The contract

"Now," began Acqua, "If will all behave in a civilized manner, we shall be able to complete our task," Here she glared at Aria and Fiamma, and then Tierra as well for good measure. You got the sense that Acqua was the strict one of the group. After acquiring properly repentant looks from the other elementia, she dressed the crowd.

"Some of you may already know why you are here, depending on how thorough  Bariso has been. Sometimes he can be.. lax." She frowned again. "At any rate, the four of us guard this planet, Blotch. We negotiate between the different tribes and protect against outside threats. This is one of the cases when we must protect. We have been invaded by the daemon people of Jupiter. That's daemon with an A, not demon without. The daemon people's natural environment is lava, but unfortunately lava does not last very long, and-" Here Yolanda raised a hand.

"Yes?"

"Jupiter is made out of gas, not lava, isn't it?"

"No, that is a hologram put out by the daemon people. It's lava underneath, but they're running low, and now they want to melt Blotch. Which we do not want to happen, obviously. So we have recruited you humans, who are not allergic to iron and therefore cna easily trap the daemons. If you join us, we will pay you, either with gems and gold or magic tokens. Your choice. Now, presumably none of us will get hurt, but you will need to sign this contract first. It states that you will not sue us if you become injured. Also it states that we must properly reimburse you. Now if you'd like to join, please sign."

She passed around a piece of parchment, which no-one bothered to read. Almost everyone signed right away, including Maggie.

Elizabeth was the last one. She stared at the parchment.

"What about the daemons? I don't want to hurt anyone." she said softly.

"They're evil," said Tierra, "and we won't be killing them, just sending them to some other planet."

"What, so they can hurt people over there instead? I don't think that is a very good plan. Why don't you negotiate with the daemons? You said you could negotiate." she stared at Acqua, unblinking. She was, unexpectedly, finding herself getting angry. She almost never got angry (or so she thought, Maggie could attest otherwise).

Suddenly everyone was staring at her awkwardly. Most everyone felt a little guilty. They had gotten caught up with ideas of magic and fighting and heroes and hadn't stopped to ask questions. Important questions, like:

Is this really necessary? Will this hurt someone? Are we taking precautions for the future? Have we tried other things? And finally, why didn't we read the parchment thoroughly?

Acqua looked a bit uneasy herself.

"Well, I suppose if you want to back out, Bariso could take you."

"Well- no, but.."

"Actually, I'm curious about this too," said Maureen loudly.

"Oh, well you can't back out," said Acqua smoothly. "You've already signed the contract. You all have, and you'll be stuck here till you complete it."

The End

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