Kwiksilver's Horrible Holiday
| This is an incomplete story.
Kwiksilver's Horrible Holiday is a story that was started by a user some time ago, but wasn't completed, and may never be completed. We're sorry for the inconvenience! However, feel free to look here to read completed stories!
|Kwiksilver's Horrible Holiday|
|Participants||Kwiksilver, Seed14, Professor Bentoling, Mail Banshee, Daniel Specter, Sprocket, Skuas, Walrus Crime Ring, Clubb Phengin Weekee|
|Date||12th January 2009 - 14th January 2009|
Kwiksilver's Horrible Holiday is an event that happened when Kwiksilver won a contest he didn't enter and stayed at the horrible Takota Inn for two days. Little was he aware that he'd also make new friends, fight a horrible enemy, and find more apparitions than Halloween night!
- 1 The event
- 1.1 Chapter One: You've Won A Raffle You Didn't Enter!
- 1.2 Chapter Two: Attack of the Vending Machine
- 1.3 Chapter Three: The Train Rolls Along
- 1.4 Chapter Four: Ronald Junction
- 1.5 Chapter Five: The "OH NOEZ SCAR"
- 1.6 Chapter Six: The Awful Luxurious Takota Inn
- 1.7 Chapter Seven: Exploring the Hotel
- 1.8 Chapter Eight: Making Breakfast
- 1.9 Chapter Nine: Tourist Blues
- 1.10 Chapter Ten: Dead and BEEPING!
- 1.11 Chapter Eleven: Faulty Wiring
- 1.12 Chapter Twelve: Ghost Manipulator
- 1.13 Chapter Thirteen: Going Postal
- 1.14 Chapter Fourteen: Bacon University
- 1.15 Chapter Fifteen: Tusked Vengeance
- 2 Result
- 3 See also
Chapter One: You've Won A Raffle You Didn't Enter!
Kwiksilver walked through the streets of South Pole City, Sprocket on his arm. The other citizens rushed around him, attending to their jobs, errands, and other things. Kwiksilver had nothing to do at that moment, and he entered a Governance Telenacle that was being renovated. He didn't notice the sign above the doors that said, "HOLIDAY RAFFLE TODAY".
Kwiksilver sat down on a bench and pulled his PDA from his battered satchel. He pulled out the stylus, tapped the screen three times, and the screen turned on. The screen read, "WELCOME BACK". Kwiksilver checked his emails. Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam. He looked up, bored, to the crowd gathered at the front of the Telenacle. A bishop was standing next to a large hat.
Kwiksilver opened his PDA's word processor and started to type a story about him winning a raffle. Meanwhile, the bishop had his flipper in the barrel. Kwiksilver began typing.
Once, a penguin called Kwiksilver had entered a raffle while he was drinking cream soda. He had no recollection of himself entering the raffle, and absentmindedly walked into a renovated telenacle, where the raffle was being held. Suddenly, the bishop, who had his flipper in the hat of tickets, called out 51.
"51!" called the bishop from the front of the crowd. Kwiksilver stared at him, puzzled, then continued writing.
The other half of Kwiksilver's raffle ticket was stuck to the top of his beanie by a strand of cheese. Kwiksilver scratched his head, and felt some paper fluttering in the cold wind. He pulled it off to discover that it was ticket number 51!
Without knowing it, Kwiksilver automatically raised his flipper to his head to scratch, but he felt paper fluttering. He pulled the piece of paper off his beanie and inspected it. It read 51.
Kwiksilver ignored the craziness of it all and rushed up to the bishop. "I've got 51!" he called, pushing his way through the crowd. "What do I win?"
"You win a video camera and a two-day holiday at the
awful luxurious Takota Inn!
Kwiksilver couldn't belive his luck. He was already imagining laying back in a deckchair and catching some sun....
Chapter Two: Attack of the Vending Machine
But he didn't imagine this. Kwiksilver sat on the platform of the train station. A mighty blizzard had rolled through, and poor Kwiksilver was freezing. Sprocket retreated into his satchel to warm up, but to no avail. Kwiksilver's stomach rumbled.
"Hey look, Sprocket," said Kwiksilver, "A vending machine!"
"Kwiksilver, it might be a mirage!" said Sprocket warningly.
"We're not in the desert, don't worry," said Kwiksilver, rushing to the machine.
"Actually, Antarctica is technically a desert, because it gets less than ten inches of liquid a year."
Kwiksilver rolled his eyes and waddled to the vending machine. The vending machine was bare, except for one tiny packet of chips. Kwiksilver checked the price.
"1000 COINS?!? WHAT?!? That's all I have!" he cried.
Kwiksilver's stomach rumbled again.
"Well, I am hungry..."
He inserted the coins one by one, and pressed the button on the machine. The little coil unwound slowly, and the packet was dangling from the end, hanging on by a thread of plastic.
"Graham Crackers!" said Kwiksilver, continually pressing the button. Nothing happened.
"Sprocket, you get on one side and I'll get on the other, and we'll rock it."
They did so, and with all their strength, the packet still hung on.
Kwiksilver tried ramming the machine, but he only hurt his flipper. He tried everything, but the packet wouldn't budge.
"That's it, machine," said Kwiksilver, rolling up imaginary sleeves, "No more Mr Nice Kwik."
He tackled the machine, and together he and the machine plummeted to the train tracks below.
"Kwiksilver?" called Sprocket, "Are you okay?"
Suddenly, a train rolled across the tracks at great speed. There was the clink of metal and glass, and the vending machine was kicked off the tracks and landed in a field on the other side of the platform.
Sprocket looked down at the tracks. Kwiksilver was nowhere to be seen.
"MMMF, MMKET!" cried a muffled voice from behind Sprocket.
Sprocket turned around. Kwiksilver had the vending machine on his head and was squished under its weight. Sprocket helped Kwiksilver get the vending machine off his head and they sat in the rain, panting.
"What about the chips?" asked Sprocket.
Kwiksilver pulled a packet from behind his back and opened it.
Kwiksilver and Sprocket jumped up, because a giant spider with hairy legs jumped out of the packet and scuttled away.
As if it couldn't get more creepy, there was a sudden tap on Kwiksilver's shoulder.
"YAHHH!" screamed Kwiksilver and Sprocket again.
Standing in front of them was a penguin, who was wearing a moth-eaten suit and ragged formal vest underneath, with a black top hat. He smelt like rotten fruit. His eyes were dark colored, and he seemed to have dark circles under his eyes. He was holding a battered umbrella and spoke in a morbid, monotone voice.
"Master Kwiksilver, I presume?"
Kwiksilver walked with the penguin, who looked as if he came straight out of an old movie about business, to board the next train.
Written upon the side of the locomotive was "ITINEROD MAIL CIRCUIT, A PROUD PART OF THE UNITED STATES OF ANTARCTICA POSTAL SERVICE SINCE 2004".
"Whoa, I'm getting on a mail train? What kind of resort am I heading to?"
"Mine." the penguin stated. Lightning forked through the blizzard as our heroes nervously boarded the train.
Chapter Three: The Train Rolls Along
The train was bumpy, and Kwiksilver had to sit in the cramped engineer's corners with the funeral director-ish penguin and the driver. They travelled in the train all night, and the lighting on the vehicle was terrible. It flickered everywhere through all of the bumps and cracks on the tracks.
A voice over the PA system rang out in the car:
"Please fasten your seatbelts, we're about to ascend Snowy Bewl, Snowy Bwelch, Snowy bee-welch, err, Snowy Belch... we're about to ascend a really steep mountain whose name I can't pronounce."
Sprocket and Kwiksilver looked at one-another. They strapped in as the train ascended.
Steeper and steeper the locomotive went... it continued to climb... as the incline became worse, the mail started slipping in the back cars, piling up against the back wall. Kwiksilver was leaned back in his seat at a nearly fifty degrees angle. The height continued until they were going a sharp sixty seven degrees. At last, though, the train made it to the top of Snowy Belch... ahem, Snowy Bwlch, and began downward. The track was completely straight and rather steep. The train descended at quite a speed, the mail that had piled up was now sliding down. Some of the mail on the car behind the engineer quarters collided with the door separating the two, causing Kwiksilver to jump, yet again.
The locomotive proceeded past the mountain and onward to the HappyFace Creek Cliffs. Sprocket refused to look out the windows at this time, because they were on a narrow cliff overlooking a river. Signs next to the train tracks read, "DANGER: OVER 300 FT DROP".
The train barreled through that area and onto Ronald Junction, an outpost named after the only major figure to hatch in the area, Ronald Preventable, sidekick and future mate of Kim Plausible. The train came to a stop at the outpost, refuelling and such.
Chapter Four: Ronald Junction
"NOW ARRIVING AT RONALD JUNCTION. We will depart in one hour."
Kwiksilver sat up and awakended the innkeeper he was riding with.
"Sir, I think we're here."
The penguin sat up and stretched. Together, they exited the train as it refueled, ready for some stretching and a possible meal. It was 3:00 AM in the morning, and Kwiksilver needed some rest.
"Hey, since I'm going to stay at your hotel, may I learn your name?"
"Yes, child. My name is Seed14."
The way he spoke made Kwiksilver shiver. Seed14 reminded him of those creepy butlers that were hired to take care of Mwa Mwa Penguins, the ones that scared the "bay bees". This penguin sure scared him.
Seed 14 looked around at the station and spoke: "Master Kwiksilver, we are not at my inn. It will be a while before we reach it."
Kwiksilver groaned heavily. They had a while, so they needed SOMETHING to eat. They exited the station and saw the town sign. It was a dark wood, with letters carved into it.
BOOYAH! WELCOME TO RONALD JUNCTION HATCHING PLACE OF RONALD PREVENTABLE SIDEKICK AND MATE OF THE LEGENDARY KIM PLAUSIBLE PROUD PARTICIPANT OF THE ITINEROD POSTAL ROUTE SINCE 2004 ESTABLISHED 1990
Small cabins were scattered the quaint village, which boasted a nice statue of Ronald Preventable and his pet puffle next to the town hall.
They walked through the main square. The place looked like something out of a Christmas Card. Kwiksilver hadn't seen buildings like that since the 2008 Classical Christmas party. To break the festive appearance of the town, there was one steel and metal building which read "OFFICE" on the front. Clearly, the village didn't need to specify; it was the only office in town. There was an igloo with a sign reading "DINER" on it. Seeing a chance to eat, the group headed in.
Ronald Junction was a tight-knit community, one where everyone knew everyone, and everyone knew about the events on the Itinerod. Since they all knew about what was ahead of their outpost, all eyes turned as Kwiksilver, Sprocket, and Seed14 entered the diner.
Kwiksilver and the group waddled in and sat down. It was so silent that one could hear a player card being opened.
A waitress came up to the group.
"M-may I get you something?"
"Yes." Kwiksilver responded. ""What are 'Tanachos'?"
"Well..." the waitress began, straightening up. "It's pronounced 'TAH-nachos', and it is a delightful combination of taco and nacho ingrediants in a soft shell, with hard nacho tortillas mixed inside it. It was made by our very own, Ronald Preventable!"
"Ooh, I'll have that, with Polka Pola to drink!" Sprocket stated.
"Good choice. ...-and you, Captain Beanie?"
"It's Kwiksilver, and I'll have the Fish Burger with the black eyed peas and sweet tea to drink."
"Okay." the waitress looked away as she addressed Seed14.
"I know what you want, Seed. Warm Giga-Groul with water."
"That is correct, madam."
As the waitress walked off, Kwiksilver turned to Seed14 and spoke to him sternly.
"How do these people know you?"
"That's easy, sir. I'm famous. You can compare it to the chicks found on Club Penguin with the web logs."
Kwiksilver was confused. He knew many famous penguins, such as Fever or Chewitt Dude, but Seed14 didn't ring a bell. Also, who says "web log" anymore?!
"Seed, what exactly made you famous?"
The food was placed on the table, and everyone began eating. Everyone was still silent.
"Ah, that's a good question. My hotel did, my dear boy."
Kwiksilver and Sprocket sighed with relief as they continued eating. Maybe the hotel isn't as bad (or as scary) as its keeper after all. He was famous for it, so it must be good!
They finished up their meal on a plesent tone, and exited back to the station, where the train was about to pull out. They had made it just in time.
Chapter Five: The "OH NOEZ SCAR"
The voice on the loudspeaker announced, "Now departing from Ronald Junction, heading towards Nichole Crossings. Warning: we will be passing through dangerous terrain, I repeat, we will be passing through dangerous terrain. Please fasten your seatbelts."
Dangerous terrain? Kwiksilver and Sprocket were confused and scared at the same time.
"Seed, what exactly is this 'dangerous terrain'?"
Seed woke up and responded, clasping his flippers together as if he was in mourning.
"Ah, they're referencing the 'OH NOEZ' Scar. It's infamous for train wrecks and lost mail."
The train blew its horn right as it approached the Scar. Kwiksilver looked out and saw a dark brown cliff with what looked like several ramps carved into it. He could barely make out a sharp hairpin turn that began the ascent. From there, another hairpin turn, up a level, then another turn, up another level, and so on until they reached the top and turned straight onto stable tracks once more. That, however, was a good ways' off. What lied ahead was equally threatening. Charred blackened trees, scorched earth, and the occasional barbed-wire fence (as if from a war trench) raced by. Sprocket, with his keen vision, could have sworn he saw some ripped red cloth flying on a rusty pole and a few land mines to the side.
They leaned back in their seats and closed their eyes as the mail train made its first ninety degree turn.
The dangling fluorescent lights lighting the car flickered and shook. The mail in the back cars could be heard tumbling and rolling over one-another. It was a good thing they were loaded with bubble wrap and packaged peanuts.
The train ascended a forty degree hill and WHOOOOSH: they had made another hairpin turn. Kwiksilver's beanie flew off, much to his horror. Sprocket, knowing that his master can't bare to be without his prized hat, unbuckled himself on the next incline. Right before he could get the cap, WHOOOOOSH! The puffle was flung as the train made the next turn of the Scar. He smacked into the wall and squeaked like a mute puffle.
He attempted to grab ahold of the hat a second time and managed to snag it right before the next hairpin turn.
The next incline was unkempt, it seemed, as the train rattled. The noise was insane, as the lights flickered, the locomotive rumbled, and the mail bounced all over who knows what. Seed14 continued to sleep in his seat as if he was riding on a small, puffy cumulus cloud.
Sprocket was flung again, but Kwiksilver tried to catch him. He succeeded, and the puffle dove into Kwiksilver's satchel and prepared for another incline and turn.
This continued for a few more minutes until the train turned through a tunnel in the cliffside scar. The locomotive echoed in the tunnel, and Kwiksilver covered what would be his ears. In panic, he took out his player card and accessed the "?" button. He desperately smacked the "MUTE MUSIC" switch, but to no avail. The train thundered on.
Inside the tunnel the train turned left, and proceeded to turn left, as if it had made a U-turn. Kwiksilver was tilted to the wall in his seat, his beak smushed against the glass. Finally, the train managed to make a small right turn, not nearly as sharp, thank goodness, and continued straight, still underground.
Kwiksilver was then frightened as the train suddenly moved downward, and he screamed until it leveled off. A sharp right turn followed a straight way, followed by yet another hairpin turn to the right. Sprocket felt like he might lose his meal.
The train sped onward, still on a straight path, until it went up a very steep incline, at least sixty five degrees. The train slowed down as it tried to accomplish the feat of going up the tracks, and finally managed to continue on. Afterwards, more turns and ramps, until the train exited the tunnel and carried straight. Kwiksilver summoned all the courage he had to look out the window, and to his relief, the track was straight for as far as he could see. The dark brown, scorched landscape of wire and stumps transitioned into the snowy gray peaks he knew and loved. At last, they had finally exited the Scar. It seemed like hours, but they had actually passed through it in thirty minutes.
Kwiksilver began to relax as the train went on the smooth and straight tracks. Soon, he fell asleep.
"Arriving at Nichole Crossings in 17 minutes," said the voice over the PA.
Kwiksilver woke up.
The train had stopped and Seed was gone. Looking out the window, he saw that the train was being refueled at a small refueling station. Behind the refueling stop were a couple of log cabins with moss growing on them. Kwiksilver reached for his PDA in his satchel, then noticed his prized bag and Sprocket were missing!
In a panic, Kwiksilver looked under the seats and in the baggage racks. Sprocket and his satchel were nowhere to be seen. Kwiksilver rolled the compartment door across, ran down the corridor and jumped off into the snow. He asked the train driver if he had seen Sprocket or the PDA.
"I ain't seen no puffle, but I did see a skua wearing a satchel. Look, there he is now!"
The train driver pointed a flipper to a skua flying through the air. The skua was wearing Kwiksilver's satchel! Kwiksilver was seething with rage.
Kwiksilver waddled to the ladder at the back of the mail train, and climbed onto the roof. He had to get the timing right. The skua was close. Kwiksilver, now on top of the train, felt around for a secret compartment that, according to Professor Shroomsky's Conspiracy theory book, was included on all trains. He found it, and the panel swung open, revealing a thick coil of rope.
Kwiksilver then tied the rope into a lasso, and swung it around and around. The skua flew overhead.
The rope smacked against the Skua's side, and fell onto it's claw. The rope tightened and the skua went spiraling out of control, pulling Kwiksilver with him. Kwiksilver pulled himself up the rope, and grabbed at the satchel. He missed.
The skua noticed it's passenger. It shouted in a thick mobster accent. "Get offa me! Dis is my satchel, I bought it wif me own moolah!"
Kwiksilver made another grab for the satchel, and this time he succeeded in grabbing the strap. The skua pecked at Kwiksilver, trying to get him off. Kwiksilver let go of the rope and hung onto the bag for dear life. Then he looked down.
He was a hundred metres up, hanging in the sky over a cirque. The Itenerod tracks were like string in the tundra. A faint sign in the distance read "McWrath Cirque".
A stabbing pain brought Kwiksilver's attention to the matter at hand. The skua was lashing out wildly, and the satchel strap was starting to rip. They were losing altitude fast. Finally the skua seemed to give a sigh, and he dropped the satchel.
Kwiksilver fell, still holding onto his satchel. He looked below, and was overcome by fear when he saw a load of sharp pointy rocks. There was one last option. Rummaging through his satchel, he finally found the strange looking watch, his Vortex Manipulator. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough charge in it to time travel, let alone teleport. Kwiksilver twisted the watch as the rocks loomed ever closer, then there was the painful sensation of being drawn through a rubber tube and a flash of green light. He blacked out.
"Y'think he's alive?"
"I'm not sure, he did seem to slow before he hit the rocks, and the wounds aren't that bad. I wonder how he managed to escape death."
"I think he's darned lucky!"
Kwiksilver opened his eyes and the fuzzy mist cleared. He could see Seed41 and the train driver standing over him. The ground was rattling, so he must be on the train.
"Lookit!" said the Train Driver, pulling Kwik to his flippers, "The boy lives! What did ye think ye're doing? You could've bin killed!"
"A pity," said Seed, "A good tragedy would have cheered me up greatly."
Kwiksilver made himself a mental note to never trust Seed with his life.
"Have you seen Sprocket?" he asked Seed.
"No, as a matter of fact I haven't. I thought he was with you."
Kwiksilver looked out the dirty window at the faraway Nicole Peak. A light blizzard had started up.
The train suddenly stopped and Kwiksilver went smack into the glass.
"Last stop!" called the Train Driver, "Takota Inn!"
Chapter Six: The
Awful Luxurious Takota Inn
Seed41 brought a giant key from his pocket and slowly turned it in the lock of the forest-green doors of the Takota Inn.
The doors creaked open, and as the penguins and the puffle entered, Seed closed the door back and flicked a light switch.
Crackling electric sounds were heard, and then the faint buzzing hum of lights were heard. Above them, half of a chandalier lit up, but only dimly. Seed41 flipped a second switch, and a bare lightbulb naging from the chandalier (obviously added in manually) clicked on and brightened the room a bit. Seed got out some matches and lit a ton of candles, casting a soothing yet eerie glow in the room. From the rafters of the ceiling, squeaking could be heard, as if wild puffles or some other creatures had found sanctuary within.
Standing at the doors facing forward, Kwiksilver took in the sights.
The floor was faded hardwood, with dark green carpet. Directly in front of him to the left corner, was the receptionist's desk, complete with a musty registry book and a rack of keys behind it. A rusty hotel bell sat near it, and a few pens, chained to the desk, rounded the time capsule out. Sprocket looked towards Kwiksilver's flipper, reading his Vortex Manipulator, to make sure he was still in 2010. He was.
Two curved staircases, one to the left, and one to the right, led to an upstairs balcony with three doors, going left, right, and middle. A large double-doorway was also on the first floor, in the middle of the foyer and to the right of the desk. A few of the doors on the upstairs balcony opened and pairs of eyes peered out at the new arrival. They shut again immediately.
Kwiksilver turned to Seed.
"This place sure is... rustic."
"Yes. Yes it is."
"So... where's the manager?"
"That would be me, child."
Kwiksilver handed Seed41 the coupon for a free stay. Seed41 walked over to the desk and held a candle over the coupon. The desk, being under the left staircase, was more dimly lit than the center of the room. He read it and nodded, as it was genuine.
"Your room number is sixty six. Please follow me."
Seed41 took a key off of the rack with a tag reading "66". After the two signed the registry, he clasped the key in his flippers and began to slowly waddle to the door in the middle, opening it. He held it open and gestured for Kwiksilver and Sprocket to enter. He closed the door behind them.
They were now in a hall. It was a rather skinny hall, with more forest green carpet. The wallpaper was faded and more bare bulbs illuminated the halls just enough to see the place. Halfway between every two doors was a bent end table (as if someone had sat upon it). The few that were not bent had warped candlesticks, bent as if someone had used them as weapons. Some of them had melted, waxy candles placed in them, but these were few.
The passed several thin brown doors, reading random numbers (there was no order), until they finally stopped at sixty six. Seed14 smiled slightly and unlocked the door. Thunder rumbled faintly in the distance.
Creaking open, Seed14 handed them the key.
"Your room, Master Kwiksilver, and pet. If you need me, hesitate not. Just pull that rope over there in the corner, and it'll ring a bell. I will attend to your wishes when need be. Have a blissful stay at Takota Inn."
Seed14 closed the door and exited, leaving Kwiksilver and Sprocket to look at the room.
It had two sleeping chambers and a puffle bed to his left. The sheets, though clean, were messy, and the puffle bed had a big spring sticking out of it. The floor had white specks on it from the off-white ceiling, and the cabinet to the right that usually had a television was bare. A radio sat in its place. Suprise suprise, the floor was forest green carpet.
Opposite to them and horizontal to the beds was a large dusty window and a heating unit. Kwiksilver could barely make out the brown, barren plains and many oil pumpjacks in the distance, illuminated by assorted construction-grade lights, and gently rocking back and forth as they sucked up black gold. It was a very ugly view, and the green curtains didn't help.
To the right of the window was an old wooden desk. One leg was propped up by a stack of several books whose spines had fallen apart. Underneath it was a wall plug and a phone jack used for Internet connections.
A short pause continued as Kwiksilver and Sprocket looked at each other. They were not on vacation. They were trapped in a nightmare. Worse yet, it was a three day nightmare... -and a blizzard was rolling in.
The two gulped heavilly and walked to their beds. Sprocket refused to sleep on that, so he snuggled up with Kwiksilver as he closed the curtain on the chamber and slowly drifted off into uneasy slumber, as the wind blew outside.
Sprocket woke up. He felt very, very hungry. He hadn't eaten in hours, and his puffle stomach was growling.
He rummaged through Kwiksilver's satchel, which he had been sleeping in over the night. He tossed aside a packet of chilli powder and a mouldy sandwich, eagerly searching the debris of strange objects that cluttered the bag. Sprocket's efforts were in vain. He jumped out of the bag. There was only one thing to do, call Seed.
He went over to the bell-pull and grasped the rope in his teeth. With a large tug, the rope came apart in his mouth.
"BLEEEGGHH," said Sprocket. He spat out the moth-eaten fibres. There must be some way to talk to Seed without leaving the floor. He didn't feel up to walking all the way downstairs.
Then, he had a brainwave. He could use one of the other room's bells. He opened the door of the hotel room, and a blast of cold, musty air hit him.
Shaking the icicles out of his fur, Sprocket walked over to Room 67, the door to the right of his room. He was about to knock when he heard voices arguing softly.
"I'm tellin' ya, Franky, we gots to do this toynight!" said one with a strange accent.
"No way hozay, Bob. Dose guys from Holyberden'll be on us faister then a puffle on an o'berry!" said another, deeper voice.
"Youse guys shut yer mouths, some'un might be listenin'!" said another voice, higher than the others. Sprocket heard footsteps coming closer to the door, and flattened himself behind a nearby shattered vase just as the door slammed open.
A tough looking skua with shifty eyes looked around from Room 67. He was wearing a black hat unlike what Bugzy often wore.
"Al, get back in here!" hissed Bob's voice. The skua took one more look then slammed the door shut.
Sprocket started to think to himself. Skuas? Mobster Skuas? And something about Holyberden...
Putting that aside for a moment, he decided to check Room 65, the room to the left. He knocked on the door.
It opened almost immediately, sending Sprocket flying backwards. A green female penguin stood framed in the doorway. She was short-ish and thin, and wore a black lab coat with the initials A.B on them. Her brown hair was tied back in a ponytail and her mouth was expressionless. She looked around with a raised eyebrow.
"Umm...down here," said Sprocket weakly.
Her head turned to the red puffle sitting innocently on the floor.
"Huh. Talking puffle," she said in a monotone voice. "Seen a few of those in my time. What do you want?"
"Just wanted to use your bell," Sprocket said.
The penguin wordlessly stepped aside and Sprocket entered. Her room was little different from his and Kwiksilver's, except that it had no puffle bed and it appeared that the strange occupant had set up some sort of surveillance system.
Sprocket was stunned by the beeping electronic equipment. The female penguin coughed. Sprocket turned.
"I believed you want to use my bell?" she drawled.
"Oh, yeah, thanks," said Sprocket. He pulled the bell rope, and a tingling sounded somewhere in the building.
"Seed usually takes a while," said the penguin, "I know, I've been here for about a month."
"Name?" she suddenly asked.
"Oh, umm, my name is Sprocket."
"Ah, that's a cute name." the penguin said, smiling a bit. Her smile vanished seconds after, and she turned back to her work.
Chapter Seven: Exploring the Hotel
Seed41 heard the bell.
"Ah, a customer needs me." he looked at the bell that rang. "Oh, Alice Bentoling."
Seed stood up and brushed off his musty clothes. He clasped his flippers and went to door next to his desk. He opened it andslowly made his way down the halls. He stopped at Alice's room, and, using his Master Key, he opened the door.
"You rang." Seed said.
Sprocket jumped a bit to get Seed's attention.
"Ah, Master Kwiksilver's pet. What do you need?"
"I'm very hungry, sir." Sprocket replied. "Is there any food I could get?"
"Indeed. I will be back with your dish."
Before Sprocket could specify what he wanted, Seed14 was gone.
After a bit, Seed returned. He was holding a tarnished silver platter. On it was several tortilla chips and some little plastic items. He bent down and set the plate before Sprocket. He used his flippers and ripped the packets open, squirting what was revealed to be ketchup onto the tortillas. He then set a sparkling glass of water next to it.
"There you go, pet. Tortillas and ketchup, with water. Enjoy."
Seed walekd about before Sprocket could object. He looked at Alice with a stare of "What just happened?".
"Seed14's room service is based on how long you stay. As you know, he charges by the hour, so the longer you stay, the more money he makes. I get pizza when I order. Sure, the crust is thin, the hot sauce is thinner, and he always forgets the anchovies, but it's pizza nonetheless. I'm surprised he didn't order payment."
"We won a contest for our stay."
"Oh." the penguin chuckled a bit. "That's a pretty sad prize."
Sprocket nodded (or the best that puffles could do) as he looked at his meal. Reluctantly, he ate it all and drank down the water. It wasn't that tasty, but at least it was filling. Now full, in both thoughts and food, he went back to Kwiksilver's room to contemplate what he had seen as he went out. His train of thought eventually burned out, and he fell into a deep sleep.
Several hours later, the wind, rattling the windows, woke Kwiksilver up. An old digital alarm clock read 9:00 AM. It was winter, so, of course, it was rather dark out. The blizzard had snowed them in. Since there was nothing to do, Kwiksilver decided to get out and stretch.
He rmembered a sing he had seen in the entrance, reading "feel free to explore". With nothing else to do, he did just that. He looked into his satchel to see Sprocket fast asleep. He smiled at his puffle, and set him on the other bed, closing the curtains. He pet him a few times, and quietly walked out of his room, putting the key into his player card.
Now, where to go? The rooms next door didn't seem to interest him, so he was going to waddle down the hallway. He looked to his right and saw, in the distance, the doors that led to the lobby and Seed. To his left was more hallway, making a ninety degree turn to the left, with doors evenly spaced all the way. An elevator was also over there.
Kwiksilver turned left and waddled down the hall, noting that the numbers were completely random. "69, 19, 3, 457, 600", they bore no pattern. Many of them, he realized, were probably empty.
He continued waddling down the hall, looking at the portraits on the walls. There was one of a clown, one of a safe, another of a sunflower in a vase. A pirate was in another, and an autograph from Explorer 767 was also hung over several of the end tables and nearby. They were all faded.
Tempted, Kwiksilver lifted the sunflower picture, which was hanging about the height of the end table- far out of the perception of one walking in the halls, as if it was hung there for a purpose other than looks -and lifted it up gently. He was surprised to see what looked like stains from a fruit. Had someone fired a Fruit Blaster in this remote rest stop? What other things existed?
As he went down the hallsa nd much deeper into the hotel, he noticed that less bulbs were burning and that it was dimmer. Several pictures were crooked and the pictures illegibl, if the frames had portraits at all.
It was silent and peaceful as he walked down the hall. Eventually, the hall branched out into an intersection. In front of him was the dimmest part of this passage, with one bulb burning to provide a little illumination. To the right was a brighter path, with several bulbs burning at about half of their capacity. To the left was a fully lit area, which apparently, as he could tell by the left turn, led back to where he started.
Kwiksilver was always an adventurer. The left turn bored him, the right turn did little, but straight ahead... well, that peaked his interest. He looked to an end table with a candlestick on it. He grabbed it and opened a drawer underneath, searching for matches. He found matches, but he also found a picture of Bugzy in the drawer, with graffiti on it, reading "BALLIN' GANGSTAS BEAT BUGZY". Did organized crime exist here? Kwiksilver was itching to find out!
Chapter Eight: Making Breakfast
He waddled further and realized that the hall was soon to be a dead end. He decided to take a door to his right. A sign on it read "CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST ROOM #3". Kwiksilver smiled. He needed a good breakfast. He pushed the door open and stepped in. He was disappointed to note that little was in there. Four tables with four chairs each, and a countertop with a coffee maker, a stack of bowls and mugs, and a hot chocolate machine. Other items there were miniature boxes of cereal, and frozen waffles next to an old microwave. The only other things of interest were a television in the top-left corner, turned on but displaying static, and the ceiling fan, that was turning very slowly. The hum of a heating unit at least gave the room a pleasent warmth.
He sighed and walked to the counter, grabbing a mug and a small bag of coffee beans. He poured them into the machine, along with some water from the nearby sink, and turned it on, smiling weakly as the smell of delicious coffee began to fill the air.
As he stood, from the corner of his eye, Kwiksilver could have sworn he saw a black item slip from his field of vision, and into a crack behind the counter.
His interest peaked, he bent over to look at the cabinets. One of them opened, and black, tentacled blob wearing the ugliest mask Kwiksilver had ever seen greeted him.
Kwiksilver slammed the door shut. "What in the name of Who was THAT?!"
He opened the cabinet slightly. The masked monster-thing growled softly at him. It stretched its tentacle, seemingly after Kwiksilver, but it stopped as the coffee machine dinged. The monster made a grunting noise that sounded like one of joy, and his tentacle quickly whipped up and grabbed the finished coffee, pulling it back and towards him. The cabinet shut.
"My coffee!" Kwiksilver exclaimed, with a tone of slight anger.
Kwiksilver huffed as he walked around. He grabbed a frozen waffle and popped it in the microwave, watching any masked monster that would want it. The microwave beeped, and Kwiksilver grabbed the waffle and shut the microwave's door, so not to bring it to the attention of whatever may be in this room.
He noted that there were probably other fiendish monsters in the other cabinets, so he went and sat down in a chair, and began taking bites of his waffle, swallowing each whole. He smiled. For a frozen waffle, it wasn't half bad. He quickly finished it, wishing he could have had some syrup or coffee, but he didn't want to risk that again. He went to the milk generator and pulled its spout, taking the milk in his cup and drinking it.
"Aah." Kwiksilver sighed, satisfied with his meal.
Now feeling better, he decided to look into this monster problem. How did Seed not know that these lurked in his hotel? Or, did he know, and he just didn't care?
Kwiksilver thought about this as he walked through a door threshhold (without a door) and found himself in a kitchen. In front of him, and standing on a chair, was a young penguin. She seemed to be cooking. Though, this wasn't an ordinary penguin. This penguin was green. Not your normal gereen color, but green. Her feathers were green, her hair was green, her shirt was green, her feet were green... chances are, her face and eyes were green too. He had never seen anything like it, but his curiosity had overcome him too far to exit.
"Pinch of salt... nine cups of flower... check, check... shoe..." the girl pulled out her player card and placed a shoe in. The shoe seemed to be some sort of girly item, not at all like something this girl would wear. The penguin laughed. "Thanks Greenville for the shoe... heh heh... okay... some iridium..."
She pulled a silver-ish, brittle rock from her player card and crumbled it into the bowl, stirring it thoroughly.
"...-and a beanie hat." the green penguin paused. "What is this nonsense? Why not just a normal hat? Stupid book."
She hopped off the chair and turned around, seeing Kwiksilver.
"You, what are you doing in my kitchen, you stupid penguin?"
Kwiksilver gave an annoyed look to the small green penguin that had the nerve to call him "stupid". He was at least three times as tall as her. She came to about half his height, but she was glaring at him nonetheless.
"Well? TELL ME."
Kwiksilver tried to be polite.
"Are you lost?"
"I certainly am not! What a stupid question. No, I am making a monster."
"I. AM. MAKING. A. MONSTER." the penguin replied. "Do you not speak Engligh?"
Kwiksilver rolled his eyes. With an accent like that, he sort of wondered if she did. Then it hit him. Was the monster that stole his coffee a product of such a small little penguin?
The green penguin looked up at Kwiksilver again.
"Who are you?" she asked flatly.
"My name is James Erasmus Kwiksilver."
"Cuh-vick-silver?" the penguin responded, tripping over the "qu" sound.
"I said that three times, stupid Cuhvicksilver." she responded.
Cuhvic- uh, Kwiksilver slapped his flipper upon hif head and dragged it down his beak. Considering her crazy accent, the "qu" may not exist in her native tounge.
"Okay... what's your name?"
"Faida." the penguin responded.
"Faida? That's an odd name."
"-and what exactly is wrong with my name?"
"What's a Bugzy?"
"Your name." Kwiksilver said, keeping Faida on subject.
"Yes. There is nothing wrong with my name. Yours is weird too. Cuhvicksilver. Ha ha. You're named after a deadly element."
Kwiksilver glared. He wasn't a fan of his namesake, either. Faida was getting on his last nerves.
"Well," Kwiksilver began, trying to keep his cool, "Your name means 'blood fued'. Are you in the UPM?"
"Are you poison?"
"Touche." Kwiksilver commented. "Well, let's just agree on this. Weird names are common around here."
"Mmmhmm." Faida nodded.
Kwiksilver smiled a bit and bent over to rub Faida's hair. He couldn't help but like her. Faida was a spunky penguin, and he couldn't help but smile at that. It sort of reminded him of hiself in times of crisis.
"Hey Cuhvicksilver," Faida asked, also smiling. "Is that a beanie hat you are wearing?"
In seconds, the green penguin hopped onto the chair, then the counter, and then she swiped Kwiksilver's beanie clean off his head, revealing his messy and tangled brown hair.
"MY HAT!" Kwiksilver shouted, as he watched in horror as Faida deposited the hat into the mixture and began to stir.
Kwiksilver twitched a bit, as Faida hummed some sort of song to herself. He watched in horror as his hat began to dissolve into the mixture, now changing to a black color.
The little penguin reached for one last item. It looked like a purple box of baking soda with a big letter "V" on it. A portrait of a headless man in a suit was on the side.
Kwiksilver snapped before she could add it. He grabbed Faida and held her up to his face, shaking her violently.
"WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY HAT?!" he shouted, practically foaming at the mouth. "YOU DESTROYED MY PRIZED POSSESSION, YOU... AAAAGH!!"
Kwiksilver continued to shake the penguin.
"PUT ME DOWN!" she shouted. "PUT ME DOWN!"
"NO, HAT KILLER!"
"HAVE MERCY, PUT ME DOWN!"
Kwiksilver refused. That hat was priceless. He held tighter onto Faida, as she struggled, and he waddled out of the kitchen and back down the halls. Faida continued squirming and screaming. Several monsters heard her, and they came out of their hiding places.
Kwiksilver was waddling at a slow pace down the halls, lecturing Faida about all his precious hat had gone through in the past, how nothing could replace it, how nothing could ever change that it was gone. Faida tried to justify it by saying she needed one, but Kwiksilver refused to listen.
Then, Kwiksilver heard scratching sounds behind him. Faida smirked as Kwiksilver looked back and saw the monsters.
Kwiksilver waddled faster and eventually back into his room. He threw Faida on the floor and locked the door. He went over to the cabinet and knocked the radio off, rolling the heavy piece of furniture over the door. The masked creatures growled as they found they were unable to break the door.
"What do you want with me?!" Faida asked. Her shrill, accented voice woke Sprocket up. He yawned widely and loudly, as puffles were prone to do, and hopped out of his satchel.
"Good morning Kwiksilver. Who's your friend?"
"Faida." Kwiksilver said, angrily.
"Kwiksilver! Where... where's your beanie?"
"Faida." Kwiksilver said under his breath.
Sprocket looked at Faida and made a tsk-tsk sound.
"You took his hat, didn't you?"
"...-and now you know not to, right?"
All of the commotion, meanwhile, had caused some racket in the room next door, the same where the voices Sprocket had heard came from. Through the thin walls, everyone could hear what they were saying. Kwiksilver and Sprocket fell silent, and Kwiksilver smacked his flipper over Faida's beak. Only the scratching sound of Faida's creations could be heard.
"Do ya hear that, Al?"
"Cops! It must be cops!"
"Cops don't make no scratchin' sounds."
"How do you know? Those amusement park freaks make a LOT of sounds."
"SSHHHH, the cops'll hear us!"
A faint slapping sound was heard.
"OW! What was that for!"
"For bein' an idiot."
The three in the room exchanged glances, and continued to listen.
"If you want this plan to work, we must keep it under wraps. You never know who spends their nights here. Train drivers, hobos... I saw a penguin the color of mucous walk down the halls the other day."
Faida grunted angrily at that comment. Kwiksilver tightened his grip on her beak.
"The seals are payin' us big for this job. We can't afford to screw it up!
The voices faded out as Kwiksilver gasped to himself. Seals?! What could they have in this? What is really going on in Takota Inn?
They shuddered to think. Kwiksilver would need all the help he could get if he wanted to unravel this mystery. He let go of Faida.
"Faida... I'll forgive you for taking my hat if you help me with something." Kwiksilver whispered.
"What do you-" Kwiksilver covered her beak. "Ssshhhh..."
Faida lowered her voice.
"What do you want from me?"
"Would you help me uncover this mystery? I'll never bother you or your masked blobs again."
Faida crossed her flippers.
"I don't like help."
"Fine, but tell me this. Are you now, or were you ever, an idiot?"
"Laugh for me."
"How do you laugh?" Faida asked again.
Kwiksilver looked at Sprocket. He faked a laugh, quietly, for the strange green penguin.
"Good. I see there's no tee hee in that."
"You do not wish to know." Faida added, with a sound of disgust in her voice. "It's why I'm staying here. To get away from her."
"Oh, I know that feeling."
"Your enemies, they tee hee too?"
"They sing and talk about rainbows all day?"
"No, they want me deleted."
"Hmm. Well then. I guees I shall work with you. Just don't annoy me."
Faida and Kwiksilver shook flipprs.
"Now, let my monsters in here. I will need them."
Kwiksilver gulped, but obeyed. He moved the cabinet and slowly unlocked the door, to reveal the masked blobs.
"Stand down!" Faida ordered in a hushed-but-firm tone. Immediantly, the monsters relaxed their forms and scooted in.
Kwiksilver was impressed. He turned to Sprocket, who seemed to be thinking of something.
"What's on your mind, Sprocket?"
"Well... I heard those guys talking last night. They're no good... but I think the penguin on the other next door from us is. Maybe she knows something. She's been in this place for a month."
Kwiksilver and Faida looked to each other. Even the monsters seemed to be exhibiting surpise behind their masks.
"Well.. we'll stay in here for a while. Around dinner time, we'll go and meet her. Is that fine with all of you?"
Kwiksilver reached into his player card and pulled out another beanie, placing it snugly on his head.
"We have a mystery to uncover!"
"Nice watch!" Faida interrupted, ruining Kwiksilver's dramatic moment.
Chapter Nine: Tourist Blues
Insert Kwiksilver, Faida and Sprocket's miserable day out here!
In her hotel room, Alice Bentoling was typing into a holographic keyboard that seemed to spring from a projector. A chat window popped up on a nearby screen and she swivelled her office chair around to view it's contents.
AGENT BENTOLING! ANSWER MY MESSAGES IMMEDIATELY! STATUS REPORT! screamed the sloppy font.
Professor Bentoling sighed and called her boss.
The phone picked up after only one ring.
"ALICE! WHAT'S GOING ON?" screamed a shrill, female voice on the other end.
"Calm down, Tammy. You're hyperventilating, I can hear it over the phone."
The voice on the other end paused for a while, and soon controlled breathing could be heard.
"I'm sorry Alice, It's just that I really care for my my brother. He may dislike what the site has become, but he would never want to see it destroyed." apologised Tammy.
"There's no need to worry. It looks like the skuas have completed the portal, but there's no-"
"THEY COMPLETED THE PORTAL?"
Professor Bentoling massaged her ears before trying to calm down her boss.
"There's no need to worry. As soon as it is opened, I'll put Holyberden Trackers on them and your men can detain them before they unlock the gates of the Weekee."
"We have Holyberden Trackers?" Tammy asked.
"Mmm-hmm. Well, technically, they're not Holyberden's, they're mine... -but they'll keep us all safe, that's for sure."
"Good. TurtleShroom will be thrilled to hear that. I myself have tried wiretapping, but apparently, they're encrypted."
"That's why your family contracted me, remember? Those goons knew they were up against one of the most powerful groups on the continent, and they prepared well. Your usual snooping and stalking can't take down a project this big."
"Well, just make sure you don't blow your cover," she added.
"All of you Joneses worry too much. Nothing could go-"
Professor Bentoling never got to finish the sentence because there was a knock at the door. She quickly hung up the phone and grabbed the Fruit Blaster that was hidden in an inside pocket of her lab coat. She creeped up to the door, blaster at the ready.
"Professor Bentoling?" said a small voice.
Alice lowered her blaster. That didn't sound like a skua. She went to open the door, ensuring that her gun was still safely clutched behind her back.
It was the red puffle that had visited her earlier that day. Along with him was a penguin wearing a beanie and a rainbow bracelet and a weird green penguin.
"What do you want?" she asked suspiciously.
"We want to know about the Ballin' Gangstas," said Kwiksilver.
Bentoling looked them up and down, but suddenly her eyes locked on Kwiksilver's wrist. She looked at him again, then with a sudden movement grabbed him and pulled him inside the room.
"Hey! What are you doing?" he protested.
"WHOA!" Sprocket added.
She shoved him up against a wall and pinned him there, then grabbed his flipper and shook it in his face.
"Time Agency, huh?" she snarled. "That's the last time any of your lot try to follow me."
Kwiksilver realised that she was looking at his Vortex Manipulator.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, you're got the wrong idea-"
She twisted his flipper behind his head and Kwiksilver gave a sharp intake of breath.
"Tell your Director to stop tailing me. You're the fifth agent to find me in the past six months. And you're the last agent."
Sprocket and Faida had entered the room by now. Faida summoned some monsters. While the professor was surprised, she continued to wrestle both Kwiksilver and Faida's goons, all at once.
"I'm not with the-" Kwiksilver pleaded.
Kwiksilver kicked Professor Bentoling backwards and she slammed into the wall.
"I'M-NOT-WITH-THE-AGENCY!" he bellowed into her face. "I'm being hunted by them as well, I'm in the same boat as you!"
"That's what they all say," she growled. Faida's monsters wrapped her with their tentacles as Kwiksilver dusted himself off for a more "rational" talk.
"I'm James Erasmus Kwiksilver!" He said.
Her eyes opened wider.
"THE Kwiksilver?" she asked.
"Yes," sighed Kwiksilver. He rolled his eyes. "The one and only."
She got up and shook his flipper.
"I'm really sorry, Kwiksilver. It's an honor to meet you. I guess you know what it's like, being hunted all the time."
"Of course I do."
Sprocket, Faida, Kwiksilver and Professor Bentoling sat down with some hot chocolate and Alice began to tell her story. Shafts of light filtered through the grimy window, signalling the sunset.
"Back when the Time Agency started for the first time, I was a newly graduated physicist. One day, I got a letter in the mail from a 'Top Secret' organisation. Apparently, they had read my graduate paper on time travel and wanted to meet me. So, I met some EPF agents in Club Penguin who brought me to this underground facility, which was the Time Agency."
She took a sip of coffee, and continued.
"I had an interview with the Director. I got in immediately, and my first task was to mass-produce one Vortex Manipulator for the Time Agency. It took a while because I had no starting blueprints, but eventually I reverse-engineered the technology and reconstructed a perfect replica. It worked as well as the original. No problems there."
"It was only after about a month that I realised the impacts of what I had done. I had enabled an entire civilization to time travel, but like all creatures with free will, they could take advantage of future sight. Eventually the Agency had become a betting organisation, selling future statistics to the highest bidder."
"Operation Casino Night," murmured Kwiksilver in disgust, "That was why I quit."
"I know," continued Bentoling, "All us scientists heard about it. We also noticed that the Director had become a raving lunatic. No big surprise, he hadn't really seemed right for ages."
"So, one day, I just packed up and left. I didn't sign out, I just walked out of the building. But I took some essential things with me. I took the Vortex Manipulator blueprints."
She pulled a sheet of paper out of a nearby suitcase, where it had been lodged under a pair of socks. Professor Bentoling handed it to Kwiksilver, who studied it intensely.
It was a complete blueprint of the Vortex Manipulator, showing inner workings, possible modifications, and features Kwiksilver had never seen before. It was like all his Christmasses had come at once.
"This is...amazing," he said in awe.
"Meh, it was nothing. Anyway," she continued, "Back to the story."
"Taking the blueprints meant that no new Vortex Manipulators could be made and the old ones couldn't be repaired. This was probably the most important thing that could have been done."
Faida turned her head a bit and signalled the monsters to let her go.
"What is with all this stupid nonsense over some fancy wrist clock?" Faida gestured to Kwiksilver's Vortex Manipulator.
Alice sighed. "Laymen."
She turned to the spiteful girl and tried to explain the Agency without breaking classified secrets or confusing her.
"The Time Agency was an organization created to the development and advancement of time travel. They hired physicists like me to crack open the secrets of the Fourth Dimension-"
"Time?" Faida asked, her accent prelevant on the word. "You were seeking to time travel?"
"Exactly. It worked amazingly."
"Then why did you quit?"
"I don't know if you remember this, but about a year ago, Bugzy's Casino fell into the red. For some reason, one penguin was winning every single game they played, making perfect bets each time, and they even defeated Bugzy at poke."
"I do remember that. My monsters and I lost a lot of money to that stupid penguin!"
"Well, he cheated. That penguin was the main one who took advantage of Operation Casino Night. Agents would travel into the future and write down the winning bets, and, in high-paying games like that of poke against Bugzy, they would write down each and every hand he got. That information would be sold to the highest bidder... -and, because of this cheating, that penguin bankrupted the house. He was charged later on with cheating in a gambling insitution, and he paid all the money back. Operation Casino Night was shut down, and I, along with many other good-natured ex-Time Agents, quit as in-fighting began."
"Hmm. I see."
"The Time Agency, in short, is a corrupt organization, unaffliated with most anything else, and they use the power of time travel for evil. This is why we quit, and that's also why they hate me. The blueprints that delighted Kwiksilver are to the watches you commented on. These watches allow us to time travel at will!"
Faida's eyes widened, and she rubbed her flippers at the thought of what she could do with such power. The Professor noted this and yanked on one of her pigtails, snapping her back to reality and causing her to yell.
"That display right there is why the Agency needs to stop."
"So, that's about it. I've been hunted by agents who want to get those plans back. Recently I've got a job with Holyberden spying on those skuas two doors down."
The others nodded, when Kwiksilver then interjected.
"Did you say Holyberden? The amusement park company?"
"Yes. It's rather obvious there's more to them than meets the eye, and I'm pretty well-learned on them. They're a major conspiracy with great power, but they needed my help."
"Ever heard of the Clubb Phengin Weekee?"
"The dirty commies?" Sprocket asked, sort of laughing at the old joke that circulated about them.
"Yes. They're the target of some sort of big sabotage move by a larger group. They seek to build a large portal to tunnel into the Weekee without being authroized through the gates, because they're all banned and could do nothing but walk around in black robes... by legal means, that is."
"Wait, doesn't Holyberden have a huge group of stalking minions that could do this?"
"No. These creatures are using far better technology than Holyberden. They needed extra-high-tech help, since the Skuas are messing with time and space, too."
The Professor nodded and explained that she could use some help. The others agreed.
"Oh, thank you Kwiksilver. I'm sure that with your help and the monster maker's help, we'll be able to save the day."
"You don't sing, dance, act stupid, and say 'tee hee' all the time, do you?" Faida interjected.
"No, I'm a pretty serious penguin and certainly not an idiot."
"Good. I will help you."
The penguins shook flippers, and Sprocket smiled.
"Let's get to work!"
The penguins, puffles, and Faida's masked beings in the room all cheered, but they quickly lowered their voices so as not to disturb the skuas.
Chapter Ten: Dead and BEEPING!
In the Skua's room, the three skuas sat sipping a vile concoction, a mixture of birdseed and coffee. The skua named Bob was sitting on a chair, surveying the group and reminiscing.
Bob was the skinner of the three. He was smart, crafty, and top of Gangster School back at Skua Strait. He was the brains of the group, although he didn't look it, and could easily have qualified for a degree at Penguin University.
Problem was, penguins didn't like skuas. The general stereotype of skuas were evil, chick-eating monsters, although several skuas, including Bob himself, had abandoned old eating habits and now lived on birdseed.
Bob started to shake his head in disbelief. How did he end up here? Working for criminals, trapped for six months in a dark, cramped hotel room. If only they hadn't rejected him at the university...
"Hey, Bawb," said Al in his accent. Bob turned his head to see the muscular skua holding a mobile phone. "Cawl for ya."
Bob took the phone.
"Bob, is that you?" said a whiny voice on the other end of the line.
"Yis, Boss, it's me," replied Bob.
"This is Walrus speaking, Mighty Tusk King of the Walrus Crime Ring."
"I know it's you, boss, ya think I'm stupid or somethin'?" said Bob, rolling his eyes.
"Keep talking like that, Bob, and I won't pay you. Be quiet and listen."
"I'm all ears, boss."
"Good. I have examined this plan from all angles, and I am confident to say that no Holyberden Inquisitors will be after you when you activate the portal."
"How do you know?" asked Bob suspiciously. Holyberden was the best in its field.
"Let's just say that I have friends in high places." answered Walrus.
"Now, my men are standing by to enter the Weekee. I order you to activate the portal, enter the Weekee and lower the defenses. Is that clear?"
"Are you absolutely sure that nobody will come after us?"
"Yes. You, Franky and Al will be perfectly safe. I am relying on you to ensure success. No second chances, understood?"
Walrus hung up without waiting for an answer. Bob turned to his two partners in crime.
"Let's do it."
Faida chose three of her best monsters, and instructed the others to hide in her hotel room.
"Be very quiet, okay? Nobody must hear you."
They nodded behind their masks, and left Professor Bentoling's room. Faida started to discuss battle tactics with her three remaining monsters.
Meanwhile, Kwiksilver, Sprocket and Professor Bentoling discussed equipment. Kwiksilver emptied the contents of his satchel on a coffee table. Bentoling sorted through the items:
- Sugar sachets
- Salt sachets
- Pepper sachets
- Dirt sachets
- Can of baked beans in tomato sauce
- Penknife (literally a knife on one end and pen on the other)
- "The Time Machine" by HG Wells (1989)
- Several Polaroid photographs, all blurry and indistinguishable
- A graphics card for a Doors PC
- IceBuntu 9.10 install CD
- Plane ticket to Anywhere
- Two Judgey wrappers
- Sample packet of Puffle O's, half empty
- 7 coins of different currencies
- Large dark green cloak, folded
- Psychic Paper (ripped, nonworking)
- Kwiksilver's PDA
- Various bits of fluff, pieces of string and metal, and wiring
Professor Bentoling stared at Kwiksilver. He shrugged his shoulders.
"I've never really emptied it out before. It just collects, you know..." He trailed off.
"I need to get you some proper equipment, and fast," said Professor Bentoling. She opened one of her suitcases and repacked his satchel. Soon, in addition to the prevuous items, it contained:
- Collapsible Tent (As small as a wallet, this unfolds with the press of a button to create a tent that is, in fact, bigger on the inside)
- Credit Card linked to Kwiksilver's Time Agency salary ("Mine never got cut off," said the Professor, "You should still receive paychecks from them.")
- Time Agency Special Issue Pocketknife (containing thirty-one different extensions)
- "The Time Machine" by HG Wells (2010 Edition)
- Two laughing gas grenades
- Wind up, exploding crab
- Kwiksilver's PDA (Regenerative Battery inserted)
- Psychic Paper (repaired)
- Regenerative Battery
- Time Agency Oxygen Rebreather
- Camping stove
- "Key Points in History" by Alice G Bentoling ("This'll come in handy," she said.)
- Granny Mullet's Flavor Sachets ('Tastes like whatever you want it to be!')
Kwiksilver thanked Professor Bentoling profusely.
"No need to thank me, Kwiksilver. Happy to help a fellow rouge," she smiled. "Now, give me your Vortex Manipulator."
Kwiksilver took it off his wrist, and handed it to Professor Bentoling. She examined it.
"Hmmm..." she muttered, "Vortex Manipulator Mark Three. Standard issue. Leather strap's a bit worn, and it's taken quite a bit of damage."
"What can you do with it?" asked Kwiksilver eagerly.
"Not much, but I can add some new features. Leave me for a moment, and take Faida with you. I don't want to be disturbed."
Kwiksilver and Faida left Professor Bentoling's room as she set to work.
"Faida, while we wait for the Professor, I guess we should wonder around and see what there is to see."
Faida nodded and gestured to her monsters to watch over the two as they travelled.
"I'm sure there are a lot of things to see," Kwiksilver added, "-and who knows, maybe there's something else in here."
The two waddled through the halls for about an hour, deciding to take the dimly lit hallways over what little was well-lit. At most every several yards, they would notice a broken portrait or a suspicious vase. In fact, one vase on a faded end table was extra strange.
"Cuhvicksilver, look at this!"
Faida called Kwiksilver over to a red vase with a blue zig-zag stripe in the center. What looked like three metallic, fake flowers stuck out of it. At first, that was all that was strange from Kwiksilver's distance.
"Faida, it's some cheap flower vase with fake, dead-looking flowers."
"No, the stupid flower is beeping!" Faida responded.
"Yes. Dead and beeping."
Faida stepped out of the way for Kwiksilver to look intently at the cartoon-ish looking metallic flowers. Leaning even closer, he could see a small LED light of red, fading slowly to bright red and off. The very faint beeping sound surprised him. Kwiksilver's eyes widened at such a novelty, and Sprocket lifted himself out of Kwiksilver's satchel to see.
"Whoa! Dead, beeping flowers!" Sprocket added, surprised. Then, the puffle realized something. "Kwiksilver, these dead, beeping flowers are probably some sort of trap or spy system. It's a good thing that we didn't pass in front of them."
Before Faida could stop him, Kwiksilver reached out a cautious flipper and touched the vase.
It was then that the center dead, beeping flower raised itself up and opened itself to reveal a little satellite dish. Faida and Kwiksilver ducked down to stay out of the signal, but they still stared as the little dish spun around three times before turning back into a flower again. It was probably broadcasting a status report.
"Yep, definitely a trap." Kwiksilver decreed. Sprocket hid back in the satchel.
"How to we pass these stupid dead, beeping flowers?"
"Let me think."
For a bit, Kwiksilver thought, but his train of thought was interrupted with the beeping of the flowers growing audible from a considerable distance. He turned to face the dead, beeping flowers, the middle one a satellite dish again, that seemed to be alerting their presence. He gasped when he noticed that one of the black, formless tentacles of one of Faida's monsters had accidently raised itself right in their viewpoint.
Faida scolded the monster, but didn't have much time as footsteps were heard. The dead, beeping flowers beeped louder as the footsteps came closer. They had no time to hide. A large figure appeared. He was wearing a black pinstripe suit and a fedora. He was eating a slice of pizza and seemed to be very muscular, and as far as Emperor penguins went, broad shouldered.
"Well well well. Looks we've got ourselves some snoopers."
The penguin clapped his flippers, and several more goons appeared. They grabbed Faida and Kwiksilver, and they simply shot Faida's monsters with a Snow Ball Gun, paralyzing them. They were all dragged a few rooms down and were made to enter.
Several equally menacing penguins were at a collapsible card table.
"Fours?" one said in a gruff voice.
"Got any aces?"
A penguin handed three cards to another.
"Ha! Another trick for me!"
The penguins looked up from their game and all glared.
"We've got some intruders, boys."
Kwiksilver gulped. He knew who these were.
"-and just who do you think you are, stupid penguins? Capturing me and my fiendish monsters?"
The penguins laughed at Faida.
"Oh, we're the Mafia. See, my pals and I here... protect this remote rail-side inn. The keeper hasn't paid us in a while, so we're fixin' to make sure he doesn't forget again. We don't want anyone messin' with such a simple operation."
Kwiksilver glared. If he had his Vortex Manipulator, he'd free himself and fight. Unfortunately, he was powerless.
"Racketeering, hmm?" Faida said.
"How's about I help?"
"Why should we trust you?"
Faida turned her head to her monsters.
"My monsters can shake down Seed for you if you let us go and not grab us when we pass your stupid flowers."
"You saw through the disguise?"
"Stupid penguin, of course we saw them! Dead and beeping!"
"Fine, but one of my boys will follow to make sure you ain't 'gonna betray us. ...-and no cops!"
"...-and we'll keep yer little boyfriend here as a bargaining chip, so you do it. Capieche?"
"I'M NOT HER BOYFRIEND!" Kwiksilver shrieked.
"I'M NOT HIS GIRLFRIEND!" Faida responded, with equal fervor.
"Mmmhmm. All right girly." the mobster clapped his fingers, and the goons let go of Faida and her monsters, gripping tighter on Kwiksilver.
"Shake Seed down good and return the money. Maybe we'll reward you."
"I need my monsters."
Some other monsters removed the Ditto from the creatures. Faida had them come to her and explained the plan.
"Get this inn's protection and we'll let you go. Capieche?"
"Capieche." Faida said, with an evil smirk.
"Done!" Professor Bentoling gleefully exclaimed, poking her head out of her hotel room door.
There was nobody there. The hallway was completely deserted.
"Uhhh..Kwiksilver? Faida?" she called. Professor Bentoling looked around. She stepped outside her room, locking the door behind her.
"Hmmm, they were here only a second ago..."
"AAAAH! STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY! I DEMAND YOU STOP!"
The professor went running downstairs to see one of Faida's monsters shaking Seed14 up and down. Coins dropped from his moth-eaten suit as the hotel owner struggled in the tentacle's strong grip. Faida stood by watching.
Some of the hotel room doors opened slightly due to the commotion and pairs of eyes peered out.
"FAIDA!" yelled Bentoling. "Put him down!" She quickened her pace.
Faida seemed to ignore her, and was collecting the coins that fell onto the floor. "Forty-two...forty-three...keep shaking the old man for a little more now..."
Professor Bentoling pulled a small device from her pocket and fired a burst of light at the monster. It went rigid and dropped Seed14 on his head. He was knocked unconscious.
"VHAT DID YOU DO TO MY MONSTER?!?" screeched Faida, dropping the coins and running to the fallen beast.
"It's just a stun gun. What I want to know is what you were doing to Seed!"
"In case you didn't know, shaking people down is STEALING!" Professor Bentoling swiped the coins off the ground.
"Stupid penguin! I need the coins to free Cuhvicksilver!"
"Kwiksilver?" said Professor Bentoling, "What happened to him?"
"Some mobsters captured us and are holding Kwiksilver hostage until I return with their money," Faida explained. "Seed hasn't paid them."
"Mobsters, eh?" said Bentoling, her eyes narrowing.
"That's what I said."
"Faida, take me to them."
The Skuas' portal wasn't an elegant affair. It was the large wooden door of their room's closet, covered in wires, counters, lights and transistors. This type of portal was obviously dangerous, but Bob had to make do with what he had.
Bob booted up his laptop computer while Al and Franky suited up for the job.
"Oxygen tanks?" recited Al.
"Check," said Franky.
"Check." Franky straightened a long black robe with a hood.
Al went crazy. "WAFFLES? YOU FORGOT THE WAFFLES? YOU NEVER FORGET THE WAFFLES!"
"OK, ok," said Franky, "Here they are. They were under the couch."
"Good," Al breathed.
"Okay, my partners in croime," said Bob, "I've got dis portal up and running. We'll enter now. Don't forget your maps!"
"We got dis Bob," said Franky. "Let's go already."
"Okay den," said Bob. "All we have to do is get inside. Who's going first?"
"Fine, you cowards," said Bob finally, "I'LL go first."
Bob opened the door and their beaks dropped open in awe.
Faida led Professor Bentoling down the winding halls to the dark room.
"Are those dead flowers beeping?" she asked, her acute hearing coming in handy.
"Yes. Dead and beeping. Stupid flowers. They're a trap. Duck under them."
The Professor nodded and ducked under as Faida waddled right past, alerting the mobsters of their presence.
"Bentoling, hide somewhere." Faida commanded. Not wanting to argue, she did, hiding where the door would open.
The door cracked opened and a UPM goon peeked out. He looked down and saw Faida.
"Ah, you got the money!"
"Yes. Yes, I have the money." Faida grinned wickedly.
Professor Bentoling smiled as well, as Faida entered.
"I don't see no money."
"It's in my inventory, stupid penguin!"
"Are you talkin' to me like that?"
"Bah. Here's the money."
"That's not all of it."
"Wait, what are you doing?"
A thud was heard.
"You think you can keep some of the money for yourself? That's sleazy, but not in a good way."
Another thud was heard.
Professor Bentoling then whipped out a Banana Blaster and jumped into the room.
"EEEEEEEYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!" she shouted, firing bananas at everyone but Faida, Kwiksilver, and Faida's monsters.
The fight was over before it begun. Bentoling had taken them out far before they could prepare themselves. She untied Kwiksilver, who thanked her profusely. Faida, meanwhile, was knocked out and bruised against the wall. Turning from Kwiksilver, she ran over to Faida and picked her up.
"She's not concious."
Kwiksilver looked worried.
"Well, let's get back to our room and see what we can do!"
Exiting, Sprocket suggested keeping the mobsters from exiting the room. The penguins thought the idea was brilliant. They moved the heavy couch out of their room and into the main hallway. Bentoling, meanwhile, sealed the window overlooking the oilfield with some sort of futuristic thing to make it unbreakable. Exiting the room, they locked the door and shut it, moving the couch over the door, which opened to the outside. Fearing they'd break through the top of the creaky old panel, Sprocket pulled out a hammer he was carrying for some reason, and using the rusty nails holding pictures in the walls, they managed to board the thing up. Seeing that as not sound enough, Bentoling used the last of her futuristic sealing stuff to shut the door tight.
She then picked Faida back up, and soon, the trio and puffle were back in Kwiksilver's hotel room.
By now, Faida was waking up.
"Aagh, my stupid head." she remarked, rubbing her head as she said so.
"Faida, you're okay!" Sprocket added.
"Of course I am, stupid puffle!"
"Yep, she's okay."
Bentoling chuckled a bit and turned to Kwiksilver.
"Hey Kwikcakes," she said mockingly, "how did someone like you get tied up by the mob anyway? The way you battled me would imply you could have put up some sort of fight before you lost."
"Well, it was the dead, beeping flo- lose? Oh ho ho, nooooo way, Bentoling. They completely got me off gaurd with their surveillance. It was Faida's masked formless thing that set off the trigger."
The guilty monster shrugged two of its tentacles. Nothing could really be seen under its mask, but it wasn't too hard to imagine guilt. Faida just crossed her flippers and huffed a bit.
"Kwiksilver, I don't think we have much time to goof off. Come to my room."
The three got up and were led to the Professor's room.
"I've been monitoring the skua's activities, and I recently detected a puncture in the fourth dimension."
"WHAT?!?" Kwiksilver and Sprocket shouted.
"Yes. I think they broke through-"
"Don't interrupt! There's still some good news!"
"What is it?!"
"They didn't hit the Weekee. They crossed into the Ghost Dimension."
"...Ghost Dimension?" Faida asked.
"Yes. The Ghost Dimension is an alternate dimension from our own, a large and vast space with chunks of rock and buildings dispersed amongst random portals. As the name would suggest, ghosts frequent the place when not in the mortal realm. Some even live there. For the risky, it's good for travel, but also unpredictable."
Bentoling looked at Kwiksilver, who rubbed his flipper on the back his head.
"Yeah, I thought you've used it. It so fits you."
Kwiksilver chuckled a bit.
"Anyway, the skuas apparently want to enter the Dimension and search for a portal to the Weekee within. This is a fairly good thing. There is no permanent portal to the Weekee, for one thing. For another, a portal they could find might be the Weekee in ninety years from now, or in the deep past, and even a few minutes ago. It's all random, and it could take years to find something. Or, they could get really lucky and find a good one. Considering that they have the talent to break into the Ghost Dimension, they probably have some crude sketches of what to expect in there. Of course, there is not a detailed map of the place, with the exception of the 'Locus Immensum'."
"Locus Immensum- Latin for 'Places Boundless'. It's a complete map of the Ghost Dimension that not only updates in real-time, but can take the holder to it. It shows every portal as it happens, and if the Skuas got it, bad things would happen to say the least. Fortunately, no one knows where it is."
"You know the cliche part, though... is that since we just said that, you've jinxed us. The Skuas might just find this thing."
"Now, how do you know I jinxed all of this?"
"Just wait. They'll find it........"
Chapter Eleven: Faulty Wiring
The Ghost Dimension was stunning.
A vast, infinite space, with the sky changing various shades of green. Floating chunks of rock, metal and plastic littered the space, some as small as a stepping stone, some as big as a football field. On some platforms, large tower blocks (or, what seemed like tower blocks) were placed, some at awkward, strange and downright impossible angles. Some were even upside down.
"What's that!" Franky cried. He pointed a wing to a small figure walking across rocks.
It was a strange, almost transparent figure. It appeared to have the shape of a penguin, but it kept fuzzing out of focus and morphing into strange shapes. It wore a black hat.
As it passed close to the skuas, it tipped its hat to them and seemed to smile.
"Well, it seems friendly," said Bob. "It probably won't bother us. Now, let's get going."
The three skuas fastened their oxygen tanks to their beaks and stepped out of the door.
And stepped into nothing.
"AAAAAAAAHHH!" they screamed.
"Wait, we're not falling," said Al.
Indeed, they were floating. They experimented by flapping their wings, and soon found that they could glide through the Ghost Dimension slowly.
"Fantaystic!" exclaimed Bob in glee. "Now, where's that portal to that Weekee thing..."
He used his sharp eyes to scan the landscape. Various doors with green auras around them were scattered around this world, but none of them seemed recognisable. Bob decided to ask for directions.
He glided over to the strange figure they had met before. It was still walking along happily, jumping from rock to rock without a care in the world.
"Ermmm...excuse moi?" said Bob.
There was no response from the figure.
"Umm...do you speak English?" said Bob.
Once again, there was no response. The figure completely ignored Bob, and this got the skua agitated.
He glided right in front of the figure and bellowed in its face:
"HEY! YOU! DO YOU KNOW WHERE TO GET A MAP OF THIS PLACE?"
The transparent figure stopped dead in its tracks. Its expression suddenly changed from happy to confused. Then, it morphed.
Its eyes grew large, red and bloodshot. It expanded to a great size, as big as a large truck, its beak opened, and it let out a horrible screech!
Bob was blown backwards by the force of the scream, and hit his head against a large rock, breathing heavily into his oxygen mask. He scrambled to get up as the figure advanced on him, but he couldn't get away in time.
It passed right through him. He peered over the rock to see the ghost walking away. Bob breathed a sigh of relief as Franky and Al came over to help him.
"Aggghhh..." he moaned, rubbing his head. "Nev'r talk to strangers, mom said. I see what she meant now..."
"What's dis?" said Al. He pulled something out of the rock Bob had cracked open with his head. It seemed to be a scroll with the letters "Infi-Map" written on it...
"I hate to say I told you so, but-" said Kwiksilver.
"Shut up," snapped Professor Bentoling.
Kwiksilver, Faida, Sprocket and Professor Bentoling were in the skuas room, having broken in using Kwiksilver's Time Agency Pocket Knife. A chat exchange was open on their computer, showing the last message from the skuas:
Found map of Ghost Dimension, on way to Weekee.
"It's just a coincidence," said Professor Bentoling, crossing her arms defensively. "It's not like there's some powerful force making my words reality for its own sick, twisted delight, is there?"
"Anyway, we have to stop them, somehow," said Sprocket.
"There's no other choice," said Kwiksilver. "We have to just go into the Ghost Dimension and hope-"
"But that's risky!" Professor Bentoling interrupted. "Going in without a map is the worst option. We could end up anywhere!"
"We could ask Daniel," said Faida.
Professor Bentoling, Kwiksilver and Sprocket turned around and said "Who?" in unison.
"Daniel Specter, you fools! I can't believe you don't know who he is."
Bentoling and Kwiksilver looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders.
"How do we contact this Daniel guy?" asked Professor Bentoling.
"Well, since he's a ghost, he's probably hanging around the Ghost Dimension. It fits."
"What are we waiting for?" asked Kwiksilver. He was eager to enter the portal, already wearing his Rebreather.
Faida told her monsters to stay in the room. "Make sure we are not interrupted, okay?" she said. The monsters nodded their "heads" vigorously.
Professor Bentoling fastened her Rebreather to her beak, clicking open the small intake valve. She handed one to Faida, who did the same.
"Hey, what about me?" said Sprocket.
"You don't need a Rebreather," explained Professor Bentoling. "Puffles can survive in a thin oxygen atmosphere much longer than penguins can. They can breathe nitrogen too, remember? Now, let's get inside."
The four looked behind them. "What was that?" cried Faida.
"I can't see anything. Don't worry about it," said Kwiksilver.
The skuas' computer burst into flames. Electricity started to spark around the edges of the portal, striking the wires and bits of metal which were attached to the door. With a crash of splintering wood, the portal's door was blasted off its hinges, hitting Kwiksilver, Faida and Professor Bentoling in the head. They were thrown backwards, unconscious. Sprocket, however was still conscious.
"GET OUT!" he screamed at Faida's monsters, who were lingering by the door, not willing to leave their master. The portal started to froth and bubble, and fierce winds flew out, throwing papers and plastic cups everywhere around the room. It was like a massive thunderstorm.
"GET! OUT!" screamed Sprocket again. The gusts continued to blow, getting stronger and ruffling Sprocket's fur. "I'LL TAKE CARE OF HER!"
The monsters seemed to understand, pulled open the door, scampered out, and shut it again.
If it was possible, the portal seemed to be expanding. It got bigger and bigger, and the portal's door was picked up by an especially strong gust and sucked into the Ghost Dimension. It was eating the room.
Sprocket ran over to the hotel room's door and tried to pull it open, but the force of the wind was pushing it closed. He ran back to his unconscious friends, unsure of what to do. The portal was eating the floor now, and more of the Ghost Dimension could be seen. Sprocket jumped into Kwiksilver's satchel and hoped for the best.
Finally, the portal expanded under Kwiksilver, Faida and Professor Bentoling and they fell into the green abyss.
The usual green sky of the Ghost Dimension turned a dark shade of green, like a forest green. Indeed, it looked like a forest, with light filtering down through various rocks. They sky changed again, sending a shaft of light onto a large chunk of spiky rock. A ray hit a sleeping penguin who was lying on a flat outcrop.
Kwiksilver slipped slowly awake and tried to remember what happened. They were all standing together, and then something hit him...his head throbbed painfully. He stood up cautiously and then checked himself for other injuries. Then, he realized his Vortex Manipulator was gone!
Kwiksilver looked around frantically for the watch-like device. It wasn't anywhere on the outcrop, and he couldn't see it anywhere. How was he going to get another one? He hung his head in his flippers.
Suddenly, it all came back to him. The skuas, the portal, Professor Bentoling, the gangsters, the whole miserable holiday. He pulled his PDA from his satchel and checked the time. He had been asleep for five hours! The Weekee would be destroyed by now. They had failed.
Well, Kwiksilver thought, I'd better find Alice, Faida and Sprocket and get out of here.
He unclipped the strap from his satchel and adjusted it until it resembled a length of rope. Kwiksilver tied it into a lasso, and with a twirl around his head, he launched the loop at a spiky rock looming high above him.
Thunk. It missed and fell back down. He tried again.
Shunk. The strap had caught on the rock! He tugged it a few times to make sure it was strong, then started pulling himself up.
Kwiksilver shot up like a bullet, past the precipice and into the air, he hung there for a few seconds, then started drifting slowly downwards. Gravity was so low here, it was like being on the moon again!
He drifted safely down to the precipice. First he untied his satchel strap, put it back on the bag, and shouldered it again. He crouched down and leaped.
Kwiksilver flew into the air again like a hot air balloon. As soon as he began his slow descent, he looked around the dimension.
The Ghost Dimension seemed to go on forever. Random chunks of rock floated in midair, providing platforms to walk on. Some platforms even had buildings. Small transparent figures could be seen moving around these buildings. Then, Kwiksilver spotted something else.
Hanging from the window of a skyscraper was a small watch. His Vortex Manipulator! Kwiksilver's heart leapt with joy. All he had to do now was collect it and find his friends.
Sprocket awoke in darkness. He blinked a couple of times as his eyes adjusted.
Slowly, his surroundings became clear. The puffle was in some sort of cave, and he was hanging from something sticky. He tried to move, but he didn't budge one bit.
"Donnn'tt ttrryyy to moooovve, small red thingg..." hissed a sinister voice.
A grey haze enveloped Sprocket and he broke into a coughing fit. A seemingly transparent figure came forward out of the darkness, giggling to itself.
It was a massive red spider, with bloodshot eyes and drooling fangs. Its breath stunk of death and decay. It pushed a leg like a thick steel poke into Sprocket's head.
"Ittt ruuuuinssss the fllaavooourrr," it chuckled.
The puffle realised he was stuck on a massive spider's web!
"Oh, great," Sprocket moaned, "Out of the frying pan and into the fire!"
"Ssssspeakinggg of ffrying paaaaansss," said the spider slowly, "I haaave one heeeere for yooouuuuu..."
He reached forward with his two massive pincers and gripped the struggling red puffle like iron.
"STOP RIGHT THERE!" yelled a voice.
As quick as lightning, a figure shot out and tackled the giant spider. Sprocket fell out of the pincers and ran out of the cave as fast as he could go.
He emerged out in the Ghost Dimension, and for a moment was stunned by its infintity. Regaining his senses, Sprocket hung onto a nearby rock as the battle continued inside the cave.
There were grunts, screams and wails, coupled with sounds of flippers punching abdomens and legs kicking penguin. There was a final screech, and all felt silent.
Sprocket peeked into the cave and saw a glowing penguin with white hair standing triumphant on top of the unconscious spider.
"What is that thing?" he blurted out. The penguin looked around in alarm, before seeing the puffle and breathing a sigh of relief.
"It's some sort of creature from another universe, not a ghost," said the penguin. "It must have entered via a random portal that has since closed up."
"Wh-who are you?" stammered Sprocket.
"Oh, sorry," the penguin grinned sheepishly. "I have a habit of punching first and asking questions later. Daniel Specter."
He held out a flipper for Sprocket to shake, but then withdrew it realising that puffles don't have any flippers.
"Ermm...Sprocket," said the puffle, "Puffle of James Kwiksilver."
"I've heard quite a bit about his exploits in the Great Darktonian Pie War," said Specter, "Quite the hero, isn't he?"
"Well... you could say that," said Sprocket.
"Where is he, anyway? The famous Kwiksilver wouldn't leave his best friend in danger, would he?"
"He's in the Dimension somewhere, along with his two friends, Professor Alice Bentoling and a girl called Faida."
"You should never have come here," said Daniel angrily, "This place is dangerous. How did you gain entry anyway?"
"Skuas were planning to use the Dimension as a gateway to get to the Club Phengin Weekee and destroy it. They created a portal in the Takota Inn and it collapsed, leading us here."
"Skuas? In THIS dimension?" said Daniel. His brows narrowed.
"It's too late," said Sprocket sadly, "They have the Locus Immensum. They're probably there and back by now, with the Weekee destroyed."
"Look, don't panic. I haven't been out of the Ghost Dimension for seven hours, so I can't be sure if anything has happened or not. We'll make our way to the my i- err, the Specter Safe House and I'll contact Turner. He can tell us if anything is wrong."
Sprocket jumped onto Daniel's shoulder and he took off, shooting through the Ghost Dimension like a jet plane.
Chapter Twelve: Ghost Manipulator
Kwiksilver bounded from rock to rock, taking massive leaps with the aid of the Ghost Dimension's low gravity. He was almost at a large plateau of floating rock, containing a few office buildings and his Vortex Manipulator. He looked up at the window and confirmed it was still there.
With one last massive leap, he landed face down on the rock with large splat.
"Ouuuch..." he mumbled, staggering to his feet. He lurched dizzily into the nearest wall.
Twisting and turning, Kwiksilver fell inside the building's front door. He slowly regained his balance, and got to his feet. Assured that he was fine, Kwiksilver put one flipper forward and slipped on a ghostly banana peel.
"AW, COME ON!" he cried, sliding forward at an incredible speed and landing inside the building's glass elevator.
The doors closed and the lift ascended. It rose higher and higher, and as it went up Kwiksilver could see the rest of the building. It was dingy and derelict, with stains on the walls and rubbish flying around lazily.
Patches of strange purple goop was seen scattered on the floors, walls and ceiling as the lift came close to the top floor.
"Ectoplasm..." Kwiksilver muttered to himself. Ectoplasm was a substance that ghosts spread around places they haunted. Judging by the amount of ectoplasm, this was one big ghost.
The lift stopped with a jerk and the glass doors slid open. Kwiksilver looked straight ahead and could see his Vortex Manipulator stuck with a strand of ectoplasm to a windowsill.
He ran towards it. Nothing else mattered to him but getting his precious instrument. He snatched it from the windowsill, scraped the ectoplasm off and fastened it to his wrist.
This was strange. The Vortex Manipulator was humming,and every so often it would give a short BEEP. Also, the display seemed to be glowing a brilliant white, and the DEST and CURRENT both showed "3RR0R".
A flying talon hit Kwiksilver with the force of a train and he was knocked backwards out of the window. He scrambled for a grip and just managed to hang onto the windowsill. Kwik peered up to see his attacker.
It was a fairly transparent figure, well, fairly transparent beast. It was a type of penguin-sized half-creature, with massive talons like a skua's and the head of a Leopard Seal. It also had a long, whip-like tail.
Kwiksilver ducked just in time before the tail flew down and crashed against the windowsill, creating a large gash where Kwiksilver's head was moments before. The monster snarled again, and stuck its ugly head out of the window. It stared down at Kwiksilver, teeth bared, then withdrew back inside the building.
Kwiksilver breathed a sigh of relief. Seconds later the window exploded.
Kwiksilver was thrown backwards as the skua-seal destroyed the window and half the brick wall of the building and sprang out at him. A pair of white wings sprung from the side of the monster and it flew in a circle, ready to attack its prey again.
Its prey, however, was still falling. Kwiksilver scrambled desperately for his Vortex Manipulator, remembering when it had saved him at Ronald Junction. He twisted the device triumphantly, and nothing happened.
He twisted the device again and again, but nothing happened. Why wasn't he teleporting? He panicked, and pressed random buttons on the Vortex Manipulator.
A ghostly mattress appeared under Kwiksilver, breaking his fall. He slid off it in amazement. It had come out of his Vortex Manipulator! He looked at it. It was shining white now, and white lightning-like beams ran like wires from the device along his arm to his head.
The skua-seal went in for kill. It dived down and rushed at Kwiksilver at breakneck speed. Kwiksilver simply held his hand out without thinking.
The skua-seal was blown backwards by a massive white laser. It crashed against a building and flapped punch-drunk in the air.
Kwiksilver raised his fist in triumph. He could feel power rushing from the Vortex Manipulator, running from his head to the tip of his flipper.
The skua-seal recovered slightly, and dived at Kwiksilver a second time. Kwiksilver was ready. He wished for a sword, and a lethal-looking, transparent sword appeared in his flipper. He stepped aside and sliced with the sword as the monster attacked him, and it screeched in pain as it was cut into two separate halves. It disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Kwiksilver stood for a moment, stunned. He couldn't believe what had just happened. He looked at his flipper, and saw the sword fade away until he was holding nothing. The white beams running from the Vortex to his head became less intense and turned silver. What had happened to his Vortex Manipulator?
He experimented, pressing various buttons, but nothing happened. Then he recalled that the Vortex had given him a mattress when he needed something to break his fall. He closed his eyes and wished for a map.
A blue, transparent hologram erupted from the Vortex Manipulator. It was like a directory. South Pole City, Club Penguin, Cow Dimension, Bureau of Fiction, Spect Entryway..." the list went on, even listing places that Kwiksilver hadn't heard of, like Somalia and Perth. He pressed a small "map" icon on the bottom of the hologram and a search box appeared.
"What are you looking for?" it said.
I'm looking for my friends, Kwiksilver thought. The word friends appeared in the box and a map showed up. It displayed two dots, labeled "Sprocket" and "Daniel Specter" moving together across rocks.
I need to get there! he exclaimed in his brain. The holo-map vanished and a notice appeared on the screen.
"TELEPORTING - PLEASE WAIT"
Kwiksilver vanished in a burst of white light.
Meanwhile, in an antiquated, gothic-architecture library floating on a piece of land, moans were heard, and not the proper kind.
"Nooooooooooooooooo... you mustn't! That's a sacred Ghost Dimension artifact!"
The skuas chuckled as they watched the ghost try to struggle its way out of the ghost-proof chains shackled around it. It was a short penguin- at least it was a penguin in life -wearing a purple, hooded cloak and gold trim, and like some ghosts, it didn't have feet, only a ghostly tail. Under its cloak was what seemed to be a grey apron with the words "LIBRARY" stitched onto it. The ghost was wearing glasses and had bright green eyes.
"Ain't this a library? SSSSHHHHH!"
The ghost lowered its voice.
"The Locus Immensum is never to be touched by living nor dead! It's Library property!"
The skuas turned to their leader, who didn't seem to be laughing. A scholar himself, he respected museums and dens of nerds as this. Not wanting to be seen as a nerd, he faked a very artificial laugh. Another skua interjected.
"This map, it's a complete directory of the Ghost Zone, right?"
"Ghost Dimension, bird."
"Whatever! It is, right?"
The ghost sighed.
"How does it work?"
"I won't tell."
"Really? You won't?" a skua laughed as another handed him a vacuum. "This vacuum begs ta differ."
The ghost gulped, even though he couldn't eat.
"I... I won't tell."
The spirit rolled his direction away from the skuas.
"This vacuum really sucks, bookworm. I'd comply if I was you."
The skua turned the vacuum on and pointed it at the ghost.
The librarian spirit felt his very being being pulled by the suction as his form was bent into a skewed shape down the nozzle of the vacuum. He shouted.
"Fine, fine! I'll tell you; I'll tell you!!"
The vacuum was turned off.
"Tell us what you know."
"The Locus Immensum is a complete map of the Ghost Dimension. Everything in this dimension is on it. Go ahead and unfold it."
The leader of the skuas swiped it from his minion and opened it. It looked like an old-fashioned road map. It was a dull, off-white color with a grid. As they watched, they could see hundreds of doors in just the area they were in, a few buildings, and circles and squares for protals. ...-and that was just the few miles around them. The rest of the map was crowded with hundreds of thousands of similar icons. The dots and squares occasionally disappeared as new ones popped up all over the map in real time.
"It's huge, I know, but you can view a smaller space, or view details on any portal."
The chained ghost floated a bit closer, though he stopped short as the chain pulled on him.
"Are you familiar with the mortal realm's IcePhone?"
"Yeah. I stole one." a skua stated, holdng an IcePhone out to show. The librarian glared and his leader sighed.
"Okay, then you can operate this with one wing instead of a penguin's two. Place your wing on the Locus Immensum like you would the phone. Move your flight feathers together to zoom in, and out to zoome out."
The skua did so and was amazed as the Locus Imemnsum zoomed in like it was a screen on a phone, even though it seemed to be just a paper roadmap. The dots and buildings became far more detailed and changed shapes. Now, there were jagged shapes, circles, and pictures of little doors, depending on the type of portal. In addition, the Library was now clearly seen.
"Now, I assume you want to get out of this place. The Locus Immensum can help there, too."
"Yeah." the skua lied.
"Just speak to the Locus Immensum."
"It's a map, ghosty."
The leading skua slapepd him on the head. He was surrounded by idiots...
"Fine, I'll do it. All right map... show us the nearest exit to Takota Inn in the present day."
The map did not change.
"The Locus Immensum does not like improper manners. You have to be polite to it and call it by its proper name."
The skua rolled his eyes skyward.
"Whatever. Ahem... Locus Immensum, please show us the nearest exit to Takota Inn in the present day."
Immediately, the map zoomed out slightly. A dashed line drew itself from the library, where they were, a short distance, curving and looping like a chick's treasure map, before it stopped at an orange circle with a small "ding". Then, a window of sorts opened and gave details about the portal.
"TAKOTA INN. 2010. PORTAL TYPE, NATURAL. DURATION: 0:3:54."
The number was counting down. The leader realized that when that ran out, the portal would vanish.
"Indeed. That's how the Locus Immensum works. It responds to properly worded- that is, polite -orders, and can be zoomed in, or out, or however you wish to do. It will also take you there if you ask. Now, would you please let me free? You said you would."
The librarian smiled faintly.
"We changed our minds!" a skua said, laughing. Their leader mouthed the words "I'm sorry" when the looked away, before taking the Locus Immensum.
He thought for a moment.
"I'm sure someone will expect us to come through the Weekee. Walruses are pretty loose-lipped, so I'd better go somewhere else just to be safe."
Although the chances were slim that anyone could have seen this coming, the skua was smart enough to know that they needed a plan once the broke in. Just opening the gates wouldn't conquer the Weekee. How would they get past the thousands of editors that do their thing twenty four-seven? He had to think this right. The Walrises didn't have a set time, so had a few hours or days to spare. He looked at the Locus Immensum and zoomed it out, looking for something, anything, that could buy some time or help. It was then that he saw it. It was a building that looked horribly out of place.
"Hmm... a post office in this dimension?"
He presumed the Dimension somehow sucked it in decades ago. It would be a great place to plot the attack. He had his cronies grab onto the Locus Immensum, as he spoke.
"Locus Immensum," he began, "please take us to the post office of the Ghost Dimension."
The map again drew a dashed line all the way out to the post office and dinged as it stopped drawing. It was then that the map jumped out of their grasp and folded itself back to the way they found it, before turning horizontally to face the direction it was about to go to, in line with the "horizon" of sorts. The skuas made no delay to grab onto it.
Suddenly, the map started moving, really fast! They were whipped along as the map flew off at a blistering speed. The skuas were hanging on for dear life, struggling to maintain their grip on the paper. They whipped and turned and curved and flipped, left, right, straight, until they saw the post office the distance. The map pulled them towards it, circled it three times, and sat them down gently at the glass double doors that served as the entrance. A flagpole on the edge of its floating boulder had a torn Antarctican flag laying on the pole. There was no wind in this section.
"All right, men, let's go inside and devise a proper plan."
"Can't we just storm the place and let the Walruses in, boss?"
The skua leader slapped him on the back of the head.
"Ya fool!" chided Bob. "What about th' editors? Those guys with the whiteboard markers and banhammers!"
The rest of the skuas cowered with Bob's sue of the word banhammer.
"We've got to find a way to get them out first, and then we can let the walruses in. My research showed that this Dimension has no time. We can stay in here for centuries and with this map-" he waved the Locus Immensum "-we can get out again just as they're ready at the gate! So, here's what we do..."
They entered the post office to continue discussing their plan.
Chapter Thirteen: Going Postal
The office was dimly lit and not very large. In front of the skuas was a simple hall of post office boxes, all rusted shut, and to their left, a door with a desk behind a counter, some stamps, and a ragged sofa. They entered this door and sat down to continue talking.
"Uh, boss... I think I sat in something."
"Disgusting! What did you sit in?"
"Well, it looks like green slime."
"That's ectoplasm, bonehead. We're in the Ghost Zone, remember?"
The skua got up and preened the ectoplasm off of him. After finding a spot to sit, they began to talk about their ideas, but they soon found themselves distracted by a faint moaning noise.
"Did you hear that?"
"I heard nothin'."
"I'm telling you, I heard SOMETHING."
The skua's leader stood up and looked around the office. The counter in front of him had a door on the other side. It was closed, and the sound seemed to be coming from over there. Flapping his wings to fly over the counter, he apprached the door and slowly creaked it open.
A shrill voice pierced the air and the leader of the skuas jumped over the counter and to his goons.
As they watched in fright, a light green ghost floated out of the door and to the counter. The ghost seemed to be floating a few inches above the ground, and like most of the other ghosts they passed by, she did not have feet. It was a rather small, but chubby, female penguin with blood-red eyes and long, unkept black hair. She was apparently wearing a white shirt and a pair of purplish-blue overalls. On these overalls was a badge that read "USAPSNRD". The leader of the skuas recalled from his time as a law abiding citizen that it was an acronym for "United States of Antarctica Postal Service: Non-Railroad Division". This was a deceased mail worker.
"I AM THE MAIL BANSHEE! BEWARE!"the ghost screeched to no one in particular. Her voice sounded far to light for her apparent age. It sounded like something more fitting for a teenager that texted too much, and not an aged mail clerk.
"WHO DARES DISTURB ME WHILE I MAINTAIN THE BUREAUCRATIC MORASS OF MY PEACEFUL OFFICE?!
The skuas looked at each other and then to the door. Quietly, they tried to make it out. Entering the room they came from, they were about to make it out the door when the leader looked behind him, only to see one of his idiotic henchmen trying to open a post office box.
"Would you just leave the dang box and get out of here?" the lead skua whispered sternly. "We don't want that ghost catching us!"
"...-but boss, there may be gold and jewels and stuff in here!"
"That's a bank deposit box, you nincompoop! That one only stores mail!"
"FOOLISH MORTAL! ARE YOU NOT AWARE THAT SNOOPING IN OTHER PEOPLE'S MAIL IS A FEDERAL OFFENSE NOT PUNISHABLE BY MORE THAN FIVE YEARS OF PRISON?!"
The lead skua turned to see the Mail Banshee phase through the door. Her shriek of a voice hurt his hearing and made him cringe.
"YOU HAVE VIOLATED THE P.O. BOX OF A FELLOW PENGUIN! FOR THIS YOU WILL PAY!"
One of the skuas laughed.
"Who are you to stop me, spooky?"
The leader slapped his wing upon his beak. Apparently, his minion forgot this was a supernatural mail clerk... that could possibly harm him.
"WHO AM I? I AM THE MAIL BANSHEE! I HAVE CONTROL OVER ALL BAGS, ITEMS, PACKETS, LETTERS, AND ANYTHING THAT IS HANDLED, TRANSPORTED, AND DELIVERED BY A POSTAL SERVICE!"
"I AM THE MAIL BANSHEE!"
All of the skuas laughed, even the leader.
The Mail Banshee snarled a bit as she rolled up the sleeves on her shirt. She lifted her flippers above her, causing the P.O. boxes to glow slightly and open. They broke from their shelves and floated to her, swirling around. In all, there were about fifty metal drawers and their contents orbiting the Mail Banshee. The skuas were a bit unnerved at the thought of getting hit by something like that. They tried to exit, but the door was locked.
"SNOOPING BIRDS, PREPARE TO FACE YOUR DEMISE BY... uhh... let me check!"
The Mail Banshee brought one of the boxes closer to her and looked inside for its contents. It held a greeting card.
"A CORRIDOR-WRITING GREETING CARD SENT IN 1992 FROM TRANS-ANTARCTICA!"
The Mail Banshee gestured at the skuas, and on command, the greeting card leviated out of the box and spun towards the skuas, like a ninja throwing star. It cut one of them on the wing. He bled minorly, but the stinging of the pain was awful.
"AAH! PAPER CUT!"
"A DOMESTIC PRIORITY FLAT-RATE SHIPPING PARCEL WEIGHING UNDER SEVENTY TWO POUNDS! IF IT FITS, IT SHIPS! ANYWHERE ON YOUR BODY!"
A priority flat rate shipping box was hurled at the skua that was snooping in the boxes earlier. It clobbered him in the beak and mowed him down to the floor.
"With priority flat rate boxes from the postal service, THERE'S NO NEED FOR WEIGHING YOUR DOOM! BEWARE!"
A second priority flat rate box flew to the leader, but he dodged it, all the while ticked off at the annoying mail references.
"SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED, YOU'RE DEAD!"
The Kail Banshee hurled both pun and stack of letters at the villanious group. They barely managed to get out of the way, and the Mail Banshee had a lot more post left to throw, and seemed to have a whole repository of brutal puns.
"THE MAIL MUST GO THROUGH... YOUR FACE!!"
This time, a P.O. Box was hurled at the gang, knocking a subordinate out cold. The leader was left standing.
"NOW, FOOLISH MORTAL, DO YOU NOT RESPECT THE PRIVACY OF OTHER PENGUIN'S MAIL?"
The skua leader nodded nervously, fearing what else the spirit would throw.
"GOOD! Now, to seal your fate, let me stamp you out with THE REST OF THIS MAIL!"
"DEAR MERCY, THE PUNS!!! THEY BURN!!" the skua responded, frantically running about in an attempt to avoid beign hit by boxes, slammed by parcels, and sliced by letters. He didn't know what was worse: killer mail, or the Mail Banshee's puns!
With the familiar sensation of being pulled through a rubber tube, Kwiksilver appeared in a flash of white light on a floating rock. He took a moment to recover and shook his head until everything came back into focus. The teleport took more out of him than usual, and he felt slightly dizzy. Oh well, a small price to pay for this fantastic new Vortex Manipulator mode, whatever it was.
He shook his head again, then suddenly remembered. Sprocket and Daniel! He looked around the Ghost Dimension's landscape but saw only a range of individual floating rocks against. Far away to his left he spotted two very distant dots. He dug into the satchel at his side and fished around for a pair of binoculars.
The Ghost Manipulator on his wrist beeped and gave him a small zap. Kwiksilver withdrew, rubbing his wrist, when the Ghost Manipulator emitted some ghostly vapours. They morphed in the air for a while, and then a pair of shimmering binoculars floated into Kwiksilver's flippers. He looked through them at the dots and adjusted the focus until the picture became clear. Yep, it was definitely Sprocket, and some guy who looked like a ghost. Kwiksilver put down the binoculars on the rock's surface and they shimmered out of existence.
He dusted himself off and prepared for more jumps across rocks, when the Ghost Manipulator spat out more ghost-steam. It formed what seemed like a "flame" surfboard with rocket jets on the back. Kwiksilver smiled and jumped on.
"This just gets better and better," he said, speeding off.
"How could Skuas build a portal to the Ghost Dimension?" muttered Daniel, "I'm pretty sure they aren't the science types."
Daniel had refused to fly through the Ghost Dimension with all these rocks in the air, so they were walking to the safe house. On the way there, Sprocket had told him the whole story.
"I'm not sure, but I think their leader's pretty smart," said Sprocket. "To create a portal using only rudimentary supplies and 21st century technology, that bird must be a genius. Well, a faulty portal, but that's brilliant anyway."
Daniel wasn't listening. He had stopped in his tracks and had the air of a bloodhound who had caught a scent.
"Be quiet," he hissed. "I can hear something. Sounds like....a rocket."
As fast as a bolt of lightning, Daniel turned around and grabbed Kwiksilver's flying surfboard which had been coming up behind them. Kwiksilver fell forward with the sudden jolt, and scrambled to grab a hold on the board.
"Trying to sneak up on me, are you? Well, you'll never outwit DANIEL SPECTER!" Daniel yelled triumphantly. He winded up and was about to give Kwiksilver a colossal punch when something hit him in the head. His vision went black and he collapsed on the rock.
Kwiksilver jumped down from the surfboard and together with Sprocket lifted the ghost anvil off Daniel.
"Where in Antarctica did you come from?" said Sprocket in amazement, looking from the surfboard to the anvil. "And more importantly, where can I get one of those surfboards?"
"Something happened to my Vortex Manipulator. It's changed, it's like it's a...Ghost Manipulator. It seems to manipulate Ghost matter instead of time. It can still teleport though," Kwik said, looking down at Daniel's unconscious body. "This clown is Daniel Specter?" He poked Daniel with his foot.
"Yup," said Sprocket. "He rescued me from this spider thing. Well meaning, but a bit full of himself," said Sprocket. He looked up at Kwiksilver. "Reminds me of you."
Kwiksilver looked hurt. "Me? Full of myself? Never!"
If Sprocket had arms, he would have crossed them, but there was a low groan from their feet as Daniel slipped back into consciousness. His drowsy eyes flickered open, then he caught sight of Kwiksilver and aimed a punch at him. Kwiksilver caught the fist and the two stared at each other.
"Errr...Daniel, this is Kwiksilver," said Sprocket nervously.
Slowly, Daniel relaxed his fist and instead held out his flipper. Kwiksilver helped him up and they shook flippers reluctantly. They both still didn't trust each other.
"The famous Kwiksilver," grimaced Daniel, "What was the anvil for?"
"What was the attack for?" retorted Kwiksilver.
They both stared each other down again.
"Guys?" said Sprocket impatiently. "We've got a job to do. So let's get down to business."
"Your puffle's right, Kwiksilver," said Daniel with a sigh. "I've heard the whole story. Skuas are hanging around the Ghost Dimension looking for an entrance to the Weekee, right?"
"That's correct," said Kwik.
"So all we've got to do is-" Daniel stopped mid-speech.
"What is it?" said Sprocket.
Daniel cocked his head sideways like a dog. "I can hear screams. Somebody's in trouble."
"Well, I don't hear anything," said Kwiksilver. "Can't we just-"
"It's a skua!" exclaimed Daniel. He crouched, then flew off into the sky.
Sprocket and Kwiksilver looked at each other. Daniel had left them!
"Where do we go?" said Sprocket.
Kwiksilver was concentrating too hard to notice. A hologram shot out of the Ghost Manipulator, with the text, "Daniel Specter's Location". Kwiksilver pressed "Teleport".
He and Sprocket vanished in white light, bound for a fight.
They materialised in darkness. Sounds of a fight could be heard somewhere below them, and the ripping of paper. Kwiksilver fumbled around in the darkness before finding a round knob. He turned it and the green light of the Ghost Dimension flooded into the small broom cupboard.
They were in the second storey of what seemed like a post office. Mail and packages littered on the floor, never to be sent, and patches of ectoplasm were scattered here and there. Another ghost's residence. As a shrill scream sounded from downstairs, Kwiksilver looked to his left. There seemed to be something hidden under an overturned cabinet. Kwiksilver and Sprocket ran over and discovered a trapdoor.
"How are we going to get this cabinet off?" said Sprocket. "It's as heavy as lead!"
"That's because it IS made of lead," said Kwiksilver, examining it. "Somebody's pretty protective of their mail."
An unintelligible phrase was uttered below them and another loud bang shook the post office. Kwiksilver and Sprocket stumbled and fell against a window. It was lucky, too, because a beam of energy whipped past where they were standing and completely obliterated the cabinet. The duo looked behind them and saw two figures walking through smoke towards them.
Professor Bentoling emerged from the smoke with a smile on her face, holding onto a raygun.
"Hey boys. Need any help?"
"Alice! Faida!" exclaimed Kwiksilver, embracing them both in a hug. "We thought we'd lost you!"
"You mean WE lost YOU," said Professor Bentoling. "We've been chasing life signs on my Vortex Manipulator for hours and I find you two, hiding in a post office. What are you doing here anyway?"
Kwiksilver was about to answer when another loud bang drowned his answer. Faida ran over to the trapdoor and kicked it open. The four looked down.
Daniel was doing battle with a strange ghost that was sending mail flying around the post office. It appeared to be a female penguin with matted hair, and with an unusually shrill voice.
"DANIEL SPECTER, PREPARE TO MARK YOUR LIFE, RETURN TO SENDER! AHAHAHAHA!!"The ghost threw back her head and began laughing, only to choke and collapse into a coughing fit.
"The Mail Banshee!" whispered Faida, without taking her eyes off the scene.
Daniel Specter picked up a sparking lasso (which he seemed to have dropped only a moment before) and launched it at this ghost. The Mail Banshee dived unsteadily out of the way, and the lasso fell to the floor again. The Banshee cackled manically.
"You'll have to do better than that, or you're toast!"she cried. She sent a volley of letters screaming towards Daniel, who nimbly dodged aside.
"Banshee, leave this bird alone!" yelled Daniel. "And that wasn't even a pun!"
The Banshee stopped and hovered in mid air.
"Errr....that wasn't supposed to be a pun,"she admitted awkwardly.
"But I thought you only made really bad puns about mail," said Daniel.
"Hey, aren't I allowed to speak normal sometimes?"said the Mail Banshee angrily. "It's hard enough trying to come up with really witty phrases without people like YOU who criticise everything!"
"Can we just call this a truce and continue this fight another day?" began Daniel, "Because I'm really busy at the moment and-"
The Mail Banshee screeched in disapproval. "WHAT? YOU THINK THAT I, THE MAIL BANSHEE, ISN'T WORTH YOUR TIME?"
"Well.." Daniel started.
"YOU DO, HUH? FOR THAT, YOU'LL BE SHREDDED!"
The Mail Banshee swooped forward with a high-pitched scream that shattered what was left of the post office's glass windows. Daniel managed to jump away, just in time, and fumble for the lasso. Suddenly, he spotted Kwiksilver, Sprocket and the others looking down from the trapdoor.
"Kwiksilver! Sprocket! That skua of yours is getting away!" called Daniel. "I'll hold off the Mail Banshee while you go after him!"
Kwiksilver nodded in understanding, and ran over to the broken windows on the second floor. Looking out, he saw that the three skuas, bruised and battered, were zipping away into the distance while holding a map. He turned to Bentoling, Sprocket and Faida.
"We've got to go after them, there's still a chance to save the Weekee!"
Faida crossed her arms. "Vell, ve'd have to have something pretty fast to catch those birds."
"Problem solved," said Kwiksilver, grinning. The Ghost Manipulator gave three short beeps, and emitted a ghostly vapour. Bentoling and Faida watched in amazement for about thirty seconds as the vapour morphed into a vehicle. Finally, the construction was complete. It was a five-seater Cadillac, with two jet engines strapped onto the back.
"But...but," stuttered Bentoling, staring in amazement at the Ghost Manipulator. "How did you...why..."
Kwiksilver held up his wrist, grinning mischievously. "I have no idea, but I love it." The Ghost Manipulator gave a happy beep.
"Everybody in!" called Sprocket. He was already sitting in the passenger seat, strapped in tightly. Kwiksilver vaulted over the jet engines and landed in the driver's seat. As soon as he touched the slightly transparent steering wheel, the car revved and the jet engines started to start up. Bentoling and Faida climbed in just in time as they fired up and the car shot through the broken glass, speeding through the Ghost Dimension.
Chapter Fourteen: Bacon University
The Cadillac powered through some low-lying clouds of ice, and Kwiksilver gritted his teeth as the tiny sharp icicles scratched his face. He shook his face vigourously and his vision came back in focus fast enough for him to swerve around a large floating rock.
"Kwik!" called Bentoling from the back of the vehicle, where she had just been unceremoniously slammed into Faida by the sharp turn. "Slow down! You're going to get us killed!"
"We've got to catch up to them!" screamed Kwiksilver from the front of the vehicle, performing another sharp turn to avoid a large building. "And besides, I passed my driving test with flying colours!"
"Oh, that's a relief," said Faida.
"Kwiksilver, you're 15!" yelled Sprocket. "You don't even qualify for a driver's license!"
"Nice, Sprocket, nice," muttered Kwiksilver sarcastically, shooting Sprocket a sharp look and looking back just in time to avoid a large delegation of ghosts.
The skuas were still speeding towards the Club Phengin Weekee portal, hanging onto the map.
"...and so, what have we learned about looking in weird boxes?" demanded Bob.
"Don't do it," said Franky and Al in unison. Bob slapped them across the face with his free wing.
"That's right! Now, if you two do any more stupid stuff, you're fired!"
"Hey boss, can you hear dat?" said Franky suddenly.
"Shut it. I'm not having you two messing up the mission again," muttered Bob, looking straight ahead.
"But Bawss, I can hear something too!" protested Al, "It sounds like a--"
"I said, SHUT UP!" yelled Bob. Then he heard it. The sound of a car engine, coming closer.
"Everybody jump to the other side of this map!" cried the leader. They shifted their grip just in time as the Cadillac burst out of the clouds behind them and smashed into the map where they had been moments before.
A beanied head looked towards the skuas from the Driver's seat. "PULL OVER NOW, OR WE'LL HAVE TO USE VIOLENCE!" he yelled through a ghostly megaphone. "YOU'RE NOT GETTING TO THE WEEKEE, NOT TODAY!" A flashing red light seemed to morph onto the dashboard for dramatic effect.
Bob recognised the head immediately. "Hey, you're that James Kwiksilver guy, aren't you?"
"THE ONE AND ONLY!" called a cheeky voice from the passenger seat of the cadillac.
Kwiksilver's cheeks went red. "Shut up Sprocket," he hissed out of the corner of his mouth. He went back to the megaphone. "SO, ARE YOU GOING TO PULL OVER OR WHAT?"
"No can do, kiddo," grinned Franky, "We got a job to do. Bye bye!" The map sped up and disappeared behind more clouds of ice.
"Hey, what's wrong wid dis map?" said Al, pointing to the map. Hurried scribbled writing was appearing on it:
An Unknown Error Occurred: Redirecting to Bacon University.
Bacon University? Bob didn't even know where that was, but he knew it wasn't anywhere near the Club Phengin Weekee. He started jabbing his wing onto the map, but to no avail. It continued for a while, then shot into a nearby portal and into darkness.
Kwiksilver, Sprocket, Professor Bentoling and Faida cautiously climbed through the portal and into darkness.
"Are you sure this is where they went?" asked Sprocket, shivering. It was cold and damp, wherever they were. The only light came from the glowing portal back to the Ghost Dimension, and it was faint light at the most.
"Absolutely," said Professor Bentoling. Her face was illuminated by her Vortex Manipulator, which presumably had some sort of tracker.
Suddenly, there was a low growl from somewhere around them. They all stopped dead in their tracks.
"Anybody got a light?" said Kwiksilver cautiously. Professor Bentoling produced a flashlight, and shone it in the direction of the growl.
"AAAAAAAAAAAH!" they all screamed.
At first glance the being in the torchlight looked like a normal penguin, but on closer inspection it clearly wasn't. There were deep gouges in its chest through which internal organs could be seen. Its flesh was a sickly yellow-green, and it reeked of rotting flesh.
"Zombie!" cried Sprocket, petrified. Several other zombie penguins appeared from the darkness, making guttural growls and undead moans. The heroes took a step back.
"Right, how to we beat them?" asked Kwiksilver, his back hitting the wall. The zombie horde separated them from the Ghost Dimension Portal and was advancing slowly.
"So long suckers!" yelled a voice from the other end of the room. It was the skua gang! They climbed up a ladder and towards a small square of light high up in the room. Kwiksilver cursed under his breath.
"We must be in Bacon University's cellar, in Waffleland." said Bentoling, trapped next to Kwiksilver with Faida and Sprocket. "And as for beating them, how can you kill something that's already dead?"
"Your ray gun?" suggested Sprocket, cowering at her feet as the horde advanced. Bentoling pulled out the gun and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.
"Crap! The Ghost Dimension must have drained the power."
One zombie was ahead of the others. It had almost reached Kwiksilver, so he lashed out with his foot and pushed it back into the crowd. Its fellow zombies helped pick it back up, and they kept advancing. Kwiksilver checked his Vortex Manipulator, which had gone back to normal. The battery was flat.
Sprocket looked around for some means of escape. He bumped into a dumpster lid lying on the ground. "Guys! Help me lift this thing!"
They all ran to his aid, desperate for escape. With great difficulty, they lifted the dumpster lid to reveal a hole in the floor, filled with sports equipment and batteries.
"Brilliant!" exclaimed Kwiksilver, pulling out a cricket bat. He took a swing at an approaching zombie and felled it in one hit. He began to smash, bash and whack his way through the horde, Faida at his side with a javelin.
"Sprocket! Bentoling! What's holding you up?" yelled Kwiksilver, smashing a zombie in the head with his bat. Faida called forth a bunch of monsters and sicked them at the beasts.
"I've got an idea!" said the Professor, who was busy shoving batteries into the handle of a metal baseball bat. She stuck the bottom of the handle back on, and the bat seemed to crackle and spark. The Professor jabbed the bat into the horde.
There seemed to be some sort of explosion and a handful of zombies were blown backwards by the bat's electric charge.
"Mathematical!" exclaimed Sprocket.
The Professor took another swing. With a handful of sparks a zombie was engulfed by blue lightning and burst into flames. It let out low death roars and thrashed around, setting other zombies alight. The flames spread like wildfire, and soon the heroes found themselves in an inferno.
Sprocket and Bentoling fought their way through to Kwiksilver and Faida, and together they ran towards the ladder and climbed towards freedom. About twenty rungs up, Kwiksilver looked down to see the destruction they had caused. The entire cellar was alight with flaming zombies.
"They may be dead, but I don't think we should leave them like this." said Kwiksilver. He spotted a small valve on the side of the ladder marked, "Fire control" and turned it.
Sprays of water descended from the high ceiling, putting out the flames of the zombies and making the already damp cellar even more damp.
"That was a good deed, Khvick-silver. Stupid, but good." said Faida. "I vould have let them burn."
"I guess that's where we're different, Faida," said Kwiksilver, still climbing. "I believe in second chances."
The skuas ran through Bacon University's halls, looking in every room for a Ghost Dimension Portal. The students didn't care. After all, it was Waffleland.
"We can't get back into the Ghost Dimension with the Locus Immensum," sniffed the skua leader, folding the paper into his inventory. "It's like it doesn't want us to get to the Weekee."
"Don' worry bawss, we'll find a portal. There must be plenty 'round 'ere. It's a you-nee-ver-city after all."
"Hang on..." said the gang leader. "You're right. This is a major institution, even if everyone here is really stupid. Turtleshroom must have come here at least once to give a lesson or lecture... -but we never saw him on a ship or a plane. There must be a TeleNet around here somewhere... or something."
"Here ya go bawss, this sign sez..." Franky struggled for a moment to read the sign. "AD-MIN-IS-STRAT-OR. Administrator. Maybe this is where it is!"
The skuas opened the office door cautiously, to check if there was anybody in. A large mahogany desk stacked with paper and waffles almost filled the small room. There were no windows.
"Room's clear, bawss."
The skuas entered and started rummaging around on the desk. Now that they were inside the room, they could also see a dozen bookcases lining the walls. No portal could be seen.
"Wut we lookin' for?" asked Franky.
"A button... a switch... something that's hidden," said Bob, shoving papers off the desk. Waffles went splat on the floor.
Looking at the floor for some sort of trapdoor, he suddenly realized that the moldy carpet gave way to an iron circle. A manhole.
"...a manhole... in here?"
Bob motioned for his goons to come look.
"Those things don't go in here."
"Very good, Franky!"
Rejecting the idea that a place as insane as Waffleland would have this, he reached into his inventory and pried out a crowbar, which he used to open the manhole. It opened to a hole and a ladder, like any sewage system would, but large enough for a penguin. The skuas looked at each other and decided to climb down, Bob leading the way.
They found themselves in a dimly lit tunnel of brick and arches, like vintage Franterran sewers or old city sewers. However, these were dry and dimly lit by iron-cast gas lanterns.
It was actually much more comparable to catacombs than a sewage system.
"...where... are we?"
Footsteps were heard and the light of another lantern could be seen shining from a corner of the unrealistic catacombs. The skuas fell dead silent, wondering who would be down here, or how what was down here even existed.
Kwiksilver, Faida, Bentoling and Sprocket fell out of an air vent and into the hallways of the university.
"Crawlspace my foot," complained Sprocket. "I felt like I was going to suffocate in there."
"Right then, so where would they have gone?" asked Bentoling.
"Ugh!" cried Faida. "There's mud all over my flippers!"
A lightbulb went on in Kwiksilver's brain. "Wait, there would be mud on the skua's feet! We just follow the tracks."
Sure enough, when they looked around they found skua tracks leading from the vent. They followed them to the office, where they found it trashed and the manhole thrown aside.
"Why are we always one step behind!" exclaimed Sprocket. "They've probably lowered the defences by now."
"Well, there's only one way to find out," said Kwiksilver. "Allons-y!" He jumped into the manhole.
Sprocket shrugged, then climbed in after him. Faida and Bentoling followed into the deep sewers.
The skua gang froze and squeezed themselves into a dark corner. The faint light grew brighter and then separated into two. There were two penguins, each holding kerosene hurricane lanterns. The taller one had a fully loaded gun on him and was wearing desert robes and a pair of sunglasses. He was wearing a blank white hat that looked like that bellhop's hat from the "Ruby's Ruby" Stage Play. Embroidered on that hat was a calligraphic "L", not too uncanny to TurtleShroom's calligraphic "T". Even the most idiotic of the skua squad knew that the guy was connected to TurtleShroom.
To the right of the desert-goer was a shorter penguin in scarlet robes and a capirote. Bob knew a lot about the TurtleShroom paramilitary forces: these were Inquisitors. As for the desert penguin, those were elite bodyguards left over from the 1990s: the Libby Leigon. They had once guarded TurtleShroom's father, and now protected his son. They never did any other patrol unless there was an imminent danger: clearly, the Wiki had been at least partially tipped to the plot. Bob ordered his goons to be quiet- if these halls had any connection to TurtleShroom, they were bugged -and they siliently flapped their wings and soared over the guards, who were chatting idly.
Kwiksilver, Faida, Sprocket, and the Professor walked down the same catacombs a distance from the skuas. Bentoling was checking her Vortex Manipulator with a puzzled expression on her beak.
"These catacombs are bigger on the inside than they are on the outside!"
Kwiksilver had been with Doctor Hickory far long enough to know what that meant.
"TurtleShroom is a Club Penguin equivalent of a Time Lord?!"
Well, maybe not.
"No." Bentoling said. "I'm pretty sure the patterns used to create this little dimension of catacombs would have had a different signature than what the Manipulator is telling me."
"What's it giving off?"
"Absolute darkness, cynicism, and dispair."
"Couldn't be TurtleShroom." Kwiksilver said plainly. "TurtleShroom is far too much of a goody-goody to give that sort of aura on anything he makes."
"Well, who made it?" Sprocket interrupted. Bentoling shrugged.
"I can tell you this. Whatever made it must be an extremely powerful being. I'm actually being blocked from fully scanning how this dimension is built!"
"Can you at least state its purpose?" Kwiksilver asked to Bentoling.
"Definately. This dimension is utilitarian: it's for transport."
"Cool!" Sprocket interjected.
"Basically, entering a manhole enters the dimension. These catacombs are a labyrinth. They lead to any number of manholes ranging from the Weekee to South Pole City to TurtleShroom's palace. Basically, anywhere TurtleShroom would want to go, he could. A week or a month's trip is no more than a few minutes if you know your way around."
"So it's like the Kermillian Channels?"
"That's the best comparison. Let me see if I can map out this catacomb dimension..."
Professor Bentoling made some calculations into the Vortex Manipulator. There was a flash, and she smiled.
"Aha! I did it!"
Faida, whou had long grown bored and was talking to her creatures, perked up.
"I figured out the map to this place."
"Excellent. Now let's move!" Kwiksilver and Faida said.
Bob and the gang were lost.
"Dang it! I have no idea where we are!"
"Bawws, we're in a sewer."
"No, not that. I don't know WHERE in this place we are."
"Maybe we can ask for directions?"
"WHAT?" the minion asked.
"You know what!"
One of the skuas had climbed up a ladder and peeked around at the manhole at the top. He called down to Bob.
"BAWWS! I THINK I FOUND IT!"
Bob pushed his incompetent grunt out of the way and ascended the ladder. Peeking out of the manhole, he saw that he was in a room with thick carpet, old wallpaper, about the size of a water closet. The door, however, looked out of place: it was a blue, bank-quality steel vault door! Clearly, this was the place. They were a room in TurtleShroom's palace.
Kwiksilver and company were waddling down the halss, knowing a way into the Weekee that was certainly more direct than what the skuas had done. They could beat the skuas yet-
An accented voice, sounding sort of broken English Hispanic, or maybe Indian (that is, the "tech support" accent) called out. The group whirled around to face the voice's source. It was a Libby Leigionaire, dressed in the robes and sunglasses.
"You not supposed to be down here! Never! You're not Turtlenator!"
Professor Bentoling gestured to her watch and tried to talk to him.
"We're friends of TurtleShroom."
"I no believe. You have Puff Flags diamond-rank season passes?"
"What does that have to do with TurtleShroom?" Faida asked, vaguely remembering the time she and her minions broke into a Puff Flags and rode the rides all day.
"You no have season pass?"
All of them shook their heads.
"TurtleShroom give diamond passes to people, but hje also giv other stuff. I have copy of TurtleShroom buddy list here. You on it?"
"What are your names?"
Each one answered their names, and the guard scanned through TurtleShroom's standard Buddy List. Then, he pulled out a second list for the personal friends. He passed one and smiled.
"Bentoling!" the Leigonaire said, opening his arms for a hug. Realizing the apathetic penguin wasn't about to return it, he stopped.
"Yes, you on list. Priority list. Very good. Access to tunnels, yes."
"Sir," said Kwiksilver, "We're trying to find the best manhole to the Clubb Phengin Weekee. The Professor needs help with her job and she hired us."
"Ah. I see. You want best entrance, yes?"
"Then let us go!"
The skuas climbed out and shut the manhole. They were in. While Bob sent a message to the Walri informing them they had got inside, the other two skuas got to work opening the door.
With a heave, and a groan, they managed to pull open the door. A cloud of dust blew up in their faces.
They were standing in a hallway that was once grand but was now long-forgotten. What was once red, royal carpet was now a faded, dusty, burgundy affair. The electric lamps in the hallway flickered and the wallpaper was peeling.
On a nearby mantelpiece was a photo, covered in a thick film of dust. Bob picked up the photograph and blew the dust off. It was a picture of a penguin wearing a sash, smiling with some other penguins in front of a newly constructed whiteboard. Happier times.
"Dis place is in a right state," commented Franky. "Didn't dat Tortoise Mushroom person used ta live here?"
"Not anymore," said Bob, glancing at the place. "Long story, we ain't got time. Get on da job, fellas."
They ran down the halls for a while, turning and weaving until they finally found an entrance to the outside world.
It was night. The stars in the sky twinkled slowly, cold and blue in the distance. From the front yard of TSP's abandoned palace they could see the streets of the Weekee illuminated softly by lamps.
There weren't many editors during the witching hour.
Eventually, they got to a large blue building with a neon sign, which read "DATABASE ROOM".
"What's da plan, baws?" said Franky.
"We need to get inside dis building here, find dat banning machine, and unban all dose Walrus chumps," replied Bob, already at work hacking the door. The dual steel doors clicked and swung open, fluorescent lights beckoning from inside.
The Leigonaire waved a remote at a manhole above them and it popped open, moonlight flooding through to the sewers below. He beckoned them towards a ladder leading upwards.
"That there take you out to the Weekee, right inside front gates!" the Legionaire chirped.
He waved them goodbye and disappeared off into the darkness.
"Right then, let's hurry," said Kwiksilver. "I hope we're not too late. I really, really hope we're not too late."
Bob sat at the banning machine, flipping knobs and pulling switches. Only he could understand this technology. The other skuas sat nearby, just staring at him.
One of them piped up. "Baws, why hasn't anybody noticed us by now?"
"As I said. Friends in high places. We got nothin' to worry about, boys."
Bob flipped a few levers and finished with a triumphant button press.
"aaaaand we're done! Congratulations boys, job complete! The walri are in the weekee!"
Chapter Fifteen: Tusked Vengeance
Coming out of the manhole, Kwiksilver was as shocked as Faida, Sprocket and Bentoling.
They had come out, just as promised, right outside the front gates. Through the open gates they could see a cloud of dust and they could feel the ground rumble and shake beneath their feet. In the distance they could hear the dreaded calling of those fat, tusked seals.
Walruses. They were here. It was too late.
TO BE CONTINUED!