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A New Generation of Kids

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Kenny shot the ball up into the air and it made its trajectory towards the basket. The ball swished through the hoop effortlessly.

“And he scores!” Kenny proclaimed as he raised his arms in triumph. “Lakers win!” The other players congratulated him on the winning basket.

“One more game?” the other players asked.

“Sorry, guys,” Kenny told them. “Showtime later at 4 p.m. Gotta go.”

The other players understood. Kenny said goodbye and headed for the main gate of the schoolyard. Nothing like a good game of basketball to loosen up before a Kids Incorporated show at The P*lace.

He just exited the gate when he heard someone call out, “Hey Kenny!”

Kenny turned around to see someone approaching him. He was African American, a few years older than Kenny, with a fade cut hairstyle.

“Yo, Keith! Long time, man!” Kenny said, running up to his friend.

“What’s up, Kenny!” Keith Williams greeted, exchanging a high five with Kenny.

“It’s all good!”

“Man, it’s been a while! I hear you’re in a band now, Kenny.”

“You heard right.”

“Which band?”

“Kids Incorporated!”

Keith’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. “Kids Incorporated! Seriously?”

“Seriously. Both me and Devyn.”

“You and Devyn! Man, I remember you two singing in the park, getting nickels and dimes.”

“You’ve seen Kids Inc. before?”

Keith replied, “Back in the day with Gloria, Mickey, and The Kid. Who’s in the band now?”

“There’s me and Devyn,” Kenny replied. “Robin, Richie, he’s our drummer, and Stacy.”

“Stacy’s still there? Whoa, I’m getting old.”

“What about you?” Kenny asked. “One day, you’re teaching me how to sing, how to get the crowd. Next, you had to move away.”

“Believe it or not, I got my own gig too,” Keith replied.

“Why’d you have to move? Where was this gig? San Francisco? Vegas?”

Keith replied, “Australia!”

Now it was Kenny’s turn for his eyes to pop out of his head. “Australia?! That’s one heck of a commute!”

“I moved down there to join this group. I auditioned for them here in L.A. They liked me, and asked if I would be willing to move. I asked where. When they said Australia, I thought they were putting me on. They said they were serious.”

“How serious?”

“You should meet the girls I’m with!”

“Say no more,” Kenny said. “Hey, why don’t you come down to The P*lace? Watch me wow the crowd.”

“Like to,” Keith replied. “But I have rehearsals. Me and my friends are doing shows at Universal Studios all next week. That’s why I’m back in town. We’re making our name here stateside. Maybe I can hook you and your friends up with some tickets.”

“Sure can!” Kenny said. “See ya later!” They high fived, then Kenny headed off to The P*lace, while Keith headed to join up with his group.

______________________________________

Meanwhile, at the mall, Devyn and Robin, the two youngest members of Kids Incorporated, were window shopping down the main concourse, when they heard the screams.

“There he is!” someone yelled, followed by the sound of stampeding of feet. Lots of them.

The two looked around and saw a bunch of teenaged girls running towards them. In front of the girls, was a single solitary boy. He looked to be around Devyn and Robin’s age, with black hair that was a little long down his neck, and wearing jeans, a polo shirt, and sneakers that were definitely helping him run but not by much.

He ran right past Devyn and Robin. A split second later, the girls followed him, all screaming for him. For what purpose, neither girl had no idea.

“I wonder what he did to deserve all that attention?” Devyn asked as the two walked a little more down the concourse.

“I don’t know,” Robin said. “Must have been really done something for girls to go after him like that.”

They walked down the concourse, when they heard the screams again. And once again, they could see the boy running for his life.

“AUGGGH!” he was yelling as he ran, right at Devyn and Robin. Both girls grabbed him and pulled him aside into one of the stores.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be safe with us!” Devyn said to him. Seconds later, the crowd of girls went running past the store.

“They’re gone now,” Robin said. The two girls looked at the boy they just helped. He was cute, to say the least.

“Thanks,” he said in an undeniable foreign accent. “Geez, I thought I left this behind in Australia.”

“Australia?” Devyn said. “You came a long way to get chased.”

“I knew what I was getting into back home,” the boy said. “But here, I didn’t expect this. This is my first time in America.”

“Well, first time for everything,” Devyn said. “Why are those girls chasing you anyway?”

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d get recognized so fast here.”

“Why?” asked Robin. “Who are you?”

He replied, “My name is Joey. I’m performing at Universal Studios this week with my friends.”

The girls then heard someone call out, "There you are!"

Devyn, Robin, and Joey, turned to see who was talking to them. Two girls approached them. One was a blonde with blue eyes, the other was dark haired with a round face.

“My goodness you’re hard to find!” the blonde haired girl said in her Australian accent.

“Sorry,” the dark haired girl said, also in an Australian accent. “He’s with us.”

“It’s okay,” Joey said to the them. “They saved my life.”

“But now we got to get you out of here,” the blonde haired girl said.

“Follow me,” Devyn said. They came out of the store, looked around, then quickly exited.

“We have to get to the east entrance,” the brunette said. “We have a ride waiting for us.”

“Okay,” Robin said. “By the way, who are you two?”

The brunette replied, “I’m Courtney. This is Rikki.”

The group made their way to the east side of the mall. They were close to the exit when someone called out, “Hey, hold up!” It was another boy, with brown hair and a decidedly cute smile, and once again, an Australian accent.

“My goodness,” said Devyn, “just how many Australians are here today?”

The boy came up to them. “Sorry guys, I did my best,” he said.

“Jamie, what happened?” Courtney asked. “You’re were supposed to be with Joey!”

“I know, I know,” Jamie said. “But when the girls saw the poster of us, and realized who we were, they started running after us. There was too many of them. We got separated in the chase. But they all decided to chase after Joey instead of me!”

The girls just looked at Jamie. Joey have him this weird look.

“How come they chased you and not me?” Jamie asked Joey.

“I don’t know,” Joey replied. “Maybe you forgot to take a shower.”

There was a scream. The group turned to see a group of girls behind them.

“It’s him! The cutie from Down Under!” one of the girls screamed. They began to run towards them.

“RUN!” yelled Robin. And Devyn, Robin, Joey, Rikki, Courtney, and Jamie all took off running for the door.

They all exited in a mad rush out of the mall and towards the parking lot. A white Mustang convertible was waiting along the sidewalk.

“There’s Vince!” Courtney said. They all ran to the Mustang.

“Get in!” the driver yelled out. Devyn and Robin stopped and watched as the Australian kids jumped into the Mustang.

“Thanks!” Joey called out. The kids waved goodbye at Devyn and Robin as the Mustang peeled out and hurried down the street.

The mob of girls stopped as the Mustang disappeared down the street. They all went “Awwwww,” and turned around, dejected at seeing the object of affection – or obsession – go away.

“Sorry,” Robin said to the girls.

Devyn looked over the group of girls, then saw and recognized one of them. “Kimberly?”

The keyboard player for Kids Incorporated, Kimberly, stopped and turned around.

“Kim, what are you doing here?” Devyn asked her.

“Hi there,” Kimberly replied. “Well, I was just saw this guy, and he had the cutest accent. Then I heard someone say she recognized him from when she lived in Australia. Next thing you know, all these girls started chasing him. I guess I got caught up in the chase. They said he was a singer or something.”

“They said something about him being on a poster in the mall,” Devyn said, “but I didn’t see it.”

“We were too busy running for our lives,” Robin added.

Devyn checked her watch. “Hey, we better get to The P*lace.” With that, Devyn, Robin, and Kimberly, headed to The P*lace for that afternoon’s show.

_________________________________________

When they were done with their first set, Kids Incorporated – Stacy, Richie, Devyn, Kenny, and Robin – came down off the stage and went over to the counter, where Flip had some sodas waiting for them. He had been the new manager of The P*lace for a few months and had settled in nicely.

“You’re sounding great today!” Flip told them.

“Thanks,” Stacy said back.

“So, how was your day today?” he asked.

“Good news!” Stacy replied. “I got tickets for all us to see Kylie Minogue over at The Forum next Saturday!”

“That’s great!” Richie said. “Do backstage passes come with them?”

“Sorry, no.”

Richie seemed dejected. “I was hoping maybe I could get to meet her personally. Better still, get a phone number.”

“An old friend of mine was in town,” Kenny said. He recounted his reunion with his pal Keith earlier that day.

“Keith was here!” Devyn said. “That’s so cool!”

“Wait, you said he was singing with some kids from Australia?” said Robin. “Me and Devyn met some kids from Australia earlier today.” She recounted their harrowing encounter at the mall with the girls screaming for Joey.

“Funny you should mention Australia,” Flip said. “Someone from Universal Studios came by yesterday with some poster boards for advertising shows next week.”

“What kind of show?” Richie asked.

“Not sure,” Flip said, as he walked out from behind the counter. “Never heard of these people.” He picked up a board that was decorated with two large photos captioned with information of the show. He placed the board on an easel, so everyone could read and see it. It read:

APPEARING AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS
AUSTRALIA’S YOUNG TALENT TEAM
With their new international ambassadors of music
THE NEW GENERATION

There was a photo each of the Young Talent Team and The New Generation. The Kids looked at the board, and quickly some of their eyes popped out in amazement.

“That’s Keith!” Kenny exclaimed, pointing at the New Generation photo.

“Hey, those are the kids we met at the mall!” Devyn exclaimed, as she looked at the Young Talent Team photo.

“That’s the kid all the girls were chasing!” Robin added, noting that Joey was in the photo.

“Wait, I know them!” Stacy exclaimed.

“Who?” Kenny asked.

“Them!” Stacy pointed at the New Generation photo. “They’ve been here before!”

The others looked at Stacy. “What do you mean?”

Stacy explained. “A couple of years ago, they were in town and some of them came down to The P*lace. We thought they were just some kids visiting from Australia. But there was an exchange student from Australia who recognized them, and she practically jumped one of them in front of us. They explained who they were and that they were big stars back home.”

She looked at the picture of the New Generation, and pointed out who was who. Beven had the thick blond hair, Vince had thick black hair, both a little long down the back of their necks. Among the girls, Lorena had dark brown hair with Latina features, and Danielle – she was better known as Dannii – had long, teased, brunette hair and blue eyes. There was another girl who Stacy didn’t recognize; she had small blue eyes and big dark blonde hair.

“I had a press release with their names with the posters,” Flip said, picking up a piece of paper from behind the counter. “It says her name is Natalie. According to the release, the New Generation are the older members of Young Talent Time. They’re for the international audience.”

“Natalie wasn’t with them when they came by,” Stacy recalled. “They said she was back at the hotel.”

“I guess they hired Keith to attract the American audiences,” Kenny surmised.

“Consider me attracted,” Richie said, looking at the photo. “That girl Danielle looks beautiful!” He was practically on the verge of drooling.

“What about the younger kids?” asked Devyn.

Flip replied, “Their names are Courtney, Rikki, Juanita, Jamie, Joey, and Johnny.”

“I guess Joey does look kinda cute,” Robin said, “but not to the point where I want to cause a stampede at the local mall.” She looked at the photo of the New Generation. “As for Beven or Vince, I’d cause a stampede.”

_________________________________

Meanwhile, at Universal Studios, a group of Australian teenagers – and one American – had just finished rehearsals over at the studio amphitheater. Though the rehearsal was hard and demanding, the cast members of The New Generation – Beven, Vince, Natalie, Dannii, and Lorena (the Australians) and Keith (the American) – were feeling good about themselves.

“Hey, Vince,” Lorena said, as she and her castmates were packing up their gym bags, “heard you were out driving today.”

“I was,” he replied. “Had to bail out Joey and the others from the nearby mall.” He explained how Joey’s appearance somehow caused a mini-stampede and how he had to hightail it out of there when they got into the car.

“You did remember to drive on the right side of the road here?” Beven asked.

“Of course, I did,” Vince replied. “I’m the only one qualified to drive here in the States.”

“Aside from me, of course,” Keith pointed out.

“That song was right,” Dannii said. “Nobody walks in L.A.”

“I was actually walking around today,” Keith said.

“Where about?” Natalie asked.

“The old neighborhood,” he replied. “Ran into a kid I used to know. His name’s Kenny. I helped him out singing on the street corners and parks with a friend of his, a girl named Devyn.”

“You tell him you were down in Australia with us?” Vince asked.

“Yeah, I did.” The teens walked out of the amphitheater under the smog filtered southern California sun. “Then he told me him and Devyn are in a band now.”

“That’s cool,” Lorena said.

“It was a band I used to watch when I lived here,” Keith said. “They’re called Kids Incorporated.”

The rest of the group stopped in their tracks. Beven, Vince, Dannii, and Lorena, all exclaimed “KIDS INCORPORATED?!”

Only Natalie seemed out of touch. “What’s Kids Incorporated?” she asked.

Dannii looked at Natalie. “Oh, that’s right, you weren’t with us when we went there,” she said.

“Where?”

“The place where they play. They call it The P*lace.”

“Remember, Nat, we told you about it," Lorena said. "Me, Dannii, Katie, Vince and Beven, found this place where this band was playing, and the kids in it were no older than we were.”

Natalie asked, “Wait, was this where that girl jumped and snogged Vince in front of everybody?”

Vince slightly turned red at the memory. “Yes, unfortunately so.”

“And the drummer made a move on Lorena,” Dannii added. “The guitar player tried to do the same with Katie.”

Lorena chuckled. “They both failed.”

Dannii continued, “The guitar player, I think his name was Ryan, was kind of cool looking. Plus, he was floating on air after the show. I think Katie winked at him.”

“That would do it,” Beven said.

“Katie ‘Van Wink’ strikes again,” Lorena added.

“Well, I think they have new members now,” Keith said. “He said there’s him, Devyn, Robin, and Richie is their drummer. The only one there from the old days that I knew is Stacy.”

“Stacy?!” exclaimed Dannii. “I remember her. She was so small on that stage. I’m guessing she’s grown up a lot.”

As they approached the hotel, Dannii suggested, “Why don’t we go down to The P*lace tomorrow? See a show over there.”

“What time do they play their shows at The P*lace?” asked Natalie. “Hope it doesn’t coincide with our rehearsals.”

“They play around 4 p.m. every day, if I recall,” Dannii said. “Tomorrow’s rehearsals end around three.”

“Do you think we should bring Joey, Courtney and the younger ones as well?” Beven asked.

“If we bring Joey, we should bring riot gear,” Vince said. “Not to mention an escape plan.”

“Then it’s a date,” Dannii said.

___________________________________________

It was Friday. The New Generation ended their rehearsal at 3 p.m. that afternoon and headed back for the hotel. Half an hour later, Beven, Vince, Natalie, Dannii, Lorena, and Keith, gathered in the hotel lobby.

“Are we all ready?” Dannii asked.

“We are,” the others replied.

“Then let’s go!”

“Wait, who’s driving?” Lorena asked.

“I’ll drive this time,” Keith said. “I know L.A. better than any of you.”

Dannii left a message at the front desk to let their parents and crew for the shows know where they were. They were headed for the door when they heard some call out, “Hey, wait up!” The teens turned around to see it was Joey, followed by Courtney. “Where are you headed?” Joey asked.

“Headed to see a show at The P*lace,” Keith replied.

“Mind if I come along?”

“We’d like to take you,” Beven said, “but the Mustang's already full. Besides, after what happened yesterday, are you sure you want to risk getting stampeded?”

“Los Angeles is not the best place to start a riot,” Keith added.

“Well, maybe me and the others can come by later,” Joey said. “Maybe we can get one of hotel limos to drive us down.”

Keith gave Joey a piece of paper with the address of The P*lace. “That’s where it is,” he said. “See ya there.”

Soon, the older members were on the streets of Los Angeles, headed over to The P*lace, with Keith driving the rented Mustang convertible, Dannii riding shotgun, and the others crowded in the backseat. That situation was quickly remedied with Natalie perching herself on the top of the back seat, the wind blowing through her hair.

Twenty minutes later, the Mustang pulled up to the old Palace Theater, now known as The P*lace.

“Just the way I remember it,” Keith said, as he and the others got out of the Mustang. They looked at the marquee of the theater, all aglow in red, except for the ‘a’ in ‘Palace.’ The board under the marquee read:

Now Playing
KIDS INCORPORATED

“That’s why they call it the P*lace,” Dannii explained to Natalie. “They never got around to replacing the neon.”

The New Generation entered The P*lace, as they looked at all the vintage posters on the walls, and saw the counters that harkened back to the days gone by. At least in the United States.

“Wow,” said Natalie. “This place does take you back.” They noticed most of the tables and seats had been taken up by kids from the neighborhood, most of whom were elementary and junior high age. The New Generation seemed to be the oldest ones there, with most of the group being sixteen or seventeen years old, except for Natalie, who was fourteen.

“Makes you want a chocolate malt for two,” Beven said.

Lorena asked, “Do they still make those?”

“Let’s ask.”

The group went over to the counter, where Flip was filling up glasses of soda for his customers. After he was done, he saw the teens patiently waiting.

“What can I get you?” he asked.

“Chocolate malt, if you still make them,” Beven said.

“We still do!” Flip replied cheerfully. “One for each of you?”

“No, just the one.”

Flip quickly went to work on the malt. Sixty seconds later, he served up a chocolate malt in a tall glass with a straw and handed it to Beven. He took a sip.

“Hmmmm,” he said. “Just like mum used to make!”

“Are you new here?” Lorena asked Flip.

“I am,” Flip replied. “Bought the place a few months ago. I love it here.”

Flip was about to go to work on another order when he stopped and looked at the group. He looked over to the poster board, which he had left up since yesterday, then looked back at the group. Vince quickly took notice.

“I think we’ve been found out,” he said to the others.

“Hey, it’s you!” Flip exclaimed, gesturing at the poster. “What are you doing here?”

“We’ve been here before,” Dannii replied. “We’re here to see a show.”

“Glad you can make it!” Flip said. “We’re about to start and – “

“Flip!” Kenny called out, running over to the counter. “We’ve got a problem!”

“What?” Flip asked.

“Kimberly’s not here,” Kenny replied. “We can’t start yet.”

“Any idea where she is?”

“None.”

“Okay, I’ll let the crowd know.” Flip went out from behind the counter to announce the delay to the crowd.

“Hey, Kenny,” Keith called out. Kenny saw him and came over to him and his friends.

“Hey, Keith, glad you could make it,” Kenny said, as the two exchanged fist bumps. He looked over at the New Generation members. “So, these are your bandmates?”

“Yes they are,” Keith replied.

Dannii asked, “Is Stacy here?”

“I’ll go get her and the rest of our band.” Kenny went backstage and a couple of minutes later, returned with the rest of Kids Incorporated.

“Dannii!” Stacy exclaimed.

“Hi, Stacy!” The two exchanged hugs. “How’s everything going?”

“It’s going great.” Stacy looked at the others. “It’s great to see you guys again.”

“Thanks,” Dannii said. She introduced the others to the band. “You remember Lorena, Beven, and Vince. Your friend Kenny knows Keith. And this is Natalie.”

“Hi there,” Natalie said.

Stacy introduced her friends to the New Generation. “You’ve met Kenny. This is Devyn, Robin, and Richie.” The New Generation said “Hi” to them.

Richie stepped forward. “Hi,” he said with his eyes locked on Dannii. The others could see imaginary hearts coming out of his eyes.

“So what happened?” Vince asked. “Kenny said one of your band members is missing.”

“Yeah, Kimberly,” Stacy said. “She plays keyboards for us. She’s usually reliable. We called her parents. They said she was on her way here. I’m kind of worried.”

“She’ll show up,” Devyn said. “We’ll just wait a little longer. In the meantime, tell us about yourselves. Stacy said you guys have been here before.”

Both groups found a place to sit as the rest of the crowd waited.

“Well, it was a couple of years ago,” Dannii said to them. She explained how her, Lorena, Katie, Beven, and Vince, found their way to The P*lace and got to see a show, but the Kids didn’t know just who and how talented they were. An Australian exchange student saw who they were and freaked out, jumping on Vince for a bunch of kisses before she had to be pried off of him. That’s when they explained who they were and how big they were back in Australia. After that, they performed for the crowd that day, as Kids Incorporated’s fans got to see members of The Young Talent Team.

“We all got to see one of your shows at Knotts Berry Farm,” Stacy said. “You guys were great.”

“Thanks,” Lorena said. “By the way, where’s Mario? Your other drummer?”

“He’s not with the band anymore,” Stacy replied, “but he’s still around. He’s in a wrestling tournament this weekend. I’ll let him know you said ‘hi.’ What about your friend Katie?”

“She’s about to start university,” Natalie replied. “We keep in touch with her.”

“I’ll let Ryan know,” Stacy said. “He thinks about her once in a while.”

“He also thinks about that Russian ballerina, as well as Riley’s cousin,” Richie added, “and Andrea too.”

“Where’s your sister Renee?” Vince asked.

“She’s over in England,” Stacy replied. “She’s staying with my cousin in London while on an exchange program.” She took out a photo from her wallet. “Here, this is her and Samantha.”

Stacy handed the photo to the New Generation. They passed it around to each other. “That’s so cool,” Dannii said.

Natalie looked at the photo, then was about to hand it back, when she did a double take.

“Nat, what is it?” asked Vince.

“Stacy’s sister and Samantha,” Natalie replied. “Do you notice something about them?” She showed him the photo of the two cousins, side by side.

“No. Why?”

“Never mind.” Natalie handed the photo back to Stacy.

“So how is everyone else?” Dannii asked.

“They’re doing great,” Stacy replied. She told them that Gloria was at a performing arts school in New York, Ryan was doing an internship at the Los Angeles Daily News and had a band on the side, and Rahsaan a.k.a. The Kid was in Africa on a family tour.

“So, tell me,” Devyn said, “why are you called The New Generation?”

Dannii explained. “Well, as we told you before, once we reach sixteen plus a couple of months, we can no longer be part of the Young Talent Team. But this American producer saw our show and decided it needed to be seen here in the states. So, they brought me, Lorena, and Beven back, put us with Vince and Natalie, the two oldest members now, and added Keith after an audition. They gave us a new name for the American audience. We’re on TV both here and back in Australia.”

“What about the Talent Team?” asked Kenny.

“Technically, me and Vince are still part of the Young Talent Team,” Natalie said. “The others kids are no older than twelve.”

“Including the kid that everyone was chasing after yesterday?” asked Devyn.

“That was me a couple of years ago,” Beven said.

“That’s me still,” Vince added.

“I hope Joey is okay,” Natalie said. “I hope he’s not getting chased around by girls again.”

As they were speaking, someone entered The P*lace wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses. He looked around nervously, then saw the New Generation teens talking with some other kids. A moment later, two girls and another boy followed him inside.

“Is this The P*lace?” Courtney asked.

“Must be,” Rikki said. “There’s the others.”

“Oh, thank goodness,” Joey said, taking off his sunglasses. They all walked over to their friends. “Hi guys,” he said.

“Joey, guys, you made it,” Vince said.

“It wasn’t easy,” Jamie said.

Joey said. “I took the precaution of hiding my face under these sunglasses and ball cap.”

The Kids saw the ball cap, as Joey took it off his head. It was a Los Angeles Dodgers cap.

“You wore that?” Keith said. “Good move.”

“As long as they didn’t ask about the sport,” Joey said. “I don’t understand American cricket.”

Kids Incorporated looked at the younger kids who had just walked into The P*lace. “Who are these guys?” Kenny asked.

Dannii replied, “They’re the current Young Talent Team.” She introduced the Kids to Courtney, Jamie, Joey, and Rikki.

“Where’s Johnny and Juanita?” Beven asked.

“Back at the hotel with their parents,” Jamie replied. “They thought it might be safer there than to be chased all over town because of Joey.”

“So what is this place?” asked Rikki. Stacy explained to the younger generation about the history of The P*lace and Kids Incorporated.

“Wow, that’s so cool,” Joey said. “Your own band.”

“And we’d be performing right now if our keyboard player would show up,” Stacy said.

As if on cue, in walked Kimberly, the band’s keyboard player. She seemed to be out of breath a bit.

“Kimberly, what happened?” Devyn asked.

“Sorry, I’m late,” Kimberly said. “I was – “ Then she saw…him. “OH MY GOD! HE’S HERE!” she exclaimed.

“Here we go again,” Vince said.

Kimberly made a bee line for her quarry. Vince braced himself for the inevitable. But Kimberly ran right past him,,,,and scooped up Joey in her arms.

“You’re so cute!” she exclaimed as he hugged and kissed Joey, swinging him around in the air like a doll received on Christmas day.

“Put him down!” Dannii demanded.

“Not yet!” Joey countered, as Kimberly kissed him numerous times on the cheek. “I kinda like this!”

“Hey, what about me?” Jamie asked.

Stacy and Devyn went over to Kimberly and made her put down Joey. “Come on, Kimberly, we have a show to do,” Stacy said.

“Talk to you later?” Joey asked Kimberly, as Kids Incorporated made their way to the stage.

Moments later, both the New Generation and the Young Talent Team watched as Kids Incorporated performed for the crowd at The P*lace. They were amazed at the professionalism as well as the fun they were having on stage, as they sang “Knocked Out” and “Every Little Step” for the crowd.

“Wow!” Natalie exclaimed. “They’re great! I should have come with you that day!”

“You’re right Nat,” Courtney added, “they’re awesome.”

“All that’s missing is a few video cameras,” Joey said.

“Maybe Tim Nelson could hook us up with a couple,” Beven said, knowing that the team’s former member was now working on the other side of the cameras on the Young Talent Time show back home.

Kids Incorporated finished their set, and the crowd cheered, and so did the visitors from Australia. Stacy, Richie, Devyn, Kenny, and Robyn came down off the stage and joined their friends from Down Under.

“You kids are incredible!” said Natalie.

“Thanks,” Kenny said. “But what about you guys?”

“Wanna go up on stage?” asked Richie.

“I don’t know about that,” Lorena said. “We did this once before, but this is your stage. We don’t want to – “

There was a loud scream. The New Generation and Kids Incorporated look to see where it came from. A girl had just entered The P*lace and was pointing at someone in the Young Talent Team.

“He’s here!” she screamed. They looked where she was pointing. It was Joey.

“Here we go again!” said Courtney.

And there went Joey again. There were more screams, as a passel of girls came streaming in. Joey took off running, but there was really nowhere to run to. He ran around The P*lace between the tables, around the tables, even over the tables. Some girls, wondering what was going on, saw Joey and how cute he was, and joined the chase. Beven, Vince, and Jamie, tried to stem the tide and offered themselves up, but the girls ran past them in their pursuit of Joey. The whole thing looked like an outtake from a Benny Hill skit.

Finally, Joey ran out of places to run to, and decided to give up. But just as the girls were about to jump all over him, Richie got in front of them, and held up his hands.

“STOP!” he yelled. Somehow, the girls did. “Do you want him?!”

“YES!” the girls screamed back.

“Then it’s going to cost you!” Richie announced. “One dollar, one kiss! That’s one kiss only!”

“Richie!” Stacy exclaimed, even as the girls were digging into their pockets for that one dollar. This was reminding her of how Richie raffled off a date with her sister Renee without asking her first.

“I want a cut!” Joey demanded.

Richie replied to him, “Sixty-forty.”

“Fifty-fifty!” Joey said back.

“And as his agent, I get ten percent of that!” Courtney called out.

“Hold it!” Stacy demanded. She walked up to Richie and Joey, getting between them and the girls. “There’ll be no kissing booths here!”

The girls’ response was “Awwwwww.”

Stacy looked at Joey and said, “I assume you know how to sing.”

Joey replied, “I do.”

Stacy pointed at the stage. “They say music soothes the savage beast. Let’s see if we can soothe these girls.” She motioned to the rest of Kids Incorporated. “Let’s go guys.” Stacy and Joey went up on stage, and Devyn, Kenny, Robin, and Richie followed suit.

Up on stage, Stacy made her announcement. “Okay, this is Joey. Him and his friends are visiting us from Australia. Some of them performed here a couple of years ago. They will be performing this week at Universal Studios. But today, you get to see him right here at The P*lace!.” The girls in the audience squealed and cheered with delight.

Devyn added, “Just don’t rush the stage!”

Stacy looked at Joey. “Any song you prefer?”

Joey said back, “Do you know ‘Twist and Shout’?”

“We know it,” Richie said from behind the drums.

As soon as Kids Incorporated started playing it, Joey began to twist on stage as he sang and the girls in the audience began to shout. Every girl in the joint kept their promise not to rush the stage, but kept shouting for Joey. It was as if they had never seen anything so cute in their lives.

When the song ended, the audience – mostly the girls – cheered their approval. Joey took a bow for the audience. “Thank you!” he said to the audience. He turned to leave the stage, but found himself surrounded by Kimberly, and the band’s two dancers, Leilani and Tiffany. All three girls smiled at him, imaginary hearts coming out of them, knowing they had the advantage over the girls in the audience.

“Ahem!” Stacy said to them. She escorted Joey off the stage, and Jamie stepped up there.

“I’m cute too, you know,” he said to the girls.

Kimberly, Tiffany, and Leilani took one look at Jamie and agreed. He was cute as well. And he could sing too. With the band’s help, Jamie sang “Get Out Of My Dreams,” and the girls in the audience cheered their approval as well.

“Okay,” Courtney said, as Jamie left the stage. “Girls’ turn!” The feisty little one stepped on to the stage, and quickly took command with her presence. “Okay, boys up front!” The boys in the audience seemed to be reluctant to move to the front. “Don’t be afraid,” Courtney announced.

The New Generation chuckled from the crowd. Beven said, “That’s our Courtney!”

Some boys did move to the front of audience, as Courtney sang “New Attitude.” It wasn’t exactly new, but she was definitely showing attitude, performing way beyond her age. It was like watching Stacy sing when Kids Incorporated first started.

After the song, Stacy went over to Courtney and asked, “Just curious, but how old are you?”

“Ten,” Courtney replied. “I’ll be eleven pretty soon.”

“You’re going places when you get older,” Stacy said.

Courtney left and Rikki came up to the stage. Wolf whistles suddenly went up at the cute blonde as she smiled and picked up the microphone. She sang “I Should Be So Lucky” to the crowd, and the crowd was lucky to see someone so cute and talented, as skipped around the stage as she sang.

When Rikki was done, she left the stage and Stacy took command of the microphone. “Well, did you love that or what?!” she asked the audience. The crowd cheered their response; they obviously loved it. Stacy told the crowd there would be a short break before the next set.

Stacy, Richie, Devyn, Kenny, and Robin, joined the Australians around the counter. “So, do you want get up on stage?” Stacy asked.

“Like I said, this is your stage, not ours,” Lorena said. “We don’t want to impose.”

“It’s no trouble,” Stacy said. “Our fans liked it the last time you were all here.”

The New Generation teens quickly discussed it amongst themselves.

“Okay,” Dannii finally said, “we’ll do it!”

“Man, I finally get to play The P*lace!” Keith said. “A dream come true!”

“Mine too!” Natalie added.

Like the last time, if Kids Incorporated knew the song, they would play it for The New Generation as they would sing it. Each member of the group picked their song. Stacy came back on stage to make the announcement. “Hey, everybody! Please give a big Kids Incorporated welcome to….THE NEW GENERATION!”

The crowd cheered, as The New Generation came up on stage, and one by one, they each did their song. Keith led off with “I Can See Clearly Now,” followed by Lorena singing “Tell It To My Heart. Vince sang, “Wishing Well,” followed by Natalie’s debut on The P*lace stage, singing, “Looking Through The Eyes Of Love.” Beven sang “Simply Irresistible,” and Dannii finished the set with “True Blue.” At the end of each song, the crowd roared their approval.

Then the Kids did their own set, with Stacy singing “New Sensation” for their guests, followed by Robin singing “Love Me Do,” and Kenny and Devyn singing “The Heart of Rock and Roll.” The cheers for them were just as loud.

The groups came off the stage, congratulating each other, amidst the cheers from the crowd. The Young Talent Team was applauding for them as well.

“You guys are awesome!” Courtney said. “You should come down to Australia and play a show!”

“We’d like to,” said Devyn, “but I don’t think we could afford the plane tickets.”

“Besides” Robin added, “I don’t have a passport.”

“Looks like you got new fans for your groups,” Stacy said to the Australian teens.

“Thanks for letting us play on your stage again,” Dannii said. “It was great.”

Then someone said to them, “I’d say you were great.”

The visitors from Down Under turned to see who was talking to them. A man in his forties approached them, clapping with unbridled enthusiasm.

The Young Talent Team and The New Generation exclaimed, “Johnny!”

Johnny Young walked up to the teens, his smile beaming from ear to ear. “Hi kids! You were great up there!”

“Thanks, John,” Natalie said.

“And so were you kids!” Johnny Young said to Kids Incorporated. “I can’t believe how talented you all are. You should come down to Australia!”

“We were just talking about that,” Stacy said. “But we’re fine here. We have our own little niche here in town.”

Richie said, “But maybe if you paid for the flight down – ”

“Richie!” Stacy quickly said.

“Come on, we already have a fan base down there with Kenny’s friend.”

“I would love to see you down there,” Keith said to Kenny.

“Never say never,” Kenny said, as they exchanged high fives.

Johnny Young said to Dannii, “I have a surprise for you.”

“What’s that?” Dannii asked.

“Guess who stopped here in L.A.? She was at the hotel looking for you when I saw her.”

Dannii’s eyes widened in disbelief. “She’s here!?”

Johnny nodded. “She caught me by surprise as well. I told her where you were from your message and she wanted to see you!” He looked around. “There she is!”

All heads turned to see who Johnny Young was talking about. A young, blonde haired woman in a silk shirt and jeans came up to them. “Hi there,” she said in an equally silky Australian accent.

All the jaws of Kids Incorporated dropped open. Devyn finally got her mouth working enough to say, “That’s Kylie Minogue!”

“Kylie!” Dannii exclaimed, going up to her and giving her a hug. “What are you doing here!?”

“I wanted to see you before I started my tour in Seattle,” Kylie replied. “I knew you were here in L.A., so I had the tour people stop here first.” She looked over at Kids Incorporated. “Dannii told me about this place a couple of years ago. When I heard Johnny was coming down here, I just had to see for myself. You kids are great!”

“Thank you!” Stacy said. “You know, me and my friends have tickets to see your show next week at The Forum.”

“That’s great!”

Richie suddenly said, “Backstage passes would be better.”

“Richie!” Stacy said sharply.

Dannii looked to Kylie, and asked, “Why not?”

Kylie thought about it, then said, “Sure. Anything for my little sister.”

Stacy was about to say something when she stopped. She looked at Dannii and Kylie, as did the other Kids. All of them had surprised looks on their faces.

“Say that again?” Robin asked.

“Did you say sister?” Richie asked as well.

“She did,” Dannii said. “Kylie Minogue is my sister.” She pointed at her sister, then herself. “Kylie Minogue…Dannii Minogue.”

The Kids still registered complete surprise.

“You didn’t know we were sisters?” Dannii asked.

Finally, Stacy said, “Now that I think about it, I don’t remember you telling us your last name the first time you were here.”

Behind the counter, Flip had been watching the proceedings. When he heard the name Minogue mentioned, he quickly picked up the press release that had come with the poster boards advertising the shows at Universal Studios.

“Kids, I didn’t notice this the first time around,” Flip said to them. “It has all their names listed.” He listed them off one by one. “Beven Addinsall, Lorena Novoa, Vince Del Tito, Natalie Miller, Keith Williams…and Danielle Minogue.” He looked over at Dannii’s older sister. “You know, if you need anything to be catered to your show, I’m available.”

Kenny asked Richie, “Do you still want Dannii’s phone number?”

All the kids talked to each other some more, before Johnny Young said the inevitable. “Sorry, kids, but we have to go back to the hotel and be ready for tomorrow. It’s our first show at Universal Studios.”

Everyone agreed it was time to part company. The Kids said goodbyes to The Talent Team and The New Generation.

“It was great to see you guys again,” Stacy said to Dannii.

“Same here,” Dannii said back, as she hugged Stacy.

“Maybe we’ll see each other again,” Kenny said.

“We’d like that,” Lorena said.

“I know I would,” Richie said, imaginary hearts coming out of his eyes as he looked Dannii, Lorena, and Natalie, and of course, Kylie.

Kenny went over to his friend Keith. “Good luck down under,” he said to him. Kenny looked over to Beven and Vince. “Take good care of him.”

“We will,” Vince replied.

The Young Talent Team girls looked around nervously. Rikki asked, “Hey, where’s Joey?”

They all looked around, then Courtney suddenly said, “There he is!”

There was Joey, surrounded by girls, but in no apparent danger. One by one, he was kissing the girls goodbye for no charge. And for those who couldn’t wait, Jamie was doling out kisses as well.

Courtney and Rikki went over to the two boys and pulled them away. “Save some of those for tomorrow!” Courtney said, as Joey waved goodbye to his new American fans.

Kids Incorporated watched the New Generation got into the white Mustang convertible and the others into a stretch limo from the hotel. They waved goodbye as the vehicles drove off.

“They were awesome,” Robin said.

“What do you think will happen to them when they get older?” Richie asked Stacy.

“I don’t know,” Stacy replied. “But I bet, one way or another, they’ll be great.”