(This scene is a sort of an aberration in terms of continuity - put it wherever you want. Also - thanking Doggieboy in advance for letting me play with Robert Nelson for a bit.)


A Tales of the Ringbearers mini-fic by Brother Grimace

"You know, I'm so glad that the Ringmasters added a couple of minor mods to the transfiguration ability," Jane Lane said, looking off in the distance at Mount Covenant as she stood on the plateau of the Devil's Tower. "Makes camping on top of a mountain easier."

"I'm sure that's not what they were thinking about," Daria Morgendorffer, looking in the other direction at Enclave Peak, Mount Covenant's twin - both a good seven miles away from the Tower. It's so strange, having two mountains that look so similar placed like they are... it's almost as if they're built that way."

"Yeah - they are."

The two girls turned as Robert Nelson stepped out of the small wooden structure his Defender Ring had created earlier. "When the Ringmasters decided to expand the Corps, they found Nova Valdris and terraformed several areas for special purposes - like here, in the Nicholl Nature Range. A couple of thousand or so miles of untouched forest, waterways, and some really nice mountains. Perfect for Ringbearer training - and a nice vacation spot."

"The last time I went camping, my family ended up being airlifted out after eating some of the wrong berries," Daria sighed.

"Not to worry, amiga," Jane smiled, looking down at the pot simmering over a campfire. "This time, dinner's on me."

Robert grimaced as he saw the contents of the pot. "Swedish meatballs?"

"Daria glanced over at her boyfriend. "You don't like them?"

"No, I do - but you can get them anywhere... and I do mean anywhere," Robert explained. "One thing that I found out, being a Ringbearer, is that every single alien race out there - well, every one that we've encountered - has the exact same dish. They have different names for it... but as soon as you see it, you know exactly what it is."

"Really?" Jane asked.

"Yeah - but I wouldn't ask around for it on Bovus Fourteen," Robert grimaced, remembering that he still needed to get back at Renee for telling him to do just that. Man, that girl holds a grudge. "It's the same as asking for 'long pig' in certain places back on Earth."

"Oh," Daria said, moving away from the pot. "Uh, Jane - could you or Robert just whip up a pepperoni and sausage pizza for me?"

"He can do it - I'm going to the little girls' room," Jane said, smirking as she saw Robert motioning for her to disappear. "Thank God they put new additions to the transmutation endowment."

Daria's ears perked up. "Really? What did they add?"

Robert cut in. "Copper, for one thing. Amber, feather water-"

"What's 'feather water?'" Daria asked.

"I'll show you later," the young man smirked. "They also added chewing gum and honey-"

"I won't even ask," Daria said, shaking her head.

"Well, the bears love it," Jane said. "The honey, and chewing gum. The Ringmasters also added paper to the list."

Daria's nose wrinkled in confusion. "Paper? Why paper - so people can have things to write on?"

Jane and Robert both took on twin smirks. "What?" Daria asked, growing slightly annoyed.

"Well, yes... but that was the second thing that came to mind," Jane said, barely keeping from laughing.

"Um, Daria... people got tired of using silk when they went to the bathroom," Robert said, trying to put it as delicately as he could. "Paper's bio-degradable - and toilet paper is one of the best ice-breakers there is in getting to know new people on a planet, or for people we've come to rescue. It's always one of the things people miss the most in any crisis."

Daria shook her head as Jane picked up a large rock, and transmuted it into a roll of toilet paper. "Umm," she said, ribbing her fingers against the side of the roll. "Two-ply. Don't wait up.

Jane lifted herself into the air. "Save some meatballs for me, Daria. We all know what you're like... around meatballs."

Robert made a valiant not to join in on Jane's tinkling laughter as she soared upward and away from the top of the Devil's Tower, the rock Daria throwing at her missing by a wide margin.

"Stop that," Daria said, turning to him, "You're turning red."

"Sorry," he said, struggling not to laugh.

"In order to not kick you over the edge of this mountain, why don't you tell me why there's an exact double of a mountain from Wyoming here on another planet?"

"Well, to be honest," Robert said, going over to the pot of meatballs and spooning out a serving for himself, "it's because everyone likes the look."

Daria gave him a look laced with sarcasm. "Wait a minute. You're saying that, because a lot of people like the way a mountain looks, they made one just like it on another planet?"

Robert shrugged. "They had their original Citadel inside the Devil's Tower on their Earth - and they figure that it's a symbol of peace. That Spielberg film's big all across the universe. Hell of a comedy for most aliens. Besides - it's a hell of a landmark. Anyone lost in the Nicholl Range can easily find their way here and make their way down the river a couple of miles south."

Daria took his plate, and held up a rock. "Thanks. You know, I could use some bread."

Robert's laughter echoed across the top of the Tower.