AIN’T DOING JACK
Previously: Magical Sapphism Tour
Themesong: Jumpin Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones
We stepped back inside the Warehouse to see a workman in stained overalls wheeling a cabinet into place into the Vending Machine of Destiny Alcove. He was almost completely nondescript, and grumped, “Sorry, last minute change. Head office didn’t vet the next scheduled jump and it got a little confusing. Don’t mind me.” He slotted the machine into place, then vanished.
“Ummm… did anyone else see that?” I asked. No one had… not even the security systems (i.e. Vivian.) had picked up anything. The pamphlet rack now had pamphlets for “Generic Horror Movie”, “Alien”, and “Digimon”. I shuddered. Alien jump. Terrifying in its very conception.
I glanced at the machine. Samurai Jack. Huh. Cartoon Network. Same guy who created the Powerpuff girls. All I knew about it was that it had a samurai and the bad guy was voiced by Mako and was some kind of demon or wizard. The blurb told me his name was Aku and he ruled this twisted version of Earth set in an unspecified future where Earth is home to countless alien races, fantastic technology, and ancient magic. From what I knew of American cartoons, the villain and hero would both possess informed invincibility and the status quo would be king, with neither gaining or losing any abilities over the course of the series / jump.
Two options… try and stay out of Aku’s notice… or don’t. Since defeating Aku meant travelling back in time, and that was a chain ender… this was a challenge… could I remain off the radar for a decade while still being true to myself? Could I step into a world ruled by a monster and not try and save the day? I didn’t know.
I sorted through the backgrounds. Drop-in, as always, was free, but didn’t come with what I sensed would be deeply useful background data on this world. Bounty Hunter was never my thing… especially considering who’d be footing the bills in this depraved world. Treasure Hunter set my motives to greed… not really my shtick. Scientist wasn’t a bad choice, but Magic User was clearly superior. I plopped down the  (900/1000) for it and spun the wheel of aging. I was 26… an age I hadn’t hit in most of my jumps. How odd. And I was in Northern Europe, a place described as “Widely populated but not very developed. Many ancient cultures are still very prevalent in this region.” Huh.
Magic Users received a basic magical power for free and discounts on the rest. I snatched up Enchanting to augment what I already knew from Hogwarts, Buffy, & Lord of the Rings. Not only did it allow for imbuing elemental properties, but it would allow me to learn enchantments by studying other enchanted and magical weapons.
I also snatched up Elemental Control  (800/1000) from among the basics… and not for Water or Fire. I doubted very much that this could do more than give me a limited boost to either. Not for Air either. My TK already gave me enough of that for the time being. No. I took the ability to manipulate Earth. I knew it would not be Earthbending, but I had one of the greatest Earthbender teachers in existence… I’m certain we’d come up with something, and I’d spent enough time around Earthbenders to have a sense of how little limitations a creative elemental controller could have. Plus, Elemental Control Earth could only boost my Glassbending.
Shapeshifting  (600/1000), as imperfect as it is, amuses me, as does Energy Beams  (400/1000). Always wanted to be able to shoot blasts of energy from my eyes that can cut through solid steel. The color scheme limitation and intense planning required to emulate exact details with this Shapeshifting ability are problems that will have to be overcome. But aside from Slytherin colors, I don’t exactly have a color scheme except for stealth blues. Other than that, my color scheme was pretty much pinkish tan with platinum blond hair. Fearsome I am not… at least not without my clothes on.
None of the other magical powers seemed attractive enough, so I checked the gear section for an Import Option… but found none. There was a certain attractiveness to boosting my sword, but the cost was exorbitant and none of the drawbacks seemed worth it taking in a world as fraught with… unknown hazards as this one. And none of the other items called to me… though the multi-tool briefcase amused me a little.
That decided, I snagged Computer Hacking  and Enhanced Senses  for the ir potential utility. I’d be playing this whole jump defensively. Joy decided to go in as a Treasure Hunter, Ahab as a Bounty Hunter, but we weren’t planning on teaming up so much as just trying to get by, backing each other’s plays as best we could. Zane, Ziggy, Toph, and the Hibiki’s would be coming along… plus Kendra because Zane was boffing her brains out and he had the sway to call in the favor. Bao and Uriel would be treated to a year in the warehouse to be by themselves, unless they locked the time flow or decided they wanted more than a year staring at walls.
Joy’s Treasure Hunting ways got her Thievery (From Pickpocketing to large scale heists, you’re an expert at both planing thefts and stealing things unnoticed.), Scouting Glasses (This item features thermal, night, and x-ray vision settings. It will also allow you to see invisible laser traps and even functions as a set of binoculars), and Static Charges (small magnetic grenades that can fry electronics and shock living enemies.). It also nabs her the aforementioned Briefcase (An incredibly complex multi-tool that looks like a simple briefcase. In addition to being able to hold things, it comes with a built in scooter, flashlight, and machine gun. It is also durable enough to serve as a shield against bullets.)
Ahab’s Bounty Hunting ways snagged him Enhanced Agility (after we talked him down from enhanced durability… the boy does not need to be able to withstand more torture.) which grants him the ability to propel himself up to 50 feet into the air and gives him better control over his entire body. As Yoiko put it, withstanding Bullets good… not getting hit, better.
For the first 8 months of our sojourn in the world of the samurai, we spent our time and efforts keeping on the down low. There was a lot of misery and oppression on the grand scale, but day to day, things were pretty much just people living their lives and trying to get by. The world was, at least in the big cities, not too horrible… at least if you moved in the right circles, and with our ability to infiltrate and infest, it wasn’t too terribly hard to make ourselves comfortable.
I hung a shingle as a freelancer, doing odd jobs who whoever could pay me. My rates were steep and those who came to me for reasons I felt too wicked were made to pay in subtle and creative ways. Sure, we were pulling only a half Robinhood, but we did make sure to support local businesses with our ill gotten gains. It was a good world for crime.
Then Zane, keyed into the city as he was, brought word of a crime family ripping people off by gouging them for water. Seemed they’d gotten their hands on a powerful relic known as “The Neptune Jewel”, which allowed them to control the waters of the world. Sounded like a prize I could use.
That was our first heist worthy of the name. We surveilled the Gangsters for days, watching their comings and goings, finding out who worked for them, and where they were keeping the jewel. Legends say that the Goddess of the Waters had placed guardians of Earth, Air, and Fire around it… but they weren’t around anymore, it seemed. Defeating the Gangsters was the easy part… but we had to make sure that nothing led back to us, which made it tricky, but still doable.
We struck in the dead of night, making the paranoid Gangsters move the Jewel, giving it into the care of one of their own, a Mr Pibbles, who secreted the Jewel inside his tophat… or what he thought was his tophat, not noticing that it was a silver and green tophat. The top of his head tasted like flopsweat and dandruff, but the Jewel tasted like magic and power, and the moment we were clear, Mr Pibbles found his hat stolen by very agile red panda. It was a most enjoyable heist.
Unfortunately, taking it drew the Elemental Guardians to me, and they tracked me across the city, forcing me to teach them the error of their ways. Several times in fact. With them growing ever more disruptive of my attempts to lay low. Finally, I had enough and made them a deal. If they could defeat me all together, without me using the gem, I’d give it back. If not… they’d leave me alone. Neither of us wanted Aku to get his hands on the gem and its power.
I called upon all the elemental might I had and froze the Earth Guardian in place, doused the Fire Guardian in a cyclone of water, and trapped the Air Guardian in cube of stone. I made them bow to me. It was that kind of world. I bound them into weapons, the Earth Guardian into a staff for Toph, the Fire Guardian into Zane’s Space Sword, and the Air Guardian into a Bow for Kendra. They had been made to defend… I guaranteed they’d continue defending far more than a mere jewel, no matter how powerful it might be.
Unfortunately, Aku was still looking for the Gem, and that meant its power had to be placed inside the warehouse for the rest of the jump… and that is where I did the bulk of the enchanting as well. It was also the kind of world for staying underground as much as possible.
We continued to lay as low as possible, collecting knick knacks and bizarre mementos as we were paid to. A shattered green gem from a hard to find oasis, guarded by a berserk giant. The shattered remains of a machine that was supposed to be able to see the future (we also snagged a rare and supposedly magical rug called the Aragian Rug of King Bassad, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what the damned enchantments on it are supposed to do. Pretty though. We have it in our living room)… after being hired to acquire a magical claymore supposed stolen by a nameless Scotsman… I got suspicious. From then on, all the recovery jobs I pulled were vetted twice and then the recovered items were all secretly tagged, both with science and magic. No way was I going to gather items of power to help Aku win, just because I wasn’t trying to bring him down.
The hardest thing about the entire jump however was never uttering the word “Wish”, as making any kind of magical wish would be counted as choosing to stay just as much time travel would be, thus ending the chain. I struck it from my vocabulary, and actually used the Imperius curse on my friends to make it impossible for them to make any wishes during our time in Samurai Jack’s world. I had no idea how prevalent wishes would be, but taking chances on Genie logic that could end a Jump was not the best strategy.
Three times we fell afoul of Jack. The first time he was trying to steal the same thing we were trying to steal, a bauble that could track Aku’s castle as it pulled a Krullbeast and moved from city to city. We let him have it and he got the damned thing destroyed. The second time, he’d let himself be tricked into guarding a corrupt Casino that we’d decided would feed us for a year or two. I dueled him long enough for the others to get away with the loot. Normally, I should have been able to defeat him. He wasn’t that good and I had way more experience than he did, but he had plot informed abilities and in this universe no one was more than his equal. I didn’t try and beat him. Just delay him long enough to make our getaway possible.
The third time… it was clear that Aku had somehow tricked him into attacking us in order to steal away our ultimate score, an anti-akubot field generator that would allow us to finally escape AkuEarth’s massive robotic blockade and just go into hiding somewhere far from the maddening crowd. The source of the artifact had come from a most unexpected and slightly… depressing source… a lost ruin of distinctly Magi creation. That had sombered all of us, until Jack showed up. Of course, Jack wanted it to get into Aku’s palace. Talkabout monomania.
Still, Jack was far from unbeatable. He had many abusable flaws… not the least the fact that he was honorable… and while we were thieves, we weren’t actually doing anything evil besides stealing… and never from those who could not afford it. He was also fairly gullible.
Aku too, was a petty, obsessive, and transparent monstrosity. Somehow, however, he’d learned of my Warehouse, and become convinced it was his portal to other universes to conquer… which meant he came after us late into the 8th year.
For a year we played keep away, dodging from city to city. I had no desire to fight Aku, no desire to win this game, nor was I at all sure I could, since I doubted the canon had any canonical defeat of the Shogun of Sorrow. But Aku was relentless and in the end I had to resort to base trickery.
With Aku focused on me and my crew, I knew Jack would be looking for a way to get to Aku. So I took a page from my own book and announced where I’d be on a specific day, challenging Aku to appear. I knew it would be a trap, Aku should have known the same, but malevolent dictators often have narrow vision. He almost certainly assumed the trap was something I’d laid for him. But all I’d done was guarantee that everyone who hated Aku knew where he would be on that day too. Jack included. All I had to do was destroy Aku’s army of bots and he’d show up eventually.
They had numbers. They had good armor. Some of them even had decent AIs. I had no reason to hold back. The last time I’d fought on this beach, I’d been a suicidal cyborg. This time I had command of all the waters of the Earth and companions who were distributing free magical swords to anyone who wanted to kill Akubots. I’d been very busy!
Do you know the best way to fight a malevolent demonic tyrant? That’s right… mockery. Not once did I actually try and use my weapons or magic or… whatever… against Aku himself. Instead, I taunted him. I played childish recordings of kids singing anti-Aku jingles. I threw tennis balls, water balloons, and rotten tomatoes at him. I rhymed his name with poo and atchoo. I can be extremely annoying and absolutely none of Aku’s informed abilities were “Good Aim”.
All I had to do was keep Aku busy while Jack, a whole bunch of Scotsmen… and one very very scary Scots Lady smashed the robotic army to flinders. Aku, at the end, tried to flee, he really did… but I hadn’t studied just Apparition at Hogwarts. I’d also studied the defenses against it and anti-teleportation wards glowed deep within all the glaciers and icebergs in sight. As the Pillars of Time rose and Aku lunged forwards to seize the warehouse for his own… Jack was there, waiting for him. I hope he got his final victory, but me and my companions scuttled through the door as fast as possible. We weren’t saying here one moment longer than we had to.
Next: Simply the Best