it at the time, however; it was probably just his sinuses acting up from how filthy the attic was, so they kept on.

Not too far into the attic, they found that they were certainly not alone in its wide space: spiders, easily the size of his fist, had made their homes in Club Titiboo's attic, and were eager to defend it. Lucas wanted to avoid them - to simply walk around them and leave them to their own devices, especially since he was feeling a little lightheaded. But after his discussion with Kumatora, he promised to make himself stronger, and that meant having more self-confidence.

Baby steps, of course. Spiders were not Pigmasks, after all.

And neither were mice. But still, any experience was good experience. These creatures were violent and aggressive towards whoever invaded their territory anyway, so it wasn't like he was going out of his way to beat up these little things for his own enjoyment.

The attic was confusing to map out to himself: from the way all sorts of useless junk was stacked and piled, there was only one way to move about the massive upper floor of the club, and sometimes it branched off into paths. Some directions led to a dead end, while others led him in circles.

While he was trying to figure out the maze's secrets, he and Boney got themselves into a little trouble with the locals.

Just as he was about to get to work, dealing with it the same way as the others, his head felt a little strange. He faltered for a moment, giving one of the arachnids an open opportunity, and he felt the unwelcome sting of a spider bite on his arm. He flung it off as quickly as he could, and just as he swung his arm, he felt himself use his PSI almost unintentionally.

It wasn't like the PK Love he had learned with Ionia. It was a different skill altogether, and once he felt himself 'cast' it, he felt a sense of fortitude he had never felt before. Like he was a brick wall that could not be toppled over.

He took a moment to recollect himself, unfortunately leaving Boney to fight the creatures alone while he spaced out. Once he realized where he was once more, he got right back to work. Anything the smaller creatures hit him with seemed to just bounce off his skin.

Bats, not unlike what he had known in the Sunshine Forest, found their way to Club Titiboo high in the mountains as well. They appeared larger and more vicious: possibly a trait from having to make the climb to the club in the first place. Nonetheless, they were shooed.

The club stored mats with diamond-shaped patterns on them in the attic as well. He remembered seeing carpets like that in the lobby, so obviously, the club still makes use of its crawl spaces and somebody was likely up here not too long ago. Did the club just not care about their infestation problems?

And why did they have so many spares?

Their efforts to press forward were largely uneventful. It was just more of the same as they went: more arachnids, more mice, and the occasional bat thrown in. Lucas was feeling pretty good about himself, being able to push away so many opponents with his friend Boney. The feeling washed away in a blink when suddenly, he felt his head begin to spin once more.

It must have hit him worse that time, because he could have sworn he and Boney were under attack by a floating electric guitar and its buddy, a single, well-beaten drum.

Until, with an electric shock from the electric guitar, he realized how real the situation was. The guitar could attack by arcing electricity from its jack near its bottom, and its possessed drum friend simply whipped at them both using its drumsticks. As sick as he was feeling, Lucas didn't want to expend himself by fighting physically, so he resorted to using his PK Love trick at least once more.

They were both beginning to smart from all the unprovoked attacks from the dungeon of an attic they were trying to march through. Boney's awkward walk began to limp from having to put up with all the tension in his feet, and Lucas's shoulders were beginning to strain from all the effort he had to put into swinging his arms. "Some attic, huh, pal?" he asked weakly, his head still throbbing. Boney whined in response; the trip was taking its toll on him, too.

Between trying to ward off giant bats and spiders, and now possessed instruments, the wounds were beginning to show through Lucas's clothes and Boney's fur. Who knew simply walking through Club Titiboo's attic would be so physically demanding? His fever wasn't making matters any lighter; he rubbed his forehead, trying to soothe the pain away, when, incredibly, his fever simply...left.

He looked at his hand, feeling a kind of warm fuzz cover his open palm. It didn't look any different, but he could feel that he was using more of his PSI talent, albeit unintentionally. He rubbed his hand over his shoulder, letting it sit for a moment, when the pain simply melted away. There was no sore or cut where he was hurt, either.

"Boney," he said, reaching out to his dog and giving him a pat on the head, underneath his cap. Boney appreciated the love, but quickly, his ears perked up, and his 'walking' stance straightened out. Luckily he could apparently use his powers on anyone, not just himself. "I'm pretty sure I'm invincible right now," he laughed.

Feeling a bit more energetic, they kept going, making their way through the junk and around the pipes, until finally, they heard voices coming up from below. It sounded like someone was asking a question, and in response, he definitely heard Kumatora give an answer. They were close!

Just as they rounded the next corner through the maze of junk, they found another instrument. A different one, compared to the guitars and drums that had been long since discarded in the attic. It hovered just over a hole in the floor, seemingly watching whatever was going on below, and when he and Boney approached, it hardly seemed to notice them.

Lucas was about to swat it away like the others, when, ethereally, it somehow spoke to him. "As you can plainly see," it said resentfully, "I am a wooden bass. I'm still in my prime; there's not a single imperfection on my brilliant frame.

It turned to face them both. "I'm filled with so much frustration," it uttered. "I'm gonna turn this frustration and take it out on you guys! You're gonna be bawlin' your eyes out!"

This brought to mind a moral question for Lucas: if this bass guitar could feel emotion, could all the instrument he and Boney splintered on their way to the DCMC's dress room feel them, too?

He didn't have a lot of time to think about it, though.

He and Boney were dirty and dusty again, but at least they were cleaner than before they got to Violet's room, and they weren't terribly injured thanks to his PSI. The entire DCMC stood silently in the room, all of them staring towards the ground, as though they were deliberately trying to avoid contact with each other.

"I just finished explaining everything to the band members," she said, "so if they seem a little melancholy right now, that'd be why." Lucky looked the most distraught of the five. He was just told that everything he knew about himself wasn't the whole story, and that he was a part of something much larger. It was a lot to soak in.

"Tonda Gossa," he greeted Lucas, although his demeanour didn't really change. He was still lost in his own thoughts and concerns. "Who are you?"

You two know each other."

"You keep saying that," he uttered sadly, "but I don't even remember my real name. How do I even know its 'Duster'? All I do know is that I've lived my life as Lucky for years, now."

"Okay," Kumatora said, nodding. "All right, Lucky. I hate to ask, but could you tell Lucas everything you remember, too?"

"What good what that do?"

"Even if you're not Duster, you'd at least be filling him in. Whatever we can learn would help."

Lucky turned around, his hand stroking his chin in thought. "Yeah, alright," he replied after a moment.

Lucky took a moment to collect himself, getting ready to tell the story once more. "I had absolutely no memory whatsoever from before I came to Club Titiboo," he said clearly. "I had no idea where I was, where I came from, where I was going, or why I had a pet snake wrapped tightly around my waist. But for some reason - not a day goes by that I don't think about it - I was clutching a weird, glowing egg with great care, like it was my kid or something. I had a mission, I knew I did, and while I didn't know where I was going, I kept walking until I got there."

"Do you still have the snake?" Kumatora asked, remembering when they first met and how it seemed so normal to Duster that a snake was wrapped around his waist.

In response, Lucky lifted his shirt, revealing the snake to be wrapped from his left shoulder to his right hip. "I trained it to coil around me like this instead of like a belt, so I could hide it under my shirt," he explained. "It would have been a bad thing if I walked onto the stage with a huge snake holding my pants up, but I could never get it to relax in a cage, so the snake and I, we had to compromise."

Lucas was hanging on every word, trying to imagine what it was like to be Lucky when he didn't even know his own name. He and Duster weren't particularly well acquainted three years ago, but everybody was friends with everybody in Tazmily, or at least, they were back then.

I knew I absolutely had to keep it safe," he stressed, "so I looked for a place to hide it. I was in the middle of nowhere; anyplace that wasn't out in the open would have worked." He turned around, looking at Lucas, who was listening attentively. "And finally, after walking, and walking, I buried the egg inside a big dirt clod in a valley, where I knew no one would ever find it.

"Do you still...know where it is?" asked Lucas, interrupting him for a moment.

"Of course. I haven't forgotten a single detail. It was very important that I didn't. You go up a cliff near a giant waterfall, and...

The egg we all worked so hard to protect is there in Unknown Valley!" Kumatora seemed awfully excited about it, although given that she had been searching for it for three years, Lucas could understand. "Let's go there right now!"

Lucky was still indecisive and looked around the room sadly. He was constantly fidgeting; scratching his head, tapping his feet, leaning from side to side. He was visibly very nervous. "But am I really Duster?" he asked quietly. "If I really am this 'Duster' guy, that means I'm going to have to leave the band, right?

If it turns out I'm Duster, what will happen to the DCMC?!" His voice was raising and he was practically beginning to shake. His identity was beginning to cause him a headache. "But if I continue to live as Lucky, then what was that egg thing all about?" He began looking to his band-mates for answers or suggestions. "What should I do?!" he pleaded. "I just can't decide..."

"Of course you can't," said someone behind Lucas. He remembered him on the keyboard during the encore performance, but he wasn't totally clear on his name. "All you can do is ask destiny."

"Yeah," said another, with full, long blonde hair and a pair of slick sunglasses.

Nobody said anything for a while, but Lucky had calmed down slightly, apparently knowing exactly what they were talking about. "Destiny, huh," asked another. Lucas recognized him as the lead saxophone from the song. "Yeah, let's ask destiny! We have a way, after all.

Lucky knew exactly what he was hinting at. "Stone-sheet-clippers, huh?" he confirmed. Lucas knew the game - it was a child's game to settle disputes over things like who got to sit where or who got to eat what. He was never any good at it because he tended to pick sheet first. The leader looked to Lucas and waggled a finger, telling him to come closer. He did as he was told.

"Yeah," the sax-player said. "This Lucas fellow will play stone-sheet-clippers with us. If he beats all five of us in a row, then you'll go. But if he loses once, then you'll stay with the DCMC and you'll keep on playing the bass."

"What?" asked Lucas, suddenly on the spot. "I got to...I have to...five times?"

"Without losing once," said the man, kneeling down to face him. "If you pull it off, then destiny will definitely be on your side, right? And if you're right, then there's no way you'd lose."

Lucas could see the flaw in this plan. "But...but I can't, I mean, I," he stuttered, never really managing to say what he wanted.

Lucas gave a heavy sigh. There was no saying 'no' to this one. "I guess," he said quietly.

The sax-player stood back up once Lucas cooperated. "Cool. Then we're ready to begin when you are. You can start with any one of us."

"Can I start with you?"

"Well, except me. I'm the band leader, you know. I gotta see this one to the end, so I'll play you last."

Lucky was closest, so Lucas started with him. He extended his hand, balled into a tight fist, ready to begin this game that could decide Lucky's identity. Don't start with sheet. Don't start with sheet, he chanted in his head, hoping to begin his streak on a personal high-note.

Just before Lucky extended his own fist, however, he had something to say.

we'd always end in a tie." Lucas looked up at him, raising an eyebrow. Why would Lucky tell him this? "Is it best if I win?" he thought aloud, then shook his head. "No, I can't think about. It's best if I let destiny do the thinking for me." Lucky put his hand forward, bunched into a ball like Lucas's, and they both pumped three times, saying 'stone, sheet, clippers' with each bounce.

Lucas kept at his mental mantra just before he had to make a decision, and he wound up choosing stone. It was a terrific stroke of luck; Lucky had chosen clippers.

"I'll go next," another band member said. He had a really unforgettable hairstyle, and some really unforgettable skills with the guitar. "After all,

Lucas didn't understand what exactly they were doing. They were practically telling him how to win - did they not want Lucky to stay with them? "My name is Magic, by the way," the man smiled. "Best guitar in the west. Not that there's a whole lot of 'west' to the Nowhere Islands, eh?" Just like Lucky, he brought his hand forward, and they did the same three pumps, saying the game's name the whole while.

They were deliberately making it easy for him, and he couldn't wrap his head around why. "Me next!" the yanopist said eagerly, pushing forward for Lucas. "These games of destiny are always so exciting, don't you think? Guys like ole' Bacchio here always try to over-think these things and he always just makes the same move over and over, which that's why he always loses to Magic."

There it was again. It was like these guys wanted Lucky to become Duster so they could find that egg and save the world...did they? "The name is Shimmy Zmizz, by the way," he introduced before sticking his fist out. Lucas wasn't entirely sure if these people were just leading him on and telling him what to pick, but if he were to believe them, then Zmizz would probably pick stone.

The last one to play before the band leader was Bacchio, and according to all the hints he was given, Bacchio was definitely going to pick clippers. "Since I've already had my introductions done for me," he sighed, looking at Zmizz, "let's just get this party started." Like the other three, they went through the same motions, and, just as the others had hinted, he went clippers.

"Okay, then!" said the band-leader, looking over his friends and band-mates. "If I win this, Lucky will stay in the DCMC. And if I lose, he goes with Lucas and Violet." He looked straight at Lucky. "You cool with that, bro?"

And if it's not my destiny," he continued, "he'll lose and I'll stay here. It' simple as that."

"Okay, then!" the man said happily, facing Lucas again. "Since we haven't been introduced yet, Lucas, it's better late than never." He offered his open palm to shake, and Lucas shyly accepted. "My name's OJ. And that's not a nickname or anything; I got the documents to prove it."

"L-Lucas," he replied, giving the man a weak, but meaningful, handshake.

"Good! Now that we're all acquainted, Lucas, I have a favour to ask." He knelt down again, suddenly very serious, looking right into Lucas's eyes.

Immediately, Lucas thought it was a trick. OJ didn't really want Lucky to leave, and he was trying to mislead him into picking clippers so he could pick stone. But he wasn't entirely certain - what if he was being honest, like the others, if a little blunt? What if he wanted Duster to leave and become a part of something even bigger than the most popular band in the Nowhere Islands? "Tonda Gossa!" OJ cheered, raising his hand up dramatically high and making a show of turning it into a fist. "Alright, here we go!"

Lucas still wasn't sure of what he should do, and when they got to the third pump in their shake, he found himself going for stone, if only because he forgot to open his hand.

At that exact moment, someone practically blew the door to the dressing room off its hinges. Right away Lucas recognized the shape of the man and the amount of hair on his face, and silently began to panic.

His high tone and his flighty speech were dripping sarcasm. "Not!" he yelled, looking pretty furious. "Everybody keep it down! Save yer hootin' and hollerin' for the stage and give the rest of us some peace and quiet!"

Nobody responded, practically quaking in their boots while he stormed his way out of the room and slammed the door behind him. Lucas gave a very nervous sigh of relief; it felt like he managed to avoid that catastrophe by the skin of his teeth.

OJ was apparently just as stricken. "It looks like he didn't notice you and Wuuf," he said shakily. "I forgot what we just did that time, so let's do a do-over."

Lucas nodded, remembering clear as day what the results to that last one were. He did it again, and this time, he did it right.

OJ leaned back, satisfied in the results. "I guess Lucky probably is this Duster guy after all," he sighed. "I mean, to win five times in a row?! Destiny must really have wanted you to win this thing." He turned to Lucky, a wide, warm smile spreading on his lips. "Go!" he encouraged. "Don't worry about anything else at all! Lucky or Duster, you'll always have friends here in Club Titiboo!"

Kumatora was certainly happy with the results as well. "I think Duster hid the egg somewhere in Unknown Valley," she said, already reaching up to undo the knot in her hair. "Which means I have no reason to stay here, either." She was quite ecstatic at her own news.

Just before she left, she got one last good look at the band, still together. "Thanks for everything, guys. It's been a real blast an', lookin' back, I wouldn't'a traded the experience for anything. Take care!" Eagerly, she left the room, making a bee-line straight for her dressing room while it was still hers, to retrieve her old clothes.

"Lucky," OJ began, having calmed down a bit. "No...Duster, I guess. You were the best bass player ever, bar none. I'm..." He began to choke up a bit, but quickly recomposed himself. "I'm gonna miss you, man." He made for the door, and just before leaving, he turned to the others.

And then he left the room without another word. "I'm sure we will," said Magic, before following behind OJ.

"Don't go forgetting the time you spent with us now, you dig?" asked Zmizz, just as happy as ever. He didn't seem to regret the decision destiny had made for him, and casually, he strode out of the room as well.

"Lucky." Bacchio approached Lucky, looking at him hard, his mouth trying to word what he wanted to say, but nothing would come out. Instead, it was all he could do to simply leave the room without saying a word. Lucky understood what he meant.

I've said my goodbyes, and I have no regrets," he said, and Lucas knew that he meant it. "I'll take you guys to the egg, and from and my snake friend will go where we're needed."

Lucas smiled back to him. "Thanks...Duster," he said. He didn't know if it was insensitive to call him that when all he knew was his time as Lucky, but he didn't seem to mind. With Boney, still walking on two legs, following behind, they left the dressing room, only to be greeted by a rather grisly sight.

Kumatora looked like she hadn't aged a day since he first met her three years ago in the Sunshine Forest. She looked so happy now that she was out of her Violet persona, and that she was wearing her normal clothes and her normal hair. "I never wanna see another pair of high-heels again," she spat, "so all the better to get out and go, don'tcha think?"

Lucas couldn't agree more. With Duster by their side, they were ready to find the Hummingbird Egg, and from there, hopefully put a stop to the Pigmasks' transformation of Tazmily.

And with that, they finally left Club Titiboo.

This update was actually pretty fun to write out, minus the whole "stay up until the early hours of the morning to finish it" part. But I still managed to get her done! I just gotta remind myself to switch all the screenshots to LPix when it's not rejecting my batch uploads instead of bogging down Waffleimages.

I actually have tons of things to talk about, including some unused music to share, but I'm going to hold onto it for now and write a bonus update next. Now that we have our permanent team of four, a lot of new things have opened up to us and we don't immediately have to follow the plot right away, so it's that time again!

Just a few things I want to say about the music before I wrap this up, though - specifically, the battle BGM's. Two things, in particular: way back on the first page of this thread, I mentioned in a spoiler tag that the "bass guitar's music was unforgettable". The boss uses the same music as the electric guitar, but changed a little somehow (I can't even tell: it's not the usual "extra this or missing that to trip you up" deal), so I didn't bother uploading it twice. I can't remember Johnny B. Goode is the song Rock and Roll Mild/Spicy is supposed to be based on, but today's copyright wouldn't appreciate it and Nintendo will have a shitton of legal-wrangling and probably royalties to pay to make it even possible to release, which wouldn't be worth it to them. So, unless things like this are overhauled massively, I'm afraid there won't be an export for us.

(Incidentally, this is almost exactly why Nintendo is having trouble releasing Earthbound on the Virtual Console. If is to be believed, Nintendo has EB all ready to release and everything, but because of copyright laws introduced between now and when EB was first released (The Blues Brothers were one of the biggest hurdles, iirc), there are a lot of nets Nintendo has to avoid before they can)

The second song was Intense Guys. It is the second best battle BGM in the game, and if you disagree, you're just flat-out wrong

EDIT: vvv I forgot to mention that. The song Lucky's Room might sound particularly familiar to anybody who's played Earthbound at least once.