The Perfect Plan, Part Twelve: The Ceremony

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(November 16th)


“Friendth of the bride or groom?” Phil asked hopefully. The monster was at the main doors, dressed in an elaborate tuxedo top – its black and white clashed badly with the deep green and purples of his skin, and his long claws had a long piece of plasticized paper speared through one pincer-tip. Fitting anything like pants over his lower tendrils would have been pointless, so Ecchs hadn't even bothered.

“What? It's us, the Champions.” Lucky answered. He was out of uniform, wearing a well-fitted tuxedo that suited him rather better than Phil's did. “I don't think we exactly qualify as either. The groom, maybe?”

Next to him, Amber nodded. Unlike Nadia, who was wearing a long blue dress, speckled with tiny silver specks, she had stayed with her own traditional wear, choosing a suit in only slightly deeper shades than her usual uniform, and matching earrings. “Check under enemies.”

“I don't haff a thetthion for…” Phil trailed off in the middle of his defense, and looked more closely at the list. “Oh, neffer mind. There it ith.” He scratched through a few lines of his paper, then looked up again. “Enemieth go in the adfertharieth thecthion, that row there.” He pointed with his free claw, then tried a long-tongued smile. Despite himself, Lucky backed up a quarter-step at the attempt at wedding cheer.

“Thanks, Phil. See you at the reception.” Lucky nodded, heading to the seats. He shook his head, speaking quietly. “I don't know if it's fair to make Phil use the word “adversaries” in general conversation, even with the speech adapter that the Doc gave him.”

Nadia nodded. “Seems a little unfair, but maybe he just didn't think of that. Never use a little word when a larger one will do.” She glanced around. “Hey, Ash! Didn't know you were coming.”

“Tony was invited as well, but I'm given to understand that he ate the invitation.” Ash replied. The ninja was inhabiting one of his smaller trees, a small birch that was just under eight feet tall, still adorned with fall splendour. Cybernetics wrapped into the shape of a bow tie adorned his trunk just below his bark-covered mouthguard, but otherwise he was unadorned. “Unsurprising, I suppose, but the Doctor is nothing if not optimistic.”

“Very optimistic.” Nadia said dubiously. “Tony's not sentient. He's just a mass of yellow tendrils.”

“I am aware.” Ash shrugged easily. “To my knowledge, the Champions are the only ones of Spencer's enemies currently present. He invited the Witch Doctor, several Antiheroes, and Nadia's former friends, but all either declined, were imprisoned, were dead, or several of the above.”

Lucky looked around the room, and raised his eyebrows. “What, does he want the wedding to fail?” When no one answered, he shrugged at no one in particular. “I like the decor, though. Very mad science-chic.”

The wedding hall was draped in a medley of light and shadows, with long electric lights covering the alcoves, and long blue lights along each side of the main aisle. Van de Graff generators flanked the altar in place of candles, and the organ had been upgraded with hundreds of long black steam pipes. The priest, an older middle-aged man with salt-and-pepper hair wearing simple white vestments, was smiling serenely while ignoring the changes that had been made to the church, looking very out-of-place but completely unconcerned.

Amber said, “Yeah, you'd never believe it was a Buy-Mart last week.” She smiled. “Any word about those lawsuits the Catholic Church was threatening?”

“I think Ada gave a generous donation in order to smooth over hurt feelings. In their defense, Ecchs should have never showed the blueprints to them pastor as part of his attempt to rent the church.” Nadia said. “And offering to 'upgrade' the confessionals to deliver automated penances was probably a bad idea.”

“Yeah, probably.” Lucky agreed. He took his seat cheerfully. “So, given that every religious institution from the Catholics to the Shriners is boycotting Malefico at the moment, who did they get to do the ceremony?”

“He is an old friend of the Ecchs family.” Ash replied. “According to my databases, he presided over two other weddings for two of the doctor's siblings. Given the doctor's current difficulties, he seemed a viable choice, so the doctor paid for his trip over.”

“Interesting.” Lucky nodded. “I'm looking forward to the ceremony.”


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