Meagen chased Ping's attacker through about a quarter of Megatokyo, and several of the usual distractions in the way of fruit carts, old ladies, cars appearing out of side streets unexpectedly, and two men carrying a large sheet of glass. She attuned herself to the Plot to sense where her quarry would go next, and that was her undoing.

After another bout of jumping across rooftops, she landed in a crouch on the sidewalk, quickly glanced left and right, and then... stopped.

The trail ended short at that point. Obviously she was not meant to pursue the man any further.

She stood up and turned around slowly, wondering if Sasayaki was going to show up. After a minute or so, she concluded there was no help coming from that direction, either. However, she still had one more thread she could follow up.

Meagen jumped up onto the roofs again, and made her way towards the Temple of Ping.

----------------------------------------------------

Still hyperventilating, the agent handed over the orb of light he had collected from Ping.

"And you are *certain* she did not follow you?", his superior asked.

"No but- it was a- close thing- there", the agent reported inbetween gasps.

The leader frowned. "Meagen can twist the reality of Megatokyo in unexpected ways", he said. "She could be the undoing of our plans if we don't find a way to stop her... or at least hold her off."

"BGMaster could do that", a henchling mused.

"Yes, but he's dead now, and in any case would never work with us." The leader thought aloud. "We need someone who has considerable power, who would be willing to turn against Meagen, and who could stand to benefit from joining us..."

----------------------------------------------------

Lightsider dripped sweat onto the tatami mats as he dropped his weapons. He watched the droplets pass through the silvery vapor of his dissipating swords before they hit the floor. Slowly, the doctor knelt with his back to the door and closed his eyes, willing his breathing to return to normal.

The images returned... his village destroyed, the Daimyo laughing at him, the gods cursing him with immortality, then, more recently, the faces of Shadowdancer and Tohru as they gave up on him. Memories upon memories upon memories.

"How would you like to change your life?"

Lightsider sighed. He'd sensed the stranger a long time ago, and had been hoping he was just some curiosity seeker who didn't want to talk.

"You sound", Lightsider said with a quiet edge, "like an infomercial."

The man chuckled softly, and Lightsider felt the stranger's dark intentions streaming off him like waves of heat.

"I'm not selling anything", the man said in a friendly tone. "What I'm here for is your help."

Lightsider half turned his head and looked at the man out of the corner of his eye for a long moment. The man slouched easily against the doorjamb, his dark suit bunching up on his shoulder a bit.

Lightsider turned away from the man again. "I don't help."

"You help yourself, don't you?"

Lightsider just shrugged. "Who doesn't?"

The man smiled. "I'm part of a group who's... unhappy about the way things are around here. But we've found a way to change it."

The doctor sighed irritably. "I don't do politics."

"Oh, this isn't politics. This is something that will actually work."

"Then work."

"Oh, we will. But, we could use some help, you know? A bit of muscle, even."

Lightsider waved his hand in a gesture that encompassed Megatokyo in general. "There's plenty to be had."

The man sighed in some frustration. "Look", he said, "if you help us, you'll have the chance to remake your life into anything you want. Anything. If you don't, you can either go on much as you have before, or just cease to be."

Lightsider chuckled. "That's a new one", he said. "You can go."

The man stared at the doctor's back for an incredulous second. "Don't you get it? You can change your life! It's your ticket out of your curse! You can have it all back! Even her."

Lightsider didn't answer, and the man made a disgusted sound and left.

The doctor sat for a long time in the UFL dojo. Before he got up, he whispered only one word.

"Change."

----------------------------------------------------

Meagen sat in the Temple's infirmary, watching the bedridden Sabyr thoughtfully. She was reminded of her many years of nursing incapacitated fanboys, which brought a tiny smile to her lips.

But her tone was quiet and serious as she spoke. "Sabyr, I'd like to know everything you can tell me about the man you met yesterday."

The Pingfan stirred, and cracked a small smile back at her. "i'd love to help", he croaked, "but i feel as if the blessed one hath tossed a turtle at my head."

"Please? This is important. Main Characters are being drained of their energy. So far Erika, Miho, Yuki and Ping have-"

"Ping?!" Sabyr jumped up, then immediately lay back again, making small "ow" sounds. "the bodhisattva was... drained?"

Meagen nodded. "I think the man who spoke to you has something to do with this. Possibly he ordered rum pie in order to make you drunk so you wouldn't be able to report his interest until it was too late."

Sabyr lay silent for a while. Just as Meagen was starting to wonder if he had gone unconcious, he whispered: "key to her heart."

"What?"

"he wanted to know. the key to ping's heart. i think he meant... some way of making her deepest emotions come forth."

Meagen nodded. "Go on."

"i told him that... piro was what he needed. that got him talking and... he told me a lot."

"About himself?"

"about his organisation. they... serve some Master. they found some way of changing megatokyo and... somehow, main characters are the key."

Meagen nodded again, thoughtfully.

"he said they want... to change the balance. put themselves where the church of miho is. re-make the whole reality. i'm not sure how."

----------------------------------------------------

Iain was typing at top speed, causing text to scroll up his Holotop's screen so fast as to be near-unreadable. He had analysed the energy signature of the device he found next to Ping, and was putting the finishing touches on a program that would scan all of Megatokyo looking for fields of similar energy.

One last keystroke finished the program, a few more were required to compile and set it in motion. He sat back and waited for the results, scarfing down some sandwitches and tea.

A few minutes later, the results began pouring in. C-kun sipped his tea, then choked and sprayed it out of his nose as he noticed one particular result.

After coughing a bit and wiping his desk, he began typing again, the food completely forgotten.

Two hours later, he sat back looking at the final results, and tried to find some way to express what he was feeling.

"Fuck", he said.

----------------------------------------------------

[AN: And so ends day 3! Man, it's been a while. I hope I can finish this 'fic before 2005 ends. Hopefully.

Lightsider sequence written by Lightsider. Give him a big hand, folks.]

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