Gravity Falls, Oregon
10 months after Weirdmageddon
"MYSTERY SHACK!" Mabel yelled, bursting in through the front door of the tourist trap. She laughed as she took everything in before turning to the man behind the counter.
"SOOS!" Mabel yelled, and ran over to wrap him in a hug.
"Hey hey, Mabel!" Soos said happily, hugging her back. "Dude!" he exclaimed as Dipper walked through the door, much calmer than his sister.
"Hey, Soos, good to see you again," Dipper said. "Uh, where's Wendy?" he asked, pretending it was an afterthought.
"Oh, she's on a reality show. In Canada!" Soos said.
"It's so good to be back!" Mabel exclaimed. "Where's Grunkle Stan and Grunkle Ford? I have so much to tell them, and I made them special sweaters!"
"Oh, they've been gone for about a week now," Soos said. "Something about a 'dimensional anomaly.' I dunno, they just left me in charge of the Mystery Shack and ran off."
Dipper and Mabel's faces fell.
"Hey, c'mon now, I'm sure they'll be back to see you! They love you guys!" Soos said. "Tell you what, let's go to Greasy's. Lunch is on me."
A. Nigma High
2 weeks after the Hostile Takeover of Mann, Wurst, & Finnwich
No doubt about it, Tina Kwee was bored.
She tapped her pencil against her desk absently. It's not that she hated biology, it's just–how was anybody supposed to concentrate on biology after learning about a giant conspiracy, getting right in the middle of it, and basically saving the world? Okay, so maybe she didn't play the largest role and kind of almost ruined everything, but that doesn't change the fact that biology seems so unimportant once you've gone through that kind of situation!
Plus, there wasn't really anybody she could talk to about it. Well, she could talk to Jenny, or Lee, or Biffy, or Holger, or Cam, or Brandy–geez, there were a lot of people at A. Nigma she could dish to, really. But being a reporter and not being able to tell anybody about what happened was killing her! Not to mention that Chaz was still annoying–one of the few things in her life that hadn't changed since Lee had gotten her involved with the madness that he'd been sucked into.
Not that she was complaining. She did like him–like like him. Of all the things that came out of the conspiracy, that was her favorite. Sure, saving the world was cool, but having an actual boyfriend, that was the best.
An actual boyfriend who wasn't in class with her right now, suffering through the boredom of biology.
Tina sighed to herself.
I can't wait for study hall, she thought.
Gravity Falls, Oregon
Soos followed the twins into the diner. At two in the afternoon, it was mostly deserted; the only customers were Toby Determined and Tad Strange.
"Oh, the twins are back!" Lazy Susan said. "Everybody, the twins are back!"
"Welcome back to Gravity Falls," Tad said. "It's nice to see you two again."
"Toby Determined, reporter for the Gravity Falls Gossiper," Toby said, coming over to them. "Is it true you two are in town to solve more supernatural mysteries?"
Dipper looked at the turkey baster being held out to him. "You do realize that's not a microphone, right?" he said.
"I know," Toby said pitifully.
"Well, to answer your question, Toby," Mabel said cheerfully, "yes, we are here to solve mysteries, if mysteries need solving, and to spread joy and glitter. So much glitter!"
"Um, Mabel?" Dipper said.
"Not now, Dipper!" Mabel said. "I'm telling Toby what we're going to do this summer!"
"But we don't even know what we're going to do!" Dipper hissed. "And besides, Soos got us a booth."
Mabel looked over to Soos, who was indeed sitting in a booth. Soos waved to her.
"Fine," Mabel said. "Bye, Toby, we're gonna eat lunch now!"
Mabel and Dipper walked over to Soos and sat down across from him. They picked up their menus. Dipper smiled as he scanned his.
"Same old menu," he muttered to himself. "I guess some things don't really change."
"So what'll it be?" a familiar voice asked.
Dipper looked up and froze. His sister did not.
"Pacifica!" she said happily, quickly climbing over Dipper and out of the booth. She pulled Pacifica into a tight hug. "How have you been! It's so nice to see you again!"
"Can't...breathe..." Pacifica choked out.
"Oh, I'm so glad you're here! Wait, why are you here?" Mabel asked. She released Pacifica. Pacifica put her hands on her knees and panted for breath.
"Mabel, that's a bit personal..." Dipper warned.
"Oh, c'mon, why wouldn't Pacifica be glad to see us?" Mabel asked. "I thought we were becoming friends."
"During the Never-Mind-All-That?" Soos suggested.
"Yeah!" Mabel said. "Of course she's glad to see us!"
Pacifica straightened herself up.
"So, what'll it be?" she asked them.
"Pacifica!" Mabel said, shocked. "Why are you taking our order? Do you work here?"
Pacifica scowled. "Are you going to order, or what?"
"Pancakes," Dipper said.
"Double cheeseburger with mayo," Soos said. "Oh! And fries."
"But Pacifica, why do you work here?" Mabel asked.
Pacifica's scowl deepened.
"Mabel, I think this is a touchy subject!" Dipper said quietly. Mabel's eyes widened as she caught on.
"You want to know?" Pacifica asked bitterly.
"Um, yes?" Mabel said nervously.
"After my dad invested all his money in weirdness bonds, we ended up broke. We sold the mansion, ended up in a house in town, and because he's used to the finer things in life, we burned through the rest of the money in months. Now Mom's an Avon lady, Dad's a temp worker doing data entry, and I have to find work where I can get it. So are you going to order anything?"
"...I'll just have the soup," Mabel said quietly.
Pacifica jotted her order down. "Your orders will be up in a bit," she said, and walked away from the booth. Mabel stared at the table sadly.
"Aw, come on dude, it's not that bad," Soos said. "Remember how she used to pick on you?"
Mabel sighed. "It's just sad, that's all."
Suddenly, the door to the diner burst open, and Fiddleford McGucket burst in with a laptop in his hands. He ran up to Mabel, Dipper, and Soos.
First Thanksgiving after High School Graduation
"I can't believe you ate ten pounds of food," Kim said to her boyfriend.
"What can I say, KP?" Ron said. "I think I've grown out of my overeating phase."
"Not quite what I was going for, but okay," she said. "So, what's up with Middleton Community College?"
"So boring," Ron said, lying down on the end of her bed. "What's going on in Venice?"
"Oh, you know–" Kim started to say. She was interrupted by a familiar beeping.
Ron and Kim shared a look. Kim pressed a button on her communicator.
"What's the sitch, Wade?" she asked.
Her mouth dropped open. Instead of Wade, a withered old man was on the Kimmunicator screen.
Uncle Grandpa RV
Somewhere in the universe
Sometime in the early 21st century
"Say what?" Mr. Gus asked.
"Yeah, no way did you kidnap Uncle Grandpa and Belly Bag!" Pizza Steve said.
"Believe it!" the man on their television screen said. "And if you want them back, you'll follow my instructions."
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"Is that a giant realistic flying tiger?" the man asked, scared.
"That's right, and you better watch yourself, buh-ro!" Pizza Steve said.
"Yeah don't care," the man said, regaining his nerve. "Just follow my instructions."
Gravity Falls, Oregon
"Give us back our grunkles!" Mabel yelled.
"Okay, sure! How can I say no?" the man on the laptop screen said cheerfully.
"No!" a high-pitched voice said from offscreen. "We have to do this, remember?"
"Oh yeah, right," the old man said.
"Wait, who said that?" Dipper asked.
"That was–" the man started to say.
"Don't tell them!" the voice exclaimed.
"No, tell us," Soos said affably. "We won't tell anyone else."
"No!" the high-pitched voice said. "Look, just do what we say, and nobody gets hurt."
"And if we don't?" Mabel suggested.
"Nobody gets hurt!" the man proclaimed happily. "Well, probably."
A. Nigma High
When the bell finally rang, Tina felt relieved.
Okay, so English is next, she thought. English, then study hall. Geez, I wish Lee wasn't in detention all the time. At least his mom ungrounded him.
Tina looked up and saw a frantic Cam waving to her. She picked her way to the crowd and over to him.
"Hey Cam. What's going on?" she asked.
"Big trouble, chiquita!" Cam said. "Lee needs our help! Biffy's been, like, taken, yo!"
"Taken?" she asked, shocked. Her brain spun as she remembered how she was kidnapped.
"Yeah, chica! We need to like, get together with Lee in the Genius Club and come up with a plan, yo!" he told her.
Tina shook her head to clear it. "Right. Genius Club. Be right there."
Tina and Cam jogged over to the Genius Club. When they got there, they found Brandy, Jenny, Holger, and Lee waiting for them.
"This had better be important," Brandy said. "I have gym in a couple of minutes."
Lee looked at them solemnly.
"Biffy's been kidnapped."
The room exploded into outbursts of questions.
"One at a time, please!" Lee said, upset. "One at a time!"
The room quieted down.
"Tina," Lee said.
"How do you know Biffy's been kidnapped?" she asked.
"Because Biffy's been missing the past couple of days and I got a video message from an old man telling me that Biffy's been kidnapped and I'll have to get a team together to rescue him," Lee said.
Jenny shook her head, confused. "Wait, a team to rescue him?"
"I swear, I'm not making this up," Lee said. "He said he'd call me back in ten minutes."
"So what, we just wait until then?" Brandy asked.
"Ooh, Holger tell story to pass time!" Holger said excitedly.
"NO!" everyone else in the room chorused.
"Sorry Holg," Lee said sympathetically. "Any more questions?"
Cam put his hand up.
"Go," Lee said.
"Yeah, so like, we're going to team up and do what now?" he asked.
"I don't know," Lee admitted. "But we've gotta get Biffy back. Even if it means getting neck-deep in another conspiracy."
Tina felt a spark of excitement in her chest despite her worries about Biffy's welfare.
Uncle Grandpa RV
"So, you've just gotta pick four people to go on this trip," the man told the Uncle Grandpa gang. "Oh, by the way, that's a nice RV you have there. It'd be a small wonder if you found somebody to guard it."
"Tiny Miracle!" a familiar voice said from offscreen.
"Wait, is that Belly Bag?" Mr. Gus asked.
"Yeah, it is," Uncle Grandpa said, wandering into the shot.
"Uncle G.?" Pizza Steve asked. "What are you doing there?"
"Being captured," Uncle Grandpa said. "You should really come help me. But it would take a tiny miracle for you to do that and keep the RV safe."
"Did someone say 'Tiny Miracle'?" Tiny Miracle asked, emerging from the kitchen.
"Sure did. Can you guard the RV, buddy?" Uncle Grandpa asked.
"No problem!" Tiny Miracle said happily.
"So yeah. The rest of you need to like, get some stuff and come rescue me or something. I dunno. The first thing you have to get is in the Marinara Trench. Oh, and there are three other teams racing to rescue some other people, and only the team that gets there first saves their captive...it gets really confusing. Anyway, Marinara Trench, guys," Uncle Grandpa told his friends.
"But Uncle Grandpa, couldn't you just–" Mr. Gus started to protest.
"Sorry gotta go!" Uncle Grandpa said.
The transmission ended.
"Ms. Kim Possible, I presume?" the old man asked.
"The same," Kim said. "And you are?"
The old man chuckled and said "My name is of no real importance."
"What did you do with Wade!" Ron demanded.
"Ron!" his girlfriend reprimanded him.
"Oh no, your suitor is quite astute," the old man said. "But young Wade is safe with me. And if you want to get him back, you two will need to find the clues. Interested?"
"Us three," Ron said.
"What?" the old man asked, shocked.
"Me, Kim and Rufus," Ron said.
Gravity Falls, Oregon
"Fine," Dipper said. "We'll do it. But only if you promise us we'll get our Grunkles back."
"Sure, no problem," the old man said. He tapped his chin thoughtfully. "But there have to be four of you."
Suddenly, a voice called to him from offscreen.
"Hold on, gotta talk to somebody else. Be right back!" the man said.
The camera continued to broadcast as the man left. He came back about a minute later.
"Okay, four of you and a pet. If you have a pet," the man said.
"Waddles!" Mabel exclaimed.
"Yeah sure whatever kid," the old man said.
"Where will we get a fourth person?" Dipper mused.
"Cloning!" Soos suggested excitedly.
"Yeah, no, already tried that," Dipper said. He shivered.
"Listen, I'll call you back in an hour with details. You can get your team together, and then start the adventure!" the old man proclaimed happily.
A. Nigma High
Lee's phone rang. He picked up.
"Alright, kid, you ready?" the voice on the other end asked.
"Oh yeah, we're all coming for you," Lee said.
"Show me your team," the old man said.
Lee held up the phone to showcase his team. Onscreen, the man shook his head.
"No way, only four of you," he said. "Or else you'll never see Giganto the Minotaur Boy again."
"What? Oh come on, that's totally unfair!" Jenny complained.
"Don't care. Choose four and get your butts moving. I'll call back in fifteen minutes. Oh and by the way there are three other teams, three other victims, only the team that gets here first gets their kidnappee back. So keep that in the back of your heads," the old man said.
"What?" the group gasped.
The old man ended the call.
"I should warn you, though, there are three other teams competing with you to find their disappeared friends. Ah, but I'm sure that's no problem at all, correct?" the old man asked.
"Big problem huge problem!" Ron yelped.
"Ron's right," Kim said. "How do we know you're on the level?"
"You don't," the man said. "Ah, but that's all the fun of the hunt, is it not?"
"No," Kim said. "Just give us Wade back, or we'll have to show you what we can do."
"It says here you have to go to Albuquerque," the old man said, ignoring her. "Ooh, what a wonderful town! I loved it when I was there. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Have fun!"
"Wait!" Ron interrupted. "What are we supposed to do?"
The old man looked directly at the camera. His face grew deathly serious.
"Yin and yang must lead the way to shadows far below. Green and red will light the way; the others must follow."
The screen of the Kimmunicator went black.
A. Nigma High
War had broken out in the Genius Club.
"Alls I'm saying is I was stuck at A. Nigma High, building a pyramid and then fighting to keep it from being finished while you were off doing cool things in some secret submarine base, yo!" Camillio complained. "I wanna go out and do stuff! You know, outside of school, which was still pretty cool, but, y'know, it's still school, ese."
"Didn't you get your first kiss because you weren't with us?" Jenny pointed out.
"Oh yeah!" Cam said. He giggled happily.
"Hey!" Brandy said, insulted. She sniffed. "Well, I don't want to go. My mom would ask too many questions. Although she's been really distracted lately."
"Maybe it's because–" Cam started.
"Don't say it!" Brandy said angrily. "Not one more word, Camillio Esmereldo Martinez!"
"Look, somebody's gonna have to tell Kimmie her boyfriend's been kidnapped," Lee said.
"Not me!" everybody but Holger said quickly.
"Not me!" Holger said a couple of seconds after everyone else. He slumped. "Aw. Okay. But on one condition. I go."
"Whoa, hold on, why do you get to go?" Jenny asked.
"Because they always kafloofashoop the messenger, and Holgermiester does not want to be kafloofashooped!" Holger said. "So Holger will do it, but only if he can go on the adventure!"
"Fine," Lee said. "So, me, Holger, who else?"
Cam sighed. "I guess I'll stay back here if Brandy's going to stay."
"Wow, that's almost romantic," Brandy said.
Cam grinned. "Thanks."
"Okay, Tina, Jenny, you in?" Lee asked.
"You kidding me? Of course!" Jenny said.
"I'm in," Tina said. She frowned. "But our parents will never let us go. They're already freaked out because they thought I ran away and they want me to go to therapy."
"You didn't tell them?" Lee asked, surprised.
"Oh, right, what was I supposed to say?" Tina asked. "That I got kidnapped by a giant corporation as part of a huge conspiracy but you and your friends broke me out?"
"Okay fair point," Lee conceded. "But surely you could have said something to convince them?"
"I told my mom I was studying at Tina's like super intensely because she's a good tutor and that I forgot to call," Jenny volunteered. "But I think she only bought it because she didn't want to think I ran off."
"Yeah, there's no way we'll get clearance for this," Tina said.
"Then we're just going to have to do this the Lee Ping way," Lee said.
"Ooh! Holger from school love the Lee Ping way!" Holger said.
Brandy sighed. "Remind me again, what's the Lee Ping way?"
"Wing it," Lee said.
Gravity Falls, Oregon
Dipper picked at his pancakes. He had barely eaten half of his first one, and Mabel hadn't even touched her soup. Soos had finished his cheeseburger several minutes ago and was now staring at the two thirteen-year-olds uncomfortably.
"So, like, are you going to finish that?" he finally asked.
Dipper slid his plate over to Soos, rested his head on his arm, and traced designs on the dirty table with his finger.
"It just doesn't make sense," he said to himself. "How did Ford and Stan get kidnapped? And why would we be enlisted to find them? None of this adds up!"
"I don't think that's important, Dipper," Mabel said sadly. "I think we have to find them."
"But where do we even start!" Dipper said loudly. "We've got no leads! No clues! No idea what we're doing! Nowhere to start!"
"We could start by finding a fourth member of the team," Soos suggested. "I mean, that's what the guy said to do, right?"
Dipper went back to running his finger over the table. Mabel stared at her soup sadly. Soos chowed down on Dipper's pancakes quietly.
"You want the check?"
The trio looked up. Pacifica was waiting by the table impatiently.
Dipper grinned as he got an idea.
"Hey, Pacifica, wanna go on an adventure?"
So, that's the introduction. Most chapters from here on out will focus on just one group and be about 1000 words long; in this one, I just wanted to introduce the premise and the players.
Chapter 2: Get Away
Gravity Falls, Oregon
"I'm sorry, what?"
Pacifica stared at Dipper as if he'd just grown an extra head.
"I said, do you want to go on an adventure," Dipper said. He tried not to sound as desperate as he felt. "You know, since you're not doing much here."
"Um, excuse me?" Pacifica said, offended. "I've got plenty going on!"
"Like what?" Mabel prompted innocently.
Pacifica huffed. "Like, uh, well anyway my parents won't let me go! And, and I have to work here."
"You sure?" Dipper asked. "Because we'd really like it if you came with us."
"Well I can't," Pacifica said stubbornly. She looked away from them. "Although I'd like to."
"Really?" Mabel asked enthusiastically.
Pacifica didn't respond.
"HEY SUSAN!" Mabel yelled. "CAN PACIFICA COME WITH US ON AN ADVENTURE?"
"Sure, whatever!" the waitress called back.
"It's all set!" Mabel said happily. "You're coming with us on an adventure."
Pacifica's eyes widened. "Wait a minute, I didn't mean–"
"Oh, this is going to be so much fun!" Mabel said happily. She grabbed Pacifica by the shoulders and led her away. "We're gonna rescue our Grunkles, and you're gonna come with us, and we're gonna be best friends, I'll make sure of it!"
Pacifica was unable to say anything as Mabel dragged her away. Dipper and Soos looked at each other, shrugged, and followed the two girls out of the restaurant.
Gravity Falls, Oregon
Mabel bounced around the Mystery Shack, grabbing anything and everything that she thought would help. Candy, stickers, sweaters, yarn, an extra grappling hook, a snow globe; she took whatever she thought would come in handy.
Dipper was exactly the opposite, carefully studying everything to make sure it would be useful. In the end, he picked up a bunch of trail mix, some bottles of water, two of Ford's journals, and a raincoat.
Pacifica, meanwhile, lounged against a wall. She stared at the ground and pretended to be completely uninterested in everything that was going on around her. Her nonchalant attitude was the same one she had displayed so many times before when she'd had to wordlessly convey to the common rabble of Gravity Falls that she was indeed above them all.
"You want some onion rings?"
Pacifica's head jolted up. She looked at Soos.
"What?" she asked.
"Well, not onion rings, really," Soos said. "They're kind of like onion rings, but, y'know, they come in plastic bags and aren't really made of onions. And they're not hot." He held his bag of junk food out to her.
"Uh, no," Pacifica said.
"You sure?" Soos asked.
Pacifica's stomach growled.
"Alright, fine," Pacifica groused, rolling her eyes. She reached into the bag and pulled out a few rings.
"Yeah, they're not my favorite, but Melody likes them," Soos said affably. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped. "Wait! I gotta call Melody!"
Soos dropped the bag on the counter and ran off to the Mystery Shack's pay phone. Pacifica looked around, and upon seeing that neither of the Pines twins were paying attention to her, began eating the imitation onion rings ravenously.
Gravity Falls, Oregon
Soos got back from the pay phone about five minutes later.
"Alright everybody, gather around!" he announced. Dipper focused on him. Mabel stopped in the middle of applying glitter to Gompers. Pacifica looked at him and stopped eating junk food.
"That's everybody?" Soos asked to make sure. Waddles ran into the room, squealing, and sat down at Mabel's feet.
"Okay dudes. Melody will be coming back from her parents' tonight," he told the group. "She knows what's up, and she's willing to help however she can. It's been about an hour. We should be getting a call soon. Any questions?"
Mabel raised her hand.
"Go ahead, Mabes," Soos said.
"Will our Grunkles be okay?" she asked.
"Uh, gee, I dunno," Soos said, scratching the back of his head. "I, uh, any other questions?"
"What's this even about, anyway?" Pacifica asked. "First you drag me away from work to have an adventure, and now you're talking about having somebody else run the Mystery Shack and missing grunkles? What's a grunkle, and why are we finding one, and why am I involved?"
"Um, okay," Soos said. He exhaled heavily. "Hmm. Well, gr–"
The pay phone rang. Everybody's eyes shot toward it.
They stared at it as it continued to ring.
Pacifica rolled her eyes, walked over to the phone, and answered.
"Who is this?" she asked curtly.
"Why, it's your–" a voice on the other end started to say.
"No!" a high-pitched voice in the background said. "Stick to the script!"
"Oh, right," the voice said. "If you want to get your Grunkles back, you'll have to go to Boise, Idaho. All will be revealed there. Wait, Boise? I love that place! It's so cool how they grow blue grass there!"
"It's actually turf," the high-pitched voice said.
"Well, once you get there, you'll have to solve the mystery of the secret cult in the foothills! Ooh, spooky!" the voice said.
The connection suddenly cut out. Pacifica turned back to the others.
"So, some weirdo called saying that if you want your grunkles you have to go to Boise and deal with some foothill cult," she told them. "Does that make any sense to you?"
Dipper stroked his chin. "Not really," he finally conceded. "But more importantly, how are we going to get to Idaho?"
"We can take my truck, dudes," Soos said. "Road trip!"
Chapter 3: Christmas in New Mexico
Posting three chapters this evening. This is the first.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Somewhere over Albuquerque, New Mexico
Kim and Ron were on a plane flying over Albuquerque.
"Hey, thanks for the help!" Kim called to the pilot.
"No problem!" he called back. "It's worth it since you saved my business from those attack gophers!"
"No big!" Kim told him. "They just needed to be sedated with satiric country tunes. The hardcore rap you were using only riled them up more."
"Not a fan of that song about Tiger Woods you used, though," the pilot added. "Anyway, you're gonna need to jump soon."
The door outside slid open, and Kim and Ron jumped out. A few seconds later, their parachutes deployed, and they slowly drifted down through the New Mexico air into Albuquerque.
"So what are we looking for, anyway?" Ron called to his girlfriend.
"Not sure!" she yelled back.
"Oh," Ron said. "I wish Wade could tell us."
"No duh, Ron!" Kim said, rolling her eyes.
"Hey, I'm just saying!" Ron said.
"I know. I miss him too," Kim said.
I'm worried about him, she thought to herself.
Kim and Ron landed on the edge of a college campus. Not many people were around, since it was Thanksgiving night.
"Geez, where do we start?" Kim said to herself.
"I dunno," Ron said. "I mean, green and red? Are we supposed to look for traffic lights?"
Kim chewed her lower lip. "Green and red..." she muttered to herself. Suddenly, her eyes widened.
"Ron! It's Christmas!" she exclaimed.
"What? K.P., we just had Thanksgiving dinner and the Falcons are playing the Colts, I don't think it's Christmas at all!" Ron said.
"No, Ron," Kim said. "I mean, green and red are Christmas colors. It's a clue about Christmas!"
"Oh!" Ron said, eyes lighting up. "So wait. Does that mean that we can't rescue Wade for another month?"
"No, Ron, it means...I don't know," Kim admitted. "Maybe it's not Christmas after all."
"Yeah," Ron said. "Unless you're talking about the shopping season."
"Ron, you're exactly right," she said. "We have to get to the mall."
"I am? Booyah!" Ron exclaimed. "Wait. What am I right about?"
"Just come on!" Kim said, grabbing her boyfriend's hand and dragging him behind her.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The mall was a madhouse as employees rushed around, working to get everything ready for Black Friday.
"I'd love to help you, but I don't know anything about a kidnapping," the mall manager told the two college students. "Plus, it's Black Friday. There's no way we can shut down the mall now! It's the day that most of the stores in here finally pull a profit!"
"Can we at least investigate?" Kim asked. "There's probably something important here. I hope."
The manager shrugged. "Sure, go ahead. Just don't take anything. And if you try to get in early for a good deal, you're going to get banned from here forever."
"I promise," Kim said.
"Wait," Ron said. "Does that include getting things from Bueno Nacho?"
The manager cast him a disturbed look.
"Son, the food court doesn't do Black Friday," he said. "And besides, we don't even have any of that fake glop they try to pass off as Mexican food. We have real Mexican cuisine around these parts."
"Fake glop?" Ron sputtered.
"Uh, thanks, we won't touch anything!" Kim said, quickly pulling her boyfriend away.
Ron fumed as Kim led him into the main part of the mall. "Can you believe that guy? Bueno Nacho, not real Mexican! Hah! Of course not, it's Tex-Mex! Tex-Mex, K.P.!"
"Listen, Ron, can you have your little fast food freakout later?" she asked. "I still don't know what I'm looking for. We're basically flying blind here."
"Yeah," Ron admitted. "It'd take a lot of luck for us to find something here."
A monster truck crashed through the roof and skidded to a halt beside the mall fountain. Shego leaped out of the passenger side.
"Huh," Kim said. "Looks like something found us."
"Alright, people!" Shego said loudly. "Give us what we're looking for, and we'll be out of your hair and you can deal with the horror that is Black Friday. Otherwise..." She lit up her hands. "Well, let's just say it'll be fun. For me."
The mall mostly ignored her. The only one who didn't was Kim, who ran towards Shego. Motor Ed stuck his head out of the driver's side window.
"Whoa, Green, look out!" he called to her.
"What?" Shego said, turning to face him. "What are you talking about?"
Shego's back was now turned to Kim. She put on a burst of speed.
"Green, Red!" Motor Ed said frantically.
"Huh?" Shego said, confused.
Kim launched herself into the air and came down with a flying kick directly to the middle of Shego's spine. Shego was knocked forward by the blow and sprawled onto the mall floor. Shego quickly rolled over and got back to her feet.
"I don't know what you're doing here, but you're going down," Kim told the villain.
"Oh yeah, princess?" Shego said. She lit up her hands. "I don't think so."
Shego launched herself at Kim. Kim fought back, parrying Shego's blows and attempting some strikes of her own. The two battled their way across the mall floor.
"Tell us where Drakken is, princess!" Shego declared angrily.
Kim froze for a millisecond, giving Shego the opportunity to kick her in the face, sending her flying. Kim leapt to her feet.
"Give us back Wade!" she said angrily.
"What?" Shego said, confused. She shook her head to clear it and charged at Kim.
"You know, Wade! You took him!" Kim said angrily as the two girls began clawing at each other again.
"No, we didn't, Red!" Motor Ed called to them. "You took my cousin, and we want him back! Seriously."
Shego attempted to blast Kim. Kim dodged, but the fountain in the center of the mall did not. It exploded, revealing an underground passageway. Kim and Shego stopped fighting.
"Whoa," Motor Ed said, leaping out of the monster truck. "Seriously, what is that? Seriously."
"It looks like some underground passage," Shego said. "But why would someone build a secret tunnel into a mall?"
A familiar beeping tone came from Kim's pocket. Kim picked up the Kimmunicator and turned it on. A by-now familiar gnarled face stared out at them.
"You!" Shego exclaimed.
"Wait, you know this guy?" Ron said, surprised. "Why do you know this guy?"
The old man laughed gently. "I'm afraid I must confess that my associates and I needed both Mr. Load and Mr. Lipsky."
"Wait, what the heck did you need Drakken for?" Shego asked, confused.
"Yeah, Wade's so much better than Drakken!" Ron added.
"Nuh-uh, my cuz is seriously amazing! Seriously!" Motor Ed said.
"Oh, yeah, like the way he's got flower petals growing around his head?" Ron asked. "Totally impressed by that."
"Okay yeah, but he's blood, dude! Seriously!" Motor Ed said. "Don't be like that! Seriously!"
"Okay, seriously?" Kim asked.
"Seriously," Motor Ed said.
"No, seriously," Kim said.
"Seriously," Motor Ed added.
"Yeah, seriously," Ron said.
"ENOUGH!" Shego yelled, lighting up her hands. She pointed at the man on the screen. "YOU. Tell us where Drakken is. NOW."
The old man chuckled again. "You'll need to work together to find him."
"Hey, Drakken's totally our enemy!" Ron said. "I think."
"Ron's right," Kim added. "Although he hasn't been doing much evil ever since we defeated those aliens together..."
"Whatever, I'm not a fan of Kimmie here," Shego said.
"Suit yourselves," the old man said. "But if you want to see your friends..."
The old man let the threat hang in the air, half-spoken.
"Look, guys, we seriously need to find my cousin," Motor Ed said. "He could be in seriously big trouble! Seriously!"
Nobody spoke for a few seconds. Then Kim gave up, sighed, and rolled her eyes.
"Fine. Lemme guess, into the creepy tunnel?" she asked the old man.
"Correct. And let me give you one last clue: Four worlds Tawa created, and four shall walk alone. Though on this path you may be fated, your will shall be your own." The old man finished speaking and took a deep breath. "You will find what you are looking for at the end of the line. Take it with you."
The old man cut the connection. Kim, Shego, Motor Ed, and Ron looked at each other and then entered the underground tunnel.
If anybody was wondering why every other show got four characters (and a pet), wonder no more. Hero-villain team-up, ahoy!
Also, for the record, the gangsta rap in question is "Gimme the Loot" by The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls). The satirical country song is "Tiger Woods" by Dan Bern.
Chapter 4: A Woman Scorned
A. Nigma High
Holger stared down the hall at his target.
"It's okay, Holgermiester," he muttered to himself. "You can do this. You can be all Sven Svenson. Yes, Holger from school can do this. No more being scary, Holger. Time to be herohogen!"
He took another look at his target: a tall blonde girl, stylishly dressed and wearing very high wedge heels. He ducked back behind a bank of lockers.
"Or maybe teensy-bit no?" Holger muttered to himself. "Is not that important, yes? Holger doesn't have to..."
Holger screamed and leapt away from the person behind him who had just spoken. Turning around, he saw the girl he was previously looking at staring at him boredly. As Holger continued to quake with fear, she blew a bubble with her gum and then popped it.
"So, any particular reason you're staring at me? Because you should know, I've got a boyfriend." Kimmie blew another bubble. "And even if I didn't, please. I'm way out of your league."
"Um, well, yes! Yes, the Kimmie is far out of Holger's league! Yes!" Holger said nervously. "So far out of his league, it's a good thing the Kimmie is dating Biffy! Yes!"
Holger let out a nervous laugh. Kimmie eyed him up.
"Alright, flashypants, what do you want?"
"Oh, Holgermiester does not want anything, no, not at all," Holger warbled. "Except maybe to be telling you that Biffy is no longer with us because of mean men okay bye!"
Holger moved to run off. Kimmie reached out and snagged the back of his shirt with her right hand.
"What do you mean, Biffy is no longer with us?" Kimmie asked calmly.
"Oh. Well," Holger said nervously. "He has been, taken? By mean men?"
Kimmie frowned at him. "I see," she said flatly.
"But no to be worrying! Lee of Pings has plan for the saving of Biffy!" Holger said quickly.
Kimmie looked at Holger, unimpressed.
"One last question," she said calmly. "Where is Lee right now?"
"In the room at the back of the library oh Holger so scary please stop!" Holger begged.
Kimmie let go of Holger and walked away.
"Oh no. What has Holger done?" Holger asked himself pitifully.
A. Nigma High
The group was still in Genius Club headquarters, looking to finalize their plans and figure out their cover stories.
"Okay, Cam, you tell my mom what's going on," Lee said. "Brandy, can you say you've got Tina and Jenny staying at your house for some big school project or something?"
"They'll never buy that!" Tina complained.
"Yeah, even if my mom doesn't want to think about me running off there's no way she'll accept that excuse," Jenny added.
"Got any better ideas?" Brandy asked.
The room fell silent.
"Fair enough," Jenny finally admitted.
"Alright, are we ready to go?" Lee asked.
Everybody murmured noises of assent. Right on schedule, a video chat window appeared on Lee's laptop.
"So, kid, you got your team ready?" the old man onscreen grunted.
"Right here," Lee said confidently. "Me, Tina, Jenny, and–wait, where's Holger?"
Holger burst into the room. He was crying.
"Oh, Lee of Pings, I am so sorry!" Holger said. "I told the Kimmie, and she is mad, and, and, and she is, oh, Lee! Holger from school is so scary!"
Holger wept in Lee's arms. Lee comforted his friend while looking around awkwardly.
"So is this like normal behavior for you freaks or what?" the old man asked. "Because I gotta say, I'm not really understanding how you guys are ever gonna solve a mystery or anything."
Lee frowned. "Hey, I'll have you know that we're...uh...Holger, could you stop sobbing on me?"
Holger straightened up, instantly cheerful. "Of course, Lee of Pings!" he said brightly.
"Thanks, Holg," Lee said gratefully. He turned back to the computer. "Look, our competence is not the point. The point is–"
The door to the room flew open and Kimmie stormed in. She grabbed Lee by the front of his shirt.
"Lee. PING!" she screamed in his face.
A. Nigma High
Everybody stared at Kimmie, surprised. The old man onscreen was the first one to break the silence.
"Whoa, who's this angry woman?" he asked.
"Stow it, gramps," Kimmie said. She turned back to Lee. "What do you mean, my boyfriend's gone?"
"Oh, right, you're his girlfriend," the old man said. "Yeah, I heard about you."
Kimmie looked towards the screen. "Who are you and why are you interrupting us?"
"Who, me?" the old man said smugly. "I'm just the guy who knows where your boyfriend is–well, kinda–and what you've gotta do to get him back."
Kimmie dropped Lee and faced the screen completely. "Do you know who I am?" she asked.
The old man looked her over. "Lemme guess. Blonde, rich, self-absorbed; yeah, I've known a lot of people like you, kid. And lemme tell ya, you don't impress me much."
"Excuse me?" Kimmie asked, shocked. "I'll have you know, my mom–"
"Actually went out and made something of herself, yeah yeah yeah," the old man said. "And you, what have you done? You're either a spoiled brat who never sees her or you're completely under her thumb. Again, heard this story before. Don't really care. Point is, if you ever want to see your boyfriend again, you got one hope, and he's got a really stupid haircut."
"Hey!" Lee said, insulted. "What's wrong with my hair?"
"Kid, I'm told you have plenty of great qualities, but trust me, 'style' isn't one of them," the old man said.
"I like his style!" Tina piped up.
"...yeah," the old man said. "Not touching that one. Point is, if any of you want to see Biffy again, you'd better get your four butts down to Detroit."
"Detroit?" everyone asked, shocked.
"Yeah, it's a city in Michigan," the old man said. "You might want to, y'know, get moving."
The old man ended the video chat.
A. Nigma High
"Well, that's just great," Lee said to nobody in particular. "How are we supposed to get to America?"
Nobody said anything for a few seconds. Then Kimmie spoke up.
"Hold on," Kimmie said. "Let me just try and understand this. Biffy has been kidnapped by some weirdo not related to my mother, maybe, in order to set up a humongous trap for all of you losers, in order to do who knows what?"
"Yep, that's pretty much it," Brandy said.
"Yeah, ese, that's all we know," Cam added.
Kimmie rolled her eyes. "Fine. I can get you to Detroit."
"What? How?" Lee asked, surprised.
"My mom may be...evil, and frozen in crystal...but...we're still rich," Kimmie said. "If it's buyable, I can get it for you."
"Gee, thanks–" Lee started to say. Kimmie stepped forward and hauled Lee up by the front of his shirt.
"But, if you don't bring Biffy back, I will END you," she told him.
"Got it," he said nervously.
Gravity Falls, Oregon
"Shotgun called it!" Mabel said loudly as she ran out of the Mystery Shack. Soos was the next one out.
"Wait for me, dude!" he said, clambering into the front seat.
Dipper and Pacifica slowly made their way to the truck and climbed into the back. Before Dipper could shut the door, Waddles rushed into the truck and took a set between Dipper and Pacifica.
"Waddles!" Mabel said happily. "Oh, I can't believe we almost forgot about you!"
"Ew," Pacifica said. "Do we really have to bring the pig?"
"Of course!" Mabel said, chipper. "Waddles is one of the family!"
"Oh, come on, I have some standards!" Pacifica complained. "I'm not sitting next to a dirty pig!"
"Waddles isn't dirty! He's a very clean pig!" Mabel said angrily.
Dipper sighed. "Look, I'll just keep Waddles on my lap, okay?" he said, pulling Waddles into his lap. "That way, Pacifica doesn't have to touch Waddles if she doesn't want to but he can still come with us."
Both girls grunted and faced away from each other.
"Okay, dudes," Soos said. "It'll take us about five hours to get there. You three might want to get some sleep. You know, just in case."
Pacifica grumbled and continued to look out the window. Soos put the truck in gear and pulled out of the Gravity Falls parking lot.
Ten minutes later, the truck was purring down the highway, headed east, and Pacifica was fast asleep. As they drove, Dipper quit staring out the window and looked over at Pacifica. Her face, no longer alert and guarded, was weary. Dark bags were visible beneath her eyes, not quite concealed by her eyeliner. The last year had clearly been hard on her.
Dipper turned away and looked out the window again, losing himself in his thoughts. While he worried about his Grunkles and about what awaited them in Boise, the trees of central Oregon zoomed by on the highway. In the seat in front of him, Mabel also looked out at the trees. Somebody who knew Mabel and only saw her from behind might have assumed that she was entranced by nature or thinking about all the things she could do outside. They would never have guessed that Mabel was frowning as she stared out the window.
Silence descended upon the truck with the only sounds being the motor and the road slipping away beneath the tires. Dipper and Mabel stared out the window. Soos stared out the windshield, keeping his focus on the empty road ahead.
"So..." Soos eventually said. "Mabel, do you think we should repaint the truck?"
Mabel didn't respond.
"I was thinking, maybe use some glitter paint or something, make it really flash and sparkle and shine. Or like, put flames on the side, with a neon question mark, for the Mystery Shack. What do you think?"
Mabel didn't reply.
"C'mon, Mabel. What's going on?"
Mabel sighed and turned to Soos. "I'm really scared," she said quietly. "I mean, about our Grunkles."
"Oh," Soos said. He nodded. "Yeah, me too." A sad look settled on his face. "Me too."
The truck moved down the road in silence again.
They arrived in Boise at around 8 o'clock. Soos pulled off the interstate a bit later.
"Okay, dudes," he said. "What now?"
Pacifica yawned and stretched as she woke up. She looked around and took a few seconds to remember where she was.
"Oh. Right," she said. "This adventure thing."
"I think we should get something to eat," Mabel said.
"I'm down for that," Soos said amiably.
"Wait. We should stop at the library and use the internet. See if there's anything about a foothill cult online," Dipper said.
"Also a good idea, also a good idea," Soos said, nodding. "Pacifica, what do you think?"
Pacifica stared back at him. "We should find somewhere to sleep."
"Another good suggestion!" Soos said. "Dude, you guys are on fire, it's like, boom. Okay. So, uh, what should we do first?"
Dipper pursed his lips. "I don't know how long the libraries stay open here. We should find one and see if we can figure things out first,"
"Dude, I get that, I really do," Soos said. "But I'm also kind of loving Mabel's food idea."
Mabel shook her head. "Actually, I'm with Dipper. The sooner we get our Grunkles back, the better."
"The library it is, dudes!" Soos said. "So, anybody know where one is?"
Everybody stood around awkwardly.
"That's okay, I'll see if I can get one on my GPS!"
Library! at Hillcrest
"Great," Dipper said, scanning the closed and locked door to the library. "I forgot Idaho's on Mountain Time."
Behind him, Pacifica's stomach growled. Soos's stomach answered the sound with a growl of its own.
"Dinnertime, dudes," Soos said.
"Great, I'm starving!" Mabel said, chipper as ever.
"So what's still open at 9:30?" Dipper mused to himself.
Soos shrugged. "Dunno. We'll find something."
That was how the group found themselves in the drive-thru at Los Betos at 10 P.M. It had taken a lot of driving around, but eventually everyone had agreed to have Mexican for dinner.
"Everyone know what they want?" Soos asked.
"Chicken burrito," Dipper said quickly.
"I'll have the cheese enchiladas, and Waddles will have the veggie burrito!" Mabel declared confidently.
"And I'm getting the machaca plate," Soos said. "Pacifica, what do you want?"
Pacifica stared out the window, purposefully keeping her face blank.
"I'm not hungry," she said.
Her stomach immediately voiced its protest.
"C'mon, sure you are!" Soos said affably. "Seriously, what do you want?"
Pacifica scanned the menu. The board was filled with unfamiliar names and descriptions.
"...burrito," she eventually said.
"Okay, what kind?" Soos asked.
"Carne asada, got it!" Soos said happily. He leaned over to whisper to Mabel. "When in doubt, always get the carne asada. Unless you don't like cows."
Mabel laughed. Soos pulled up to the order window.
"Hi, we'd like the machaca plate, a chicken burrito, a carne asada burrito, three enchiladas, and a veggie burrito for our pig," Soos said happily.
"Sure, whatever," the bored woman who took their order said. "That'll be...hold on a sec...uh...$35.99."
Soos handed over a pair of twenties and got his change back. He eyed the tip jar nervously.
"Your food'll be ready in a few minutes," the woman said, and shut the window.
Soos sat in the driver's seat silently. He scooched his butt around, trying to get comfortable, and began to sweat.
"Something wrong, Soos?" Mabel asked.
"Ah, geez, dudes," Soos said. "It's this tip jar. Like, I want to leave a tip, but like, I don't know how long our money is going to last. We could have to save up or something."
"Don't worry about it, Soos!" Mabel said. "Our parents gave us some emergency money!"
"This isn't quite an emergency, Mabel," Dipper said.
"Your Grunkles are missing and you dragged somebody you barely know into the situation just because you had to have four people," Pacifica said, surprising everybody. "I think this is an emergency."
"See?" Mabel said, sticking out her tongue.
"No, Mabel, I mean, leaving a tip probably isn't a life-or-death situation," Dipper said. "Especially since we're probably better off saving the money."
"Dipper's right," Soos decided. "We need to save our money."
Soos sat in the driver's seat, sweating heavily. A few minutes later, the waitress returned.
"Okay, here's your order," she said, heaving open the window. "Chicken burrito, veggie burrito, carne asada burrito, three cheese enchiladas, and a machaca plate. Have a nice day."
Soos reached out and gingerly took the bag. He paused.
"Here have a tip bye!" he said quickly, flinging four dollars and a penny into the restaurant and yanking the bag into the car. He peeled out of the drive-thru and onto the road.
"Soos!" Dipper said, shocked.
"Sorry dude, I had to!" Soos said. "They had a tip jar right there and everything, bro!"
"It's okay, Soos," Mabel said. "You did the right thing."
Dipper sighed. "Let's just find somewhere to spend the night."
8002 Overland Road
The quartet took a room with two beds.
"Okay, since nobody packed a sleeping bag, except Dipper, I messed up dudes, we're all going to have to share," Soos said. "So. Mabel and Pacifica, you're going to have to share a bed."
"Sleepover!" Mabel cheered, hugging Pacifica tightly.
"And Dipper, I guess uh, um...yeah I'll just sleep on the floor," Soos said.
"No, that's okay, Soos," Dipper said. "I'll just, uh, I'll bunk down in my sleeping bag. It's too small for you anyway."
"Really?" Soos asked. "Thanks dude. So, Dipper, any info on the library?"
"It opens tomorrow at 10," Dipper said. "And according to the clock, it's now 11."
"Alright, let's all turn in, okay?" Soos said.
Pacifica turned the lights off.
"Thanks," he said.
Slowly, everyone in the room dropped off to sleep.
As Pacifica lay on the edge of the cheap bed, she couldn't help but think that it was much softer than the bed she had at home.
8002 Overland Road is an actual place. It's currently a Howard Johnson's and used to be Budget Inn. Internet reviews say that it's incredibly run down. All the complaints that the group have about the motel were taken from these reviews.
So, who are the cultists? What will the KP crew find underground? Where the heck is the Marinara Trench? And what's going to happen in Detroit? Find out the next time I update. (No, I don't know when that will be.)
And, once again, thanks for reading, y'all.
Chapter 6: Walk Like a Navajo
It feels like an eternity since I last updated this, even though the last updates happened less than a week ago. Regardless, I figured out where I wanted to go with the other plotlines and I've got the first twenty chapters plotted out now with some idea of what happens in the rest of the story; furthermore, I've got some idea of how long this'll be in the end (between 30 and 60 chapters and probably circa 50,000 words).
Underneath Coronado Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The underground tunnel was decorated with hieroglyphs. They weren't Egyptian in style, but that was of no concern to Ron, who was casting his flashlight all around the cavern, looking for clues.
"C'mon, c'mon, c'mon," he muttered under his breath. "There's gotta be a pattern. K.P.!" he suddenly called. "Do you see anything suspicious?"
"Not really, Ron," she called back. "You?"
"I don't know what I'm looking for!" he said.
"Me neither! Usually these things just reveal themselves!"
Suddenly, the path split. There were three doorways in front of them, each one containing a separate path.
"A maze. Great. Just when I thought this day couldn't get any worse," Shego said.
"I say we use the right-hand rule," Kim said. "Test the right side, and keep going right from there."
"Are you kidding me? Everybody does that!" Shego scoffed. "We should use the left-hand rule. Nobody anticipates that."
"Ron?" Kim asked.
"I'm partial to the middle, myself," Ron said nervously. "But, uh–"
"Whoa. Hold on, dude. Seriously," Motor Ed said. "Shine that light over the doors."
"What?" Ron asked, confused.
"Seriously, shine it over the doors, dude! Seriously," Motor Ed said.
Ron did as requested and let the flashlight rest above each door for a few seconds.
"Okay, like, I think I know what they say," Motor Ed said.
"Oh you have got to be kidding me," Shego groused.
"No, seriously. I like, minored in Pre-Colombian Cultures in college. Seriously," Motor Ed said.
"Wait, what? You? Pre-Colombian Cultures?" Shego asked, confused.
"Lots of totally hot babes in those classes. Seriously," Motor Ed said.
Shego growled. "Whatever. Do these pictures say anything?"
"Uh, certain death, certain doom, and free ice cream," Motor Ed said.
"I'm into ice cream!" Ron said happily. He started to saunter down the third path. Kim stopped him.
"It's a trap, Ron," she said.
"I dunno, free ice cream sounds pretty rocking to me," Motor Ed said. "Seriously."
"Boys! Pay attention!" Shego said. "We have a choice of certain death or certain doom. Choose one!"
"I'll take death, it's more wicked," Motor Ed said.
"Death sounds good to me," Kim added.
"Um, hello, free ice cream!" Ron complained.
"Death it is," Shego said, ignoring him. The group headed down the left-hand path.
Underneath Coronado Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The pathway they chose was filled with cobwebs. Not only this, but the creators of these webs were everywhere. As they walked along the path, spiders skittered on the walls, floor and ceiling all around them. While Shego was completely stoic in the face of the arachnids, Kim was slightly unnerved, Motor Ed was twitchy, and Ron was on the verge of a full-blown mental breakdown.
"It's okay, spiders are nice," he muttered to himself. "They won't hurt me. Just don't let them know I'm here. Just don't let them..."
Suddenly, Ron's eyes widened.
"MOTOR ED! DUDE!" he yelled. "THERE'S A GIANT SPIDER ON YOUR NECK!"
"What? Where!" Motor Ed shrieked. He screamed like a little girl and began slapping at himself frantically, propelling himself forward through the tunnel in a disturbing rhythmless dance. He knocked over a tripwire, and arrows shot out of the wall at him. Somehow, none of them struck him, but he proceeded to open a pit of spikes that he somehow managed to avoid being impaled on by leaping from peak to peak, still focused on the possibility that a spider might be on him. Once he got to the other side of the pit, he continued to slap at himself, ignoring the rumbling sound all around him as rocks fell from the ceiling. When he finally stopped slapping at himself, the traps had stopped their efforts. He looked around.
"Hey! There's a bowl over here!" he called back to the rest of the group. "Do you think it's important?"
"Don't touch it!" Kim yelled back.
"Touch it? Seriously?" he called. "If you say so!"
"No!" Kim yelled, but it was too late. Motor Ed reached for the bowl. Thinking quickly, Kim got to work, acrobatically leaping through the traps and over the spikes. She landed behind the mullet-headed villain just as he picked up the bowl.
The pedestal the bowl was on tipped forward and landed on his foot.
"OW!" Motor Ed yelped. "SERIOUSLY!"
Motor Ed hopped backward and toppled toward the ground. Kim stuck her arms out and caught him.
"Hey, thanks, Red," he said. Kim rolled her eyes.
"There's going to be another death trap," Ron muttered. "There's always death traps in these things. Probably a giant boulder."
No giant boulder appeared to crush them. Instead, the floor over the pit of spikes swung back into place.
"Look, let's just get out of here," Shego said.
Kim and Motor Ed made their way back to Ron and Shego, and the group headed back toward the entrance, Ron bringing up the rear. As they walked, he shined his flashlight on Motor Ed's bowl.
"You know what's seriously weird about this?" Motor Ed said, examining his bowl. "This is Aztec writing. Seriously."
"Seriously?" Ron asked.
"Seriously," Motor Ed confirmed. "The people who lived in New Mexico were neither Aztecs nor had a writing system. This is like, a seriously misplaced relic. Seriously."
"Well–wait," Ron said. "Are you telling me there's writing in that bowl?"
"Seriously?" Motor Ed asked. "Yeah, I guess, but this is like a work of art! Seriously."
"What's it say?" Ron asked.
"It says something about Tenochtitlan," Motor Ed said.
"Sorry, where?" Kim asked. Motor Ed looked up, surprised.
"Whoa, Red!" he said. "When were you part of this conversation? Seriously."
"Seriously, where's Tenochtitlan?" Kim asked.
Motor Ed shrugged. "It's where modern-day Mexico City was built. Seriously."
The group exited the chasm.
"Did you say Mexico City?" Kim asked.
Shego rolled her eyes, leapt into the driver's seat, and hotwired the monster truck. She revved the engine.
"Let's go, people!" she called. "We've got stuff to do in Mexico!"
"Hey, babes don't drive! Dudes drive!" Motor Ed complained.
Shego cast a sour look at Motor Ed and blasted him. While Motor Ed sat up and shook off the blow, Kim and Ron climbed into the backseat and put on their seat belts. Giving up, Motor Ed climbed into the passenger seat just as the mall manager ran up to the hole. Shego stomped on the gas, and they drove away.
"Hey, wait!" the manager called after them. "Who's gonna pay for all this? Who's gonna clean up this mess? You can't leave us like this on Black Friday! KIM POSSIBLE! YOU ARE BANNED FROM CORONADO CENTER!"
Chapter 7: Mount Mariana
Pizza Steve dangled precariously over a pit of red.
"Gah! My hand's slipping, bro!" Pizza Steve cried desperately.
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
Pizza Steve's hands slipped free from Frankenstein's grip and he plummeted towards the ground.
Uncle Grandpa RV
"The Marianas Trench? How are we supposed to get there?" Mr. Gus asked.
Uncle Grandpa had just hung up on them, and the group of rescuers was standing around in the middle of the RV, trying to figure out what to do.
"Yeah, the Marianas Trench? Pfft," Pizza Steve said confidently. "Pizza Steve! can totally handle that stupid ditch or whatever."
"It's at the bottom of the ocean!" Mr. Gus retorted. "We don't even have a way to get down there, nevermind withstand the immense water pressure!"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger growled.
"Hey, that's right, Giant Realistic Flying Tiger," Mr. Gus said thoughtfully. "Uncle Grandpa did say the Marinara Trench. I thought he misspoke, but maybe..."
Pizza Steve began to sweat.
"Hey Pizza Steve!" Mr. Gus said. "You know a lot about Italian food. What do you know about the Marinara Trench?"
"Uh, what?" Pizza Steve said nervously. "There's uh, there's no such thing, man! Yeah, I'm pretty sure he meant that uh, that marijuana trench thing you were talking about. Yeah. That's it."
"Pizza Steve..." Mr. Gus said, a touch of warning coming into his voice.
Pizza Steve's crust slumped. "Alright, alright. So, the Marinara Trench is a real thing. But I swore I'd never go back there! Never!" He affected a nonchalant tone. "So I guess Uncle Grandpa is doomed. Oh well."
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger growled.
"Whoa, what?" Pizza Steve said, shocked.
"Mraah!" Frankenstein said, upset. Giant Realistic Flying Tiger growled back at him, and soon they were in a fight over who would get to eat Pizza Steve.
"Whoa, say what?" Pizza Steve said, shocked. "Is this really how you all think of me?"
"Well Uncle Grandpa did record a hit single about not eating you," Mr. Gus said.
Pizza Steve pushed his sunglasses back into his face.
"Fine," Pizza Steve said stoically. "I guess it's time that I show you how brave Pizza Steve can be, and take you all to the Marinara Trench. But don't say I didn't warn you!"
A Cheap Pizza Parlor
Twenty minutes later, Mr. Gus, Frankenstein, Giant Realistic Flying Tiger, and Pizza Steve were seated in a corner booth at a cheap pizza parlor.
"So why'd you take us here?" Mr. Gus asked.
"We'll need energy before we do anything," Pizza Steve told him. "Try the garlic twists; they're salty and fatty and greasy and surprisingly good."
Frankenstein got up to order. He walked over to the counter.
"Graah. Graah graah GRAAH mraah graah," he told the waiter.
The waiter punched the order into his machine. "Sure thing dude, that'll be $24.79, and it'll be ready in a couple of minutes."
"Graah," Frankenstein said, handing over the money. He got his change and walked back over to the table. Minutes later, the waiter walked over with plates of garlic twists for everyone. Everybody dug in except for Pizza Steve.
"Hey, what's wrong, little slice?" Mr. Gus asked. "You were right about these twists being good. So why aren't you eating?"
Pizza Steve sighed. "Look, I don't know how to tell you this, but there are some things that even Pizza Steve! is afraid of."
"No, we're all aware of that," Mr. Gus said.
"Graah," Frankenstein agreed.
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger growled her assent.
"Oh," Pizza Steve said. "Oh, well, sure, Mr. Gus," he continued, resuming his cocky attitude. "Heh. Yeah right. But the Marinara Trench is dangerous enough to scare even the bravest man. And that man is me, Pizza Steve!"
"Right...so where is this trench, anyway?" Mr. Gus asked.
Pizza Steve's sunglasses slid down his face. He stared out from behind them, shell shocked.
"It's in the back," he whispered.
"What?" Mr. Gus asked. "I didn't hear you, could you say that again?"
"It's in the back," Pizza Steve said, a little louder.
"Sorry, one more time?" Mr. Gus asked.
"It's in the back, okay?" Pizza Steve said, frustrated. "The Marinara Trench is in the back!"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger growled.
"Okay, fine, whatever! We'll go, we'll go!" Pizza Steve said exasperatedly. He hopped off the table and made his way to the kitchen. After a bit of hesitation, the rest of the group followed him as he pushed the swinging doors open.
On the other side was a primordial hellscape. The ground was molten cheese intercut with rivers of tomato sauce. Pizza crusts floated on the surface, providing an area to walk over, but they were often surrounded by monsters made out of various pizza toppings. The quartet stopped in the doorway and watched as a pineapple monster began fighting with a creature made out of olives.
Pizza Steve shivered. "I swore I'd never go back..." he muttered to himself.
"You're right, Frankenstein," Mr. Gus said. "We're doing this for Uncle Grandpa."
Pizza Steve chuckled nervously. "Now, guys, if you uh, if you want to just turn around and leave, we can, we can do that right now." He chuckled nervously again. "I uh, I won't like, judge you or anything, I uh, I completely understand if you just wanna uh, give up on this whole silly quest thing."
Mr. Gus looked at him angrily. "No way, little slice. We're in this until the end. Now where the heck's the Mariana Trench?"
"At the end of the kitchen," Pizza Steve muttered.
"Good. Giant Realistic Flying Tiger, think you can handle this for us?" Mr. Gus asked.
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger growled and allowed the rest of the group to climb onto her back. She flew over to the end of the hall, avoiding the attacks from the monsters, and landed on a crusty cliff overlooking a trench filled with marinara sauce.
"So uh, I should warn you, this is the uh, the worst part yet," Pizza Steve said. "We're going to have to climb down there. So uh, we can still turn around, and go home, you know, if anybody wants to chicken out." He giggled nervously. "Not that I want to or anything, nah, Pizza Steve is totally cool, but uh, if anybody else thinks this is crazy and we should just go home, uh, yeah." He chuckled nervously. "Because Pizza Steve is totally ready, but he doesn't want anybody to feel uncomfortable, you know, because–"
"Quit stalling and get down there!" Mr. Gus said angrily.
"Uh, alright," Pizza Steve said nervously. "We'll, uh, need to climb down. Together."
Mr. Gus grumbled but began climbing down. Frankenstein followed. Pizza Steve climbed down as well, but soon lost his grip on the side of the cliff. Frankenstein caught him.
"Oh, thanks, bro!" Pizza Steve said, relieved. "I can't bear to think of what might have happened if I fell off."
"Mraah," Frankenstein said happily. Suddenly, Pizza Steve began to slip off of his hand.
"Gah! My hand's slipping, bro!" Pizza Steve cried desperately.
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
Pizza Steve slipped off and fell towards the pit of marinara, screaming all the way.
"Oh, if only I wasn't so deliciously greasy!" Pizza Steve lamented.
"Pizza Steve!" Mr. Gus cried.
Pizza Steve landed in the marinara sauce with a thick wet plop. He laid there for a few seconds and then pushed himself up.
"Guh. I hate being covered in lukewarm marinara," he said.
"Wait," Mr. Gus said. "That sauce isn't even hot?"
Mr. Gus jumped down from the cliff and landed in the marinara. Not only was the sauce room temperature, it was also only ankle deep.
Mr. Gus sighed. "Let's just find what we need and get out of here."
"No worries, bro, I already got it," Pizza Steve said confidently, pulling a sauce-stained coupon for deep dish out of the marinara.
"WHAT?" Mr. Gus asked, agitated.
"It's great pizza, bro," Pizza Steve said. "I'm sure this is what Uncle Grandpa wanted me to get."
Above them, Frankenstein got a phone call. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and answered it, putting it on speakerphone.
"Graah?" he said into the phone.
"What? Who is this?" the voice on the other end asked, annoyed. "Do I have the right number?"
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
"Okay, is this a prank? Seriously?" the frustrated voice asked. "I swear, you do one kidnapping, and suddenly your whole life is thrown into disarray!"
"Mraah!" Frankenstein said angrily.
"Whatever, I don't care," the voice said. "Assuming I have the right number, here's what you have to do. You have to visit some concrete jungle. Wait, are you serious?" The voice spoke to someone, but it was muffled. "Fine. Okay, you're going to visit the concrete jungle. Apparently you know what you're supposed to get. No actual city name, though. Pfft. So lazy."
The voice hung up. Frankenstein repocketed his phone as Mr. Gus and Pizza Steve climbed back up to him.
"So lemme guess," Mr. Gus said. "There's an actual concrete jungle we need to visit?"
Above them, Giant Realistic Flying Tiger blushed and mewed, embarrassed.
Chapter 8: Cold When I Awoke
I didn't write much over the past week and have been sleeping poorly, so updates will continue to be sporadic and based on when I find time to write/reread what I've written to make sure it still makes sense.
Thanks for reading. Y'all are fantastic.
8002 Overland Road
By 8 o'clock–7 by Oregon time–everyone in the hotel room was wide awake. Most of them had slept poorly due to the disappearance of the Grunkles. The only exceptions were Pacifica and Waddles, both of whom had fallen asleep quickly and slept soundly.
"Well, dudes, I guess we're all up," Soos finally ventured. Nobody answered him.
"So, Dipper, dude, when's the library open?" he asked.
"It opens at ten," Dipper said. "Which means we have about two hours."
"Okay, how about we get everything packed up and get ready to go?" Soos suggested.
"Shower, called it!" Dipper said quickly.
While Dipper dashed off to the bathroom, everyone else got up and started picking things up. Waddles snuffled under the bed and dragged out a pair of dirty underwear.
"Hey!" Mabel said, offended. "Whose is this?"
"Not mine, dude," Soos said quickly. He checked. "Yep. Totally not mine."
Dipper ran out of the bathroom. "Ew! Mold everywhere! Mold everywhere!"
"Is this your underwear, Dip-dop?" Mabel asked.
"What? Ew! Gross! Where–where did you even find that?"
"Waddles found it under the bed," Mabel said disgustedly.
"Um, okay, dudes," Soos said. "How about we uh, we just get our stuff, and, go without touching anything else. Except the free breakfast."
"I'm with you," Dipper said. "I can't wait to forget all about this place." He shivered.
"I'm going to take a shower," Pacifica said. She stalked into the mold-filled bathroom and shut the door. The other three stared after her, shocked.
"Wow, what happened to her?" Mabel asked.
8002 Overland Road
When the group returned to the room, Pacifica had finished her shower and was waiting for them in the same clothes she was wearing yesterday.
"Aw, Pacifica, do you want to share my clothes?" Mabel offered.
Pacifica looked at her and stuck up her chin. "Sure. I'd also love to cover myself in raw sewage."
"Great!" Mabel said cheerfully, tossing her a sweater.
"I was being sarcastic!" Pacifica complained.
"I know! Don't care!" Mabel said.
Pacifica scowled as Mabel put a sweater with a picture of a pug saying "You're Pugging Me" on her. Soos sidled up to her with a bowl of cereal and a carton of milk.
"So uh, we brought you some breakfast," Soos ventured. "You know, since you were showering."
"Thanks," Pacifica said flatly.
While Pacifica ate, everyone else checked around the room to see if they'd left anything behind. By the time she'd finished her bowl of cereal, the room had been checked closely–too closely, in fact, as it turned up rips in the wallpaper and several spider corpses under a bed.
The group checked out and headed for the library.
West Overland Road
"So, what'd you find out, bro-bro?" Mabel asked.
"Not much," Dipper said. "Just that there was apparently a cult of Satanists in the northeastern foothills in the 80s."
"To the foothills!" Soos declared enthusiastically.
"Wait, Satanists?" Pacifica asked. "Are you serious?"
"Yep!" Dipper said proudly. "According to the internet...although there weren't many details...but get this, they all disappeared sometime in 1983!"
"So we're going after people who worship Satan in the hopes that this will somehow get your creepy uncles back?" Pacifica asked.
"Grunkles," Mabel corrected her.
"That's right, bros," Soos said. "To the foothills it is!"
He gunned the motor and pushed the truck onward.
Northeastern Foothills outside Boise, Idaho
The foothills were abandoned. The only signs of civilization were a beat-up truck and the dome of some abandoned church. The sign in front of the church read "Church of S__nists."
Mabel Pines hopped out of the truck and looked at the dome. She was followed by Dipper, Soos, and Pacifica.
"Well, I guess this is it," Dipper said.
Soos chuckled nervously. "Kinda creepy, huh guys?"
The group stood there silently.
"Well, are we going in or what?" Pacifica asked.
"I'm with you, sister!" Mabel said enthusiastically. "Let's go get our Grunkles back!"
Nobody moved. Soos sighed.
"Okay guys, it's Soos time."
Soos started walking towards the dome. After a few seconds, the rest of the group followed him. He pushed the door open, and the quartet entered. Inside, the space was empty of everything but mildew and dust.
"...there's nothing here," Mabel said sadly.
Dipper sighed. "Well, this was a waste of time."
"Yeah, thanks for that," Pacifica said.
Suddenly, the floor collapsed beneath them.
Chapter 9: Motor City Autopsy
A. Nigma High
"You mean it, chica?" Cam asked. "You're really willing to help us?"
Kimmie rolled her eyes. "I said I would. Don't make me regret it."
"Alright, alright, good," Lee said. "But uh, I still gotta ask: how are we getting to Detroit?"
Kimmie let out an exasperated sigh. "You can use my limo. Don't get anything on the seats."
"Um, thanks, Kimmie," Tina said. "Wow. I never thought you'd be this helpful."
Kimmie's eyes narrowed. "Well, he is my boyfriend. Speaking of which, why are you going?"
"Hey, I'm pretty good at detective work," Tina said.
"It's true, she is," Jenny said.
"Fine, whatever. Just–get my boyfriend back," Kimmie said.
"Can do, for Holgermiester is on the case with his magic powers!" Holger said happily. He placed his fingers to his temple and shut his eyes. "Fa-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na–"
Four hours later, Kimmie's limo rolled through the border into Detroit. Lee, Jenny, Tina, and Holger were in the back and a white hazmat was driving.
"How come we didn't get stopped?" Tina asked.
Jenny shrugged. "I guess sometimes it pays to be rich."
"Well that isn't right," Tina said.
"Look, it worked out for us this time," Lee said. "Let's not push it, okay?"
He smiled at Tina. The corners of Tina's mouth quirked upwards.
"Yeah, the more pressing question is what we're even supposed to be doing in Detroit," Jenny said.
Suddenly, the limousine shook and skidded to a stop. The passengers got out and saw that the tires had all blown.
"What the heck?" Jenny asked.
"Ah-ha!" Tina said. She pointed to a spike strip that had been placed on the road behind them.
"Why would somebody spike us?" Lee wondered.
"Holger's magic powers tell him this was supposed to happen," Holger said, nodding happily. He stopped and frowned. "Wait. Why would magic powers be telling Holger this was meant to happen?"
"Well–what do we do now?" Tina asked.
Jenny and Holger shrugged. Lee took out his cell phone and looked at it. It was dead.
"Hey, I forgot to charge my phone," he said. "Does anybody have a working one?"
The rest of his friends took out their phones and looked at them. They had all forgotten to charge them up.
"Sorry Lee!" Holger said.
"Yeah, sorry," Jenny added.
"Wait," Tina said. "Wasn't there a phone in the limo?"
Lee's face lit up. "Great idea!" he said, and climbed back into the limo, where the was indeed a car phone. He picked it up and dialed Kimmie's number. On the other end of the line, Kimmie answered.
"What," Kimmie said flatly.
"Uh, yeah, we kind of got four flats and–"
"Get the driver to fix it," she told him.
"Hey, yeah," Lee said. "Where is the driver, anyway?"
Holger rushed over to the driver's door and pulled it open. A deactivated robot flopped out.
"This isn't good," Tina said.
"Yeah, no kidding," Jenny said.
Lee looked up at the house in front of them.
"You thinking what I'm thinking?" he asked.
The group stopped and stared at the house. It was a large Victorian, covered in peeling gray paint, with curtains over every window and no lights on at all. The grass was all dead, and the porch looked like it would collapse if anybody stepped on it.
"Is it, run?" Jenny suggested.
"Yep," Lee said.
"Oh, no no no no no!" Holger said quickly. "Holger's magic powers tell him that inside we must go."
The trio looked at him like he was nuts. Holger began walking up the walkway to the door.
"Holger, stop!" Lee yelled. He ran after his friend and grabbed onto him, trying to drag him backwards.
"Lee of Pings!" Holger said, shocked. "You should know that Holgermiester's magic powers are never wrong! Never!"
He shoved Lee off and knocked on the door. It slowly swung open.
"Can Holger enter?" Holger called into the darkness.
After a few seconds, a raspy voice spoke.
"Enter," it said.
A. Nigma High
"So, got any news?" Brandy asked her boyfriend.
Cam shook his head. "Nah, chica. He hasn't called me. You think I should call him?"
Brandy shrugged. "He's probably off doing some spy thing and you'll blow his cover."
"Yeah, you're right," Cam decided. "I'd still like to know what they're doing though."
"He's stuck in Detroit with flat tires."
Cam and Brandy whirled around and stared into the unflinching face of Kimmie McAdams.
"Okay, like, how do you know that?" Brandy asked suspiciously.
Kimmie popped her gum. "He called me. After he ran over a spike trap. Gotta say, you really pick winners, Brandy."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Brandy asked testily.
"A prankster, the ex-president...who's next? A bag of garbage?"
"Hey!" Cam said angrily. "We're not breaking up!"
"Of course that's what you'd object to," Brandy said sourly. "Well, Kimmie, as it turns out, the prankster is the only hope for you to get your detentionaire boyfriend back." She turned on her heel and strode off. "Cam-cam, we're going. Now!"
Cam followed his girlfriend away. Kimmie smirked as they walked off. As soon as they were out of sight, the smirk dropped off of her face and a look of worry replaced it, although she quickly brushed it off as Druscilla and McKensie joined her in the hall.
"It was very nice of you to let us in, mister..." Jenny said to the lanky looming man who had let them in.
The man smiled. "Think nothing of it. It is so rare that we have...houseguests."
"Well, anyway, it was nice of you to do this while we waited for our car to get fixed," Tina said.
"Yes," the man replied, "although I'm afraid it may take a little while for the repair service to arrive. Perhaps not until tomorrow."
"That reminds me, could I use your charger?" Lee asked. "I'd like to charge my phone, and–"
"Phone?" the man inquired. "What phone?"
"Uh, you know, my cell phone?" Lee said.
"Oh, of course!" the man said. "We don't have one."
"You don't have..."
"A charger, no."
"Oh. Well, why not?"
"There are no phones in Castle Harker."
Lee raised an eyebrow.
"But come, my friends!" the man said happily. "Come, and partake of my wine!"
"Um, no thanks," Tina said.
"Wait," Jenny said. "What kind of wine?"
"Oh, but we are not old enough for the alcoholic beverage drinking!" Holger said.
"Gee, thanks, Holger," Jenny said sarcastically.
"No, it is very old wine," the man said. "Quite good."
"We'll go without," Lee said.
"Very good," the man said. "But if you change your mind, the offer is available."
"Thanks, but we'll just wait for the repair service," Tina said.
"As you wish," the man said. A slight smile caressed his lips. "After all, Castle Harker is always good to its guests."
Northeastern Foothills outside Boise, Idaho
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need! Correct, comrade?" a voice boomed.
Dipper blinked. "What?"
The group looked up. Everyone but Pacifica gasped.
"Tell me this, should the tanks have been sent into Hungary, comrades?" the man standing in front of them asked.
"Hey, I remember you!" Mabel said. "You're Toot-Toot McBumbersnazzle, traveling banjo minstrel!"
Toot-Toot frowned. "That was my old name, before I realized leading a cult was more my style."
"A cult?" Dipper asked, surprised.
"Yes, my dear child," Toot-Toot said. "Welcome to the Church of Stalinism!"
"Wait," Soos said. "How'd you become a cult leader, anyway?"
"That's an interesting story," Toot-Toot said. "Would you like to hear it?"
"Uh, sure," Dipper said.
"Very well. Seize them!" Toot-Toot commanded. Stalinists stepped out of the shadows behind them and grabbed the group by their arms.
"Hey!" Dipper and Mabel complained.
"Oh, hey yourself!" Toot-Toot said. "I'm not a fool, you know. It's clear you were all planning to distract me and that you weren't planning to listen to my story at all. But, since you asked..."
"Quiet!" Toot-Toot said. "Now, I was wandering around Idaho, banjo minstrelling, when I stumbled into this dome and upon these Stalinists who were looking for a leader. Being an accommodating fellow, I decided to take on the role. They swiftly accepted me as one of their own, and now we work to ensure the supremacy of the Soviet Union!"
"The S–really?" Dipper asked. "The Soviet Union. You just stumbled down here, into a huge group of cultists, looking to work with the Soviet Union."
"Yes!" Toot-Toot declared. "Together, we will ensure that the correct side triumphs in this so-called Cold War! We have been waiting since 1983, when nuclear destruction was imminent, and we only wait until we are signaled that we have indeed won!"
Dipper shut his eyes tightly. "Okay, you do realize that–"
"Enough questions!" Toot-Toot declared. "Take them away!"
The Stalinists began dragging the quartet off. They wriggled to get free, but none of them was successful.
Until Pacifica shook her left arm loose and slammed her elbow into the captor's stomach. The cultist collapsed, and as Pacifica's shoes gained purchase she swung around and drove a left hook into the hooded face of her other captor. Now free of both Stalinists, Pacifica ran forward and grabbed a large, gold-colored sledgehammer lying on the floor.
"Hey, be careful with that!" Toot-Toot warned. "That's a sacred object!"
Pacifica raised the sledgehammer, spun around, and slammed it down on the foot of an approaching Stalinist. The Stalinist yelped and fell into another Stalinist as Pacifica spun around and kneecapped another cultist. The momentum of her swing caused her to topple over, and she fell backwards, hammer extended over her head.
It landed on Toot-Toot McBumbersnazzle's foot.
The cult leader screamed and instinctively lifted his foot. The force of his kick sent the sledgehammer flying, and it tumbled end-over-end through the air until it came down directly on the head of one of the cultists holding Dipper captive. The cultist collapsed, out cold, and Dipper shook free from his other captor. He picked up the sledgehammer just as another Stalinist dove for it. Dipper stopped and hit the man over the head with the sledgehammer, knocking him out cold, before leaping over the man and bringing the sledgehammer down onto the feet of the cultists holding onto his sister. The cultists yelped and dropped her, and Soos's captors let go of him and put their dukes up. Soos, Mabel, and Dipper backed towards each other, forming a circle and getting ready for a final stand.
"Not. So. Fast."
Toot-Toot's voice cut through the chaos like a knife. The trio looked at him, and their eyes widened. He had grabbed Pacifica and was holding her tightly by the shoulders.
"Now then," Toot-Toot said. "I believe it's time we all act civilized. Drop the hammer, and nobody gets hurt."
The Stalinists stopped approaching, waiting to see what they would do. Dipper, Mabel, and Soos all looked at each other, worried. Toot-Toot grinned widely, certain he had won. Pacifica rolled her eyes.
And then slammed her heel directly onto Toot-Toot McBumbersnazzle's injured foot.
The cult leader screamed in pain and let go of Pacifica. Pacifica stumbled forward and joined the others. Toot-Toot grimaced as he reached over and grabbed a golden sickle off of the floor.
"That. Is. Enough," he said, furious. "I don't care what you came down here for, you do not get to make a fool out of Toot-Toot McBumbersnazzle!"
Mabel and Soos giggled.
"Oh HA HA!" Toot-Toot yelled. "Very funny, yes, make fun of the former traveling banjo minstrel with the unfortunate name! Well no more! My name is a source of strength, and I will be duly rewarded when the Soviet Union buries you capitalist pigs beneath the will of the collective!"
"Dude, the Soviet Union collapsed, like, twenty-five years ago," Soos said.
Toot-Toot looked at them contemptuously. "Your bourgeois lies won't save you. You, and your country, will fall. NOW."
Toot-Toot raised his sickle and started walking towards them. A determined look crossed Soos's face.
"Dipper. Give me the hammer," he said.
Dipper looked at Soos, surprised, but decided not to argue. He handed over the sledgehammer, and Soos walked towards Toot-Toot.
"I am Soos Ramerez, Handyman of the Apocalypse, and I'm taking you down! I don't care if you found a new cult, we defeated you once, and we'll defeat you again!"
Toot-Toot looked confused. "A new cult? You defeated me? What?"
"Oh, right," Soos said awkwardly. "We kinda wiped your mind."
Toot-Toot scowled. "Fall, capitalist swine!"
Toot-Toot swung his sickle at Soos. Soos ducked and stuck the sledgehammer up. The weapons clashed, with the sickle hooking onto the sledgehammer. Toot-Toot grinned viciously.
"Face it, you abhorrent tool of plutocracy!" Toot-Toot declared. He yanked at the ensnared weapons. "Your lack of class consciousness may have served your masters well, but today it shall be your downfall! For I, Toot-Toot McBumbersnazzle, am one of the heralds of the New World Order!" He yanked at the sickle again, almost drawing the sledgehammer out of Soos's hands. "And I will be the one to finally–"
A plastic container slammed into Toot-Toot's forehead. Surprised, he released the sickle and stumbled backwards, tripping and landing on the container. It exploded into a flurry of glitter.
"Nice one, dude," Soos said, staring at his fallen foe.
"Yeah, nice job, sis," Dipper said.
Pacifica smiled at her. Mabel blushed.
"Aw, guys, it was nothing," she said.
Toot-Toot got to his feet, hacking and coughing.
"Stalinists! Attack!" he yelled.
Soos picked up the sickle and held it against his hammer. "Not while I'm still around, you don't!" he declared.
The Stalinists stopped in their tracks. They removed their hoods.
"Oh my gosh, you're all so old!" Mabel yelped.
It was true. Thirty years of underground living had done little for their complexions; the ravages of age, even less. The Stalinists were now all older than retirement age.
"We surrender," one of the cultists said. "Children of capitalism, you have bested us this day."
Suddenly, a phone rang. Toot-Toot McBumbersnazzle ran off to answer it.
"Hello?" he said. "No, things are not all well here! The capitalists have broken in and routed us!" He paused and listened. "Of course, dear leader. I promise."
Toot-Toot McBumbersnazzle hung up and turned back to his conquerors. They looked at him.
"So who was that?" Dipper asked suspiciously.
Toot-Toot McBumbersnazzle drew himself up to his full height. "You'd like to know, wouldn't you? Well too bad! You may have bested us, but there is no way you will find our brothers-in-arms! Communism will triumph, no matter how much you kulaks wish it were not the case!"
"Is that a fact?" Pacifica asked. She held her hand out. "Soos, the sickle."
Soos handed over the sickle. Pacifica walked towards him and stopped an arms-length away. She stared at his twice-smashed foot meaningfully.
"Where are the others?" she asked.
Toot-Toot began to sweat. He looked at Pacifica nervously. Pacifica stared at him, unflinching.
Toot-Toot opened his mouth to speak.
"The coordinates are latitude 41.5228 degrees north, longitude 113.5526 degrees west. They're in northern Utah."
"Write it down," Pacifica said.
Toot-Toot grabbed a piece of paper, wrote down the coordinates, and handed them to Pacifica.
"Good. Now where's the exit?" she asked.
Toot-Toot pointed to his left. A door was built into the wall. Pacifica silently strode towards it. The rest of the group followed her as she opened the door, revealing a staircase.
The quartet exited the Church of Stalinists.
Northeastern Foothills outside Boise, Idaho
As soon as they arrived aboveground, Soos cheered.
"We made it, dudes!"
"Hey, Pacifica, that was pretty cool what you did back there," Dipper said.
"Yeah, it was awesome!" Mabel said.
"Thanks," Pacifica said nervously.
"Well, dudes," Soos said, patting the roof of the truck, "I guess we're headed to Utah. What were those coordinates, Pacifica?"
Pacifica handed him the coordinates and climbed into the backseat. Waddles bumped his snout against her hand, but this time Pacifica didn't complain. Instead, she just petted the pig's nose.
I worry that Soos might be a bit out of character when he makes his proclamation. While I can totally see him doing it, in-show his determined moments are usually cut with some silliness, and I'm not sure I got enough here.
I originally intended for them to be fighting Satanists, but then the idea of a group of Stalinists who had been hiding since Reagan's first term popped into my head. I found that idea funnier, so I ran with it.
Chapter 11: Blood and Eternity
Three hours later, the group was still stuck in Castle Harker, waiting for a mechanic. Holger had dropped off to sleep, Lee was trying to amuse himself by twirling a pen between his fingers, Tina was examining everything in the room for the fifth time, and Jenny was lazing on a couch, testing whether it was possible to become so bored it wrapped back around to excitement. It was then that the tall man came downstairs.
"She's ready to see you," he said. The group rose, but he raised a hand to halt them. "Not all of you. Just...you, miss..."
"Jenny," Jenny said, walking forward. "Why me, though?"
A smile graced the tall man's lips. "Madam Harker prefers to see the leader of the pack."
"Huh," Jenny said, smiling. "Well, you should know that Lee's in charge."
"Is it?" the man asked. "Because I think Miss Harker would much prefer to see you."
Jenny shrugged and ascended the stairs. The tall man followed her.
Upstairs Castle Harker
The man led her to a dark room, ushered her inside, and shut the door. Jenny blinked, unable to see anything in the darkness.
A flame flickered on. The flameholder raised the small flame to a cigarette, waited until it caught, and abruptly shut the lighter off. The end of the cigarette burned orange-red in the darkness of the room.
"Do you mind?" Jenny asked, waving a hand in front of her nose. "Those things cause cancer, you know."
A soft, warm chuckle emanated from behind the cigarette.
"My dear," a feminine voice said, "cancer is not a concern."
"Uh, no, I'm pretty sure it is," Jenny said.
"Not for me," the woman said. "And not for you, either."
The cigarette bobbed as the person behind it walked towards her. Jenny tried the doorknob and found that it was locked.
"Um, okay, miss creepy, maybe you could let me out now?" Jenny said, worry pulling at the edges of her voice. "This is, uh, this isn't exactly normal behavior."
The woman chuckled again and lifted the cigarette away from her lips.
"I'm not a normal woman, either."
"Uh, say what?" Jenny said nervously.
The woman placed the cigarette against her lips and took another drag.
"I'm not a normal woman. But don't worry. Soon you won't be, either."
The woman pulled the cigarette away from her mouth. Jenny's eyes followed the orange tip as the woman held it in midair before dropping it on the floor and stomping out the flame.
"I believe it's time for dinner," the woman said calmly.
Jenny heard the sound of shifting clothing and instinctively swung her fist. It connected with a sickening crack. The woman dropped to the floor.
Jenny yanked on the doorknob and managed to pull the door out of its lock. She ran down the hall.
Downstairs Castle Harker
"So what do you think she wanted to talk to Jenny about?" Tina asked her boyfriend.
Lee shrugged. "I have no idea. I just hope it's about getting a mechanic so we can figure out what we're supposed to be doing in Detroit."
"Yeah," Tina sighed. She smiled at her boyfriend. "Still, it's not too bad, right? I mean, being together. And it's not like this is a new situation."
Lee chuckled. "Yeah, I gotta say, even though Biffy's gone this is a lot more low-stress than when you and Jenny were missing."
Lee and Tina stared in each other's eyes and smiled. They slowly moved their mouths towards each other.
The kiss was soft and slow and languid and long-lasting until Jenny screamed at them.
"GUYS! WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!"
Holger shot up, landed on his feet, slipped, and fell flat on his back. Lee and Tina leaped away from each other guiltily. And Jenny ran down the stairs into the parlor.
"What is the meaning of this?"
The group looked up and spotted the tall man leaning against a banister. Jenny shrieked and ran for the door. She attempted to pull it open but found that it was locked. She looked down and saw that there was no way to unlock the door from the inside.
"Oh come on!" she complained. "Who puts the locks on the outside?"
"I do," a female voice hissed nasally. Jenny spun around and pressed her back to the door, scared. Her friends merely looked confused as an attractive blonde woman stumbled into view, holding her bleeding nose.
Holger shrieked and ran over to the door. He shoved Jenny aside and began beating on the door with his fists, trying to find a way out.
"Holg, what's wrong?" Lee asked, concerned.
"THE VURSTRELDAMEN!" Holger yelled, scared. "Do you not sense it?"
"Uh, no?" Tina said.
Still holding her nose, the woman made her way to the stairs and began walking down them. Tina looked back at the woman, and her eyes widened.
"Lee?" she asked nervously. "Do you see what I see?"
"I'm not even sure what I'm seeing," Lee said.
"Lee!" Tina said, scared. She grabbed Lee's head and turned it so he was looking at the woman. "Is her blood black?"
Lee's pupils shrunk from shock and fear.
"Um, yes, I think it is," he said quietly.
The woman removed her hand from her nose, revealing black blood staining the area around her mouth. She opened her mouth and hissed, revealing a set of very, very sharp white fangs.
"So, you heard anything from Kimmie or Lee?" Cam asked.
"Not since you called me an hour ago, Cam," Brandy sighed. She twirled the phone line around her finger as she lay on her bed.
"I'm starting to get worried," he admitted. "I mean, I know it's Lee Ping, but I'd still like some updates on what's going on, yo."
"Oh, come on," Brandy said. "How much trouble do you think he's in?"
"Uh, chica, an attempt to prove he didn't commit a gigantic prank led to us, okay mostly him, but me and you also, uncovering a gigantic conspiracy involving the world's most hugest corporation, a magic pyramid, and cloned teachers," Cam said. "Lee doesn't do anything halfway, yo."
Brandy laughed. "He also took on Kimmie's mom, and won. There's no way he'll have to deal with any monster half that frightening."
Tina and Lee backed away from the woman as she dismounted the stairs. Their backs bumped up against the window at the front of the house.
The woman hissed as she approached them. She locked eyes with Jenny.
"You shouldn't have done that," she said angrily. "Do you know how much it hurts to bleed?"
"Not as much as this, I'll bet!" Lee declared, and pulled the curtains aside.
Lee turned around and goggled as he realized that the window itself had been painted over with black paint.
"Oh come on!" he complained. "Windows painted black? Who does that?"
"Her, apparently," Tina said.
The woman threw back her head and laughed mirthlessly. "Yes! Me, apparently! And who's going to bleed you dry?"
"No to worry!" Holger said as he continued to pound on the door. "Holger will use his magic powers to save us all!"
Holger put his fingers to his temple and concentrated. "Fa-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na..."
Holger continued to recite his endless litany. The vampire stopped and tilted her head, confused. Jenny took a deep breath, shut her eyes, and threw a punch into the window. It reverbated but didn't break. Tina realized what Jenny was attempting, and threw a punch herself. Lee joined them in beating on the glass.
The woman laughed again. "Do you really think that'll save you? It's dinnertime, children, and you're all on the menu!" She looked over to Holger. "And SHUT UP!"
Holger stopped his attempt at activating his powers. A crack appeared in the glass. Lee and Tina continued to pound on the window, and the crack widened. Jenny stared at the crack and threw a jab directly into it. The crack spread through the glass, and they stopped beating on the window.
The vampire's eyes widened and she stopped in her tracks.
Jenny smirked and gently pressed her finger against the cracked pane. It held for a bit before shattering completely into a heap of black-painted glass. The day's last rays of sunlight flowed into the room and struck the vampire.
"No!" she hissed. "No. No! NO!"
The vampire burst into flames. She howled, a wordless cry of pain and death, as the fire spread through her body like she was made of dry brush, as it burned and burned and consumed her until she was nothing but ashes.
And then the fire spread to the carpeted floor of the house.
"Run!" Jenny yelled. The instruction was unnecessary, as at the sight of the carpet catching fire, everyone had realized what they had to do. Lee and Tina were the first ones out, leaping through the windowframe together, but they were followed by Jenny and Holger.
And as they ran away from the house and gathered in the street, one last figure ran out of the house.
Chapter 12: They Speak Spanish Here
Mexico City, Mexico
"Come on, move already!" Shego barked at the Mexico City traffic. She groaned. "I can't believe we drove all night only to get caught in rush hour!"
"Well maybe if you had let me drive..." Motor Ed grumbled from the passenger seat.
"Shut it," Shego snapped. "You're the freaking Indian genius–"
"Pre-Colombian Civilizations genius. Seriously," Motor Ed said.
Shego's face puckered. "You know where we're supposed to be going. Tell me where it is."
"Uh, sorry, babe, I don't," Motor Ed said. "Seriously. It just said we were supposed to go to Tenochtitlan. That's all."
Shego closed her eyes tightly as they sat in traffic and sat perfectly still.
"If somebody doesn't tell me where we're headed, I will eviscerate each and every one of you," she said calmly.
Ron gulped and put his hands over his crotch.
"Well, why don't we go for the biggest temple?" Kim suggested. "That might be a good starting point."
Shego visibly relaxed slightly.
"We can't. Seriously," Motor Ed said. "It was destroyed by the conquistadors in order to build Mexico City. Seriously."
Shego tensed again. "Are you telling me that we came all this way in order to search for a temple that no longer exists because it was razed to the ground in order to build this POORLY DESIGNED, OVERTRAFFICKED, SMOG-FILLED CITY WITH UNREADABLE SIGNS?"
A silence settled over the truck.
"They're not unreadable," Kim finally said. "Just in Spanish. And I can read Spanish."
"You know, that's great, princess," Shego said. "Uh-huh. But we STILL DON'T KNOW WHERE WE'RE GOING!"
Motor Ed scoffed. "Told you babes don't drive."
Shego raised her hand and arced a burst of green energy into the side of Motor Ed's head.
"Well, there's got to be somewhere we can start," Kim suggested. "Maybe there were some temples that got left alone?"
Motor Ed lifted himself up, holding his head. "Seriously? I don't think so. Tenochtitlan was razed to the ground in order to build Mexico City."
Shego growled and punched the steering wheel.
"Well are there at least some museums?" Kim asked.
Ron groaned. "A museum? KP, don't you remember how boring museums are?"
Kim rolled her eyes. "It's for Wade, Ron. Besides, we're not going to have to deal with Mister Barkin dictating our every move."
"Oh, yeah!" Motor Ed said enthusiastically. "Seriously, the museum of the Templo Mayor is fantastic. Seriously."
"We should start there," Kim said. "Even if we don't find what we're looking for, we'll probably get other ideas for where to search."
Museum of the Templo Mayor
Mexico City, Mexico
The group entered the museum together. None of them looked particularly happy, least of all Shego.
"I can't believe you made me drive around looking for parking!" she snarled at Kim. "Fifteen minutes! We could have just parked on top of someone's car, but no, we have to use an empty parking spot! What's the point of a monster truck if you don't use it to run over cars?"
"Seriously," Motor Ed agreed.
"You can't just destroy personal property!" Kim said angrily. "And I'm sorry if I didn't manage to get us free tickets. I've never been here before, nobody's going to do me any favors."
"Who needs favors?" Shego asked. "I got all the motivation anybody ever needs right here!" She held up her glowing hands.
"Okay!" Ron said nervously. "Look, we're here, we paid for our tickets, let's figure out what we need to do and get out."
"Well, it won't be in the main collection," Motor Ed said. "Seriously. All the cool stuff is in the basement."
"And how do you know that?" Kim asked sharply.
Motor Ed shrugged. "Have you never, like, taken a class with a field trip to a museum? They always keep the cool stuff in the basement."
Basement of the Museum of the Templo Mayor
Mexico City, Mexico
The basement of the museum was crowded and cramped with artifacts from the fallen city. The group wandered through the tightly crammed shelves slowly.
"So, Motor Ed," Kim finally said, "what should we be looking for?"
"Seriously?" Motor Ed asked. "There weren't many details on the bowl. Just that something was hidden in Tenochtitlan. Seriously."
"Like, secret passageway hidden?" Kim asked.
"Beats me," Motor Ed said. "Seriously."
Shego groaned. "Well that's just great! We drive down to Mexico City, spend forever in traffic, have to pay for parking and buy tickets to this place, wander into this hoarder's treasure trove, and now we may not even be in the right place!"
"Hey, let's calm down," Ron said. "I'm sure we'll stumble upon something."
Rufus poked his head up from Ron's pocket and squeaked enthusiastically.
"Oh, great!" Shego said angrily. "Now we just wander around randomly until we come across something, but we don't know what it is, or what we're supposed to do with it, but somehow it'll lead us to Dr. D, if it doesn't lead us on yet another wild goose chase! Fantastic! I just love this!"
Shego punched the nearby wall of the basement angrily. It crumbled, revealing a secret passageway.
Chapter 13: Goodnight Domino
Outside Castle Harker
The group ran into the street and stopped there. They watched as the tall man ran out of the house. He made it a few feet before collapsing onto the dead grass outside.
"We have to help him!" Lee said.
"Are you nuts?" Jenny said, shocked. "He tried to help her eat us!"
By this time, Lee had already run back towards the house. He grabbed the man under the armpits and dragged him off the grounds and into the street. He let go of the man, and the group gathered around him. The man lay on the asphalt, eyes shut and body still.
"No flames," Holger said. "Not the vurstreldamen, yes?"
The group looked at him. Tina was the first to catch on.
"You're right," she said. "If he was a vampire, the sun should have set him on fire by now."
"But then, what is he?" Lee asked.
Jenny grabbed the tall man by the collar and slapped him across the face. The man's eyes flickered open and he stared at her dully.
"Is this..." he muttered before falling silent.
"Is this what?" Lee asked urgently.
The man said nothing. Jenny slapped him again. The man's eyes opened again. He looked surprised.
He said "Do that again."
Jenny backhanded him this time. The man's head jolted to the side and he broke into a ragged, cackling laugh. He reached out, grabbed onto Jenny's shoulders, and pulled himself upright, laughing all the way.
"I can feel!" he choked out. "I can feel! I felt that! This is real!"
The group watched him, worried and disturbed.
"Okay, uh, majorly creepy!" Jenny said, backing away from him.
The man scanned the group, eyes manic. "You!" he said. "You saved me! You saved me from her!"
"Hold on, what's going on?" Tina asked.
The man took a few juddering breaths to try and calm himself.
"Do you know how long it's been?" he finally said. "How long I've waited? How long I've been her unwilling slave?"
Everyone but Holger gasped. Holger instead nodded knowingly. "Ah, yes, a junterajin."
"She called me her thrall," the tall man said. "Someone to do what she could not. To entice victims, to go out in the day, to lay traps, to do everything to feed her abnormal hunger." He shuddered. "I was unable to disobey her commands. Not the letter nor the spirit of them. I have...I have harmed hundreds for her."
The man fell silent. He looked down and flexed his hand. As he did so, a smile spread across his face. He looked back up at his rescuers.
"Thank you," he whispered.
"Alright, but what did she want with us?" Tina said, all business.
The man took a deep breath and let it out. "To feed on you. To bleed you dry. Before she leaves."
"Before she leaves?" Lee asked, surprised.
The man took a deep breath. "It's hazy. I...I tried to forget, you know. Every second, I tried to be unconscious, where only the dreams can torment me. I tried to sink away from reality."
"But?" Tina prompted.
"But there's a gathering," the man said. "I think. In Chicago. The Peninsula, I believe. It starts at 11."
"When?" Lee asked.
"Today," the man said.
Lee's face gained a disbelieving expression. "You're kidding me. What were you doing luring us in, then?"
"Opportunity," the man said. "And I think she wanted a snack before she left."
"A snack?" Jenny said, offended. "That's all we were, a snack?"
"Oh, like that's a bad thing," Tina snarked. She turned to Lee and pulled him aside. Jenny and Holger joined them in a huddle.
"Do you think this is what we're supposed to be doing?" Tina asked quietly.
Lee grimaced. "I don't know. It seems a little too coincidental."
"Like a high school prank being cover for a brainwashing scheme?" she suggested.
Lee smiled slightly. "You're right. We're probably on the right track here."
They turned back to where the man had been only to see him wandering off.
"Hey!" Jenny barked. "Where do you think you're going?"
The man looked back at them. "I have a life to live! I can't wait to actually experience things again!"
"Well do you have a name?" Tina called to him.
The man smiled. "Domino!" he said happily. "Domino Maroe!"
The man made his way down the road. The group looked at each other.
"Well, what now?" Tina asked.
"I guess we start walking and hope to find a phone," Lee said. "I can't believe we all forgot to charge ours last night."
Kimmie sighed as she stared around the walls of her room. Much as she hated to admit it, her life wasn't much different without her mom around. Granted, there were fewer passive-aggressive comments and fewer trips to Paris for weekend brunch, but most of her interactions at home were still with the staff, and she spent more time than she would have liked to admit in her room, sprawled on her bed. When Druscilla and McKensie were busy, there wasn't really much for her to do; going to the mall alone (or for that matter, going anywhere alone) was for losers, and homework was all too easy for her–and not just because her mother had insisted on private tutoring for her through grade school. Without Biffy to bug and her nails freshly painted, Kimmie was left with nothing to do but lie on her bed and think.
Suddenly, Kimmie's cell phone rang. She picked it up, looked at the screen, and frowned. It was an unknown number. Something in her gut twisted, telling her that answering calls from unknown numbers was a bad idea, although she didn't have any reason to believe this. Kimmie shook her head and answered the call.
"Who is this?" she asked curtly.
A nervous chuckle came from the other end of the line. "Kimmie, hi!" Lee said.
"You find my boyfriend yet?" Kimmie asked, a touch more eagerly than she wanted to.
"Uh, yeah, about that," Lee said awkwardly. Kimmie scowled. "We, uh, kind of need a lift? To Chicago?"
Kimmie massaged her forehead, making sure it was smooth and wrinkle-free.
"Why?" she finally asked.
"Because the limo has a bunch of flat tires and your robot driver isn't working," Lee said.
Kimmie grit her teeth. "Fine," she spat. "Give me a minute."
"Wait!" Lee said quickly. Kimmie paused. "We're calling from someone else's phone. Our cells are all dead."
Kimmie rolled her eyes. "Fine. Call me back in ten minutes."
Kimmie hung up and pressed a button on the intercom. "Saunders. I want a helicopter at the Detroit offices ready to make a trip to Chicago in half an hour, and a company car ready to pick up some friends of mine and bring them to the offices."
There was a pause of a few seconds before the butler responded. "Madam Kimmie, are you sure this is a good idea? Your mother–"
"My mother won't care," Kimmie says sharply. It's a lie, her mother would probably throw a fit, but she's not here right now. And besides, having an evil mom suddenly makes it a lot easier to disobey her commands. "Now have the helicopter and the car ready. I will have a pickup location ready for the car in ten minutes. Do you understand?"
She could practically see the butler adjusting himself into his stiff formal posture and straightening his bowtie.
"Of course, Madame Kimmie," Saunders said. "I will send your instructions through and be ready for your location momentarily."
Somewhere in Detroit, Michigan
The group sat on a street corner as they waited. They had managed to procure the use of other people's cell phones twice, but they still weren't sure if Kimmie was actually going to help them.
"So, how are we getting out of here?" Jenny asked.
Tina shrugged. "I'm sure Kimmie'll do something."
Jenny snorted, disbelieving. A large black car pulled to a stop in front of them and the passenger-side window rolled down, revealing a businesslike woman.
"Lee Ping and loser friends?" the woman asked.
"That's us!" Holger said cheerfully. "Oh, we are saved!"
"Get in the back," the woman said.
The group got in the back and the car drove off.
Basement of the Museum of the Templo Mayor
Mexico City, Mexico
Shego stared into the hall she'd uncovered and groaned. "Another secret passage. Of course. Just what I wanted to do today, go down yet another hidden underground tunnel!"
"Hey, at least it's progress," Ron offered.
"I'm sick of progress!" Shego complained. She shut her eyes and rested her fingers on her forehead. "Fine. This is a museum, right?"
"One of the best in the world!" Motor Ed proclaimed. "Seriously."
"Good." Shego grinned wickedly. "They're bound to have something valuable down here. And I'm taking it."
"No way, Shego," Kim said. "You're not taking anything on my watch."
Shego smirked and leaned toward her. "Oh really, princess? Gonna keep an eye on me the whole time? Because that'll make it pretty hard for you to track down your tech nerd."
Kim scowled. "You're still not stealing anything."
"Yeah, babe," Motor Ed said. "Seriously. Stealing from museums dedicated to ancient cultures is off-limits. Their civilization was destroyed once. They deserve to be remembered. Seriously."
"Oh, so what, you and princess are going to make sure I don't steal anything?" Shego asked, laughing. Neither Kim nor Motor Ed joined her, and slowly she stopped.
"You're serious," Shego said flatly.
"Seriously, babe," Motor Ed said. "Seriously."
Shego growled. "Fine. Let's just find out what's at the end of this tunnel and get out of here."
The group entered the tunnel and stood at the entrance. In front of them, the tunnel swiftly grew dark.
"Uh, how long is this thing, anyway?" Ron asked.
"Only one way to find out," Kim said. She took out her Kimmunicator and turned it to flashlight mode. Carefully, the group walked down the tunnel. Nothing happened until they hit a door. Shego snarled and lashed out, easily cutting through the door. It fell apart in front of them, revealing a large excavation. Unlike the basement room, this one was rough and dirty, with various symbols carved into the clay walls.
"Okay, mister Aztec minor, what's this say?" Shego asked.
"Seriously? It was Pre-Colombian Civilizations!" Motor Ed said. "Seriously!"
"Wow, touchy," Shego said. "Anyway, what's all this stuff say?"
Motor Ed shrugged. "Seriously? Gimme a minute."
Mexico City, Mexico
"So, most of this means nothing," Motor Ed said. The rest of the group looked up. "At least, nothing we'd care about. Seriously. But there's a part that points to a secret passageway."
Shego groaned. "Again?"
"Yeah, but it's at the part we came in by, so no dice there," Motor Ed said. "And it mentions chihuahuas a lot, but I might be mixing things up. Seriously."
Kim sat up. "Wait. Chihuahuas?"
"Yeah, something about them knowing the way," Motor Ed said. "Seriously."
Kim smiled. "I think I have an idea. Rufus?"
"No way KP, those things freak Rufus out," Ron said. Rufus nodded.
"No, I mean, Rufus is about the size of a chihuahua. Maybe he can find what we're looking for," she said.
Rufus's eyes lit up, and he scrambled out of Ron's pocket. Once on the ground, he surveyed the world around him and instantly set off for the wall on the left. He squeezed through a crack and into a musty area. There, he sniffed around before he walked around a specific stone a few times and then sat down directly on it. Part of the wall slid upwards, revealing a brand new room. The rest of the group walked in and joined the naked mole rat. Their jaws dropped. The room was decorated with ornate designs made from precious metals and jewels.
"Heavy," Motor Ed breathed.
Kim shook her head. "Alright. Let's find what we're looking for and get out."
"Wait a minute, red," Motor Ed said. "You aren't–you aren't seriously planning to be a grave robber, are you?"
"Yeah, KP," Ron said. "I hate to back up one of our enemies, but last time we did that we ended up with Monkey Fist."
Kim scowled. "I learned my lesson, Ron. And besides, you also got mystical monkey powers from that."
"I'm with Kimmie," Shego said brightly. "Grave robbery is always fun."
Kim's lips formed a hard line. "Look, it has to be done. For Wade."
"For Wade," Ron echoed.
"For Drakken," Shego said.
"For my cuz," Motor Ed said. "Seriously."
"Now then," Kim said. "If I was a clue, what would I be?"
"Why don't we ask the expert?" Shego suggested sarcastically. "Oh wait, no, he has no idea what it would be."
"Oh yeah?" Motor Ed asked. "Gimme a minute."
Motor Ed began scanning the room quickly. He soon stopped and stared at a statue.
"There," he said. "That art style isn't Aztec. Seriously. It's Mayan."
"Alright," Shego said, cracking her knuckles. "I guess it's time to finally take something from this place."
Shego walked over to the statue calmly and reached for it.
"Stop!" a voice yelled from the doorway.
I started Total Drama: Cartoon Multiverse four months ago when I started school again. Now, the semester's over. I checked the stats, and apparently I've written about 190,000 words over the past four months (The Story of the Astari doesn't count because I wrote that back in 2014). Go me, I guess?
Chapter 15: Under the Surface
The helicopter landed on top of a skyscraper in Chicago. The group got off the helicopter and shakily walked over to the roof's entrance.
"So, we know our plan?" Lee asked, just to make sure.
"Yeah, but this is crazy!" Jenny said. "Won't they be able to like, sense our blood or something?"
"No, vurstreldamen cannot smell blood," Holger said. He tapped his chin. "Holger thinks they cannot."
"Great," Jenny sighed. "So we're just going to waltz into a giant vampire gathering hoping that somehow we'll be able to stop them all?"
"No, we're going to try and figure out what the heck they're doing," Lee said. He frowned. "That, and how it's connected to Biffy."
The group boarded an elevator and headed for the ground floor.
"I still think this is a bad idea," Jenny said.
"So do I," Lee said. "But I can't think of anything better, can you?"
Jenny sighed. "No."
"Not without leaving Biffy behind," Tina said. "And that's definitely not an option. The hotel's two blocks north, right?"
"Yeah," Lee said.
The elevator arrived on the ground floor. Jenny spotted a clock.
"It's eleven forty-five," she said. "We'd better get going."
The group exited the building and headed north towards The Peninsula.
Several doormen and bodyguards were posted at the entrance of The Peninsula. The group eyed them but kept walking. As soon as they were past the hotel, they ducked into an alley.
"Well, that was a bust!" Tina whispered. "What now?"
"I don't know!" Lee whispered. "I didn't expect guards!"
"You didn't expect guards at a giant vampire gathering?" Jenny asked, incredulous. "Of course there were going to be guards! Even that crazy lady had a guard!"
Holger grabbed Lee's head and turned it to the side.
"What is it, Holg?" Lee hissed, annoyed.
"Look!" Holger whispered. "The answer to our vurstreldamen problem!"
Lee looked closer. He smiled. The girls followed his gaze and saw a fire escape with the ladder down.
"Great, breaking and entering," Tina said to herself. "Just what I planned to do when I woke up today."
"It's not technically breaking and entering if we don't break and enter," Jenny said. "Just trespassing."
"Well that makes me feel so much better!" Tina snapped. "Wait. How do you know that anyway?"
Jenny shrugged. The group went up the ladder with Lee in the lead. After a few floors, Lee stopped.
"Okay, there's no way we can get in without tripping a fire alarm," he said.
"Allow Holger," Holger said. He stepped forward and took a deep breath.
"HELLO!" Holger yelled. "CAN ONE OF YOU PLEASE LET US IN, PRETTY PLEASE?"
A few seconds later, a balcony door slid open and a woman stepped out onto the balcony.
"Who are you people?" she asked, shocked.
"We are hunters of the vurstreldamen!" Holger told her. "Now can we please come in, pretty please with lots and lots of pickled herring on top?"
The woman gaped at him and then threw her door shut as she ran back into her room.
"Great," Jenny said sarcastically. "Now she's called the cops on us."
Lee sighed. "What do we do now?"
Jenny winced and pulled a rock out of her pocket. She raised it in her right hand and smashed it against the window in the fire escape door. The glass shattered, and she knocked a few pieces away before reaching in and pulling the door open. The group headed in accompanied by the sound of the door's alarm going off.
"Okay, that blew our cover," Lee said. "Only one thing to do."
The group took off running. Lee spotted a stairwell and swerved into it. He led them up a pair of flights and then ducked out. The group ran over to a storage closet and shut the door. They stood in darkness until Tina found the light switch and turned the lights on.
"This isn't going well," Holger said. "Holger think we should try something different."
"Oh yeah, what?" Jenny asked sarcastically. "Because our options are kinda limited here!"
"Okay, calm down," Tina said, putting a hand on her friend's shoulder. "Let's just think about this."
"Yeah," Lee said. "Let's try and come up with a plan."
Holger grabbed Lee's shoulder and pointed upwards. The group followed his gaze to a vent cover on the ceiling of the closet.
"Okay," Tina said. "I guess we've found step one."
The group crept through the spacious vents. They made their way to a vent cover in the hallway and looked out. Everything was quiet, and the elevators were just a bit away.
"Okay. So," Tina said. "We leave the vents, get in the elevator, take it down to the second floor, get back into the vents, crawl down to the first floor, and spy on the vampires to figure out what's going on."
The others nodded. They disembarked from the vents and called the elevator, got out on the second floor, and climbed into the vents again. They made their way down into the vents in the first floor ceiling.
"So where is this gathering, anyway?" Jenny asked.
Holger smiled. "Magic powers, go!"
Holger began crawling through the vents. The rest of the group followed him as he led them to the ballroom, where the vampires were all gathered. The group peered out of a vent and watched as a vampire stepped up to the podium below them.
"Greetings, my friends!" the vampire proclaimed. "It's wonderful to see you all again here in Chicago. I realize that many of you had to travel quite some distance; we sent invitations to Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis, even Nashville! Thankfully, most of you made it here to discuss our next move."
The vampire began pacing the stage. "Over the past few years, we've infiltrated city after city, making sure that we could be lost in the crowds. Making sure that nobody would notice a slight uptick in disappearances. Hoping that no one would realize that the homeless population was ebbing. And thankfully, nobody has figured it out yet. Still, our ranks have grown a bit, so I propose that we move onwards and upwards. I propose that we take on St. Louis!"
"Now, I understand why some of you might have problems with this proposal. After all, it's St. Louis we're talking about. However, I believe that St. Louis is the logical next step, and we have set up an investigative force in the city to examine whether it is a viable target. If we're lucky, we will be able to take St. Louis with no trouble, and we'll be able to continue, nay, expand our reign!"
The crowd cheered. The group leaned closer to the cover of the vent.
"Our group is currently located in an apartment building located at 702 Desert Avenue. They have thus far been successful in St. Louis. With any luck, we'll be able to–"
The vent cover popped open and the four crashed through onto the ground. When they stood up, they found the vampires staring at them.
Chapter 16: Refuge in Utah
Utah State Route 30
The truck pulled to a stop on the side of the road. Soos stepped out and slammed his door shut. He was followed by the other members of the group.
"Okay, dudes," Soos said. "I don't have to tell you how important it is to get Stan and Ford back. We know that they're probably around here, or that somebody around here knows something. So, where the heck are we?"
They scanned the surrounding countryside. The area around them was almost untouched wilderness, all scrub grasses and sand. The only signs of human civilization were the road and some discarded fast food wrappers.
Dipper sighed. "According to the coordinates, it's somewhere over there." He pointed east.
The group wandered over to the indicated spot. At that point, they began to look for something–anything–that might be a hidden entrance. The flat scrub grass didn't provide any clues as to where a secret entrance might be. In fact, all the grasses started to look the same after a while, with no sense that there might be an entrance anywhere.
Eventually, they met again at the coordinates that were indicated. Nobody had found anything. Dipper groaned.
"I can't believe this!" he complained. "Do you think Toot-Toot lied to us? What a jerk! I can't believe he'd do that! And why's he even want our Grunkles, anyway? Guh! None of this makes any sense!"
"Chill, dude," Soos said. "I'm sure–"
The ground collapsed underneath them.
The group fell into a net. The net snapped shut around them. A shadowy figure walked towards them. It laughed as it approached.
"Oh, you fools," the figure said. "You really thought you could defeat us, didn't you. Raised on a diet of petit bourgeois tales of the lone capitalist, facing down the collective. The lone figure of righteousness against the insidious group of evil. Your tales of Prometheus and Batman, lone heroes facing down the rest of the world, the individual against the corrupt collective. Fattened up by these tales to serve your moneyed masters. And then when your masters send you to break down the united proletariat, you follow blindly, certain of the correctness of your ideals." It laughed. "Poor souls, you've been brainwashed into joining the wrong side. You believe that the status quo is good enough. That it is perfectly alright to have your blood sucked out to feed the rich. After all, they're the ones who truly let you survive. AWAKEN! Your survival is that of the cattle and pigs! You only live so long as it pleases your plutocratic masters! Your democracy is a sham!"
"Whatever, dude, just give us back our Grunkles!" Mabel complained.
"Yeah!" Dipper said. "We don't care about your class war! Why'd you have to kidnap them?"
The Stalinist laughed. "Of course, blame us. That's always the route of the treacherous wreckers. Now say goodnight."
"Wait, why?" Soos asked.
The figure pulled a baseball bat out from behind its back and clubbed each of them over the head harshly. They fell into unconsciousness, and the figure signaled for the net to release. It did, and the group tumbled down onto the floor. Other figures approached and picked up the unconscious captives. They carried them over to a large crate and stuffed them inside. As soon as they were all in, the crate was sealed. The leader of the group smirked as it pulled out a shipping label and slapped it onto the side of the crate.
"Don't worry," it said. "You'll be meeting our friends very, very soon."
The Stalinist cackled. The rest of the group joined in shortly thereafter, but soon the entire group broke out into a coughing fit. It took several minutes for the coughs and wheezes to subside.
"Alright," the leader said, exhaling heavily. "Now how are we going to get them onto the delivery truck?"
The group began murmuring amongst themselves. The leader sighed.
"Fine. I'll pay for a crew of movers, but we are not getting overnight shipping! We have to cut costs somewhere if we want to have organic beef at our barbeque."
Chapter 17: It's Too Late
I'd like to thank Startherebel for the Kudo. Thanks!
"We gotta get these starfish back to Lord Neptune before time runs out!" Pizza Steve said frantically.
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared her agreement and moved swiftly through the water. Pizza Steve, Mr. Gus, and Frankenstein held on to her as she swept through the ocean currents.
Uncle Grandpa RV
"Okay, Tiger," Mr. Gus said. "After Frankenstein finishes his shower, we're going to head out. Is there anything we need to know about the concrete jungle?"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"Concrete Jungle? That's its name? Seriously?" Mr. Gus asked. The tiger roared. "Okay, okay. But is there anything you think we should know before we go there?"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger blushed demurely but didn't answer.
"Come on, Tiger," Mr. Gus said. "This is important! We need to get Uncle Grandpa back!"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger looked around the RV awkwardly. Mr. Gus sighed.
"Look, I know I'm not in the best mood. Losing Uncle Grandpa–or whatever this is, I dunno–it's not exactly calming for my nerves. But we need to get him back. And we need your help to do it. So how about you lead us to Concrete Jungle?"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared angrily.
"Oh, come on, Tiger!" Mr. Gus said. "How bad can it be? We need you to help us out here! Please, Tiger!"
"Yeah, Mr. Gus is right," Pizza Steve said. He smirked. "I mean, I know that's never the case, but he's right about this. And Pizza Steve! can't do this alone. Well, I could, but I know you all love to tag along."
Mr. Gus groaned at Pizza Steve's egotism. Giant Realistic Flying Tiger tilted her head and growled lightly.
"You'll do it?" Mr. Gus asked, perking up. Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared her assent.
"All right!" Mr. Gus said, happy again. "Uncle Grandpa, here we come!"
"Okay, see, I didn't realize we'd be underwater," Pizza Steve said. "My crust is getting all soggy."
Concrete Jungle was indeed located underwater. It was a thriving metropolis, filled with all kinds of sea life, from majestic sharks and orcas to the disgusting sea snails. One of those disgusting sea snails sighed, as though it had sensed that its entire species had been insulted yet again, and slowly oozed away.
"Huh," Mr. Gus said. "Are you telling me that the story Uncle Grandpa told us about you dumping a hamburger into the water every night because you were actually a mertiger was true?"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"Well, that's...unusual," Mr. Gus said. "I thought it was just another one of his weird stories."
"Who cares?" Pizza Steve complained. "We're underwater, bros. That's making my crust soggy, and increasing the likelihood that I end up with anchovies. Nobody likes pizza with anchovies! Even if it's Pizza Steve! with anchovies."
"The little slice has a point," Mr. Gus said. "So, Tiger, where should we be going?"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger growled and swam off. The group followed her.
The group stood in the back of a long, long line.
"I can't believe we're getting more food for Uncle Grandpa!" Mr. Gus complained. "Is he in mortal danger, or are we just his catering service?"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared her agreement. Frankenstein turned around to face them and bumped a merman in front of them.
"Hey!" the man said angrily. He turned around to face them. "Do you know who I am?"
"Graah," Frankenstein said. The man frowned.
"Oh, really? Well in that case, let me tell you. I am Lord Neptune, and you have insulted me! I hereby sentence you to be banished from the ocean, forever!"
"Whoa whoa whoa!" Mr. Gus said frantically. "Banished? But we need to rescue our friend!"
"Oh, wow, that's really said," Lord Neptune said. He nodded sympathetically. "Really sad. GET OUT!"
"Graah!" Frankenstein said. "Graah graah mraah graah mraah graah!"
Lord Neptune looked at him. "I have no idea what you just said."
"Hold up, hold up," Pizza Steve said. "Are you really thinking you can kick me, Pizza Steve!, out of the ocean? Because, heh, everyone knows that Pizza Steve is the one who puts the motion in the ocean. You kick Pizza Steve out, you lose all your cool, bro."
"Oh really?" Lord Neptune said. "I lose all my cool? You put the motion in the ocean?"
"Yeah that's right," Pizza Steve said.
"You know, I was just going to banish you," Lord Neptune said. "But, seeing as you are an insolent fool, I have instead decided that you must be punished."
"Whoa, hold up," Mr. Gus said. "Look, I'm the first to admit that Pizza Steve is, well, you know. Pizza Steve. But seriously? Isn't there anything we can do? We really need to get our food here."
Lord Neptune tapped his chin. "Alright. Find my missing starfish."
"That shouldn't be too hard," Pizza Steve said.
"They could be anywhere in this ocean," Lord Neptune said.
"Pfft, piece of cake," Pizza Steve said.
"And you have five hours to find them," Lord Neptune said.
"Hey, no problem. You can count on Pizza Steve!" Pizza Steve said.
"And if you don't find them I'm throwing each and every one of you into the sea dungeons," Lord Neptune continued.
Pizza Steve started to sweat.
"Forever," Lord Neptune concluded.
Pizza Steve turned around and left the restaurant. Everyone else followed him.
"Well, Pizza Steve?" Mr. Gus asked. "Where are we going to find these starfish?"
"Leave it to me, bros," Pizza Steve said. "You guys better start searching around here, but Pizza Steve! has a good idea of where the starfish are."
The group split up. As soon as they left, Pizza Steve's cool facade dropped and he began nibbling on his fingernails.
"Oh geez Pizza Steve, why'd you have to claim you could do that?" Pizza Steve asked himself. "This is just going to end horribly. And you'll be exposed as a fraud! Where are you ever going to find some starfish?"
South Concrete Jungle
"Where are we ever going to find some starfish?" Mr. Gus asked Giant Realistic Flying Tiger.
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger mewed.
"I know! If the stories are true–"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"Take it easy, Tiger, I know it's true now. But that means that we might be on a wild goose chase! And we need to get Uncle Grandpa back!"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"Punch him in the face? I mean, I know I'm pretty strong, but I still prefer diplomacy. And besides, wouldn't he just have us arrested?"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared several times in succession.
"Oh, an all-out brawl? I think you're onto something, Tiger! I know we can hold our own, and if Pizza Steve happens to get socked a few times, well, heh. But what about Frankenstein? He's strong, but he's fragile. Do you think he'll be able to handle it?"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"Have him be the one who grabs the food? Great idea, Tiger! I think we stand a chance of making it out of this one!"
Northeast Concrete Jungle
Frankenstein grumbled as he wandered through back alleys. He passed several denizens of the underwater city and carefully gazed at each one. None of them were starfish, however, and as he walked by them they also eyed him carefully. One of them got up as soon as he was past and followed closely. Seconds later, he stuck a gun in Frankenstein's back.
"Alright, buddy, gimme your cash," the dolphin grunted. "Make one move, you're dead meat."
Frankenstein spun around and backhanded the dolphin. The gun went off and ripped through Frankenstein's left shoulder. Frankenstein's left arm fell off, but the monster just picked it up and reattached it. Frankenstein growled as he approached the dolphin.
"What are you, man?" the dolphin cried, firing ineffectively. Frankenstein grabbed the dolphin by the throat and shook it back and forth. The dolphin choked as Frankenstein flipped the dolphin upside down. Several wallets fell out of the dolphin's coat. When Frankenstein was satisfied, he tossed the dolphin away and picked up the wallets, slipping them into his pockets.
Frankenstein groaned and moved on.
West Concrete Jungle
Pizza Steve stumbled around the west side of Concrete Jungle, looking all around him for starfish.
"C'mon Pizza Steve," he muttered. "You can do this! There's gotta be some starfish somewhere!"
Suddenly, he stiffened and his jaw dropped. The slice lowered his sunglasses to take a closer look and grinned.
"Oh, Pizza Steve, you are good," he smugly purred to himself.
East Concrete Jungle
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"Yeah, I know, Tiger, but I'd still like to see if we can find the starfish. Why start a fight for no reason, right?" Mr. Gus asked.
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"Yeah, I know we're running out of time. C'mon, Tiger, there's a chance we'll find those starfish."
Mr. Gus and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger spun around at the sound of Pizza Steve's voice. The tasty slice ran up to them.
"Check this out!" Pizza Steve announced, holding up a set of stickers.
Mr. Gus frowned. "Stickers?" he asked.
"Not just any stickers," Pizza Steve said. "Star stickers!"
Mr. Gus's brow furrowed. "Okay, what's your point?"
Pizza Steve grabbed a passing fish and slapped a star sticker on the side of its' head. "Bam! Star fish!"
The fish gasped for oxygen. "It's on my gills! Get it off! Get it off!"
Mr. Gus carefully picked up the fish and peeled the sticker off. Flicking it away, he let go of the fish and turned back to Pizza Steve, frowning.
"Pretty cool, huh?" Pizza Steve said. "I told you Pizza Steve! would get us those starfish."
"Okay, Pizza Steve?" Mr. Gus said calmly. "Those aren't starfish. If we present them to Lord Neptune, he'll have us thrown in the sea dungeons."
"FOREVER!" Mr. Gus yelled. "THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST IDEAS YOU'VE EVER HAD!"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared her agreement.
"Oh yeah?" Pizza Steve said angrily. "Well, I think–"
Pizza Steve's face fell.
"I think you're right," he said sadly. "Sorry guys. I don't know what I was trying to do."
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared sympathetically.
"Yeah," Mr. Gus said. "Me and Tiger haven't had much luck either, and the best plan we've come up with is an all-out brawl. I guess the stress just got to me there. I'm sorry, little slice."
"Graah!" Frankenstein declared. The group looked over to the approaching monster.
"Hey, Frankenstein," Pizza Steve said. "What's new?"
"Graah," Frankenstein said. He held up a soup can.
"Chicken and stars of the sea soup?" Mr. Gus said, reading the label. He shrugged. "Well, it's worth a shot."
Mr. Gus grabbed the can and squeezed it in his hand. The metal buckled, and the top popped off. Several tuna and starfish flew out of the can.
"Grab those starfish!" Mr. Gus yelled. Frankenstein and Pizza Steve complied. Mr. Gus emptied the rest of the can into his hand.
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared, and her friends hopped onto her back.
"We gotta get these starfish back to Lord Neptune before time runs out!" Pizza Steve said frantically.
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared her agreement and moved swiftly through the water. Pizza Steve, Mr. Gus, and Frankenstein held on to her as she swept through the ocean currents. Within minutes, they were back at Krabby Kakes. They rushed through the door and up to the front of the line, where Lord Neptune was about to place his order.
"Here you go, Neptune!" Pizza Steve said happily. "Your starfish are here!"
Lord Neptune stared at them, shocked. "Really? You got my starfish?"
"Right here," Mr. Gus said, holding out a handful of starfish.
Lord Neptune sighed. "I guess a deal is a deal. I accept these starfish in exchange for allowing your kind to pollute my ocean."
"Sweet!" Pizza Steve said. The group tried to slip back into line.
"Hey!" an irate shrimp complained. "No cutting! Back of the line, bub!"
"We were here first, bub," Pizza Steve said angrily. "Is Pizza Steve! going to have to use his Italian kay-rah-tay?"
"Graah!" Frankenstein said angrily.
"Frankenstein's right," Mr. Gus said. "Let's just go to the back of the line and wait our turn."
Five hours later, the group finally reached the front of the line.
"I can't believe we had to wait five hours just to get food," Pizza Steve complained. "I'm starving, and I don't even like seafood!"
Mr. Gus groaned. "Let's just get what we need and leave, okay?"
The group stepped forward to the order counter.
"Get outta here, we're closed!" the crab cashier ordered them.
"What?" Mr. Gus asked, shocked. "But we've been waiting all this time!"
"I've been waiting all this time for my shift to be over! Now get out!"
"Not until we get our food, dude!" Pizza Steve said angrily.
"Get your food somewhere else! We're closed!" the crab shouted back at him.
"No way!" Mr. Gus said. "We spent all day hunting around town, and we're going to get our food!"
"Good luck, hombre!" the crab said, and tried to throw down a metal door over the order counter. Mr. Gus caught the door and shoved it back up.
"No! Give us our food!" Pizza Steve said.
"Graah!" Frankenstein said. He pulled a wallet out of his pocket and emptied it onto the counter. A bunch of clams fell out. The crab eyed the pile.
"Fine!" the crab finally said. "You all get hushpuppies!" The crab threw their food at them in a soggy paper bag. "And here's your tartar sauce!" The crab threw the sauce at Frankenstein, who caught it in his mouth. "Now get out!"
The group exited the restaurant. Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"This is what Uncle Grandpa needs?" Mr. Gus asked, pulling the container of tartar sauce out of Frankenstein's mouth. Giant Realistic Flying Tiger growled, and he rolled his eyes. "Wonderful. He can eat deep dish with it."
An underwater limo screeched to a stop right in front of them, splattering them with sand. The window rolled down, revealing Lord Neptune.
"You commoners have a call," he told them. "I don't know how your friends got this number, but you are going to talk to them and convince them NEVER TO CALL HERE AGAIN! Seriously, it's been three hours of this!"
The group gathered around the window of the limo. A man was on the television screen.
"Ah, there you are," he said. "I've been calling you for three hours! Gah, I'm never trusting the number that idiot gives me ever again. Anyway, you're headed to a place where they do the time warp. Again. So get in the lab, get on the slab, and uh, uh, oh FORGET IT! It's Transylvania!"
The screen fizzled static as the connection was cut. Lord Neptune's limo drove off, leaving Mr. Gus, Pizza Steve, Giant Realistic Flying Tiger, and Frankenstein splattered with sand.
Mr. Gus wiped his face off. "Anybody want to guess who's going to have to lead us in Transylvania?" he asked.
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
Chapter 18: Pour the Champagne
"Heh. Heh. Well, this is awkward," Lee said, standing up. "We were just, uh, up there, in the vents, just looking for, uh–"
"Beavers!" Holger butted in. "We are beaver inspectors, yes? Here to make sure you don't have any problems. But we didn't find any beavers, though we looked and looked and looked! But no, no beavers anywhere. Holger is kafloofashooped!"
The vampires stared at them awkwardly.
"Right, so, we'll just, uh, we'll just be on our way, leave you alone now," Lee said, backing away from the crowd of vampires.
"Get them!" the vampire at the podium yelled.
As one, the quartet turned and ran. There were no vampires behind the stage, and they headed for an emergency exit with nothing in their path. Holger was the first one to reach the door, and he shoved it open, setting off an earsplitting alarm. The other three followed him out, and they ran into the alley, pursued by a massive crowd of vampires.
Jenny groaned. "Great. This vampire gathering just had to be at midnight. It couldn't be at noon."
"Well yeah, that's generally how vampires operate!" Tina said frantically.
They ran down the alleyway and into the street. At that point, they turned right.
"Are you sure staying together is such a good idea?" Tina said, panting.
Lee risked a glance behind. "There are way more of them then there are of us! Safety in numbers is probably our best bet!"
Behind them, several of the vampires turned into bats. The Canadians ran down the street and across a crosswalk without looking to make sure no cars were coming. They choked on the air as it burned against their lungs, but Lee's eyes widened as he spotted a bus halfway down the block.
"There!" he yelped, pointing at it. The group put on a burst of speed and dived on board. Lee shoved money into the slot and ushered his friends into the back as the doors closed.
"Hey!" the driver yelled. "Exact change, bub!"
"Keep it, just drive!" Jenny called back to him. The driver grumbled but put the bus in gear and drove away from the angry mob of vampires.
Lee, Jenny, Holger, and Tina collapsed into the empty seats in the back of the bus. They looked around the nearly empty bus, breathing heavily. The bus came to another stop and pulled in, but after a minute pulled away without anybody getting on. The four sank back into their seats, relieved.
"Okay," Jenny said, panting. "That was, like, totally insane! There's no way we're going to rescue Biffy at this rate. We just ran away from a bunch of vampires–we didn't stop them, we just ran away from them! How are we going to do anything? What are we even going to do?"
They sat silently. A smile crossed Lee's face.
"You know, maybe we didn't do anything to stop them in Chicago," he said. "But there's somewhere else we can take care of them."
"What do you mean?" Jenny asked. Her eyes widened. "What? No. You can't be serious. There's no way that we're going to–"
"That's nuts!" Jenny said. "We should lie low, make sure we've lost them for good!"
"No, the vurstreldamen are very persistent," Holger said. "They pursue until their prey is kafloofashoop."
Jenny groaned. "Great. So you're with Lee too?"
"So am I," Tina said. "I mean, sure, this is probably going to lead us to certain vampiric death, but what are our other options?"
"Uh, it's not just certain vampiric death, it's certain vampiric death in St. Louis!" Jenny pointed out. "Hello? Am I the only one seeing this? And besides, we don't even know where they are!"
"Seven hundred two Desert Avenue," Lee said.
Jenny groaned. "Fine. Well, how are we even going to get there?"
As if to answer her question, the bus pulled into the station. The four got off and looked around.
"There's a bus schedule," Tina said, pointing to it. The group went over to the posted schedule and looked it over. True to form, a bus to St. Louis was departing in about fifteen minutes.
Jenny groaned. "I take it we're sleeping on the bus?"
"Looks like it," Lee said. "Sorry."
Jenny shrugged. "It's not your fault. I'm just not a fan of constant danger, or the distinct possibility of having all my blood sucked out."
"Yeah, well, still," Lee said. "Sorry about all this."
Holger pulled them into a big hug. Tina joined in. Eventually, they broke the hug.
"Okay," Tina said. "Let's buy our tickets."
Chapter 19: All I Need
Mexico City, Mexico
The quintet spun around to face the new arrival. It was a tall man wearing a t-shirt and jeans. He was flanked by several other men and women.
"Do you know what you are doing?" the man asked angrily.
Shego smirked. "Oh, I got a pretty good idea."
Shego lit up her hands and leaped at the man. The man pulled out a staff and parried her blows. Soon the two were locked in close combat, with Shego punching and kicking rapidly and the man doing everything he could to hold her off with his staff. When a jab by Shego whizzed past his right ear and overextended her, the man poked her in the stomach with the staff roughly, sending her flying back. Shego growled and launched herself at the man again. As they fought, the man's compatriots spread out into the room.
"Um, KP?" Ron asked.
"Yeah, Ron?" Kim said, warily eying the new arrivals.
"I don't think these guys are happy with us!" he said.
"Seriously?" Motor Ed said. "They're obviously remnants of the Aztec population, here to guard one of the few remnants of their civilization from would-be grave robbers."
The tall man dropped his guard for a split-second and stared at Motor Ed, shocked. This was just enough of an opening for Shego to deliver a strong punch to his nose, sending him sprawling backwards. Several of his friends reacted to this by charging her, and Shego soon found herself being pummeled with sticks. Although she was able to knock most of them away, some blows still landed. Shego growled as she tried to fend off the mob and shrieked as she received a particularly sharp blow to the back of her knee. Upon seeing this, Kim leaped into the fray and began trying to fight them off. She was struck as well but managed to start battling some of them back and gave Shego cover to climb upright again and begin fighting.
"So, uh, seriously, are you gonna like help your girlfriend?" Motor Ed asked Ron.
"Um, I'm more the 'distraction' or the 'guy sneaking around in the background' type," Ron said. "Fighting off a bunch of bad guys isn't really my style."
"Seriously?" Motor Ed asked. "Because I thought you were fighting by her side to stop the alien invasion."
"Okay, yes, but I don't know how much help I'd be here," Ron pointed out. "Besides, you're buff. How come you aren't jumping in?"
Motor Ed chuckled. "Seriously. Why would I jump in? I'm getting to watch hot chicks fight. Seriously."
"Dude, that's not right," Ron said. His eyes widened. "Dude, that's my girlfriend!"
"Dude, your girlfriend's in trouble," Motor Ed said. "Seriously."
"KP I'm coming!" Ron yelled and dove into the fray. He swiftly found himself getting clobbered. "Ow! Ow! Owowow! Sticks! Hurt! Ow!"
"Ron!" Kim yelped, lunging towards him. A staff slammed into her temple, and she hit the ground hard.
"Whoa! Stop!" Ron yelled. "Can't we all just get along?"
"We will never get along with you, grave robbers!" the tall man declared. "Attack the big one!"
"Whoa! Whoa! Seriously!" Motor Ed yelped, raising his hands. "Not into the whole fighting indigenous peoples thing, we just need to get my cuz back! Seriously! Why is this thing so important to you, anyway? It's Mayan in origin! Seriously!"
"Without it, the wrath of the gods will strike Tenochitlan!" the tall man announced. "No amount of money is worth the horror that would be released upon the world!"
"We're not in it for the money!" Ron choked out. "We just want to use it to save our friends!"
"Please!" Kim added. "They've been kidnapped!"
The tall man shook his head. "I'm sorry. But they are nothing compared to the world."
"Nothing?" Shego roared. She threw off her attackers. "Drakken saved the world! Without him, you'd all be corpses or alien slaves! Now he's missing, and you're telling me that you won't help us because of some dumb myth?" She punched her way through several attackers. "I don't care what gods you believe in or what us taking this statue will do. We are taking the statue and saving Drakken, and I don't care what you say about it because we are getting my boyfriend back now!" She threw several punches at the tall man, driving him back towards a wall. "Do! You! Un! Der! Stand! Me!"
"Whoa, hold up, hold up!" Ron said. "I think I just got an idea."
Shego continued to throw punches at the tall man, but Ron's captors let him get to his feet.
"See, we don't actually need the statue," Ron continued. "We just need to read it so we can figure out where to find Wade. And Drakken. And maybe the next clue. Is that cool with all of you?"
The guardians turned to each other and had a conversation in Spanish. Eventually, one of them turned back to Ron and nodded.
"Cool. Motor Ed?" Ron asked.
"Uh, sorry dude, I can't read Mayan glyphs," Motor Ed said. "Seriously."
"What, seriously?" Ron asked, shocked.
"Seriously," Motor Ed confirmed.
"Great," Shego groaned. "Now what do we do?"
Federal Highway 150
"Thanks so much for giving us a ride, Señor Vasquez!" Kim told the burly truck driver.
"Hey, no problemo, señorita!" Señor Vasquez replied. "I'm always happy to help. Especially since you helped me with that propane delivery."
"No big!" Kim said. "We just needed to make sure the tanks were properly labeled. Who knows how those cream cheese vats got mixed up with the propane?"
"Yeah, it could have been muy feo," Señor Vasquez agreed. "If you don't mind me asking, why are you headed to Chichen Itza anyway?"
"We're on vacation," Shego interrupted. "We thought we'd look at some historical sites." She grabbed Kim and whispered in her ear. "Don't tell him. We don't know who's with the kidnappers."
Kim cast her a skeptical look but kept her mouth shut.
Chapter 20: We Who Try
I at first expected this fic to run about 27 chapters. Because I keep jumping from place to place, it's probably going to be fifty chapters long or so.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Inside a Shipping Crate
Pacifica groaned as she awoke and pressed a hand against her pounding head. She squeezed her eyes shut as tight as she could before opening them for the first time. She couldn't see anything. Pacifica slowly sat up, trying to ignore the ache in her skull, and closed her eyes again as she tried to remember what happened. The memories tumbled into her head, and she groaned again as she realized what was going on.
"Everything okay, dude?" Soos asked from somewhere behind her.
"Tell me something, Soos," Pacifica muttered. "Are we gonna get out of this alive?"
"Uh, gee, Pacifica, I don't–" Soos started to say.
"Because if we don't, I am going to have my revenge on each and every one of you," Pacifica continued. "I don't know how, but my headache tells me that you're going to be the ones I get back at for dragging me into this."
Soos paused for a few seconds.
"Gee, sorry, Pacifica," he said. "I guess we never, uh, never really told you what we'd be getting into."
"No," Pacifica said bitterly. "You didn't."
Soos sat down next to her. "Hey, would some of my pizza cheer you up?"
"Where'd you get pizza?" she asked.
"Time wish," Soos said. "I wished for an infinite slice of pizza. It's pepperoni, but I can make it something else."
"An infinite slice of pizza?" Pacifica asked disbelievingly. "That's–actually, that's a pretty good wish."
A moan ripped through the air.
"Dipper!" Mabel said, pained. "My head hurts! What did I do last night?"
Dipper grumbled as he woke up too. "We got knocked out, Mabel. And now we're in complete darkness, at the mercy of a bunch of people who think it's the eighties, and we have no idea where our Grunkles are!"
Mabel groaned. "I was happier when I thought I ate too much Smile Dip again."
"Hey, cheer up, dudes," Soos said. "I can tell some jokes to pass the time. Okay, so, a guy walks into a bar, right? And he's got, like, a donkey with him, but the donkey has to stay outside, because the bar has a strict no donkeys allowed policy. But this other guy comes in with a camel, and the camel gets to come in too, and it's one of those two-humped camels. So anyway, a guy with a donkey has to–wait, no, the donkey has to stay outside, but the guy is in the bar, and then another guy with a camel with two humps comes in. And then–"
"Soos, shut up!" Dipper yelled. "Nobody cares about camels!"
"Whoa, dude, okay," Soos said. "Sorry. I was just trying to–"
"Trying to what? Trying to annoy us? Trying to tell a bad joke? No, Soos! Why can't you be serious?" Dipper yelled. "Our Grunkles are in danger, and all you do is tell bad jokes about camels! There are bigger issues here than camels or donkeys or whatever, like the minor fact that we're trapped in a box!"
"Hey, I'm just trying to lighten the mood!" Soos defended himself.
"Lighten the mood? Are you serious? We're in big trouble here, and you think we can afford to quit caring about it?" Dipper yelled.
"Oh like it's so easy! I miss them too, dude, but we don't have any clues! How about you focus on finding some clues instead of yelling at me!"
"Maybe I would've if you hadn't gotten us all captured! Setting off the net trap, what were you thinking?"
"Me? Me? I didn't set it off!"
"You're the only one of us pushing two hundred fifty!"
Soos gasped. "Oh, real nice, Dipper. At least I don't think I'm the smartest person ever born! What's it like, being a know-it-all? Because I'm pretty sure you don't know as much as you think you do, dude!"
"Oh yeah? Well–"
"STOP IT!" Mabel yelled. The mouths of Dipper and Soos snapped shut. "Stop it right now! I'm sick of this! We're supposed to be friends! We're supposed to be a team! But all you guys are doing is fighting! And over what? Because Soos tried to calm everyone down? Because Dipper can't find any clues? Because Pacifica doesn't know how to admit she cares about us and is only pretending she has to be dragged along? Because we're trapped in a dark box? I have been trying so hard not to give up and be as negative as you! I have been trying to be joyful cheerful Mabel who's easily distracted by shiny objects and obsessed with boys and totally not losing her mind over her missing Grunkles and it hasn't helped a bit! You're being jerks because you're upset about Grunkle Stan and Grunkle Ford! Dipper, your one-track mind is making you obsessed with finding our Grunkles and you haven't even noticed what a grouch you're being! Pacifica, I know you're trying to pretend that you're still above it all but come off it! You came with us because you care, not just because you're bored! And Soos, I get that you're trying to keep us all together and working as a team but we need a way out, not a joke about camels! All of you are just being, just being idiots! And that's my role! I'm supposed to be the silly one who lightens the mood so we don't go insane, and you're not letting it lighten! We want to find our Grunkles, so let's quit fighting with each other and save them already!"
The crate fell silent. The only sound was Mabel sniffling after her outburst. A hand reached out and took her hand, giving it a squeeze.
"Thanks Dipper," Mabel sniffed.
"Um, Mabel, I'm over here," Dipper's voice said from the other side of the crate.
Mabel's eyes widened. Before she could process this, the crate shifted and everybody tumbled. The crate jerked as it kept moving.
"I think we're moving, dudes!" Soos said.
"Where are we going?" Pacifica asked frantically.
The crate dropped and landed with a thump.
"Wherever it is, we're here," Dipper said.
A scratching was heard and a crowbar made its way into the side of the crate. It pulled the side loose, and the side fell onto the ground. Light streamed into the crate.
This might be a bit expository, but I view each member of the Mystery Shack crew as having their own specific role. Dipper is focused solely on finding the Grunkles. Mabel is trying to act silly and happy both as a defense mechanism and to try and keep everyone from ripping each other's throats out from stress. Pacifica wants to be friends but doesn't really know anyone that well (and ten months of poverty have not made her very happy). And Soos is trying to keep everyone working together, getting enough sleep, getting enough to eat–basically, he's trying to keep everyone healthy and on the same side despite the fact that this whole adventure is a) not fun and b) not something any of them really wanted to be involved in (except, perhaps, Pacifica; she's got nothing to lose and nothing much good back in Gravity Falls).
Chapter 21: Missouri Landslide
Warning: this chapter contains sleep drool.
Also vampires, but there's definitely sleep drool in this.
St. Louis, Missouri
Four teenagers slumbered in the backseat of a red-eye bus. As it rumbled into St. Louis, Lee's head tossed to the right and hit the window. Lee woke up, rubbing his noggin, and remembered what had happened the previous day: Biffy not being at school, him getting contacted right after homeroom by the strange old man, the mad rush to assemble a team of four as the man had instructed, the visit to Detroit, the flat tires, the long wait for a mechanic, the discovery that vampires existed...
All that before we even got to Chicago, he thought. What a day.
Lee blinked a few times as he grew more conscious and looked over at his traveling companions. They slept soundly as the bus rolled through the city. His eyes settled on his girlfriend as she lay with her head against his chest, mouth half-open with a little bit of drool leaking out. He smiled as he stared at her, and lightly put a hand on the back of her head. Tina's lips curled into a smile, and she snuggled more deeply into him.
The bus left the highway and headed down an exit for the station. As it pulled to a stop, Lee gently shook Tina awake. Tina sputtered into consciousness.
"Huh? What?" she mumbled, waking up. She looked around, remembering what had happened the previous day, and pushed herself off of Lee's chest with her right hand. She groaned. "Great. I, uh–sorry."
Lee chuckled nervously. "Yeah, uh, it's cool. I think Cam does that too. I've seen him fall asleep in class."
Tina giggled awkwardly. "Yeah..."
"Alright, everybody wake up!" the driver barked over the bus's speakers. "Welcome to St. Louis! This is your stop!"
Holger sat up, awake instantly. Jenny was slower to wake up, blinking her eyes and rubbing her head as she pushed herself upright. She groaned and rubbed her back.
"Ugh. My back's going to hurt all day," she groaned.
"Maybe Holger can help!" Holger said cheerfully. "He knows a good cure for backaches made from pickled sardines, ostrich feathers, and the ever-so-delicious emu innards. Yum!"
"Uh, no thanks," Jenny said. "I'll stick with my aching back." She stood up. "So I take it we're hunting vampires in St. Louis now?"
"That's about right," Lee said. The rest of the group stood up and headed for the door. "But first we need to figure out how to get there."
"Well how hard can it be?" Tina asked. "You have an address, right?"
"Yeah, but it could be halfway across town," Lee said. "We don't really have any idea where Desert Avenue is."
The sleep-deprived quartet stumbled out of the bus station and into the air. The sun hadn't come up yet, but the sky was starting to lighten with the first hint of sunrise. Tina looked up at the sky, smiling, and her boyfriend joined her.
"It's beautiful, isn't it," Lee said quietly.
"Yeah," Tina said quietly, nodding.
Jenny coughed loudly. "Um, hello? No time for cuteness, we have stuff to do?"
"Ja," Holger concurred. "The vurstreldamen may still be out."
Lee and Tina looked away from the sky and rejoined their friends mentally.
"Right," Tina said, trying to be businesslike. "What's–what's the first step?"
Holger shrieked and pointed at the sky. Instinctively, the rest of the group followed his finger as it targeted a surprisingly large group of bats that flew through the early morning air. They passed the group and headed for a skyscraper, flying in through a window.
After a few seconds, Jenny spoke. "So, what're the odds that that skyscraper is actually a nature refuge for bats?"
"We gotta get over there," Lee said.
St. Louis, Missouri
The first thing the quartet did upon reaching the street the skyscraper was located on was look for a street sign. True to form, they were on Desert Avenue.
"Well, this narrows things down," Lee said. "Good work, Holger."
"Yeah, but what do we do?" Tina asked. "I don't want to rush in there blindly, especially while the sun isn't up yet."
Jenny yawned. "We could always try and get a bit more sleep. I don't know about you, but I didn't find that bus ride very comfortable."
"That is because you do not have Holger's limber muscles," Holger said proudly. "Holger can sleep anywhere!"
"Well good for Holger," Jenny said, annoyed. "I need some coffee."
"There was an internet cafe a couple blocks back," Tina noted. "We can probably go there. They might even have a place to charge our phones!"
"Good thinking, Tina!" Lee said. "Let's go!"
Sparky's Internet Cafe
St. Louis, Missouri
Half an hour later the group had plugged into one of the charging stations and were searching the internet for information about vampires in St. Louis. Despite the high prices, they had chosen to eat at the cafe, and they absentmindedly nibbled on pastries and drank coffee as they searched for anything that might be help them prepare to go in. Unfortunately, nothing on the internet seemed very useful.
"So, I found a site full of people claiming they're vampires," Jenny finally said. "I can't tell if they're honest or delusional, though."
"Holger thinks the vurstreldamen internet people are real!" Holger said firmly. "Nobody would ever want to be a vurstreldamen. It's impossible!"
"Okay, well, is there any useful information on the site?" Tina asked.
Jenny shook her head. "I don't think so. It seems like a bunch of kooks who want to pretend to be vampires. It's all about 'vampire-friendly clubs' and 'how to tell your family you're a vampire.'"
"Ha!" Holger said. "Holger know nobody ever pretend to be vurstreldamen. Is crazy thinking!"
"So nobody's found anything?" Lee asked. Everyone shook their heads. "Then we have one lead. 702 Desert Avenue. The good news is that we know the vampires are living there. The bad news is we don't know where in the building, or even how to get in."
"Ooh! Holger have ideacake!" Holger said excitedly.
"Okay..." Lee said slowly.
"We disguise ourselves as the dancing herring here to celebrate the festival of Gunterdarmstank!" Holger said excitedly. "Then, after we have been pelted with the goodbye biscuits, we are allowed in to spread cheer and much merrymaking! We find our way up to the vurstreldamen cozy bungalows, and then we tantalize them with our fishy goodness to lure them out into the sunlight! Then poof, they burst into flames and we are victorious!"
Holger's friends stared at him silently.
"Um, Holger?" Tina finally said. "I'm pretty sure the Americans don't celebrate a festival for underarm stink."
"Is not festival for underarm stink!" Holger said, offended. "Gunterdarmstank is for remembering the time Sven Svenson defeated the giant angry bush with the hedge clippers of destiny and much sharpness!"
"How were–nevermind. I don't want to know," Jenny said. "So what, we just make our way to the apartments and blunder around again and hopefully don't die?"
"Oh, like at the carnival!" Holger said happily. "Holger did very good job at the carnival. He didn't die even once!"
Jenny gave him a strange look. "Right. So, is that what we do?"
"Uh, Tina?" Lee asked.
"What?" Tina said. She blinked. "Oh! Oh. No, I don't have any better ideas."
Lee nodded. "I guess it is."
"Holger has vurstreldamen-detecting magic powers," Holger said. "He can sense vurstreldamens easily!"
"Well then," Tina said. "I suppose that'll help us find them."
Chapter 22: By the Creek
Chichen Itza, Yucatán
The quintet hopped out of the truck at the entrance to Chichen Itza. They gazed up at the pyramids.
"So, where do we go?" Shego asked Motor Ed.
Motor Ed shrugged. "Big pyramid? It worked for us last time."
"Oh, what, no big fancy name to remind us you majored in Pre-Colombian Civilizations?" Shego snarked.
"Seriously? It's called the Templo Mayor," Motor Ed said. "But that's just Spanish for 'Main Temple.' Seriously. It doesn't really have some incredibly special name, it's just like, the big pyramid. Seriously."
"Okay, great, so we're heading to the giant pyramid, yay," Ron said. "Could we hurry this up? I want to stumble onto our next clue or Wade or Drakken or whatever ASAP."
"We're not just going to stumble onto something, Ron," Kim said.
"KP, it's what we've been doing!" Ron said. "Shego opened a secret passageway in the mall by accident, then opened a secret passageway in the basement of that museum, and..." He stopped. "Hey, Shego, why don't you lead us?"
"Ron!" Kim said angrily.
"But KP!" Ron protested.
Kim sighed. "You're right. Unfortunately. Shego has been pretty helpful, even if only by accident."
"Watch and learn, princess," Shego said. Kim grit her teeth. "With me at the helm, we'll be out of here in no time."
"Yeah, seriously," Motor Ed said. "Watch and learn, Red."
Shego grinned evilly.
"Oh, so there you are!" a loud voice said, ripping through the air. "You must be our four missing tourists! Come along, please!"
The group turned and spotted a large tour group. At the head of the group was a skinny woman with a surprisingly loud voice.
"Uh, yeah, no, we're not part of your tour group," Shego said, faking sweetness. "We're just going to wander around here–"
"Oh, don't be silly!" the woman said. "You're not allowed to wander the grounds alone. It's too likely you'll disturb the site. Now come along."
"Yes! Of course!" Kim said quickly. "We'll be there in a second." She grabbed the others and drew them close. "Look, if we want to get in, we'll have to go on this tour. Now suck it up and let's pretend to be part of the tour, okay?"
"You got it, KP!" Ron said happily. Rufus poked out of his pocket, nodding and smiling, and gave a thumbs-up.
"Aw, can't we skip the tour?" Motor Ed wheedled. "Seriously. Mayans are like, the least interesting major Pre-Colombian civilization. Seriously."
"Yeah, I'm with musclehead on this one," Shego said. "This tour sounds totally lame, and more importantly, totally not going to help us find Drakken."
"Look, we have to take the tour if we want to explore this place," Kim said. "We'll just slip out once she's distracted, okay?"
"Hey, who's leading this group, me or you, princess?" Shego asked sharply. "I say we do what we want."
"Uh, I changed my mind, Kim should lead us," Ron said.
"WHAT?" Shego spat angrily, rounding on him with palms ablaze.
"Ahem!" the woman's voice called. "We're about to get started, so if you four could please join the group?"
The four stared at each other. Ron was the first one to break away, turning and walking calmly towards the rest of the tour group. Kim followed him a few seconds later, and Motor Ed shrugged and followed her away. Shego scowled, unlit her hands, and joined the tour.
"Listen," she hissed to Kim, "as soon as there's a way out of here, we are taking it, you understand me?"
Kim rolled her eyes and nodded.
Chichen Itza, Yucatán
"...and that's when the king decided not to say another word about the poaching, seeing as the baked potatoes were indeed quite delicious. At that point..."
The tour guide droned on as she led her tour group through Chichen Itza. Each member of the group was reacting to the tour differently. Ron, as usual, was incredibly bored. Rufus had bedded down to sleep in Ron's pocket. Kim's eyes were alert as she kept them fixed on the tour guide, occasionally glancing around to see if there was a viable escape route. Motor Ed was also fixated on the tour guide, but for a different reason: he was hearing all the falsehoods in her history and was keeping track mentally of whether any accurate history was actually being portrayed. Shego, meanwhile, looked just as bored as Ron and was constantly looking around for someplace to escape to. Unfortunately for them, the grounds were clear of clutter and there were no ruins to hide behind anywhere near the path they were on.
"...and she said 'Let's do it! The room's already paid for!' So the chef and the gardener proceeded to..."
"Okay, Kimmie, you got us into this mess," Shego muttered. "Now what are you going to do to get us out of it?"
"What mess?" Kim asked, annoyed. "We take the tour, we figure out where we're supposed to find everything. It's like Ron said, we've just stumbled into clues. Well let's get stumbling."
Shego sighed. "You're right."
A few seconds later, Shego stuck her leg out in front of Kim. Kim tripped over it and fell forward, landing on the ground awkwardly. Shego snorted but quickly rearranged her face into the picture of innocence. Kim quickly got up and moved back to Shego's side, and the few tourists who had noticed her fall put their attention back on the tour guide.
"...the priest said, 'Read the card, you fool!' Well, as you can guess, those were some disgusting flowers, but..."
"You did that on purpose," Kim said softly but angrily.
"What, me?" Shego said, feigning innocence. "I would never! Kimmie, seriously, why would I trip you? I mean, sure, we are enemies. And you were talking about how you just needed to stumble. And yes, your indignant look is hilarious. But no, princess, I didn't stick my leg out to trip you. Even if it would have been hysterical." She smirked. "You believe me, don't you?"
Chichen Itza, Yucatán
"Not a single fact right," Motor Ed grumbled to himself. "Seriously. Not a single correct fact."
"...well, the monkey couldn't write prescriptions, you see," the tour guide continued. "But, since the Mayans were resourceful, they grabbed the bride-to-be..."
Motor Ed grimaced. Not only was his cousin missing, but he was on an endless tour led by a woman that had no grasp of Mayan history or culture. Even though he'd never been interested in the Mayans the way he was interested in the Incans, Aztecs, or Navajo, he was rather annoyed by the fact that his comparatively weak grasp of the Mayan world was still strong enough that he could tell she was butchering every anecdote in Mayan history–when she stuck to the facts instead of making up her own stories, that is. He was fairly certain that the one about the roosters and the talking snake was a complete fabrication.
"...of course, they thought the showtune was a bit over the top, and the performers were summarily executed. Consequently, the arm-wrestling match between..."
Motor Ed grit his teeth. He didn't know how much more of this he could take. Annoyed, he decided that it was time to do something, and hung back as the group moved on, pretending to examine a relic. It seemed his gambit would be successful until he heard the annoying tones of the tour guide calling him.
"Sir!" she yelled. "Sir! You have to stay with the tour!"
Motor Ed glanced around. He could make a run for it, of course, but he wasn't the most fleet of foot. He usually relied on vehicles to get away; he was a great driver and mechanic. Still, making a run for it might be better than suffering through the rest of the tour.
"Sir, get over here! Now! Sir!" the woman yelled at him.
Annoyed, Motor Ed began walking back to the tour. Suddenly, Ron ran past him.
"Woop, look at me, running through a historical site!" Ron yelled. "Wow, sure hope I don't touch anything!"
The tour guide gave chase. "All of you, stay put!" she yelled at them. "Sir! Security! Sir!"
Motor Ed watched, impressed, as Ron deftly avoided the tour guide and the security personnel who were attracted by her calls. He wandered back to Kim and Shego.
"Big pyramid?" he asked.
"Big pyramid," Kim confirmed.
Chapter 23: Button to Button
St. Louis, Missouri
The group peeked out from behind a corner at the skyscraper. Two uniformed doormen stood at the doors, backs straight and eyes alert.
"Is it time for the Gunterdarmstank plan now, Lee?" Holger asked eagerly.
"No," Lee said. "I don't think it'll ever be time for the Gunterdarmstank plan."
"Especially since four is better than three for hunting vampires," Tina said. "We need you with us, Holger."
"But that is beauty of Gunterdarmstank plan!" Holger argued. "It has all of us, together, dressed as herring! Nobody can resist the herring! Ooh, except Daddy Ping. Sorry Lee!"
Lee sighed. "It's fine, Holg, he's over it. But how are we going to get in?"
"Gunt–" Holger started to say.
"No," Jenny said, cutting him off. "No 'good for arm stink.'"
"Is no good for–"
"Whatever!" Jenny said. "Point is, we need a better plan to get inside."
"Then Holger have plan, in spirit of Sven Svenson!" Holger said. "Holger will use magic powers to convince doormen to not notice us as we go inside."
"Holger, you don't have..." Tina trailed off. "Your powers don't work that way. I think."
"He has powers?" Jenny whispered to Tina. Tina shrugged.
"Holger might be on to something," Lee said. "That is how Brandy got us into a building when Biffy was acting weird."
Suddenly, Lee shivered. "Geez. I hope Biffy's okay. What if he's hurt? What if he's not being held by the vampires and we're on the wrong track? What if we never find him! What if this is some sort of crazy reptilian–"
"Lee!" Tina said loudly, grabbing his arm. Lee calmed down and looked at her. "Don't worry. Let's just take care of this vampire problem and find out where Biffy's being held."
"Yeah," Lee said, more calm. "Yeah. Vampires, then Biffy."
St. Louis, Missouri
"This is a horrible idea," Jenny grumbled.
"I dunno, I kinda like it," Tina said. "You have to admit, it's inspired."
"It's insane is what it is!" Jenny said. "I've never even heard of this show!"
Holger gasped. "Never heard of Doctor Detective Cop? But is favorite show in home country! Always solving the case, and curing the patient!"
"That still doesn't explain why you had me give Tina my jacket," Jenny said. "Or, for that matter, why she's wearing it over her head as a turban."
"Oh! Holger almost forget!" Holger said. "Lee, you and Jenny carry Tina behind me. Don't disturb her spine or neck or head, keep them steady. That is good doctoring! Everyone ready?"
"Um, Holger, I'm having second thoughts–" Lee started to say.
"Good!" Holger exclaimed. "Then it is time for Doctor Detective Cop and Friends to take down the evil vurstreldamen!"
Holger strode out from their hiding place and headed for the vampires' headquarters. With no other options, Lee and Jenny followed, carrying Tina between them. Tina pretended to be unconscious as Holger approached the doormen. They looked at him impartially.
"Step aside, civilians!" he told them confidently. "Doctor Detective Cop is on the case!"
"No entry, kid," one of the doorman said. They stepped forward to block his path.
"Oh, nonononono, you misunderstand! I am Doctor Detective Cop, and these are my assistants, Stupidhair and Mayonnaise Teeth!"
"Hey!" Lee complained. "What's wrong with my hair?"
"My teeth aren't mayonnaise!" Jenny said at the same time. "They're perfectly normal! I don't even like mayonnaise! I prefer mustard!"
Holger ignored them. "They are helping me with a patient, Miss Tina Bobina Florentina, who has hit her head." He leaned in and said, in a stage whisper, "She is the girlfriend of Stupidhair."
"Sorry, kid, no entry," the doorman said. "Go play somewhere else."
"Then you leave Holger no choice!" Holger said.
Before Holger could do something incredibly stupid that wouldn't work, Jenny spoke up.
"Please! You have to let us in! She hit her head hard, and we're afraid she's unconscious! Just let us put her on a couch or something! It's an emergency!"
The doormen looked at each other uncertainly.
"C'mon, time is everything!" Lee said. "We told the ambulance to come here, but we need a clean place to put her!"
One of the doormen shrugged and stepped aside. The other followed suit, pushing the door open for them to enter. As soon as they went past, he followed them in. Lee and Jenny put Tina down on a couch in the lobby.
"So kid, tell me something," the doorman said to Holger. "Why'd you pull that Doctor Detective Cop routine?"
"Uh, he really is Doctor Detective Cop," Jenny fibbed.
The doorman raised an eyebrow. "Really? Ain't he...ain't you a little young to be a doctor?"
Holger giggled. "Oh, why thank you! I moisturize, every day! And I am not just doctor, I am also detective, and cop! Now, please." Holger pulled a yo-yo out of his pocket. "How would you use this?"
The man paused. "Uh, what?"
"Go on!" Holger said, smiling. "Show me how you would do this! Is necessary for interrogation!"
"What are you, some kind of a nut?" the man asked angrily. "I'm not going to use your freaking yo-yo! What interrogation, anyway? You're the one who saw everything!"
"Hol–Doctor Detective Cop!" Lee hollered. "Get over here! She's breathing unevenly."
Holger pursed his lips. "Doctor Detective Cop must go now. Must see to patient."
Holger walked over to his friends, who were gathered over a prone Tina. The doorman stared at them for a few more seconds before deciding that they were essentially harmless, if insane, and headed out to resume his post. As soon as he left, Lee straightened up and glanced around the room. It was empty except for a single employee standing behind the front desk. His eyes were fixed on them.
"So, what now?" Jenny muttered quietly.
Lee thought for a second and then whispered, "Tina! Pretend to wake up!"
Tina's eyes snapped open and she looked at him with a question in her eyes.
"Trust me," Lee whispered. "Pretend you just woke up and your head hurts or something."
"Guh!" Tina yelped, sitting up. She pressed a hand to her head. "Oh, my head! What happened?"
"You tripped and hit your head," Holger said. "Luckily I, Doctor Detective Cop, was right there! We brought you in here to rest, and wait for ambulance."
"Why is my throat so dry?" Tina asked.
Jenny gasped dramatically. "We need water!"
Lee rushed over to the front desk. Holger and Jenny helped Tina to her feet and supported her body.
"Do you have any water?" he asked the desk manager.
The desk manager shook his head.
"Okay, well, do you know where we can get some?" Lee asked.
The desk manager sighed and rolled his eyes. "I have a water bottle in the office. Do you really need it?"
"Yes!" Holger called over loudly.
The desk manager grumbled and left his post. As soon as he disappeared into the back office, Jenny and Holger let Tina down and the group ran for the elevator.
"Let's just hope this works," Lee said.
The doors opened, and the group ran in and pressed the door close button. As the doors slid shut, the desk manager exited the office. He looked around, confused.
"Where'd they go?" he asked nobody in particular.
Elevator of 702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
"Well, we're in," Jenny said once the doors shut.
"We'd better get going," Lee said. He reached for the elevator buttons, then stopped. "Does anybody know what floor they're on?"
"Holger know!" Holger said happily. "He use vurstreldamen magic power sense to find vurstreldamen."
The other three looked at each other, shrugged, and stepped aside. Holger pressed every button on the elevator.
Lee's jaw dropped. "Dude! Are you telling me these guys are on every floor?"
"What? No!" Holger said cheerfully. "Don't be silly! Although maybe. But, Holger need to be on every floor to make sure."
Jenny groaned. "Great. This is going to take forever."
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Fluorescent light entered the crate. The group squinted at the sudden glare and blinked several times, attempting to adjust to the light. When they did, they spotted a large group of young adults who all appeared to be in need of a shower.
"Whoa..." one of them said. "It's like, people. In a box."
"Yeah," a woman concurred. "Like, is this a representation of capitalism and how it forces us to box up our individuality?"
"Nah, dude," another woman said. "It's gotta be about the negative effects of human trafficking on modern life."
"No, like, it's about the darkness we're all kept in that we try to fill with material things," another man said. "The fat guy, he represents attempting to use food to fill the void. And the kids are representations of people who try to be kids again instead of like, maturing and realizing that the system itself needs to change. And the pig's sleeping because it doesn't realize that the revolution always comes for the swine!"
"Uh, no," Pacifica said, stepping forward. "And who are you guys, anyway?"
"We're the resistance!" another young woman said. "And you got mailed to us!"
"It's gotta be a sign," a young man said. "They must've come to help!"
"Help with what?" Mabel said craftily.
"With the protest, dude!" the ostensible leader of the group, who had declared them the resistance, said. "We need all the help we can get if we're going to overthrow tyranny!"
"Uh, hold on," Dipper said. "We don't even know what's going on here. Why should we join your protest?"
The young adults gasped. "Dude! Don't you want to smash the system and right the wrongs?"
"Um–give us a minute," Soos said. He signaled for them to huddle up. Dipper, Mabel, and Pacifica did so. Outside the crate, the other group huddled as well. Soon, murmurs of discussion filled the room.
"Okay, dudes," Soos said. "I've seen people like this before. I don't know if we should go along with them."
"Are you kidding?" Mabel said. "This is like Dipper's dream!"
"What?" Dipper said, shocked. "No it isn't!"
"Uh, yeah it is, bro-bro," Mabel said. "You always wanted to hang with the cool kids and make a difference. Well here's your chance!"
"What? Well, uh, um, what?" Dipper stammered.
"They do seem pretty cool, what with their ironic t-shirts and revolutionary ideals," Soos mused.
"Wait, hold on, hold on," Dipper said. "How is this going to help us find our Grunkles?"
Silence descended upon the group.
"You got any better ideas?" Pacifica asked.
"Um, how about we go back to Utah, not get knocked out, take care of business, and then figure out where to go from there?" Dipper suggested.
"Great idea," Pacifica said sarcastically. "And how exactly will we get to the middle of nowhere?"
Soos's eyes widened. "Aw, dude, my truck! It's totally sitting up there!"
"Don't worry, Soos!" Mabel said cheerfully. "The Communists probably took it!"
She realized what she said a second too late and put a hand over her mouth. Soos slumped.
"Sorry, Soos," Mabel said regretfully.
"Aw, it's alright, dude," Soos said sadly. "You're probably right about what happened to my truck."
"Look, I guess your truck's gone," Pacifica said. "But let's not focus on trying to get it back right now. I think we should go with the college kids."
"Um, why?" Dipper asked.
"Because we don't really have any other options," Pacifica said. "We don't know where we are, we don't know why we're here, and we don't know where to find your Grunkles. For all we know, this is where we were supposed to go next. And even if it's not, well, we can't really do anything about that."
A hush fell over the group. Waddles snorted, and Mabel picked him up in a firm cuddle.
"I hate to say it, but Pacifica's right," she said. "We've gotta see what they're doing. Just in case."
Dipper nodded. "You're right. Mystery Twins?"
"Mystery Twins," Mabel agreed.
"Hey, what about me?" Soos asked.
"We're Pterodactyl Bros," Dipper told him. Soos grinned.
"Yeah! And glitter pals!" Mabel added.
The three smiled at each other.
"So what am I?" Pacifica asked quietly.
They turned to her. Mabel smiled.
"You're our friend, silly!" she said, pulling Pacifica into a hug. The group broke the huddle and looked over at the young radicals, who were still deep in conversation. After about a minute, one of them noticed that they had stopped talking, and slowly the other group stopped discussing things and turned back to the four Grunkle hunters.
"So how do we know we can trust you?" the leader of the radicals asked.
Dipper's jaw dropped. "Us?" he squeaked.
"Uh, yeah," she said. "You're like, what. A freshman? In high school? You don't have the worldly experience to know what tyranny looks like. How are you possibly going to help us?"
"Uh, well, uh–" Dipper stammered.
"Maybe we're not," Pacifica said calmly. "Why should we?"
"What?" an angry young man asked. "Why should you? Because it's your future too, man! If you don't, like, rise up against tyranny, it'll devour you! It'll devour us all, man!"
"Then why not let us help?" Pacifica asked, still calm. "If you need all the help you can get, why not take us with you?"
The group of protesters muttered among themselves. One of them stepped forward.
"You wanna come with us?" she asked. "Tell me what the opiate of the masses is."
"Television!" Soos guessed.
"Uh...actually, yeah, that's pretty much right," she said.
"Knew it!" Soos said happily.
"How are they controlling us, man?" another person asked.
"Television!" Soos said quickly.
"Uh, yeah, dude. How'd you, like, know?" he asked.
"Okay, okay, this has been fun and all, but there's one thing really important we have to know," the leader of the group said. "Are you in any way affiliated with the clothing industry?"
"Yes!" Mabel said happily. "I make my own sweaters!"
"Dude, that's not an industry," one of the radicals said. "That's like, the opposite of industry. You're like, making things yourself instead of having some greedy conglomeration make them for you. It's like, totally hardcore."
The rest of the group nodded and snapped their fingers.
"Alright, they're cool," the leader said. "Dudes, you ready?"
Mabel, Dipper, Pacifica, and Soos shared glances.
"Uh, ready for what?" Dipper asked.
"Ready to protest, dude!" the leader said. "It's time to bring down tyranny!"
"We're in," Mabel said confidently.
"Cool," the leader said. Behind her, a garage door opened, revealing three large vans. "Get in the van, we're going on a trip."
Calvin: "Religion is the opiate of the masses. What do you suppose that means?"
Television: [thinking] It means Karl Marx hadn't seen anything yet.
Calvin and Hobbes, January 19, 1986.
Yes, I stole that punchline. I'm giving credit to Bill Watterson here.
Now who are these children who scheme and run wild? Find out in some future chapter!
Chichen Itza, Yucatán
Ron spun away from a burly man wearing a vest that said Seguridad. He almost flew into the arms of another man, but quickly leapt back and turned to the side. He quickly outran the duo, but another man stepped in front of him, and it was only his quick reflexes honed by years of supervillain stopping that allowed him to sidestep the security officer.
Ron ran randomly through the historical site, doing his best to stay away from the big pyramid. He figured he had to keep this up for about ten minutes longer; even though the tour had gotten close to the biggest pyramid, it would probably take time for Kim to find whatever she needed to find inside. That is, if they were even on the right track. Although the secret passages had indicated that they were headed in the right direction, without a translation of what was on the Mayan vase they were basically taking a shot in the dark by coming to Chichen Itza.
Ron's train of thought was suddenly interrupted when a pair of metal wires arced past his rear end. Ron screeched, realizing that the security forces had tazers, and began sprinting faster. He panted as he wound his way through the park, attracting more security as he ran.
Chichen Itza, Yucatán
While the rest of the tour was distracted by the chase scene, and subsequently by Ron's amazing agility, three members took the opportunity to sneak away and ascend the stairs of El Castillo. They slipped inside without anybody noticing, especially the security personnel, who were completely focused on capturing Ron. Once inside, they slipped through the door and plastered themselves against a wall.
"So, we're here," Shego said after a bit. "What do we do now?"
"Well, I have an idea," Kim said, smiling. "Walk with me, Shego."
Shego cast her a sour look. "No way, princess. I know what you're planning."
"Aw, c'mon," Kim said plaintively.
"No way, Kimmie!" Shego said. Kim pouted at her. "What, are you–are you doing a puppy-dog pout? On me? I'm not going to do it just because you pout."
Kim's pout intensified.
Shego sighed. "Okay, fine, I suppose it can't–wait, no! No! I am not letting you trip me! Now put that pout away!"
Kim continued to pout at her.
"No! No, Kimmie!" Shego said. She turned her head away and squeezed her eyes shut. "I'm not gonna do it!"
Kim's pout deepened. Shego risked a glance and gave up almost immediately.
"Ugh. Fine," Shego said. She and Kim walked forward until Kim stuck her leg out to trip her. At that point, Shego nimbly hopped over it and turned to face Kim.
"So, that was a big waste of time," she said. "But hey, you got any more great ideas?"
Kim sighed, annoyed. "Whatever, Shego. Like you've got anything."
Shego let out a fake laugh. "Oh, princess doesn't have all the answers!"
"Uh, Green?" Motor Ed said.
"Wow, so surprising!" Shego said, ignoring him. "It's almost as if you're just bumbling around uselessly."
"Green?" Motor Ed said nervously.
"I mean, let's be real. It's not as if you're a new hand at this," Shego continued. "What's different this time?"
"Green!" Motor Ed yelled.
"Oh, I know!" Shego said. "You're missing your tech nerd. It's almost as if you're useless without him. How's that feel, Kimmie?"
"Seriously, Green!" Motor Ed yelled.
Shego sighed and rolled her eyes. "What is it?" she snarled grouchily.
A hand reached up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder. Shego spun around and looked directly into a pair of gray eyes.
"Gah!" Shego yelped, leaping backwards and bumping into Kim. They crashed to the ground and looked up at a figure with incredibly pale skin, long white hair, and gray eyes, dressed entirely in white.
Kim gasped, but quickly recovered. "Um, hi," she said awkwardly. "Who are you?"
The albino stared down at them. "Kim Possible and Shego?" she asked.
"Yeah, that's us," Shego said, climbing to her feet. "What do you want?"
The albino didn't blink as she stared at them. "I was sent with a message. But only if you were together."
"Okay, getting a bit creepy now," Shego said.
"Shego!" Kim said. She paused. "Okay, yes, but. What's the message?"
The albino lifted her head and stared straight ahead at nothing, as though she was in a trance. She began to speak. "Through two the five of you have passed, and on the third we meet. It's true you're on the correct path, to Cuzco move your feet. At Cuzco you will find the clues, that send you to the past. Be sure to stay inside the lines, you'll find your friends at last."
Nobody said anything until Motor Ed finally piped up.
"What the heck does that mean? Seriously!"
"It's another clue, brainiac!" Shego said, rolling her eyes. She smirked. "And you know, I think I know who sent it."
"Wait, hold on," Kim said to the albino. "How'd you know we'd be here?"
The albino's face cracked into a smile. "I didn't. I've just been waiting."
"And if we didn't come?" Kim asked.
"Then you wouldn't be on the right track," she said.
"Yeah, well, the track's about to get a lot shorter!" Shego said, launching herself at the albino. The albino leaped back, covering twenty feet in a single bound and letting loose a trail of steam. Shego choked on the mist.
"Whoa!" Motor Ed yelled, excited. "Seriously! Is that steam power? Seriously!"
"Steam power?" Kim asked, confused.
The albino continued to smile as she floated backwards out of El Castillo. About a minute later, Ron ran in, panting.
"Okay, they're like a minute behind and I'm running out of energy!" he told them. "Did you find the secret passageway yet?"
"No passageway, Ron," Kim said. Ron deflated. "We got a visit from an albino who told us to head to Cusco."
"Like...the emperor?" Ron asked. "I thought that was a cartoon."
"I'll explain on the way. Let's go!"
The quartet darted out of the pyramid.
By now it's probably pretty obvious I've never been to Chichen Itza. Soon, it will become obvious I've never been to Peru.
Something to look forward to.
Chapter 26: In a Nutshell
This was originally plotted to be one long chapter. However, it ended on a good place to break, so I split it into a normal-sized chapter and a long chapter.
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. Holger stuck his head out and took a big whiff of the second floor.
"No vurstreldamen here!" he said happily.
Holger pulled back into the elevator. The doors slid shut and the elevator began going up again.
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. Holger stuck his head out and sniffed the third floor air.
"No vurstreldamen here, either!" Holger said.
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
Holger stuck his head out of the elevator again. He smelled the fourth floor.
"Well, we're vurstreldamen free!" he said happily. "Oh, but what if this is the wrong address? Holger worked so hard as Doctor Detective Cop to save patient Tina Bobina Florentina, girlfriend of Stupidhair!"
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
"No, dude, seriously! You did this when I needed a fake enemy to infiltrate the Down With Lee Club, and now you're doing it again. Just tell me. What's wrong with my hair?" Lee asked as the elevator doors slid open.
"Is nothing wrong with your hair, Lee of Pings," Holger said. "Only that it is not long and glorious and uses tacky hair dye."
Lee opened his mouth to respond, then closed it and shook his head. "I'm not going to answer that. Any vampires here?"
Holger sniffed the air outside the elevator and then pulled his head back in. "Nope! No vurstreldamen on the fifth floor!"
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
"Well, how do we know that your magic powers or whatever are even working?" Jenny asked.
Holger gasped. "How can you say that? Holger's magic powers always work! Always!" He stuck his head out and sniffed the air. "And there are no vurstreldamen on this floor either."
"I dunno, Holg," Lee said. "I mean, maybe your magic powers don't have anything to do with vampires. Seriously, you spent a lot of time trying to figure out what they even were, and you still haven't really figured any of them out."
Holger gasped. "Holger has too figured out his magic powers! He just no know what all of them do yet. That's all."
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
"Holger is too magic! He knows it! And he knows how to find vurstreldamen with his magic powers! He'll prove it once vurstreldamen are found!" Holger said, upset. He sniffed the air. "And vurstreldamen will not be found here!"
The doors slid shut.
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
The doors opened. Holger sniffed the air again.
"No vurstreldamen here, either," he said.
"Ugh!" Jenny groaned. "If I wasted a bunch of my life on this elevator because your magic powers don't work!"
Jenny didn't continue.
"Then..." Tina prompted.
"Then what?" Jenny asked.
"Then what'll you do?" she asked.
"Oh. Right," Jenny said. "Uh, I guess nothing. But I'll be really annoyed, buster!" she said, directing her last sentence at Holger.
"Holger is not buster!" Holger said, affronted. "Holger is Holgermiester! Or sometimes Jorf Borf! Or like today, Doctor Detective Cop!"
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
The doors opened on the ninth floor. Holger stuck his head out and instantly recoiled.
"Oh, yes," he said, covering his nose. "This is most yesfinitely floor of vurstreldamen."
He stepped out of the elevator, sniffing the air cautiously. He frowned. "Yes, this is floor of vurstreldamen. Vurstreldamen here, vurstreldamen everywhere here! Holger is scary, friends!"
"Okay..." Jenny said. "But uh, not to be a downer, but...now what?"
"What do you mean?" Tina asked. "We stop the vampires. Duh."
"Yeah, I got that part," Jenny said. "But...how exactly are we going to do that?"
Lee slapped his forehead, annoyed.
"Alright," he sighed, "I assume none of us has any lockpicking skill?"
"Nope," Tina said.
"Uh-uh," Jenny said.
"Maybe Holger's magic powers?" Holger suggested. He pressed his fingers against his temple.
"No, Holg!" Lee said quickly, clapping a hand over Holger's mouth. "Let's not do anything loud that might wake them up."
"Okay, but uh, what do we do?" Jenny asked.
Tina shrugged and leaned against a door. The handle fell downward beneath her elbow, and the door opened. Tina only managed to avoid crashing to the floor by grabbing the door handle and holding onto it tightly. Once the door had stopped moving, she slowly pulled herself to her feet. It was only then that she looked back at her companions and saw that their eyes were as wide as dinner plates.
"I guess that's one answer," she whispered.
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
The group slipped into the apartment as quietly as they could. Even Holger avoided singing sneaking music, although he had to clasp his hands over his mouth and concentrate very hard in order to avoid making any noise. They made their way over to the windows, which were covered with thick velvet curtains. Jenny peeked behind them, and rays of sunlight spilled out onto the floor. She pulled her head out and grinned at her friends. Tina smiled at her, and felt across the curtains. She found the point where they overlapped, and she and Jenny took one of the curtains while Lee and Holger took the other. Then, with a quick jerk, they pulled the curtains apart.
Sunlight came in, streaming through the windows. It hit the wall on the other side of the room and lit up the bed placed against the wall. The vampire sleeping there barely stirred as it instantly caught on fire, burning in its bed.
As the flames slowly licked at the mattress, the quartet ran out of the room, shutting the door behind them.
"Well," Tina said queasily, "I guess that's one of them."
Lee swallowed heavily. "That was disturbing."
"Yeah," Jenny said. "Are we–are we doing the right thing?"
Tina shivered. "That thing–I didn't even see its face, and he–it never did anything to us."
"This is so not like the robots," Lee muttered. "This is so not like the robots."
"But friends!" Holger said. "Are you forgetting how the vurstreldamen tried to eat us all?"
"Well, yeah, but that was only one of them," Lee said. "How do we know that this one wasn't–you know–innocent?"
"But, but their plans," Holger said. "The vurstreldamen, they were planning to take over a city. And eventually, the world! Oh, no, Holger is so scary! Vurstreldamen cannot take over the world! Is no right!"
"Holger, we don't know that we didn't just kill an innocent creature!" Tina said. "We can't know! We never saw it doing anything wrong! We just killed it because, because–"
"Because we were scared," Lee finished softly.
Holger's lips formed a hard line.
"Fine," he said angrily. "But Holger know what must be done about the vurstreldamen. Oh yes! Holger know!"
Holger set off towards the next room. Lee ran after him and put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.
"Holger," he said. "Are you sure this is the right thing to do?"
"Holger know it is," Holger said. "Holger know what vurstreldamen are capable of."
"Then we're behind you," Lee said. Tina nodded, and Jenny put a hand on Holger's other shoulder. "We just–we–it's not going to be easy. Okay?"
Holger nodded and smiled. "Thank you, Lee of Pings. But time for regrets is not now. Now is time for vurstreldamen to meet their fate!"
Holger pushed down on the door handle. The one was unlocked just like the previous door.
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
There were twenty-five rooms in total on the ninth floor. Twelve on the west, thirteen on the east. By the time the group had finished with the last room on the east side, the sun had risen so high that the rays barely bathed the last vampire's bed in light.
Thirteen rooms, thirteen unlocked doors, thirteen burning vampire corpses. This was the record as the group exited the last of the eastern rooms.
"Can we take a break?" Lee asked. "We'll need to figure out what we do about the other vampires."
"Yeah," Tina said weakly. "I'm feeling nauseous." She sat down.
"But friends! We must press on!" Holger said. "We must save the world from vurstreldamen!"
"Not that I disagree with you," Lee said, "but uh, how? In case you didn't notice, all those rooms were on the east side of the building."
"Yes, so?" Holger said.
"So, it's still morning," Lee said.
"Yes," Holger agreed.
Lee paused for a few seconds to let Holger catch on. Jenny was not as kind.
"Holger, the sun won't kill them the instant we open the curtains," Jenny said. "We'll have to wait several hours and hope that nobody catches on."
Holger furrowed his brow. "Why?"
"Because the sun's on the other side of the building!" Jenny said exasperatedly.
Holger's eyes widened. "Oh, Holger is silly goosenghogen! How could Holger forget? Much apologies, friends!"
"Whoa, Holger, it's not the end of the world," Lee soothed. "We just–need to come up with a new plan. For the other vampires."
Holger calmed down slightly. "You think we can still stop the vurstreldamen even though sun is not on our side?"
"Yeah," Tina said. "I mean, the sun's going to go down eventually."
"Oh no!" Holger said. "That means vurstreldamen will wake up and eat us!"
"No, but Holger, it'll go down on the west," Lee said. "That means that if we open the curtains and wait, it should, uh, cook them–"
Tina's cheeks bulged. She rolled onto her hands and knees and puked right in front of a dead vampire's door. Holger ignored this, instead stroking his chin with a smile on his face.
"So, we play the waiting game and defeat vurstreldamen that way?" he asked. "Holger like Lee's ideacake!"
"Okay, but can we have fifteen minutes?" Jenny asked. "I don't know about you, but my breakfast feels like it's about to follow Tina's."
"Ew..." Tina said.
"Yeah, a little too much information there," Lee said.
"Fine," Holger said, slightly put out. "We will wait."
A Dark Room
Mr. Gus breathed heavily into a cordless telephone. As the seconds passed, his breaths grew louder and angrier until finally he turned the phone's receiver so it was directly in front of his mouth and screamed into it.
"GIVE ME BACK MY CAT!"
Uncle Grandpa RV
The RV purred down the road, Frankenstein at the wheel and Mr. Gus in the passenger seat.
"Dang, Frankenstein, you're a good driver," Mr. Gus said. "You should drive more often, we'd get in fewer accidents!"
"Graah," Frankenstein said happily.
"Yeah. So, what's waiting for us in Transylvania?" Mr. Gus asked.
Frankenstein tilted his head. "Graah."
"Ah," Mr. Gus said. "You don't talk about him much. There, uh–you two okay with each other?"
Frankenstein stared at the road silently.
"I'm sorry, Frankenstein," Mr. Gus said.
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
After another few hours of driving, Frankenstein stopped the RV in a large parking lot. Mr. Gus awoke from his nap and sat up.
"This is your hometown? It doesn't look so bad," he said.
"Graah," Frankenstein said, pointing off to the left.
"Oh," Mr. Gus said, following his arm. "Oh."
Past the parking lot was a large, craggy mountain with a dirt path leading to the top. On top of the mountain sat a large stone castle, and around it hovered dark storm clouds perpetually releasing lightning into the air. Bats flew in the dark air, and wolf howls could be heard even at that distance.
Mr. Gus gulped. "So I guess we're headed for the castle?"
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
"Alright," Mr. Gus said, standing up and pulling aside the curtain that separated the cockpit from the rest of the RV. "Pizza Steve, Tiger, we're here!" he called into the back of the vehicle.
Seconds later, the door to Giant Realistic Flying Tiger's room opened and she flew out. About half a minute later, Pizza Steve popped out of his pizza box, yawning, and walked to the middle of the RV, where Frankenstein, Mr. Gus, and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger had gathered.
"Dude, can't this wait?" Pizza Steve asked. "I was in the middle of my nap."
"No, it can't," Mr. Gus said. "The sooner we do, uh, whatever we need to do here, the sooner we get Uncle Grandpa back. And I don't want to hear any of your whining about it!" He turned to Frankenstein. "So, what are we supposed to do, Frankenstein?"
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
Mr. Gus nodded. "Then that's what we'll do. You're gonna have to guide us, but don't worry, Frankenstein. We're behind you all the way. Up the hill, and at the top. Believe me, we'll do whatever it takes."
The quartet started up the hill. They didn't get more than a few feet when a man joined them on the path. He shuffled out of the bushes and started walking alongside them.
"Hello," the man said. "You out here alone?"
Pizza Steve looked around. "I don't see anybody else but us."
"Good," the man said.
The man's grin opened wider than should be possible for a human face, and his teeth sharpened. His eyes turned yellow, and tufts of fur began to spring up all over his body. Muscles rippled along his back and arms as he transformed into a beast, and he howled at the sky before turning back to the quartet with a hungry look in his eyes.
Frankenstein rolled his eyes and hit the werewolf on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. The werewolf whimpered and covered his nose with his front paws. He looked at Frankenstein pleadingly, and Frankenstein waggled the newspaper. Giving up, the werewolf ran off, still covering his nose.
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
"Okay, you know, you could've warned us that we were going to have to fight werewolves," Pizza Steve said. "I would have limbered up to use my Italian kay-ra-tay. Not that I, y'know, can't do it, it's just that it's not going to be as spectacular if I don't stretch first."
"Oh really?" a sultry voice purred. "Why don't you show me some of that, you tasty slice."
The group turned to see three amazingly beautiful women looking at them. One of them licked her lips as they approached.
"So, handsome," the one on the left said, running her fingers along Mr. Gus's neck. "I haven't seen you around here. What say we go get a bite?"
"Um, well, I'm kind of busy at the moment–" Mr. Gus stammered out awkwardly.
"So, tasty slice, how hot is your sauce?" the first woman said in a sultry tone, kneeling down to look him over more closely.
"Hot and sweet, just like me, baby," Pizza Steve said confidently.
"No, seriously, I'm kind of, uh, looking for a friend–" Mr. Gus continued.
"Oh, I'll be your friend," the woman purred. She leaned in to whisper in his ear. "I'll be more than a friend."
"So, tiger," the last woman said to Giant Realistic Flying Tiger, running a hand down her back. "How about we find out if I can make you roar?"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger was only able to muster a surprised mewl at this statement.
"C'mon, pizza boy," Pizza Steve's paramour said. "You can be my special delivery."
"Graah," Frankenstein said, annoyed.
"Oh, big orange and furry, don't deny me," the last woman whispered in Giant Realistic Flying Tiger's ear. "How about I take you home and rub your–"
Suddenly, the woman shrieked and clawed at her face. She fell back from Giant Realistic Flying Tiger, and frantically kicked herself away while lying on the ground. Frankenstein advanced on her with a spray bottle and squirted her a few more times. The woman ran off. Mr. Gus's would-be seducer turned to him angrily, but Frankenstein sprayed her in the face as well, and she wisely decided to leave. Frankenstein then turned to Pizza Steve and the woman with him. Pizza Steve leapt in front of her.
"No way, man!" he said angrily. "I don't know what's in that bottle, but you're not gonna–"
Frankenstein pulled the trigger. The woman turned into a bat and flew away while Pizza Steve got the entire blast in his face.
"AAAH!" the slice screamed. "NO! AHH! NO! IT BURNS! IT STINGS! IT SINGES! WHY! WHY! WHY! PIZZA STEVE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO...supposed to...uh..."
Pizza Steve licked his lips. "Wait a second, that's garlic juice. It's totally Pizza Steve's style!"
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
"All right, what's going on here?" Pizza Steve asked, annoyed. "Because Pizza Steve! was totally about to get a date with that fine, sweet lady."
"I think I can explain," Mr. Gus said. "They were vampires. Is that right, Frankenstein?"
Frankenstein nodded. "Graah."
"Dude..." Pizza Steve said, annoyed. "Pizza Steve's down with that."
"What I want to know is, what next?" Mr. Gus asked. "We've barely started, and already we've had to deal with a werewolf and some vampires. Call me crazy, but I don't think we've seen the only monsters on this mountain."
"Raah," Frankenstein agreed.
"Oh, what, you think the invisible man is going to show up?" Pizza Steve asked mockingly.
The bushes next to them shuffled loudly. The shuffling receded into the distance, but although branches were pushed aside and the ground was trampled, whatever was making the noises and moving the branches was not visible to their eyes.
"...well," Mr. Gus said. "Apparently."
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
"You're right," Mr. Gus said. "We'd better just keep moving."
The group made it about halfway up the hill before running into any more trouble. Admittedly, they did have to fight off more vampires and a few werewolves, but Frankenstein's garlic juice spritzer and rolled-up newspaper made quick work of these monsters–and, for those werewolves that were not deterred by Frankenstein's newspaper, Mr. Gus's skills at fetch made them unwilling to attack, as the werewolves preferred to bring back the sticks the dinosaur threw. However, it was at this point that they found a new foe facing them.
A mummy groaned as it made its way out of some bushes. The group stopped and stared as the mummy stretched in front of them and yawned before leaping back upon noticing the group.
"Graah!" Frankenstein said.
"Mraah!" the mummy replied.
Frankenstein and the mummy charged at each other. They met at high speed and wrapped each other up in a huge hug.
Pizza Steve, Mr. Gus, and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger stood still and stared at the sight for several minutes, unable to believe their eyes. Finally, Frankenstein and the mummy broke their hug.
"Uh, Frankenstein?" Pizza Steve said slowly. "What's going on?"
"Graah!" Frankenstein said, smiling.
"Yes, quite," the mummy said. "I'm very pleased to meet you. My name is Huamanpallpa."
"Oh, uh, nice to meet you, Huama–Humma–uh, sorry. How do you pronounce your name?" Mr. Gus asked.
"Huamanpallpa. Mraah?" Huamanpallpa asked Frankenstein.
"Graah," Frankenstein replied gravely.
"Mraah?" Huamanpallpa asked.
"Graah," Frankenstein said, nodding.
"Mraah," Huamanpallpa said. He turned to the others. "Okay, I know a secret tunnel through the mountain, and Frankenstein thinks we should take it. Are you interested?"
Pizza Steve, Mr. Gus, and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger looked at each other and shrugged in unison.
"Well then, let's get started," Huamanpallpa said.
A few minutes later, the group were standing in front of the castle at the top of the mountain.
"Thanks so much, Huamanpallpa," Mr. Gus said.
"Oh, it was my pleasure!" the mummy replied. "After all, Frankenstein is an old friend of mine." He turned to Frankenstein. "Mraah."
"Graah," Frankenstein replied.
Huamanpallpa turned back to the rest of the group. "Please. Support my friend, no matter how difficult things become."
"You can count on us," Mr. Gus said. "Frankenstein is our friend too."
"Very well. I must say goodbye now."
So saying, the mummy ducked into some nearby bushes and disappeared. Frankenstein stared at the the thick dark wooden door. He didn't make any move to knock.
"Hey, Frankenstein?" Mr. Gus said. "We really are behind you."
"Yeah, man," Pizza Steve said. "We're like, a family. Pizza Steve is the cool one, Mr. Gus is the dorky one–"
"Hey!" Mr. Gus complained.
"–Giant Realistic Flying Tiger is the chick, and you're like, the big one," Pizza Steve continued. "We're with you all the way, bro."
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
Frankenstein smiled and turned back towards the door. He knocked on it. A few seconds later, the door creaked open.
"Who is it?" a grouchy voice asked.
"Graah!" Frankenstein said.
The door hung ajar for a few seconds before being flung open. A man with bright red hair that was slowly turning gray threw himself at Frankenstein and pulled him into a hug.
"My son!" the man proclaimed. "It's so wonderful to see you again! We have so much to catch up on! Oh, and are these your friends? Come in, come in!"
Frankenstein's creator proceeded to serve everyone tea and tarts. While he made sure they were comfortable and fed, he chatted with them about their lives. However, his main focus was on Frankenstein, who shared information with his father about himself and what he'd been up to over the previous fifteen years. Although Frankenstein could only speak in groans and growls, his father seemed to understand him perfectly, and as the hours wore on, the two chatted up a storm. Slowly, Mr. Gus, Pizza Steve, and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger drifted off to sleep. While they slumbered, Frankenstein and his father continued to talk, and as a new day dawned and the trio awoke they found Frankenstein and the scientist still engaged in conversation.
Mr. Gus cleared his throat. Frankenstein looked over at them, and suddenly sat up, startled.
"Graah?" he asked his father.
"Oh, yes, of course! The tire-pressure gauge for Uncle Grandpa. Yes, I finished that a week ago; let me just go get it."
The scientist got up and left the room. A few minutes later, he came back with a technologically sophisticated tire-pressure gauge.
"Here it is," he said, handing it off to Mr. Gus. "Now, son, are you sure you have to go?"
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
"Of course, of course. I understand. It was wonderful to see you again," the scientist said.
Frankenstein walked forward and embraced his father. His father returned the hug.
Uncle Grandpa RV
"Well, I guess we got what we needed from Transylvania," Mr. Gus said. "The only question is, where's Uncle Grandpa?"
Suddenly, the phone in Mr. Gus's room rang.
"That answers that question," the dinosaur said. "Wait here a minute."
Mr. Gus headed into his room and picked up the phone. He didn't speak.
"Congratulations!" the voice on the other side said. "I guess you got what you needed, didn't you. Well guess what? It's not over yet! Now you have to go to–hold on." The voice fell silent for a few seconds. "Is anyone there?"
Mr. Gus didn't respond.
"C'mon, seriously, is anyone there?"
Mr. Gus said nothing.
"Do I have the right number?"
Mr. Gus began breathing into the phone.
"Um, hello? What's going on?"
As the seconds passed, his breaths grew louder and angrier.
"Uh, this is, uh, kind of creepy. Um, who, uh, who is this?"
Mr. Gus turned the phone's receiver so it was directly in front of his mouth and screamed into it.
"GIVE ME BACK MY CAT!"
"YAAAH!" the man on the other end screamed. Mr. Gus cracked up.
"Yeah, serves you right, you kidnapper!" Mr. Gus said happily. "Now tell us how to get to Uncle Grandpa!"
"No!" the man said angrily. "Just for that, I'm not telling you anyth–hey! Give that back!"
"Uh, yeah," Uncle Grandpa said into the phone. "You've gotta go to Albequerque now. Meet up with Weird Pal."
"Thanks, Uncle Grandpa," Mr. Gus said. "Say, I guess there's no chance that you could just–"
A dial tone emitted from the phone. Mr. Gus sighed.
"Fine," he said to nobody. "We'll go to Albuquerque and see Weird Pal."
I like to imagine that Frankenstein's creator was heartbroken after Uncle Grandpa basically melted Frankenstein's brain, but that they later reconciled and Frankenstein's creator realized that Frankenstein is just as smart as he was at creation, but with a crippling speech impediment. Furthermore, I like to imagine that they don't see each other often due to Frankenstein always traveling around with Uncle Grandpa, but they still have a loving relationship.
Chapter 28: Neon Blue
I want to put it on record that I don't really know how voodoo works and most of my knowledge comes from stuff I've picked up from pop culture and skimming Wikipedia.
A. Nigma High
Every student at A. Nigma High has a different routine when it comes to lunch. Some rush to the lunchroom right away, hoping to be first in line. Some hang out by their lockers and chat with friends. Some stay in class to ask questions of the teacher; these people are generally known as nerds. And some people don't go to lunch at all, preferring to instead spend the lunch hour off-campus. Granted, this last group has dwindled in size due to the still-existing security measures, but there are students who prefer to leave campus behind as frequently as they can.
Cam's routine wasn't so much a rush to the lunchroom as an admittance that he didn't have much else to do without Lee or Holger around. Brandy's locker was on the other side of school, Cyrus always spent lunchtime practicing with the Dudes of Darkness, and his other acquaintances didn't often come to him to talk. Of course, he had always had to go to other people if he wanted to start a conversation, so this was nothing new. It's just that Cam didn't really have any need for starting a conversation with people he didn't know that well.
On the whole, life was pretty good. Although, to be fair, many of the students still didn't like Cam very much due to the cheating scandal. And even the students that did were a mixed bag; some of them thought his rescue was amazing, some thought it didn't quite make up for him cheating, and some thought that he was just following Brandy's lead on the rescue. Still, the fact that he had helped save the day at A. Nigma High had gotten him some respect back from the student body.
Cam got his food from Ruthie and headed for the soda fountain. While he filled his cup, he looked around for a place to sit only to have his shoulder forcibly commandeered.
Cam looked up. "Hey, ese, what's the big idea?" he asked, upset.
"We need to speak with you," Lou said, guiding Cam away from the soda fountain.
"Whoa, who's this we, bro?" Cam asked.
Lou guided Cam to the Outcasts table. Sitting there already were Deuce Markowitz and an irritated Brandy Silver.
"So, Cam, why are we sitting with these losers?" Brandy asked.
"Hey! We're not losers, we're cursed!" Lou said defensively.
Brandy raised an eyebrow. "Sure. You're just cursed. That's all."
"We want to know where Jenny is," Deuce supplied.
"And you came to us...why?" Brandy probed.
"She's ditched us to hang out with Lee and his friends," Lou said. "And since you're his friends and Lee's not around, we figured we'd go to you for answers."
"Oh, well uh, we don't really know, so, yeah," Cam said.
"Oh really?" Lou asked. "Fact: Jenny missed school for a few days at the same time as Tina and Lee. Fact: Jenny, Tina, and Lee are all missing again. Fact: You hang out with Lee, who is currently dating Tina. Fact: Lee knows some weird stuff about the tunnels under the school. So tell me, where's Jenny, and why's she abandoning us?"
"Hmm. Let's think about that," Brandy said. "Fact: you suck your thumb all the time, and you eat anything and everything. Which means fact: you're two are total losers. Maybe that's why Jenny ditched you–y'know, along with having a huge crush on Lee."
"Well–where is she now?" Deuce asked.
Brandy shrugged. "Probably in Detroit."
"What?" Deuce and Lou asked simultaneously.
"I said, probably in Detroit," Brandy repeated. "Geez, get your ears checked." She turned to Cam. "They are, right? You haven't heard anything new?"
"Nada, chica," Cam said. "I'm getting kinda worried. You'd think Lee would call if there wasn't any trouble."
Brandy nodded. "Yeah. Think we should call him?"
"I dunno, you pointed out we might blow his cover. It'd–"
"B-b-b-b-b-b-word!" Deuce stammered, freaking out. "B-word! B-word! B-word! Baah! B-word!"
Lou handed his friend a paper bag. Deuce proceeded to hyperventilate into it.
"So..." Brandy asked.
"Yeah, he's got a thing about b-words," Cam said. "Totally slipped my mind. Sorry bro."
"Okay, but do you think we should call?" she asked.
Cam shrugged. "Might as well. He's probably not doing secret spy stuff during lunch."
Brandy pulled her phone out. Before she could place a call, a figure walked up behind her.
"So, Brandy, I see you finally found your social level," she purred.
Brandy spun around, scowling. "Kimmie."
"Oh, I'm sorry, was that too cruel?" Kimmie asked, putting a hand to her mouth in mock remorse. She pretended to direct her words to Lou and Deuce. "I'm sorry, I should've realized you were pitying her."
"Hey, back off, m'kay?" Cam said, upset. "Brandy's way more styling than you."
"Suuure she is," Kimmie said. "That's why she's a Glamazon, and I'm not. In Crazytown, which is where you live."
Brandy huffed. "Is there a reason you came over here?"
"Oh, yeah," Kimmie said. "To point out what a loser you are. But my time's valuable, so here's a list." She dropped a sheet of paper facedown on the table and walked away. "Ta-ta."
Brandy growled. "I hate her so much."
Cam picked up the paper and looked at it. A huge grin spread over his face.
"Oh, what, now you think Kimmie's right too?" Brandy complained. "There is no way I am–"
"Whoa, hold up, chica!" Cam said quickly. "This isn't an insult list. It's, uh–just read."
Cam held the piece of paper out to Brandy. Brandy grabbed it and scanned it, quickly at first but then more in-depth.
Brandy lowered the page. "Huh. That's good news."
"I know, right?" Cam said. "And it explains why he hasn't called us, chica! His phone was dead!"
"Let's just hope he gets out of Chicago okay," Brandy said. "I don't want to know what he was doing there."
"Uh, what's going on?" Lou asked.
Cam and Brandy smiled at each other and then spoke simultaneously. "Nothing much."
"So do you know where Jenny is?" Deuce asked.
"Uh, yeah, probably in Chicago. With Lee," Brandy said. "Don't worry, she's probably fine."
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
Jenny was neither fine nor in Chicago. She was on the ninth floor of a St. Louis apartment building and her stomach felt like it was about to unleash her half-digested breakfast onto the hallway floor. Of course, this wasn't due to food poisoning so much as it was the string of kills she and her friends had just perpetrated upon some defenseless vampires.
She helped Tina pull aside the heavy curtains. The room lit up slightly, but no sunlight came in, and the vampire on the other side of the room didn't rouse at all. The quartet snuck out of the room and shut the door. They slumped against the wall next to the elevator.
"Well, that's all of them," Lee said.
"Yeah," Jenny agreed.
They sat in silence for a bit. Suddenly, Tina jolted.
"Wait," she said. "If that's all of them, then...where do we go from here?"
"We go up!" Holger said. "Maybe this is no the only floor with vurstreldamen, ya? Maybe more floors have vurstreldamen."
Jenny groaned. "Great. This is just how I wanted to spend my Tuesday. Killing vampires and needing to puke."
"How are we going to do this, anyway?" Tina asked. "I mean, the sun's not low enough on the east side to hit the vampires."
Lee's face froze.
"Run?" Jenny finally suggested.
Lee nodded. "Yeah. I think that's best."
The group boarded the elevator. Holger was the last one in, though, and he hit the button for every floor above them.
"Holger!" the other three complained.
"Vurstreldamen. Must. Be. Stopped," Holger said decisively.
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
"Oh yes, this is one. Very powerful vurstreldamen is here."
No vampires lived on the floors between the ninth and the fifteenth. The fifteenth floor, though, apparently housed a very powerful vampire if Holger's magic powers were to be trusted.
Unlike the previous floors, the fifteenth floor was a penthouse. An enormous apartment was situated near the elevator, and the open space in the hallway was filled with sunlight from the giant glass windows that formed the walls. The group shaded their eyes as they stepped into the light and looked towards the entrance of the apartment. The door to the penthouse looked identical to all the other doors they'd opened on the way, but unlike the other doors, this one refused to open when Lee walked over to the door and pulled on the handle.
"Well that's just great," Lee said, miffed. "This guy's smart enough to lock his door."
"No to be worry," Holger said. "Holger will help us with his magic powers! Fanananananananananananananananananananananananananananananana..."
Everyone else looked at each other, annoyed. Holger continued to chant, increasing the volume of his chants with each breath. Suddenly, the door swung open.
"WHAT IS IT!" a loud voice yelled.
Standing just inside the entryway was a short, bald, portly man with incredibly pale skin. He stared at them angrily.
"Uh, yeah, hi," Lee said awkwardly. "We're uh, students selling candy to fundraise for our school, and–"
"NOT INTERESTED!" the man yelled angrily, throwing the door shut and spinning around. Just before it closed, Tina grabbed it and put her library card in the way of the lock while holding onto the door so it would look like it had closed.
"How long?" she whispered.
"Twenty minutes," Jenny whispered back. "That should be enough time for him to fall asleep."
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
Tina slowly eased the door open. It didn't make a sound, and the group looked in at a completely dark room. Lee pulled out his phone and turned on the flashlight, and the others followed suit.
The lights from their cell phones played across the surfaces of the room. They fell on tables, chairs, knives, rugs, and the walls–but no windows. When they came to a shut door, they carefully opened it and looked in on a bedroom. Nobody was inside, although the bed looked as though it had recently been slept in.
"Funny. I don't remember inviting you in."
The group spun around. Their lights played across the features of the bald man.
"Holger?" Jenny said nervously. "Any chance this is just a normal guy?"
"Uh, no," Holger said fearfully. "Holger is very scary this is powerful vurstreldamen."
The man let out a humorless laugh. "You're cute. You'll be even cuter once you're on my side."
"Uh, your side?" Jenny asked. "What are you talking about? We're just here to sell candy. Y'know, for school."
"Where is it, then?" the man asked. He bared his fangs.
"It's outside, we're just gonna go get it," Lee said. "So, if you'll step aside, we'll just–"
"If I don't step aside, you'll just have to be my delicious treat," the man said. "So how about you come quietly?"
"Uh, no, thanks," Tina said. "We'd rather just–"
The man took a step forward.
"–RUN!" Tina yelped. The group scattered throughout the room. The vampire turned into a bat and flew over to the doorway. He turned back into his normal form and laughed as he blocked the exit.
"No way out, kiddies!" he said gleefully. "But maybe I'll let you stay for a while. All you have to do is provide the refreshments!"
"Uh, we told you, they're outside!" Jenny said frantically.
"Would you like to go get them?" he taunted. "I could see my way to making you a deal."
"What kind of a deal?" Tina asked suspiciously.
"Two leave, two remain," the vampire said. "And the two who leave never look back."
"No way, dude," Lee said. "No way we're splitting up."
"Oh really?" the vampire asked, chuckling. "Because I know that one of you is the odd one out. And one of you is just going to be so pure and good-hearted they'll sacrifice themselves for the others. In fact, I'll make it easy on you. Just tell me which one doesn't fit in among you."
"No way!" Lee said defiantly. "We stand together, no matter what–"
Tina, Lee, and Holger looked over at Jenny, shocked.
"Jenny, no, that's not–" Tina started to say.
"It's cool," she said, smiling at Tina weakly. "I'm used to it. I'm one of the Outcasts. Just–just take care of business, okay? And get Biffy back."
"Oh, how cute," the vampire said. "The outsider and the sacrificial lamb are one and the same. Well, I guess I can deal with only getting one of you."
The vampire stalked towards Jenny. Tina looked around the room desperately. Her eyes fell upon a shelf lined with rag dolls. She scanned them, doing her best not to gain the vampire's attention. However, the vampire was completely fixated on Jenny. As he strode towards Jenny, Tina looked at the dolls again and spotted a box of pins and a rag doll that bore a striking resemblance to the vampire.
Tina opened the box of pins, grabbed a pin, and shoved it through the knee of the rag doll. The vampire collapsed to the ground, holding his knee, and howled. He opened his eyes and focused on Tina, still holding the doll and staring at him.
"You. Little. Pest!" the vampire hissed. "The deal's off!"
The vampire transformed into a bat.
"Lee! Catch!" Tina cried, tossing the doll to her boyfriend. Lee caught it in his hands, and the bat flew towards him.
"Jenny!" Lee said, hurling it across the room. Jenny snatched it.
"Holger, open the door!" Jenny shouted. Holger ran towards the door. "Tina!"
Tina caught the pass from Jenny and ducked underneath the vampire bat. She took a couple steps out of the way and threw the doll to Lee. Lee caught it but dropped his phone. Fortunately, it was at this point that Holger opened the door. Lee ran out the door, into the hall, and yelped as the doll caught fire in the sun. He dropped the doll onto the hallway floor and let it burn.
Inside the penthouse, the bat suddenly burst into flames, fell to the ground, and transformed back into human form. The vampire screamed horrifically as it burned to death. The flames lit up the room, and Tina saw the shelves more clearly. Several of the dolls were no more than ash, but most of them were still fully intact. Tina's phone provided more light, and as she looked at the dolls she saw that there were names written on the shelf underneath each doll.
Lee walked back in, and the rest of the group joined Tina in looking at the dolls.
"So, do all of these dolls represent a vampire?" Tina mused. "Because if so, maybe we should hold on to them."
"Holger has better idea," Holger said. "We place dolls in the sun, and vurstreldamen go kafloofashoop!"
"I'm with Holger," Jenny said. "Let's get rid of these guys."
Tina nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, let's do that."
702 Desert Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
Fifteen minutes later, there was a sizable pile of ash in a ray of sunlight outside the penthouse. On top of the pile lay several burning rag dolls.
"Huh," Tina said, examining one of the last ones. "Hold on, guys."
"What is it?" Lee asked.
"There's a tag on this. It says it was made in New Orleans. There's even an address," she pointed out.
They shared a look. "Next clue?" Lee asked.
"Next clue," Tina confirmed.
Lee and Tina shared a quick kiss before picking up the last of the dolls and putting them in the sun.
Chapter 29: Don't Just Stare
Three vans purred down the interstate through the prairies of West Texas. The sun beat down harshly upon the world outside, but this was of no concern to the vans' inhabitance, who had cranked up the air conditioning and the tunes. In one of the vans, the stereo was blaring a Huey Lewis and the News tune, mainly because the driver's taste in music ran towards mid-80s pop rock. Despite this, everyone in the van was enjoying each others company to the sounds of Hip To Be Square. Everyone, that is, except for four people and their pig seated in the back of the van, who looked distinctly out of place among the college-aged people around them.
"So, dudes, wanna play I spy?" Soos suggested.
"Grass, dirt, highway, 18-wheeler, road signs," Pacifica said.
"Huh," Soos said. "Got it all in one, Pacifica."
"Do you still think this was a good idea?" Dipper asked his sister. "I mean, we're in the middle of nowhere and we don't even know where we're headed. Plus, I don't think these guys really know where our Grunkles are."
Mabel waved him off. "C'mon, Dip-dop, of course they don't. They're just taking us to them."
"Okay, give me a second to try and parse that logic," Dipper said.
"She thinks that although these guys don't know where the Stans are, they're going to lead us to them anyway," Pacifica said. "And uh, why is that?"
Mabel shrugged. "I dunno. I just have a gut feeling."
"Gut feeling, Dipper. Gut!"
"Okay, okay," Dipper said, chuckling. "But I still wanna know where we're going."
"Yeah, but how are we gonna figure that out, dude?" Soos asked. "I can't get a signal, and I totally need to call Melody and tell her what's up."
"Um, maybe we could just ask them?" Pacifica said.
The other three stared at her.
"One two three not it!" Mabel quickly said.
"Not it!" Dipper and Soos chorused.
Pacifica rolled her eyes. "Fine. You owe me."
She reached forward and tapped the nearest person on the shoulder. He looked back at her.
"Um, excuse me?" Pacifica said politely. "Could you tell me where we're going?"
"Yo, dudes!" the young man said loudly. "Where are we going?"
"Alabama!" one of them said. "Home of, uh, the uh, bus protests!"
"Dude, I thought that was like, San Francisco," someone else said.
"Nah, like, weren't those in Mississippi?" another person added.
"We're going to Arkansas!" the driver called back.
"Oh, right!" the guy in front of Pacifica said. He turned back to her. "We're going to this place where there's a factory producing adult diapers. The manufacturer is something like the seventh-largest supplier of adult diapers in like, the entire United States. We gotta bring them down, dude!"
"Thanks," Pacifica said politely. "We'll think about that."
The man turned away from her.
"Adult diapers, eh?" Soos asked. He nodded. "Yep. It sure sounds sinister."
"No it doesn't," Dipper said flatly.
"No it doesn't," Soos agreed.
"Diapertown," Mabel muttered, disgusted. "Ugh. I'd rather go to Sweatertown."
"You know, I was kind of afraid you would back there," Dipper said. Mabel punched him in the arm affectionately. "Ow!"
"So you guys are cool?" Soos asked.
"Yeah. We're cool," Dipper said. "Hey, uh, sorry for, y'know, blowing up at you back there, Soos. You were trying to get me to chill."
"Hey, no prob, dude," Soos said. "That was a stupid joke anyway. And I can't even remember the punchline."
"Group hug!" Mabel declared, pulling the two people nearest her into a hug. Soos, on the outside, joined in.
"Wait, hold on a sec," Pacifica said after a few seconds, pushing away. She tapped the man in front of her on the shoulder, and he turned back to look at her again. "So when do we get there?"
"Tomorrow. And then it's an all-day protest!" the radical declared. "Dude, we're gonna like, drive all night, trade drivers every few hours, sleep in these van seats–" Sussudio started playing. "Oh! I love this song!"
The man turned away and started singing along under his breath. Behind him, the other four groaned.
Dipper looked at his companions. "It's gonna be a long ride."
Somewhere over Peru
The cargo plane flew over Peru on its way to Argentina. In the back, it carried several hundred pounds of medicine–and, unusually enough, four passengers.
"Hey, thanks for flying us over Peru!" Kim called over the sound of the engines.
The pilot waved her off. "It's the least I could do after you helped my little girl find her teddy bear! She just can't sleep without Mr. Mickelfitz!"
"No big!" Kim said back. "Just tell us when we need to parachute out!"
"No problem!" the pilot said. "According to the GPS, you're gonna wanna do that in about thirty seconds!"
Kim turned to her companions. "Okay, everyone, let's get ready to go!"
The rest of the group stood up, pulled on their parachutes, and got into a line. Kim looked at the pilot. When he gave her a thumbs-up, she heaved the door open, and they quickly jumped out–first Shego, then Motor Ed, then Ron, then Kim. They plummeted towards the ground–as did several containers of medicine that were pulled out the door by the sudden change in air pressure.
"Oh, come on!" the pilot complained. He abandoned the cockpit and threw the door shut before he could lose too much of his cargo, and then ran back to the controls.
"Next time," he muttered to himself, "I'm going to book a stopover."
The group parachuted down into a public park. As soon as they landed, they unclipped their parachutes and headed for the nearest road.
"Alright," Ron said. "I get that we got told to come here in a weird poem that some kind of freaky flying girl gave us. I don't get what else we're supposed to do."
"Gee, really?" Shego said sarcastically. "I figured we'd just wander around until Little Miss Perfect fell flat on her face again. Then you could run away like an idiot and musclehead here could say 'seriously' a lot."
"Seriously?" Motor Ed asked, annoyed. "I don't say 'seriously' all the time! Seriously!"
"Uh-huh. Yeah," Shego said. "Sure you don't. Oh and by the way, thanks Kimmie."
"What'd I do?" Kim asked, confused.
"If you hadn't distracted me with your 'oh, let me trip you,' and your stupid puppy-dog pout, I would have been able to grab that albino back there and we'd be on our way to Drakken by now!" Shego complained. "But no! You just had to distract me!"
"Hey, you tripped me first!" Kim complained. "If you wanna find Drakken, how about we work as a team, huh?"
"Because that's been working so well, hasn't it, princess!" Shego shouted. "Yeah, we've discovered absolutely nothing, except that you and Stoppable there are completely useless without your tech geek! Oh, wait, we already knew that, didn't we!"
"Yeah? Well I can still take you on in a fight!" Kim shouted back. "Name me one time you've defeated me! One time, Shego!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa–" Ron said, trying to step in.
"How about right here, right now!" Shego shouted angrily. "C'mon, princess, bring it!"
"C'mon, guys, chill!" Ron yelped. It was too late. Kim took a swing at Shego, who ducked under her arm and grabbed it, using it as leverage as she kicked at Kim's ankle. Reflexively, Kim jumped into the air, spreading her legs as she did so, and Shego used her momentum to turn the kick into a slide and pulled Kim's arm beneath her, flipping her over. Shego let go as Kim twisted in midair and landed on her feet with her back to Shego. Kim spun around and parried Shego's attempted kick to her face as Shego did a somersault towards her. The two locked into close-combat mode, parrying each other's punches and kicks.
While everyone around Kim and Shego was distracted by their fight, a scrawny young teenager snuck up behind Ron. The teenager reached out his hand and slid his long thin fingers into Ron's back pocket. Unfortunately for the would-be pickpocket, it was at this point that Shego chose to whip out her power, and a stray bolt slammed into the ground near Ron's right foot. This caused Ron to yelp and stumble backwards into the teenager, which alerted him to the pickpocket's presence. Ron looked at the teen with wide eyes.
"Hey!" he yelped. "That's mine!"
Quick as a flash, the fourteen-year-old took off. Ron chased after him, and Motor Ed joined in. Kim and Shego paused for a moment.
"Truce?" Kim asked.
Shego nodded. "Truce."
Kim and Shego took off after the thief as well.
"This isn't over, Kimmie!" Shego yelled as they ran.
The teenager was faster than he looked, sprinting through crowds of people and making turns through alleyways, busy streets, and back roads. Despite his agility and knowledge of the city, he was unable to shake off his pursuers. Kim was the one closest to him, but on her tail were Shego and Ron. Even Motor Ed was keeping up, although he lagged behind the other members of the group.
As the thief ran, he became more and more frantic. Desperately seeking to shake them off, he took every possible turn he could, taking as many back alleys and side streets as possible. When one let out onto one of the larger roads of Cusco, he darted across traffic without heed for his safety. As soon as he got to the other side, he chanced a glance back, smirking, but his eyes widened and the smile fell from his face as he saw Kim and Shego leaping from roof to roof of the cars and trailed by Ron and Motor Ed, who ran normally between the vehicles.
The thief ran towards a restaurant, ducked inside, and ran through the kitchen and out the back. Unfortunately for him, Kim and Shego saw him do this, and Shego ran through the kitchen as well. When she did this, Kim shrugged and followed, as did the two males of the group. The thief ran through the alley behind the restaurant and over to the entrance to another alley. He ducked into this one, but found himself staring down a brick wall. He skidded to a stop, but before he could turn around and try another path, Kim and Shego rounded the corner to the entrance. Upon seeing that he was trapped, they put up their dukes and slowly advanced. They were joined by Ron and Motor Ed, who ran into the alleyway seconds later and followed the females' leads.
"Alright, kid," Shego said. "Hand over the wallet, and this won't get ugly. No uglier than you already are, at least."
"Shego!" Kim reprimanded. "He's not ugly."
"Listen, princess, you do banter your way, I'll do it mine, m'kay?" Shego snapped. She turned back to the thief. "Now hand it over."
The teenager backed towards the wall. His back hit brick, and he stared at them, scared, as he pressed himself flat against the wall. Shego's lips curled into a wicked grin as she advanced, and she lit up her palms. Kim smiled viciously as well as she approached. Ron and Motor Ed brought up the rear, with Ron looking worried and Motor Ed pounding his fist into his palm.
Suddenly, a dark figure jumped down from atop the brick wall.
I have never been to Peru. I'm assuming Cusco is a reasonably large city with plenty of people and alleyways. If I'm wrong, it's too late for me to change it, so for the purposes of this fanfic just assume that Cusco developed into a large city with plenty of people and alleyways in the Kim Possible universe (y'know, after it was conquered by the Spanish).
Chapter 31: Mergers and Acquisistions
Urtint, Arkansas does not exist. I just made up the name and put it in Eastern Arkansas. For that matter, I don't know if Cassidy Devereux is a real person (probably), but I got the name from a random name generator.
Sometime after 3:00 in the afternoon, the vans pulled to a stop by a public park. Their doors slid open simultaneously, and the occupants of the vans rushed out of them–well, as much as they could rush while working to unbuckle themselves and scoot out the doors of some large vans. Regardless, within five minutes the group had assembled as one on the grass of the public park. Several members were already holding up signs in protest.
The last ones out of the van were the Gravity Falls crew, but they ended up being roped into helping out with the protest as well. That was why they found themselves holding up signs and listening to the other protesters chatter. Despite the fact that they had been protesting for an hour, nobody had taken much notice, both because it was summer in Arkansas and too hot to argue and also because nobody particularly wanted to get involved with the strange out-of-towners protesting one of the town's main sources of employment.
For that matter, the only people around to really witness the protest were some children on the nearby playground, and they were too busy playing to care too much about some grown-ups with signs on the grass. In fact, the only person who was actually actively upset by the protest was one of their mothers, who came by to harangue them after her child had spent about fifteen minutes playing. Her child didn't seem at all distracted, as she was instead focused on crossing the monkey bars and playing with her friends, but it was always possible that she might catch a glimpse of the protesters and decide to become a student radical at the tender age of six, disappointing her parents eternally. Admittedly, it took quite an imagination to believe that this was likely to happen, but it was still possible, if implausible.
Even the angry mother didn't have much of an impact, though, as her complaints mainly relied on how they were disturbing her child rather than any substantiative distaste for the protesters' opinions. Then again, this might have been because the signs they were holding up had slogans such as "Down With OPS", "OPS is the worst", and "Hey Melody We're In Arkansas" (this last one belonging to Soos, of course). To any passerby, they would look like protesters of some organization called OPS rather than the local adult diaper factory, especially since the signs that didn't mention it instead held statements along the lines of "Death to Tyranny" and "Now We're The Ones Raising A Stink!"
The final consequence of this was that as the sun went down in the sky five hours after they arrived, they had attracted pretty much no attention to their protest aside from a few sidelong glances and the aforementioned irate mother. With the night growing dark, they dropped their signs and instead set up a firepit on the grass.
"Whoa, you guys brought material for a firepit?" Dipper asked, surprised.
"Of course we did, dude!" the leader, whom he had learned was named Hannah, told him. "What's a protest without a fireplace? We can gather around it and talk about tyranny and protest and the future."
"Uh, yeah, that sounds great," Dipper said, faking a smile. "I'm just gonna go talk to my uh, my sister now. See you later."
Hannah waved goodbye to him and turned back to one of her friends. "No, Tyler, it's totally cool to burn this wood. It was just going to be used by that construction company to put up polluting apartments anyway."
Dipper made his way over to Mabel and Pacifica, who were giggling together. They broke apart as he approached.
"So, bro-bro, what's going on?" Mabel asked.
"Look, Mabel, I really don't think this is the right place," Dipper said. "There's nothing really weird about these guys. They're just college students."
"You really don't think we should be following them?" Mabel asked.
"Yeah," Dipper said. "I hate to say it, but this seems like a waste of time."
"No!" Pacifica exclaimed. The Pines looked at her oddly. "I mean, these guys are really interesting. We should hang around with them and see what happens. Plus, we did get shipped to them by the Communists. Who's to say they're not in on the whole kidnapping thing?"
"It's just–do you really think they're involved in a kidnapping?" Dipper asked.
"Yeah," Mabel added. "They seem too nice."
"So? Maybe they're good at putting on a front," Pacifica said.
"Please. Nobody could keep up a fake personality for that long," Mabel said.
"Let's go find Soos and talk to him about this," Dipper said. They walked off together.
Pacifica looked at the ground sadly. "I did," she muttered to herself.
Cassidy Devereux Memorial Park
"I dunno, dudes," Soos said. "Like, how are we gonna get back to Utah? And why would they ship us to college students, anyway, if there wasn't a connection?"
Dipper sighed. "I guess you're right. Still, I can't help but feel that we ended up on the wrong track somewhere along the line."
"You mean, because we're in the middle of a protest and we don't know what we're protesting, or because we're in Arkansas in summer?" Soos asked.
"Don't remind me," Dipper grumbled. "This is the sweatiest I've ever been."
Mabel laughed. "Please. You were way sweatier last summer."
"What? No I wasn't," Dipper said. "Oregon isn't as hot as this place."
"But is this place as hot as Wendy?" Mabel teased.
"Ha! Knew it!" Mabel exulted. "C'mon, let's go sit down by the fire. Ooh, maybe they'll have marshmallows!"
The trio headed over to the fire and sat down. Seconds later, five police cars and a fire truck pulled up, lights flashing and sirens wailing.
The cops all calmly stepped out of their cars. The firefighters rushed to hook up a fire hose to a nearby fire hydrant, and then ran over to the protesters. They quickly doused the flames with an enormous gush of water that also happened to rebound of the ground and soak almost everyone.
"Hey!" Hannah complained. "What do you think you're doing?"
A policeman calmly walked over to her. "Well, miss, if I may call you that–"
"You may not!" Hannah said angrily. "Who do you pigs think you are! We know our rights!"
"No open flames in a public area, ma'am," the officer said smoothly. "I'm afraid I'm gonna have to put you all under arrest."
"No way, pig!" Hannah declared. "You may take us, but you won't take us peacefully!"
They pulled up to the county jail about twenty minutes later. Despite Hannah's claims, the entire group had come calmly once the police pulled out some canisters of pepper spray.
"Pigs!" Hannah spat as she was led into the jail. "Your brutality will be your downfall! You're gonna pay for this! I'm calling my parents, and their lawyers!"
An officer led Dipper, Mabel, Pacifica, Waddles, and Soos into the jail. Their hands were cuffed behind their back.
"So you're their legal guardian?" the policeman leading them in asked Soos.
"Uh, yeah, for the time being," Soos said. "I was put in charge by their grunkles while they were on a trip."
"This true?" the officer asked the kids. "You're safe here. He can't do anything to harm you."
"Yeah, it's true," Dipper said.
Mabel nodded. "Soos is good at taking care of us."
"We're with him," Pacifica agreed.
"Alright, well, you're all gonna be staying here overnight," the cop said. "I'm gonna put you kids in a cell together with the pig. Porky, you're coming with me."
Soos sighed. "Alone again. Oh well!"
The officer shooed the children and the pig into a cell and then escorted Soos down the hall. They each collapsed into a cot and stared at the ceiling.
"Well," Dipper finally said, "this day was a total waste."
Mabel nodded as well as she could from flat on her back. "At least this time the cells aren't cold."
Chapter 32: A Long Wait
This is a long chapter in which no plot is advanced. It's more about how everyone else is doing on the homefront what with four students going on an adventure out of nowhere.
Alternate summary: the Detentionaire crew phones home.
Somewhere over Arkansas
"Hey, thanks for letting us use your plane," Lee said into the phone.
"Whatever," Kimmie said. "You any closer to getting my boyfriend back?"
"No, but get this!" Lee said.
"Get what?" Kimmie asked. "Is it my boyfriend? No? Then I don't care. Get him back, now. And if I find out that this whole thing was just an excuse for you to have some kind of Mardi Gras vacation, I am going to make you regret it."
"Look, Kimmie–" Lee started.
"Don't try me, Ping," Kimmie snapped. "I may not be my mother, but I have access to all her resources, and if you cross me I will use them. Do we understand each other?"
Lee gulped. "Yes ma'am."
"Good," Kimmie said sweetly. "Now I have a mani to get to. Ciao!"
Kimmie hung up. Lee lowered his phone.
"Well, that went well," he told his friends.
"Yeah, no duh," Tina said. "So what should we do with this flight?"
"Well, we've got cell phones and the plane has chargers," Lee said. "Anybody want to make some calls?"
Tina gasped. "My parents! I totally forgot to tell them what's going on!"
"Well, you'd better come up with something," Jenny said.
"No, we'd better come up with something," Tina corrected. "We both go missing, twice in a row? They'll probably figure we're off together."
"Fine," Jenny said. "We'll talk about it. Together."
Tina and Jenny got up and walked over to the other side of the plane to have a conversation. Lee looked up at Holger.
"Hey, Holg. Anyone you wanna call?"
Holger smiled. "No, Holger is good, thank you."
Lee shrugged and placed a call.
"Hello?" Mrs. Ping said, picking up the phone gingerly.
"Uh, hi," Lee said on the other end. "Hi Mom."
Mrs. Ping shrieked. "Albert! Get down here right now! Our son's on the phone!"
"Put it on speaker!" Mr. Ping yelled, already running towards the stairs. Halfway down, he tripped and fell. He rolled to a stop against the wall next to the door, scrambled to his feet, and hustled over to the living room.
"Lee! Are you hurt? What's wrong, where did you go!" Mrs. Ping asked frantically.
"Tell us, son!" Mr. Ping added.
"Uh, okay, guys, firstly, I'm fine," Lee said. "Secondly, I kinda got sucked into an adventure. Didn't Cam tell you?"
"No," Mr. Ping said. "We figured as much, but he didn't tell us anything."
Lee groaned. "Man! I can't believe he forgot!"
"We were just about to go down to Mann, Wurst, and Finnwich and demand some answers!" Mrs. Ping said.
"They're not involved this time," Lee said. "You know, probably. This isn't their style."
"Well where are you, Lee?" his mother asked. "Tell us so we can come get you."
Lee scratched the back of his head. "Yeah, about that. I kind of–well–can't."
"What?" Mrs. Ping asked, scared. "Why not?"
Lee sighed. "Look. I don't know how to say this, but Biffy's been kidnapped."
"Biffy?" Mr. Ping asked.
"The large boy," Mrs. Ping said. "He helped rescue me."
"Oh yeah!" Mr. Ping said. "Man, that was a relief."
"Anyway!" Mrs. Ping interjected. "What do you mean, Biffy's been kidnapped?"
"I mean–" Lee sighed. "Okay, Mom? This is going to sound weird and not really make much sense."
"What does make sense around here?" Mrs. Ping asked. "Believe me, son, I'm listening."
"Okay," Lee began. "So, on Monday I got to school and Biffy was nowhere to be found. He hadn't responded to any of my calls over the weekend, either, but I figured he was busy. I wasn't worried until I got a video message right after homeroom from some old man who claimed he had taken Biffy and if I wanted him back I'd have to get my friends together for some sort of quest. So I got everyone together, he called me back, and then told us we had to go to Detroit."
"Detroit!" his parents chorused.
"Don't worry, we're no longer there," Lee reassured them. "We're on a plane heading to New Orleans."
"And you're all safe?" Mr. Ping asked.
"Completely," Lee said.
Mr. Ping let out a sigh of relief. "Okay. So. Will you be coming home soon?"
"I hope so," Lee said. "I just wanna find Biffy and get out of here."
"Okay," Mrs. Ping said. "Well then. I can't say I approve, but Lee, do what you have to do."
"Thanks, Mom," Lee said. "I love you."
"We love you too, sweetheart," Mrs. Ping said. "Stay safe."
Mrs. Ping kissed him through the phone and hung up.
The Kwees exited the police station, shoulders slumped and the burden of a missing daughter heavy on their minds. Mrs. Kwee sniffled into a tissue, and her husband draped a comforting arm around her shoulders. They didn't exchange any words. The thought of their daughter going missing again had taken them all away.
Mr. Kwee's phone buzzed, signaling he had a call. He ignored it. His boss could wait; after all, it's not every month that your daughter goes missing. Twice. And the Harris account didn't really matter all that much, anyway. In the grand scheme of things, who cared if his company got it or if it was some other company? Marketing was just a term for nice packaging.
His phone buzzed again. And again. And again. Finally, Mr. Kwee got sick of the constant vibrations and pulled it out of his pocket. He goggled when he saw who was calling.
Mr. Kwee quickly answered. "Tina? Tina, is that you?" he asked frantically.
"Um, yes, Dad, it is," Tina said nervously. "Listen, I can–"
"Tina, where are you?" Mr. Kwee asked. His wife clutched to his shoulder, worried and wanting to know.
"Um, I'm in America, Dad, and–"
"AMERICA?" Mr. Kwee shouted. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN AMERICA?"
"Well, um, I'm–"
"TINA! Are you in danger?" Mr. Kwee asked angrily.
"No, Dad, I'm fine–"
"Then why are you in America? Do you know how worried sick your mother and I have been? How did you even get there? Wait, is that where you went two weeks ago? What are you doing in America? Answer me!"
"Answer me, Tina!"
Tina took a deep breath. "I'm looking at colleges in the States."
Mr. Kwee fell silent.
"See, I thought about it, and I realized that, uh, I should be thinking about colleges too. I mean, Ruby is, and she's only 11. So I thought, why limit myself to just Canada? There's a bunch of places–"
"Are you serious?" Mr. Kwee asked angrily.
"Yes?" Tina said nervously.
"No. Why are you really in the States, Tina?"
"I'm really here to look at colleges, I swear. I would've called, but it slipped my mind until last evening, and by then my phone was dead, so–"
"How did you even get down there?" Mr. Kwee asked, upset. "Did you–did you really skip classes just so you could visit colleges in another country? Without telling us? Are you insane?"
"Look, Dad, I get that you're worried but I'm fine, really. I just–"
"You just what? You just thought you'd leave the country without telling us? You thought you'd cut class to visit colleges? Cutting class is no way to get into college, Tina! We were worried sick! We thought you'd disappeared again! We just finished filing a police report! Meanwhile, you're missing, that Goldstein boy is missing, that Jenny girl you've been hanging around with is gone–"
Mr. Kwee suddenly stopped speaking. Tina gulped.
"It was her, wasn't it," Mr. Kwee said accusingly. "This was all that Jenny girl's idea."
"She thought it would be nice to make you sneak out of school. That girl is bad news, Tina! I want you home as soon as possible, and you are not to ever see her again, do you understand me?"
"Tell me where you are, and we'll come pick you up or buy you a plane ticket or whatever you need. But you are to stay–"
"IT WAS MY IDEA, DAD!"
Mr. Kwee fell silent.
"It was my idea. I dragged Jenny along with me because I didn't want to go alone, okay? It's not Jenny's fault, it's mine. But I really want to start checking out colleges and see where I'd like to apply, and you were so busy with Ruby I didn't think you'd help, so I thought I'd have to go it alone."
Mr. Kwee didn't speak for a minute.
"You're grounded," he finally said. "You're grounded, and we're coming to get you. Where are you?"
Tina hung up.
Somewhere over Mississippi
"Are you nuts?"
Tina looked at her friend. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, you just–you just told your dad you ran off and took me with you! And then hung up on him! Are you insane?" Jenny asked.
Tina shrugged. "Well, I couldn't really tell him the truth, could I?"
"Well, okay, yeah, you couldn't, but–why not blame me?" Jenny asked.
"Because you're my friend, and I like seeing you around, and my dad wanted to pin all the blame on you because of course his daughter would never run off–" Tina stopped and took a deep breath. "Sorry. It's just–things have been stressful lately."
"I can tell," Jenny said. "So, if that's our cover story, should I call my mom and run with it?"
Tina nodded. "Sure. And if possible, could you figure out how we even got here?"
Mrs. Jergens phone buzzed in her purse. She didn't notice, though, as she wasn't in the same room as the purse. Instead, she was in the recording studio, working on a new album with her band. After a few rings, her voicemail took the call.
"Hey Mom, it's me, Jenny. Y'know, your daughter?" Jenny faked a laugh. "So, you're probably wondering where I am right now. Well, I'm with Tina; we're in the States. Tina wanted to check out some colleges down here, and got me to come along, so we uh, we hitchhiked down here, and now we're checking out these colleges. Sorry I didn't call earlier, but my phone died, and there wasn't really anything I could do about that. Anyway, we're both okay and we should be on our way back soon. Love you bye!"
Jenny hung up.
Somewhere over Mississippi
"So, everybody call their loved ones?" Lee asked. Tina and Jenny nodded. "Holger? You uh, you gonna call?"
"Oh, no," Holger said.
Lee raised an eyebrow. "Holg. I'm sure they want to hear from you."
"No, no, they are busy right now," Holger said. "Holger's parents are off in Russia on very important business trip. Holger promise to no call no matter how scary unless real emergency like house burn down or attack of giant lobster."
"Geez, Holger," Lee said. "I'm sorry."
"No to be worrying, Lee of Pings!" Holger said. "Holger communicate through email. Much less waking parents up at bad times."
"Okay, that uh, that actually makes sense," Lee said. "Okay. Well, I'm going to call Cam."
"Oh, I should call Ruby!" Tina said. "She deserves to know I'm okay."
"And I should totally call Lou and Deuce!" Jenny said.
"Holger, you sure?" Lee asked.
Holger groaned. "Fine. Holgermiester will compose long email to parents, telling them everything about the evil vurstreldamen and our adventures in defeating them."
"Uh, maybe don't do that," Lee said. "Maybe just talk about, like, normal stuff. You know, so they don't worry."
Holger nodded happily. "Okay!"
A. Nigma High
Ruby's phone went off seconds before the school bell rang. This was the only thing that saved her from Mr. Rousseau demanding she hand it over for confiscation. As soon as the bell rang, Ruby took it out. Upon seeing who it was, she quickly answered.
"Tina? Are you okay? Mom and Dad are so upset!" she hissed into the phone.
Tina smiled. "Yeah, I heard. I called them."
"Well–where are you?" Ruby asked. "Did you get kidnapped again? Are you in danger? What's going on?"
"I'm fine, Ruby, really."
"Then...lemme guess. You're with Lee." Ruby smirked.
"Uh, how did you–"
"Lee's missing, you're missing, Lee's constantly getting into weird adventures including the one that happened last time you went missing. So. Spill."
"Okay, but you have to promise not to tell anybody."
Ruby paused. "Why?"
"Seriously, Ruby, you have to promise," Tina said.
"How about I just promise not to tell Mom and Dad?"
Tina thought it over for a moment before groaning and giving in. "Fine. But this story is majorly weird."
"It involves your boyfriend. I thought that majorly weird went without saying."
Tina snickered. "True. So, it all started on Monday, when Lee gathered a bunch of us in the Genius Club. Turns out, Biffy was kidnapped, and the kidnapper had contacted us to go after him. He said there could only be four of us, so me, Lee, Jenny, and Holger ended up going to Detroit where we got attacked by a vampire–"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. A vampire?"
"She wanted to drink our blood and caught fire when exposed to sunlight. Also she had this servant who had to obey her. So a slave. Anyway, he told us that there was a vampire gathering in Chicago, we learned that there was a new vampire roost in St. Louis–long story short, I spent this morning opening windows because vampires don't know how to lock their doors. Also setting voodoo dolls on fire–I don't really know what that was about and I can't explain it over the phone. Just trust me, it makes sense."
"Okay, firstly, that made no sense. Are you telling me that somehow you and your boyfriend have become traveling vampire hunters?" Ruby asked incredulously.
"I know, it sounds crazy, but–yes," Tina said. "That's exactly what happened."
"And how does Biffy factor in again?" Ruby asked.
Tina groaned. "He got kidnapped. And I'd love to know we're on the right track, but we've had no contact with the kidnapper since we left school! Nothing at all! And since we got sucked into this whole vampire thing, we're just pursuing it–wait. Why are we doing this anyway? You're right, this is nuts! We're going out and hunting vampires for no reason!"
Silence fell between them.
"So what are you going to do now?" Ruby eventually said.
Tina sighed. "Go to New Orleans, try to get some explanations, and hope that Biffy was kidnapped so we'd fight vampires."
"I know, it doesn't make any sense, but it's the only option we've really got."
"Fine," Ruby said. "But I want you to promise you'll call me every day until you get back home."
"I promise," Tina said. "I'll call you every day."
"I love you, big sis," Ruby said.
Tina smiled. "I love you too, little sis."
A. Nigma High
The lockers of Lou and Deuce were next to each other, so when their phones rang simultaneously they were able to shoot each other confused stares before picking up.
"Yo," Lou said.
"Hello?" Deuce asked.
"Hey guys, it's me, Jenny," Jenny said from the other end of the line.
"Jenny!" Lou said.
"We missed you!"
"Where are you?"
"What've you been up to?"
"What's Lee doing?"
"Are you with Lee?"
"Where's Tina been?"
"Yeah, Chaz sucks."
"Chaz does suck."
"Tell Tina to stop Chaz's sucking."
"What's going on with you anyway?"
"Why'd you go missing again?"
"Are you in danger?"
"Are you in trouble?"
"Okay, okay!" Jenny interrupted. "That's a lot of questions, and I don't have much time, but: I'm not in danger, I am with Lee and Tina, things are totally weird here as in vampire weird, and we're currently a long way from home. I'll hang out and tell you everything when I return, okay? I promise. I just wanted to check in, know what's going on at the school."
"Nothing much at all," Lou said.
"Yeah, even the tazelwurm has disappeared," Deuce added. "It's like, Barrage is kinda chill, or something? I dunno. He hasn't introduced any new security measures or called an assembly to scream at us, but you've only been gone for like a day or two."
"Okay, cool," Jenny said. "Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta–"
"Sharpen some stakes?"
"Prepare some holy water?"
"Peel some garlic?"
"Yeah, pretty much. Love you guys. Bye!"
"Wow, dude," Cam said when Lee finished. "I am like, so glad I didn't get to go. I mean, vampires? Not my thing, ese. Hey, are you any closer to finding Biffy?"
Lee shrugged. "Uh, maybe? I can't tell. The kidnapper hasn't contacted us since we left Canada."
"So the Lee Ping way is still in effect?" Cam asked.
"Good luck, ese."
"Thanks," Lee said. "We're gonna need it."
Chapter 33: Grande Size Rodent
Doing a dual post today, because why not?
The dark figure landed in a three-point stance. It slowly rose up, cape unfurling behind it, and glared. The intensity of the newcomer's gaze was evident even behind its mask.
Ron blinked, confused. "Uh, what? Who are you?"
"Ron, he said–" Kim stopped. "Nevermind."
"Gringos," the caped crusader muttered to himself. He raised his voice. "I am...El Chinchilla!"
Kim raised an eyebrow. "Shouldn't that be La Chinchilla?"
"Yes, but see, I am a man. The Chinchilla Man," El Chinchilla pointed out.
"Oh, like The Flying Ferret!" Ron exclaimed.
"I love that show!" the superhero gushed. He coughed and affected a serious tone. "But enough talking. Leave."
"No way, Chinchilla!" Shego said. "Not until we get that wallet!"
"So be it," El Chinchilla said.
In a swift motion, El Chinchilla whirled around, using his cape to guard him from prying eyes as he reached into a pocket of his utility belt. Pulling out a handful of pepper, sand, and salt, he hurled the mixture into Kim's eyes. While Kim clawed at her burning peepers, El Chinchilla ran up a wall and then jumped off, aiming a kick at Shego's face. Reacting quickly, Shego grabbed his leg and spun on her heel, sending him flying towards a wall. El Chinchilla was more agile than she expected, however, and he acrobatically flipped off the wall and landed in front of Ron. El Chinchilla transitioned his landing into a breakdance-style leg sweep, knocking Ron over, and then flipped onto his feet. When Shego lunged for him, he ducked, sending Shego flying full force at Motor Ed. They collided and crashed to the ground. El Chinchilla wasn't done yet, however, as he ran towards Ron and decked him with a powerful uppercut just as he was struggling to his feet. Ron flew through the air, fell back, and tripped over the bodies of Shego and Motor Ed, keeping them down for a few seconds more.
Kim finally wiped her eyes free of the irritants El Chinchilla had thrown in them. Unfortunately, it was at this point that El Chinchilla chose to throw down a smoke bomb. Heavy black smoke filled the area, and in the midst of it El Chinchilla grabbed the thief and hightailed it out the entrance to the alleyway. However, despite being blind, Shego wasn't deaf, and after standing up in the middle of the smokestorm, she proceeded to nail down El Chinchilla's approximate location and leap at him.
A flying kick to the back of his head sent El Chinchilla sprawling, and when the smoke cleared Shego had the thief pinned against the back wall of the restaurant. El Chinchilla reached into the pocket of his utility belt, but before he could make a move Motor Ed attempted to tackle him. Although El Chinchilla squirmed out of the tackle, this slowed him down enough for Kim to launch herself at him.
El Chinchilla ducked under the kick aimed at his head and threw a large marble at Shego. Upon contacting with her head, it exploded into a cloud of horrible-smelling gas. Shego let go of the thief and backed up, hacking and coughing. She used one of her hands to cover her nose and mouth, the other to try and wave away the odor, and neither to restrain the thief. Unfortunately for the thief, Kim's missed kick had carried her over to him, and she ripped the thief away from the stink and threw him at El Chinchilla. El Chinchilla instinctively caught the teen in midair and therefore wasn't able to block Motor Ed's right hook, the force of which sent him sprawling and caused him to drop the thief.
Motor Ed put a foot on the thief's chest to hold him down. Ron walked over and knelt down by the fourteen-year-old.
"Okay," Ron said calmly. "Could I please have my wallet?"
El Chinchilla heaved himself up and ran at them. Before he could get within striking range, a green-and-black clad leg stuck itself out in front of him. He tripped over it and fell forward. Motor Ed lifted his leg to allow El Chinchilla to land on the thief and then brought his foot back down on the cape-wearer's back, pinning both of them simultaneously.
El Chinchilla lifted his head, hatred in his eyes. "Scoundrels!" he spat. "You won't get away with this!"
"Uh, yeah, I think we just did," Shego said smugly.
"The cause of justice will always triumph in the end!" El Chinchilla declared angrily. "Vicious criminals like you will one day be brought to justice! Petty thieves who bully the poor will not be victorious; in the end, their sins will be revealed, and, and–madre de Dios, I hate trying to monologue in your language!"
"Really? Because I thought you were pretty good at it," Ron said.
El Chinchilla smiled, but swiftly turned it into a scowl. "A compliment from a rascal is no compliment at all."
"See, that's what I'm talking about!" Ron said excitedly. "You're great at this stuff!"
"Whoa, hold on," Kim said. She knelt to look at El Chinchilla. "Are you telling us that you think we're the criminals here?"
"You pursue an innocent child halfway across the city to get his wallet. What other conclusion is there to draw?" El Chinchilla asked.
"Um, that's my wallet," Ron said.
El Chinchilla spat. "Nothing stolen is ever truly yours."
"No, I mean–look, could you hand it over?" Ron asked the thief. The thief did not comply.
"Allow me," Shego said. She leaned down and lit up one of her hands next to the thief's face. "You wanna see what these can do?"
The thief quickly wriggled his arms free and handed over Ron's wallet. Ron opened it up and showed it to El Chinchilla.
"Stoppable. Ron. Male. Eyes bro, hair blo–" El Chinchilla squinted as he tried to match the photo with Ron's face. He then nodded guardedly.
"I apologize," he said. "I believed that you were street thugs out to rob a boy of his hard-earned money. I was incorrect, and should never have fought you."
"It's cool, bro," Ron said. "You've got some moves, I'm very impressed."
"Speak for yourself," Shego muttered. "You didn't get a snootful of stink."
"Or sand in your eyes," Kim added.
"So, should I let him up?" Motor Ed asked.
"No," Shego snarled viciously.
"Uh, yes!" Ron countered. "Dude, this guy is like a total superhero! He's awesome!"
"Ron!" Kim said angrily.
"Oh, right," Ron said. He turned back to El Chinchilla. "Dude, seriously, sand? In my girlfriend's eyes? That is wrong!"
"How else to take her out of the fight quickly?" El Chinchilla asked.
Ron stroked his chin. "You know, he's got a point."
"I'm just saying!" Ron said hastily. "You're the best fighter of all of us–"
"Hey!" Shego barked.
"–and he totally would've won if you hadn't gotten involved," Ron finished.
"HEY!" Shego barked.
"Plus, he thought we were evildoers and jumped in to stop us how cool is that?"
Kim smiled. "Fine, I guess it was pretty cool. Let him up."
Motor Ed obediently removed his foot, and El Chinchilla climbed to his feet. He was followed by the thief, who tried to run off as soon as he was upright; however, he didn't make it more than a step before El Chinchilla grabbed him and pinned his arms behind his back. The group exited the alleyway with the superhero still containing the thief.
At that moment, three police cars pulled up next to them with their lights flashing.
Chapter 34: A Surprisingly Delicious Breakfast
Did a double post today; this is the second of two chapters.
"Alright, wake up! Everyone up!"
The warden's voice and the sounds of a bell rang through the county jail. Groaning, Soos's cellmates heaved themselves to their feet. Soos was already up, as his day at the Mystery Shack routinely started around seven, but judging from their groans and complaints, none of the radicals sharing his cell were used to waking up this early in the day.
"Oh, come on, dude!" one of them groaned, rising from his bed. "What time is it, anyway?"
"7:30, inmates! Time to get up!" the warden called back. He stopped in front of their cell. "Ah, yes. The park burners. Y'all get out today–"
"Finally!" one of them said loudly.
"–right after breakfast."
Everyone in the cell except for Soos groaned loudly. Soos licked his lips and rubbed his hands together. The warden moved off.
"Oh boy, breakfast!" Soos said to himself. "I wonder what it'll be?"
"Watery gruel and stale bread," one of his compatriots grumbled. "That's all they ever feed prisoners."
Soos stared at him. "What is gruel, anyway?"
The young man shrugged. "It sucks."
By this time, everyone was awake. Two officers came down each side, pushing serving carts. The one that came to Soos's cell unlocked a small door at the bottom of the cell and pushed four trays through. Soos picked his up eagerly.
"Oh, boy!" he said, excited. "Pancakes, toast, sausage, bacon, and orange juice? Dude! This is a great breakfast! Thanks!"
The officer doffed his cap. "My pleasure, son. You eat well now."
The officer continued down the hall with his serving cart. Soos dug in.
Everyone got out of jail about half an hour later, bellies full and ready to take on the day. Soos quickly jogged over to the rest of his group and followed them as they walked through the parking lot.
"So, how was your night?" Soos asked them.
"The cots were surprisingly comfortable," Dipper informed him.
"And breakfast was good," Pacifica added.
"And this was the worst sleepover ever," Mabel complained. "We weren't allowed to talk, or sing songs, or dress up, or do makeovers, or eat lots of sugar, or anything!"
"Um, Mabel?" Dipper said. "We were in jail."
"I know that, but still, this was like our first official sleepover with Pacifica, and it was the worst sleepover I've ever been to!" Mabel exclaimed. "Isn't that right, Waddles?"
Soos chuckled. "Well, what should we do now?"
Suddenly, one of the radicals shrieked. Everyone stopped to stare at the source of the sound.
"Look!" she said hysterically. "They stole our vans!"
Sure enough, the protesters' vans had been towed to the county jail's parking lot.
"Dude, this is great!" Hannah said. "We can drive back to the park and start protesting again!"
"Yeah, but the pigs stole our vans!" the angry radical complained.
"Yeah, they're like, so nasty!" someone else joined in.
"Those were ours! How dare they take them!" another protestor added.
"Dudes, chill," Hannah said. "We're out of jail and tyranny here hasn't been defeated, so how about we go back to the park and continue protesting!"
The radicals cheered and headed for the vans. Mabel and Pacifica looked at each other and nodded.
"Wait!" Pacifica said. Everyone ignored her. "Guys! We can't go back to the park!"
A protester halted and turned toward her. "Say what? Dudes!" he called to the others. "We like, can't go back to the park!"
"WHAT?" Hannah said, furious. "They can't do it! That's a public space! And we're the public!"
"No, I mean–" Pacifica fumbled for her words. "We didn't accomplish anything yesterday."
"Oh, you did not go there," a radical scoffed. "Dude, we like totally raised awareness for the cause! Did you see that angry woman? She was majorly upset with us! That's like the first step to causing change!"
"Yeah, I know," Dipper said. "But we were talking–" he indicated Mabel and Pacifica, "–and we think there's a better way to bring down tyranny."
"Yeah," Mabel added. "Most people will let you talk to them at least."
"So why not take it to the top?" Dipper asked. "We go to the factory itself and try to negotiate with them."
"That's insane!" the radical scoffed. "No way will one of those fat cats listen to reason!"
"Hold on," Hannah said thoughtfully. "If we go in and try to talk to them, even if we get brushed off, we can say that we tried to do things the nice polite way." She grinned. "This is a great way to totally delegitimatize them! Dudes! Let's do it!"
Some of the protesters cheered, and the entire group headed for the vans. They piled into them, and once again, the Mystery Shack crew took the back row in one of the vans. Once everyone was aboard, though, the vans just sat there. After a few minutes, one of the protesters noticed.
"Yo, dude!" he called to the driver. "Why aren't we moving?"
"I don't know where it is!" she called back.
Taylor David Adult Diaper Factory
After about an hour, the group finally found their way to the factory and assembled as a mob in the factory's reception room.
"Well, hello," the elderly receptionist said nervously. "What can I do for you?"
"We want to talk to the owner of this place!" Hannah said confidently.
"Yeah!" the other radicals cheered.
"Oh dear," the receptionist said nervously. She bit the end of her pen and looked at the calendar. "Well, I–oh. You're in luck, it seems. He's available in, um, fifteen minutes."
"We'll wait," Hannah said.
"Very well," the receptionist said, jotting down a note. "I'll call him and let him know you're on the way. Is there anything else I should tell him?"
"Yeah!" Hannah said. "Tell him we're not gonna take it anymore! He's gonna go down today!"
"Um, okay," she said. "Feel free to have a seat and wait in our reception area."
Those who could find seats did. Dipper, Mabel, Soos, and Pacifica sat together.
"Well, that was convenient," Soos said.
Chapter 35: At River's Edge
New Orleans, Louisiana
A black limo rolled down Canal Boulevard towards the address written on the dolls. Inside, Lee, Tina, Jenny, and Holger were reclining against the plush leather seats and sipping from bottles of water. Holger's leg twitched constantly, betraying his nervousness. Everyone else just looked tired.
"So, Holger," Lee ventured. "You seem to be the vampire expert. What should we do?"
Holger shook his head. "Holger no know anything about strange dolls of vurstreldamen. Vurstreldamen are not supposed to burst into flames because of dolls! Is crazy speaking!" Holger tittered nervously and then suddenly stopped. "So no. Holger no know what to do."
Lee sighed. "Great. Anybody else got a plan?"
"Be ready to run?" Jenny suggested.
"Keep a clear route to the exit?" Tina added.
"If we see Biffy it might be a trap?" Jenny suggested. Her friends looked at her, surprised, and she shrugged. "What? I wouldn't put it past whoever this is to have Biffy as bait. You know, more than he is already."
"Okay," Lee said. "So, our plan basically amounts to 'expect a trap.'"
Tina shrugged. "Not like it's bad advice."
Lee nodded. "Yeah. I just wish we had something a little more...concrete to go off of."
The limo slowed to a stop and pulled over to the side of a deserted road. The group got out, shut the doors, and looked around.
"Even numbers are on this side," Tina noted. "So that means..."
The group looked over to the other side of the road. There was a long line of small shops, some selling magic, some selling insurance, some selling toys. The one thing they had in common was that they were all void of customers.
Directly across from them, however, was the address they were looking for. A sign painted on the window marked it as Gabriel's Candy Shop. Like the other stores, it was deserted. Despite this, the interior was brightly lit, brightly colored, and clean. More importantly, the windows were clear, allowing the sunshine to stream in.
"Well," Lee ventured, "I don't think a vampire owns that store. Or at least, there isn't one behind the register."
The group crossed the street and pulled open the door. A small bell tinkled, and a voice from the back called out to them.
"I'll be out in a minute! Please, feel free to browse!"
The group looked around and noticed something even more important than the clean window: the building was also equipped with a skylight. Furthermore, unlike many skylights, this one looked as though someone had taken the time to make sure it was clean recently. The skylight sent even more sunlight trickling through the shop.
An old man walked out of the back room, wiping his hands on a rag. He smiled widely when he saw the teenagers.
"Welcome, welcome!" he said happily. "Sorry I wasn't here with you. The air conditioning has gone out–good thing it's November, or else the chocolate would be all melted. Just let me slip on some gloves, and I'll be able to help you."
The old man took out a pair of plastic gloves and slipped them on with ease. He wiggled his fingers and smiled at his customers.
"So what can I get you?" he asked eagerly. "Chocolates? Hard candies? Gummy worms? A sample of some or all of those?"
"Actually, we have some questions," Tina said.
"Yes!" Holger proclaimed. "Firstly, what do you know about the vurstreldamen?"
The old man looked at them, confused. Lee pressed his fingers to his temple.
"Not–not now, Holger," he said wearily.
"No interrogation?" Holger asked.
"No," Lee said. "Well, not yet."
The man started to look worried.
"Ignoring that," Tina muttered before perking up her tone, "we wanted to know if you own this store."
The old man nodded. "That I do. I'm Gabriel, and this is my shop. Why do you ask?"
"How long have you owned this place?" Tina asked, ignoring his question.
"Um, twenty-four years," Gabriel said. He looked around the group nervously. "Is there a point to these questions?"
"We were wondering if this was something besides a candy shop before," Jenny said. "You see, we found this uh, this voodoo doll, and it had this address printed on the tag, and–"
The man whirled around and headed for the back of the store.
"Hey!" Lee yelled.
The man slammed the door to the back closed and a lock clicked shut.
"So what now?" Jenny asked.
"Holger wants to know if they have candied fish eyeballs," Holger said. "They are favorite candy of next-door neighbor in home country!"
Lee looked at him oddly. "Really?"
Holger nodded enthusiastically. Lee shrugged.
"I dunno," Jenny said. "I get the feeling we should get out of here."
"Maybe not," Tina said.
"What, really?" Jenny asked. "Because that was majorly creepy. He just bolted on us!"
"Well, look around," Tina said. "The skylight, the clear windows, the clean floor? All of it says that this guy doesn't like vampires."
"Then why'd he run?" Lee asked.
"I dunno–wait. Remember that Domino guy?" Tina asked.
"Yeah..." Lee and Jenny said questioningly.
"Oh, yes!" Holger said happily. "He was so excited to begin his new life!"
"Well, like, he said he was a thrall," Tina continued. "Which means that we could all be thralls of other vampires, sent to find this guy."
"And he thinks we're here to hurt him!" Lee gasped.
"But Holger no hurt anybody!" Holger said, upset. "Holger no hurt nobody, except vurstreldamen. And people who threaten friends."
The lock on the door to the back of the store clicked and the door eased open. The group watched worriedly as it swung open with nobody behind it.
"Uh, what's going on?" Jenny whispered.
"Holger is so scary!" Holger whispered.
Tina clung to Lee's arm and they both watched the door worriedly. The old man stepped out and pointed a shotgun at them.
Chapter 36: Subtle Off-White Coloring
Taylor David Adult Diaper Factory
The seconds ticked by as the protesters got closer and closer to their meeting with the owner of the factory. The reception area was mostly silent as everybody prepared for the meeting in their own ways. The Mystery Shack crew was particularly apprehensive, as they were lost in their own thoughts.
Pacifica was contemplating family. When her family lost all their money in weirdness bonds, she didn't immediately understood what it meant. Not quite, at least. Over the next few weeks, she was given a crash course in figuring it out. She'd learned what it meant to not be rich; neither of her parents had managed to do the same. Consequently, they went from rich to upper-middle class to poor, and as they did her parents actually grew more distant from her–even though if you had asked her if this was possible a year ago and she had been willing to answer honestly, she would have said that they were already as far away as possible while still being physically present. By today, they might have noticed she was missing, but they might not have; she wasn't spending much time at home anyway. Since November, she'd pretty much spent all her time either at school or work, only stopping at their small apartment to sleep. Not that either of her parents noticed; they never even questioned where the money she brought in came from. If anything, they'd miss her money more than they missed her. No wonder she leapt at the chance to go on an adventure with the Pines crew. Ever since Mabel had arrived in Oregon, she'd been jealous. Jealous of her close relationship with her brother, of how happy she was, of how free she was, of how she actually had people who cared for her. So when an opportunity was provided for Pacifica to skip out and spend time with people who actually seemed like a family, of course she went for it.
Mabel was thinking about the previous year. When she and her brother had been sent off to Oregon, she had never expected to have the kind of adventures she did. Admittedly, she was expecting to have some adventures–since it was a strange town with a grunkle she'd never met before and she had a whole summer to spend there, adventures were bound to be around every corner. But the kind of adventures she'd been expecting were a whirlwind summer romance, new friends, and new inspiration for her sweaters. She was not expecting to have to battle gnomes, never mind save a boy band of clones from their tyrannical manager or compose a huge production that used sock puppets or, of course, save the world. And when she got back to Piedmont, she couldn't wait to go back to Gravity Falls. Obviously not as much as Dipper did, but it was in the back of her mind throughout the school year. But more than just going back, she wanted to see her Grunkles. The phone calls, video chats, and postcards were all wonderful and let her know that her Grunkles were having adventures, but it wasn't the same as actually being there. And now, Grunkle Stan and Grunkle Ford were missing–kidnapped–and she was stuck waiting in a reception area so that a bunch of adults could talk to the manager of some diaper factory.
Dipper was focused on the future. The near future, where they'd be meeting the owner of the factory, sure, but more importantly the future of him and his great-uncles. Despite the distance they'd travelled, there was something at the back of his mind telling him that they weren't on the right path. Worse, he couldn't tell whether his apprehension was caused by his general nature or whether it was because they really were headed in the wrong direction. Either way, he had to admit that Pacifica had a good point when they set off towards Arkansas: they didn't have any way to get back to Utah and they didn't have any other options. Even so, there was just something slightly off about the entire situation. More troubling was the fact that the factory gave off a sense of being weird, and not in the usual way but in a way that suggested Gravity Falls-type weirdness.
Soos was thinking about the present. He hadn't been able to call Melody since before they'd been captured, and his wallet had been emptied of cash by the Communists in Utah. He had no money on him, and while this had made him more enthusiastic when it came to going along with the mob, he wasn't sure how much longer he could keep this up. Plus, even if he did have money, he had to admit that he wasn't even sure they weren't completely lost. After all, what kind of kidnapper would take two old men to Arkansas? And how would a diaper factory matter? None of this added up, not even the part where they were protesting a diaper factory.
Soos's head snapped up.
"Uh, hey," he ventured into the silence of the waiting room, "What are we protesting, anyway?"
"Tyranny, dude!" Hannah said loudly. "The world is full of petty and not-so-petty tyrants seeking to keep us all under their thumbs, and we're determined to stop them! That's why we're here! That's why you're here!"
"Yeah, but dude, what kind of tyranny are we protesting?" Soos asked.
The Mystery Shack Crew looked at her, startled.
"Old-person smell?" Pacifica asked, disbelieving.
"Yes," Hannah said calmly.
"Okay, but–why?" Dipper asked.
Hannah shrugged. "It was on the list, after rice crackers and shawarma."
"That's not fair!" Mabel complained. "Old people can't help how they smell! And besides, I like how our Grunkles smell!"
"Wait, really?" Soos asked, surprised. "Because dude, I like Stan and all, but he needs to use some stronger soap."
"Hold on, are you serious?" Pacifica asked incredulously. "You dragged us all out here just so you could protest old-person smell by coming to a diaper factory?"
"Uh, yeah!" one of the protesters said. "How else are we gonna bring down the tyranny of old-person smell?"
"That's insane!" Dipper exclaimed.
"That's not insane, Dipper," Mabel said calmly. Her face hardened. "That's stupid!"
"No, you're stupid!" one of the protesters fired back.
"Told you we shouldn't have taken them with us!" another one added.
"Oh yeah?" Pacifica said angrily. "Well–"
"At least it's not Hump Day!" Soos blurted out.
Every angry person on both sides instantly deflated slightly due to their confusion at Soos's statement. Instead of arguing, they all turned to Soos, confused.
"Uh, Soos?" Dipper said. "It is Hump Day."
"Yeah, but dude, that was the punchline I couldn't remember," Soos explained. He smiled. "Geez. That's a load off my mind. Now, how'd that joke go again? Let's see, there was–"
"Um, excuse me?" the receptionist said. Soos stopped talking. "Mr. David will see you now."
The people waiting in the lobby filed into an elevator, cramming in tightly. The elevator doors closed, and the elevator ascended to the office.
Taylor David Adult Diaper Factory
Taylor David was a short, stout man with a very small head. His tie was done up tightly around the neck of his shirt, but his face was warm and inviting.
"So, what can I do for you fellows?" he said in a high-pitched voice. "Please forgive my voice, it's a genetic thing. You understand."
"We want you to get rid of your factory!" Hannah proclaimed.
"What? But why?" Taylor David asked.
While they fell into conversation, Dipper scrutinized the owner more closely. There was something about him that just didn't sit right with Dipper. Something about the man's general form and posture, the way his muscles seemed to twitch in ways they shouldn't, how his head almost acted as if it was disconnected from his body...
Dipper gasped and nudged Mabel.
"Mabel!" Dipper whispered. "Do you see what I see?"
"Stupid people protesting something stupid?" Mabel whispered back.
"No! Mabel! Doesn't that guy kind of remind you of Norman?"
"Norman?" Mabel whispered, confused. Suddenly, recognition flickered in her eyes. "Hey, yeah! He totally does!"
"You thinking what I'm thinking?" Dipper whispered, smiling.
Mabel nodded. "We pull off his head."
Dipper nodded, and the duo crept through the mob towards the owner of the company. They went unnoticed as they slipped behind the desk and crept up behind Taylor David. Neither the protesters nor the owner took any notice of them until they pulled off Taylor David's head.
Chapter 37: Song for the Sky
I'm wouldn't say that having most of the characters go to Albuquerque was a lead-up for this chapter where I could make all kinds of Weird Al jokes.
I would say that it was definitely in the back of my mind and I really enjoyed writing this chapter.
A Fancy Restaurant
Pizza Steve sat across from an attractive woman at a table for two. The woman was an attractive brunette with a thick mane of hair and piercing green eyes. She was wearing a red dress, gold hoop earrings, red-pink lipstick, and a simple necklace. She sighed and turned to the slice of pepperoni.
"I don't think this is working, Steven."
Pizza Steve jolted. "What?"
"I mean, it's just–" the pretty woman continued.
"Ssh!" Pizza Steve said, hopping onto the table and pressing a finger against her lips. "Hold that thought."
Pizza Steve leapt off the table and presented a ring box. He opened it up, revealing a diamond ring.
"Will you m-marry me, bro?" he asked nervously.
Uncle Grandpa RV
"So, I'm confused," Pizza Steve said. "I thought Weird Pal was, like, hiding in one of these drawers. Forever."
Demonstrating his point, Pizza Steve opened a drawer in a nearby table. Weird Pal popped out.
"Hi, guys!" Weird Pal said happily. "Wow, I thought you'd never bring me back after my brief guest appearance! So what can I do for you?"
"Hold on," Mr. Gus said. "We were supposed to meet you in Albuquerque."
"Albuquerque?" the robot asked. Mr. Gus nodded. "I love that place! Did I ever tell you about the time I went there? Well, way back when I was just a little bitty boy living in a box under the stairs in the corner of the basement–"
"Look, Weird Pal," Mr. Gus interrupted, "I'm sure this is very interesting, but how can you be here if we're supposed to meet you in Albuquerque?"
Weird Pal laughed. "I'm here and in Albuquerque, of course! Say, you wanna see some pictures of my vacation to the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota?"
"No thanks," Mr. Gus said. "So what are we supposed to do in Albuquerque?"
"Mmm, good question," Weird Pal said. His eyes lit up. "Hey! Maybe it's my ex-girlfriend!"
"Your ex-girlfriend?" Mr. Gus asked.
"When did you get a girlfriend?" Pizza Steve asked suspiciously. "I didn't even see you leave the RV!"
"I never left the RV," Weird Pal said. "I've been in this dresser drawer this whole time."
"Um, that's a table," Mr. Gus pointed out.
Weird Pal shrugged. "Yeah, but I'm weird, so, whatever!"
"He's got a point," Pizza Steve said.
Mr. Gus sighed. "Fine. So, tell us about your ex-girlfriend."
"Well, her name's Melanie, and she's crazy!" Weird Pal said. "At first I thought she was fine with us breaking up, but then I kept bumping into her, and we were always shaking hands, and I woke up one morning with her name carved in my leg. So I got a restraining order, you know? I swear, it's like her commute is always just happening to coincide with mine. And I keep catching her giving me these looks. Plus, there are these calls where it's just a few seconds of breathing and then she hangs up. Totally uncool, right?"
"So, you need us to..." Pizza Steve prompted.
"Take her out, show her a good time, get her to forget about me," Weird Pal said. "Hey! Maybe I can come along, make sure it works!"
Mr. Gus shrugged. "Sure. I can do that."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Pizza Steve interjected. "Mr. Gus, step aside. I mean, you haven't had a date in what, sixty million years?"
"We all know who the real ladykiller in this RV is, and it's Pizza Steve! I'm gonna take her out, show her a good time. By the end of this date, she'll have forgotten all about Weird Pal and be totally obsessed with this delicious slice of hunk."
Mr. Gus sighed. "Fine. So, Weird Pal, know where we might run into her?"
"Probably here," Weird Pal said.
The RV smashed into a glass storefront, through the back of the store, and into a brick wall. The door to the RV swung open, revealing that they were parked next to an insurance office.
"That's where she works," Weird Pal supplied. "Go get her, champ!"
Weird Pal shoved Pizza Steve out the door of the RV and pulled it shut.
Pizza Steve peeled himself off of the pavement. "Well. I guess it's time for Pizza Steve! to show Albuquerque just what kind of a slice it's dealing with."
Pizza Steve walked into the insurance office. The man behind the desk looked him over.
"Good afternoon, sir! What can I do for you?" he asked.
Pizza Steve smirked and leaned against the counter coolly. "I'd like to speak with Melanie, if I could."
The man's brow wrinkled. "Do you have a policy with us?"
"No, but I'm looking to get one. I was referred to her by a friend," Pizza Steve said calmly.
"Alright, if you could just fill out this form I'll see if she's available," the receptionist said, handing over a clipboard.
While Pizza Steve filled out the clipboard, the receptionist went into the row of offices behind him. He stopped at a door and stuck his head in, and although Pizza Steve was focused on writing down his personal information, he did catch a few phrases, including "sentient piece of pizza" and "what if he's related to him". Soon, Pizza Steve finished filling out the clipboard, so he capped the pen and headed back to the counter.
"Uh, hello, insurance dude?" Pizza Steve called. "I finished filling out your form, bro."
The receptionist hustled out of the back. "Alright, thanks so much, go ahead and take that back to Melanie. She's ready to see you now and talk about your options, see what best fits your lifestyle. Go ahead in."
Smirking, Pizza Steve hopped off the desk and headed towards Melanie's office. As he walked down the hall, he took out a bottle of breath spray and spritzed it into his mouth a couple of times before exhaling heavily. He strode into Melanie's office confidently.
An attractive green-eyed brunette in business clothing looked at him as he walked in. "Steven, I presume?" she asked, all business.
"That's right," Pizza Steve says. "Pizza Steve! is in the house."
"So, I'm given to understand you're a...pizza slice," Melanie said.
Pizza Steve exuded an air of confidence as he sat back in the chair and pretended to examine his nails. "That's what I am," he said. "Hot and delicious, just like you."
Melanie paused for a moment before deciding to continue. "So, um, Steven. What exactly do you wanna be insured against?"
"Oh, you know," Pizza Steve said. "The entire package. Home, auto, life, awkward pit stains, not getting a dinner date with you."
Melanie stared at him. "Are you seriously asking me out?"
"What man wouldn't?" Pizza Steve asked. "I mean, you're everything anyone could ever want."
Melanie's mouth opened and closed several times before she finally said, "This is the first time I've ever seen you."
"Same here," Pizza Steve said. "It must be love at first sight."
Melanie sighed and put her face in her hands. After a few seconds, she looked up at him again.
"Look, are you going to buy insurance or not?"
"That depends," Pizza Steve said smoothly. "Are you going to go out to dinner with me or not?"
"Seriously, it's on me," Pizza Steve said. "Just give me one date, one chance to prove that you and me were meant to be. Please."
Melanie sighed. "This wouldn't be the worst decision I've ever made. Fine. Tonight, 7:00, Rancher's Club. You're buying me whatever I want, and you'd better buy an insurance policy."
Pizza Steve grinned. "That's all I wanted to hear."
Albuquerque, New Mexico
"You sure you know what you're doing?" Mr. Gus asked.
"Please," Pizza Steve said. "It's a dinner date. Pizza Steve is going to ace this. By the time he's done, she'll have forgotten all about Weird Pal."
"Oh! That's–good!" Weird Pal said stiltedly.
"Okay then. We'll keep an eye on everything from outside, just to be sure, okay?" Mr. Gus said.
"Watch and learn, Mr. Gus," Pizza Steve said suavely. "By the time this date is over, you're gonna be wishing you were as smooth as Pizza Steve."
"Of course I am," Mr. Gus muttered sarcastically. "Good luck, little slice."
Pizza Steve strode into the restaurant confidently, suit dapper and well-fitted to his body.
"So there you are!" a loud voice said. Mr. Gus and Frankenstein turned to look at the source of the voice. It was a bald man wearing a suit.
"So, you must be the new chef," the bald man said to Frankenstein.
"Graah?" Frankenstein asked, confused.
"Yes, of course. And you're the new waiter," the bald man said to Mr. Gus.
Mr. Gus chuckled. "Well, actually, you see–"
"Come along now, we have no time to waste! And didn't you know you have to wear a suit?" the bald man chastised.
"Well, you see–" Mr. Gus started to say before stopping midsentence. A smile came over his face. "Yes, yes, of course! Let me just put it on, and I'll be right in! I apologize, I didn't realize I'd be expected to start right away."
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Pizza Steve and Melanie sat across from each other at the restaurant.
"So, Melanie," Pizza Steve said, "Wanna hear some more about the awesomeness that is Pizza Steve?"
"Actually, yes," Melanie said, pulling some papers out of her purse. "I'd like to get some of your personal info so we can get started on your insurance policies."
"Oh. Well, um, okay," Pizza Steve said gamely. "What do you want to know?"
"Let's start with something simple," Melanie said. "When is your birthday?"
"My birthday? Is everyday," Pizza Steve said.
"Right," Melanie deadpanned. "So do you think you're ever gonna die?"
"Nothing can kill Pizza Steve," Pizza Steve said. "I mean, what would even dare to approach the magnificence that is Pizza Steve only to end it? Nothing, that's what. I'm gonna live forever."
"Really?" Melanie asked. "So you don't think you'll ever have a use for life insurance?"
"Life needs to be insured from me," Pizza Steve said suavely.
Melanie chewed on the end of her pen. "Whole life or term life?"
"Oh, all of it, honey," Pizza Steve said. "Then again, maybe you'd better insure it for the short-term too. Pizza Steve is planning to do a lot of living. It's gonna be...extremely awesome."
"In that case, would you mind filling out these forms?" Melanie asked.
"Oh, yeah," Pizza Steve said. He took the forms and the pen and began working on them. While he was sweating over them, their waiter arrived.
"So, are we ready to order?" he asked.
"I certainly am," Melanie said. "I'll have the filet mignon, rare, with garlic mashed potatoes, and we'd like to split an appetizer of calamari."
"And I'll have the lobster tail, if you please," Pizza Steve said. "Maybe with a side of crab macaroni and–"
Pizza Steve stopped the instant he saw who the waiter was. His jaw dropped.
"Rare filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes for the lady, lobster tail with crab macaroni and cheese for the gentleman, and calamari to share. I'll get your orders right out," Mr. Gus said smoothly before walking off with their menus.
Melanie turned back to Pizza Steve. "Well that was interesting."
"Uh, yeah," Pizza Steve said, unnerved. "I've never seen that dinosaur before in my life."
Melanie giggled. "Who has? And who'd expect a dinosaur to work at a restaurant?"
"I know, right?" Pizza Steve laughed.
Pizza Steve went back to his paperwork. After a few minutes, he handed it back to Melanie.
"So, where do you live?" Melanie asked.
"Me? I live in this cool RV, with some of my friends, like–" Pizza Steve stopped as he remembered Weird Pal. "I mean, I rent an apartment. Yeah. A wicked cool apartment."
"Really?" Melanie asked. "Do you have renter's insurance? It's always important to make sure to insure your stuff in case something happens to it." She pulled some more papers out of her purse. "We can set you up if you'll just fill out these forms."
"Oh, I am so there!" Pizza Steve said enthusiastically.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
By the time their dinner arrived, Melanie had managed to get Pizza Steve to also sign up for automobile insurance, homeowner's insurance, pet insurance, and insurance against alien abductions. As they ate, Pizza Steve kept the conversation going.
"And so after all that, after all that fuss, we look back into the room and realize that in trying to get the ball out of the room without touching the floor, we've totally destroyed it. And that's when Mr. Gus comes back, just stomps in looking about fifty feet tall, and walks over to the ballroom and you know what he does?"
"What?" Melanie asked, interested.
"He walks right by it and opens the door to this ball pit we had installed!"
"Wait, really?" Melanie asked.
"Yeah, we like, had it installed as its separate room, and it turns out that that's what Mr. Gus meant when he was talking about us not going in the ballroom. It wasn't the ballroom, single-word, it was the ball room, two words!" Pizza Steve exclaimed.
"Get out!" Melanie said happily.
"No, I'm serious, bro, he just walks right into that ball pit, and then these other fancy people follow him in, and they spend the rest of the night having a ball pit party! It was totally crazy!" Pizza Steve said.
Melanie laughed and took a bite of her steak. She chewed thoughtfully.
"So," she said after she swallowed, "why were you being so careful around your own ballroom?"
"What do you mean?" Pizza Steve asked.
"I mean, it was your penthouse, right?" Melanie asked. "So why were you so worried about messing it up? It's not like it was Mr. Gus's ballroom or anything."
Pizza Steve chuckled nervously. "Well, you know, Mr. Gus, he's a responsible guy. I kinda like to, like to live life on the edge, you know? But Mr. Gus is more reserved, so if he's got this thing happening that's a big deal for him, I want him to–I want him to have it go off well, you know? So that's why I didn't want to mess things up for him, even if I almost ended up doing that anyway."
Melanie shrugged. "Fair enough. I just didn't figure you to be the kind of guy who just does whatever somebody else wants."
"I'm not!" Pizza Steve said quickly. "But Mr. Gus is a good friend of mine." He stared down at his plate, his next words coming out as a rushed mutter. "I kind of wish I was him."
"Sorry, what was that?" Melanie asked.
"Oh!" Pizza Steve said, head snapping up. "I, uh, I kind of...wish the lights were dim! Yeah, that's it. It's too bright in here."
Melanie chose not to question him further and returned to her meal. Pizza Steve did the same, finishing off his lobster tail and crab macaroni. As soon as they took their final bites of dinner, Mr. Gus showed up at their table.
"Would you two care for dessert?" he asked.
"Of course!" Pizza Steve said. "Pizza Steve loves dessert! I'll have triple-chocolate ice cream, two scoops."
"Certainly," Mr. Gus said. "And for you, ma'am?"
"I'll have the cheesecake," Melanie said.
"It'll be right out," Mr. Gus said. "A busboy will be by soon to take your plates."
Mr. Gus headed back toward the kitchen. Melanie watched him leave, then sighed and turned to Pizza Steve.
"I don't think this is working, Steven," she said.
Pizza Steve jolted. "What?"
"I mean, it's just–" Melanie continued.
"Ssh!" Pizza Steve said, hopping onto the table and pressing a finger against her lips. "Hold that thought."
Pizza Steve leapt off the table and presented a ring box. He opened it up, revealing a diamond ring.
"Will you m-marry me, bro?" he asked nervously.
Melanie's mouth dropped open. "Are you serious?" she finally asked.
"I totally am," Pizza Steve said.
"No!" Melanie said loudly. "No! Are you insane? We just met–you bought insurance from me, for Pete's sake!"
"Well, I–" Pizza Steve started to say.
"Are you serious? You're like, the second worst guy I've ever met!" Melanie said. "I mean, I thought it was nice how you felt about your friend, but I don't care how rich you are, I don't date creeps!"
Mr. Gus stopped as he exited the kitchen with their deserts. He turned around and went back in.
"Frankenstein! Things have gone pear-shaped! Do you have a backup plan?" he frantically asked.
"Graah," Frankenstein said, tossing him a ring box.
"Thanks," Mr. Gus said.
"YOU THOUGHT THIS WAS A DATE?" Melanie yelled, shocked. "This was a dinner appointment to talk about insurance!"
Pizza Steve was collapsed on the floor, almost in tears. Mr. Gus hustled over and dropped to one knee next to him. He pulled out his ring box and bowed his head.
"Girl, will you marry me?" Mr. Gus asked.
The ring box popped open, revealing a diamond ring. Melanie just stared at him, shocked. After a few seconds, she groaned and thunked her head onto the table.
"That's it," she mumbled into the tablecloth. "I am done with the dating scene in this town."
"Hey, whoa, don't say that," Pizza Steve said, hopping onto the table. "There's lots of fish in the sea. I'm sure you'll find somebody out there for you. You know, someone who isn't me. Or Mr. Gus."
Melanie looked up, surprised. "You're Mr. Gus?"
"Um, yeah," Mr. Gus said. He scratched the back of his head awkwardly. "I take it Pizza Steve told you about me?"
Melanie groaned. "Ugh. The worst part about this both of you combined are better than the last guy who had a thing for me."
"The last guy?" Pizza Steve asked.
"Yeah. Weird Pal really needs to stop stalking me."
It was at that moment that Weird Pal decided to beat a hasty retreat. He quickly stood up and vamoosed out of the bushes–or at least, he would have had he not tripped and landed on the pavement with a loud clatter, attracting everyone's attention. As they watched, Weird Pal quickly got up and ran away.
Back at her table, Melanie groaned. "Ugh. That was him. Again. I swear, restraining orders are useless."
"Whoa, hold up," Mr. Gus said. "Weird Pal was stalking you?"
"Yeah, he got this telescope and started spying on me with it, and went through my garbage, and gave my cat a mohawk," Melanie said. "And then he tattooed my name across his forehead, and when that didn't work, he jumped off the sixteenth floor of my apartment building. I had to call the cops on him and get a restraining order, and when the cops searched his place they found, like this map of my commute and a bunch of other stuff–it was really creepy, I don't like to talk about it."
Melanie's phone rang. She sighed. "That's probably him. He's just gonna breathe into the phone for a few seconds and then hang up."
Melanie took her phone out of her purse and put in on speakerphone. "Hello," she said dully.
"Hey Melanie!" Uncle Grandpa said on the other end of the line.
"Uncle Grandpa!" Mr. Gus said excitedly.
"Oh, goodie! Mr. Gus, you're there!" Uncle Grandpa exclaimed. "So, did you get Weird Pal to stop stalking Melanie?"
"Um, maybe?" Mr. Gus said awkwardly. "I mean, Pizza Steve went out with her, and she told us about it, but–I really don't know."
"Oh, well," Uncle Grandpa said. "That's just the way things go."
"So what now?" Pizza Steve asked.
"Yeah," Mr. Gus said. "Shouldn't that other guy have called us?"
"He's too busy sulking," Uncle Grandpa said.
"I am not sulking!" an annoyed voice piped up in the background. "I just don't want to deal with your idiot friends!"
"Yeah, so, anyway, I need you guys to take the time machine and go back to the end of the Cretaceous," Uncle Grandpa said.
"And then what?" Mr. Gus asked.
"Just wait there," Uncle Grandpa said.
"Wait," Melanie said. "Hold on. Uncle Grandpa?"
"Yes, Melanie?" Uncle Grandpa said.
"Are you telling me that you sent Pizza Steve to date me because Weird Pal kept stalking me and you were hoping that this would make Weird Pal stop but it may not have worked at all and now you're planning to have them go back to a time when dinosaurs walked the earth without making sure the problem was solved?" Melanie asked.
"Yeah, that's about right," Uncle Grandpa said.
"What was the point of this, then?"
"The point?" Uncle Grandpa said. "All I'm really trying to say is that if one day you happen to wake up and find yourself in an existential quandary full of loathing and self-doubt and wracked with the pain and isolation of your pitiless meaningful existence, at least you can take a small bit of comfort in knowing that, somewhere out there in this crazy mixed-up universe of ours, there's still a little place called Albuquerque. And that place will continue to exist as long as the skies are blue and Crispin's lies are true. Goodnight."
Chapter 38: Tea For Five
This is the longest non-Uncle Grandpa chapter so far.
Gabriel's Candy Shop
New Orleans, Louisiana
"Face the wall," Gabriel said roughly. Tina, Jenny, Lee, and Holger complied. "Alright, kiddies, what am I gonna do with you?"
"Let us go peacefully?" Holger suggested.
Gabriel barked out a laugh. "Not likely. Now get talking."
"About what?" Tina asked worriedly.
"Good question," Gabriel said, easing over to the door while keeping the shotgun aimed at them. "How about we start with why you're asking about voodoo dolls."
"How about we start with you telling us why you have a shotgun pointed at us," Lee said.
The only response was Gabriel flipping the lock on the door shut.
"To make sure you don't escape," Gabriel said, moseying over to the open sign. "Because, to quote a comic book I read when I got here, I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me."
Gabriel flipped the sign over and walked back towards the counter. He stepped behind it, gun still pointed at the four teenagers, and smiled.
"Look, we're not your enemies, okay?" Tina said nervously. "We just want to talk."
Gabriel laughed. "If that's the case, how about you get talking?"
"Fine," Jenny said bitterly. "We're here because of vampires."
Gabriel waited for her to elaborate. When she didn't, he said, "Go on."
"Oh, what, you want more?" Jenny asked angrily. "Okay, how about this. We've battled vampires in Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis, and the trail led us here. We were thinking that maybe, just maybe, the person at this address might be able to explain why whenever we took a voodoo doll resembling a vampire into the sun, it burst into flames. And why the vampires burst into flames at the same time! Now how about you tell us why you decided to point a shotgun at us!"
Gabriel exhaled heavily. He fell silent for a minute while he deliberated in his head.
"Fine," he said. "I'm an old man, and even old men must eventually give up. Come into my back room. I'll pour us some tea and explain everything."
Gabriel's Candy Shop
New Orleans, Louisiana
Within a few minutes, the group were seated around a table in the back, cups of sweet iced tea in front of them. Like the front of the store, sunlight streamed in through a skylight. Unlike the front of the store, there were drawers around the room. As the group watched, the old man opened one of them, stowed his shotgun inside, and shut the drawer, locking it. He then opened another drawer, pulled out a pistol, and holstered it in a shoulder holster he put on. He turned back to them, stepped over to the table, and took a gulp of his tea. Gabriel exhaled heavily as soon as he finished swallowing, refilled his cup from the pitcher on the table, and then sighed.
"You really want to know where the voodoo dolls come from?" he asked.
"Uh, yeah, that's why we're here," Jenny said.
Gabriel clicked his tongue. "Sarcasm. It bothers you as an old man. It's a language you used to speak so well, and yet, somehow, you no longer have the energy for it. Maybe I'm alone in that, but the facade that the world is worthless, doesn't matter...somehow, it's no longer a shield. It's a weapon, used against you. Or maybe I'm just a romantic who wants to believe that our lives really matter."
Gabriel studied his cup of tea. "I like to believe my life matters. But if mine didn't, well, my master's did."
"Wait, your master?" Tina asked, surprised. "Were you a, well, a–"
Gabriel chuckled. "Slavery's been gone for a while, or so we like to believe. No, I wasn't a slave. I was an apprentice."
"Oh," Tina said. "That's–a relief."
"Is it?" Gabriel asked. "I carry a burden because of it. Not as heavy the one my master carried. At least, I don't think so. But mine, mine is still heavy." He took another drink. "I can tiptoe around this all day. So let me just ask you one thing: do you want the truth?"
"We want the truth," Lee and Tina said simultaneously.
Gabriel took another sip of his tea. "They say the truth will set you free. That's a load of baloney. The truth can chain you up as much as a lie can. Moreso, really. Especially when the truth isn't something most people would believe. Some days...some days I don't really believe it myself. But then I see another doll and I know what's going on." He sighed. "So, if you want this story, lemme tell you this: this ain't just a story of some dolls and some creatures of the night. This ain't just a story of an old man running a New Orleans candy shop. This is the story of a witch doctor's remedy going wrong. This is why you shouldn't mix alcohol and medicine. This is why we have this here, shall we say, infection, running up and down the mighty Mississippi–or thereabouts. Maybe the Central Time Zone would be more accurate, since you said it's up in Chicago now, up in Detroit."
Gabriel took the last sip of his tea. He poured himself another drink. "So if you want the story, I'm gonna warn you: this is the story of how we got vampires. In this country, at least."
South of Guayama, Puerto Rico
27 years ago
So twenty-seven years ago I was a lot younger than I am now. Would you believe I'm not even fifty? Ha! Stress ages you, kids. Bet you thought I was in my seventies–no, don't shake your heads. I feel like I'm in my seventies these days. Not just physically. Emotionally. I've seen a lot. There's a reason I decided to pull a gun on you, and it ain't just paranoia.
Well, maybe it is paranoia, but it's tough to say it ain't justified. So there I was, twenty-one and a half years old, barely old enough to drink in the U.S., and I was living in Puerto Rico. I was born there, grew up there, the whole shebang. And I grew up around the voodoo–Creole, you see. Yeah, they exist in Puerto Rico.
And the thing is, voodoo ain't just a load of baloney, or whatever you wanna call it. Voodoo actually works. There was this man–I guess you'd call him a witch doctor or something. So I was apprenticed to him–both of us were chosen by the spirits. They spoke to us.
This witch doctor, I don't wanna tell you his real name, so I'm just gonna call him the witch doctor or the master, but he was one of the best. So good, people would come from all over the island if they had something really big troubling them. And I was his apprentice, and I learned a lot from him. Like I say, the man was brilliant. He had the spirit, sure, but he also had the heart and brains to figure out exactly was going on. Whether something was going right or wrong, really, they could figure it out.
Now I don't wanna sound like a crotchety old man, but a lot of these more 'educated' folk try to play off voodoo as parlor tricks. Easy to see through if you know what to look for, they say. Nothing but cold readings that play off of people's gullibility.
Ninety, ninety-five percent of the time those educated folk are right. But that's true of anybody trying to see the future. You go to the doctor–this is a true story–you go to the doctor, tell him something's bothering you, he's gonna have an idea of what it is, ask a few questions, see if your responses point to a specific disease, then run tests to confirm you've got that disease. Voodoo practice, a lot of that is the same way. Ask a few questions, see what's really bothering them. It's not magic, it's being observant.
Ninety to ninety-five percent of the time, that is. The other five to ten percent, well, you've gotta call in the spirits. And that's where we separate the men from the boys, or, if you prefer, it's where we separate the ladies from the little girls playing dress-up.
Point is, voodoo may be just discerning what's wrong with people, and it may be a lot more uh, 'mundane' than you'd assume, but that doesn't make voodoo some kind of a con. No more than modern medicine, at least.
Now that we've got that settled, let's move on to my master and the biggest mistake he ever made.
So like I said, lots of people came from all over Puerto Rico to see him. And one of those folks happened to be a rich man. He wasn't that old, but he didn't live that well. Had a taste for fried pork, bourbon, and uh, some other substances, if you catch my drift. Not exactly the healthiest man, but he didn't wanna die–not like any of us do, sure, but he was willing to put his money where his mouth was. So he comes in, and this is what he says:
Rich man: I want to live forever.
My master: Don't we all.
Rich man: I know you can help me.
My master: Perhaps. Perhaps.
Rich man: Well listen here. I'll give you three quarters of my fortune–and it's a considerable fortune–if you can do this.
My master: Perhaps. Perhaps.
Rich man: Don't toy with me, voodoo man.
My master: I don't toy with my work.
Rich man: Fine. Then lemme tell you something: I don't want any of that black juju, y'hear? I want my brain to be functional. And I want to live forever. And if you're anywhere near the man they say you are, you're gonna help me do that.
See, the thing is, my master may have been a good man and an even greater voodoo practitioner, but he was a proud man. And insulting his practice? That was one of the easiest ways to get him to do something that, if you were to ask him about it a few years later (or a few years earlier, for that matter), he'd admit was a horrible idea. So what'd he do when presented with this challenge? Well, he just stopped talking, looked over the rich man, and finally said "come back when you're dying."
My master may've been proud, but he wasn't stupid. He knew a man living forever–especially a man like that–well, that wasn't going to be good for anyone, least of all the man himself. So he spent about a week, consulted the spirits a few times, read a few textbooks on plants and their effects–don't look at me like that, you use all the tools you got. Not reading up on that stuff back then was like refusing to use the internet for research today: it's pointless, a waste of time, and more likely that you'll screw it up. So he does this research, figures out what he should do to create a potion for eternal life–or, really, something that'll technically fulfill his end of the deal, because it's not about the money for him. It's about pride. Being able to prove that yes, he can grant eternal life without resorting to the black juju–y'all call it zombification.
Remember this, kids. You ask the spirit world for something, the spirit world will often deliver–with exact wording. So eternal life, no zombification? There's a whole lot of gray area there. And guess who was gonna take advantage of that gray area to prove a point?
Getting back to the story, this man, aka the client, wasn't the most healthy guy, right? He comes in, one and a half years later, fresh off a heart attack, and tells us to do it. Give him the potion. So my master, who at the time is having second thoughts, decides to take the potion and pour it down his throat.
Well, here's where everything goes sideways. My master hadn't figured out how to make a spell that would let the man live forever in the sense y'all are thinking of. The rich man wasn't gonna be walking the earth for eternity. No, he was going to be sleeping eternally–contingent, of course, upon having a source of oxygen. So the man wouldn't need to eat, he'd just need to breathe.
Sure, eternal sleep wasn't what the guy was going for. But it was a sight better than what he deserved. Trust me on that one. He was involved in the, shall we say, some other substances business. And he's part of why me and a lot of people in my neighborhood had to be good with a pistol.
So my master pours this eternal sleep potion down the guy's throat. Problem is, prior to coming in, this man had downed enough bourbon to put a horse under. I'm exaggerating, sure, but not by much. Alcohol and the potion didn't mix well, and instead of going to sleep, the man sunk his teeth into my master's neck and drank his blood.
Soon as he finishes, the rich man runs out the door. And no, he doesn't burst into flames. He just runs off into the distance. Meanwhile, my master's on the floor, totally unconscious, neck wound not bleeding but not looking too good, and his skin paler than it had any right to be.
So I do the only thing I can think of and dump a bucket of water on him.
That wakes him up. And he just lies there for a few seconds, staring at me, before backing himself against the wall, weeping. I try to go over, ask him what's wrong, but he yells at me to stay away. So we're on opposite sides of the room, him with his head in his hands and me still trying to understand what happened, and we stay that way for about an hour. That's when he finally gets tired of crying and tells me what went down.
Apparently, when he consulted the spirits they told him the guy was a real bloodsucker. Now, maybe my master should have figured out what was going to happen from that phrase, exact words and all that, but hindsight is 50-50. Point is, this guy's now running around with a thirst for blood, and everyone he bites is gonna turn into a vampire. That's right, my master is now a vampire with a thirst for blood, and he's barely restraining himself from digging into my neck.
But instead of biting me, my master has decided that he has to fix his mistake. The sun's going down, so he sends me out to get a list of supplies. I do that, come back, and he's got another list. Rinse and repeat, get more stuff, up until about the middle of the next day, when everything is finally prepared.
I stand back so I can run if I have to while he works on a solution. His solution? A curse. That's right, he's decided to place a curse on himself.
You're probably wondering why he'd curse himself. Thing about curses is you need to be close to somebody or have something of great value to them if you're going to curse them. But if you're part of their bloodline, you can curse yourself and your entire bloodline at the same time if you use a bloodline curse. Now guess how bloodlines work for vampires.
That's right. My master decided to curse himself so he could retroactively curse the rich man. And also any other vampires that get created as part of the bloodline. So he puts a curse on himself. And also on me. A two-parter, really. Part one says that every new vampire in the bloodline will also have two voodoo dolls created at its origin. The first one will symbolize daywalking, the second one nightwalking. Part two says where the dolls will appear: the nightwalking doll will appear at the point of creation, but the daywalking doll will appear wherever I am.
As soon as he finishes the curse, two dolls appear in the room. He takes my daywalker, throws it outside, dumps some kerosene on it, and tosses a lit match at it. Next thing you know, he's on the floor, howling as invisible fire burns his body. Through his screams, he yells at me to take the nightwalking doll and run outside. I do that, it bursts into flames, when I dare to look back in my master's place, well, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Over the next few years, dolls keep appearing by me at random times. Usually at night, so at least I have that going for me. It ain't fun to try and explain to a customer why a voodoo doll suddenly appeared in your shop out of nowhere. But whenever they appear, I do the obvious thing and set them on fire. That's why you don't see vampires in the day, or at least I hope you don't–I'm the one taking care of them.
I ended up here because the Puerto Rican vampires figured out where I was. I had to flee after a couple of months, and I got to New Orleans. Still, they found me a couple of years later.
I don't open windows, I lock my doors, I let the sun in whenever I can, and I always carry a weapon with me. That's why I put a gun to your backs. And that's why you found a voodoo doll and a vampire at the same time.
There's your voodoo doll story. Any questions?
Taylor David Adult Diaper Factory
As soon as Taylor David's head was lifted off of his shoulders, he began complaining.
"Hey! Put me down!" Taylor David said, kicking his tiny legs and waving his tiny arms ineffectively.
"Not a chance, gnome," Dipper said.
"Yeah!" Mabel agreed. "So tell us, what's your game? Planning to abduct someone and force them to marry you?"
"That's discrimination!" one of the protesters complained.
"Yeah! Not all little people are kidnappers!" another one added.
"I say we don't protest minority-owned businesses!" another protester said.
"Oh yeah, I'm totally in," someone agreed.
"Let's leave this place and go protest something else! Like expired mayonnaise!" Hannah said.
The rest of the protesters moved out of the office as swiftly as a large group of people cramming into a single elevator can move out of a space. Once the elevator left, the only people in the room were Soos, Dipper, Mabel, Pacifica, and Taylor David.
Taylor David crossed his arms. "You gonna put me down now?"
"You gonna tell us what you're up to?" Pacifica responded.
"Yeah, you planning to kidnap me?" Mabel asked.
The gnome looked at her askance. "What is it with you and kidnapping?"
"That's what happened last time you fools came around!" Mabel said. "You tried to make me marry you."
The gnome exhaled through his teeth. "Hoo boy. This is awkward. Okay, first, we already have a queen. Second, you came to us, we didn't come to you. Third, attack!"
Upon hearing this command, gnomes swarmed out of the business suit. Dipper and Mabel dropped Taylor David and backed up against the wall as the gnomes surrounded them.
"So what should we do?" one of them asked.
"Well, they're awake. I guess we gotta kill them!" another one responded.
"Yeah, kill them!" a third one cheered.
"Alright, let's kill them," Taylor David said.
"You know, I just have one question," Mabel said worriedly as the gnomes closed in.
"Why didn't we bring a leaf blower?" Dipper suggested.
"No. Well, yeah, but why are gnomes running an adult diaper factory in the first place?" she asked.
The gnomes stopped in their tracks.
"Uh, should we tell them?" one of them asked.
"I don't see why not," another one mused.
"It could be a trap!" another gnome said. "They could be planning to steal our business plan!"
"But our business plan is so cool now that we finally figured out Phase Two!" the second gnome exclaimed.
"Uh, Phase Two?" Soos said. "What's Phase One?"
"Phase One, we collect underpants!" one of the gnomes said happily.
Dipper's jaw dropped. "What."
"Phase One, we collect underpants," the gnome repeated. "Geez, kinda thick in the head, aren't you kid?"
"Okay, so you collect underpants," Pacifica said. "That doesn't explain, well, any of this."
"Well, how confusing is it?" Taylor David asked. "We can go slow, so you'll understand, but it'll come at a price."
"What's the price?" Soos asked nervously.
"Underpants," the gnomes chorused.
"Well, I dunno..." Soos said.
"Wow, look at the size of these things!" a gnome proclaimed.
Everyone looked over at the gnome. Sure enough, he had removed Soos's underpants without anyone noticing.
"Aw, man!" Soos said. He checked his pants. "Aw, MAN!"
"This is an amazing bounty!" one of the gnomes proclaimed. "I predict two, no, three diapers will come from this pair alone!"
"Alright, fine," Pacifica said. "You have your underpants. Weirdos. Now tell us your plan."
"Wait, I think I've got it," Dipper said. "They steal underpants, turn them into diapers, and then sell them."
The gnomes looked at each other. Taylor David nodded. "Yeah, that's about right."
"Okay, why?" Pacifica asked.
The gnomes looked at each other, uncertain.
"Well, it's our business plan," one of them finally said.
"Why is that your business plan?" Pacifica asked. "You steal underwear–"
"Underpants!" several gnomes corrected her.
"Whatever. You steal underpants to turn them into diapers why?" Pacifica asked.
"For profit!" one of the gnomes proclaimed.
"Profit!" the gnomes cheered.
"I'm sorry, we just don't really understand your plan," Mabel said.
"Well, it's very simple," Taylor David said. "See, we have this chart." A gnome held it up for him. "Phase one, collect underpants. Phase two, make them into adult diapers. Phase three, profit. It's very simple."
"Oh, I get it," Soos said.
Pacifica's face wrinkled as she attempted to parse the thought process. When she spoke again, she asked "I kind of get your business plan, but how did you even come up with it?"
"Oh, that was difficult!" Taylor David said. "See, at first we only had phase one and phase three, and we didn't know what phase two was going to be. Then we ran into this other guy, and he listened to our problem and proposed a solution that later became phase two! I'm actually going to get a call from him soon. We could ask him about it if you want."
"Uh, yeah, thanks," Pacifica said. "We'd love to hear all about it."
It was at that moment that the phone rang. The gnomes scurried over to the desk and answered, putting it on speakerphone.
"Hi guys!" the voice said. "How's the whole underpants business going?"
Mabel gasped. "Guys! It's him!"
I'm not suggesting that South Park and Gravity Falls take place in the same universe. I'm just suggesting that they both have Underpants Gnomes.
Chapter 40: End of the Line
Gabriel's Candy Shop
New Orleans, Louisiana
Once the old man had finished his story, he poured himself another cup of tea. The teenagers looked at him, stunned.
"You were around when the first vampire was created?" Tina asked.
Gabriel shrugged. "Probably. I don't know if there were others before, or others someplace else, but any vampire that comes with a voodoo doll attached, I'd bet that's one of mine."
"So wait, every time a new vampire is created you get a voodoo doll?" Lee asked.
"That is what I just said, yes," Gabriel confirmed.
"So what do we do now?" Jenny asked.
Gabriel raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"Has all this vurstreldamen fighting meant nothing?" Holger asked. "Holger was so scary, but fight vurstreldamen! Is sacred duty to Holgermiester! If it was not important, then why did we do it? Does nothing matter? Holger need to know!"
Gabriel stared into space, breathing heavily. He slammed his palms onto the table.
"Alright," he said. He stood up and began pacing back and forth in front of them.
"Kids," he began, "I'm an old man. Maybe not by age, although I'm getting there, but I've seen a lot of things. Most of them have involved vampires." He stopped pacing and stared through them. "I've spent the last twenty-seven years dealing with them. I've been confronted by vampires time and time again. I set fire to dolls every week. Every month, some vampires try to take me down. And I've kept 'em all off me, but GOD, do you know how hard it gets? I ain't getting younger, my reflexes are getting worse, and the vampires, well, they keep coming. Sooner or later, they're gonna take me down. I don't know if they're gonna turn me or anything, but I know that someday I'm gonna lose."
He focused on Holger. "You remind me a lot of me. When I got into the voodoo business, I wanted to stop evil, to break it down, to fix people's problems. But you know, before the vampire, I was starting to suspect that that wasn't gonna happen. That the universe is naturally chaotic, and staving it off does nothing important."
Gabriel stared into the distance. "So y'all fight vampires. Good for you. I don't. I just run from them. Because I don't see any way to stop them. Patient Zero is gone, and the disease is out in the world."
Gabriel sat back down in his chair heavily. "So what do you want from me? A magical spell that'll get rid of the vampires? Some quick cure-all to take it all away? It's a losing battle, and I don't think you can win, even if you took down the rich man. For all I know, he's dead too."
"Then–no hope?" Holger said, quavering. He burst into tears. "OH NO! THERE IS NO HOPE! VURSTRELDAMEN WILL KILL US ALL!"
"Whoa, Holg, it's okay!" Lee consoled, patting his friend on the back. "It's okay, we'll–"
"No!" Holger exclaimed. "Is no okay! Vurstreldamen will kill us all and there is nothing we can do!"
Holger continued crying. Tina came over to help comfort him while Jenny cast an angry look at Gabriel before joining her.
Gabriel cleared his throat. "Okay, maybe I exaggerated."
Holger stopped crying. Lee looked at Gabriel quizzically. "Exaggerated?"
Gabriel scratched the back of his head. "Okay, look. It might be possible to reverse the vampirism by destroying its original source."
"The rich man?" Tina asked.
Gabriel nodded. "The same. But I don't know where he is. He could be anywhere in the world. And I can't guarantee that it won't just be a waste of your time."
"We'll do it," Tina said. The rest of the group looked at her oddly. "What? We have to do it. For Biffy."
Lee shrugged. "Okay, I'm in. What should we do?"
"I don't know," Gabriel said. "I've been hiding out here for that exact reason."
"Group huddle!" Jenny called.
The group huddled.
"So, you think he's telling the truth?" Jenny whispered.
"I don't see why not," Lee whispered. "It adds up. Well, you know. Kind of."
"So what do we do, friends?" Holger asked happily.
"I think we should go to Puerto Rico," Tina whispered. "You know, start at the source."
Lee nodded. "Let's do it."
"I'm in," Jenny said.
"Oh, yay!" Holger cheered. "Friends, we are going to defeat the vurstreldamen!"
The group broke the huddle and turned back to Gabriel, who was looking at them.
"So you decided to take on a futile quest?" Gabriel asked. He shook his head regretfully. "Good luck, kids."
"Thanks," Lee said. "We're gonna try and track him down."
The group headed towards the door. Gabriel called out to them.
"Wait. You're gonna need tools to defeat a daywalking vampire."
"You're right," Lee said. "Lemme guess, a stake through the heart?"
Gabriel snorted. "Yeah, right. You're gonna get up close and personal, then hammer a sharpened piece of wood through his chest. Nevermind that he can turn into a bat and fly away, or that he'd bite you before you could take care of business and turn you into a thrall. Yeah. Great idea, kid, but no."
"Then what?" Jenny asked. "Holy water? Garlic?"
Gabriel rolled his eyes. "He's not a sugar cube, and unless he's allergic to Italian food garlic's not gonna cut it either. Seriously, y'all watch too many movies."
"What do we use, then?" Tina asked.
Gabriel took out his keys, opened one of the drawers, and pulled it open, revealing an armory.
"Guns?" Lee asked, surprised.
"Yeah, oddly enough, vampires don't do very well with a hole in their heads," Gabriel said. "Or, for that matter, anywhere else in their bodies. Then again, who does?"
Lee nodded. "Fair enough. So..."
"So good luck, kid," Gabriel said, striding over to the door and unlocking it. "I'd load up if I were you. And if I get some new voodoo dolls that look like you...well, I'm sorry."
Lee smiled. "Thanks."
The group walked out to the front door. Gabriel unlocked it, and they headed over to the limo. Once inside, Lee took out his phone and placed a call.
"Hey, Kimmie?" he said once she picked up. "We need a flight to Puerto Rico. I'll explain later."
Chapter 41: Speak No Evil
I feel I should note for this and future chapters that I don't speak Spanish.
El Chinchilla looked over at the police cars. Officers stepped out with their guns drawn, and El Chinchilla made a quick decision. He shoved the thief towards the policemen, threw down a smoke bomb, and disappeared.
Kim came up hacking but spotted a dark cape sweeping over the side of a roof. She ran after it, acrobatically wall climbing by jumping from wall to wall until she reached the rooftop. Shego followed suit, and arrived just in time to see Kim chasing after a dark figure.
El Chinchilla ran from roof to roof before reaching the end of the block, shimmying down a drainpipe, and running into another alleyway. He disappeared into the alleyway with Kim and Shego still chasing him.
"Geez, where'd they go?" Motor Ed wondered. "Seriously. I thought we were going to, like, stick together and do something else."
Ron shrugged. "Kim probably ran after that chinchilla guy. Where's Shego?"
"How would I know where Green is?" Motor Ed asked. "Seriously! I've tried all my moves, but it's like she doesn't want anything to do with me! Seriously!"
"Oh, you noticed that?" Ron asked sarcastically.
"Yeah!" Motor Ed said. "It's seriously a downer." He stopped. "Wait a second, are you making fun of me?"
"No!" Ron quickly denied. "No, not at all. No, no...okay, yes."
Motor Ed's brow furrowed but he chose not to say anything. Ron's Kimmunicator beeped.
"Yo!" Ron said, answering quickly.
"Keep it down, Ron!" Kim hissed. "We tailed El Chinchilla to his hideout."
"Oh, cool!" Ron whispered excitedly. "But–why?"
"To see if he knows anything," Kim whispered back. "He might just be some weirdo in a cape, or he might have some idea what the heck we're supposed to do here."
"We're on our way!" Ron whispered. "Uh, where are we on our way to?"
7423 Paseo del Rey
Tito Castillo breathed heavily as he leaned against the wall of his apartment. After a few minutes, he peeked out the window to make sure nobody had followed him. Seeing nobody, he stepped out of the way and removed his mask and cape and left them by the wall.
Tito walked into his kitchen and started to fix himself some cocoa. Once the milk was on the burner, he stepped into his bedroom and removed his costume, replacing it with jeans and a t-shirt. He then reentered the kitchen and found the milk just starting to boil. He quickly took it off the heat and poured it into a mug.
After mixing the cocoa, Tito shut his eyes and inhaled the scent. The delicious drink calmed him, and he happily walked into the living room. Upon entering, however, his sense of calm left him and he hurled the mug at the redhead standing by the window.
Kim easily ducked the hot drink and let the mug shatter against the wall. She stepped forward.
"So, this is the lair of El Chinchilla," she said calmly. "Sorry to drop by unannounced, but I didn't get your number."
"Um, uh, ¿qué?" Tito said awkwardly. He backed away from her. "¿Quién es El Chinchilla?"
"Oh, give it up," Shego said, stepping through the window and into the room. "We tailed you here, genius." She looked around the room. "So, I guess superheroing doesn't really pay the bills, eh?"
Ron followed her in. He looked around. "Wow, what happened to your wall?" he asked, looking at the cocoa dripping down it.
Tito groaned. "Who's next? The big guy? The thief? The entire Cusco police department?"
"The cops took the thief," Shego said, disinterestedly pretending to examine her fingernails. "As for the big guy, he's outside. Turns out all that weightlifting didn't make him any good at climbing."
Tito looked at them, annoyed. "What do you want, anyway?"
"Oh, you know, the usual," Shego said.
"Don't antagonize him!" Kim said. "Look, we just want your help."
"And your backstory!" Ron said excitedly. "I mean, dude! You're like, a superhero! How does that even happen?"
"Well," Tito said, "that's a very sad and disturbing story."
"Yeah, and we're on a schedule, so–" Shego started to say
"It all started on my eighth birthday," Tito said. "Before then, I was like any other Peruvian boy: happy. Carefree. Enjoying my life. But all that changed when my parents took me to see a movie for my birthday. I don't even remember what the film was. But what I do remember, is that after we left the theater, a mugger killed both of them. Over what? The little money they had left in their wallets? I decided this would not do. I trained myself, physically, mentally, in every way possible, and decided to roam the night, to gnaw away evil and criminality wherever it might rise. I decided to become a rodent...of justice."
All three of them stared at him. Kim looked sympathetic. Shego looked bored. And Ron looked annoyed.
"Dude, that is totally the story for the Fearless Ferret!" Ron said. "I wanted to know your backstory!"
"How do you know that isn't my backstory?" Tito asked angrily. Ron just quirked an eyebrow. "Okay, so it isn't, but it's better than mine!"
"I'm sure that's not true," Kim said soothingly.
"I wanted to be the Fearless Ferret so I made a costume and set out to take down criminals," Tito said.
"Okay, so maybe it is," Kim said awkwardly.
Shego scoffed. "Please, princess, it's worlds better than your story. What was it again? Oh yeah, you were a babysitter and cheerleader, and then you helped out some millionaire with a Cuddle Buddy obsession. Yeah, that's interesting."
"Okay!" Ron said, stepping between them before another fight could break out. "So, we know your backstory, that answers my question. Kim, Shego, you had a different question for him."
"Right," Kim said. "Um, so, we're on a hunt for our missing friends, and the hunt has led us here. Is there anything you know that might be helpful?"
Tito shook his head. "Sorry, I don't know anything about that. Can you tell me what they look like?"
"One's blue, one's fat," Shego said. "And the kidnapper keeps giving us cryptic riddles."
"Blue and fat," Tito mused. "Yeah, sorry, I–wait. Did you say cryptic riddles?"
"Yeah, it's really frustrating," Ron said. "They like, almost make sense, but they're also not very specific. It's annoying."
Tito tapped his foot as he thought about it. Eventually, he spoke.
"That sounds a lot like José Ramos."
"Great!" Kim said. "Can you take us to him?"
Shego scoffed. "Seriously, Kimmie? José Ramos is one of the biggest figures in the South American underground. He's got fingers in pretty much every pie. How do you not know that?"
"I dunno, because I'm usually facing egotistical megalomaniacs who want to take over the world?" Kim shot back. "Not that you'd know anything about taking over the world!"
"Okay, okay," Ron said. "So, El Chinchilla, can you take us to him?"
Tito tilted his head and thought. Eventually, he shrugged.
"Your funeral, gringos."
Chapter 42: They Grow Corn There
Happy 4th of July!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Taylor David Adult Diaper Factory
"Oh, hey!" the voice on the other end of the line said. "What are you guys doing with the Underpants Gnomes?"
"Never mind that!" Dipper said angrily. "Where are our Grunkles?"
"Why, they're safe here with me!" the kidnapper said. "Do you wanna talk to them?"
"No!" his high-pitched assistant exclaimed. "We can't do that!"
"Why not?" the kidnapper asked. "Remember how we talked to–"
"Shush!" his assistant exclaimed. "Stick to the script!"
"Oh, uh, right," the kidnapper said. "So, T.D., how's it going with the diaper business?"
"Whoa, hold on, you guys know each other?" Taylor David asked.
"Oh yeah, we go way back," the kidnapper said. "To like, five days ago, when I kidnapped their Grunkles."
"What's a grunkle?" one of the gnomes asked. "Is it a talisman that guarantees profit?"
"Hold on, I'll ask," the kidnapper said.
The phone went silent for a few minutes. Eventually, the kidnapper returned to the line.
"So apparently it's a shortening of great uncle," the kidnapper said. "Sounds pretty cool to me. Anyway, guys, how's the diaper business going?"
"Wait, why'd you kidnap their grunkles?" another gnome asked. "That's not very nice."
"Yeah, but, I had a good reason. See–"
"No!" his assistant interrupted again. "We should just hang up!"
"Don't say my name!"
"But it's very important! They need me for their business meeting!"
"We're not leaving, you know," Pacifica interjected.
"Why are you even there!" the assistant complained. "You're not supposed to be there!"
"Hey, yeah!" the kidnapper said. "Where's my delicious bison burgers?"
"Bison burgers? Dude, what?" Soos asked. "I mean, I could totally go for some right now, but what are you talking about?"
"You didn't even get me bison burgers?" the kidnapper asked, affronted. "Not cool, dudes. Not cool."
"Not cool?" Mabel said angrily. "Not cool? Not cool is kidnapping our Grunkles, forcing us to search for them, getting us into fights with Communists, cramming us into a shipping crate, and then forcing us to protest old-person smell! And now you want us to bring you bison burgers? The only burger we're bringing you is a fist sandwich!"
"Despite the mixed metaphor, I'm with Mabel," Dipper said. "Give us back our Grunkles!"
"Whoa whoa whoa time out," the kidnapper said. "Communists? Old-person smell? Fist sandwiches? What's going on here? I don't understand!"
"We're doing exactly what you told us, that's what!" Mabel yelled.
"Whaaaaattt?" the kidnapper asked. "I never told you to do any of that stuff!"
"Uh, yeah, you did," Pacifica said.
"Yeah, we did what you told us to in Boise, but you didn't give us any other information, so we just uh, just followed the trail," Soos said.
"Back it up a moment," the kidnapper said. "What trail did you follow, exactly?"
"Well, first we went to Boise, like you said," Soos explained. "Then we tracked down that cult of Stalinists, who it turned out were being run by this bad guy we met before when he wanted to wipe everybody's memories but we wiped his to stop him. Just a little side note I thought you might find interesting. So we beat the Stalinists, but they got a call from another group in Utah, so Pacifica got the coordinates and we went over there! But then we got captured and knocked out and put in a shipping crate which sent us to this group of protesting college students in New Mexico. Then we drove all the way to Arkansas with the protesters, who were all up in arms over old-person smell. Heh, kinda ironic, since we're trying to find two old persons. Anyway, we ended up here, where we found out that these guys are all Underpants Gnomes."
"Wow," the kidnapper said. "Wow. WOW. That was not at all what I expected to happen."
"Wait, what? What did you expect?" Dipper asked.
"Well, you were supposed to go to Boise and see the cultists of spice who would give you a recipe for spicy french fries. Then you were supposed to go to Montana and get bison patties, followed by South Dakota's delicious fresh whole-wheat buns, and then to St. Louis for barbecue sauce! You weren't supposed to end up in Arkansas with underpants gnomes! This isn't right! This isn't right at all!"
"You know what else isn't right?" Pacifica snarked. "Kidnapping two old people and leading us on a wild goose chase. That really isn't right."
"You're right," the kidnapper said, ashamed. "I'm a horrible person."
"It was the only way," his assistant consoled him. "We had to do this, otherwise nothing would make sense."
"It doesn't make sense anyway!" the kidnapper exclaimed.
"When has that ever been a problem for us?"
"It's not a problem for us, it's a problem for them! Things have to follow a logical progression for them!"
"Um, we're still here?" Dipper said.
"Oh, right," the kidnapper said. "Well, uh, hold on."
Outside the factory, a horn blared loudly.
"Okay," the kidnapper said. "That bus'll take you where you need to go. It's right outside and it has everything you'll need: beds, food, a phone so you can call your loved ones if you need to, and a great driver. Okay, bye."
The kidnapper hung up. The rest of the group looked at each other.
"Wow, you guys had better get on that bus, huh?" Taylor David said.
"Uh, yeah, not happening," Pacifica said.
"Yeah!" Mabel cheered. "Not until we get some answers!"
"Well you'll be waiting a while," Taylor David said. "I don't think he's going to call back just to give you some answers."
"He has to call back sometime," Soos said. "And when he does, we'll be waiting."
"Uh, yeah, no," Taylor David said. He leapt into the desk chair and pushed a button on the underside of the desk.
"Um, what was that?" Dipper asked worriedly.
"Oh, I just called security," Taylor David said smugly.
"Yeah!" another gnome added. "You're gonna get it now!"
Suddenly, the phone rang. Soos grabbed it.
"Hello?" he asked.
"Please get on the bus?" the kidnapper on the other end asked.
"Uh, no, not gonna happen," Soos said.
"Pretty please?" the kidnapper asked. Taylor David tapped the speakerphone button.
"Seriously, this is pretty weird," Soos said.
"Pretty please with I promise you'll see your Grunkles on top?"
Mabel rushed out of the room before anyone else could say anything. The other three looked at each other and then decided to follow, all boarding the bus that waited outside.
"Alright, welcome aboard," the driver said once they were all on the bus. "Next stop: Eerie, Indiana."
I honestly didn't know that Eerie, Indiana was an influence on Gravity Falls until I looked up Eerie, Indiana so I could write the last few chapters of this.
Chapter 43: Cold When I Undressed
Warning: contains strip poker.
It's entirely for embarrassment purposes and I think the rating stays intact, but I just thought you should know.
1115 Calle 27
El Chinchilla led them to a rundown building on a poorly-kept street.
"This is it," he said. "The lair of José Ramos."
"Whoa, do we have to walk directly into his lair?" Ron asked.
"Yeah, not to side with the coward here, but I'd prefer someplace a little more neutral," Shego said.
El Chinchilla crossed his arms. "He is José Ramos, one of the most notorious crime kingpins in all of South America, never mind Peru. You want him, you go to him, he doesn't go to you. So are you going to go to him, or what?"
The quartet shared a glance. Kim stepped forward and knocked on the door. The door swung open, revealing a set of steps leading down into darkness. The group walked down the steps and found another door, this one made of reenforced metal. El Chinchilla stepped forward and raised his fist to knock, but the door swung open, revealing a large, smoke-filled room that reeked of alcohol.
The quintet stepped forward. They made it no more than five steps past the door before it slammed shut. They spun around and saw several large men pointing guns at them. More goons closed ranks, and soon they were completely circled.
A few goons at the far edge of the circle stepped aside, and a heavyset bald man with an eyepatch, a black mustache, and a beard stepped forward. He took a drag from his hand-rolled cigarette and stared at El Chinchilla distastefully.
"[Ah, the famous El Chinchilla. How nice of you to drop by,]" the man said in Spanish.
"[Believe me, José, this was not my idea,]" El Chinchilla responded.
José Ramos laughed. "[Of course not. I wouldn't expect El Chinchilla to be dumb enough to come here.]"
"[I come with some, shall we say, friends. They request an audience and a favor.]"
"[Oh, friends. Let me guess, they know something you wish they didn't.]"
"[I know something you wish I didn't, José. Or would you like me to tell everyone about–]"
The conversation stopped there. José Ramos looked around the circle angrily. His eyes landed on Ron and settled there.
"[So is he one of your friends?]" José asked.
"[Yes,]" El Chinchilla admitted.
José laughed disdainfully and stalked over to the group. Pushing El Chinchilla aside, he grabbed Ron's chin and turned the boy to face him.
"[So, you want information?]" he asked Ron mockingly.
"[The gringos don't speak Spanish,]" El Chinchilla said.
José frowned. "So, you want information?" he asked.
"Yes, we do," Kim said.
José's brow wrinkled, but he chose to ignore Kim's response. "Tell me, boy, do you remember me?"
"Um, well, actually, yeah, you're, uh, aren't you, um–" Ron stalled for time.
"I see you don't. Well, I remember you. It's been quite a while, The Kid."
Ron looked at him blankly. Suddenly, his eyes widened with sudden realization. He chuckled awkwardly.
"Oh, yeah, The Kid! Yeah, sorry, I was on a–" he started to say before José Ramos shoved him backwards into one of the thugs. José walked up to him and got in his face.
"If you want information, it'll be on my terms," José said angrily. "I folded away a straight because of you, and I want payback!" He clapped his hands and called out to his staff. "[Gentlemen, ready the stage. It's time for poker!]" He turned back to Ron. "You must think you're pretty clever."
"No!" Ron said quickly. "No, not clever, not me! I'd actually say–"
"How about a game of poker?" José asked, interrupting him.
"I dunno, I–" Ron started to say.
"That wasn't a request, boy."
Ramos Casino of Cusco
A half-moon table was set up on a small stage. Three seats were placed at the table. Two of them faced the audience, and were where Ron and José sat. The third faced them. In that chair was a dealer.
The table itself was very thin, with small legs and almost unobstructed views of the two gamblers. José Ramos smirked as he dropped his cigarette onto the floor, ground it out with his heel, and began work on another one.
"So, I take it you know the rules?" José asked smugly.
"Uh, no, actually–" Ron started to respond.
"Well then, I'll make it simple," José said, grinning wickedly. "I win, you strip. You win, I strip."
"Wait, what?" Ron asked, shocked.
"Not so confident now, are you?" José said. "Don't worry, I'll even count your backpack and belt. Make it easy on you."
Ron gulped. His breath got wheezy, and he started glancing around the room for an escape.
"[Dealer! Let's go!]" José exclaimed.
The dealer rolled his eyes and sent five cards to each player. José grinned as he scanned his cards. Ron did not. He stared at his cards and then set them down on the table. When José slid four cards to the dealer, Ron didn't react except to sweat a bit more. José then turned his cards over and grinned sadistically.
"Well, boy? You gonna turn 'em over?" José asked.
Ron gulped and turned his cards over. José snorted.
"[Two pair beats a pair,]" the dealer said in Spanish before repeating himself in English. He gestured towards Ron.
"That's right," José said. "Now strip!"
Seeing no other options, Ron stood up and removed his backpack. He set it next to his seat. José chuckled.
"That'll do for a starter, but I want a little bit more for my money." He turned to the dealer. "[Next hand!]"
Ramos Casino of Cusco
When Ron didn't exchange any cards during the next hand and subsequently lost, he decided to change it up. The next hand he was dealt, he sent all his cards back.
José barked out a laugh. "Good move, boy. I'm sure it'll pan out."
José sent in two cards and turned his hand over, revealing a pair of twos. Nervously, Ron turned his cards over and revealed a pair of queens. José looked at him angrily.
"Well, looks like you got lucky," José growled. "Lemme show you what it's like to not be lucky."
José removed his eyepatch, revealing an ugly red scab where his eye should be. He dropped his eyepatch on the ground and grinned at Ron.
"Let's see how lucky you are, punk."
Ramos Casino of Cusco
The game continued in this manner, with Ron alternately holding on to all his cards and discarding all of them. Only twice did he get rid of just some of his cards, and he won one of the hands while losing the other. This wasn't an advanced strategy on his part, though; instead it was a complete lack of knowledge about how to play the game combined with some wild guesses. As the game progressed, Ron found himself winning more often than his opponent, and when José had been worked out of his socks, shoes, jacket, and necktie, he apparently started to feel the pressure, as he summoned a bartender over to the stage and ordered a drink.
While he waited for his drink to arrive, the cards were dealt again. José looked at his cards, grinned, and discarded two, while Ron held on to his initial five. When they put them on the table, though, José won with a pair of sevens against Ron's ace high.
Ron stood up sadly and removed his belt. "Farewell, good friend," he told the accessory. "You were a great help."
José growled. "Enough of your theatrics, boy. Let's see you lose the rest of your clothing."
Ron sat down again and the dealer laid five in front of Ron and José. José tossed aside two cards, while Ron exchanged his entire hand. When he revealed his cards, though, he had three sevens against José's pair of fives. Jose's face went beet red, and he tore his shirt off, tossing it to the side. He cracked his knuckles and stared down Ron.
Another hand was dealt, and José's bourbon arrived immediately after his cards. He took a sip and slid three cards back to the dealer. At the same time, Ron sent his entire hand back. The dealer gave them their cards, and José flipped his over, revealing that he had an ace high. Ron did the same and showed that he had a pair of sevens.
Instead of exploding, José took a deep breath and threw the rest of his drink back. He then stood up and dropped his trousers, thereby revealing that today he had chosen to go commando.
"I suppose you won, The Kid," José said. "But you wanted information, isn't that right?"
"That I do," Ron said proudly. "That. I. Do."
"Then let's make a deal," José said. "One last hand, all the marbles. You win, I give you the information you want. You lose, you get out."
"Hey!" Kim complained. "He was playing for information!"
José eyed her coldly. "No, he was playing to pay off his debt to me. Believe me, señorita, if you wanted me to find a more difficult way for him to pay it off, you should have said something."
Kim opened her mouth to say something, but Shego clapped a hand over her mouth. "Watch it!" she hissed into Kim's ear. "Trust me, this is one guy you don't want to cross."
José looked over to Ron. "So, The Kid, are you interested?"
Ron pretended to be calm as he leaned back in his chair. "Deal the cards, bro."
The dealer sent the cards over to the players. Ron looked over his cards: the queen of diamonds, the ten of hearts, the nine of hearts, the five of diamonds, and the queen of clubs. Although it was a decent hand, it might as well have been Swahili to Ron, who mentally decided to just go with it. José, on the other side of the table, had been dealt the other two queens, the ace of hearts, and the ten and three of clubs. José smirked as he slid the ten and three to the dealer and got a pair of eights.
As soon as he got these cards and slid them into his hand, his face cracked into a grin and he slammed his cards down on the table. Ron gulped as he turned his cards over, and José's grin grew wider as he processed his win. Saying nothing, José got up and walked away from the table calmly. Ron watched him leave, heart sinking into his stomach as José walked away, proud and naked.
"Yeah, well, I've still won two out of three!" he suddenly yelled. José Ramos stopped in his tracks, ears reddening. "That's right, José! Or did you forget I cost you your straight? Face it, I'm a better poker player! And for once, I've still got my pants on!"
José stormed back to the table, a look of sheer rage on his face. He yanked his chair out and sat down.
"Fine, boy," he said angrily. "You'll lose all your clothes now."
"And if I don't?" Ron asked smugly.
"You'll get your information," José said. "NOW STRIP!"
Ron stood up, shrugging, and reached for his shirt to take it off. Before he could, however, his pants fell down.
"Aw, man! Again?" Ron complained. He kicked his pants away.
"[DEAL THE CARDS!]" José yelled.
The dealer snapped to, quickly spreading five cards in front of each of them. Ron didn't even glance at his cards, instead sending them back to the dealer. The enraged José examined his cards for several seconds before coming to a conclusion and forcefully thrusting two cards at the dealer.
The dealer handed José two cards back. Jose looked at them, growled deeply in his throat, and slapped his hand down, revealing a ten high one card short of a straight flush. Ron revealed his cards more calmly, showing that he had a pair of sixes.
José hunched in on himself, huffing angrily. He stared at Ron.
"Alright, boy," he said in a measured voice. "What's your question?"
"Kim?" Ron called squeakily. "He wants to know what our question is!"
Kim stepped forward. "We were given a cryptic riddle that pointed us towards Cusco. After that, it got confusing. Could you please explain it for us?"
José lit another cigarette and sat back. "Fine. What is it?"
"Um, at Cusco you will find the clues that send you to the past. Be sure to stay inside the lines, you'll find your friends at last," Kim recited.
José exhaled a heavy breath of smoke. "It's the Nazca lines. That, or cocaine. Probably cocaine. Might be both. Now get out."
"Thanks so much," Ron ventured.
1115 Calle 27
The quintet landed on the pavement outside roughly. Ron scrambled to his feet.
"Hey! Don't I at least get my clothes back?" he called to the guards.
The only response was a slammed door. The other four got up and dusted themselves off, and Ron rejoined them.
"Well, at least we know where to go from here," Kim said.
"Seriously?" Motor Ed asked. "How do you know we can trust him?"
"We don't," Shego said sharply. "Now let's go."
"Okay, okay," Kim said. "Hey, thanks for the help. Do you–"
Kim's question died in her throat as she realized that El Chinchilla had disappeared.
"C'mon, Kimmie!" Shego called, already halfway down the block. "We've got something called the Nazca Lines to get to!"
Somewhere over the Bermuda Triangle
As the sun sank low in the west, a plane flew over the Caribbean sea. Onboard were four teenage passengers, all of whom were gathered around a table. The teens were talking to each other in order to plan their next move.
"We have crystal guns, plenty of crystallization liquid, an approximate destination, and a hotel for the night," Lee said. "What else do we have handy?"
"Teamwork?" Tina suggested.
"Friendship?" Holger added.
"Insanity?" Jenny guessed. "I mean, we are trying to take on a daywalking vampire on its own turf."
Tina nodded. "That's a good point."
"And I don't think he has dolls," Lee said. "That's what Gabriel seemed to think, anyway."
"Maybe he does but just keeps them with him," Tina suggested.
"It doesn't really matter," Jenny said.
"Ya," Holger agreed. "If vurstreldamen has dolls, it will be hard for us to get them."
"We can entrap him, though," Tina said. "And if crystallization works on vampires the same way it does on humans..."
"We'll be able to get rid of his dolls while he's frozen!" Lee said, completing her sentence.
"Okay, but how do we know where he is?" Jenny said. "The guy said that people came from all over Puerto Rico! Plus, it's been twenty-five years. He could've moved by now."
"We go from the start," Tina said. "If we're going to investigate this thing, we need to go from where it all began: with a voodoo practitioner's hut. So we go there, see if it's still standing, and work from that."
Lee nodded. "That's a good idea. But...does anyone know where it is?"
In unison, the passengers groaned.
"Okay," Jenny said. "I think it was in south Puerto Rico?"
"And he mentioned that it was somewhere south of a city," Tina added.
"And it, uh, yeah, I got nothing," Jenny said.
"Great," Lee groaned. "How are we ever going to find this original vampire without any leads?"
"Friends!" Holger said. "Do not give up hope! Do not! Vurstreldamen fighters always find a way!"
"Holger, we're five miles over the Carribean, it's almost nighttime, we were already on an impossible quest to find a single vampire, and now we don't even know where to start searching," Jenny said. "The only way this could be more hopeless would be if the plane crashed."
It was at that point that the plane's engines cut out.
"Oh come on I was kidding!" Jenny shouted desperately.
Lee ran to the front of the plane and tugged on the door to the pilot's cabin. It was locked.
"Oh come on!" Lee complained. "Who does that on a private plane?"
"Let me!" Jenny yelled, joining him at the door. Together, they yanked at the handle. Tina and Holger joined them, but it was to no avail.
"Stand back!" Holger declared. "Holger use his magic powers!"
"Alright, fine!" Lee said. "Good luck, buddy! Guys! Look for parachutes!"
The group hunted madly through the plane, but parachutes were nowhere to be found as they gained momentum downwards.
"FananananananananananananananANANANANANANA!" Holger yelped desperately. "Oh, it is no use, friends! Holger's magic powers no work!"
"Try something else!" Jenny yelled back.
"You really think that will work?" Tina asked, shocked.
"You got a better idea?" Jenny asked.
Tina thought about it and ran over to her boyfriend.
"Lee!" she said frantically. "I love you!"
"Me too, Tina!" Lee declared. "I love you too!"
Simultaneously, they reached for each other and hugged tightly. When they tried to break the hug, they were unable to, as Holger had joined them. He clasped them both close to his chest, and they hugged them back. Jenny walked over and joined the group hug, and they held on to each other tightly as the airplane plummeted towards the ocean below.
Tears seeped out of Jenny's eyes as death approached. Lee and Tina similarly held back their sobs. Only Holger was tearless despite being the most likely of all of them to cry. He just held his friends close and breathed deeply as the plane smashed into the waves.
The plane disappeared under the waters of the Caribbean. When it resurfaced five seconds later, it was half-submerged in the water and there were no signs of life on board.
See you Monday.
Chapter 45: We're Not Dead
The Silent Planet
Several people were gathered in a large control room, replete with multiple computer workstations, a large but inactive portal, several control panels, and an overview point in the center of the room currently occupied by Uncle Grandpa. Everyone in the room had an expression that suggested they had just finished with some particularly taxing work, except for Dr. Drakken.
Maxwell Finnwich stepped away from a control panel, wiping his brow. He exhaled heavily. "That was more difficult than I expected."
"Yeah, no kidding," Wade agreed. "I mean, I thought I'd be able to get that done in less than a minute, but those programming languages were really difficult!"
Biffy smirked. "Sure they were, small fry. Just admit I'm a better hacker than you are."
"Uh, aren't you forgetting your natural advantage?" Wade asked.
"What, you mean my charm and good looks?" Biffy said.
"Sure, let's go with that," Wade said, rolling his eyes.
"Uncle Grandpa!" Finnwich called. "Did you manage to open the rift?"
"Oh, yeah!" Uncle Grandpa said happily. "I totally did. Although it was kind of hard to make sure that only the people got through."
Silence fell over the room. Biffy looked around awkwardly.
"So, where are they?" Finnwich finally prompted.
Uncle Grandpa shrugged. "Beats me. They're somewhere on the planet."
"Are you serious?" Finnwich asked, incensed. "You bumbling buffoon! You can drag us to this pre-built area so you can tell us your cockamamie ideas without any trouble, but you can't bring them all here at once?"
"Hey!" Uncle Grandpa said. "Are you accusing me of being reckless?"
"Yes I am!" Finnwich said. "You dunderhead! You demanded that we follow your instructions–"
"Whoa, hey, demanded is a little harsh," Uncle Grandpa said.
"You demanded we follow your instructions, but you can't even do your job–the one you assigned to yourself, might I remind you–you can't even do that correctly?" Finnwich asked angrily.
"Let's calm down," a man instructed. Stanford stepped out of the shadows. "While I will admit that this is highly unorthodox, Uncle Grandpa hasn't lied to us yet. Your friends are probably somewhere on the planet."
"Probably within five miles, if you ask me," his twin brother said.
Stanford looked at him, confused. "And how did you come to that conclusion?"
"Simple," Stanley Pines said. "This guy runs on story logic."
"And?" Wade prompted.
"Well, think about it," Stan said. "The whole deal is that there has to be a story. If they were on the other side of the planet, there's no way we'd be able to get to them. It's too inconvenient. And if they happened to land directly in our laps, that would be too convenient. Since it's a story, there has to be drama, but we have to be able to find them. Otherwise, there's no point. So tell me, am I right?"
Stan looked directly at Uncle Grandpa as he said the last sentence. Uncle Grandpa frowned.
"Fine, so you're right," Uncle Grandpa said. "Ruin my fun, why don't you."
Stan grinned. "Gotta have something to do around here with all you poindexters."
"Hey, I'm not a poindexter!" Biffy complained.
"Muscles, you're a computer nerd who carries a cat around with him all the time. Color me unimpressed," Stan said.
Biffy growled but chose not to pursue the subject.
"Alright then," Ford said. "I guess we should go get them."
"I'm on board," Stan said. "Nothing better to do around here, anyway."
"We can take my monster truck!" Uncle Grandpa said excitedly.
"Whoa, hold on," Wade said. "We can't all go. One of us needs to stay behind in case of an emergency."
"Well it's not going to be me!" Biffy said. "They came all this way to see me, what'll they think if I'm not there?"
"I'll stay behind," Finnwich volunteered.
"Really?" Stan asked. "Of everyone here, I thought you'd be happiest to see him."
"Yes, well, that's, um–" Finnwich stammered.
"Last time they met, he tried to kill Lee," Biffy supplied.
Finnwich waved his hands frantically. "In my defense, I thought the fate of the world was at stake!"
"I know what that's like," Ford admitted.
"Don't worry, poindexter, I forgive you," Stan said. "Sheesh. You're still broken up about that?"
"I thought I'd lost you forever!" Ford said. "Do you know what that's like?"
Stan gave him a sharp look. Ford coughed awkwardly. "Oh. Yes. Thirty years in the nightmare realm."
"Look, enough with the soap opera," Biffy said. "Finnwich is staying behind. Anybody else?"
"I'll stay too," Wade said. "Y'know, just in case Kim and Ron need my help."
"Anyone else?" Biffy asked. Nobody spoke up. "Then let's go."
"Driver, called it!" Uncle Grandpa said, sprinting towards the door that led outside. "Now c'mon, you're gonna love riding my monster truck!"
The search group left the building. Minutes later, Dr. Drakken walked into the large control center.
"Hey, where is everybody?" he asked.
"They went searching for Biffy's friends," Wade supplied, not looking up from his screen.
"Aw, what?" Drakken asked, annoyed. "Are you telling me we lost the bet?"
"That you did, fellows," Finnwich said. "Pay up."
Drakken grumbled and dug into his pocket. He looked up awkwardly. "Um, I seem to have misplaced my wallet."
Wade rolled his eyes. "You'd better hope your team arrives before mine. I can hack into your bank account."
"Yeah? Well, you better hope your team arrives before mine!" Drakken said.
"I told you, they teamed up," Finnwich said calmly. "They'll arrive at the same time, and you'll both owe me."
Drakken grumbled to himself. "Just because he had the luck to draw Kim Possible...he thinks he's all that, but he's not!"
Chapter 46: Open Your Eyes
The Silent Planet
The quartet clung to each other for a minute, waiting for impact. After a while, though, their grips loosened on each other. Jenny was the first to open her eyes.
"Uh, guys? You might wanna see this," she said.
Lee and Tina opened their eyes. Their jaws dropped. Holger kept his eyes tightly shut.
"Whoa..." Tina said. "Where are we?"
The group were in a large open plain of grass surrounded by a gray bowl of sky. The only parts of the landscape that broke the monotony were occasional trees.
Lee glanced around. "I don't know, but something feels wrong about this place."
"Well, how'd we get here?" Jenny asked.
Holger finally opened his eyes. As soon as he saw where he was, he screamed.
"AAAAHH! Where is plane? Where is ocean? Where is anything? Friends, Holger so scary!"
"Hey, that's true," Lee said. "We're all completely dry, and there's no water nearby, so we obviously didn't pass out and wash up on shore."
Holger's eyes widened.
"Hey, hey. It's okay, Holg," Lee said, patting him on the back. "Take a few deep breaths. C'mon."
"But, but Lee," Holger whimpered. "What if we...we didn't don't died?"
"Oh come on!" Jenny scoffed. "You really think this is the afterlife?"
"I dunno," Tina said nervously. "There's–" Her eyes widened. "There's no life around us! That's what's wrong with this place! It's silent!"
"Okay, let's stay calm," Lee said, still patting Holger. "It's going to be alright. We're not dead."
"But what if we are?" Tina asked frantically. "Oh, my sister's gonna kill me!"
Holger stopped hyperventilating and stared at her. He then burst into laughter.
"It's true!" Tina said frantically. "She'll be so upset! I told her I'd call every day, and now I'm not going to, and she'll be so worried!"
"Well, I mean, if you're dead..." Jenny chuckled.
"It's not funny!" Tina said, upset.
"Holgermeister agree," Holger said, still laughing. "Is no funny that your sister can no kill you."
Tina blushed. "Seriously, she doesn't deserve this."
"Well, maybe we aren't dead," Lee said.
"Then where are we?" Tina asked. "I don't think this is Puerto Rico."
"Better question, where are the animals?" Lee asked. "You brought it up, and now I can't help but wonder where anything is. There aren't even any bugs."
"Yes, Holgermiester wonder where creepy-crawlies are too," Holger agreed.
"You're right," Tina said. "Something is very wrong here."
"Tell me about it," Jenny said. "It's like that point in a movie where you know something bad is going to happen."
"Oh, Holger hate those parts!" Holger said. "So scary! They always make Holger cover his eyes. Holger no like scary parts of movie!"
"So, what, you think a monster is just going to rise up out of nowhere?" Lee said jokingly.
Lee's words hit harder than would be expected, and everyone looked around, worried.
"Yeah, see?" Tina said, faking confidence. "Nothing to be worried about."
Suddenly, a giant monster fell out of the sky and landed twenty feet away from them.
The Silent Planet
The quartet screamed in horror. Before they could start running, however, two flaps unfurled from the monster's body, revealing a comfortable leather interior.
"You're right, this is a pretty sweet ride," a familiar voice said. "Metal on the outside, comfy on the inside."
The owner of the voice hopped out and greeted his friends. "Hey guys, what's up?"
The quartet stared at him, slack jawed. As they did, the other four members of the search party hopped out.
"See, I told you it'd be nearby," one of them told the other.
Lee blinked a few times.
"Okay, what is going on?" Tina asked, upset.
"Uh, long story, but basically Captain Crazypants over there–" Biffy indicated Uncle Grandpa, "–thought it would be a good idea to show me the nature of the universe or whatever and thought you deserved to know too. But that involved this cockamamie plot–by the way, were you seriously fighting vampires for me?"
"Yes..." Jenny said slowly. "So wait, you weren't in any danger?"
"Long story," Biffy said.
"We've got time," Lee said.
"Actually, you don't," Uncle Grandpa said. "I have to fill the planet with dinosaurs."
"What?" Lee asked, confused.
"No time to explain. Just go back to the base," Uncle Grandpa said.
"We'll explain there," Stanford added.
"Hold on, hold on," Holger said. "I know that you are the kidnapper of Biffy! Why should we trust you?"
"Uh, no, I am," Stan said, stepping forward. "That lunkhead is my twin brother."
Biffy rolled his eyes. "Just had to make it worse, didn't you. Look, I'm not in any danger or any trouble. Trust me on this."
Lee straightened up. "Fine. We'll go with you."
"Great, follow me," Biffy said, turning and walking back into the monster. His friends followed him, joining him in the back.
"So, are we going or what?" Stan needled Uncle Grandpa.
"Oh, yeah, go ahead," Uncle Grandpa said. "I just need to start populating the planet with dinosaurs. Head back without me."
"We kind of can't do that," Ford pointed out. "You're the one with the keys."
Uncle Grandpa slapped his forehead. "Oh yeah, duh! Hold on!"
Uncle Grandpa pulled his mustache off of his face and proceeded to wring it out in front of him. Another Uncle Grandpa dripped out of the mustache. As soon as he had formed, he hopped into the driver's seat of the monster and signaled the Pines twins to hop aboard. They climbed in, and the monster took off into the sky again.
"Now let's see," Uncle Grandpa muttered to himself. "How long ago was it that the dinosaurs died out? Was it the 90s?"
Chapter 47: Pull Me Through
An angry goose pecked at Pizza Steve's rear end. Pizza Steve ran from it as it squawked at him, trying to eat him.
"Aah! Uncle G! Ah! Uncle G! Waah!" Pizza Steve yelped frantically.
Uncle Grandpa RV
Mr. Gus stared into the mirror in his room. The dinosaur in the mirror stared back. Both of them looked immensely stressed.
"It's okay, Mr. Gus," he muttered to himself. "It's gonna be alright. Who cares if you haven't seen another dinosaur in sixty-five million years? Or that you spent so much time alone, or that you were only a child when–"
Mr. Gus broke off and took a few deep breaths. He stared into the mirror.
65,298,122 years ago
"Mama, look at what I can do!"
A young Mr. Gus balanced on his tail and made a silly face. His mother, nibbling on some nearby grass, just rolled her eyes.
"That's nice, dear," she said absentmindedly.
"Now look at this, Mama!" the young Mr. Gus said, balancing on his tongue.
Mr. Gus's mother spared a glance backward and chuckled. "That's nice, dear, but remember, you don't get dessert until after you finish your vegetables."
"Aw, mom!" Mr. Gus complained.
"Now if you want to grow up big and strong, you have to eat your dinner, remember?" Mr. Gus's mother admonished him.
Mr. Gus sighed but stopped showing off and began nibbling at some grass as well. He quickly ate his way through the patch of grass in front of him before standing up.
"I finished my dinner, mama!" he said. "Is it time for dessert?"
His mother smiled. "Of course, my darling child. Then an hour of playtime, and then time for bed, alright?"
Mr. Gus nodded happily. "Thanks, mama!"
"...and they all lived happily ever after."
Mr. Gus's mother closed the storybook and laid a hand on her sleepy child's head. "Sweet dreams," she whispered to him.
"Night, mama," Mr. Gus said sleepily as he rolled over in his bed. Mr. Gus's mother smiled and walked out of the room, turning out the lights as she went. Within minutes, Mr. Gus was asleep.
That night, an earthquake occurred and the house caved in. Mr. Gus was hit with a stray piece of rubble and went into a coma. Everyone else in the house made it out alive and unharmed, but Mr. Gus had to go to the hospital.
65,298,121 years ago
A meteor struck the earth, causing cataclysmic explosions and forever altering the course of evolution.
65,298,119 years ago
Mr. Gus woke up covered in dust.
Mr. Gus sneezed several times and shivered, shaking much of the dust off. He looked around and found himself in a strange bed in a deserted hospital.
"Hello?" he called out nervously. "Mama?"
Mr. Gus scanned the hospital room nervously. He tried to push himself out of bed but found himself almost unable to move.
"What happened?" he asked, confused. "Mama? Mama, where are you! MOM!"
No response came. Mr. Gus's eyes watered, and he began to cry.
When Mr. Gus had cried himself out, he tried to move again. This time, he was able to roll over onto his side. After taking a break to pant, Mr. Gus put as much effort as possible into getting himself to roll over again. Although his atrophied muscles screamed at him, he was able to roll over again, toppling over the side of the bed.
Mr. Gus hit the floor hard and groaned from pain. Lifting his head, he stared at the wall.
Mr. Gus spent the next hour barely moving on the floor as he strained to turn himself towards the door. Once he was pointed at it, he began putting as much effort as he could into moving towards the door.
Before he got even halfway there, he blacked out again.
When Mr. Gus woke up again, he found pain shooting through every nerve of his body. He groaned but began trying to move again, this time forwards toward the doorway. After a long stretch of effort, he finally found himself out in the hallway.
Mr. Gus groaned as he looked from side to side. The closest way out was the stairwell twenty feet away, but for an already exhausted Mr. Gus, it might as well have been a mile.
Mr. Gus shut his eyes and thought about going to sleep. Before he could give up, though, his eyes popped open. Filled with new resolve, he forced his body to move, spending hours crawling towards the stairwell. When he finally reached it, he managed to stick his head and shoulders over the edge.
It was then that gravity took over, and Mr. Gus began sliding forward. He realized what was about to happen too late to stop it even if his muscles weren't out of commission. Mr. Gus fell down the stairs, bounced off the wall on the end, and fell down the rest of the stairs.
Mr. Gus landed at the bottom of the stairwell, unconscious.
Mr. Gus's head buzzed with a splitting headache. Mr. Gus squinted as he tried to make sense of the world in front of him, then shut his eyes. The world was silent except for the sound of trickling water.
Mr. Gus's eyes jolted open. He managed to get them to focus, and spotted a fountain in the middle of the lobby, still operating at a low level. Water bubbled out of the top and fell into the pool below.
Mr. Gus tried to stand up again and was still unable to do so. Instead, he crawled forward, inch by inch, until he finally reached the fountain. Once there, he managed to lift his head and drop it into the water.
Mr. Gus drank as deeply as he could before lifting his head out of the water and rolling over. He panted heavily as the water settled itself in him. It was only then that he realized how dehydrated he'd been.
Mr. Gus coughed sickly and then plunged his head into the water again. He took another deep drink and then pulled his head out. He wriggled away from the fountain and lay on the floor in the fetal position.
Slowly, Mr. Gus fell asleep.
65,298,118 years ago
After a year, Mr. Gus had regained enough muscle that he could walk normally. His makeshift physical therapy had strengthened him, and he was ready take on the world.
The only problem was that the world around him was dead.
Uncle Grandpa RV
Sometime in the early 21st century
Mr. Gus blinked and snapped out of his trance. He stared at himself in the mirror.
"No," he breathed. "That's all in the past." He took a deep breath. "It doesn't matter. I don't need to know why my family abandoned me. Why everyone...left..."
Mr. Gus broke down cried silently for a few minutes. When his tears stopped flowing, he wiped his eyes and turned away from the mirror.
In the mirror, a young dinosaur watched as an adult version of him stepped out the door of his room in the RV.
Uncle Grandpa RV
"Okay, are we all ready to go?" Mr. Gus asked the gathered group in front of him.
Frankenstein nodded. "Graah."
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger growled her assent.
"Let's get on with it, Mr. G.," Pizza Steve said.
"Right," Mr. Gus said. He turned to the robot operating the time machine. "Tiny Miracle, you're gonna take care of business here, right?"
Tiny Miracle unspooled another arm and used it to salute. "You can count on me, Mr. Gus!"
"Alright," Mr. Gus said.
"Wait," a voice behind the group said. They turned to look at him.
Crispin put down the lampshade he was holding. "Guys, I've known Uncle Grandpa for a long time, and he always knows what he's doing. Trust me, he may be weird and probably insane, but if he wants you to go back in time, it's probably for your own good. Good luck, guys, and stay safe."
"We will, Crispin," Mr. Gus promised.
"Yeah, totally," Pizza Steve said.
"Graah," Frankenstein added.
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"Okay!" Tiny Miracle said. "The time machine's coordinates are clocked in!"
Mr. Gus nodded. "Let's go."
65,298,121 years ago
When the group stepped through the portal they found themselves in a time that was definitely not their own. The world had gotten hotter, and there were a lot of bugs. Besides that, the plants were odd-looking, many of them ones that none of them had ever seen before.
None of them except Mr. Gus, that is. As Mr. Gus stared out at the landscape of his childhood, he sniffled. He tried to hold back tears as he looked at a world that had somehow left him, but his vision started to blur. He tightly clenched his eyes shut.
"Hey, Mr. Gus, what's wrong?" a familiar voice asked.
Mr. Gus's eyes shot open. He turned around and found himself face to face with the caring smile of Uncle Grandpa.
"What's got you down, buddy?" Uncle Grandpa asked.
"Uncle Grandpa!" Mr. Gus blurted out. "What are you doing here?"
"What do you mean?" Uncle Grandpa asked.
Mr. Gus finally looked behind Uncle Grandpa. There was a huge single-file line of dinosaurs stretching for miles and being periodically checked by a bunch of Uncle Grandpas. The endpoint of the line was a giant tear in the space-time continuum.
Mr. Gus's jaw dropped, as did the jaws of his compatriots.
"What is that?" Pizza Steve asked, disturbed.
"Oh, that?" Uncle Grandpa said. "It's a rip in the space-time continuum."
"Graah?" Frankenstein asked.
"Why yes, that is the entire dinosaur population of Earth that's going through it," Uncle Grandpa said. "Thanks for noticing, Frankenstein."
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared.
"Of course I'm not sending them to the future!" Uncle Grandpa said. He paused. "Although that would be pretty cool..."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Mr. Gus exclaimed. "What is going on here?"
"Oh, I'm just sending the dinosaurs to the silent planet so they don't get crushed by the giant meteor heading towards Earth," Uncle Grandpa said. "Here, take the express route."
Uncle Grandpa opened another, smaller hole in the fabric of time and space and ushered the group through it.
The rip opened ten feet over a moon, and the group fell through. They all climbed to their feet rubbing their heads.
"Ugh," Pizza Steve moaned. "Did we really have to open up above the–" He lowered his sunglasses and looked around. "What the! We're on the MOON?"
Mr. Gus looked around. "Sure looks like it, little slice," he confirmed.
"Well that's just great," Pizza Steve muttered. "And I thought we were gonna–huh?" He noticed a space goose staring at him hungrily. "Hey, goose, what's going on?"
The goose squawked at him. Pizza Steve began to sweat.
"Ah, no, goose, you don't want to eat me," Pizza Steve said nervously. "I'm, uh, I'm not good for gooses? I'll mess up your foie gras?"
The goose tried to bite him. Pizza Steve yelped and ran away from the goose. The goose gave chase, pecking at his rear end.
"Aah! Uncle G! Ah! Uncle G! Waah!" Pizza Steve yelped frantically.
Seconds later, Uncle Grandpa fell out of the sky and onto the moon. He picked himself up and dusted himself off. He looked around, saw Pizza Steve getting chased by the goose, and laughed.
"Aw, c'mon, Raul!" Uncle Grandpa called, still laughing. "Stop chasing my friend Pizza Steve!"
Raul delivered one last peck towards Pizza Steve's backside and then waddled back to Uncle Grandpa. Uncle Grandpa smiled as he petted the goose on its head.
"Okay, Uncle Grandpa, I want to know what's going on!" Mr. Gus said. "Are you telling me that the reason I grew up alone was because you sent all the other dinosaurs to another planet?"
Uncle Grandpa gasped. "Mr. Gus! You were alive back then?"
"Of course I was alive back then!" Mr. Gus yelled. "I'm a dinosaur!"
"Wow," Uncle Grandpa said. "You're even older than me! Anyway, I guess? I dunno. Did you know that a giant meteor wiped out all dinosaurs on Earth?"
"Uh, yes, I did know that!" Mr. Gus retorted. "I thought that was why I was all alone!"
"I thought this was a tragedy because dinosaurs are so cool!" Uncle Grandpa continued to explain. "So I decided to go back in time, to right before the meteor hit, and send all the dinosaurs to the silent planet!"
"They why didn't you send me with them?" Mr. Gus wailed.
"Uh, gee, I dunno," Uncle Grandpa said. "I thought I got everybody. Except the people in hospitals that were deemed to be too injured to safely move off the planet in time. Were you in a hospital?"
"No, I wasn't in a–"
Mr. Gus stopped as he remembered waking up in the hospital.
"How did I end up there?" he asked softly, on the verge of tears.
"I dunno, Mr. Gus," Uncle Grandpa said, putting a comforting arm around the dinosaur's shoulders.
"Graah," Frankenstein said, putting a hand on Mr. Gus's shoulders.
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger roared and brushed up against Mr. Gus's legs.
"Wait, hold on," Pizza Steve said. "Are you telling me you sent a bunch of dinosaurs to that planet?"
Pizza Steve pointed to the planet above them. Uncle Grandpa nodded.
"So why'd you have to get kidnapped to do that?" Pizza Steve asked.
"You know, that's a long story," Uncle Grandpa said. "I'll explain it to you and some other people at the same time. But first..."
Uncle Grandpa opened another rift and stepped through. He stuck his head back out and beckoned for his friends to join him.
They stepped into the rift.
Chapter 48: Clouds of Stone
Somewhere in Tennessee
The bus moved down the road in near-silence. The driver was separated from his passengers, sitting in his own cockpit, but the passengers were unable to get out, not that Dipper hadn't tried. He'd pulled at the windows a while back and tested the door, but it was no use; all the exits were tightly sealed. There wasn't even an emergency exit on the bus.
Dipper had spent the last hour intermittently sulking and trying to find an exit. However, at this point he had to admit it was a lost cause. So he squared his shoulders and went to do the one thing he'd been avoiding for the entire trip: talk to his sister.
Dipper strode towards the back of his bus, where his sister was sitting. He slid into the seat next to her. They sat in an uncomfortable silence for a few minutes.
"So..." Dipper finally said.
"So..." Mabel answered him.
Dipper stared at the back of the seat in front of him, trying to arrange his thoughts. After a few seconds more, he turned to his sister.
"Why'd you do it, Mabel?"
"You know. Get on this bus."
"Our Grunkles need us to rescue them."
"But how do you know this bus will help?" Dipper asked, trying to keep his emotions in check. "How do you know we're not just walking into yet another trap?"
It was Mabel's turn to stare at the back of the seat in front of her. After a few seconds, she let out a deep breath and seemed to collapse. All her energy seemed to leave her, and suddenly she was no longer the Mabel Dipper knew. She was instead just a completely drained thirteen-year-old girl.
"I don't," she finally said. "It's just–" She looked a Dipper with tears in her eyes. "I don't know. We've been on this hunt for our Grunkles and it's going nowhere and this guy said he'd help–my gut says we should go with it." She dropped her head. "Or maybe I'm just tired."
Dipper put an arm around his sister and stared at the seat in front of him. Mabel continued to look at the floor. After a few minutes, Dipper gave her a squeeze, and Mabel smiled in spite of herself. Her body relaxed, and Dipper patted her on the back a couple of times before getting up and walking off. However, within minutes of him walking off, her doubts returned, stronger than ever.
Somewhere in Kentucky
Mabel didn't acknowledge Pacifica's voice. Pacifica stared at her for a few more seconds, trying to judge whether or not Mabel was sleeping before deciding to sit down next to her.
"You gonna be okay?" she asked. Mabel didn't respond.
"You know, you haven't done anything wrong," she said. Mabel didn't respond.
Pacifica sighed. "Look. Mabel. I'm not good at this whole comforting thing. There's a lot of reasons why, but reason number one is that I don't understand this. I mean, I know that you miss your Grunkles and want them back, but this whole concept of family, that's something I don't understand. The idea that you'd want to see your family again. And I may know that you do, but I don't. I don't understand what that's like. And I see you, and I see how you miss your family, and even though I don't understand it I still hurt when I see you like that. So yeah, maybe your gut's wrong. But maybe it's right. But it doesn't matter, because, well, I trust you." Mabel looked up at her, surprised. "And you had to get on the bus, or else we'd be stuck in Arkansas."
"Why do you trust me?" Mabel asked softly.
Pacifica paused for a few seconds. "Why do you trust me?"
Mabel looked at her, confused. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, I mean–" Pacifica stammered. "You've been, been acting nice to me, and actually listening to me, and you think I have good ideas sometimes, and it's like, it's like you really care about me and think I'm useful even though I was so mean to you last summer and–"
Mabel put a finger to Pacifica's lips. "I do care about you. You're my friend, silly!" She let out a deep breath. "Thanks for caring about me. And for trusting me." She looked away from Pacifica and then looked back. "You do trust me, right?"
"Well good, because I trust you."
Mabel reached out and took Pacifica's hand in her own. They held hands silently for a few minutes before Mabel turned to look at Pacifica only to see the blonde staring right back at her.
Before she could reconsider, Mabel shut her eyes, pursed her lips, and leaned towards Pacifica. The next thing she felt were a pair of soft lips coming down on her own. They held the kiss for a few seconds before breaking apart. Mabel opened her eyes.
Pacifica smiled at her. Mabel smiled back.
The bus pulled to a stop at the station. Seconds later, the driver pulled open the door to his cockpit.
"Alright, everybody out," he said hoarsely, beckoning them to leave. The door to the bus opened, and the group exited.
"So now what?" Dipper asked nobody in particular.
A man in a white jumpsuit with gold trim and an abundance of sequins swaggered up to them. He flashed a million-dollar smile and lowered his sunglasses to look them over.
"Are you the Pines?" he asked. A Southern accent tinged his voice.
"Who wants to know?" Dipper asked suspiciously.
"Just me," the man said. "I'm supposed to take you to uh, well, I hope you'll understand if I don't say."
"Our Grunkles' kidnapper?" Mabel offered.
The man shrugged. "That'll do just fine, little lady. Now can I give y'all a lift?"
"If you say so," Soos said.
"Thankyaverymuch," the man said. He gestured towards a pink Cadillac convertible. "That's my ride. Hop in."
Soos climbed into the passenger seat, and the kids climbed into the back. The man who had picked them up swaggered over to the driver's side, stepped into the car, and turned the key in the ignition. The V8 engine roared to life.
The man grinned. "Buckle up. It's going to be a fun ride."
Chapter 49: Please Explain
The Silent Planet
When the group in the monster truck arrived at headquarters, they found Dr. Drakken waiting impatiently.
"Finally!" he complained. "Do you know how long I've been waiting for you to realize I was missing and come back for me?"
"We came back for him?" Stan muttered to his brother, who laughed. Lee and his friends climbed out, and Drakken's eyes bulged.
"Oh, come on!" he complained. "You didn't even bring me along?"
Jenny stared at him. "Why is your skin blue?"
"Well, it's a funny story. Not funny ha-ha, though. It was a Tuesday–" Drakken began.
"Yes, yes, I'm sure you can tell this fascinating tale later," Finnwich interrupted him. "But first, I believe our guests deserve an explanation."
Lee's jaw dropped. "Finnwich! What are you doing here?"
Tina stepped in front of her boyfriend protectively. "So help me, if you try to kill him again..."
Finnwich chuckled. "Nonsense, my dear girl! I intend nothing of the sort. But there is a very important reason that you four were brought here."
"Brought, nothing," Jenny said. "We fought our way here, thank you very much."
"Of course, of course," Finnwich said. He gestured to a large table. "Why don't you have a seat, and we can talk about why you're here."
"Seriously, it's weird," Biffy added. "So it's right up your alley, eh Lee?"
Lee's lips twitched at this. "Alright. I guess we can stay."
"Especially since we cannot go back!" Holger added.
"Hey, yeah," Biffy said suspiciously. "How will we get back?"
"You don't know?" Jenny asked, disturbed. "I thought you told us to trust these guys!"
"Yeah, but..." Biffy waved his hands awkwardly. "It's weird."
"How weird?" Lee asked.
The air above the table ripped and Uncle Grandpa stepped out. He stuck his head back into the rip. When he pulled his head back out again, a walking piece of pizza, a dinosaur, a giant realistic flying tiger, and a large monster followed him.
"Hey, guys!" Uncle Grandpa said happily, sealing the rip. "What'd I miss?"
Lee jolted. "Finnwich! Are you telling me you're teaming up with them now?"
"The ancient race? Heavens no, my boy!" Finnwich said. "That is a dinosaur!"
"Uh, I have a name," Mr. Gus said.
"Certainly, old chap. Charmed to make your acquaintance," Finnwich said, stepping forward and offering his hand. "I am Maxwell Finnwich, and you are?"
"Mr. Gus," Mr. Gus said.
"Wonderful!" Finnwich said. "So, now that we're all in one place, why don't we start talking about why we're here?"
"Because we're not all here," Wade pointed out. "Kim's still not here."
Dr. Drakken huffed. "Neither is Shego, but you don't see me complaining."
"That's because we all know Kim's going to show up first," Wade said.
"Not true!" Drakken complained. "Shego will win, and then you'll owe me! You and that, that–"
"Master of hypnotism?" Finnwich suggested.
"Ha! I can't be hypnotized!" Drakken said confidently.
"Phantom," Finnwich said.
Drakken immediately began acting like a fish. He flopped around on the floor for several seconds.
"Phantom," Finnwich said again, and Dr. Drakken immediately returned to normal.
"Now how about you give up these delusions of grandeur, and–hey, why am I on the floor?" he asked, confused.
"Because you're at the bottom of the pecking order?" Stan suggested.
"I am not!" Drakken complained. "There is no pecking order!"
"Uh, yeah, there totally is, and Pizza Steve! is at the peak," Pizza Steve said.
"You're so cool, Pizza Steve," Uncle Grandpa said worshipfully.
"I know I am," Pizza Steve said confidently. Mr. Gus just rolled his eyes.
"Um, could we get to the point?" Jenny asked.
"Graah," Frankenstein said.
"Yeah, we totally should," Uncle Grandpa said. "So, you guys get my stuff?"
"It's back in the RV," Mr. Gus said.
Uncle Grandpa pouted. "Really? I thought you'd bring it to me."
"Why don't you just go get it?" Mr. Gus asked.
Uncle Grandpa groaned. "It's so far away."
"That's not what we were talking about," Tina said. "Firstly, why are we here? Secondly, who are all you people? Thirdly, why'd Biffy pretend he was kidnapped? Fourthly, what the heck is that giant tiger doing here?"
"Hey! That's not just any giant tiger!" Uncle Grandpa said. "That's Giant Realistic Flying Tiger!"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger purred.
"Go on," Uncle Grandpa prompted. "Give her a pet."
Tina gingerly walked over and rested her left hand in the fur on the back of Giant Realistic Flying Tiger's neck. Giant Realistic Flying Tiger purred and nuzzled into Tina.
"Okay," Tina said, petting the big cat nervously, "that still doesn't answer the rest of our questions."
"Yeah," Lee said. "Why Biffy? Why me? Why here?"
"And what are Holger's magic powers? Holger is so confused!" Holger said. "Holger no fly, Holger no superspeed or superstrong, but Holger definitely have magic powers! What are they?"
"Huh," Uncle Grandpa said. "That's a really good question. What are your magic powers?"
Uncle Grandpa contemplated the question. Suddenly, a pair of beeps emitted from a workstation.
"We've got action!" Wade yelled. He took a closer look. "And it looks like I'm going to win our bet! Ha!"
"Not so fast!" Drakken said. "They might have ditched the car, you don't know!"
"Oh, yeah, that'll happen," Wade said, rolling his eyes. "C'mon, pay up."
"Not until they're here!" Drakken said.
"Pardon us, if you would," Finnwich said to Lee and his friends. "I'm afraid we don't have time for explanations at the moment. We have to prepare for some more new arrivals."
"Who?" Lee demanded.
"Yeah," Mr. Gus said. "We want answers."
"Just give us a few more minutes," Ford said, running over to a workstation. "Believe me, it'll all become clear soon enough."
Chapter 50: Desert Lines
By midnight, Shego had led the rest of her group to the Nazca Lines.
"Okay, we're here," she said grumpily. "So tell us, guy who minored in dead people, what are we going to find here?"
"Well, nobody's really sure," Motor Ed said. "Seriously. The Nazca Lines could have been built purely for religious purposes, or for a more mundane use, or for both. They might reflect constellations or be intended as artwork for the gods or give directions. It's likely that this is some kind of holy site, but we may seriously never know its true purpose."
"Maybe they just wanted to make some pretty pictures," Ron suggested innocently.
"What? It's possible!" Ron defended himself.
"Oh, sure," Shego said. "I bet. A bunch of people came out to the desert and moved a bunch of rocks around because they wanted to make pretty pictures!"
"Hey!" Kim said sharply. "Don't make fun of my boyfriend."
Shego's face ran through several expressions in quick succession, from surprise to astonishment to disgust before settling on pure confusion. "Still?"
"What do you mean, still?" Kim asked, upset.
"I mean, really? You're still dating him?" Shego asked.
"Well, yeah. You didn't know that?" Kim asked.
Shego snickered. "That is precious. Kim Possible, straight As, cheerleader, is still stuck with this loser after she graduates high school. What, did nobody in the local homeless shelter want to date you?" She began laughing. "This is just hilarious! You're all grown up, and you're still sticking with your loser sidekick! Someone who thinks that–"
Kim put a fist in her face. Shego got up, nose bleeding and eyes filled with rage.
"You're going to regret doing that," she said darkly.
"The only thing I regret is spending these last few days with you!" Kim said. "Motor Ed is better company!"
Shego growled and launched herself at Kim. "At least I'm not saddled with a complete moron!"
Kim dodged her punches. "Oh really? Because it seems to me you're only on this trip to get Drakken back, and he's pretty stupid if you ask me!"
"Nobody asked you!" Shego yelled. "You know why? Because you're always asking someone else for help!"
"That's not true!" Kim defended herself.
"Oh yeah? When's the last time you bought a plane ticket?" Shego asked angrily, kicking at Kim. "Face it, Kimmie, you survive off the kindness of others!"
"That's because I'm kind to them!" Kim said, grabbing Shego's foot and throwing her. "You should try it sometime, instead of being a complete witch!"
Shego growled and wiped her mouth. "Talking ends now!"
Shego leapt at Kim, aiming a kick at the redhead's face. Kim ducked but threw her hands up, grabbing Shego by the armpits and slamming her onto the ground. She jumped on top of Shego, attempting to punch her in the face, but Shego kneed her in the crotch, causing Kim to jolt and whimper in pain. Shego followed this up with a sharp jab, knocking Kim off balance, and then grabbed Kim and rolled so she was on top. Shego lit up her hands, but before she could deliver a painful blow Kim slammed her heel down on Shego's shin. Shego made a choking sound as she shifted, and Kim quickly drew her legs up before smoothly moving into several backflips. Shego growled and chased after her, but Kim continued to evade. Ron started towards the pair, but Motor Ed held him back.
"Whoa, kid. You're gonna get killed if you try to get between them." He nodded. "Seriously."
Ron took another look at the fighting women. "But if I don't, Kim could get killed!"
Motor Ed thought about it. "You might be right. Oh well."
Ron tried to make a run for the fighting women again, but Motor Ed held him back. As Ron struggled to get free, a portal opened behind them and a large, well-built teenage boy stepped through.
"Okay, let's see, I have instructions to pick up a Kim Possible, a Ron Stoppable, a Motor Ed..." Biffy stopped. "Wow, seriously? And I was thinking Wade Load was bad."
Biffy finally looked up from his sheet of names and took in the scene. Shego was trying to punch a hole in Kim's stomach, Ron was still being held captive by Motor Ed, and Motor Ed was trying to decide whether to watch the fight or the newcomer.
"Wow, what'd I walk into?" Biffy asked.
Motor Ed shrugged. "Green and Red have been at each others throats all week."
"O-kay then," Biffy said. "You must be Ron Stoppable."
"What? No, bro!" Motor Ed said, annoyed. "Seriously! I'm Motor Ed! Seriously!"
"Well then, you're Ron Stoppable?" Biffy asked Ron.
Ron raised a hand to wave weakly. "Hey."
"Okay, I'm gonna need you two to step through this portal here, okay?" Biffy asked.
"Wait, hold on," Ron said. "You mentioned Wade. Do you have him?"
"Yeah, we do," Biffy said. "So, you guys wanna–"
"You got my cuz, too?" Motor Ed asked. "Because seriously, we need to find my cuz."
Biffy wrinkled his nose. "Does he have blue skin and complain a lot?"
"Yeah, that's him," Ron said.
Biffy shrugged. "He's with us too. I don't know why."
"HEY!" Motor Ed barked. "THIS GUY HAS OUR DUDES! SERIOUSLY!"
Kim and Shego looked up when they heard him yell. Their eyes locked onto Biffy.
"Uh, yeah, I do," Biffy said. "Now, if you'll all just come with me–"
Kim and Shego ran towards him, ready to attack. They punched him simultaneously, sending Biffy through the portal. As one, the group of four rushed through the portal after him.
Chapter 51: Open the Portal
The Silent Planet
Thirty minutes earlier
"I need another set of hands over here!" Wade called.
"Mr. Gus! Didn't you say you had great computer skills?" Uncle Grandpa asked.
Mr. Gus shrugged. "I dabble."
"Great! Go help Wade," Uncle Grandpa said. "Frankenstein, you be ready to help too."
Frankenstein saluted and walked over to Wade. He stood behind Wade until Wade finally noticed him.
"Oh! Uh, maybe you can help those two with the portal?" Wade suggested. Frankenstein groaned and walked over to the portal set up on one side of the room. The Pines twins were busy working on it.
"Okay, are those wires connected?" Ford asked.
Stan grinned. "You got it, Sixer."
"And I've got the containment channel online," Ford said. "Wade, how's everything going on your end?"
"I know they're at the pickup spot. We just need to nail them down!" Wade said. "I've got the revolutions almost calculated, but I need some help getting the rotation right!"
"I'm on it!" Biffy said. "Can we get a visual on the map?"
"I have to refine my calculations, but they're on the computers," Wade said. "Um, Mr. Gus?"
"You want me to bring them up?" Mr. Gus asked. "Sure, what are they listed under?"
"Okay, so..." Stanford frowned. "Wait. This isn't enough power for containment if we assume a normal event. Drakken!"
"That's Dr. Drakken, you imbecile!" Drakken snapped.
"Didn't you flunk out of college?" Uncle Grandpa asked.
"I didn't flunk out, I dropped out," Drakken spat bitterly. "They let me in, I let myself out. It's an important distinction."
"Oh, like how I have six PhDs and you have none?" Stanford asked, faking innocence.
Drakken growled as Stanley chuckled. Finnwich came up behind him and clapped a hand on his shoulder.
"Don't take it so hard, chum," Finnwich said. "My formal education ended in high school, and look at me now!"
"Elderly and wrinkled?" Drakken snarked.
"Ah, yes, but still alive and having experienced many wonders, not to mention having reconstructed the first song ever," Finnwich said. "Now that was an accomplishment! Almost as impressive as befriending Mannifestum and stopping the ancient race from taking over our world." He chuckled. "Now, how about you go help so we can get your compatriots here."
Drakken frowned but walked over to Stanford. "What do you want?"
"We need more power for the containment field," Ford said. "Can you start the backup generators and run those cords over here?"
Drakken rolled his eyes. "Honestly! I'm a supergenius, and all you can think of for me to do is grunt labor!"
"To be fair, like half the people here are supergeniuses," Stan pointed out.
"Yeah!" Uncle Grandpa added. "Like Frankenstein, and Finnwich, and Wade, and Biffy, and Stanford, and oh! How could I forget Pizza Steve!"
"Thanks, bro," Pizza Steve said. Mr. Gus groaned.
"Whatever!" Drakken complained.
"Look, buddy, are you gonna get those generators running or what?" Stan asked, standing up and dusting off his hands.
"Fine!" Drakken said petulantly before storming out to where the generators were housed.
"I've got the rotation mapped!" Biffy said. "Which direction should I take?"
"You take south! Mr. Gus, can you map from the north down?" Wade asked.
"On it!" Mr. Gus said.
"Finnwich, you do west!" Wade said. "And...I need someone to map from the east."
"Giant Realistic Flying Tiger!" Mr. Gus called. "It's time for you to put your tracking skills to good use!"
Giant Realistic Flying Tiger made her way over to a workstation.
"Alright, I want a one hundred foot by one hundred foot square! Portal generates in the middle, make sure that the targets are nearby!" Wade said loudly. "Once we're locked in, start the portal, and I'll go greet them."
Dr. Drakken, who had just walked in, dropped the extension cords he was carrying. "What?" he complained. "No way! That's just asking you to cheat on our bet!"
"Oh come on, Drakken, do you honestly think I'd cheat?" Wade asked innocently.
"Yes!" Drakken responded. "If anyone, I should go through!"
"Look, I'll go through if it'll settle this," Finnwich said.
"Oh, no way!" Wade and Drakken said simultaneously.
"Besides," Uncle Grandpa pointed out, "They'll recognize you as the kidnapper and beat the stuffing out of you."
Biffy groaned. "I'll do it. Will that shut you up about this stupid bet?"
"Biffy, you don't have to!" Lee said.
"Yeah, I know," Biffy said. "But who else around here do you trust to do this?"
Lee stared around the room at the dinosaur, the tiger, the two old men fiddling with the machine, the blue-skinned man grumpily arguing with the ten-year-old computer genius, Finnwich, the sentient pizza slice, Frankenstein, and Uncle Grandpa.
"Good point," he finally conceded.
Biffy grinned. "I know it is."
All conversation ceased as they returned to work. Eventually, Biffy punched the air.
"Yes! Got the south side in place!" he cheered.
Minutes later, Finnwich confirmed he had the west side ready. This was followed by Mr. Gus's success on the north side, and finally by Giant Realistic Tiger pinning down the east side.
"Okay! We have our coordinates!" Wade said excitedly. "Pines, you ready?"
"We have enough power for containment to work!" Ford said. "Stanley?"
Stan nodded. Together, he and Ford pulled down on identical switches.
"Uncle Grandpa, do your thing!" Wade said.
Uncle Grandpa hopped down and walked over to the portal. He tore a rift open within the portal. Black plasma began to gather in a glass container attached to the portal. Biffy got up from his computer and walked through the portal.
"So...what now?" Tina eventually asked.
"Wait for it..." Uncle Grandpa said.
"But we don't know what's waiting on the other side!" Lee said.
"Yes, we do, and wait for it..." Uncle Grandpa said.
"But–" Holger started to say.
"Wait for it!" Uncle Grandpa exclaimed.
All noise in the headquarters ceased except for the hum of computers and generators. Everyone stayed silent until suddenly, Biffy stumbled backwards through the portal. Seconds later, four other people crashed through the portal, all ready to fight.
"Shut it down!" Ford yelled. Uncle Grandpa shut the tear, and Stan and Ford simultaneously pulled their switches. The level of plasma stopped rising.
Kim, Shego, Ron, and Motor Ed stopped to take a look around. Kim's eyes settled on Wade.
"Wade?" she gasped. "Are you in trouble?"
"Not at all," Wade said calmly. "Please, sit down and try not to be too upset."
"A little late for that," Shego snarled.
"Yeah, where's my cuz, you sick creeps!" Motor Ed asked angrily.
"Oh come on, you invited him along too?" Drakken complained.
Motor Ed spun around and saw Drakken leaning against a wall. "Cuz! You're here! Seriously!"
"Seriously," Drakken groused.
Motor Ed ran towards his cousin. Before he could get there, Shego arrived and planted a big one on the mad scientist's lips.
"Seriously?" Motor Ed asked, confused. "So she's–and my cuz–oh, wow!"
Shego broke the kiss and lit up a fist, holding it up in preparation to punch Drakken. "There'd better be a good explanation for this!"
"S-Shego!" Drakken stammered nervously. "I um, there, um–ask him!" Drakken pointed towards Uncle Grandpa.
Shego turned around and stared down Uncle Grandpa. Uncle Grandpa stared at her blankly.
"Alright, buddy," she said, advancing on him, "how about you give me some answers."
Before Uncle Grandpa could say anything, another computer beeped.
"Well," Uncle Grandpa said cheerily, "it looks like we have some new entities approaching."
"Meaning?" Shego snarled as she grabbed Uncle Grandpa by the front of his shirt.
The smile didn't leave Uncle Grandpa's face as he said "The last group is about to join us."
Chapter 52: Forward Fall
The Cadillac purred through the streets of the small Indiana town. Inside the car, silence reigned. The driver took them past meticulously mown lawns, milk trucks, well-painted houses, milk trucks, and children playing.
"So..." Soos finally ventured. "This might sound crazy, but dude, I swear I've seen you somewhere before."
The driver shook his head. "That ain't likely. I ain't that memorable."
"No, no, I'm sure of it. It's on the tip of my tongue..." Soos said, tapping his chin. "I know! Did you ever visit the Mystery Shack?"
The driver grinned. "I don't think I've heard of such a place. How about you tell me about it?"
"Oh, dude, it's like the greatest place ever!" Soos exclaimed. "It's this shack, and it's filled with mysteries! Like Sascrotch, and the Polka-Dot Dogabbit! And there are all these interesting things, like the most distracting object in the world and snow globes and I run the place! I'm Mr. Mystery, dude! Well, you know, I'm Mr. Mystery now, but Stan used to run the Mystery Shack, before..." Soos trailed off and looked at the driver angrily. "You must've heard this from him!"
The driver shot a concerned look at Soos out the side of his sunglasses. "What're you talking about?"
"Oh no, you're not fooling me this time, dude!" Soos said. "You're taking us to see Stan and his brother. There's no way you don't know all about the Mystery Shack. Stan loves that place! He built it with his own two hands!"
"Now hold on a sec," the driver said. "I ain't taking you to see them, unless they're with...well, he asked me not to reveal his name, but let's just say I owe him a favor."
Dipper groaned. "Another middleman?"
The driver shrugged. "I guess I am, kid. But don't let it hit you too hard. Say, y'all wanna stop in at the World O' Stuff? Mr. Radford makes a pretty mean float."
"Just drive," Pacifica said flatly.
"Certainly, ma'am," the driver said.
The driver turned the car down more roads. Soos continued to examine him. After a while, Mabel spoke up.
"What's with all the milk trucks?"
The driver's grip on the steering wheel tightened. He sucked in a breath of air through his teeth.
"I guess people around here just drink a lot of milk," he finally said.
"And why's that milk truck following us?" Dipper asked.
The driver shivered slightly. At the next turn, he pulled a hard right and stomped down on the accelerator. The milk truck following them turned the corner and upon seeing them began to give chase.
"Better hang on," the driver shouted. "We're gonna be shaking!"
In the backseat, the kids clung to each other. Soos hung on to the door handle. A wide smile spread across the driver's face as he swung the car into a sharp left turn. As his passengers screamed, the car settled perfectly into the lane and ripped down the empty road.
Still smiling, the driver reached out and patted the dashboard. "Good job, Gladys."
Suddenly, a milk truck turned in front of them. Acting on instinct, the driver ripped the wheel to the left, settling into the oncoming lane and passing the milk trunk. No sooner had they passed than another milk truck turned into their path and the driver swerved into the correct lane.
A long line of milk trucks poured through the upcoming intersection in a straight line, cutting them off. The driver grimaced, downshifted, and pulled the car into a tight turn that sent them facing the other way. As soon as they were headed in the opposite direction, he punched the gas, and the Cadillac took off down the road. He yanked the wheel to the right, sending them down a small road, and then to the right again when they reached the next road. Several milk trucks poured out of adjoining streets to chase them, but the Cadillac had a larger engine and was able to increase its lead on them.
They ran through the town at top speed before exiting into the woods that bordered the city. After a couple of miles, the driver jammed on the brakes.
"We're here," he said. "Y'all are gonna wanna get out now and walk about a hundred feet thataway." He pointed to the right.
Cowed, the group got out of the car. Soos paused as he was getting out.
"Hey, wait a sec. You're a dead ringer for Chikara!" he said.
The driver's lips formed a small smile. "I don't know who that is."
As soon as Soos shut his door, the driver took off again. In the distance, a few milk trucks could be seen roaring down the road.
"Nice guy," Soos said appreciatively.
"No time for that, let's go!" Pacifica said.
The quartet scrambled into the woods. They made it about a hundred feet before coming upon a glowing portal.
"Whoa," Dipper breathed.
"Should we go in?" Soos asked.
Mabel didn't hesitate. She rushed through the portal.
"Mabel!" Pacifica and Dipper cried, chasing her.
Footsteps crashed through the underbrush. Soos shrugged and stepped through the portal.
Seconds later, the portal winked out of existence.
Chapter 53: Fade
The Silent Planet
The first thing Dipper and Mabel saw upon bursting through the portal was the face of the man who had kidnapped their Grunkles.
The first thing they heard was Ford yelling "Okay, shut it down!"
The first thing they did was skid to a halt and look around for their Grunkles.
It was only after Stanley and Stanford had been thoroughly hugged by everyone except Pacifica (who, herself, was drawn into a hug by her traveling companions) that the newcomers began to look around the room.
The most striking thing about the room was how small it was. Granted, it wasn't small by any normal conception of a room, but the many computers, not to mention the other pieces of technological equipment that were placed throughout the room, took up a lot of space, and the fact that there were now more than twenty occupants trying to fit into the room made the space seem cramped. Despite this, the room was cozy, with the technology being offset by soft pastel-colored walls and natural sunlight that sprinkled through various skylights and windows.
The second-most striking thing about the room was how many people were in it. At this point, the room was occupied by seven computer workstations, three large control panels, three dozen extension cords, a refrigerator, a large portal, various electronic components, several tables and chairs, nine adults, nine teenagers, a naked mole rat, a dinosaur, a sentient pizza slice, a giant realistic flying tiger, an Uncle Grandpa, and Frankenstein.
"Okay," Pacifica finally said. "What the heck just happened?"
"Yeah!" Mabel agreed, pointing an accusing finger at Uncle Grandpa. "Why'd you kidnap our Grunkles?"
"And what were you doing with Biffy?" Lee asked the Stans suspiciously.
"And what does Wade have to do with anything?" Kim asked Finnwich angrily.
"For that matter, why did you need Drakken?" Shego added. "I mean, I can't imagine he's that valuable."
"Hey!" Drakken complained.
"Oh, yeah, that one was a mistake on my part," Uncle Grandpa said. "They said to get the smart member of the Lipsky family. I thought it was the blue-skinned college dropout, not the guy with the sweet hair."
"Aw yeah!" Motor Ed crowed. "Recognize the sweet mullet power! Seriously!" He air-guitared.
"Wait, you wanted to nab my cousin instead of me?" Drakken asked, upset. "That is so not fair!"
"But yeah, I can explain why you're all here," Uncle Grandpa continued.
"We'd rather just grab our Grunkles and go," Dipper said.
"Yeah," Soos agreed.
"Us too," Kim said. "You coming, Shego?"
Shego nodded. "Oh yeah. Definitely." She grabbed Drakken by the arm. "C'mon, slowpoke, let's get outta here."
"Wait! You can't go yet!" Uncle Grandpa said frantically. "Otherwise this whole plot will have meant nothing! And that's a terrible ending!"
Shego stopped and eyed him appraisingly. "Alright, fat man. Start talking."
"Not in here," Uncle Grandpa said, walking over to a doorway. "In here."
Every single one of the newcomers looked at each other warily, but they walked through the doorway, followed by the people they thought had been kidnapped. Through the doorway lay a large conference room. The majority of the room was taken up by a large, round table with plenty of seats around it. Everybody sat down in groups consisting of people they already knew, but as they sat down a frown crossed Mabel's face.
"Hey! We forgot Waddles!" Mabel cried, distraught. Uncle Grandpa walked over to the empty seat next to Mabel and opened a portal. Waddles fell through onto the chair and oinked.
"Waddles!" Mabel said gratefully, picking up the pig and hugging him tightly. Uncle Grandpa walked over to his seat but remained standing.
"So, you're probably wondering why I brought you all here," Uncle Grandpa said.
"Uh, yeah," Lee said.
"No duh!" Jenny added.
"Whatever," Shego said.
"Yes!" Tina exclaimed.
"Holger wants to know!" Holger said.
"I don't really care," Kim said.
"Go on..." Soos said.
"Well, the story starts...hmm," Uncle Grandpa said thoughtfully. "How long ago was it? Wait, actually, that's not important. So, I woke up, as I usually do, and I got out of bed, and I stubbed my toe on a dresser. Hopping backwards, I lost my balance and fell straight into a swimming pool filled with hot dogs. There was only one thing for an Uncle Grandpa like me to do: eat all the hot dogs. That's right, I, Uncle Grandpa, ate an entire swimming pool of hot dogs. And that was when I realized...my show was still cancelled."
Mr. Gus nodded. "I hear that. I still wake up some days wondering what wacky and entertaining adventures we're going to get into before realizing that we've been cancelled."
"Yeah," Pizza Steve agreed. "And it stinks! The people of the world need more Pizza Steve! Those executives have no idea how important Pizza Steve! is!"
"I know, Pizza Steve," Uncle Grandpa agreed. "They had no vision."
"Wait, wait, hold on," Dipper said. "You were part of a TV show that got cancelled?"
"That's right, kid," Uncle Grandpa said, nodding.
"So what, you kidnapped our Grunkles for revenge?" Dipper asked, confused.
"Trust me, it'll make sense in a minute," Ford said.
Uncle Grandpa nodded. "Thanks, Stanford. Anyway, it's not only me. It's also..." He pointed at Lee Ping. "Unrenewed." He pointed at Dipper Pines. "Ended on own terms." He pointed at Kim Possible. "Unrenewed, revived, ended on own terms, now making a movie."
"Hey, we're not part of a TV show!" Kim complained. "I mean, we were in a movie, kind of, but–"
"Well I know we're not a TV show," Soos said. "If we were, I'd have a catchphrase. Like, I dunno, 'Bam! Soos time!'"
"Yeah, and my family wouldn't be broke," Pacifica added.
"Plus, I've got scrapes and bruises from crawling through the vents!" Lee added. "No way was that all shot on a soundstage or anything!"
"And we're all still around," Tina pointed out. "If we were just characters in a cancelled TV show, how would we still exist?"
"Belly Bag?" Uncle Grandpa asked.
"Sure thing, Uncle G!" the bag around Uncle Grandpa's waist said, holding out a hot dog and a cane with a jeweled knob on top.
"Thanks, Belly Bag," Uncle Grandpa said. He devoured the hot dog and then used the cane to point at Lee. "So, tell me something. What have you been doing since you stopped that evil corporation from taking over the world?"
"Hunting vampires, no thanks to you," Jenny said bitterly.
"Oh, yeah," Uncle Grandpa said, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. "But, uh, what were you doing before you started hunting vampires?"
"Uh, I dunno, just figuring out how to repair my family and settling into a normal high school career?" Lee said.
"Two weeks with no action after a couple of hectic months, huh kid?" Uncle Grandpa asked.
Lee crossed his arms. "Just because it didn't require a lot of running around and fighting doesn't mean it wasn't hectic."
Uncle Grandpa nodded. "Okay. How about you?" He pointed the cane at Dipper and Mabel. "What did you guys do after the Never Mind All That?"
"We went back home," Dipper said. He frowned. "Wait. How much did our Grunkles tell you?"
"Not important right now!" Uncle Grandpa said. "You went back home, and–"
"Our Grunkles went sailing," Mabel supplied.
"I ran the Mystery Shack with Melody," Soos said.
"My family slid into poverty," Pacifica said bitterly.
"Okay!" Uncle Grandpa said. "Now, I want each one of you to truthfully name one specific thing that happened between the time when Dipper and Mabel left Gravity Falls and when they came back this summer. Actually, scratch that. Name one thing that happened between January and now. Just one specific thing that happened."
None of them spoke up until Pacifica said "I took on more hours working after school let out."
Uncle Grandpa nodded. "Okay, yes, that's been mentioned before. Anyone else?"
"I...watched some anime?" Soos ventured.
"What was it called?" Uncle Grandpa asked.
Soos opened and closed his mouth several times before looking down at the table, ashamed. "I don't remember."
"We got our parents to allow us to come back to Gravity Falls?" Mabel asked.
"Do you remember them doing that?" Uncle Grandpa asked.
Mabel didn't respond.
"Do you even know what they look like?" Uncle Grandpa asked. "Can you picture their faces in your heads?"
Dipper and Mabel started to look worried. Their Grunkles looked at them, concerned.
"Uncle Grandpa, I think that's enough of this line of questioning," Ford said.
"Yeah, you're worrying the kids," Stan added.
"Okey-dokey," Uncle Grandpa said. He pointed at Kim. "I have just one question for all of you: what year is it?"
Kim looked at him, confused. "It's 2006."
Ron responded at the same time. "2007."
They looked at each other, surprised and a bit confused.
"I thought it was 2007, myself," Motor Ed said.
Shego looked straight ahead, disturbed. "I–I can't tell."
"Wait, it's 2013," Dipper said.
"Dude, it is?" Soos asked, shocked. "I've been writing 2017 for months now!"
"Hold on, hold on," Tina said. "Maybe we all come from different dimensions or different times. After all, Uncle Grandpa can rip the fabric of reality–and is that really your name?"
"Yes it is, and yes I can," Uncle Grandpa said confidently. Waddles oinked. "That's right, Waddles. And you are all from different universes. Different fictional universes, that is!"
The room erupted into chaos as all of the newcomers (except for Mr. Gus, Pizza Steve, Frankenstein, and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger) tried to talk over each other.
"Now, now, settle down," Uncle Grandpa said. His words had no effect. Giant Realistic Flying Tiger let out an incredibly loud roar, and the room quieted immediately.
"Thanks, Tiger," Uncle Grandpa said. "Anyway, it's nothing to be ashamed of. I'm fictional myself. You know, assuming there's that much of a difference between fictional and real anyway. Because I've never seen any evidence of the 'real' world not being fictional. The point is, I've seen all your universes, and their stories revolve around you. So, I had to bring you all together to reveal this." Jenny stuck her hand into the air. "Yes, Jenny?"
"Okay, mister crazy person," Jenny said, rolling her eyes, "let's just say you're right about us all being fictional. Why's it matter, anyway? And why'd you have to kidnap Biffy and like, a bunch of other people? Why not just bring us here and tell us instead of making us run around on some weird adventure?"
"If I do that, there's no story," Uncle Grandpa said. "There has to be a story if I'm going to do something. It wouldn't be very interesting if I just brought you all here and told you this. If you're all going to end up here, you need to have a reason, otherwise the story doesn't matter. So I came up with this story, and now you're all here!"
The room fell silent. Kim pushed her chair away from the table and stood up.
"Yeah, it's nice you think that, but I just don't believe it," Kim said. "C'mon, Ron, we're going."
"Kim, it's true," Wade said. "He's really telling you the truth."
Kim rolled her eyes. "Look, Wade, if you don't want to come with us that's fine, but we're going home."
"Yeah," Ron said. "Sorry, buddy, but I have class tomorrow."
"You don't believe me?" Uncle Grandpa asked.
"Honestly?" Kim said. "Not at all."
"Then why don't you look up?" Biffy asked.
Kim rolled her eyes but tilted her head back and looked directly at you.