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Monday, January 1st, 3:03 AM
Nexus Tower at night was an eerie yet mesmerizing sight, as the architectural might of the tower gleamed in the presence of the moon. The inside was always the opposite of the daytime when there was intense bustling inside by all the new and old Nexus recruits. The only living things in the tower at this time were the occasional guards and the faction leaders locked inside their respective areas.
As one guard was dozing off, a blur whiffed in front of him and he quickly bumbled for his weapon but he then felt drowsy and tumbled down into a deep sleep as a soft hypnotic scent filled the area. As the hooded figure rushed in the outside halls of the tower, heading towards the Paradox Headquarters, several guards became alarmed and began to chase it. Several shurikens quickly launched from the mysterious person's shroud to the guards and succumbed them with ease and then went to no trouble to flee the scene. As the figure neared the portal on the right flank of the tower, none other than Mr. Ree appeared.
"I suppose we aren't up to any good, hmm?" he chided. "I'm sorry, but I only take transactions in the day. Now leave."
The minifig just stayed there and stared at Mr. Ree. His face was hidden by his attire, but the shady vendor could tell when he was being ignored.
"Look, Mr., I get your point, you're ticked at being pushed off, well, life's that way. That's why my prices are high."
This time, the figure pushed out a hand that was surrounded by a purple veil and allowed Mr. Ree to study it. Now, Mr. Ree always had a straight impression, and his shades didn't help. All of his emotions are always never visible, and he still didn't seem amused. He understood the idea of the empty gesture meaning the minifig wanted the portal opened.
"OK," he was now quite on edge and his grimace widened, "here's the deal, bub. Nexus Tower is closed. So, if you want to go to the Paradox area, you have to wait until sunrise. Got it?"
The figure then reached out a hand with an archaic and ancient-looking scroll and handed it to Mr. Ree. It had an almost cuneiform writing harshly scribbled on with shrill accuracy.
"Ah, yes, this makes perfect sense. I get your idea." He then waved his hands and talked in a squeaky tone while jumping about, trying to mock the figure's goal "Oh, how about I go and talk to the first person I see at an obviously closed establishment, and in a very vague way, show him my glowing hand and my old-timey scroll as a joke to ruin his day!"
Mr. Ree then felt that his point was made clear and swatted away the relic and then turned his back to the figure. He then pulled out his apparent communicator and whispered into it with a forced rant through gritted teeth.
"Vanda, I have a man here who has driven me insane in fury, send out guards to handle this menace so I can continue…being…useful."
"What?" a fuzzy voice came out, "you have a plan that has driven a sane flurry to send out shards?" She then continued in a snide matter, "That's interesting, I think you should st- st- stop…" the voice stopped, and only an empty buzz came out.
Mr. Ree then shook the walkie-talkie furiously and then turned around to find the minifig gone.
Monday, January 1st, 3:36 AM
Mr. Ree started to panic and found that the portal was turned on and he issued an alarm to alert the other faction leaders through his communicator.
"Alert, alert, we have a Code 777, repeat Code 777!" he then proclaimed to them.
"Hello?" a voice that sounded manly and tough came out, "Isn't that the code for when the cookies are done?"
"No, Duke, that's Code 776," Dr. Overbuild answered with his usual knowledge. "Code 777 is that we have an unknown intruder."
"An intruder ya say? Well, let's us give that boggling niche a lil' slice of the pie!" Hael Storm triumphantly decided with his usual analogies.
"Well," Dr. Overbuild coincided, "I guess that's doable. Where is he at currently, Mr. Ree?"
Before he could reply, a large "BOOMBA" as Hael would describe it caught all of them off-guard. Mr. Ree was blown away as the explosion came from the Paradox area.
"Whoa! That came from Vanda's hideaway!" Doctor Overbuild frantically announced through the communicators.
He then began to rush over to Mr. Ree's location and was relieved to find the Imagination Nexus safe on the way there. He ordered several stock guards to remain diligent on guarding the precious source of pure imagination as he came to Mr. Ree's aid.
"Man, the portals still don't work, and she's trapped in there with the…the…GUY…and the Shadow Orb!" Mr. Ree exclaimed, still lying on the ground.
Dr. Overbuild scanned the scene and then, well, literally scanned the scene with his goggles. Unfortunately, Vanda had insisted on portals and the area being blockaded, mainly because the area should be "mysterious, unique and hard to access". That was a plus to Vanda, who savored being alone to sharpen her skills. Now, she was in deep trouble.
"We CAN start the power manually, hopefully that starts these up, and maybe the explosion didn't affect their connectivity." Dr. Overbuild commented.
They both then ran off to the greeting area of the tower. There were several retractable doors that blocked off the launch pads from being accessed, and it should've been impossible for the perpetrator responsible for the explosion. As Dr. Overbuild fumbled with some buttons at Nexus Naomi's main spawning point, Mr. Ree examined the steel doors.
"You know," Mr. Ree muttered, "he could've not JUST come through here, he maybe was hiding out in here until the place closed."
"I would like to hope that was so, because the doors were my design," Dr. Overbuild quickly replied.
While they were both trying to restore power, Duke and Hael decided to check out the left portal in hopes that it had spontaneously activated from the explosion, and, to their surprise, it was indeed on.
"'K, Duke, we hafta hope that she's still holding out well aginst the infiltrator," Hael decided.
Duke grimly nodded and they both stepped into the portal. What took them aback was the swirling dervish that had originated from the Shadow Orb and was dragging Vanda Darkflame in.
"Please…" Vanda croaked, "…Help…me..."
Monday, January 1st, 4:06 AM
Vanda was pretty beaten up; her sleeves were torn, her hair was matted and her face was grimy and covered in cuts and scratches. She was slowly being dragged into the menacing purple whirlwind and was resisting with all the strength she had left.
"Vanda!" Duke called out, "Don't worry, we got you!"
She grimaced in pain and then smiled back in relief. Her blades were nowhere to be found, and the usual guards in the area were gone.
Duke then rushed toward her as she was being dragged along the walkway to the Shadow Orb while Hael climbed up the platform on the left side of the base to try and close the huge storm. Duke grabbed Vanda and put her on his shoulders and then slowly trudged against the suction that was being heavily asserted.
"Almost there…Vanda," he managed to utter. "Just a little more to go…"
Vanda mustered enough strength to clutch onto his shoulders and calmly meditated to regain more force. They were nearly out of harm's way next to the portal from which they had both came. As they collapsed from exhaustion next to the portal, Hael prompted a closure of the way to the Shadow Orb by, of course, smashing buttons with his pistol and thankfully slowed down its voracious growth.
Meanwhile, while that ordeal was ensuing, Dr. Overbuild and Mr. Ree had managed to turn on some overhead floodlights and the recessed lighting along the floors.
"Alright, that's all I can do for now, Mystery." Dr. Overbuild declared, confusing the syllabic sound of Mr. Ree's name.
Mr. Ree widened his sneer and started running to the left portal in hopes it would be activated, muttering along the way about Dr. Overbuild's "childish" mistake. Dr. Overbuild sensed something wrong was going on over there and he ran right behind as well.
"Grr, he shouldn't have done that…humph," Mr. Ree grumbled while dashing to their destination.
"What was that? What did you say?" Dr. Overbuild hollered behind.
Upon their arrival, they found the portal working plain as day.
"Well," Dr. Overbuild commented, out of breath, "isn't that neat? Woo…"
"BUZZ…" the communicator fizzled out, "Dr.? Yo? Are ya here yet? Vanda isn't lookin' very chipper…" Hael sadly announced, and the two "friends" went into the portal.
Monday, January 1st, 4:29 AM
What lay upon Mr. Ree and Dr. Overbuild was a concerned Duke, a pretty pumped Hael and a half-dead Vanda. She was breathing at a slow pace and her skin was pale, her eyes glassy. Duke was at her side kneeling next to her, and Hael was still proud of himself for weakening the shadowy tempest.
"What the…" Dr. Overbuild breathed out, in awe of both the weakened Vanda and the large glowing chaos that was going sluggishly.
Mr. Ree looked absolutely aghast at the sight of Vanda Darkflame and quickly went to her side.
"There…was a…man and he- he- went into the Shadow Orb... and…" Vanda stopped and began to look horrified.
"Whoa there, missy," Hael said, "don't use up what life ya have left."
She then laid down and started to drift off into a calm slumber. Duke then stood up and put an ice pack on her forehead.
Mr. Ree started panicking and began to go loco over her sleep. "She isn't…de-"
"NO," Dr. Overbuild broke in abruptly, "she's just sleeping, she's had a rough night, and we have, too."
"I don't understand, why would someone come here to attack her and cause to Shadow Orb to go out of control then leave?" Duke questioned.
"I'm not sure," Dr. Overbuild said, "but now I say we must highly lengthen out our guarding forces."
The two other faction leaders and the shady vendor nodded. "From here on out, " Mr. Ree decided, "we must be on high alert."
Dr. Overbuild seemed to like that idea; high security equaled better protection for the Imagination Nexus. "Agreed, Mystery, this tower is to be under stricter premises, from here on out, all Nexus recruits will be searched for an all-body cloak."
Mr. Ree then had the strangest mixture of nodding in agreement and grumbling in frustration at the same time.
By then, the Maelstrom disturbance had completely died down, and all that was left was shambled area, sputtered with hot, glowing Maelstrom formations that had formed sporadically throughout from the intensity of the "horrible disorder" as Hael called it. They all then decided to call it that. They all THEN decided to call it a night, because after an hour of probing the tower, there was no trace of any intruder and they all hoped what had happened was something that could be fixed when they were fresh in the morning. That would only be the beginning of a large amount of indecencies that would impact the tower.
As Duke was pondering the huge fiasco in his chamber under the tower, he hoped that Vanda would recover, because deep down he had special feelings for her, only explainable in a clear way in his own mind.
Monday, January 1st, 9:10 AM
After their sleep, the tower should've opened up automatically and let in the Nexus recruits, but that didn't happen. Instead, hordes of minifigs were all getting frustrated at the unforeseen closure at the launch pads.
"Come on!" one shouted, "how can I get my Rank 3 Faction Gear now?!"
"Now I'll never go to Crux Prime!" another complained.
"IT"S THE END ALREADY?!" several then sadly realized.
While the madness outside continued, the faction leaders and two vendors were scrambling to try to get the doors open. The explosion the night before had caused them to short circuit, and the faction leaders and a few die-hard-sell-hard vendors were trapped inside.
"Unfortunately," Dr. Overbuild sadly announced to the others at the entrance, "we're trapped. I've tried but the doors are not budging at all. We're going to have to either continue trying to open doors, or we shoot at them like mad until they disintegrate."
Obviously, Hael liked the last idea but the two others, along with Mr. Ree and Olivia Nightshade were all in for using other methods.
"I say we contact outside forces to handle the crowds and doors while we try to keep the place intact because, whoever the intruder was is still in here." Duke said.
On that sour note, the main ringleaders of the operation nodded in agreement except for Hael who still preferred the past suggestion.
While Duke, Olivia and Hael went to the back of the tower to find evidence of the infiltrator's hiding place, Mr. Ree, Dr. Overbuild, Vanda and Hael started running down the list of valid allies from the other worlds at the entrance, with the complaining onslaught still being held outside.
Vanda still had a limp, but otherwise she had nearly recovered, and she announced her nominees, "Cog Blammo, Numb Chuck and Nexus Jay are my picks."
The other three considered them and then Dr. Overbuild went ahead, "Nexus Jay, Kai or Mardolf the Orange."
Mr. Ree seemed to have liked those and then continued, "Kai, Furious Urufu-"
"Whoa, whoa," Dr. Overbuild cut in, "he's a dog, he won't be any help."
Mr. Ree grumbled and then just muttered, "He's my main pick…get over it."
"Fine. Hael, how about yours?" Dr. Overbuild asked.
"The dog's fine. Humph." He replied, still ticked about no blasting.
Dr. Overbuild then sighed, "Well, it's Furious Urufu, Nexus Jay and Kai. Any recants or objections, kind take-backs and ejections, please state now." At that, they all were silent. "Very well, I'll contact them while you three go check on the others," he continued.
As they ran all ran to the Imagination Nexus, and unto the main crime scenes, Dr. Overbuild trudged to Nexus Naomi's welcome point to make the calls, and he was visibly upset over this and the angriness it had caused outside.
Monday, January 1st, 9:34 AM
Dr. Overbuild's conversation with Furious Urufu over the phone was an erratic but industrious one, and he tried to control his frustration as well as he could.
"Hello, Mr.…um…eh…let's leave it at Mr." Dr. Overbuild managed.
"Yes," a squeamish yet gallant voice came out, "Urufu likes being addressed as a Mr. Does this man have a nice gift for him?"
"Ah, more like an opportunity."
"Urufu is too good for opportunities."
"But, this one has a bone involved!" Dr. Overbuild lied.
"Urufu likes bones, not garlic ones, though."
"This one is a very delicious one."
Dr. Overbuild committed a face palm and continued through gritted teeth, "Yes very much so. Would you like to assist us?"
"One condition, Urufu demands a stunt double. He mustn't scratch his…his…drooooool."
"Thanks for the…" Dr. Overbuild had trouble for an appropriate word, "…the assistance."
"Urufu assists the weak."
At that, Dr. Overbuild hung up abruptly. He then started dialing down the two others. Meanwhile, Duke and Olivia had met up with Mr. Ree, Hael and Vanda to figure out where the infiltrator could be hiding.
"I will clean up the Paradox area" Olivia volunteered.
Vanda nodded, "I will, too. I will not be whooped hard like last time."
With some hesitation, Duke dismissed them. He then addressed Mr. Ree and Hael about his plan.
"We will scan the hideaway spots of the tower first, and then start to look at the obvious. He could be hiding in plain sight. Whatever the case, the Imagination Nexus has been safely locked off, so no need to check in there. We will meet up here in front of the Assembly headquarters by 11:00 AM. Are we clear?"
They both nodded in unison and their spirits appeared to be lightened, with Hael even losing his dismay over the last incident. The three parted and Duke made sure to search near the Paradox entrance, still concerned about Vanda, and to a much, much less extent, Olivia. It was all going fine until his radio buzzed with an intense fervor.
Monday, January 1st, 9:58 AM
Duke expected this to be another plea for help by Vanda, and he began to doubt her integrity. He answered it nonchalantly and continued in a sarcastic tone. "So, any new threat?"
"I hate it when you sound like that. Delete it now."
"I'm just thinking that you're more trouble than you're worth."
"Hah!" Vanda interjected, "Like that's going to happen. No, actually Olivia found a clue to the guy; I think you come check it out."
"On my way." Duke answered as he ran back to the Paradox area. When he arrived, he saw Olivia hunched over a scroll, examining it, and Vanda trying to reorganize her precious Paradox palace.
"Duke, come over here, this scroll is apparently enchanted," Olivia said.
She was right, when Duke touched it, his hand was consumed in purple flame.
"Ugh," Olivia muttered, "I told you so." She then examined his hand and then went back to looking at the scroll.
"You're not going to do anything about this?!" Duke yelled.
"It's a feeble little spell, there's no harm done, just wait a few minutes."
Vanda returned and asked about the hand, but Duke quickly put an end to that.
"Look Vanda," Duke said, "I don't see how this magically-protected, moldy manuscript is going to solve this."
Vanda was still putting together a wall fragment, and she turned around and called back. "Ask Olivia, she'll tell you why it's so stinking important."
"Olivia," Duke asked, "why is it so stinking important?"
"Because whoever had this had planned to plant it onto someone here, and use the spell to succumb the scroll to them, causing them to be forever loyal. When you touched it, it was brief; any contact longer than three minutes worth would cause undying attentiveness to the infiltrator."
Meanwhile, Dr. Overbuild had just dialed Nexus Jay's number.
"Hello? Jay? Nexus Jay? You there?"
"Why howdy," he replied in an almost comical tone.
"You OK? I need to ask for a favor."
"Favor? What kind? The horrible inefficient kind or the joyful rewarding kind?"
"Eh, both, if you see it that way."
"Well, just…heh, heh."
Dr. Overbuild just stood un-amused.
"What ruse are you playing?" he then asked.
"Nothing. Anyway…can I have my loyal Nexus recruits do it for me? I'm already busy drinking…countless beyond countless sodas, potions, etc. for them, and they NEED to have me here…guiding them on…"
"Listen, old man, it's a yes or no, and if it's a yes, then you better be ship-shape instead of ship-sunk, you hear me?!"
"Old? Adios, Senor Jaundice."
He then hung up, and Dr. Overbuild was both relieved and confused.
"Jaundice? That's a skin problem…huh, whatever. I guess that leaves Jay, and then I'll call someone else, maybe Mardolf, he's dependable."
Monday, January 1st, 10:27 AM
Olivia was still looking through a book on how to disarm the spell on the scroll, so then they could study it freely.
"OK, I have an idea on how to enable this incantation," she said. "We must muster some musky musk from some mucky muck."
She was greeted with some interesting stares.
"Well, that's what it said. It's horribly vague." Olivia grumbled.
"I have a distinct lack of knowledge of some musky muck." Duke quipped.
Vanda rolled her eyes and then pulled out a necklace with a map-like inscription on it. It was made of ivory and it was as smooth as ice. The map on it was small but completely readable under competent direction.
"I found this a week ago behind a chafing panel near the Shadow Orb. I never told anyone about it, but now I'm suspicious of this being from the same guy."
Duke was insanely interested in it and groped for it but Vanda pulled it back.
"Come on, Vanda, I'm sorry for doubting you, I just think that's a great clue," Duke apologized.
"Well, if I knew better," Olivia cut in, "that is a map to some musky, mucky muck musk."
Meanwhile, Dr. Overbuild was having great joy in his call with Kai.
"Hello? Kai? This is Doctor Overbuild."
For a moment there was silence, but then a gruff voice came blurting out. "Yes, this is Kai, the guy whom you want."
"That's great," Dr. Overbuild falsely celebrated with some doubt. "Is there any way you can maybe help out us feeble Faction leaders?"
"Why, that would be a splendid idea."
‘Kai' then coughed hoarsely and continued.
"Maybe, I can maybe do something for you that you want me to do for you!"
Dr. Overbuild was just about done with "the crazies" and replied in a tone that was son the edge of insanity. "Hurrah! Let's rejoice! So, can I…count on…you?"
"Of course! Kai is a ready man, ready to be a man!"
Dr. Overbuild hung up and wondered why Kai had been taking lessons from Furious Urufu. He then fell back in ease on the ground, forever knowing that he would be at peace, with no more incessant calls.
Then, of course, he remembered Nexus Jay bailed out.
Monday, January 1st, 11:01 AM
Mr. Ree and Hael Storm met up at the Assembly area at 11:01, as ordered more or less, but Duke wasn't there.
"Great, now the leader's tardy." Mr. Lee lamented.
"Well, did ya find any ting incriminatin'?"
"Nope. How about you? Any luck?"
"To no avail. This guy covered up his tracks good."
"Well, we have no choice but to wait here until he comes here to meet up again." Mr. Ree then sat down with his back against a wall, while the loudness of the crowd outside began coming through the vents.
That gave Mr. Ree an idea.
Duke lost all track of time while in the Paradox area, obviously intrigued by Olivia's findings. While Vanda kept tidying up, he asked Olivia some questions.
"So, this has some serious firepower, huh?"
"Yeah, we need to find out who he tried to give this to. We also need some people on the outside to go get us the musky muck."
"Just give me a moment." Duke said while walking away.
He then gave Dr. Overbuild a call to let their volunteers know what they need to do. Dr. Overbuild also then explained that Nexus Jay was a no-go and that he was going to call someone else, like Mardolf the Orange.
"OK," Duke continued, after finishing his call, "Doc is on it. He'll let our…our…helpers what they need to do."
"Great!" Olivia exclaimed. "But, how are we going to describe the map?"
"Simple, we figure out where it is, and then tell them to just scour the area."
Olivia looked hesitant, but she went on with the plan, and then began to study the amulet with stark concentration.
"Ugh, this is just great, now I need to call them again and tell them what they need to do for us. At least I'll tell Mardolf what to do while asking him to help," Dr. Overbuild grumbled. He then dialed and began.
"Hello? Mardolf? This is Dr. Overbuild."
"What's that, you say? I didn't overbuild anything!"
Dr. Overbuild slapped his head and thought to himself, great, this man is hard-of-hearing.
Monday, January 1st, 11:27 AM
Dr. Overbuild's conversation with Mardolf continued as so.
"NO, THIS IS YOUR LEADER," Dr. Overbuild said forcefully.
"Ah, my leader spends all his time in a tower. He must be lonely."
"No, I'm him. I'm here mainly because one, I'm the leader, and two, because we're locked in here."
"Hah. Such a non-self-reliant guy; makes my heart proud that I'm not the leader and he is."
"Look, I know you're still angry about the coronation, but that's the past, and the present is now."
"Present? It's past Christmas. What are you talking about?"
"AGH! Can you just PLEASE help us get some musky muck?!"
"Musky Muck? That's the main cash crop of Pet Cove, ya know. It's Coalessa's favorite past-time hobby export."
"Oh, so it's not a one-time fancy?"
"Of course not! Who do you think she is? A one-time fancy?"
"Can you just help?"
"Fine, I'll be on my way to her. I've heard you've hired a dog and a girl as well, I'll see to it that they help."
He hung up, and then Dr. Overbuild was both in awe of Mardolf's wisdom, and that Nya had managed to trick him into thinking that she was Kai.
He then decided to call Duke about the info.
"Hey, Hael, I have an idea. While we wait, why don't we at least figure out how do get out of here? See the vents? They may be our ticket out."
"Hmm, tempting but disobedient…I like them apples."
"No, vents. They're not fruit."
"I know that." Hael replied indignantly.
Duke walked over to Vanda while she was busily putting everything back in place as if she was expecting company.
"Do you need any help?" Duke humbly asked.
"No, not really. Not at all, actually, but thank you for the offer."
"Well, I'm trying to make up my angering you."
"I'm not angry; I just get snappy when my stuff gets out of place."
"Well, so do I. But you don't need to take out your anger by avoiding us, why don't you come over to our ‘workshop' and figure out the amulet with Olivia and me?"
"That sounds nice; I just hope I don't make my recruits cross with the sloppiness of this place."
"Don't worry, your physique makes this place whole."
Vanda blushed and they both looked at each other in adoration. Duke's communicator buzzed, but he ignored it. They both then slowly moved their heads to each other....
Olivia stopped that, however. "Sorry to break up your mushy love moment, but I think I know where we need to go."
Monday, January 1st, 11:48 AM
Dr. Overbuild was really on edge now, especially since Duke wasn't answering. He kept redialing but after the third call, he gave up. He supposed that Duke had no clue what to do and that he would eventually come to him and ask where this ‘Musky Muck' could be.
Yeah, that's the ticket, he thought, I'd be the hero.
Hael had managed to climb into the vent, and lent out a foot for Mr. Ree to hold on to.
"Ugh, what did I have to do to deserve this?" Mr. Ree muttered.
"It was yer idea." Hael hollered back.
Mr. Ree held on and allowed himself to be dragged in by Hael's foot. The vent was quite tight but doable for their able bodies. Several loose bricks were laid about inside, as well, and caused a painful crawl in.
About five minutes later of pain-laden crawling, they encountered an open area that had three other shafts intersecting to it. In the foyer, there was a small, makeshift desk with some papers and vials on it.
Both Duke and Vanda were both taken aback by Olivia's gruffness, and then they were shocked to see themselves mid-kiss.
"Uhh, did that happen?" Vanda asked, dumbfounded.
"Yes, yes it did," Olivia replied.
She then showed them the map's similarity to Pet Cove, and then she said, matter-of-factly, "It's Pet Cove."
"Oh yeah," Vanda exclaimed, "That's Pet Cove's main cash crop!"
"Wait, Pet Cove is making money off of slime?"
"No, not exactly, more like they sell it for a civic good. That slime is the only cure to this enchantment, whether it is on a person or on an inanimate object." Olivia said.
"You're smart about this, Olivia." Duke said quite blankly.
"I mean DUH, Duke."
"Enough chit-chat," Vanda said firmly, "we need to tell Dr. Overbuild to contact our helpers."
"Wait a minute," Duke said, "isn't it impossible for them to bring it in to us if we're locked in?"
The two girls stared at Duke and then each other in shock, as if their plan was now actually invalid.
"You're such a stick in the mud," Olivia mumbled.
"But I'm a smart one!" Duke decided.
Monday, January 1, 12:13 PM
It was quite a while now, and Dr. Overbuild was growing impatient with Duke and was tempted to stomp over to the Paradox area and give him a piece of his mind.
Nexus Naomi was in sleep mode during the night, and enough spare power had finally spawned her next to Dr. Overbuild.
"Hey, what's up?" she asked.
Dr. Overbuild was caught off-guard and yelled in fright. "Oh," he calmed down, "it's you. Nice to see you working again."
"Yep. Anyway, what happened? I can't access the Paradox area computers, did something inter- inter –inter-" she started going fuzzy and out-of-focus.
"Uh oh, either a signal disruption, or someone has hacked the mainframe…"
Dr. Overbuild examined the wires on the power box next to her stand, and found some to be cut.
"Great, the infiltrator strikes again," he said.
He began fixing the wires and then his communicator buzzed.
"Whoa, what is this?" Mr. Ree asked in awe.
"This must be the infiltrator's hiding spot! Eureka! We did our job while not doing it!"
Mr. Ree continued on examining the papers but he was then pushed back violently.
"Ugh, it's protected by a spell, and a powerful one at that." Mr. Ree said.
"Hael got out his gun and then shot the table, breaking a leg, and allowing some documents to fly off, out of the boundary.
"Hael, you're brilliant!" Mr. Ree beamed.
"I am? Oh, yes, I most definitely am."
The three were still trying to figure out an easy way to transport stuff into the locked tower. So far, all ideas had one flaw; they all required getting in.
"Well, we have portal technology in here, why don't we just use that, but wire it up to a different portal point in another world?" Duke asked.
"Then there's no point in us doing so if we can just get out." Vanda retorted resourcefully.
The three were stumped. They kept pondering until Duke's communicator buzzed.
Mardolf the Orange was a prominent figure of the Assembly faction, and was willing to help his leader in anyway, even if it involved, well, his leader.
He landed in Pet Cove and waited for Furious Urufu and Nya in a Kai disguise by the launch pad.
Then, a rocket landed on the launch pad and Mardolf went over to greet his one of his helpers.
"AHH!" a squeamish yelp came out from the rocket.
"Hello?" Mardolf asked. "I'm here to help you help the faction leaders."
"Who?" a dog head popped out or the cockpit, "Urufu thought Mardolf was an extinct dinosaur."
Monday, January 1st, 12:40 AM
"Ah, Duke is completely oblivious to the task at hand. Now my knowledge can come to use," Dr. Overbuild said, obviously proud of himself. He answered his communicator and was shocked to hear a very raspy voice.
"Hello, this is an anonymous source."
"Who is this? Duke?"
"Duke? The scrawny Sentinel leader? And he calls himself the leader…"
"Not exactly. I just think he isn't…isn't…as mentally-inclined as I am."
"Well, Mardolf is wrong. Forbidden Valley is where ‘Musky Muck' is farmed."
"Look, you may sound disturbingly convincing, but I believe Mardolf's wisdom. You may be just toying with me. Trying to tear us against each other will not work. In fact, I believe you are none other than our little infiltrator." Dr. Overbuild then pulled out a distinct gizmo and attached it to his communicator.
"Hmm, you are a very suspicious individual, Dr. I hope you can…live through this accusatory state of mind," the mysterious man cackled and then hung up.
Dr. Overbuild then looked at the gizmo's screen and it showed a glowing dot near the Imagination Nexus.
Mr. Ree grabbed the scroll and examined it quickly, just to throw it down.
"It's just ancient gibberish, like the last one."
"What other one? Is our friend the infiltrator usin' paper for his nefarious purposes?" Hael asked.
"Either it's a ploy to distract us from his real plan, or they're his plans."
They both were alarmed to see down the shaft opposite to the one they came in to be glowing at the end.
Duke clutched his communicator and signaled for Vanda and Olivia to go back to their own work.
"Hello? Dr. Overbuild? Is that you? I want to tell what I found."
The same raspy voice for Dr. Overbuild came out. "Dr. Overbuild? The know-it-all? Oh he's nothing but trouble for your mission. He thinks he can do this on his own. He thinks you are an intellectual waste."
Duke turned red at the statements. "That's not true. He's nothing but a big help to our plan. A calculating genius."
"Well, not all things are meant to be believed at first sight. I can't believe he's covered your eyes with his fabrications this whole time. Mardolf the Orange was always meant to be up here leading. Not that malicious swine that you call, ‘Dr. Overbuild'."
Duke was actually taking this seriously. He always knew that Dr. Overbuild had won the leadership of the Assembly, but he didn't know how. "You aren't saying that he's just a lie, are you?"
"I'm implying that he isn't to be trusted. No one is. This is all a lie, Duke. You will never see things the same way."
Mardolf viewed Furious Urufu with the usual look everyone gives him when he insults someone unknowingly. Mardolf assisted him out while he whimpered the whole time.
"Do you know what we must do here, my little friend?" Mardolf asked.
"Urufu thought he was saving the world from evil slime bent on ruining his life." He then panted and scratched his ear.
"No, not even close. We just need to wait for Nya, and then we're off to Coalessa," he pronounced.
When he looked around, he saw Furious Urufu running halfway across the bridge while fighting a bird with a bone.
Monday, January 1st, 1:04 PM
Dr. Overbuild continued to quickly fix Nexus Naomi's data and then rushed left towards the entrance of the Assembly area. He noticed a vent grate that fell off from a vent next o the entrance and assumed that was the infiltrators' poorly covered tracks. He then realized he couldn't get up there without a stepladder or another person, so he went out on a whim and built a stepladder to go on. He then climbed into the shaft and saw loads of bricks scattered about everywhere inside.
"This is going to be fun," he muttered.
Mr. Ree was about to launch himself into that shaft when Hale alerted him.
"Dude," he said frantically. "Someone said somethin' at the end of the shaft we came through. I heard it with mah own ears."
"Snap, we're surrounded…well technically," Mr. Ree said. He then looked down the other two shafts and signaled Hael to follow him to one heading north to the Paradox area.
"We don't have much time, grab the scroll and GO," Mr. Ree then ordered.
They both then went down on all fours and went down another piece-filled shaft to the Paradox area.
"This is wrong. All wrong. You're wrong! None of them would ever be that evil inside!" Duke yelled into the communicator, catching the attention of Vanda and Olivia.
"I'm not wrong, I'm right. You need to accept fact over your loose fiction, Duke. See clearly and remember…your mother would never have died if you hadn't messed up the Nexus Force," the man said gruffly. He then hung up left Duke hanging by a thread of integrity and a fading grip of life.
Vanda then approached him from the behind and touched him gently on the shoulder. "Is everything OK, Duke? Who was that?"
Duke turned around, looking pale and mortified. "None of your concern." He then brushed her off and went up to Olivia.
"Hiya, Duke. Anything new?" she asked.
"I need some help taking down the biggest threat in the universe."
Mardolf the Orange rushed over to the start of the bridge and observed Furious Urufu teetering on the edge of the bridge with the ambition to get that bird.
"BAD DOG," he yelled down to there. "Bad, bad dog!"
Furious Urufu nearly fell down for a moment, and then continued his pursuit of the bird.
"Come to Urufu, dastardly bird!" he cried out.
Mardolf took matters into his own hands and started to navigate across the bridge. By the time he reached Furious Urufu, a large gust took them both off balance and Furious Urufu into the air and rocked the bridge violently back and forth several times. Mardolf held on with all that he had left onto the rope edge of the bridge, while Furious Urufu held on to Mardolf's right foot.
"Save me, dinosaur!" Furious Urufu shrieked.
Monday, January 1st, 1:05 PM
While the Faction Leaders and their allies were hanging on inside and out of the tower, there was one person who was too fabulous to get involved.
Cheryl Brickmore was too much for the common riff-raff of fighting large, purple monsters to save "imagination"; whatever that is… She was the most upper of the upper class, upper crust, and upper-lip society to get involved in such. All business bowed down to her as she enabled many things to get done in the more civilized and protected parts of the universe. Being the leader of several successful companies had allowed her to become deeply involved, yet vaguely mentioned in all things in the universe.
As she landed on the middle launchpad, the crowd quieted down and opened a pathway for her to walk to the closed door. Her fiery red hair and her pitch-perfect posture prompted such behavior. She proceeded and then took out a microphone and started yelling into it.
"What's the meaning of this? Why is Nexus Tower closed??" she yelled out.
A tall woman minifigure came out to greet her. "How do you do, my name is Natalia Grey. The reason for the closure is unknown, but we think either the Faction leaders have given up or they are completely lazy."
Cheryl pondered this idea and then thanked her for the answers. "Alright, people," she continued through the microphone. "We aren't going to let a higher order downgrade the middle-class, are we?"
"NO!!!" the crowd chanted back.
"Then we must contact them for the true meaning, and put down swift action and a hard hand!" she rallied.
She continued her rant while the people cheered her on. Two minifigures weren't so interested, however. Natalia Grey admired Cheryl and her taut, orderly discipline, but she was against these things to overturn the established leaders over a probable misunderstanding.
She leaned over to her companion, the short and smart Colton Stone, and they began to make a plan for action.
Natalia Grey outsized Colton but she didn't in the means of intellect and they were one of the best fighting duos out there. His blond, messed up hair was a real shocker for any person to see on someone as clever as Colton. "So," Colton said. "I say we find out the true meaning of this closure and do it on the sly. We then tell Cheryl to stop her incessant jargon so we can find out the true meaning."
Cattie nodded, only to flinch from the intense chanting. "Man, these people are ridiculously loud," she grumbled.
They both slowly moved their way through the crowd and around Cheryl to the large door. It was shut tight and was impossible for any normal weapon to bring down. Colton then asked Natalia for the communicator, and he wired it up specifically with a small satellite dish. Colton then opened a small little control board hidden on the ground, and plugged it into that.
"Now it should be coming from the inside speakers; every living soul in their will hear it loud and clear, and the smart Dr. Overbuild will figure out that he can answer through any communicator," Colton explained to Natalia, who smiled in excitement.
Dr. Overbuild was Colton's idol, and he joined the Assembly to be able to assist him in any way possible.
He turned it on and talked into it, and his voice boomed into the tower. "Testing, testing. Test…test…test… Testing. I am testing, people, please reply through your communicators."
Monday, January 1st, 1:29 PM
Dr. Overbuild struggled inside the vent opening due to his large amount of contraptions and gizmos on his suit. He pressed a button on his sleeve and the robotic arms retracted back into his suit. He also just noticed a blaring noise coming from outside, but he decided this was of more interest.
After a long crawl of pain and dismal conditions, for example the AC being turned on, he arrived into an open area where a broken desk, a shuttering force field and some spilled vials were laid down all over.
After some examining, he noticed the duct opposite to the shaft he entered in was glowing at the end and rapidly rushed over into that duct to find stalactites beginning to grow down to the floor the duct.
"Great, now I have to make more of an effort."
Hael and Mr. Ree both were halfway through the whole duct to the Paradox area, where they both figured out they would encounter Duke there and report their findings. They both still had no idea that the person coming towards them was Dr. Overbuild.
As they crawled, they both grunted excessively due to this ducts' tighter squeeze. Mr. Ree picked up a large noise that fluctuated rapidly from the outside, but couldn't decipher what it was saying.
"Oog," Mr. Ree grunted, "this is a real tight fit."
Hael was ahead of him but still didn't reply.
"Hello? You aren't going to just ignore my complaining, are you?" Mr. Ree asked impatiently.
Hael turned his head around and stared Mr. Ree straight in the eyes.
"Um, is it just me, or are them stalactites coming down behind you?" Hael pointed behind Mr. Ree, and they both gazed at what appeared to be cave formations forming instantaneously behind them.
"RUN!" Mr. Ree yelled. He then backtracked himself mentally and yelled again. "CRAWL!"
Olivia looked at Duke, dumbfounded and was about to ask what he meant. Then, a voice boomed through the area.
"Please reply! Please reply through a communicator! Test!" the voice shouted out through the speakers.
Vanda was still shocked at Duke's behavior, but she got out her communicator and talked through it.
"Hello, mysterious voice…what may I do for…you?" she asked.
"Brilliant!!" the voice was amplified this time, and it pushed the three onto the floor.
"This is great! Can you talk through here and explain why the tower is closed to show that Cheryl Longbrick who's boss?" it asked.
Vanda was now yelling into the communicator to be heard. "Sure! Can you just maybe, I don't know, lower the volume?!"
There were some clicking sounds and a background ambiance of cheering and applause, but then the voice talked again in a nice softer tone. "That better?"
"Yeah…thanks, sweetie," Vanda replied kindly and then face-palmed herself, realizing what she just said. Duke and Olivia giggled, but then stopped when Vanda gave them the evil eye.
"OK, just tell me when I can talk to…your…friends–" she shrugged towards Duke and Olivia, "–then I can just say it," she said blankly, still confused about this ordeal.
"Hold on a moment," the voice said.
The dinosaur–or Mardolf, if you prefer–didn't have much strength left for holding on to the bridge, and Furious Urufu was slowly slipping off his left foot.
To anchor himself, Furious Urufu chomped right into the foot, and Mardolf yelped.
"Bad idea," Mardolf strained to say. He began to wheeze at the effort that he was exerting. He also gritted his teeth as he groped for his wand with the hand not holding on the edge.
The persistent winds began to become not so persistent, and allowed Mardolf to finally retrieve his wand on the bridge which he had released his grip on earlier.
Mardolf struggled to get back on the bridge, and when he eventually did, he laid smack dab in the middle on his back, trying to catch his breath.
"Woo," he breathed out forcefully. "I haven't had that much excitement since the Battle of '84! What do you say, little doggy?" Mardolf lifted his head up to see Furious Urufu then chase the bird to the mainland.
Monday, January 1st, 1:32 PM
Colton was having trouble getting the attention of Cheryl Longbrick. He kept shouting behind her and her makeshift pedestal, but nothing would quench her endless tirade.
Natalia noticed Colton's prolonged effort becoming fruitless so she stormed over past the crowd to Cheryl to quiet her down.
"AND FURTHERMORE," Cheryl yelled out. She then stopped looked below to see Natalia looking at her, trying to get her attention. "Hmm, child? Speak up, and then let me continue."
"Colton has Vanda Darkflame on the phone…erm, well, communicator, and she will give you some reason for the tower's closure," Natalia huffed.
"No need to get snappy, young lady, you were the one who interrupted me."
Natalia assisted Cheryl down and led her to Colton's layout of gizmos. Colton smiled at Cheryl and let her in on the conversation inside the tower.
"Vanda Darkflame? Are you there? This is Cheryl Longbrick of countless enterprises and endless companies here to listen to the reason why this place is closed."
"How do you do," a voice came out for all to hear. "The reason for the closure is not of what I've heard from your speech, ‘complete negligence by our betters', but actually that an unknown force has locked us inside and planning to do something."
Cheryl looked shocked and embarrassed. "Well, I'm sorry, I had no clue. I thought the impulsive thought most would think. Is there anything me and my colleagues–" she winked towards Colton and Natalia "–could do to help you get out?"
There was silence from the other end for a moment, and then Vanda replied quickly into the communicator, "I apologize, something has just come up. Look, we have an outside team in Pet Cove working on it. We could use your help to–oh snap, Duke!" The receiving end hung up and only a fuzzy noise came out.
"Oh dear," Cheryl said. "Let's find out what this Pet Cove thing is and meet up with their skilled team."
Colton and Natalia nodded in unison. Colton then packed his gear and started his way back to his rocket ship.
Cheryl went back on her pedestal and began talking to her defunct microphone like it was working, and addressed the crowd once more.
"People of the universe, as you may have just heard, the Faction Leaders are locked inside. I will go out with my helpers to see to it that we get done what must be done. You all must help in anyway. Colton has left a communicator for you people to ask for assistance. WE SHALL OVERCOME!!" Cheryl shouted out. The crowd cheered and applauded loudly in reply. She then signaled for her bodyguards to court her back to the launchpad.
Natalia gazed at Cheryl and thought to herself: Man is she good at getting people to do things for her. She then hurried over to the launchpad and the team of three headed off to Nimbus Station.
Monday, January 1st, 1:56 PM
Duke decided to step into the Shadow Orb. Not a smart move at all. Vanda was too caught up in the invigorating talk with, who was it, Cheryl? Colton? She put the matter aside, this was too pressing.
"DUKE!!!" Vanda screamed into the void as loud as she could. "Olivia, what do we do?"
Olivia rolled her eyes. "You care for him too much. Millions of recruits walk into that evil every day. He'll be out in good time."
"This is no time to be nonchalant, woman!" Vanda shouted towards Olivia. "Now we take action!"
She was almost ready to charge right in to there as well. Olivia approached and then halted Vanda.
"Hey, two people can't go in at once, it's too dangerous. Remember Duke's mom…?" Olivia asked.
"You're right," Vanda sighed, "he'll be out soon enough. I can't stand to think what it's doing to him, though...."
The two girls stared into the Shadow Orb, not knowing what horrible wickedness was ensuing within.
The whole scene was frightening, and Duke kept swirling into madness. The Orb was too much for him. He knew that. But he wanted answers, and sometimes, evil things hold right answers.
Duke kept walking down the shambling walkway, dodging erratic sparks of Maelstrom energy. He then stopped when he saw a horrific face glued on Duke's movements.
The face was normally scary, but today it was looking even more gruesome than it did when Duke had last gone in, as an impressionable child. What made the whole experience worse was that he had gone in with his mother.
The stalactites were coming down faster and faster, and Mr. Ree and Hael Storm needed to get out NOW. They couldn't risk being impaled by rock structures in a vent shaft. That would be too humiliating.
They both shuffled along on their bellies fast but orderly with Hael in front. They both knew they were almost at the Paradox area of the tower, and they had to muster enough strength to push through this exasperating event. Behind them, the stalactites had already touched the floor of the shaft, but it was starting to break through, into the tower structure itself.
Hael began slowing down, so Mr. Ree took out a Sapphire Scepter and gave him a pronounced nudge on his hindquarters. Hael yelped and figured it was a stalactite, so he doubled his crawling effort, bringing a smirk to Mr. Ree's usual curmudgeonly face.
They both saw up ahead some light, and then a vent grate. Hael whacked the grate hard with his fist to no avail. Mr. Ree then pushed the Sapphire Scepter next to Hael, and Hael continued in smacking the daylights out of the stubborn grate.
Dr. Overbuild kept on hearing loud voices throughout the tower during his rushed crawl, and made a mental note to investigate later.
The stalactites seemed to be coming out faster in front of Dr. Overbuild, so he had to go faster than he had ever crawled before.
The light at the end of the duct began to shudder and flicker, but then it seemed to move farther away. It changed colors from red to blue and then yellow consistently.
Dr. Overbuild decided to get out a gadget to aid his endeavor. He grabbed a small metal ball from his pocket and it turned into a robotic mouse. Not the animal, but the computer gadget. It scurried behind Dr. Overbuild and pushed him gently, making this a more balmy experience.
The vent then curved to the right, presumably around the Imagination Nexus corridor. This both helped and hampered Dr. Overbuild, by slowing the stalactite legion from advancing, and making the poor mouse's job a million times harder. Eventually, it short-circuited, so Doctor Overbuild was back to doing physical labor. Such a pity.
"Come back you dumb animal!" Mardolf the Orange yelled out hopelessly. He then fainted on the middle of the bridge.
After a short while, a shadow grew over Mardolf and he groggily opened his eyes.
"Who is…you…person?" he asked, obviously out of his mind, and still half-asleep.
Nya sighed sadly. "Tsk tsk, that's a shame. Urufu always has disrespected the elderly." She looked around and continued, with a smile, "I'm Nya. You must be Mardolf." She then stared in disbelief.
"Well I never!" she huffed.
Mardolf was snoring.
Monday, January 1st, 2:19 PM
Vanda stared into the Orb blankly and watched as the purple smoke emitted from it swirled and convulsed into thin air. Olivia walked back and went through her things.
"This isn't good, Olivia. I've never seen it like this."
Olivia was browsing through a potion catalog. "Meh. It's always changing. Evil never rests. I should know…" Her voice faded off as if she was remembering something, and she looked up as if a vision hit her. She then resumed flipping pages.
Vanda sat down next to the portal and sighed. "Well, it's been around twenty minutes. I've never heard of anyone being in there that long."
"Ehh," Olivia retorted, "he'll be back."
Vanda gave her the evil eye and then walked to her and stood over her. "Did ‘Ninja Girl Prowess Provider Monthly' arrive yet?"
Before Olivia could answer, Mr. Ree and Hael landed on her head.
Duke couldn't bring himself to recall that horrible event. It would crush his fading spirit.
The face laughed menacingly, and then stared Duke down to his feet. It was a basic skeleton face with a top hat; none other than a remnant of Baron Typhonus.
"So, Duke Exeter, long time no see. Last time was with your dear, old mother. Remember that, Duke? Did you memorize that bountiful recollection of that look on your mum's face?" it asked coolly.
Duke gritted his teeth to the point of gnashing and mumbled some incoherent words.
"Speak up, Duke, I can't understand a blithering word," the face replied. It became more British-sounding by the word.
"I want…to know…why–" Duke started.
The face rolled its eyes. "Sheesh, Duke, yeah, yeah. You want to know why she disappeared."
"No, I want to know who the biggest threat of the universe is," Duke said with rage in his tone. The face looked surprised.
Vanda looked at Mr. Ree in disappointment. His glasses were cracked and bent up, and his suit became scraggly. Hael was sweating buckets and wheezing like mad.
"Um, hello, Vanda," Mr. Ree said lamely.
"Wassup, homeys?" Hael asked.
"My originally perfect hat is what's up now," Olivia grumbled. She pushed the two off and brushed off her outfit.
"Ew," Olivia squeaked, "my clothes are smothered in brown dust! What were you people DOING?!"
Mr. Ree chuckled at that. "Why we were escaping cave formations in the vent, OBVIOUSLY."
Olivia and Mr. Ree growled at each other and a spark actually appeared to be forming between their heads.
Hael then separated them. "Whoa there, little doggies. No time for fiddly catfights."
Olivia snapped back at Hael, "This isn't a time for smart-aleck peacekeepers, either."
Mr. Ree glanced at Vanda. "Oooooooo," he uttered. "Ouch."
The vent was still gently curving around the Imagination Nexus, so now the light was out of sight. Dr. Overbuild mustered as much vigor as he could.
Then a brilliant idea hit Dr. Overbuild like a ball that would hit, I don't know, a house or something.
Dr. Overbuild stopped his advance forward to take out a remote in his other pocket. He pressed the button.
He then zoomed through the vent shaft with some rocket boosters at fast as–I don't know–a horse or something.
Nya kept yelling at the old man and poking his side with her foot.
"Look, I don't have all day. I'm looking for a ‘Mr. Mardolf the Orange.' I know you can't be him. I heard of Mardolf's awesomeness."
"BWARGH!!!" Mardolf shouted out loudly–waking up as a result–and flailing his arms and standing up straight.
"Back, madwoman! I know your plans! You want to smash me in the name of the wretched Baron Typhonus!" he bellowed to Nya.
Nya stepped back cautiously while holding her hands forward. "I don't want to hurt you, just please tell me where Mardolf is, and I will let you remain on this bridge!"
"Never! I would rather have the beasts of Crux horde my pantry; I will never surrender to your nefarious porpoises with evil purposes!" he yelled while slapping hopelessly in the air in front of him.
"Umm," Nya expressed nervously, "I only want to know where this one man is."
"The man you seek is none other than the man who will bring you to your downfall, brute! Savor my onslaught of hands!"
Nya rolled her eyes and drew her sword. "I always manage to nab the crazies."
Monday, January 1st, 2:19 PM
Nimbus Station was ridiculous today. There were minifigures partying around everywhere, and Colton Stone noticed how strange it was for loads of random enemies being unresponsive there. Nexus Tower was planning for one of these, but now it can't for obvious reasons. They landed in Nimbus Station next to the racetrack and walked to the main plaza.
"Ick, the riff-raff here makes me sick," Cheryl complained. She was the only adult there, but she acted otherwise.
"I heard glowing blue minifigures give away things at these fêtes," Colton commented.
"Can we just, like, get out of here now? These enemies are giving me the creeps," Natalia said.
They shuffled through the crowds and entered the plaza only to see more madness.
Cheryl muttered something and then stormed ahead of Colton and Natalia.
"Cheryl!" Natalia called out. "We have to stick together in this chaos!"
Cheryl kept going around the plaza to go to the Pet Cove launchpad.
"No use," Colton sighed. "We might as well assemble there."
Natalia laughed unexpectedly. The people near her did as well for no reason.
"What's so funny?" Colton asked Natalia. He then proceeded in asking the same to the crowd.
"Nice hidden joke, Colt," Natalia said, still giggling. "You know, ‘assemble', Assembly, Brick Annex? Who knew you were so funny?"
Colton just stared flabbergasted and then continued walking along. "I didn't mean that apparent pun, Natalia. Stop attracting attention to me," he whispered to her.
"You shy? That's odd. I've never seen you like this before."
Colton looked at her, signaling her to stop. He then looked down while being bumped around by the partygoers. Natalia got the point, and the walk to Brick Annex was awkward at best.
Rad Eccles was running around in panic. Not the typical integrity he would have.
"Mardolf is GONE!!! G-O-N-E!!" he yelled.
Natalia came over to him. She put on her everything-is-perfectly-balmy face. "What's the matter, Rad? Mardolf is gone?"
Rad stopped in front of her and stared uncomfortably. "Do I know you?"
"You should! I saw you yesterday!"
"Hmm, I'll keep that for my blog." He took out a tablet and started typing on it. "Ha ha, Autumn! Good one!"
Natalia cocked her head. "Autumn? The girl that my prompts say is selling specialty models?"
Rad looked up from his tablet for a moment. "Yeah, she's the cutest and funniest blog buddy ever." He looked up higher and started tearing up. "Dreamy Autumn Helix…"
"Well," Natalia started walking off. "We'll be on our way. Right, Colton?" She turned her head. He was gone. She scanned the area and heard screaming from the plaza. She then heard screaming from Rad. And then Cheryl at the launchpad.
"Is it International Scream-Day now?" Natalia asked in disgust.
Monday, January 1st, 2:43 PM
Vanda separated the two fighters and cooled down the fire between Hael and Olivia.
"Fighting isn't going to get us anywhere but Meanland, and I should know Meanland…" Vanda's voice trailed off.
"Hey!" Olivia yelled at her. "I should know Meanland, too! Meanland is the metaphorical whimsy created in our minds when we get angered from an indignant source," she said smartly.
"No, Meanland is the fun-filled park that you get tickets to when you fight long enough," Vanda replied.
Hael lighted up at that idea. "Yee-haw! That there sounds fun!"
Mr. Ree managed to walk off while the other three were fighting for the fun of it. He approached the Shadow Orb and noticed how irregular the recurrent flashes from it were. He almost walked in when Vanda clutched his shoulder.
"Duke's in there, Mr. You have to wait, or you'll get him or yourself killed," she said.
Olivia was tussling with Hael, but stopped to chime in. "I should know!" She then continued her scuffle.
"Wait, how do you two know it's dangerous?" Mr. Ree asked.
Vanda struggled to come with a reputable answer. "Erm, let's say something horrible grievous happened in there when two people last went in there. I wouldn't want Duke to experience it twice…."
Mr. Ree stared open-eyed through his broken shades into what he once thought was controllable and sensible.
"Wow, you managed that tough question well, Duke. I'm impressed. You want info from ME of all people for that?" the face asked.
"Yes, I'm desperate."
"Very. Well, here's an image that will unnerve you. What do the kids call it nowadays? ‘Creepypasta'? Whatever."
The face blew out a cloud that showed a fuzzy but visible image of Vanda Darkflame grabbing Mr. Ree from the portal.
"No!" Duke screamed. "She is not! She's better than that!"
"Don't forget, she WAS my apprentice. My ways have corrupted her mind slowly."
Duke began to storm out, but was stopped by a purple hand.
"There's no getting out without any scars this time, Duke."
The speed of his boosters made Dr. Overbuild almost pass the light, which was nothing other than a mystical blip.
The vent had made half a rotation around the Imagination Nexus, and there was a right turn that would enable to Dr. Overbuild to go to the War Room. The light turned into there so Dr. Overbuild did as well.
The light became larger and larger with every progressing yard, and it became blinding. Dr. Overbuild tinted his goggles so he could see more clearly. What was odd was that a humanoid figure made a shadow inside the iridescent light.
Mardolf kept slapping the air in front of him while Nya drew her katana.
She threw the notebook off the bridge afterwards. "That sketch was junk." She then took out her actual katana.
"Hear me, fiend? Your impurity is about to be impaled by the justice of goodness!!" Mardolf yelled, and he began charging at Nya.
Nya dodged quickly and kicked Mardolf in the back as he passed her. He turned around quickly and grabbed his wand, and summoned a turtle.
Nya started laughing. "You expect people to tremble in your presence with THAT?!"
The turtle began growing larger, and the strain of its weight began to break the rope structure of the bridge.
They both off balance and then Mardolf jumped on the back of the turtle, now the size of a Spiderling.
"See this, putrid girl?!" Mardolf announced wickedly. "I have the upper hand and the upper turtle! Surrender or be vanquished with my reptilian might!!"
Nya noticed that if the bridge gave out, they would all be done for. She stood up uneasily and threw her katana into Mardolf's hat, knocking him off of his now Spider-Queen-sized reptile.
Nya then hurriedly reclaimed the staff, and summoned back the turtle.
Mardolf was in the fetal position whimpering like a little child at her feet. "Please, have mercy, superior Stromling sorceress! I have no mark against you, my liege." He then started kissing her feet.
Nya contemplated the scene for a while and thought if having an Assembly wizard at her arsenal would be worth it. She then waved that aside. "Look, you need some medical help. I am no sorceress or follower of the Baron. How about you just come with me, so I can see if you're that Mardolf guy, and then we can do our mission with that lackadaisical Urufu." She helped Mardolf up and they both imped across the bridge to the mainland of Pet Cove.
Monday, January 1st, 4:48 PM
Rad actually didn't mind the ninja girl's company. Eventually, they began talking giggling behind Natalia, who was the only serious one on their trek.
"Can you two quiet it down? I'm trying to hear suspicious noises."
"Come on, Natalia, have some fun. We'll find Colton eventually," Rad assured.
Natalia stopped and turned around. "OK, Rad, I like you, but I like Colton more. If you don't feel that way, then I'll just go on without you."
"You want me to like myself less than Colton?" Rad joked.
The ninja girl and Rad began to roar with laughter.
Natalia began down the road without the two, who were still succumbed with chortles. She precisely peered down the road to see a clearing with some scattered purple troops. Dark Ronin. She dashed over to the edge of the clearing, safe from attack thanks to her higher elevation. Some Ronin came to her and uselessly slashed at her, unable to reach her.
"Well, at least I have a state of power right now," she sighed.
She sat down, patiently awaiting her comrades. In the meanwhile, she tossed her spare Quicksicles down to the Dark Ronin, who began to go ballistic after consuming several.
A few minutes later, Rad and the ninja girl, both covered in fruit, staggered up to Natalia.
Natalia didn't flinch at their new fruity attires. "Have a fruit fight?" she asked sarcastically.
"No," Rad gasped. "More like monkey ambushers."
Natalia couldn't help but to laugh. "You kidding? Monkeys don't live here."
"Not when pirates bring them here," the ninja girl commented.
Natalia immediately stood straight. "Pirates? This is ninja turf! What happened to ninja supremacy?"
The ninja girl slumped her posture slightly. "I have no clue. Numb Chuck hasn't been here for a long while." She patted her communicator in her back pocket with crossed fingers.
Rad and Natalia looked at her skeptically. They both then huddled together and seemed to be conspiring. "I thought Numb Chuck was here a little while ago. I could've sworn seeing him here yesterday in Nimbus Station."
Natalia and Rad slowly turned around and faced the ninja girl with fake smiles. "Well, I guess we should move on," Natalia squeaked.
The ninja girl tilted her head. "Are you two alright?"
Rad nodded vigorously. "Never better, my dear."
They all smiled as if to make better, but then a ghostly hand snagged Natalia's foot.
Coalessa and her new friend in Cheryl didn't at first notice the storm that began to cover the wrecked lighthouse. Mardolf, Bella and Greyson did, however.
Bella meekly pointed to the clouds. "Those aren't ordinary, happy clouds…are they?" she asked.
Greyson shook her head. "Of course not. Those clouds there are the kind that signal destruction and loss."
Mardolf walked up behind Bella and Greyson, still wet from his earlier sprinkler encounter. "That there is an omen of pain, yes. But I say we just bail on this place before it gets destroyed."
Greyson looked hesitant. "But, what about Nya and Coalessa and Cheryl? And…that menace Urufu?"
Mardolf began walking casually to the launchpad. "Well, you two can warn them."
The three walked up to Cheryl and Coalessa, who were deep in discussion. Greyson tapped Cheryl's shoulder. "What is it?" she asked as a result.
She looked up in the sky and screamed. Coalessa mimed her. They both then made a mad dash to the bridge.
"What about Nya?!" Bella squealed.
Greyson snatched her up and then whistled to Urufu.
"BONES?!" Urufu shouted. He dashed over to Greyson and nipped at her heels, excited for his treat.
"Not now, bad doggy!" Greyson yelled as they all began to go across the bridge. The storm crackled with lightning and turned into an eerie shade of violet. Stromling Invaders began to storm across Pet Cove. Coalessa tearfully looked back and cried out to her pets. "Get in your shelters, my preciouses!"
Cheryl, who was running alongside her, stared at her oddly. "That's not even close to being a word."
"In times of panic, ignore prose and grammar. My motto," Coalessa said proudly. Cheryl rolled her eyes as she prepared her rocket from her itty-bitty purse.
The storm strengthened quickly and dropped more Maelstrom onto the floating land that used to be peaceful. The Stromling Mechs that were invading shot several blistering beams at the bridge, and soon rendered it useless, as it gave out shortly after everyone got to the launchpad. A pointless spat began to halt everyone's progress, however.
Mardolf argued that he should leave first, due to his elderly status. Coalessa countered by pointing out that her "preciouses" would want her to go first. Cheryl then claimed her business experience earned her a free pass out of potential death. Then Urufu sputtered several jumbled words that had everyone more perplexed. Greyson finally silenced everyone, as the clouds drew nearer.
"Guys, guys, guys… This is ridiculous. We will all be safe if we do this orderly, and Nya would surely point out that Greyson deserves the first trip out."
Everyone stared at her, figuring that she didn't help at all, and began to quarrel again. Nobody noticed the small, submissive Bella Pepper using the launchpad with her hot pink rocket.