Ken straightened his tunic and flashed a cocky grin at the mirror.
"I can't believe you're really going to do this." Joe shook his head, straightening his own costume.
Ken picked up the small spray bottle of breath freshener Jun had given him, and squirted the stuff into his mouth. Mm, minty fresh. And oh so cute with the little red ribbon around the bottle's neck. "Hey, how could I say no to the producers?"
"But …" Joe strapped in his fake sword, rolling his eyes at how floppy and rubbery it was. "It's just not you. It's not your character. Come on, you're the shy, duty-minded geek of the team! I mean," Joe grinned wickedly, "if anyone should be doing a nude love scene with Jun, it's me!"
Ken leaned against the make-up counter and perused his script. "Oh, come now, Joe. My character's completely different now. I can be as wild as I want! No more of this running away from women. Hell," he winked, "this character change has been great for my social life."
Joe growled, then sighed and shrugged. "Oh well, at least I get yet another melodramatic death scene. I suppose those are sort of fun." He drew his sword, which waggled with the slightest motion, and flashed an evil grin. "Too bad it's not Mercutio who kills Romeo."
Ken chuckled. "Well …"
There was a knock on the door. Raising an eyebrow at Joe, Ken said, "Come in."
A teen in a bellboy costume bowed deeply, holding forward a small box. "A gift for the star of the show."
"Obviously for me," said Joe, taking it and shutting the door before the kid could demand a tip.
"What's the tag say?"
"Hmm …" Joe examined the box on all sides. "There isn't one."
Ken squinted at the box. "Don't those little animals on the wrapping paper look like armadillos?"
Joe shrugged. "I suppose."
He started to tug at the ribbon.
"Um, I'm not sure …" Ken backed toward the corner of the room.
"Oh, come on. How stupid could they be? They used armadillos last time." Joe finally got the box open, and inside was a small metal armadillo. "Cool."
He took it from the box, and Ken flinched, which made Joe laugh. "You're so paranoid lately."
"I have good reason. They almost got us when we did Hansel and Gretel."
It had a little wind-up key. Joe wound it up all the way, then put it on the floor. It started making little whirring noises, and Ken cringed, not feeling any better as it started to walk.
"See? Just a toy." Joe waved a hand. "Probably Jinpei's idea of a practical joke."
Ken relaxed a bit.
A new noise started. A sort of, well, hissing noise. The room quickly filled with green gas, and Ken shot Joe his best pissed off "I told you so" glare before they both passed out.
"Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"
Ken groaned and heard Joe doing the same. The world was spinning. He tried to lift his hand to rub his eyes, and discovered he couldn't bend his elbow.
In fact, the world really was spinning, to an extent. He and Joe were tied together, back to back, and suspended above the stage. Galactor goons were manning the lights, grinning evilly. In what glimpses of the balcony Ken could get as they swung and spun, the woman on the balcony was not, indeed, Jun. She was an attractive blonde, which would have made her nice to look at if she wasn't also very obviously Berg Katse.
"Hey, she really isn't that bad looking," commented Joe groggily.
"What is it with you and Galactor women, anyway?"
Joe managed a shrug, which just added a new angle to their swinging. "Must be genetic."
"Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" Katse was starting to sound annoyed.
"Oh yeah, that's our cue." Two of the guards picked up a pair of sniper rifles.
"Ooooh, look at those scopes," Joe panted.
"Great." Ken was finding it impossible to loosen the ropes. Not that a 150 foot drop was any easier if he was free, since he couldn't change to birdstyle. "Come on, Joe, help me out here."
"Okay, okay …"
As they started squirming, there were two shots, and the floor lurched toward them at a frightening rate.
"I hope they at least took out two of their own in the crossfire," grumbled Joe.
Ken grunted in agreement, noticing a large brown and green blur heading their direction. The blur caught them and rushed them backstage.
"This isn't in the script, is it?" Ryu plunked them onto the floor and cut them loose.
"Not the one I read," said Ken with a wry grin.
"Script?" Joe shrugged. "Never read it. Boring."
Ken and Ryu rolled their eyes, then all of them hit the floor at the sound of gunshots.
Joe looked around. "Where are Jun and Jinpei?"
"Dunno." Ryu cautiously stood. "Come on, we're sitting ducks here."
They dashed from the theater, taking down any goons who got in their way.
"Hey, wait a second, this isn't the right theater!" Ryu pointed at the marquee, which read, "Romeo and Juliet: Galactor's Way."
Ken and Joe groaned.
They staggered into the proper theater an hour later, having jogged across town and lost the last of the goons. Jun, Jinpei, and Dr. Nambu were furious. Before they could explain, Jun had Ken by the earlobe and was leading him toward her dressing room despite his loud protests. She kept saying something about doing the love scene at least, if they couldn't do the rest of the play, and that she had video cameras set up to capture the moment.
"Come on, guys. Galactor nabbed us," Joe protested.
Dr. Nambu shook his head. "We know. You should have been on top of things, though. And falling for that armadillo trick? That's inexcusable."
Joe blinked. "How did you know?"
After thinking about it a moment, he held up his hands. "Never mind, I don't want to know."
They had to reschedule the play, since the Spacecruiser Yamato cast had the theater next. They were doing an old musical called "The Sound of Music."