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PAGE 16 CONTINUED
PTGI think to myself: this will only take a minute.
PTGMy younger female partner seems to know where all the explosives in the Castle are stashed and is shelling out diamonds like she was rich in order to get them all together quickly.
PAGE 17 CONTINUED
PTGI spy Jenny Wren wandering the streets of the town, obviously freed from recent captivity.
PAGE 17 CONTINUED
My team mates have abandoned me!
They have gone to the pub.
I respect that.
I am not, however, listless. I click the light blue notch on my multicoloured pen.
1. Find Grim
2. Who has been spiking our ice cream?
3. Does the 'super-blah-very-blah-evil-blah-yeah-I can't-remember-whatever-guy' have a cousin, a pet, or an even more evil OverLord?
4. Are we in danger from Medusa?
5. Where have my team mates gone?
"Mah... Mah... Mah... Mah... Mah... Mah..."
I await the lack of Tinnitus.
GRIMI close a door behind me. I am in the Winter Garden. I whirl.
JENIFERMy slumber is disturbed by a spectacular fireworks display.
PAGE 18 CONTINUED
"STAY PUT!" PTG commands.
And with a shimmer and a whoosh, PTG, his bench, two ferrets, and a hefty supply of snowballs arrive in the Tavern. The ferrets do little war dances when they see me and tackle my knees. I feel relaxed for the first time in days.
"Hop on," PTG says. "Next stop is Jenifer."
"What about Randy?"
We both look toward the bar. Salty has now slid to the floor, snoring. The caterwauling turns out to be a cat caught beneath him. Randy is somehow sprawled across three bar stools, and may actually be awake, but also a little green around the gills. Too much time spent with Ellie, perhaps.
PTG makes an executive decision. "We'll leave him here. I haven't had a chance to install seatbelts on this thing, yet."
I sit. Cash stashes himself in my backpack, but Wickerbat insists on being held and cuddled. What a love sponge he is! If only he didn't bite everyone else…
PTG puts his hands on his temple and - Shimmer, whoosh!
PAGE 18 CONTINUED
RANDYIn between and banging me acheing head on the side of this ever desending blimp and screaming very off colour insults at Jen the maniac of lost it totally with sprinkles still clinging to her upper lip that is now curled in a snarl and a look of I want to KILL you in her crazy eyes and trying to keep the tip of the spear head from doing any more damage and trying to grab Jen by the throat and drag her to Murks lair and back,
When I return to the Square, I discover that the park bench has gone off on its own, perhaps in search of its master. I'll have to find my own way to the Elvyn Forest, the one place in the current MC world not accessible to me by tunnel.
At least the ferrets are with me. The Doll Showcase catches my eye; I can always use a few extra gears and screwdrivers, I think. While the ferrets rummage among the dolls and toys, I happen to look up to see a personage in a dramatic purple cloak enter the Square.
I sink down behind the window display. Cash and Wickerbat slink into my backpack. We exit the HOS without finishing it and slip out a back door. In the alley behind the doll shop is a red telephone booth which serves as one entrance to the tunnels, when you dial the right number. Keeping one eye on the shop's back door, I pop in and punch numbers. Nothing happens. I try three more times.
Then the back door of the doll shop opens.
MUNTINY my patootie , there is only ONE captain in this ??? now wait a cotton pickin minute I still have not figured out what in Sam'a Hill I am seeing and where I am besides crashed into a tower everything is turned around bottom is top , right is left, center is oh who in H*** knows , fingers start to slip and I start to sweat, I swear the day I catch that crazy loonie tone of a NOT well dressed wench she will curse the day we met,,, OH NOOOOOOOOO fingers cramp I CAN NOT LET GO I sneak a peek over my left shoulder is it my right ??? look straight into the gaping mouth of one of two fire breathing DRAGONS , wait wait guys I am one of the good guys and I do not taste good even with salt and butter I swear, fat lot of good that did they are crawling closer oh great now they are drooling thinking they have an easy meal, my mind is awhirl with how did I get down from this roof top ,away from those Dragons, and NOT fall into those two waiting wolves, JENIFER I SWEAR I AM GOING TO KILL YOU OR DROWN YOU,,sratch that she already one a ribbon for that dive yeah right must have made goo goo eyes at the judge,, I hear heavy foot steps OH GREAT I have been spoted by the Castel Gaurds now how am I going to explain this mess Jen got me into and how am I going to pay for this damage to the blimp that the Gnome sends to the blimp stop and unload cargo at a heavy price I might add, oh I am in DEEP DOO DOO with the MC Honchoos got a feeling I am going to pay dearly for this mess but nothing compared to what that catawalling wrench is going to pay,,THINK MAN this is NOT REAL this NOT REAL I am NOT IN A BASKET HANGING INCHES AWAY FROM BEING ROASTED AGAIN,, I hear voices on the wind, Grim? what ? you think Jen is a hero and I am the bad guy , oh the shame as I hang my head ,, OH OH cramp cramp more words,,, PTG missing?? oh double great I am really done for now,come on Cap think , this twin world we got shucked into by Murk I am sure of that , is all mirrors, backwards , and sillo,, owieeeeee as a flame grazes me hinnie,,,oh well thank you you uggy lizard that was the push I needed to get back in the basket,,okay now what , grab that spear come on and get me I will poke yer eyeballs out,,,I peek over the side towards Cloud City and the Square just in time to see a rather large bunny tail disapear into the Fabric Shop ,, groans a female shoping guess I will be stuck here for hours,,,
As I haul myself out of the briny onto the landing strip of this place, I turn round and scan my whereabouts.
I see in the distance across a bay the Harbor lighthouse, so I do have a reference point, but it is covered in a very strange shimmering mist.
Anyway, I take a couple of steps past the little waif towards the (NOT pearly) gates and notice a rather broken down boat on the right with a strange looking female occupant (Well she does have a female shape!).
As the little waif won’t say any more than to repeatedly ask whether or not I am the Spirit of Atlantis, I decide to go over there and have a little chat in order to find out where on earth (or otherwise) I am.
Suddenly, in my head, alarms bells ring out , and a deep voice whispers: “I wouldn’t do that if I were you!”
I am sufficiently fey to recognize my inner guardian angel speaking and beat a hasty retreat, but not before noticing a large hole in the side of the boat.
One of my strengths is that I can put two and two together and make five very quickly.
I recall Ellie, the amorous eel , telling us of the monster Medusa reclining in splendor and waiting for her next meal by some strange shore.
This must be she!!!
The last 100 steps to the top of the hill are very quickly accomplished
I gaze on a countryside vista the like of which I have never seen before. It is an idyll and I confidently expect that I will soon be surrounded by nymphs and shepherds coming away!
But nothing happens to break the utter stillness of my surroundings so I decide to have a little doze by the stream and analyze my present predicament.
My last conscious thought is whether Major Tom is Cap’n Bob’s superior and is there a Ground Control that I can contact?
I spend about ten minutes in a general dithering panic. It needed to be done.
Captain PogoRandy's monitor shows him fighting off imminent digestion with a spear.
Grim's monitor shows her dangerously close to the purple cloaked food spiker with unknown motives.
PTG's monitor is blank.
I collect myself. No idea how my arm fell off, but I put it back on.
Grim is closest.
I race out of HQ and pelt towards the City Square.
I see the purple cloaked figure rummaging through the Doll Showcase.
Pure adrenaline is my decision maker now. I hurl myself at the shadowy figure and we both burst out of the back door.
A startled Grim is in a red phone box.
"Got 'im!!" I stand up proudly with the purple cloak in hand. However the perpetrator is not inside it. "Aw craponacracker!"
We both look to the door of the Doll Showcase closing.
"We've got him on the run!" I cry to Grim. "Love the new digs!"
Grim ruffles her doublet with a smile and we barrel through the door and give chase.
There is no sign of anyone in the City Square. Three possible directions, not including tunnels.We are considering what to do when t
The black cloaked figure at the desk continues his tirade while the other two remain stoic.
"Your job is to fill the cells with as many MC denizens as possible! We have good numbers but not enough!"
Interesting… please go on…
"But you cannot seem to hold on to the ONE inmate we need!"
PTG? Randy? Me? I don't think Grim has ever been committed.
"We have almost enough inmates to get our funding increase! But it will all be for nothing if we don't have Patient ONE!"
"Now get back out there and find him!"
Him… PTG or Randy.
I nod curtly and turn to leave.
"Oh, one more thing."
I stop, but don't turn back.
"Remember... the boss is always watching."
Well that sounds mighty ominous! I nod again and walk out through the door.
Hoppy 2 and I breathe sighs of relief and head down the staircase.
The guards are waiting. "Sir, shall we escort you back?"
I shake my head and give a dismissive wave of my hand. They both nod and clank away.
I need to think. Patient ONE? Why does that sound familiar?
"Stamps! Unique staaaaaaamps!!!!" It appears Nancy is still here. I glance at room 405.
And then I have a thought. Patient ONE. Room ONE!
Last time we rescued him he was strapped to a gurney in a guarded room in the Experimental Medical Research wing. We never found out why. But there were a lot of explosions that day.
I have to find Randy! And hope he doesn't kill me before I can warn him he's in danger.
We slip out and down to the maintenance hatch in the Castle Entry. As we climb in I can hear the voice of the doctor explaining to the guards that he has a very important appointment, but has lost his robe.
The plot thickens. I accidentally step in it.
Below stairs there seems to be something afoot on the “dark side” of the Castle. But I am not privy to that information at the moment.
In the meantime, high in the main tower in a luxuriously appointed room, an antique phone on a very large plush oak desk rings.
The smooth suave man who is lounging behind the desk and zapping any stray flies with a swatter (borrowed from the inventory pool) puts the lethal tool down and picks up the phone.
There are three people (the doctor, the Head Nurse and the Captain of the Castle Guards) in a waiting room outside all knowing that they are going to be chastised severely yet again for dereliction of duty.
The last time this occurred they were threatened with loss of pay and the doctor in particular is wondering how he will keep up with his mortgage payments.
They look on with interest through the glass door where the CEO of the Midnight Castle is sitting with his aide de camp and a secretary (ready to take notes and dole out invoices)
He snaps into the mouthpiece, having had his day disturbed.
“Yes! What is it?”
He immediately puts the phone down on his luxurious table, stands to attention, straightens his tie and collar and smoothes his hair!
He picks the phone up again and simpers into it:
“Yes, MY LORD OF THE CASTLE?”
He listens, turns bright pink and then white - beginning to perspire.
The aide de camp, being a canny individual with high self preservation skills, flees the room, closely followed by the secretary.
The three miscreants outside look puzzled but haven’t a clue as to what is taking place.
They soon find out!
He walks through the door and addresses the three:
“It appears that people in your charge have destroyed a major part of the Castle- not just a mere hole in a Castle wall or by polluting the moat, but a considerable part of one of our locations which has been carefully developed by our lords and masters for those worthy denizens who have reached the dizzy heights of Level 74
You three are so incompetent that it is not worth me even firing you to give you redundancy pay.
I am calling in THE PROFESSIONALS to do the job,
These three renegades will be taken dead or alive, but preferably dead!
And that So-called Rabbit newspaper editor will be my Sunday lunch (preferably in a casserole with some brown bread).
You will co-operate with the Assassin or you will be used for target practice. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?”
He returns to his luxurious office and gulps down some very strong pink pills with alcohol
The three senior management staff slink out, back to their offices and await imminent developments
I am siting talking my head off to PTG ,explaining why we have to get away from here and back to camp where things are normal well some what normal and then we can launch an all out recon and and if you call me anything but Cap I am going to ... I look up to see if PTG is paying an attention to what I am saying ... half expecting him to be and dreaming of another adventure sans moi,,, my mouth hits the ground not only is he *POOF* again my mind has become a crystal ball and I can see and hear things that if I have NOT already lost my grey cells to da dagnabit dust bunnies I am sure going to lose it now,,, I find myself gentile touching my arms where I now bear scars from the *shudder**table those, creatures in long coats , gowns, and masks, can smell acids, and musk and other things I have no idea what in Sam Hill they are all I know is I am in for a world of hurt,,mind flash's back to the Castel Gates where I can barely make out a wanted poster
MY PICTURE = WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE=== 1,000,000 gold coins offered for my capture or body what ever comes first.
I also see smaller scrolls, it's PTG,,, Jenifer,,, and Grim with a broken ear, OMG how did they get hem pictures Grims ear just happened NO???Is the great one at Head Office that mad at me?? no no no this can not be true this is all Murk's dirty work and Arabella,, they are the ones that made the packiedermies go nuts and attack everythng around the Castel,they are the one who invaded the minds and bodies of the sweet Garden Gnomes and turn them into killers,they are the ones that brought the Gargoles, The Hounds from H*** The uggy smelly Trolls and there green bloo
The underground tunnel system here is extensive and far reaching, and my partner has either mapped or personally knows all of them.
I take her paw and she leads me into a series of turns and twists the like of which I have never experienced before (nor do I want to again!).
Suddenly we are in a well-recognized lit room with banks of humming monitors indicating what is happening all over the Castle.
Grim beams – “100% cover!”
“OK then.", I say: "Where are Jenny Wren and Randy?”
Grim twiddles and fiddles many knobs and begins to mutter:
“Reset –off and on again – sigh –sigh – reboot…….. “, and finally in a despondent voice:
“They are not here!”
This merely confirms my suspicions, cos’ while she has been fiddling with her equipment I have been trying my hardest to summon my magical steed – my bench. Also without success.
I suspect a certain damsel who is certainly not in distress has “borrowed it”.
This bodes ill for all of us, as I wouldn’t let her near a child’s scooter never mind anything more sophisticated.
However, I still have my magical broom so I tell Grim to just wait a while until a few Level 74 begin to complete the Atlantis (Watery Bridge) HOS.
It doesn’t take long and then I think hard and long: “Piles of discarded HOS, piles of discarded HOS!”
My broom begins to shudder and shake and zeroes in on the little heaps that the players have left behind.
Which so happens to be in the alternate dimension that I have visited before and in which Cap’n Bob has caused so much destruction to its infrastructure
Holding Grim’s hand - we Whoooooosh down onto the sward, to find Randy lamenting at his own reflection in the stream by singing a dirge , and Jenny Wren up a tree with MY bench!
Grim and I both greet the other two simultaneously with courtesy and decorum.
What they say in return is not for juvenile ears and so won’t be repeated here.
Jumped up her peticoat and bite her on the, CRACKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK
BOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM OUFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF as Jenifer lands smack on my chest cutting off my song and making me gag for breth, OMG woman get offin me you may be small but right now you weigh a ton,,
Jen is stradeled me like I am a horse and she is ready to ride me into neverland and as hard as I try to push this crazy galoot offin me me arms pined by PTG's moblie bench that is still sputtering chug chug spurt spurt, OMG woman talk about big DOO DOO you are really in fur it now, first you steal da Air Ship, hijack me in it, throw me over board , I know I know I threw you first but but but I had no choice I ran out of stamps and coins, by the way what in god;s name did ya blow up, Jen giggles and shrugs her shoulders , oh I see not telling huh, um um Jen kin ya gets offin me now cause I thunck you ruined yer surprize I had fer ya thunck it is under my neither sitter oner ,, and iffin ya thunck I is going let it slide what ya tryed to do to me thunck again woman , question is do I let PTG get ya first or do I throttel ya second I mean first,,
Just as Jen da wren is geting up I see over her shoulder a huge chunck coming right at us and befur I can say a word CRASH BOOM BANGGGGGGGG PTG and GRIM coming crashing down on top of moi and Jenifer okay da wakermelon is now juice and ya all kin call me pancake GROANNNNNNNNNNN
The transcription app goes overtime with bangs ! and crosshatches # and asterisks * and ampersands @. The gist of Jenifer's rant seems to be that the Developers have skimped on coding trees of sufficient strength; that the wait time to schedule appointments with medical specialists is unacceptable; and something about seatbelts and standard transmission. Randy is, as usual, an incoherent stream of consciousness, this time mixed with some bawdy tune or other
I look at PTG and offer to foot the bill for seatbelts.
Meanwhile the ferrets pop out of the backpack to reunite with their long-lost friends, Jenifer and Randy. Anyone whom they haven't seen for at least three hours is considered "long lost" to a ferret; although it's also possible they were just taking a cue from Randy's lyrics about petticoats.
A third possibility is that Cash and Wickerbat are deviously clever. The swearing quickly turns to giggles and guffaws. The antagonistic atmosphere eases and shortly the four of us, plus ferrets, are relaxing under the tree eating watermelon and enjoying the rare moment of not trying to kill each other.
Even the watermelon will prove to be safe.
"Okay" I whip Randy's file out of my teddy bear corset. "There is a nefarious plan to turn you into a weapon of mass destruction." I hand Randy his file.
"Dilutional? Ininvegetable? AAAH! Close toes curtains!" Randy shuts his file angrily.
"Right... there is also some clandestine cloaked coven - try saying that ten times fast - who has a boss that is always watching over everything."
We pause while everyone tries to say 'clandestine cloaked coven' ten times really fast. I'll bet you're doing it too, dear reader... I get to four; but in my defense - I'm completely drunk.
"I've blown up the lab where they planned to do Randy's transformation, but it's a stop gap measure."
I refer to my notes. "Lord Chamberlain is definitely Arabella's father, the knight is a simpering wet fish complaining about his predicament, Jeronimo is hiding out in The Residential district - which looks like the inside of a volcano - and he's been enlisted to poison the well of the werewolves. Something I, as the founder of the Critter Liberation Investigative Taskforce Offering Re-population In Safety, am vehemently opposed to!
"About that acronym... " PTG delicately begins.
"I've tried to think of others!" I snap. "You think of one, I'm tapped!"
I close my notes and tuck them away.
"So, what have you three uncovered?"
"What about Critter Rights Awareness Program?" PTG muses.
I sigh and eat some watermelon.
PTGIt has always been one of my little pleasures in life to