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“The three musketeers,” said the boy with an insolent smirk. “I came to Paris to be one of you.”

Porthos and Aramis exchanged a knowing look.

“Can’t you count, boy?” Porthos asked, fingering the hilt of his massive sword. “There is no you in three.”

“Be nice, Porthos. Can’t you see, the boy can’t even afford a doublet?” Athos smirked and readjusted his scrunchie. “Besides, as I always say, there are things in this world worth fighting and dying for.”

“I... am fresh out of lines,” Porthos stated, twirling his mustache. “Although... are you referring to...”

“Yes.”

“The Venetian Apocalypse?” Porthos and Aramis asked in unison.

Athos winked.

“I could do with some exercise,” Porthos stated.

“What are you lunatics talking about?” asked the boy, looking from one man to the other.

“D’Artagnan, you want to be a musketeer, here’s your chance,” Athos commenced the oration, facing the prepubescent upstart. “We live in a kingdom controlled by fear. The Cardinal rules the land. Buckingham rules the skies. And she is the deadliest assassin the world has ever seen.”

“Who the hell is she?”

“Don’t interrupt the soliloquy!” Aramis snapped, standing up off his perching rock.

“She of the magical floor vault!” Porthos exclaimed, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“She who bungee jumps off buildings! Where have you been, fool?” Aramis took something that resembled a small cannon ball with spikes from his pocket and tossed it playfully in the air.

“Um... Gascony?” the boy offered.

“Where is that?” Porthos inquired.

“Somewhere slightly North of Venice.”

“Ah, of course. That explains a lot.” Athos resumed his oratory pose. “Everything is relative to Venice. Now, where was I?”

“Together, they will unleash..,” Aramis helped.

“Right. Round two! Together, they will unleash war upon the entire continent!” Athos paused for effect. The boy cocked his head to the side. “Um... drop your pants.”

“I... what?”

“Porthos, fetch me my dragon flamethrower.”

“I... seriously, you guys?”

“We are warriors. This is who we are. This is what we do,” Aramis stated and assumed his place to the right of Athos. “And, Porthos,” he added, “While you’re fetching that, please also bring me my samurai helmet and warlock outfit.”

“Sure thing, be right back,” Porthos promised and leaped effortlessly from the rooftop.

Left alone with the boy, Athos and Aramis looked him up and down like a curious specimen.

“Why doesn’t it have a beard?” Aramis whispered.

“Why is its nose so tiny?” Athos whispered back.

“I don’t know,” Aramis replied in the same whisper, and pulled Athos a bit further off. “Do you think it has a vagina?”

“Dear god,” Athos startled, but quickly dropped his tone back to a whisper. “You’d better check.”

“Why do I always have to check?”

“Because the last time I was forced to witness that despicable woman-part I had to resort to attempted murder.”

“Wait...” Aramis looked over his shoulder to make sure that the boy was still there. “Do I know this story?”

“What the hell difference does it make? It’s all for one and one for all, right? Now, go check!”

“Fine,” Aramis sighed, resigned. “Hold my swords.” He started towards the boy. “And my extra sword.” He looked down as Athos’s hand closed around his crotch. “Not that extra sword.”

“Oh,” said Athos, pulling one out of Aramis’s boot instead. “But the other is far more impressive.”

Aramis walked over to the boy and some sort of a conversation appeared to take place, which Athos could not quite discern, aside from a few squeaks of protestation and indignation. Aramis returned shortly with a smug expression on his face and declared, “Mas nobis nominus est.”

“Deo Gratias!” Athos responded. At that precise moment, a cannon was rolled in, followed by the towering form of Porthos.

“I could not find your samurai helmet, Aramis, but I brought you these crucifix ninja stars instead.”

“What does he need those for?” Athos asked with indignation.

“There are many things that one can do with the proper application of bladed symbols of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” Porthos said, looking slightly hurt. “I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”

Aramis glanced over at Porthos, arching one perfectly groomed eyebrow. “Clearly, you don’t understand his kinks.”

“Enough about that,” Athos stepped in before Aramis decided to elaborate. “Quick, let’s get the Apocalypse on before those forty or four hundred guards show up!” He looked over at the boy who was still standing there, only now protecting his crotch with his small, womanly hands. “Porthos, tie him to the flame thrower. Aramis... uh.... for the love of all, do something about my hair!”

Aramis retrieved his bladed Jesus symbols from Porthos, holding one in each hand and whipping them through the air in a graceful dance of symmetry. Wisps of Athos’s hair fell to the ground in slow motion, leaving an artfully styled mane behind.

“Thank you.”

“One for all!”

“And you thought he’d have no use for them,” Porthos chuckled and gave his mustache another self-satisfied twirl.

“Um... seriously, you pervos, you are not going to tie me to that dragon-shaped cannon thing!” the boy suddenly gave notice of his persistent existence.

“But the fate of the world depends on it!” the three exclaimed in unison.

“Really?” the boy asked, unconvinced. “The whole world?”

“Only we can prevent the coming Apocalypse,” Athos confirmed, nodding somberly.

“You know. Frogs falling from the sky. Boils the shape of fish in embarrassing places.” Porthos explained. “To prevent it, we must complete the most ancient of ceremonies. It was handed down to me by Blackbeard the Sky Pirate himself.”

“Yes, and you need to strip immediately. We have no time to lose,” Aramis admonished.

“We have already determined that he does not bear the cursed female genitalia,” Athos assured Porthos.

“Oh, I presume you had Aramis check again? Well done!”

“Can’t afford any surprises. The Apocalypse is serious business.” Athos shrugged and gave Aramis an adoring smile.

Porthos stalked over to d’Artagnan, holding a pair of wrist manacles. “These are ceremonial accouterments.” He paused. “Why aren’t you naked yet?”

“You might as well be, boy,” Aramis pointed out. “You’re in your shirtsleeves, for the love of God.”

“It’s fine, leave the shirt on,” Athos said, dismissively waving his hand, “just take off the trousers already! Apocalypse waits for no one!”

“That’s very practical, Athos,” Porthos agreed and reached out to yank d’Artagnan’s trousers to the ground. “Arms out in front of you, then. The power to defeat the Apocalypse must be contained in the shackles of righteousness.”

“This is highly against regulations,” the boy attempted to protest.

“Ooh, look who’s just arrived from some place North of Venice and knows so much,” Athos sneered, taking a drink from his emergency wine flask.

Contrary to the boy’s squeals of protest, Porthos lifted him off the ground and placed him on top of the dragon flamethrower.

“Prepare to launch, gentlemen,” he announced, securing the smallish form to the barrel with some fairly ceremonial ropes.

Athos and Aramis glanced to each other, nodded in unison, and undid their trousers.

“Hold on,” Athos suddenly said, looking across from himself at Aramis. “What the hell are we doing?” He glanced over to the boy on the cannon. “I mean... look at him. And now look at yourself!”

Aramis did as instructed and Porthos also followed his gaze.

“All right, I see what you’re insinuating,” Porthos said, pensively. “He’s just... not slashable!”

“Whereas I am hotter than the sun!” Aramis exclaimed.

“Exactly! Why do we even bother?” Athos stated, exasperated.

“Screw this scene,” Aramis declared, readjusting his attire. “I’m for the House of Athos. Come on, Porthos. And don’t forget the crucifix ninja stars.”

D’Artagnan watched the three men turn and head for the gate, abject horror clenching around his little heart. “Um... guys?”

 

THE END