TEXT FROM MAX
Are you guys alright?
TEXT FROM VICTORIA
We're fine. Had to beat up Dolly and the clown
Also Jumbo is with us now and Tangi is all tied up
TEXT FROM MAX
Good. Meet up at Blackwell ASAP
TEXT FROM VICTORIA
Oh goodie, more superhero shit
We might as well. Nothing good is on tonight
Victoria and Kate didn’t even get time to change out of their pajamas. They just grabbed the people (and bunny) with them - Naton, Jumbo, the tied up Tangi and Alice - and hurried on their way to Blackhe- Blackwell.
The flight there is mostly uneventful, save for Tangi trying to entertain Naton with bad jokes: “What do you get when you cross a tuba with a trombone?”
“A whole lotta clatter!” Tangi lets out a laugh as Jumbo turns around to look at him.
Glaring at him, Jumbo asks, “Hey, can you shut the fuck up for five minutes? I’ve got enough of a migraine as it is from Dolly singin’ in my ear.”
Victoria chuckles while adjusting a red beret on her head that she grabbed before departing, which she has lined with the aluminum foil beret that Kate made for her. She says to Kate, “I like this guy.”
Project Morpho's Blackwell Base is dark for the night under the Arcadia Bay moon. Light arrives in the form of Kate’s light dragon. The dragon gently reaches the ground as Max, Chloe and Rachel sit on the steps to enter the main building.
Max spots Victoria and the others approach the front door and she can only grin a smarmy little smile at Victoria: "Well, well, well. How the turntables. Looks like you'll have to find another way in, Victoria."
Victoria crosses her arms and acts hurt in spite of the knowing grin on her face while she stifles her laughter. She mutters to Kate, "Oh my god." Victoria looks around and asks, "Is there some puzzle here that I have to solve?"
Max looks side-to-side before telling her, “Yeah. Gotta find the paint bucket.”
Victoria snaps her fingers at the revelation, adding, “Ah. Of course.”
Max giggles before informing her, “Kidding, I’m kidding! Let's get to class.” The three walk into Blackwell where the lights are on. It is clean and it looks very similar to what it used to be, but it has been gutted and retrofitted to be more about storing objects of importance and surveillance - weapons of magical and futuristic origin, anachronistic items of high value, and MacGuffins galore - in big blue tupperware bins.
Victoria looks around and notes, "You really tidy up."
Max shrugs modestly. "I had a lot of time. And a lot of help. Speaking of, let me introduce you to the team." "I'm sure you know these lovely people." Rose walks forward from one of the hallways with a few familiar faces following closely behind her: Wells, Warren, Mikey and Steph. “They are all in my Base Team- er, no, it’s not everyone. Dana, Juliet and Frank are working tonight, Luke is on a college tour, and both David and Joyce are at home. They’re all working here with me to help with information, technology, research, and FRIENDSHIP!”
Both Steph and Mikey side-eye Victoria, asking Chloe, “What’s she doing here?”
Chloe smirks at her and tells them, “She’s with us, Mikey. She’s cool.”
Victoria warmly smiles at the trio. Kate interjects, “Indeed. Hi, I’m Kate Marsh. Chloe’s mentioned you once or twice. I’m Vic’s girlfriend.”
A smile crosses Vic’s face upon hearing this comment. Does so every time. She looks around at the group and is amazed at seeing all these people back in Blackwell. A bit shocked, she says, “Huh. Hey, guys.” She waves at them and Joyce and David wave back at her. The others are a bit confused at Victoria’s non-bitchiness and wave back as well.
Wells walks forward and gives Victoria a handshake. “Hello, Victoria.” He speaks without the coldness he spoke with as Principal of Blackwell. These days, he can get some rest when it counts. Victoria shakes Wells’ hand and he assures her, “Yeah, it takes some getting used to. But it's always back to Blackwell for us, isn't it?”
Victoria shrugs and shoots a smirk at him. “I suppose so.” Max and Chloe lead Kate, Victoria and Naton away from the small crowd and Victoria remarks teasingly, “Talk about the squad.”
“And that's just a few of the guys you know. Let me show you the Action Team." Max opens the door to the Computer Room and Chloe leads everyone inside. Max enters the classroom and claps twice, activating the computers. On the screens are Max’s friends from across time and space - the crimson costume of Future-Daniel sitting with his non-costumed older brother Sean, the black and bulbous eye-head of Captain Starsight, the gray beak of Rog and his human soldiers, and many, many more faces unfamiliar to the group. Some wave, some say “Hello”, some look confused.
Daniel asks, confused at the call, “What’s up, Max?”
Max tells him earnestly, “Oh, nothing. Just showing off the Action Team to Vic, Kate and some other friends.”
Having heard Kate’s name, he spots the Christian girl and yells joyfully, “Hola, Kate!”
Kate waves at him, smiling as she remembers and says, “Hi, Daniel. It’s been a while.”
He nods: “Mhm! Oh, have you met Jacob?”
“On Facebook, yeah. He seems super cool!”
Daniel looks to his big brother, asking him, “Sean, when can we go to Arcadia Bay?”
“Dad said around Christmastime, bigger enano.”
Daniel jumps up and down in place in glee. “Awesome! Maybe I can see Chris! Ooh, and you guys can see the other me’s powers! We’re like the Three Musketeers!”
Sean tells him casually, “That would be fun.”
On another screen, Starsight asks, “What is the emergency, Max?”
Max shakes her head before telling him, “We’re dealing with a small problem. Teddy Iris. Nothing apocalyptic.”
“What about the Lord of Death?”
Max tells him nonchalantly, “Nothing to report.”
Victoria is a bit shaken by his mention of that name, by someone so far removed from Earth. She runs up to the screen and asks the Captain, “You know about… him?”
Starsight tells her, “Aye. According to the Yrwalopp tribe, his forces have decimated the Lecarrin capitol of Vollux-5.”
Victoria feels her blood boil and she says to Max with an imperative tone to her voice, “Oh, my God. Max, we have to do something.”
Max closes her eyes and shrinks a bit before telling her, “Not yet, Victoria. But I get it. I’ll weigh the stakes on that.”
Victoria’s eyes widen and she asks, shocked, "‘Weigh the stakes’? I-” Victoria pauses and takes a breath before continuing, “okay. Fine. But, like, wow. Quite a network you've got here." Max turns off the television sets and computer monitors. Out of the corner of Vic’s eye, Bedlam slowly slinks off of Chloe’s arm onto the ground.
Max shrugs and lightly tells her, "You have to be when the fate of the world is at stake. Now, let’s get to the two Enforcers you've brought along for us." Max leads everyone out of the communications room, but Victoria stays behind and keeps Bedlam inside with her by grabbing one of his loose ribbons in one hand and one of his thorny vines in another.
Coldly, she says, "Hiya, Bedlam."
Bedlam looks at her, unphased by her gripping of his limbs: "Victoria. What a pleasure to see you."
"Oh, how nice. Say, you haven't seen my car as of recent?" Victoria pulls him closer with a harsh tug.
He tilts his head and, with an almost mocking politeness, says, "Ah, that. My apologies."
Victoria sneers at him and asks, "For?"
Bedlam smiles - at least, as well as a skull can - and responds, "Why, for destroying the ca-"
Victoria pulls harder and whispers in tranquil anger, "I don't give a fuck about the car. Apologise for what you have planned… Lord of Death."
Bedlam recoils for a second before reclaiming his cool to ask her, "You know?"
"I do. Or at least I know about your AU-you from the Bedrock Timeline. And something tells me that you two are alike. Floaty, skully, deathly, utterly fucking useless in fights with bad guys like the Storm Singer, the Enforcers, Dolly, whoever else you’ve fought. They’re… They’re on your side, aren’t they?” Bedlam’s silence answers the question. “Makes sense. Now, I don't give a fuck about fate and timing, I'll stop you. Like I'll stop Dolly. Ya diiiig? Ya soooorry?"
Bedlam shakes his head. "Death apologizes for no one."
Victoria shoots a smirk at him and informs him, "As you and the other supervillains will learn." Victoria lets go of his limbs and he recollects himself.
Suddenly, she steps on his foot, prompting a hard "Agh!" out of him. Sarcastically, she says to him, "Oops. Sorry not sorry.", before leaving the room.
Bedlam regains his aloof composure and says to himself in the darkness, "She knows."
Jumbo takes a seat in the former Principal’s Office, now a room for Max and Chloe to coordinate amongst each other. He sits opposite Max, Chloe, Rachel, Rose, Kate and Victoria. Seeing as he is nervous but willing to talk, Max asks him, "Tell us a bit about yourself."
"My name is Garth Patterson. I'm a college student, from Tulsa, and I can grow big."
Chloe pulls out a notepad and jots down what he says. She asks, "How big?"
Jumbo uses his hands to measure how high. He answers, "About twenty feet is my maximum height before I pass out."
Max asks, while slurping on a can of soda, "How'd you get them?"
"Back in April, I fell off a building. Some dickhead pushed me off on a field trip for my Ecology class. I thought it was all over, but I saved myself by growing big. My friends were astounded, cheering me on. But everyone else was terrified. I felt abandoned by society as I was hunted. My friends helped cover for me, for the most part, but I was, y’know, hunted. Some Agency."
Chloe chimes in, “Hate those fuckers.”
Jumbo points at Chloe and happily tells her, “Amen to that!” Chloe gives him a thumbs up and a smile. “So, while I was hunted, I got fired from my job. I worked at Denny’s for a while to get some money, and maybe feed myself. I was a growing boy. But then, I got a call from this fuckin’ guy, Teddy Iris. Promised me money, protection and weed. Graciously, I accepted. I became Jumbo. And it paid well, ‘til I wanted to get out. I tried to leave, but Teddy said ‘no, no, no’ all the way through. Eventually, he got fed up and sent that Doll bitch to get into my head. She whispered sweet nothings into my mind and wormed her way in. I was her puppet! Teddy’s puppet! I want revenge!”
Max walks over to him and puts a hand on his shoulder, assuringly telling him, “We’ll get it. But first, we need to know more about Iris. Who is he?”
“He’s… weird. Y’know how they say he’s a ghost? He lives off the grid? That’s all bull. He’s not human. And he’s not a ghost. He is the fuckin’ grid. He’s like an artificial intelligence o-”
Chloe’s eyes widen and she asks, “Fucking what?!”
“Yeah. He’s like a computer. From what he told me, he’s been around since the Eighties. He was designed to fight the drug war back in those days by the US Government. They used him a bunch, but then the war ended, I guess, and he was turned off. Or so the feds thought. He got out a few months later and he was pissed. With his knowledge of the drug trade, he became a master of it. He showed the way to a bunch of guys all over this side of the country. Even a bit past that, like in Mexico and Canada! He became a kingpin, a crime lord. He became Teddy Iris.”
Max says to Chloe, “And I’m guessing that’s what the robot he stole was for.”
“It’s an Android. Some cool robot from, like, twenty years in the future with, uh, blue blood n’ shit. I don’t remember much when I stole one for him except that they were everywhere! On TV, in the malls, with the police, shit was wild!”
Chloe perks up at the sound of androids in the future, stating, “Just like in Blade Runner.”
Jumbo shrugs and says with a pause, “… I think. Kinda?”
Chloe is a bit confused by this. She asks, “Seriously, you haven’t seen Blade Runner?”
“WHAAAAT?!” Chloe tucks her notepad away in her jacket and claps her hands: “Okay, interrogation over, let’s go watch Blade Runner. Kate, Victoria, are you guys coming?”
Victoria asks Kate, “Uh, should we?”
She shrugs and tells her, “Might as well.” Suddenly, she remembers, “Wait, what about Tangi?”
Victoria groans and claims, “Dammit, we left Nate with him!”
Max nods her head, “Oh, that guy. Tangi. Go check in on him. Ask him questions.” And with that, both Victoria and Kate walk into the hallway as everyone starts to leave for the night.
Sitting by the girls’ bathroom, Tangi is telling jokes to Naton while tied to a pipe: “Knock knock.”
Naton tilts his head and asks, “Who there?”
Tangi looks around in faux panic, asking frantically, “What?! Where’s the rhino?! Ack!”
Naton is laughing his ass off. He slaps his knee a few times as his viking helmet shakes around his head. “Again! Again!”
Tangi takes a few seconds to think before he gets to the next joke: “Why did the hunter go to school?” Naton leans in, anticipating the punchline. Tangi delivers with, “To get a HEAD, DEER!” Naton almost falls back in reaction to the joke, but he instead bumps into Victoria who helps keep him up.
Victoria glares at Tangi and he grins cruelly back at her. “God, your jokes are atrocious.”
Naton shakes his head, telling her, “No! He funny to me!”
Victoria rolls her eyes. “Of course you think he is.”
Tangi lets out a laugh to try and ease the tension. It’s almost a bit girlish, unexpected even of a guy like the Happy Clown. “Sorry. It’s just… I have a quick gag reflex.”
Kate and Victoria look at each other, both trying to stifle a chuckle or two. Kate tells him, “Eh, not too bad. Maybe stick to puns.”
Tangi’s face starts turning green underneath the makeup on his face. Queasily, he tells them. “No seriously, my gag reflex is bad, dude. I think I’m gonna… ugh, ugh.”
He looks down and vomits an odd white liquid, causing the three to jump back in disgust. Victoria comments, “Ew, jesus!”
From the vomit on the ground, a creaky female voice speaks: “Sorry.” Vic’s eyes widen as she recognizes that voice. It belongs to Dolly. She looks down and sees a small pack of six Dollies standing in the vomit, each armed with sewing needles. One of them jokingly says, “Squeak squeak.”, while glaring at Victoria.
Victoria pushes Kate and Naton back as one of the mini Dollies jumps onto one of the legs of her pajama pants, exclaiming, “What the fuck?!” She tries kicking them away as two more crawl onto her leg. She screams, “Get away!”, and Kate intervenes by shovelling the mini Dollies away with a shovel of light.
One of the mini Dollies stabs her in the leg with a needle, causing her to kick harder amidst the feelings of pain and panic. The mini Dolly yells, “Don’t get away! Let me get even! Let me get MAD!”
The Dollies start stabbing more at her leg, and Victoria falls on her butt to swat at them with her hand. “Fuck off!” Naton helps her and Kate out by grabbing more Dollies and crushing them in his hands. They shatter like porcelain. Victoria looks to the Principal’s office and frantically begs, “Max, heeeeelp!”
The main Dolly, still soaked, walks next to Victoria and tells her, “She can’t hear you. This movie’s too loud.”
Victoria gives her a confused look and tells her, “This movie’s fuckin’ Blade Runner! How is it loud?!”
Dolly playfully kicks Victoria in the side. One of the mini Dollies runs up to her throat and exclaims, “Ring ring, rrrrooooound twooooo!”
Victoria grabs this mini Dolly and slams her into the ground, shattering her and screaming, “Shut up!”
Another one of the mini Dollies, wearing a yellow skull mask on her face, hops over and tells her mockingly, “You’re smart, Vicki, and that’s what gets ya killed.”
Victoria flicks this one away and yells at her, “Eat my nonexistent dick!”
A third sprints over but she and the other mini-mes attacking her are stabbed by tendrils of light and are tossed away. Kate urgently rushes to her side, sliding onto the floor before blasting Dolly into the Principal’s office.
Dolly looks at Max, Chloe, Rachel, Rose and Jumbo as they are wrapped up in vines by the Shrub. They are fighting hard to get out but it isn’t easy in spite of their harsh struggling. “Good jub, Shrub.” He gives her a thumbs up as she jumps to her feet and runs back out into the hallway.
Kate gets up and helps Victoria stand while looking at her leg. Blood is lightly seeping into her pink pajama pants from the small stabs. She puts aside this concern seeing as Victoria has done so: “I’ve got you, Vic!”
Victoria looks at Kate, her hair glowing, and softly tells her, “Thanks, love.”
Dolly claps three times at them obnoxiously loudly. “Love. Pah! Oh, love. Lovey dovey love. Hey, y’know what? I HATE love! And I LOVE hate!” She grins at the two while Naton rolls around on the floor, crushing more mini Dollies in the process. She rolls her eyes at this and she sets her sights back on Kate and Victoria: “Here’s what HATE has gotten you, Vicki!”
The front door opens and in steps Wells, Steph, Mikey and Warren. They are sluggish under Dolly’s mind control, like zombies. They have enough strength and mental fortitude however to crack their knuckles, crack their necks, crack the bones in their bodies, ready to kill.
Victoria sighs and looks at Kate, telling her, “Okay, try not to hurt the-” Kate summons a wall of light to push everyone into the boys’ bathroom where the door locks behind them.
Impressed with Kate’s intuition, she pulls her close and plants a kiss on her lips. Kate can only smile as Victoria says to her, “God, I love you. Marr-” Victoria cuts herself off, but Kate knows just what she was going to say and smiles at the abrupt notion. Another time, perhaps. Now is the time to kick evil ass.
Dolly, with malice in her cold gray eyes, points her mini-mes in the direction of the two girls and their caveman friend, and the small psychopaths charge.
Victoria grabs a discarded pane of glass and shatters it on as many mini Dollies as she can - roughly three dozen in number.
More scurry past them but Kate slams her palm into the ground, unleashing a shockwave of light that obliterates any mini Dolly that approach.
Naton grabs whatever he can to throw at the mini Dollies, shattering them into tiny pieces.
This process repeats for thirty minutes while the real deal Dolly stands by, amused and obsessed with sending more and more at her enemies.
Suddenly, the Shrub goes flying out of the Principal’s office, having been punched out by Bedlam who steps out a second later. He glares at Victoria, allowing for the Shrub to throw a sneak attack that knocks Bedlam to the floor. He wraps him up in old vines and runs out of Blackwell. Deciding that her fun has been had, Dolly follows after him. But not before looking back at Victoria and her friends to tell them, “This has been fun! See ya, snitches!” She laughs as she leaves while Victoria grabs a sewing needle and throws it at her. It stabs her in the back, barely phasing her.
Victoria looks at the door Dolly and the Shrub left through and sighs. “Katie?”
Kate, leaning against a wall to relax, asks, “Yeah?”
A big grin grows on Vic’s face. The adrenaline helps her speak, in spite of her flesh wound: “I really, really love you.”
Kate nods her head with a smile and tells her, “Me too.”