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Fusions That Should Never Be #III:
The Replacement Excels


Prelude


Somewhere in the bowels of an underground lair, safely hidden from his admirers (who often hid their adulation within flames and death threats) sat a fanfic author who was a legend in his own mind. Suave, sophisticated, talented, and the envy of millions (and since he was writing his own description, there were none within the confines of the story who could refute such claims), he sat on his throne (which was cunningly disguised as an office chair, right down to the four wheels lining the bottom) and stared intently across the desk to where the only other occupant waited.

His visitor was silent. He was a touch on the slender side, dressed in a slightly rumpled business suit, and looked quite normal save for one small detail: a slightly manic gleam behind his glasses. It indicated he was not altogether right in the head, and was most likely a warped sociopath who would one day explode, leaving a path of destruction in his wake.

In other words, it clearly identified him as a manga artist.

The other — whose sad, pathetic gleam marked him as a fanfic author — nodded in satisfaction, his own glasses shining in the dim lighting of the room. "So, we meet again."

The man cocked his head quizzically.

"Actually, we have never met before. I just felt like saying it. Adds dramatic attention." The author cleared his throat and slid a sheaf of papers across the desk to the artist. He waited until his guest had read over them. Once satisfied, the fanfic author said, "So, what is your answer?"

The man pulled out a pen and quickly signed the document in two quick strokes, then slid it back across the desk.

The fanfic author read what had been written on the paper.

"I, Koshi Rikdo, do hereby swear to gouge out my eyes with a pencil before allowing a talentless hack director who's living on the popularity gained by one inane film — that couldn't even get the sequence of events right — to turn Excel Saga into a major motion picture!"

A sweatdrop broke out from the fanfic author. "Ah, I'm not Quentin Tarentino. Even at my absolute lowest, I have never been that big a geek."

A look of realization dawned on Rikdo's features. He grabbed the papers and crossed out everything he had written.

The author laughed imperiously, "As previously mentioned in my description, I am a fanfic writer, DB Sommer, whose talents, while not coming anywhere near to surpassing yours, can challenge them (theoretically) for as a fanfic writer, I am not bound by the constraints of such things as editors, profit margins, good taste, or coherence."

Rikdo nodded sagely. Or so it appeared, until his head slumped against his chest, indicating he had nodded off.

"Wake up!" DB shouted.

Rikdo roused himself from his slumber.

DB said, "All I want to know is, can I use the characters in Excel Saga to do a really cool, deeply emotive, epic length fusion which will stand the literary world on its ear and make my name hailed on the lips of millions? Or at least can I do it so I can kill a little time?"

Rikdo considered that. He then grabbed the papers and gave two deft strokes of his pen again.

DB read over the pages, his eyes tearing with joy.

The paper said, "I, Koshi Rikdo, do hereby give permission to DB Sommer to use the characters of Excel Saga in a fanfic (right until the point he makes a little money, in which case I will sue his ass for every cent he has for copyright infringement anyway.)"

"Joy," DB sighed, clutching the document to his chest as though it was a document. Now all he had to do was obtain permission from the other company's owners to use their characters as well.

Nah, he decided. Enough time had been burned on the prelude anyway. Best to simply say 'screw 'em' and start writing yet another in a continuing series of…



An Experimental Excel Saga-Love Hina crossover story
by DB Sommer

Any and all C+C is appreciated. You can contact me at sommer@3rdm.net

Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to any of the characters, and boy, aren't their creators relieved? In reality, Excel Saga belongs to Koshi Rikdo, Victor Entertainment, Shounen Gahousha, ADV Films, and Viz Communications, and Love Hina belongs to Ken Akamatsu, Kodansha Comics, Shounen Magazine Comics, TV Tokyo and Pioneer Entertainment.

[Forward: Ordinarily, this is where I would apologize to you in advance for what is to come, but since I've done these before, you should know what to expect. Remember, any adverse affects that happen to you after reading this are entirely YOUR fault. Yes, the title to the fic was plaigeriz… I mean inspired by Angus MacSpon's 'The Replacement Ranmas'. So any adverse affects that happen to you after reading this are entirely his fault, as well as yours.]

And now, on to the fic…


Illpalazzo sat on his throne (which looked suspiciously like the chair from the prelude) in the secret headquarters of ACROSS. Standing before him, within the cavernous chamber, was the entire membership of his organization, which was bent on global domination.

"Hail Illpalazzo!" Excel chimed in her melodic, manic, relentless, high-pitched voice.

Hyatt coughed up some blood, which sufficed for her vow of commitment to ACROSS and its ideals.

"What are your orders for today, oh great and imperious leader?!" Excel cried out.

Illpalazzo's hand wandered to his chin in consideration. "I fear recent events have forced me to reconsider our positioning for successful global domination."

"I see," Excel said.

"Do you?" Illpalazzo asked.

"Not really. I just blindly agree with everything you say."

"I suspected as much," the overlord said in a tired voice. "What I'm trying to say is, we're in bad shape since our series has been discontinued."

"Nooooo!" Excel wailed. "It's not fair! We're the biggest, bestest, most innovative popular series ever created, due in no small part to our glorious leader's bright and wonderful leadership! Send me to kill all those producers and directors that would dare to do the unthinkable!" Excel pulled weapons from her outfit, swinging a sword and firing a gun at invisible artists.

"I'll help," Hyatt offered quietly.

Illpalazzo shook his head. "There's a better way to revive interest in our series."

"We'll have a story with a strong social message about the desire for peace and an end to violence!" Excel began swinging the sword and firing her gun again.

"No," Illpalazzo corrected over the sounds of gunfire.

"A stirring story about animal rights! People love cute and cuddly animals! We could talk about… oh, I'm getting hungry." She pulled out a knife and fork. "I wonder if Menchi is around."

"Again, no."

"Gratuitous lesbian sex!" Excel proclaimed, and smacked Hyatt affectionately on her bottom.

"Again, you are off the mark," Illpalazzo declared. "No, what we need to do is resort to a ground that hasn't been covered by Excel Saga yet: that of fanfiction."

Excel visibly deflated. "Aw, that never works."

"I have confidence that it will," Illpalazzo said. "Moreover, to have an immediate impact, we will have a fusion with another series that is much beloved by otaku everywhere."

"Speed Racer!" Excel suggested.

"Too dated."

"Evangelion!"

"Too screwed up, even by Excel Saga standards."

"My Neighbor Totoro!"

"No one messes with Miyazaki."

"Silent Service!"

Illpalazzo pulled out a gun and shot Excel in the head.

The Great Will of the Universe just happened to drift by and noticed Excel's body. "It's time to get up, Excel. The fusion has only just begun." She then promptly resurrected the corpse.

Excel cradled her head in her hands. "How odd. I seem to have developed a splitting headache centering right between my eyes."

"And mine stopped at the same time," Illpalazzo said. "In any case, we are going to be fused with Love Hina. It was chosen because it's a newer popular series that will give us a chance to explore untraveled pathways, avenues of character development, and plots that will provide unique insights into one's fellow man."

"Ranma ½ was unavailable, wasn't it?" Hyatt inquired.

"Booked solid until 2006," Illpalazzo confirmed.

Excel considered her leader's words. "Hmm. If we're going to be made into a fusion, that means someone is going to be axed and substituted for a Love Hina character. It'll have to be a regular, and a woman, since Love Hina doesn't have any popular male characters."

"What about Keitaro Urashima?" Hyatt said.

"I said 'popular male characters'."

"Oh, sorry, sempai. You're quite correct."

Excel placed a hand around Hyatt's shoulders. "I'm sorry, Hyatt-chan, but this is good-bye. I'm sure you'll find a nice series somewhere and be able to join the cast. Say, you're an alien, how about Tenchi? That has lots of alien girls and I bet you and Tenchi hit it off and I can't believe he's as big a weenie as they show him in the series so it'll probably be okay—"

Illpalazzo cleared his throat, gaining the girls' attention. He grabbed at the nearby rope that was dangling from the ceiling. "I'm afraid, Excel, that you are the one that will be replaced."

Excel's eyes widened in shock. Tears fell as she pleaded in an anguished voice, "Not me…"

"Yes, it must be you."

"But why?!" she wailed.

"Hyatt's a major hottie."

Hyatt blushed, or so it appeared, until a moment later the source of the redness proved to be something else as a gout of blood exploded from her mouth and she fell to the floor, dead.

For the next couple of minutes anyway.

"I'm also hoping to cash in on a new merchandising line. We can sell far more if it's a new central character to our series." From the folds of his massive cape, Illpalazzo pulled out what appeared to be an Excel plushie, save for the fact it was taller, had longer hair, and unquestionably a better rack. He pulled on the drawstring attached to it. As it coiled back into the doll, it declared in a high-pitched voice, "Naru-cel Punch!"

Excel's shoulders slumped helplessly as Illpalazzo pulled the cord dangling from the ceiling. She remained standing in mid-air long enough to wave good-bye before plummeting to her doom.

For the next couple of minutes anyway.

The trap door swung shut. Illpalazzo gave an excessively dramatic wave of his hand. "Bring in the first Replacement Excel!"

Hidden off camera, a group of eight women, all dressed in uniforms identical to Excel, entered the room. There was a bit of discussion among the group, which sounded more akin to a heated debate than a civil conversation.

Finally, one of them stepped forward. Well, it was more like 'pushed' forward, but since it made her stand apart from the cluster, she was the first chosen as Illpalazzo indicated with a curl of his finger that she was to approach.

"Why me?" Naru complained.

Mitsune, one of the people that had shoved her the hardest, explained, "You were the female lead in our series. It's only reasonable that you get first crack at female lead for the fusion."

"I don't have time to take a job that involves trying to achieve global domination," Naru huffed. "I have to take care of Keitaro since we've already proclaimed our love for one another and everything."

Another of the group, Mutsumi, said, "If you get the job and can't come back, don't worry, we'll be more than happy to take care of Kei-chan for you."

Naru saw the way certain others reacted to the statement, and her eyebrow began twitching. Shinobu and Motoko blushed furiously, Mitsune had a devious look on her face (though that was always there), Mutsumi had a pleasant smile (but she always had a pleasant smile no matter the circumstances, so how could Naru know if the girl was plotting something or not?), and Suu… Well, Suu was Suu, meaning she could try straddling any given part of Keitaro's anatomy whenever she felt like it.

Naru was about to protest again when Haruka said, "You should go," in a voice that said 'just because it sounded like a suggestion doesn't mean it's not an order'. Having nowhere near enough willpower to resist someone that… Haruka-like, Naru reluctantly stepped to the center of the room until she stood in the exact spot where the original Excel had been but moments before.

Illpalazzo asked, "You're the first to apply for the job?"

"Yes, Illyap… Illapyo… Boss," Naru finally chose.

"You lack a certain vibrancy that is needed for the role," Illpalazzo commented.

Offended at the very idea of being inadequate for anything, Naru's earlier hesitation was quickly replaced by an equal amount of anger. "I can be very vibrant! You just watch!" She rolled up her short sleeve and said, "I… That is… Hail… Um…" Naru scratched her head, totally at a loss.

Mitsune whispered, "Describe your relationship with Keitaro, and be honest."

Naru blushed furiously. "Well, Keitaro can be nice when he wants to be and isn't a complete and total loser all the time. He's been there for me when I really need him, and he's been encouraging and sometimes needs help from others even though he's afraid to ask but I don't mind that since I'm sort of the same way and he doesn't just give up when the going gets tough and keeps trying no matter how bad it is."

Nodding his head, Illpalazzo said, "I see you are a bit vibrant after all."

Naru didn't hear a thing, now in full rant mode as her voice began to rise. "On the other hand he acts perverted all the time he'll blush and stammer when he's around other pretty girls and doesn't flatly reject the advances of other women like he should and he's insensitive to my needs a lot of the time—"

Illpalazzo held his hand to his head, grimacing slightly. "Very… vibrant…"

"—And doesn't know what I want and I have to actually tell him what I want instead of him knowing which is what men are supposed to do if they're interested in a girl and then he gets me angry when he doesn't do what he's supposed to or he screws up or he embarrasses me which happens a lot and sometimes he makes me lose my temper and I end up hitting him which is not my fault because he makes me—"

"…Too vibrant." Illpalazzo pulled the cord again.

Naru found herself standing on air. As she fell, her skirt flipped up and showed off her panties to everyone that could see. She gave a low screech before the trapdoor muffled the noise as it slammed shut.

"Next," the overlord ordered.

Motoko was shoved forward by the others. She hesitantly walked to where Naru had stood previously. Her outfit was identical to Excel's as well, including the size. Given Motoko's larger dimensions, it made for quite the interesting (and highly fanservicey) sight. She blushed furiously, hand over the top of her outfit, right where the ample cleavage was showing

"You're a bit tall," Illpalazzo commented idly.

Motoko shifted nervously. "I cannot work in such revealing garb. Can't I wear something else?"

The overlord shook his head. "No, it comes with the job description. Fanservice never hurt any series."

"But it shows too much," Motoko insisted.

The now recovered Hyatt disagreed. "I think it looks nice on you. Besides, you can't expect a man to fall for you if you only dress in stuffy kendoist garb all the time. At least that's what sempai always used to say."

"I have no interest in men—" Motoko abruptly stopped as one of the cute and cuddly Puchuus waddled into the room, rug beater in hand, cutely chanting "Pu-chu," as it made its way to the kendoist.

"Ahhh!" Motoko screeched. "Not a Puchuu! They're even more terrifying than turtles! DIE!" She drew her katana and arced a slice toward the creature's cute head.

It casually raised the rug beater above its head and blocked the blade, giving a curious "Pu-chu?"

Motoko slumped to her knees, stunned at being defeated so easily. "I really hate this outfit."

The action made Illpalazzo frown. "Even Excel could take out an entire battlecruiser filled with an invasion force of Puchuus by accident. That you cannot dispatch even one shows your inability to fill this role." Illpalazzo pulled the rope once more, and Motoko fell down into the pit, relieved at being sent from the room, though unaware that the pit's contents were a horde of voracious snapping turtles.

Before the trapdoor could close, a hand reached out from the shaft. Slowly, a figure crawled out. Naru, covered in seaweed and with several snapping turtles nibbling on her bottom, stalked her way toward Illpalazzo. A low red aura surrounded her.

"Yes?" Illpalazzo asked.

"You saw my panties, you pervert!" Naru drew back a fist and struck Illpalazzo full in the face.

Rather than be sent sailing away, Illpalazzo simply rubbed his jaw. He then pulled out a bazooka and stuck it in Naru's face.

Laughing nervously, Naru said, "Ah, you're not supposed to do that. When I get angry after being embarrassed and hit the person responsible, they're supposed to go sailing away and then apologize profusely for doing it. It's a standard reaction for the entire genre."

In a calm voice, the overlord declared, "One thing Excel Saga is known for is its open defiance of all convention," and then pulled the trigger.

The Great Will of the Universe came in, swept up the remains, and threw them into her void. A moment later, she spat Naru out, the girl disoriented, but decidedly alive and in one piece.

Suu ran forward and shouted gleefully, "Me! Me next! I want to get blown up too!"

Illpalazzo said, "If you get the job, I'm sure it will happen frequently."

"That happened to sempai all the time," Hyatt seconded.

Unlike the previous contenders, Suu wore a large grin on her face. She happily saluted and said, "Hail Illpalazzo!"

The overlord of all he surveyed (which was currently his Super Secret Underground Headquarters and nothing else) noted that Suu's bubbly nature matched up well with Excel's. He pulled out her job application. "It says here you're active, vibrant, oftentimes silly, and have the technical know how to create anything out of nothing?"

Suu jumped up and shouted, "Yep!"

Going through his pockets, he threw her a thimble, three empty candy wrappers, a broken clock radio, and some belly button lint. "What can you do with those?"

A minute later, a fully functional Zaku Mobile Suit towered before them.

Illpalazzo appeared impressed.

Suu said, "If you had given me some duct tape, I could have made a Type 00 Gundam, complete with a clone of Heero 'Yaoi Fangirl Bait' Yui."

Illpalazzo's satisfaction doubled. "Well, I'd say you are more than qualified—" his voice trailed off as he noticed one last detail that had escaped his attention on the first read through. "It says here you occasionally take on an older form and have powers identical to those of a magical girl."

"Yep," Suu said happily.

"How unfortunate. We here at Excel Saga might seem like we just do whatever comes to mind whenever and wherever we feel like it, but in truth, there are three standards we enforce. One of them is that there is never a time when mimes can be regarded as humorous. The second is unmentionable. And the third is that there will be no actual magical girls on the set (since our creators will do a separate series devoted to them and we don't want to desensitize the audience to it). I'm afraid you're disqualified." Illpalazzo pulled the cord and the trap door dropped.

Before gravity exerted its will upon Suu, she pushed a button on her belt buckle. Two miniature jets popped out of her belt and ignited, preventing her descent into the murky depths.

Illpalazzo shook his head at the happily hovering girl. "I know now I made the right choice. I cannot stand impertinence. You see, the way it works is, whenever I pull the cord, you have to fall to your temporary doom. Instead you have circumvented my punishment; an unacceptable action." Position explained, Illpalazzo pulled out his bazooka.

"Yay!" Suu cheered. It was cut off as the explosive hit her, blowing her into tiny pieces.

"Busy day, busy day," The Great Will of the Universe sighed as she once again picked up the fragments and reassembled them in the form of Suu.

Groggily, Suu chanted "Molecular reassembly is fun! Let's do it again!"

Mutsumi decided it was her turn and voluntarily headed toward the center of the room. So intent was she on impressing Illpalazzo that she failed to take note of the Puchuu walking right in front of her. She stepped directly upon it, sending both herself and the alien crashing to the ground.

The Puchuu reverted to its far more repulsive 'injured' form and cried out, "Oh my god! I can't feel my legs!" as it squirmed on the ground.

Mutsumi herself crashed to the floor, striking chin first. She gave no cry of pain, but instead simply lay there.

Hyatt moved closer and felt for a pulse. "I think she's dead."

"Are you certain?" Illpalazzo asked.

"I am somewhat familiar with that condition," Hyatt said.

"Don't worry. She'll get better," Mistune offered in between hits of the bottle of sake she had brought along.

Illpalazzo considered the statement. "While she would certainly make for a good Replacement Hyatt, we have no job openings for that position at the moment. I'm afraid she does not get the job either."

Haruka and Shinobu dragged Mutsumi's prone body back with them.

Illpalazzo discovered a tickle of discontent, centered curiously on his rear end. He was surprised that the difficulty of finding a Replacement Excel was proving so irritating, but then realized the source was not the nature of the interviews, but that he had merely sat on his pen. He pulled it out and affixed it to his lapel. "Next."

Sarah ran enthusiastically forward and made a dramatic jump onto the trap door.

Illpalazzo immediately shot her in the head. "That's enough of that."

The Great Will of the Universe started to float over the girl to reanimate her, then reconsidered. Some things were best left dead.

Illpalazzo pulled the rope, sending the body into the depths. He couldn't help noticing all the girls high-fiving one another. "Next."

Mitsune staggered forward, bottle in hand. Unlike most of the previous interviewees, not only did she appear comfortable in the Excel uniform, but she was posing seductively in it. She stopped on top of the trapdoor, winked at Illpalazzo, then blew him a kiss. "Hail Una Paloma Blanca!"

"No drunks on the job." Illpalazzo pulled the cord again. At least he was disposing of the disappointments more quickly now. Like anything else, the more repetitions you did, the easier it became. "Next."

A man with spiky blond hair, which resembled nothing so much as the business end of a broom, made his way over. He was dressed like the others, save that he had a gun belt on the Excel uniform, and there was a large six shooter residing in the holster.

He held up his hand, forming a 'V' with his ring and middle finger, and said, "Love and… I mean, hail Illpalazzo!"

"Who are you?" the overlord asked.

"I'm Vash the Stampede. I'm here for the obligatory gratuitous other fic reference in this fusion. Every fic needs one, so I decided to come on down. The villains you guys fight really aren't any worse than those Gung Ho Guns I had to deal with. And I heard you had a killer donut benefit plaaAAAANNNN!"

Vash's voice trailed into the distance as he plummeted to his temporary doom. The last words everyone heard where, "Couldn't you have at least spared one with chocolate and some sprinkles?"

Illpalazzo toyed idly with the rope. "Next."

Shivering so much that she looked like a vibrator left on overdrive, Shinobu began to move forward. She inched along the tile, covering herself as best as she could, each step seeming to take an eternity. But since the Will of the Universe had other places to be before an eternity passed, she speeded time up so that Shinobu was standing directly upon the trapdoor before the paragraph was over.

Her lower lip quivering frantically, Shinobu whispered out. "Huh… huh… huh… hail… hail… hail… Ill… Ill… Illpa…"

Illpalazzo finally asked, "What's wrong, little girl?"

Shinobu broke down and curled into a fetal position on the floor. "You're going to drop me into the pit like everyone else and I'll be devoured by sea creatures lurking in the bottom!"

Illpalazzo made soothing sounds. "Now, now. I didn't do it to everyone. The dead girl, for instance. I let her be dragged away."

"Thu… That's buh-because DB is a Mutsumi fanboy and that affords her some puh-protection. But he's not a big fan of mine. That means I'll get dumped, too!" she wailed.

Illpalazzo clucked dismissively. "I won't drop you into the pit."

Shinobu slowed down in her sniffling. "You won't?"

"No," Illpalazzo assured her. "The sadistic enjoyment I derived from tossing Excel and your friends into the pit wouldn't apply to you; you're too quiet and easily intimidated. It would be like showing a blind man Rorschach inkblots and asking him what he thinks of when he sees them: it's too darn easy. You have nothing to fear. Run along, little girl." He shooed her away

Shinobu scampered back to the crowd of girls.

The final interviewee stepped forward. Everyone in the room agreed there was something unquestionably warped about Haruka being decked out in an Excel outfit, trademark cigarette dangling from her mouth.

Illpalazzo shook his head. "Surely this is a joke. This is a job opening for a young, spry, amphetamine-enhanced manic girl, not some middle-aged, cellulite-laden, laid-back old maid. You'll never do at all."

Haruka's eyebrow twitched. In the blink of an eye she somehow crossed the distance and nailed Illpalazzo right in the jaw. He went sailing across the room, bouncing off the walls like it was a racquetball court and he was the ball, one that had just been shot out of a cannon. Eventually inertia grew tired of the rapid bouncing and exerted the enforcement of its laws, forcing the overlord to stop. His landing resulted in him ending him up at Hyatt's feet. She helped him return to a vertical base.

Once upright, Illpalazzo brushed himself off, as though he had merely stumbled. To Haruka, he said, "Upon careful reconsideration, you are perfect for the job."

Naru stomped forward, then leveled an accusatory finger at Illpalazzo. "Hey, how come you let her smack you around and didn't blow her butt up for daring to attack you?!"

Illpalazzo cleared his throat. "It's because even in Excel Saga, there are simply some lines you cannot cross."

Haruka nodded in affirmation.

"I see," Naru said.

A pull rope suddenly descended from the ceiling directly above Illpalazzo. He pulled on it, causing the section of flooring beneath Naru to drop out.

"But there are other lines we'll gleefully cross again and again until the joke has been beaten to death," he informed Naru, who had long since fallen down into the shaft, cursing the overlord as she once again plummeted into the murky depths.

To Haruka, Illpalazzo said, "There is one more stipulation that has to be taken care of. It's minor, really. Just one of those red tape things. In order to have you under ACROSS insurance coverage, you'll have to give up cigarettes."

"It's not lit," she pointed out

Illpalazzo shook his head. "It doesn't matter. The terms of the coverage are quite specific. You have to give up cigarettes completely, even if you don't smoke them. No insurance, no joining ACROSS. We might be planning to take over the world, crushing all the world governments under my heel, but I wouldn't dare try to do anything without proper coverage. Even ACROSS cannot withstand the fury of lawyers."

"Forget it, then. I'm not joining," Haruka told him, and rejoined the group of remaining girls.

"Next," Illpalazzo said. However, no one appeared. "Is that it?" he asked the group.

"That's all the regular female cast members," Shinobu confirmed. "There are a number of one volume walk-ons and a handful of girls that are post episode 24, but I don't think they would qualify due to the late nature of their arrival in the series."

Illpalazzo shook his head. "You are quite correct. It would have to be a regular from the earlier parts of the series in order to have any true level of recognition of their participation of the fusion." He sighed tiredly. "Very well, you are all free to leave. Better luck with your next interview."

The girls departed, accidentally leaving the still unconscious Mutsumi behind.

Suddenly DB appeared by bursting through a wall. He sported a ridiculously large afro as he shouted, "This cannot be!"

"I agree," Illpalazzo said. "Your appearance in what is obviously a weak attempt at impersonating Nabeshin does not qualify as a fusion. Rather, it's a Self-Insert."

"That's not what I meant!" DB wailed. "I promised a 'Fusion That Should Never Be' and I've got to come up with one. It just never occurred to me that I, DB 'The Really Great And Not Self Absorbed' Sommer, whose literary talents have made single digit numbers of people almost swoon, would be unable to fuse two diverse series such as Excel Saga with Love Hina."

"You can always replace Hyatt with that Mutsumi girl," Illpalazzo suggested.

Hyatt nodded. "It would be all right. I had a request to fill in for Mitsuki from Full Moon wo Sagashite as part of someone else's fusion. Apparently it's going to be short, since they want her character to die part way through the third scene. They think I'd be ideal for the role."

DB suddenly gained a furtive look. "No! Mutsumi-sama is mine! She must be virgin territory until I'm ready for my Love Hina fic: 'A Really Cool New Gaijin Comes To Stay At The Hinata Inn And Get Some Red Hot Monkey Lovin' With Mutsumi-Sama (And He's Definitely Not An SI, Even If His Name Is DB.)' The fans will eat it up alive."

DB's eyes suddenly alighted upon Mutsumi's unconscious form. He rushed over to her side, and gently cradled her in a lover's embrace. "Ah, Mutsumi-sama, how I, err, I mean how 'Really Cool New Gaijin' longs to touch your sweet lips." He leaned over to kiss her.

At that moment, Mutsumi's eyes fluttered open. With a flick of the wrist, she produced a can of mace and emptied it into DB's eyes.

"AHHH! I'm blind!" DB howled as he clawed at his eyes, trying to rip them from their sockets.

Mutsumi stood up and gave the blinded DB a knee to the groin. It caused him to double over and mewl like a newborn lamb; one that had just been gelded with a red hot poker.

Mutsumi smiled pleasantly and bowed before Illpalazzo and Hyatt. "It was a pleasure meeting both of you."

They bowed in return. Mutsumi exited the room in a hurry to catch up to the others.

"She just enjoys playing hard to get," DB moaned from the floor.

"That still doesn't resolve the Fusion issue," Illpalazzo pointed out.

As DB recovered, he informed Illpalazzo, "Actually, Mutsumi's love tap has given me a new insight into the problem. I think it has to do with the manner in which the two series were to be fused. Now here's my plan…"


"Thank goodness we're finally here." Naru breathed a sigh of relief as she and the other girls stood outside of the Hinata Inn.

"I'm glad that ridiculous attempt at a fusion is over," Motoko agreed. Snapping turtles were easily as terrifying as hot springs turtles. And she was still trying to exorcise that sight of the evil little Puchuu that seemed seared forever into her mind.

"But what are we going to do about Sarah?" Shinobu asked of the only girl that had departed Hinata Inn, only to not return.

"People don't pop up in every episode, and it's not like anyone wants to see her. I'd be willing to bet after she's failed to appear for a while, everyone will forget about her," Mitsune pointed out.

"I can't wait to relieve some of my tension in that hot spring," Naru said as she opened the door and announced, "We're home!"

"How very nice to see you."

"AHHH!" Naru screamed as everyone else came to a stop around her. "What are you doing here?"

As though his presence was the most natural thing in the world, Illpalazzo dramatically threw back his cape and said, "It was decided that rather than forcing a Love Hina character into the Excel Saga storyline, DB would do the opposite and fuse an Excel Saga character into Love Hina. Since Keitaro was the central figure, he was the obvious choice to be replaced. I passed my interview with flying colors. Leading ACROSS isn't all that different from running an All Girls Dormitory, after all."

"That's ridiculous!" Naru raged. "You can't replace Keitaro! You're nothing like him!"

Illpalazzo said, "Nonsense. We have a great deal in common. We both possess a sort of affable charm, a winning smile, a relentless desire to accomplish our goals to the point of obsessive fixation, and most important of all, we both wear glasses."

Mitsune's eyes widened. "My God! He's right! The resemblance between them is uncanny!"

"Indeed," Illpalazzo agreed. "Also, you should know that in order for the fusion to have maximum impact, it was decided to restart things with the first episode. Therefore, as your new manager, there will be a few changes around here. All rent will be paid on time, or else!" To illustrate his warning, he pulled on the nearby rope that dangled from the ceiling, causing the floor under Motoko's feet to drop out. The kendoist immediately plummeted into the depths.

"Nooo! Not more turtles!" her voice trailed off in the distance.

Illpalazzo emphatically stated, "There will be no drinking!"

Mitsune visibly deflated, but offered no other protest. Resignedly, she said, "I was getting a beer gut anyway."

The former overlord-now-manager nodded in satisfaction. "And every time you first see me, you will greet me with a resounding, 'Hail Illpalazzo!'"

"Hail Illpalazzo!" the girls greeted.

Pleased by their quick obedience, the overlord smiled. "Also, since this is a romantic comedy, and I am the male lead, one of you will become my primary love interest."

Naru started sweating as all eyes turned towards her. "Wait! I was already the lead once. It's someone else's turn. Why not let Mutsumi be it? She's got the springy hair forelocks, just like me."

Mutsumi bowed. "I'm sorry, but this is episode one. I can't be considered since I don't appear until much later in the series, when everything has already been decided." She headed for the door.

"You're just ducking out because you don't want to be interested in him either!" Naru spat as Mutsumi shot her a smile all the way out of the inn. She saw the others were still looking at her expectedly. "But I don't want to be this jerk's romantic interest!"

Surprisingly, Illpalazzo sniffled and turned away. "You're categorical rejection of me hurts my feelings. You don't even know