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RedPiggy's Comeback King Saga (a re-write)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by RedPiggy, Aug 15, 2008.

  1. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Act 1: The Comeback King

    This is a rather large crossover fic, but I will try to make this as painless as possible this time around. If you like Muppets, Labyrinth, Fraggle Rock, Dinosaurs … then this is a great story for you! Now, I WILL warn you … some topics, such as substance use and “atypical” relationships occur. So, for the sheltered, perhaps this story is not for you. There isn’t anything obscene (in fact, nothing is mentioned that hasn’t been stated/shown/implied in these various franchises), unless the mere mention of those things upset you. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
    Locations: Fraggle Rock and the Gorg’s Garden
    New York City, in which The Muppets Take Manhattan occurs. (Also note, that Kermit says their wedding was only a play … BUT … when the bear family goes through the obvious fake doors, the scene switches to a more realistic church :D ).

    Important Plot Points: The Legend of Sir Hubris
    The Muppets Take Manhattan (see link above)
    Labyrinth (link gives a 5-minute version)
    Return to Labyrinth
    Dark Crystal (link gives an abridged version)
    Important Farscape Event
    Junior Sells the Farm Pt 1 (see the whole ep!)
    Mokey, Then and Now Pt 1
    Junior Faces the Music Pt 1 (be sure to see the whole ep, though)
    The Gorg Who Would Be King Pt 1 (see the whole ep!)

    Other Characters: Sir David Tushingham
    Nicky Holiday (though, Great Muppet Caper isn’t canon here, this is more like an alt-alt-universe version)
    Queen of Trash I don’t have this movie, and all references to her online are pretty sparse … so I guess I just have to make stuff up.
    Rachel Bitterman
    Samson Knight
    http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Foster

    Whew … got all that? I thought this time around I’d be more helpful since this is a major crossover of just about every franchise I can think of (and want to work with). Yes, you have read this story before (some of you, anyway). However, I thought I could do better. So, the stories have been turned into 4 acts of one story and each act will open with something similar to the above “cheat list”.

    The “Underground”, as it’s called in Labyrinth, consists of the world of Labyrinth (and Moraine, which is a neighboring kingdom found in the manga sequel). In this story, however, I’m also including the Gorg’s Garden and to a certain extent Fraggle Rock, though it’s more of a connection between the Underground and “Outer Space”, aka: our world, which consists of the Muppets and Sesame Street and such. I’m also considering Grouchland and the Trash Kingdom as part of the Underground, since apparently Oscar the Grouch’s trash can leads to another dimension or something as well. Basically, if it takes magic or plot convenience to get there (LOL), then it’s a part of the Underground. We begin the first few chapters with my version of the Legends of Sir Hubris, which is the story of the King of the Universe and the First Gorg King from Fraggle Rock.
    Also, this whole story is like a Henson version of Medea, which is an ancient Greek play about a witch who married a hero, but he dumped her for a new girl, and she used all of her dark magic for revenge. I like Labyrinth's homages to classic fables, and I really enjoy Greek myths, so, there you go.
    I realize that some of the links may no longer work, since Youtube cleansed a bunch of vids. So, here are two links that may help. The first is my Youtube video, which is a summary of the whole thing, which hopefully doesn't give TOO much away.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ge627CIWa4
    The second is my Timeline, which might have plenty of spoilers for my various fics. All my fics are in the same fic-universe, so the timeline addresses most of them.
    http://forum.muppetcentral.com/showthread.php?t=40929
    However, if you feel that the dates presented under the chapter headings still leave you lost, the timeline might be a little clearer.
    Also, you'll see links in the story itself. They're only there to help explain things if you need them. If not, just ignore them.

    :D

    Chapter 1
    (Spring, 2008AD)

    The loss of the crown had been devastating, or so it seemed to his royal subjects, who grumbled and groused and bewailed their fate, for they were certain that stars would fall and fire would consume and famine would wither, leaving the entire universe destitute. The King of the Universe was destined to rule all for the benefit of everyone. And yet, seemingly on a whim, he had just thrown it away … or so it seemed to those who knew him, for they remained unaware that their constant needs had nearly broken his spirit. He had been exhausted from the harsh, nagging words of his court. The thought of having to rule such a wide expanse every single day made his stomach ache and his hands twitch and his head throb. And so, the King of the Universe had relinquished his royal duty.

    Now, one does not just throw away one’s responsibilities and get away with it without a scratch. Those who abdicated were doomed to seek out that very crown which weighed so heavily upon the royal head…

    The former King of the Universe wandered to and fro, forever without home or purpose. At the time, it seemed to suit him. He had never felt more liberated. And yet, as he was turned away from each and every land, he began to doubt his decision. The universe was one big disappointment after another: sometimes he barely kept warm in the glacial lands of the north, sometimes he felt as though he were fully baked under the hot and searing sun of the west, sometimes he nearly fainted from infection in the cesspools of the south, and sometimes he had to fight off endless enemies in the east. He knew only the comfort of his own mind, and that was waning by the century’s end. He had been drifting and suffering such deep loneliness for a few centuries, though he had honestly lost track of time. Eventually, time ceased to have meaning at all. So, too, did other things: good food, his last remaining royal robe (worn to tatters through the centuries), companionship (of which he had none, as he had been known as selfish and strict, which endeared him to few) …

    On one particular occasion, weary from a particularly bad run-in with impish fire elementals with detachable body parts who insisted on trying to eat him, the former King of the Universe slumped down next to a young tree atop a high hill, overlooking a fertile plain. He had grown tired of walking. He stared at the plain, filled with grasses of all kinds, flowers blooming in large groups, and bordered by a sparkling, winding, majestic river that shamed even the vast oceans.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, he might stick around for a few days… [--The Legends of Sir Hubris.]

    A black-haired Caucasian middle-aged woman, with crow’s feet in her eyes and a wide, sensitive grin, looked up from the stack of papers on her desk, which seemed to imitate the skyline of skyscrapers behind her through the large glass window that stretched across the entire wall. Her voice was gentle and cheerful. “This is great so far.” She leaned back against her black leather chair. The woman wore a black suit with a light blue blouse underneath. Her office was located in a rather posh section of Manhattan, courtesy of years of Broadway success under her belt. It was filled with numerous brightly-colored posters advertising various shows throughout the years, including one with Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy on it, where they wore the sparkling purple tuxes they tended to favor for some unknown reason. She maintained her grin as she spoke with the thirty-eight year-old brunette, who herself had been busily climbing the entertainment ladder after a stint teaching college drama students. “It’s a good thing your stories are proven cash cows … you tend to like re-using themes a lot," she noted, chuckling.

    The other woman shrugged, returning the smile. The producer had given her her big break shortly after 2001, which she had needed due to her apartment complex being torn down during the reconstruction following the World Trade Center incident. They found themselves to have the same taste in genres and hobbies. “Hey, we’ve seen a huge resurgence in fairytale crap over the last decade or so," she informed the woman across the sleek desk. “RPGs are getting some respect, we’ve got the nostalgic 80s flavor … this has the potential to rival Cats," she said with a little more enthusiasm, her hands waving in circles to show how big it could become.

    The older woman frowned, though she quickly tried to regain her normally cheerful composure. Broadway life could easily wear one down if one didn’t try to stay grounded and balanced. “Sarah, do you think your work is ‘crap’? I mean, if you’re starting to feel a need to move on, let’s get those feelings out in the air now, shall we?"

    Sarah shrugged, looking at the floor, trying to avoid her friend and business partner’s eyes. She hesitated to answer. She really didn’t want to say the words out loud, remembering what problems that could cause. When she was in her mid-teens, she had obsessed over fairy tales and theater, to the point of collecting every souvenir and cheap merchandise she could find. One day she let loose with a wish to the Goblin King, a character from one of her play books.

    That didn’t turn out too well. An owl came into her parents’ … her father’s room … and transformed into a living version of a statuette resting on the dresser in her room. He took her infant half-brother to his mystical castle in the center of an ever-changing labyrinth. Ever since, she’d had a profound respect for the power of language.

    “I feel it’s personal, Jenny," she exclaimed strongly. It wasn’t that she was afraid of losing the job … Jenny wasn’t like that … but there were, more private reasons to think her statements thoroughly before stating them, reasons that even she herself sometimes didn’t want to admit. “This isn’t just about capitalizing on the retro thing … some stories need to get told. I’ve had a great time writing for you, but there are some things … I dunno, Jen," she continued, sighing, her voice becoming more and more subdued, “I just … regret …”

    <><><><><><>

    The leather-bound, gold-embossed book slammed shut with the help of large, brown furry hands, dust and miniscule bits of paper creating a small cloud, and was tossed over the right shoulder, making some strands of thick brown hair on the side of the even larger head sway.

    “Whoa!" a female voice screamed out as the book raced past her as she sat on the big lug’s shoulder. The googly-eyed, yellow-orange creature with the red-orange frizzy pigtails tied with dark red ribbons and the bright red turtleneck sweater ducked out of the way just in time, hanging onto some body hair on the reader’s back, her knuckles paling and her feet desperately trying to take hold of something. She had wanted to get a better view of the story, but her adventurous side tended to put her in situations that, in hindsight, may not have been the wisest.

    The brown furry giant looked over to the right and shrugged, nearly sending the female creature flying again. “Sowwy, Red," he told her casually, reaching back to help her up. His voice was smooth and deep, though his pronunciation still left a little to be desired. Whether it was the shape of his nose or the plants in the garden or even something mysterious and unknown, no one knew why the creature had that particular accent.

    Red, a Fraggle who made her home in Fraggle Rock, a large cave system that connected at least two worlds, maybe more, glared at the humongous guy – though that was like staring down a hairy mountain. However, she shook her head and sighed, trying to hide her irritation in her voice, “No, it’s okay, Junior. I think I’ll live.”

    Junior smiled. “Gweat!" he exclaimed, laughing, his belly heaving up and down with each guffaw. Junior was a Gorg. Think a brown shaggy King Kong but with a light brown bulbous nose with a loose khaki jacket, no pants, and spiked brown leather boots and no pressing girl problems.

    “For now," Red griped under her breath.

    “When did you start reading The Legends of Sir Hubris again, Junior?" a high-pitched male gravelly voice asked devotedly from the ground where other Fraggles had gathered to hear some Gorg tales at the edge of the radish garden near the tool shed. Each radish, as well as their leafy tops, was roughly the size of a Fraggle. In fact, to a Fraggle, the Gorg garden was a veritable paradise of unending food, since one vegetable or fruit could last them a couple of days.

    Junior shrugged again as he faced Wembley, a green-yellow Fraggle with a tussle of almost blond hair and a banana-tree shirt, which was never buttoned all the way up, for that would have required too much focus and concentration.

    “Watch it," Red cried out angrily, hanging onto Junior’s shoulder with a death-grip, “you dunderheaded…”

    “RED!" a teeny male voice with an occasional Canadian accent barked from below. Red had agreed to stop calling Junior a lummox, which was an insult regarding his intelligence (or lack thereof) … but Red’s mouth almost always worked faster than Red’s brain.

    “It’s okay, Gobo," Junior wistfully told the explorer Fraggle with the orange skin, purple hair, orange and yellow-striped long-sleeved shirt and a brown vest. He looked over at Red and tried to keep his voice down, since at that proximity, Gorg voices could rival avalanches, “Sowwy, Red … you want down?" Junior had only lived with his immediate family and never really had the opportunity to make friends. There had been no nearby Gorgs, and Fraggles had, for decades, been considered alternately garden pests and random “pets” for Junior. Only after a strange incident just before he was to be crowned as King of the Universe, did Junior start seeing Fraggles as friends. Though he had partnered with them before, it never occurred to him that they could be anything more than mere playful objects until he had learned to see life in an entirely new way. Now that Junior had denied his kingship, he felt free to play and laugh all day, even though it was sometimes frustrating since they were so much smaller than him.

    Before she could answer, Gobo interjected. “What she really wants is to know why you started reading from those legends again!" He frowned at Red, craning his neck to see her. Fraggles were roughly two-feet tall, give or take, so having conversations with two-story Gorgs could sometimes leave them with a stiff neck.

    Wembley, standing next to Gobo, shrugged and looked at the ground. “Actually, uh, I thought I was the one who wanted to know.”

    Gobo glanced over at his friend. “And Red wants to hear it too … don’t you, Red?" he asked in that not-so-subtle tone he used when Red, he felt, was coming on too strong.

    “Well, I …” Junior began.

    “Juuuunnniiiooorrrrr," sang a melodious female voice from within the Gorg’s castle. At the front door appeared a lavender Gorg with a sharply upturned nose and a tremendous amount of blonde hair pulled up with a few pins, which were each the size of a tall Fraggle. She wore an ivory-colored flowing gown, accented with purple and yellow layers, and white lace fingerless gloves. She beckoned for Junior. “Come inside, sweetie-kins … I need you to try on some new clothes I’m sewing for your Five-hundred party," she said happily.

    “Five-hundred party?" Red, Gobo, and Wembley asked in unison.

    Junior began to rise, but remembered Red and gently put her down before standing. He glanced at the female Gorg. “But Maaaaa," he whined to his mother, “dat’s tree ye-uhs away!"

    Ma Gorg shook her finger at her son. “If you want it to look good I need to start on it now, Favorite Son and Former King of the Universe," she lectured.

    “But you just made dis shirt for me a hunnahd ye-uhs ago!" Junior pleaded. He didn’t mind helping his Ma with cooking, since he enjoyed finding uses for the vegetables he grew, but fashion preparation could take a decade or more. Junior didn’t want to die of old age waiting for his mother to finish nitpicking his wardrobe. Gorgs had been known to live to be a couple thousand years old, but nothing sped up (or slowed down) time like his mother. He picked up an edge of his shirt and sniffed it deeply. He looked back at Ma. “Besides … it’s not even duhty yet!"

    Ma Gorg frowned, slapping her hand on the bottom half of the door. “You know how I get when you start sounding like your Father," she warned, almost growling.

    “And what do I sound like, dear?" yelled a gravelly aged voice from deep within the castle.

    Ma Gorg’s eyes widened and she turned toward the voice of her husband, who had been resting more … well, much more ever since Junior had forsaken the crown. “Like a brisk summer wind, Oh Gorgeous Husband of Mine," she laughed nervously. “All of nature rejoices when you open your mouth!" She turned back towards Junior, who had made little progress towards the castle. “Although sometimes they appreciate when it’s shut," she mumbled quietly. She looked at Junior expectantly. He had better not need another … motherly suggestion, she thought to herself.

    Ma Gorg could easily be frustrated with both her husband and her son. They both felt idleness and play were a right, not a privilege. Still…

    Around what year humans would call 1474AD, a young Gorg princess, followed by a small entourage carrying her luggage, marched toward a castle that shimmered in the sunlight. Before she entered the castle, however, she stopped by a nearby well and started to drink. Her mother, Queen Esmerelda of the Western Gorg Kingdom, had sent her there to find a husband. She had been walking for days. She was glad to be finally in the Eastern Gorg Kingdom, though her entourage, tasked with transporting her ample luggage, was SLIGHTLY more relieved than her.

    She heard a strange noise from behind a large thick tree that nearly was the same diameter as an average Gorg. Upon investigation, she found a slumbering sapphire-blue young male Gorg, wearing only some shorts made of heavy fabric. She flicked some water on him and jumped back, amused, when he shot up several feet in the air. He glanced at her in shock, his eyes widening a little and his mouth slack. He wiped the water droplets off his face.

    When she giggled at the sight, the young male Gorg blushed. He approached her and she coyly kept backing up so he would have to give chase. By the time she bumped into a large rock pillar made of several gray boulders, he had taken her hand and kissed her.

    “Whatever did you do that for?" she asked.

    “You’re the female for me," he said eagerly in a slightly husky voice. “I never want to go through that again. Be my wife.”

    The Gorg Princess blushed and held her hand to her face to shield her reddening cheeks from him. “Your … ROMANTIC … sensibilities notwithstanding, I’m afraid I must save myself for the handsome young Gorg Prince who lives in that castle," she told him, pointing to the castle with a smile.

    The male Gorg grinned widely. “Why, have no fear, my lavender angel," he announced proudly, “for thou dost see the one and true Gorg King.” He lowered his head. “My Pa still likes to hang around, of course, but for two-hundred and twenty-nine years, I’ve ruled the roost.” He sheepishly rubbed the back of his head, chuckling. “That is, if you don’t mind marrying a King, instead.”

    Junior sighed, defeated. He turned to his Fraggle friends. “I guess I can’t avoid my destiny, Fwaggles," he noted sadly. “See you whenevah I see you.”
  2. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 2
    (Summer, 2008AD)

    The proud former King of the Universe had grown weary of wandering. His feet were blistered, his skin dry, and his robes needed washing. However, he could not admit to any desire to reclaim his supposedly rightful place. Of what use had the King been? Despite his power, only the most loyal had really listened to him. Most beings just went ahead and did whatever they wanted to do anyway. Everyone had their own lives, their own dreams, their own loves. Those were things he could never REALLY control, at least not without exhausting himself to the point of death … which was a hard thing to fathom, for such a long-lived being. Although he had had a court, he had always felt completely alone. No one had been there to share in his joys and sorrows intimately.

    Unbeknownst to the former King, as he sat atop a large hill overlooking a flowering plain, a small oval rustic ship floated serenely behind the clouds. It had acquired quite a bit of debris as it traveled through the “true” universe, crossing galaxies with ease thanks to the random wormhole here and there. Inside the ship, a pale gray entity, shriveled with age, coughed and wheezed through its mouth. It didn’t appear to have a nose. It had long spindly fingers which tapped at a console above the reclined soft chair upon which the being rested. On the floor by the chair was a spiky crown reminiscent of thin branches of bleached coral, as well as a pile of silvery robes.

    Millennia ago, a great crisis had nearly consumed its world. All peace and light in the universe would have been lost, but for the heroics of the supposedly last of a small species, bipedal mammals called gelflings. Hope had been restored, and all was assumed to have been made right again. However, a catastrophe on a distant planet compelled this creature to seek out survivors and, maybe, set things right again. Ever since his homeworld had been saved, he felt a pressing urge to prevent the same doom that nearly cost them all their lives from happening to others. And yet, by the time the ship arrived, it was surely too late, for no evidence of life could be found among the dominant species of the planet. All that was left were some mammalian species and some marine life. They had hidden in caves during the catastrophe. It was difficult to communicate with such primitive creatures, but apparently, some years before the freezing started, as the world began to die, a new type of creature had been born … a creature born of hope with the unrealized potential to accomplish that which this entity had longed for. The dominant species had been fighting over resources and the innocence of a child of that species revealed the existence of this new type of creature.

    So the entity had left, confidently knowing that life would begin anew. However, as time passed, its mind began to tear asunder. It knew that darkness again threatened a world, and it turned out to be the very one it had hoped to save millions of years ago. Parts of that world were dying, darkness creeping in and siphoning the very essence of beings, leaving them vulnerable to complete destruction.

    As two had become one on its homeworld, so too must two join forces to stop the darkness on this one. Otherwise, this planet would yet again face the threat of utter extinction. And, as usual, a primitive might have to risk his or her life to help the two powers unite… [--The Legends of Sir Hubris.]

    Jenny pitched the show’s major concepts as best she could via video conference: what had started out to be a simple tale of a Tolkien-esque quest for a king had evolved into something far grander. She forwarded some of her business partners detailed sketches she had drawn up. The identity of the King of the Universe was to be shrouded in mystery. He would not be revealed until the character had returned to his rightful role. Out of the blue, Sarah had added some sci-fi elements as well (“The more geeks we draw in, the better," she had said jokingly). The general concept would be not only to provide escapist fantasy fare, but to connect various genres together. If written well, the themes would not get all muddled up and confuse the audience (or the critics). So far, most of those partners had expressed delight in the concept, but distrust of the economic feasibility, since it seemed rather heavy on special effects, such as pyrotechnics, video projection, etc. One partner, however, a thin pale woman with short reddish-brown hair, had the most to criticize. She had been antsy throughout the entire presentation, so Jenny knew what was coming….

    “Well, I, for one, will not be sinking more money than I already am into the theater racket," the woman on the screen griped sourly. “It’s bad enough I had to adopt your old Broadway has-beens, Miss Evangelos," she continued, jabbing her index finger angrily at the camera.

    “Well, I, for one," Jenny shot back testily, “would hope that certain accounting processes made by certain investors could be well backed-up should the spreadsheets be checked more closely.” She paused, grimacing. “And, quite frankly, losing money on a property just shows bad leadership and business acumen. Properties are like plants: if you don’t water it, it shrivels up.”

    “How dare you lecture me?" the woman on the screen scoffed. “I’ve been in the investing business for quite awhile --.”

    Jenny smiled. “At least I can turn a profit with even the flimsiest of scripts, Ms. Bitterman," she replied. “And this is not a flimsy plot ... it could be epic. All you have to do is believe in it.” She paused. “Besides, I didn’t have to rely on a lucky death to get where I am today.” She pointed to herself. “My skills put me on top, not my --.”

    “Okay," a male investor on another screen blurted out nervously. “We get it. You two don’t get along.”

    “More of that ‘dream’ crap," Ms. Bitterman grumbled, looking away from the camera. “Why can’t anyone join the twenty-first century?" she continued to herself, though loud enough for the others to hear. “Why must some people refuse to let go of seventies hippie nonsense?" She finally stared straight ahead, glaring into the camera. “You’ll need to show me the money, baby girl. Let me know how that fairy-tale ending works out for ya.”

    Jenny clicked off Ms. Bitterman’s feed. Sighing, Jenny leaned back in her chair. She glanced at the other investors. “Is there anyone else afraid to put their money where their mouths are?" she asked. “We didn’t get to where we are by investing in the ordinary. Mr. Crawford and I, you are well aware, took a veritable talking zoo and turned their play into a headliner for five years. A play filled with a random assortment of animals managed to get nominated for a Tony.” She inhaled deeply, clasping her hands together tightly. “I know what I’m doing. You have a choice: attach your names to success or to obscurity.”

    <><><><><><>

    A gray long-nosed rat-like creature screamed out in terror, jumping up nearly five feet off the trash-covered ground where he had been sleeping. He and his friend had barely had enough sleep all day, since Marjory had had them doing chores all day and the Gorgs had been arguing about the most becoming seams for hours.

    “What is it?" asked his friend, a pinkish rat-like creature. His voice was higher-pitched than the gray one, but they both had the same type of street-smart accent. After a pause, the pink one asked again, “Huh? What is it, Gunge? Lay ovah anudder pin cushion again?"

    Gunge trembled, shaking his head. “Uh-uh, Philo," he replied. “It was a nightmare … I dreamt I was swallowed whole by a monster dat made da Gorgs look like fuzzy bunnies.” He whimpered. “It had great big horns, green scaly skin, and jaws bigger dan dat well ovah dere," he continued, pointing toward the well which led to the Fraggle pond in the Great Hall, the central cave of Fraggle Rock. “It was scarier dan Wandah McMooch!"

    “Boy, dat’s rough," Philo replied sympathetically. He soon smirked, however. “Bet you gave him indigestion, though, right, buddy?" He began to snicker.

    Gunge nodded. “Yeah, yeah … just you keep laughin’, Philo. You ain’t exactly a deodorant spokesrat yourself, y’know…” He was going to continue berating his teasing friend when the ground underneath them began to shift, the trash piling up and forming a pointy head with a banana peel for a head decoration and two large hands that melted seamlessly into the pile of trash. Her personality was certainly more pleasant (in general) than her smell, though that depended on what had been thrown on her each day.

    It spoke with a raspy female voice. “Boys, boys … are you having bad dreams again?"

    Philo pointed to Gunge. “It’s all Gunge’s fault, Marjory," he exclaimed, trying to stifle a yawn. “He OD’d on some rotten carrot cake and now we all have to suffer," he continued, feigning melodramatic suffering.

    “Hm," Marjory said, stroking her “chin” (what little there was) as the two rat-like creatures continued to trade insults at one another. She finally picked both up with each hand and held them apart. “Now listen, boys," she said sympathetically, “loose ends are getting tied up all over the universe. It’s perfectly normal for you to be suffering from its effects, especially since you live so close to me.”

    The two looked at each other, then at her. “So, dis is all your fault?" they asked in shocked unison.

    Marjory dropped them both in a huff. She leaned back as far as she could to “distance” herself from them, crossing her arms in indignation. Music started to play, with a kind of jazz feel to it, reminiscent of I’ve Seen Troubles :

    Da universe … is made of so many t’ings,
    Gorgs and Fraggles, boys, share friendly company…

    “Uh," Philo interrupted, “Marjory? It’s eleven o’clock at night … can we pick dis up some udder time … please?"

    “No!" she shouted, slapping her hand on Philo’s back. She shook a finger at him. “Don’t interrupt me again … or I’ll stop reading you bedtime stories!" She started singing again as Philo and Gunge gulped. The only way they’d get back to sleep is if they played along. Marjory was definitely in one of her “oracle-y” moods again.

    But in other places hence, the pleasure’s nearly being spent …
    That means troubles, that means pain, that means woe, woe, woe …
    That means troubles, that means pain, that means woe, woe, woe…
    The Rock is light-filled, Goombah soup spilled,
    But beyond the Swamp lie crowns so lon-el-ly (Philo & Gunge: lon-el-ly)…
    But in times of trial and stress, we need a king for all dis mess,
    That means troubles, that means pain, that means woe, woe, woe…
    That means troubles, that means pain, that means woe, woe, woe…

    And on the last note, Marjory slipped back quietly into an inanimate trash heap, while her two companions shrugged and nodded off themselves…
  3. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 3
    (Fall, 2009)

    The Former King of the Universe had made for himself a pleasant cottage in the heart of the flowering plain. The last thing he wanted was to build a castle, for kingship had never brought him joy. Months had passed and he had become more familiar with the terrain. The sparkling river stretched far to a majestic lake, guarded by a newly-crowned queen, whose silver hair matched the light bouncing off the water. He had barely set foot on the lake’s edge, his feet starting to dampen from the moisture on the shore, when an elegant female form slowly rose from the water, shining drops falling from her graceful figure, clothed only with a thin gown that left little to the imagination. Her curvaceous form reminded him of breaking waves.

    The female smiled and stretched out her elegantly tapered hand. Steam rose from her upturned palm, forming a chalice made of highly polished silver, engraved with lines suggesting breaking waves. “Quench thy thirst, Traveler," she said in sultry tones. “Take off thy ravaged robes and let the sun bring life to a long-hidden visage.”

    “What is your name?" the former King asked bluntly, his own voice deep and sensuous.

    The queen laughed. “You’re not much for small talk, are you, Traveler?" She lowered her head while keeping her bright sharp eyes upon this new arrival. “Do not rebuff my offer so easily … I merely wish to be hospitable.”

    The hooded former King kept his smirk hidden. She certainly thought much of herself, he thought. He wondered if she always seduced weary visitors. She reminded him, in fact, of the sirens of old, who sang their way to men’s hearts, only to devour them at their leisure. “Those that know me know me as Sir Hubris.”

    The queen’s face quickly became tense, her eyes squinting, her brows furrowing deeply. “Don’t LIE to me," she hissed. She had made it a point to know the past of “Sir Hubris”, of course. Her kingdom excelled in surveillance and information trading. The knowledge that he had been the King of the Universe, a being powerful enough to go toe-to-toe against any creature, fascinated her … and enchanted her. Like a flooding river, she wanted to broaden her territory and she felt that it was possible (and almost fool-proof) IF he could be persuaded to share his power.

    The hooded figure shrugged. “What part of my statement was untruthful?"

    The two continued trading strategic barbs, but both felt as the moon rose gently as a pale peach-colored sphere in the sky that destiny had desired them joined. Coming together, they held hands, sitting on the lake shore, staring at the full moon, which cast a soft glow upon them. The queen, caressing Sir Hubris’ hand, took a sip from the chalice and offered it to her new companion. He gently took the chalice and drank from it, careful not to let his hood reveal his face. With the last sip, he felt a surge of power and intoxication … all he wanted was to unite with the queen and begin a powerful family that would outlive the heavens. He began to stroke her hair … but suddenly, he jumped up and shook his head violently, backing away from the queen, who was trying very hard to hide her shock and disappointment. He glared at her, though she could not see his face. She had INTOXICATED him. He didn’t think it possible. He had not drunk but a few sips … and he was certain centuries on the road had not made him so vulnerable. It had to be enchanted. Was it not but water? He had felt, for a brief moment, as though nothing else in the universe mattered because he was one with her on a cellular level. His thoughts had become her thoughts and vice versa. It was a level of intimacy for which he had not been prepared nor particularly desirous. He vowed to himself that, should he ever start to fall for someone , he would break it off if she ever felt overwhelmed. He wanted love and companionship … but not that way. He wanted to deserve it.

    Her eyes widened slightly, but a smirk she could not hide for long. She rose gently from the ground and silently commanded the chalice to become steam once more which she then absorbed into her palm. “Commendations are in order, ‘Sir Hubris.’ Your arrogance and your willpower are matched equally by only my own.” She paused, crossing her arms. “It IS a compliment," she assured him. [--The Legends of Sir Hubris.]

    Jenny Evangelos had decided, with the help of her business partners, to take things slowly, to let the rich plot of Sarah William’s latest show pitch grow. It had been a year and a half since Sarah first came up with the idea and the projected opening of the show was to be April of 2011. Already they had started some minor projects, which would serve to set up the characters and the background story. They were still waiting on some copyright and royalty issues from one of Sarah’s favorite childhood playwrights, from whose tale of royal love and betrayal this “elaboration” would spring.

    As the fall season wore on, Jenny found herself reminiscing about her father , who had lived his entire life always just out of reach of material wealth, even after he had come to America from Greece. When the time had come for him to tell her goodbye, he took her by the hand in his sparse but warmly decorated bedroom and smiled that warm fatherly smile. “Jenny," he said in a gruff voice, “is good for dreams, yes? Is magic, is hope, is … is not money.” He sighed, his hand starting to slip. “Peoples is peoples. Some work, some play.” He paused for a couple of moments. “Take frog. Has good dream. Bring together many peoples. Is loyalty. Is friendship. Is love. No regret dream, Jenny. Your papa … he … no … reg…”

    Struggling to keep back the tears as she flipped through some catalogs as she reclined on a small sofa in a modest apartment, her phone rang. Noting the area code on her cell display, she sniffed and wiped her eyes and flipped open the cell. “Jenny," she began, trying to hide the wavering in her voice.

    On the other end was a voice that reminded one of Kermit the Frog’s, but much deeper and more even in tone. “Hi, sweetie … look, are you still coming to Thanksgiving?"

    Jenny shrugged. “It’s … still on my calendar, Samson.” Awhile back, in the mid-nineties, a rather tall pig, suffering a mid-life crisis, had come to Jenny all the way from Hollywood. His partner had suggested trying Broadway, but the pig was more interested in flirting and avoiding employment. At some point, the subject of children came up. No one knew, of course, but Jenny had not been able to take care of her newborn son at that time, not with the death of her father still hanging over her head like an anvil ready to crush her. Rather than emotionally neglect him, she gave him up for adoption.

    A long pause. “You know, sweetie," the male voice noted softly, “you know you can always talk to us … well, me, anyway, right? Bobby is still a smidge self-absorbed at … the moment.”

    “How’s Foster?"

    Another long pause. “Uh-huh. If you wanted to change the subject, all you had to do was ask. He’s … no, stop it!" he barked to someone else in the room. “Sorry ‘bout that, hon … you know those costumes you mailed us will get a lot of … uh … exercise this Halloween.”

    “Foster?"

    “Right! Right! Foster … he, uh, he’s doing well in high school. We got that whole ‘algebra’ thing worked out, so he doesn’t have that problem anymore. For God’s sake, I’m on the phone … with Jenny … from Manhattan …” His voice began to strain with irritation. “Broadway producer? Costume … yes, those costumes …” Jenny heard a loud thump. “Sorry, sweetie, I’ll let you go, okay? Everyone’s just fine here … come out to California when you can, okay? Bye.” Click.

    Jenny sighed. Another ring made her roll her eyes, though this time the area code was local.

    “Jenny? Hi, this is Kermit the Frog," announced the speaker on the other end of the line.

    Jenny smiled. She and Kermit had maintained a friendship well after Manhattan Melodies, their first big hit on Broadway back in the eighties. “Hey, Kermit! How are ya?"

    “Oh, I’m fine, I guess. Your shows goin’ okay?"

    It was like magic. Whenever Kermit talked to her, her worries just lifted up and floated away. “Yeah, me and Ms. Williams are fleshing out a really big one that should go up in 2011. Is Ms. Bitterman still causing problems?"

    “Uh…” he stalled, clearing his throat.

    “Kermit, I deal with her on nearly a daily basis. If you want, I can still put the squeeze on her…”

    “Jenny, I told you I’ll take care of it," Kermit replied sharply. “I’m not going to let you treat me like I’m two hops away from a soup kitchen.”

    Jenny paused, gulping. “I … I didn’t mean to offend you, Kermit," she answered in a more submissive tone. “I just want to help.”

    Kermit sighed. “I know, Jenny, I know. It’s just … it’s our dream, y’know? Sink or swim.” He paused. “I’m a frog, Jenny … swimming has always been a natural talent of mine, if I do say so myself," he continued, trying to sound more cheerful.

    Jenny smiled. “Never forget, Kermit, that the rest of the world is part of that dream, too. You helped bring us together. We’re all one big family now.”

    Kermit chuckled. “I don’t think I’ll convince the IRS that I’m Head of Household with six billion dependents…”

    Jenny laughed, leaning back against the sofa. “Yeah … can you imagine the deductions they’d have to dish out?"

    Kermit joined the laughter. “Haha, yeah …” He laughed a little while longer. Kermit never liked feeling like someone’s Inspiration … but he was happy to cheer her up, since this time of year was particularly hard on her. “Listen, I know you’re going to California for Thanksgiving and that you’re really busy with Broadway and everything … but is there still a chance I can persuade you and Ms. Williams to show up at our annual Christmas party? It would really mean a lot for you to come this year.”

    “Who’s the guest celebrity?"

    “Bowie, actually," Kermit replied readily. He was rather proud of himself. They hadn’t had a star like that in a few years.

    Jenny groaned teasingly. “Oh, Kermit, I don’t know if Sarah’s going to agree to come. For some strange reason, he creeps her out.”

    Kermit paused in shock. “We have monsters and stuff walking around and she’s afraid of a rock star?"

    Jenny shrugged, smiling. “Beats me, why, Kermit.” Her voice slipped into greater seriousness. “But Sarah’s got some private issues with her family right now. For whatever reason, maybe bringing her into a chaotic party isn’t the right decision.”

    Kermit responded, “Maybe … but Sweetums is really good about winning over inhibited minds. He’ll probably have her dancing in a mosh pit by night’s end.”

    Jenny gasped, her eyes nearly bursting out of her head. “You have a mosh pit now?" Wow … where had she been? She had never thought that little theater could hold something like that. That kind of thing would probably keep the fire department busy, she laughed to herself.

    Kermit chuckled. “Well, by the time the party gets done with the theater, I’m sure we’ll end up with one.” He paused. “Look, I have to go … Homeland Security wants to talk to Crazy Harry again. Please say you’ll come.”

    “I’ll do my best, Kermit.”

    <><><><><><>

    The leaves had turned red and gold in the Gorg’s garden, while stiff cold breezes became more frequent. Deep inside the castle lay Pa Gorg, a dusty blue Gorg with a balding head, a beard and squinty eyes. Despite his wife’s protests, he could not bring himself to get out of bed. He barely turned over when there was a knock on the door.

    “Daddy?" It was Junior. Pa groaned. Junior bounded in like a human child might to announce Christmas morning and shook his resting father. “Daddy, get up, alweady! Ma wants you to pwepa-yuh for my Five-hundred party!"

    “I’m not going!" Pa shouted, stubbornly clenching onto the blankets. “Now leave me alone, Junior … go sing songs with some Fraggles or something and leave your old man to die peacefully, okay?"

    There was a long pause. “Daddy," Junior chastised him, “you’re not dying. You’re bittuh, dat’s what you are.”

    Pa sat up and shoved Junior away from the bed. “You’re darn tootin’ right I’m bitter!" he shouted angrily. “I used to have a purpose! I used to have goals!" He started to sob. “I used to have a shiny crown and sacred Gorg tradition behind me!"

    Junior cocked an eyebrow. “Pa … now we can make our own twaditions. We nevah wuled anything but our own gahden … now we have fwiends.”

    Pa grunted. “You have friends, Junior. A King was supposed to rule his subjects … and I know we didn’t have real subjects … but that’s not the point! Having that crown meant I could do whatever I wanted to do without anyone naggin’ me all the time!"

    Junior crossed his arms. His voice still betrayed smug disbelief. “You do dat now, Pa … and Ma …” he continued, hushing his voice so his mother wouldn’t hear “… still nags.”

    “I heard that!" Ma yelled from the kitchen. Both Pa and Junior shuddered instinctively.

    Pa stared at the covers. He couldn’t understand why everyone thought he was wrong. Why would Junior take the care-free advice of Fraggles over centuries of sacred Gorg tradition? Sure, that was around a quarter-century ago, but Pa had never felt completely satisfied with Junior’s decision. After all, that “shadow” had helped Junior learn to play the Royal Kazoo … something only a great Gorg King could do. What was the point of the “shadow” singing the praises of a great Gorg King when Junior was just going to sabotage the whole affair? And for what? So he could be friends with Fraggles? He could have done that with the royal crown upon his head! He looked up at Junior. “You go do whatever your mother tells you, Junior … I’ll be up shortly," he said, defeated.

    “You pwomise?"

    “Yes, I promise," Pa answered in an irritated tone. When Junior left Pa’s bedroom, Pa leaned back against the headboard and sighed. There was only one Fraggle in all of Fraggle-dom Pa ever felt any kind of connection with … that little light blue one with the red hair and the brown cap. This particular Fraggle tended to think about impending doom, even when his Fraggle cohorts believed whole-heartedly in peace and love and all that care-free nonsense. Nine years ago, after a particularly horrible storm that nearly blew all the neighboring swamp waters into the Gorg’s garden, that Fraggle had professed a belief that something terrible was still going to happen. Pa believed it. The last time the water supply was in danger, it was the fault of those creatures from Outer Space, as the Fraggles called it. Pa seemed to see what none of his family had seen … that a terrible magic caused the storm.

    He got up, grunting as he stood, and stretched. He shuffled over to a dresser Junior had made for his parents, and began to sift through the drawers, looking for a small black orb … a royal jewel entrusted to a Gorg King by Sir Hubris himself…
  4. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    ... Plugging myself into this one as it'll have all your stories in one neat place. Wonderful as always, please post more when you can.
  5. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 4
    (Spring, 2010AD)

    All across the lands the goblins ran amok. The short ones tunneled under people’s houses, the large ones stomped flat much needed crops, the nice ones short-sheeted bed linens and put buckets full of tar on top of doors, the mean ones randomly fired upon the poor unsuspecting peasantry, the dumb ones messed up blueprints, and the REALLY dumb ones just sat in the middle of roads whether or not they ran the risk of getting run over by carts. All was chaos.

    At the bottom of a lonely hill, near the cottage of the former King of the Universe, Sir Hubris, an aged gray being lay dying. He had tried to hide the internal schisms of his mind, but he found himself failing. Rather than let the universe once more know the greed and selfishness of a Skeksis, which had been an avian/reptilian-like creature with a gnarled beak and craggly teeth and dark skin, the dying UrSkek decided it was time to give life by using his. Upon his last breath, the body disappeared into thin air. Moments later, some yards away, a young man with a large nose and a thin black mustache rose in the field, squinting in the early daylight. He saw the grasses, he saw the flowers, he … he saw the hole to his right. He cautiously crawled over to the entrance and peered inside. A shadow alerted him. He looked up to find a bright red bird flapping haphazardly towards him.

    “Look out below!" it cried in a trilling high-pitched voice. It landed square upon the young man’s head, instinctively wrapping abdominal flaps of skin around the young man’s face. Its bill was sharp and the back of its head sported a wild plume of almost purple feathers. “Well, well then! What a great landing spot!"

    The young man stood up, albeit in a wobbly fashion. The bird cried out in protest, as its skin had not completed its attachment. “Am I to be of two minds forever?" the young man pondered curiously.

    The bird tilted its head in confusion. “Don’t be rude!" it retorted angrily. “Two heads are better than one!"

    “Hm," the young man replied solemnly.

    The bird flapped its small wings. “Humph! Is that all you say? Put a little emotion into it! Like this," he said, imitating the young man’s reply but raising and lowering its pitch melodiously. “There! Isn’t that better?"

    The young man sighed. He recalled something like a fractured memory, distant and impersonal … of doing that very thing in the past. However, this was truly the first day he could really remember. Perhaps they weren’t memories at all…

    Suddenly, those same notes were echoed deep within the hole. The sounds seemed to come from a kazoo-like instrument. After a few moments, a dusty red creature with googly eyes and half-closed eyelids and a sleek tail with a poofy orange end crawled out and smiled. “You sing, too?" it said in a tinny, hopeful voice. “I wish I could. I cannot go home until I find my own song.” It stroked its “kazoo” wistfully.

    Before the young man could say anything, a cloaked figure ran towards them from the cottage, waving its arms frantically. “Run!" it yelled. When it caught up to them, it pointed in a circle. “Goblins are invading the area," a suave male voice noted. He nodded towards the young furry creature. “Take your pet and hide it – these goblin creatures will eat anything!" A subtle note of compassion was embedded in his urgent voice.

    “I’m not a pet!" the creature protested. “My name is…”

    “… Minstrel," the young man interjected forcefully. He glanced down at the small being, smiling warmly, without a hint of the newcomer’s panic. “Only the silent can sing.” He knelt down, reached inside a back pocket, and dug out a small twin flute, with one green tube wrapping around another. He handed it to the creature. “With one note or with none, the goblins stop when the song is done.”

    Shouts and cries rose around them as throngs of goblins appeared, heading straight for the cottage. The cloaked figure removed his hood, revealing a narrow face, feathered blonde hair that fell to his shoulders, and eyelids emphasized with strong black lines that stretched an inch from the eyes’ edges. He stared at the young man and the tiny creature. “My name is Jareth, former King of the Universe. You MUST reach shelter!"

    The young man smiled. The creature stared lovingly at his new flute and looked up at the robed figure. The creature, nicknamed Minstrel just a moment ago, widened his eyes and spoke, nodding, “We HAVE reached shelter.” He brought the twin flute up to his lips and began to play an upbeat tune of short notes, which would later be used to soothe crying infants. After several bars, Minstrel lowered the flute and began to sing as the goblins started to reach them:

    Now the goblins have arrived!
    They thrived? They haven’t found a home…
    Goblins roam? They need a leader …
    Feed her? Treat her!
    Listen! The Song has not been tried!

    As Minstrel sang, the flute magically continued the tune, making the goblins screech to a halt. They had never heard such a melody before, especially when they were on a rampage. Most beings just fled in terror. It was so peculiar to them that they burst out laughing. As they did so, Minstrel and the young man sang more melodiously as the flute continued to play itself:

    We see them coming, fighting hard and having fun,
    What can we do-oo-oo?
    They’re happy with their lot,
    But why are they so blue-ue?
    This is for you!

    Jareth, taken aback, felt a wave of intense magic fill him, far stronger than what he had felt at the lake’s edge with Mizumi. In fact, he hadn’t felt this way since being King of the Universe, when he could shape reality to his whim. To think that a mere song could rejuvenate him in such a way was … well … unthinkable. He turned towards his cottage and raised his arms, feeling a swelling power rise up from the ground as though a volcano or a geyser was erupting. He tilted his head back, his spine arched with the ecstasy of it all, and watched as stone followed the musical magic from the ground and started forming structures. As they assembled themselves, Jareth could feel that the rocks in this area were particularly responsive to certain musical tones. He managed to open his eyes and saw faint glittering on the rocks and dirt beneath him. He had never noticed it before. He couldn’t really form a coherent thought, either … all he could do was respond viscerally to the power flowing through him.

    What kind of city do you need?
    Tiny towns
    Might give you all frowns,
    Make it kinda big,
    Then you can sing,

    Dance magic, dance (dance magic, dance)
    Dance magic, dance (dance magic, dance)
    Goblin magic you can see…
    Jump magic, jump (jump magic, jump)
    Jump magic, jump (jump magic, jump)
    Put that kingly spell on thee…
    Lay down your arms, now you’re free!

    At the end of the song, a large castle rose majestically above a small hamlet that circled the royal structure of beige stone. The goblins cheered, for they finally had a place of their own. All their lives, the goblins had wandered the Underground, their brand of business and pleasure quite unpopular with other types of beings. They had never known anyone to be nice to them. Though they found it terribly amusing, the constant fear beings showed when goblins appeared DID bother them … a little. Jareth stood in shock, staring at the newly created Goblin City. The young man approached silently and placed one hand upon Jareth’s shoulder. “The path away from destiny leads back to it," he noted. He glanced down proudly at the small creature. “And you," he continued softly, “heard their song. All beings have their own song. Pass on your knowledge. Teach future generations to listen to the songs of the universe, and listen for the different verses coming together.” [--The Legends of Sir Hubris.]

    <><><><><><>

    Sarah, moping, sat in front her computer, staring into the webcam. Her twenty-six-year-old brother , who had curly blonde-brown hair, frowned in a small window on the computer desktop. “Sarah," he said grumpily, “how old are you, again?"

    “Beg your pardon?"

    Her brother sighed, rolling his eyes. “Sarah, stop whining. So you don’t have kids. Your plays are your kids, right? You’ve got a year left til your Labyrinth fetish goes up.”

    Sarah looked away. “This isn’t about that. And stop calling it my ‘Labyrinth fetish’, Toby …”

    Toby groaned. “Then what is it, Sis?" He pointed at his sister, though she still avoided eye contact. “You’re a worse puppeteer than Jareth could ever hope to be!"

    Sarah slapped the desk hard, her voice venomous: “How dare you?" she screamed.

    Toby shrugged. “You’re such a freakin’ tease, Sarah! You’re not happy unless you’re pining away for anything that isn’t yours! You didn’t like your life – so you went to college. You didn’t like Mom or Dad – so you moved away. You felt powerless – so you summoned Jareth. Then, when you finally have him crawling on his knees – you just tell him he sucks and stomp back home. Make up your stupid mind, Sis.”

    <><><><><><>

    Red Fraggle ran through tunnels, screaming out for Mokey, her best friend and roommate. Various creatures got all bug-eyed and scattered as she tore through each tunnel like a shrieking ball of fire. Mokey, taller than Red by half a foot, sporting bluish-white hair that cascaded down to her shoulders like a rushing waterfall, purple skin and fur, and a dark blue sweater, had taken off several days ago. At first, everyone thought she had been getting radishes from the Gorg’s garden … but Junior … and Madame Trash Heap … hadn’t seen her at all. The Fraggles had decided to split up to look for her, and Red headed toward the Cave of Forgetfulness, hoping Mokey hadn’t become trapped there. It was populated by carnivorous plants that first sprayed fine pollen into the air, making Fraggles forget who they were. Once they forgot how to stand up, the plants would eat them.

    If Mokey forgot Red, Red didn’t know if she could handle it. Red was always flying off the handle and Mokey had this wonderful calming affect on her. Mokey wasn’t like Boober … Boober hardly ever agreed to play games. Mokey, though, would drop her paints and poems and pick up a rock hockey stick … even if she wasn’t good at it. The important thing was that she was willing to try.

    Just as she rounded a corner, she ran smack into Cantus, a Minstrel, who was regarded as wise (but altogether strange and rather obtuse), for his magic twin pipe could breathe life and unity into the Rock. Everywhere he sang, the tunnels would light up in different colors and flowers would bloom and a fresh breeze would take the staleness away. Cantus was orange-yellow, with tufts of red hair on either side of his head and a small red goatee. He braced himself against a cave wall to keep from falling.

    Red pushed away and stopped to look at whom she had run into. “Cantus!" she exclaimed. “Have you seen Mokey?" Her voice sounded like she was hyped up on Whoopie Water, a babble of over-bubbling broth that could keep a Fraggle awake for days.

    Cantus righted himself and patted Red on her shoulder. He kinda sounded like a very mellow Rowlf the Dog: gruff but kind and gentle. “Mokey is searching. You are searching. Perhaps you both look for the same thing.”

    Red sighed, exasperated. Didn’t he know this wasn’t the time for riddles? “I’m look-ing for MO-KEY!" she told him, as if he were deaf.

    Cantus nodded. “And so is she. I’ve noticed it the last few times I’ve come to the Great Hall: a strong verse has taken hold of Mokey. It threatens to overtake her own voice.” He lowered his head. “Of course, it might also make her sing louder. Who knows?"

    Music could affect Fraggles in a multitude of ways. You could tell the quality of a Fraggle’s heart and mind by their song, their inner “ping” that summarized their entire personality. Cantus had seen the beginnings of a great Minstrel in Mokey … but she still seemed too attached to her life in the Rock.

    However, as the years had passed, even Cantus could learn a thing or two, he mused to himself. Perhaps Mokey could be the Minstrel That Stayed. After all, Cantus lived to unite the Rock with music. Once united, perhaps it was appropriate to let the next Minstrel play the song as he … or she … saw fit. On the one hand, no one would presumably keep the Rock united. On the other, he had no right to demand how the song continued.

    It was just important that it did.

    Red wanted to shake him, force him to tell her where she went. Then, a thought popped into her mind. “It started nine years ago, Cantus," she mournfully informed him. “She dreamt Lanford, that Deathwort plant of hers, sacrificed his life to save his friends deep in the starry sky.” She stared far into the tunnel, shaking her head. “She hasn’t been right since.”

    Cantus stroked his chin. “Hm," he said, “perhaps we’ve discovered the singer … now we just have to listen to the song.”
  6. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 5
    (A Silly Little Break)

    Wembley Fraggle stood on the office chair, staring at the computer monitor, biting his lower lip. He had helped Gobo explore all of Fraggle Rock, and he had been bored for quite awhile. So, he had taken to making trips into Outer Space and learning about computers, since nearly all of the Silly Creatures (Humans) they met were now almost attached to them. Here, on the Net, Wembley’s indecision wasn’t a problem … he could literally be anything he wanted. If he couldn’t decide how to respond, he just came up with as many answers as he could. The strange thing was that, on a computer, being inconsistent didn’t really strike anyone as odd, unlike in real life.

    A pop-up appeared on screen.

    123RockIsMe: OMG! Your fic is DA COOLEST!1! I just WUV how you put all that together!1!

    Wembley flashed a grin and chuckled. That’s what he liked best about the “Internet” … he could talk to Silly Creatures and other types of beings from all over the universe, though the dialect they used was sometimes difficult to master. He began to type.

    BANANAFAN: Gee, thanks! I’m kinda close to the source. You know what they say … “Write what you know”…

    123RockIsMe: The thing is, tho, that EMO doesn’t really belong in Fraggle Rock. Can’t you lighten up?

    Wembley leaned back and tilted his head in confusion.

    BANANAFAN: EMO? Is that like “sad”?

    123RockIsMe: Don’t be such a noob, man! Yeah, it’s like that, ‘cept more hardcore. I mean, how many times is Fraggle Rock gonna risk complete obliteration in fanfics? God – get a grip!

    BANANAFAN: Well…

    Wembley was at a loss. A good story, he knew from listening to Gobo’s Uncle Matt and the Storyteller, should have a mix of emotions and have twists and turns to make the audience guessing.

    BANANAFAN: I guess there could be more jokes and songs and stuff….

    123RockIsMe: Exactly. It’s a kid’s show, man … not Medea

    BANANAFAN: But there ARE sad parts… and what’s “Medea”?

    123RockIsMe: Google. It’s your friend.

    BANANAFAN: Is he a Fraggle, too?

    A little yellow round face that rolled its eyes popped up and the user signed out. Wembley shrugged. He took that to mean the conversation was over. He liked “chatting”, but there was still a charm to having face-to-face communication.

    Wembley held his face with his hands, his elbows digging into the computer desk he was “borrowing”. The blank screen stared at him in stark white … challenging him to complete a new chapter of his tale.

    He’d have to hurry. The Silly Creature that used this room would come back soon from “lunch break”. He didn’t want to disappoint his fans … how could he not come up with a single idea for a new chapter?

    Maybe the story was getting too dark. Maybe Wembley had been hanging around Boober too long. On the other hand, the more he thought about it, Fraggles were always getting into life-threatening situations: be they cave-ins, predatory plants, environmental pollution, war … Why couldn’t his story do the same thing? It was realistic, after all. It wasn’t normal to be happy all the time. On the other hand, happy stories make beings feel better … maybe forget their own problems. Surely there were enough problems in the universe without making up new ones. Though, sometimes stories help beings learn how to solve problems. So, even a dark story could be educational…

    Wembley sat down, his eyes rolling around. He was starting to feel the swirlies again. He groaned in exasperation.

    No wonder the Storyteller always felt so frustrated. Making audiences happy was hard
  7. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 6
    (Fall, 2010AD)

    In a distant kingdom, the Kingdom of Moraine, a tall castle with multiple spires rested precariously on an inverted triangle of rock, which floated above a massive lake. Water flowed in silver ribbons from the lowest floors of the castle into the lake below. The gentle moonlight emphasized the pale ivory façade, but it brought no beauty to the land’s graceful Queen, Mizumi . She stared at the lake below from atop the highest spire, her long silver hair wafting in the cool night breeze, matching the rhythm of the waves below.

    She had forbidden anyone from seeing her, even her two daughters, the scarred yet graceful Moulin and the morbidly obese Drumlin. She clenched her gown until her knuckles blanched. How could she lose to that overbearing, pig-headed, weakened hide of an undead turtle? She had nearly succeeded in flooding Jareth’s Goblin Kingdom and that frustrating Labyrinth, to the extent that waters nearly claimed surrounding territories. She had nearly succeeded in drowning the human child as well. The Pathmaker should have been hers to control! Had she not accessed it?

    Why wouldn’t he love her as he did those many centuries ago? Had she not more power than that human amateur? Could they not have run the entire universe by themselves? How could he continue to choose her – that despicable (though admittedly strong-willed) woman? Sarah chaffed at every suggestion of living the rest of her life with Jareth, no matter how many times he wooed her. Mizumi’s teeth began to ache, she was clenching them so tightly. What was he, some sort of masochist? Why couldn’t he accept his rejection like an adult? If she wanted to remain a peasant for the entirety of her amazingly short lifespan – who was he to deny her? He would have helped her become anything her little heart desired … and she chose to return to the world of humans.

    She inhaled deeply and shrieked at the lapping waves below, “WHAT DOES THAT TINY WENCH HAVE THAT I DON’T?”

    She summoned a fine mist from her hand, forming a bony head with scars on the scalp and its lips stitched shut, though the one this image represented could still speak somehow. “Esker,” she said resignedly, “dispatch spies to every kingdom, to the human world if necessary. Apparently we left a stone unturned somewhere. I want to know how Jareth won, once and for all.”

    “Milady,” he noted in a bored, almost dismissive tone, “there has been no communication from the Goblin Kingdom in years, though his human wench is absorbed in the telling of how Jareth became Goblin King.” He hoped she would not detect his feelings on the matter. He despised his queen’s obsession with taking Jareth down. He had gone to eliminate him once … and his current status resulted from that encounter. Her two daughters, of course, teased him relentlessly about his failure. Before Jareth, he could have had those two boiled alive and Mizumi would only have mildly chastised him … for he was the most powerful in the kingdom beside the queen. After all, he had managed to survive an encounter with “the most powerful sorcerer” in the Underground, had he not? Why should Mizumi continue to focus solely on some coward who hides amongst the goblin hordes?

    Mizumi frowned even more than she had before. “Follow her. Do not fail me,” she replied icily.

    Esker shook his head. She had picked up on his displeasure. “Milady, we have been following her. Jareth is not contacting her through mortal or immortal means,” he protested.

    Massive whirlpools began to churn and thrash against the castle as lightning shattered the night sky. Mizumi roared, “THEN DO NOT LOOK TO JARETH!” She gulped, trying to regain her composure. The lake began to calm once more. She inhaled deeply. “The waters of the river are too high … there is a tributary somewhere for which we have, as yet, not accounted. I want it found.”

    Esker sighed, nodding. “Yes, milady.”

    <><><><><><>

    Sarah opened the door to the small office where the show’s director was chatting with Jenny. As fall progressed, the theater chosen for their play had become a hive of activity, swarming with props and set designs. Normally, a play would open up a lot sooner, but Jenny and Sarah had wanted the opening performance to be perfect … and it didn’t hurt that they had the pull to do things as they pleased. Sarah knocked on the open door when she realized they hadn’t noticed her. She was practically jumping up and down, her heart racing, her breathing almost labored. She could not hide the excitement in her voice. “Come quick, Jen! You got to come see this! I found something absolutely phenomenal!” she squeaked.

    Sarah and Jenny rushed down to the theater basement, which at the moment was housing sets and props as they were being built. In the middle of the floor was what appeared to be a dull metal crown about two feet high, made of ribbons of metal arcing up and back toward a dome helmet thing. Sarah noticed Jenny gawking at the find. “You didn’t order this?” Jenny vacantly shook her head, her mouth gaping.

    Just then they heard a cough behind them and a quick gasp. They turned to find an old man, slightly hunched over, carrying a broom. He was Caucasian with strong jowl lines and white hair with thick sideburns. A stagehand, by the looks of him, Sarah thought. She noticed he had a small flower pinned to a jacket pocket. His eyes were wide, staring at the two women. “I … I didn’t mean to interrupt,” he said, his voice almost gruff with age.

    “Do you work here?” Sarah asked.

    “I’m part of the staff. Here,” he replied, handing her his badge. Rick Hollandaise. “I hope you don’t … uh … mind the crown. I thought,” he paused, trying to hide a look of frustration but hoping they’d pass it off as senility, “that the thing might be used in the … play,” he grunted.

    Jenny clasped her hands together. Her face practically lit the whole room. “It’s wonderful! Where did you get it?”

    Rick shrugged, clearing his voice. “I … uh … managed to pick it up along the way.” He kept his head lowered, struggling to keep eye contact so he didn’t look completely guilty. “You know those old men who like to pick up trash along the streets for hobbies and such? I’m that kinda guy,” he continued, nodding, more confident in his answers now. “I’m all about being productive in my old age.” He pointed at the beat-up crown. “You want me to polish that thing up for ya?”

    “No, it’s perfect the way it is,” Sarah blurted out. “It could symbolize a dead kingship … the life is gone from it … it represents the futility of cosmic rule.”

    Jenny and Rick stared at Sarah for several moments. Jenny hadn’t seen Sarah this animated in months. Rick sniffed and wiped his nose. “Whatever you say, Boss,” he noted. “As long as I get it back when the show’s over.”

    Jenny turned towards Rick, who had been trying to inch away. She smiled warmly. “Not a problem, Rick. We can’t thank you enough.”

    Rick smiled politely and turned. “You don’t have any divas here in this production, do ya?” He paused. Finally, he grumbled largely to himself, “I hate divas.”

    Jenny glanced at Sarah and smiled. “We don’t particularly care for divas either, Rick. They’re not good team players.”

    Rick chuckled as he walked out. “That’s the truth…”

    <><><><><><>

    Pa Gorg rested in the natural-wood gazebo Junior had built on the opposite side of the property from the castle. He pulled his ratty purple cloak tighter, as the cold weather was beginning in the land. Red and yellow leaves once more littered the area. It had taken him months to find it … but there it was in his dusty blue hand … a small black orb … a sacred Gorg royal jewel handed down from the first Gorg King, Gorgous the Great, who had in turn received it from Sir Hubris himself. He was absolutely convinced that the royal jewel might be more than an ornament … maybe it could fix the whole mess with Junior and him not wanting to be King of the Universe.

    Now, all he had to do was figure out how to activate it. There was nothing in the Great Book of the Gorgs, or in Junior’s Legends of Sir Hubris book, to tell a Gorg anything about its special powers. But Pa knew it had special powers. After all, a legend was a legend….

    Too bad he couldn’t find one for this particular situation, though …

    First, he had tried rubbing it vigorously like the magic lamps of old. All he managed to accomplish was tangling the fur on his hand.

    Second, he had tried sucking on it like a piece of hard candy. All he managed to accomplish was chipping a tooth.

    Third, he had “requested” some Fraggles go find him some other large round objects. They brought him six and he put them all together in a small heap in the middle of the kitchen floor, hoping maybe some magical creature would come flying out and he could have some wishes granted or something. All he managed to accomplish was causing Ma to step on the heap and fall flat on her rump. He thanked the heavens she had enough padding back there to break her fall – and he ended up sleeping in the tool shed for a week.

    Now, he was starting to run out of ideas. This was all Junior’s fault, he thought to himself.

    A son, a son!
    A dummy for a son!
    The boy could live a million years,
    And leave no job undone!

    Land’s sakes! His traits
    Begin to aggravate!
    That witless, wonder, dunder, blunder,
    Dummy of a son!

    Pa could take it no longer. “I wish,” he began testily, “I just wish …”

    Suddenly, Pa clammed up, his eyes widening (as much as they could). What if the Legend of Sir Hubris was correct after all? What if he were summoned to what was the Gorg Kingdom and he wanted his crown back? Pa gulped, sweat beading on his brow. Junior threw the sacred Gorg crown away to who knows where …

    Pa fumbled a bit as he put the jewel in a small pocket in his cloak. Maybe that wasn’t such a bright idea after all. The Legend stated that the Gorgs must wander the universe if Sir Hubris returned. Perhaps even that would be a better fate than what may happen if he found out the crown was … gulp … gone
  8. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 7
    (Spring, 2011AD)

    “Milady,” Esker said submissively as he stood before Queen Mizumi in her ornate bedroom. “Someone is attempting to contact the King of the Goblins.”

    Mizumi mindlessly swirled some water in a golden chalice with her index finger, not looking at him. “The wench or the brat?” she asked in a subduded monotone. She tried, as hard as she could, to see why Jareth was so obsessed over mere humans. It was like the rest of the universe didn’t exist. His fixation depressed her greatly. It also confused her: he claimed that he wanted love. Mizumi had offered her partnership and her power. Together, they could rule the entire universe. Sarah, meanwhile, rebuffed him every chance she got. And yet, he preferred her.

    Esker maintained a respectful distance, his arms crossed behind his back. He bowed slightly. “Neither, Your Majesty,” he replied, with a certain amount of satisfaction in his voice, though how he spoke through stitched-shut lips was still something of a mystery. “Spies indicate a member of the Gorg species, a race known since ancient times, before humans became ‘civilized’. Few still exist here and there, Milady … humans apparently…”

    “Do I look like I’m interested in paleontology?” Mizumi queried, glancing at her servant with a dagger-like gaze. She tossed the chalice aside, maintaining a fierce expression on her face. “The history of these creatures does not fascinate me, Esker. Get on with your point!”

    “The point, Milady, is that Gorgs live in symbiosis with Fraggles.”

    Mizumi felt like slapping his face off. Esker had this irritating quality of thinking he was more important than he was. While he had been incredibly loyal for centuries, lately he had started to “advise” or “teach” her … as if she needed an education! Perhaps she had erred in … tightening her leash on him. After all, a shorter leash enabled the dog to reach your leg with its teeth more quickly. She stormed toward him, coming within inches of a face that would send chills down any normal spine. “Fraggles are just care-free rodents,” she noted chillingly. She paused, a light coming on in her eyes as a disturbing thought flashed before her. Esker smirked. “Are you suggesting Fraggles are mediating Jareth’s wishes?”

    Esker maintained his smirk. He wanted to back away from his mistress, but to do so would make him her prey. He was unsure how to respond, as the queen did not like the type of report he was about to make. “Milady, we do not think so. Fraggles spend a lot of time in the water. Their cave system is filled with pools. Spying on them is relatively easy. They do have some contact with humans – but not the ones of use to us.”

    Mizumi broke eye contact first and sighed. She turned toward her bed, sat down, and dismissed her servant with her a wave of her hand. “Fraggles are only marginally more intelligent than goblins, Esker. Manipulating them is quite easily done. There are indeed pawns in Fraggle Rock. I want them identified … and eliminated.”

    “There is the matter of an Oracle within the Eastern Gorg Province, Your Majesty…”

    Mizumi smiled, leaning back. “I think the little toad has lived in exile long enough, Esker. Restore his position, grant anything he desires … it is high time McMooch earned a living again, don’t you agree?”

    <><><><><><>

    Opening night, April 2011. The lights had dimmed, the curtain raised … the show began with a moody instrumental piece. A spotlight cast a blue hue on a cloaked figure circling a beat-up two-foot-tall crown. The cloaked figure, known as male only by the deep nature of its voice, sang a dirge about losing his sense of self after giving up his crown. The melody grew stronger, the figure more animated in sharp, exaggerated gestures of distress.

    Sarah frowned as she looked on from backstage. She rubbed her eyes. Jenny was attending in the audience with Kermit the Frog, as was their habit when there was a new show. She wore her customary peach-colored sleeveless gown, while he wore a dark purple tuxedo, reminiscent of the one he wore in his Broadway show, though without the sparkles. She shrugged. Maybe it was a nostalgic thing. Sarah stared at the cloaked figure. Perhaps it was the lighting. Perhaps she was just tired. Maybe her retinas were starting to detach or something. Something was happening. Little specks of light were blinking on and off all throughout the area.

    “Sis,” a young male voice whispered from behind, “are you okay?”

    Sarah turned to find her younger half-brother Toby, who, in a fit of maturity, was wearing a suit. A deep red tie complemented his curly hair quite nicely. She nodded, rubbing her eyes.

    “Can you hear what they’re saying?”

    Sarah flashed her brother a puzzled look. She glanced at the audience. “Jenny and Kermit? Uh … no …”

    Toby sighed. “Not them, Sarah … those sparkles … or whatever they are.”

    Sarah’s face went whiter than notebook paper. Her jaw nearly dropped to the floor. She gawked at Toby. “You see them too?” she whispered (quite loudly).

    The noise level of backstage increased as large fiberglass hills were rolled out onto stage left. The cloaked figure limped to one of them as grasses appeared in spots around the stage floor, the lighting increasing and warming to suggest a sunrise. The song was now brightening, with the tones of hopefulness and peace at long last. The audience had already started to applaud.

    “I think they’re magic or something,” Toby replied casually. Having survived being King of the Labyrinth, having survived Mizumi … seeing spots was not nearly enough to register on his Creepout-o-meter.

    Sarah turned away. “I don’t care about magic, Toby,” she said sadly. She crossed her arms and inched away from him, trying to concentrate on the play. “I don’t care what Jareth wants.”

    Toby rolled his eyes. “Christ, Sarah, you have a one-track mind. I never said anything about Jareth or Mizumi or the Labyrinth. I only said they’re magic, obviously.” He closed his eyes and strained to listen. “Something about … ‘coming’ ….” He tapped on Sarah’s shoulder. “Can you hear the rest of it?”

    Sarah jerked her shoulder away. “I don’t hear sparkles, Toby. Not everything is magic, you know. Try to invest in reality, please.” She tried to bury herself in one of the curtains. How could he ever understand? When you got older, the magic just … disappeared. The sun no longer had a smiley face, the clouds no longer formed shapes, a flock of beautiful birds became a horrendous mess on the sidewalk that had to be cleaned up.

    Toby turned from his sister, shrugging. His tone was hurt. “Magic is everywhere, Sarah, if you see it that way. It’s even in you. Investing in adulthood does not mean ignoring the strange and unusual.” He paused. “You wouldn’t have seen those things or even written this play if there still wasn’t something there.”

    <><><><><><>

    Cantus, the Minstrel of Fraggle Rock, had finally located Mokey in an ancient cave known to be the home of Blundig, a legendary Fraggle who taught Fraggles how to dance their cares away long, long ago. He walked in on her as she sat cross-legged … nude, her robes lay crumpled on the floor of the cave. Her eyes were shut. He could hear her mumbling, chanting. Despite the quiet song, the lighting of the cave remained dim, which was strange, since music made the light come.

    Suddenly, Mokey stopped. Without turning, she noted in a voice much silkier and deeper (yet still soft and feminine), “Be still.”

    Cantus kept his distance. His fears had been confirmed … Mokey’s own Song was lost inside that of another. He waited a few moments and decided to ask, “To whom am I speaking?”

    Mokey did not reply right away. Soon, though, he heard her sobbing. “Al … always … together,” she replied, wiping away tears.

    “Yes,” Cantus acknowledged softly. “However, you put Mokey at risk. If she cannot express herself, she may not live much longer.”

    “Mokey” chuckled in a sad creepy way. “Death is but a transition … from one limited form to another.” She barely turned her head, though she did not make eye contact. “Does it scare you, musician?”

    Cantus swallowed, frowning, straining to hide the tenseness of his voice. “Life here is not about the individual. It is about the whole. Letting even one leaf brown may destroy whole trees.”

    “Mokey” smiled. She reached for her cloak and put it on and stood up. She looked at Cantus, her pale bluish-white hair falling gently to her shoulders. “I see: she is important to you, then? She has remarkable gifts … much like my own. This place, these caves,” she continued, nodding toward different tunnels, “they speak to me.”

    Cantus nodded. “Yes, the caves are alive. Only those who listen can hear it.” He continued, glancing all around him, “The caves are anxious … they sense danger.”

    “Mokey” nodded. “Then you also understand what must be done.” She picked up a small stone which glistened with tiny specks of light. “They must carry the light with them.”

    “An evacuation?” Cantus questioned solemnly. To his knowledge, nothing of the sort had ever been attempted before … not without putting the Rock at risk. However, he was starting to see the being’s strategy. If Fraggles left the Rock, there would be no more song. Without song, the Ditzies, tiny crystalline creatures that shined when resonated by music, would die, taking the life of the Rock with them. However, if the Ditzies could be brought along….

    “Mokey” shook her head. “It is not a separation. We will still be joined as one. It is …,” she trailed off, trying to come up with the right words, “flowing … with the melody presented before us.”

    Cantus cleared his throat. “May I speak to Mokey?” he asked gently, looking at the ground.

    “Mokey” stared at him with a certain warmth and sadness in her eyes. “As your flute plays only songs that exist, only the right tune will Mokey hear.”
  9. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 8
    (Another Strange Interlude)

    [Video footage of a blazing wildfire, the flames leaping high above blackening trees, plays on the television screen as dramatic music matches the licking of the flames. The camera pans down and toward the edge of the burning forest, zooming in on a small spot of ash. A lone seedling emerges via time-lapse, gently spreading its two leaves, as the music takes a far more upbeat and hopeful tone. The footage then cuts to the title screen.]

    TITLE: THE FASCINATING WORLD OF WORLD HISTORY

    [A balding Caucasian male with bits of gray in his brown hair appears, smiling, with a khaki shirt/shorts/vest combo in a museum lobby.]

    Man: (with British accent) Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to tonight’s special documentary, The Fascinating World of World History. I’m Sir David Tushingham. Perhaps you’ve been wondering: “Where have I seen that strapping British scientist before?” (chuckles) Well, never one to toot my own horn, as it were … but I do have my previous specials out on DVD. Buy them at your local video retailer. [“Buy Now” and “$19.95” flash on the screen.] (begins to walk toward the back of the lobby) Now, for the longest time, the ancient world has been a mystery, a positively enigmatic conundrum of profound proportions. History can be like a wildfire: bold, dazzling, (pauses) ready to consume the unwary at a moment’s notice. And yet, just as seedlings use that fire to stretch out into the warm glow of the sunlight of discovery, so, too, can the average person awaken into the knowledge that is best related to those of us who do nothing but play around in the dirt of ignorance all day long. (motions to the camera) So, since I pre-empted your silly little meaningless miniseries, I invite you to follow me as we trace the global timeline of our dear planet in this nine-hour documentary.

    [A young dark-skinned woman with a headset comes up behind Mr. Tushingham, tapping him on his right shoulder. He turns and she smiles.]

    Woman: You have about five minutes, sir. [leaves abruptly]

    Sir David Tushingham: (scoffs) Five minutes? Surely the writers could come up with a bit more to say than that! We’re talking millions of years of history! (catches himself, smiles to the camera) Well, I assure you this, indeed, will not sacrifice the kind of quality you’ve come to expect from me! Surely I can explain the finer points of the past tens of millennia in five minutes. After all, I’m an expert in the field! Some of your more profitable educational shows take nearly forty years to address something as simple as counting to twenty or singing the alphabet! (indignantly) And psychologists claim shows like that teach our young to have short attention spans! I tuned out my teachers in under ten minutes … imagine dwelling on a lesson for half a century!

    [Sir Tushingham ambles over to a small television set, picks up a remote, and presses scores of buttons, growing increasingly frustrated, until a picture of a molten ball of rock successfully appears on screen.]

    Sir David Tushingham: (proudly) Ah, here we are, then …. Billions of years ago, our planet was a molten ball of rock, churning in its own discomfort at being forced to speed up the creation process. (sighs, hits “fast-forward”) Let’s just skip to the good parts, shall we? You’ll notice, if you’re taping this at home, that the earth cools down, gets a few oceans, and has a large single land mass that we experts like to call “Pangaea.” On this super-continent, bugs and trees and gigantic lizards sprung up and proliferated. (hits “pause”) Now, you may wonder, if this happened over millennia, why is everything appearing so quickly? Does it not detract from the evolutionary premise, you ask? (shakes head, smiling as he sighs) Ah, to be a member of the simple public once more… Perhaps the use of the “fast-forward” button on my little remote control flew past you? (nods) Go on, then … rewind this tape you’re making and see for yourself …. (inhales deeply) Are you quite through, then? Do you mind if we continue? Thank you.

    [Sir David Tushingham continues narrating as the fast-forwarded images lead to a grayed earth, swirling with clouds, landmasses no longer viewable.]

    Tushingham VO: Around sixty-million years ago before the common era, which did not exist at that time, the planet was engulfed in massive clouds that kept out the sun. [video pauses] Who knows why it happened … perhaps there was a massive Rain Dance, and dinosaurs danced until their claws fell off, leading to worldwide ruin. Perhaps the moon originally had all those clouds, got tired of them, and gave them to its parent planet. At any rate, everyone died. (long pause, with melodramatic music) Or did they? Recent paleontological evidence, discovered by a graduate of the “Sir David Tushingham’s Famous Paleontolgists’ Home Study Course”, a Mr. Jerome Christian of sunny Arizona, [a picture of “Doc” Jerome Christian, a very elderly Caucasian male appears on screen amidst rocks and sand in a desert archaeological dig site] seems to support the notion that something giant and equally obtuse survived the catastrophic global catastrophe. As you might recall, Mr. Christian discovered a giant ship called La Gorgola [pictures of artifacts from this find appear on screen], as well as a giant metal crown sometime later. While it pales in comparison to my own discoveries … for an amateur it’s a remarkable discovery. Pity some of the artifacts went missing over the decades since their discovery.

    [The camera returns to Mr. Tushingham, who is trying to salvage tape from the VCR. He looks up and smiles, throwing the whole set up to the ground.]

    Tushingham: As you may recall, a new Broadway production has opened up, promising to give even more insight into the history of …

    Announcer: We thank you for your patience. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming…
  10. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 9
    (Spring, 2011AD)

    Deep in a mucky swamp early in the morning, with large winged insects buzzing by and dank smells wafting up from the muddy water, a three-foot-tall toad with a thin black wiry mustache and two tufts of hair under his broad chin ambled around in his “apartment”, which consisted of a shallow muddy cave hidden among the browned reeds of the swamp. He lived a few miles from the Gorg Province, which was not to his liking at all. Though he enjoyed the creepiness and the desolate nature of the swamp, he was still far too near Fraggle Rock, in his opinion.

    Why couldn’t Fraggles enjoy lying, cheating, and stealing … like he did? That was the real way the world worked, after all. Back in Moraine, before his untimely banishment, one-upping and self-indulgence were as natural as breathing. Even that fool Goblin King had been expert in linguistic manipulations. He nearly retched, thinking of the Fraggles again. It was like they lived in their own little world, apart from every other region in the universe. He certainly couldn’t wrap his spindly green fingers around their actions: they were just too bizarre, too cute, too friendly…

    He heard a faint tapping just outside his apartment. He looked high and low, finally spotting a tiny yellow worm with thick orange bands, bobbing its head, lying on a wrinkled sheet of paper. Wander McMooch smiled, which typically made anyone squirm. He recognized the little worm from a vacation he took once in a place called Grouchland. The rather tame green grouch that cared for him called him Slimey. “Well," he said, in a very greasy sleazeball voice, “haven’t seen you around my pad lately. Your master must keep you very busy.” He rubbed his hands together greedily. “I heard you went to the moon – that must have been breathtaking!" He zoomed over to the worm, gently pushed it off the piece of paper, and picked up what looked to be a badly-written letter. He stood up, his wide eyes going back and forth as he read the contents to himself. He couldn’t believe who had written him: why, the threats contained therein dwarfed anything the Queen of Moraine had come up with – even after he contaminated her water supply as a prank that fateful day. He forced himself to chuckle “casually”, balling up the wad of paper in his hand. He stooped over to pat the worm on the head. “Do come again, little one, okay? Tell your master, also, that those shawls he sent me were positively hideous and moth-eaten! He always comes up with the best presents. You’ll tell him, won’t you?" The little worm nodded eagerly and left, inching away through the muck until it disappeared.

    Just as the little worm left, a mist slowly advanced throughout the swamp. Wander shuddered, and not only because the mist cooled the air for the cold-blooded creature. An elegant woman with long silver hair, a fair complexion, and a thin light blue gown appeared within the mist. She smirked. “Why, Wander … I haven’t heard a reply from you. Esker informed me he offered to take you back home to Moraine in return for certain … actions … you could perform for us. I came to confirm his offer … and to remind you what happens when I am rebuffed, especially by slimy … little … toads … like you.” She put a finger up to her lower lip. “Now, you certainly aren’t ignoring me, are you, Wander McMooch? After my offer? That would be quite foolish of you.”

    Wander tried to laugh it off. “Royal Queen," he exclaimed, inflating his body and gaining about two feet of height, “how wonderful it is to see you again!" He bowed, his face almost touching the muck below. His voice continued to suggest submissive adoration (or at least sucking-up). He straightened back out. He disliked being caught off guard by taller visitors … although he could make himself bigger (handy when dealing with Gorgs, especially), he always felt more vulnerable doing so. For him, making himself bigger merely made him a bigger target for those who were not against violence. “I didn’t want to bother you until I had a couple of plans worked out, that’s all.”

    “How thoughtful of you," Mizumi replied with a certain fake politeness. “How do you plan on eliminating the Oracle from the Gorg Province?"

    Wander scratched his chin. “Well, I could convince the Gorgs to start a recycling program … after all, no trash, no Trash Heap.”

    Mizumi sighed. “I want her gone by tomorrow. Besides, how would you prevent Fraggles from contributing to her?"

    Wander jerked back, startled. “Tomorrow? Why so soon?"

    Mizumi frowned, glaring at the toad. “Your other plans?"

    Wander didn’t like this one bit at all. Mizumi could be a vindictive little witch, but this seemed too … rushed … for her. She was either going off half-boiled or she had been letting her vindictiveness steep for years. Either way, it was incredibly frightening, especially if she wanted the Trash Heap dead. Wander didn’t like Marjory either, particularly because although she was made up of thrown-away odds and ends, she was gentile and compassionate and willing to have fun with Fraggles … not to mention her obsession with bringing about the universe in some sort of disgusting perfect harmony. When he came to the swamp next to the Gorg Province, he had met the Trash Heap and she didn’t appreciate the finer points of swindling and bamboozling. They hadn’t gotten along since. “W-well," he stammered, “the easiest and fastest way would be to kill off her little rat companions, Philo and Gunge. They maintain her life force somehow. Get rid of them and she weakens quickly.” He shook his head, his legs trembling. How was he going to set this up without getting killed either way? “The problem is, Your Majesty, that the Trash Heap is irritatingly powerful. The Gorgs give her a large portion of a year-end dish called … uh, what was it, again? Ah, yes … Goombah soup. It is sloppy mess of leftovers with remarkable rejuvenating properties. Even if you wanted to drown the Gorg castle … she might be able to stop you. It also makes getting near those two rats somewhat … frustrating," he continued, keeping his head down.

    Mizumi smiled. “I will send Drumlin to assist you tomorrow morning, should you have failed to eliminate the Oracle by then.” Mizumi then disappeared as well as the mist.

    Wander could hear random swamp sounds such as croaking, gurgling, and the occasional birdsong. My, wasn’t he popular today? Threats from two different queens, both promising unimaginable suffering if he didn’t do as each commanded, even though their commands were in direct opposition to each other. He deflated himself and slumped down against the nearest wall, sighing. He would like nothing better than to get rid of Marjory once and for all. However, it had been decades since he’d been particularly nasty to Mizumi, too. While the letter’s author didn’t command him to harm Mizumi, Wander began to theorize that the omission was an implicit suggestion to do so. After all, the letter didn’t exactly forbid it, either, right? The letter said that if he let anything happen to Marjory … well, best not to dwell on what was promised. Furthermore, Mizumi had an unsettling appetite for amphibians. He knew he’d be in a stew if he weren’t careful.

    When his heart stopped racing, Wander leaned back and smiled. This may turn out to be his most infamous con yet….

    <><><><><><>

    The Great Hall of Fraggle Rock was filled to capacity. It was a large cave, with a central pool and multiple ledges and ridges that stretched up to the base of the Gorg well, some forty feet above. Every available spot in the three-dimensional space was taken by a Fraggle, from the loudly-colored hyper ones from what was known as the Rock to the blander-colored monotone ones from what was known as the Cave. A hushed mumbling pervaded the space. Every Fraggle held a small rough rock, which glittered as they spoke.

    At the edge of the Fraggle Pond stood Red, Cantus, Mokey, Gobo, Wembley, and Boober, the one who obsessed over doom. Cantus played a few bars of his theme on his magic pipe to silence the crowd. He put the pipe away and motioned to the crowds. “We are all here," he noted to Mokey.

    The light purple Fraggle with the shoulder-length, bluish-white hair nodded, her voice still silky and lacking Mokey’s usual dream-like quality. She raised her voice so all could hear (though it was barely necessary, as the acoustics permitted even the furthest Fraggles to hear her). “Fraggles … the time has come, not to say good-bye, but to join as one … in one movement.” She paused, inhaling deeply before continuing. “We have sent for allies among those called Silly Creatures. Humans … are a strange species, but I know there are those who have good hearts. Travelling Matt has used the cave filled with time-space portals to get help for us.”

    “Great, we’re all going to die," Red uttered under her breath. She didn’t have anything against Gobo’s Uncle Matt personally … she just thought he was an idiot. He was a Fraggle that could confuse a hat with a sock if you gave him the opportunity. It also irritated her that Gobo practically worshipped him. It was like Gobo couldn’t tell the difference between exploring and getting lost, because Matt sure couldn’t. He only survived his adventures because fate was kind to him, that’s all. Meanwhile, Red was inching her way closer to climbing to the top of the Great Hall every season … and Gobo acted like she was just standing on one leg.

    “Those portals lead to many areas," Mokey continued, ignoring Red’s comment. “You must all leave the Rock, carrying with you the tiny crystalline entities called Ditzies. In this way, the Rock, if darkened by the danger to come, can be re-lit.”

    “Why don’t we just camp out with the Gorgs?" Wembley asked Cantus. “Besides, the Trash Heap can protect us as well.”

    Cantus held his tongue and lowered his eyes.

    Gobo noticed. “What is it, eh?"

    Cantus shook his head. “Madame Heap," he replied solemnly, “will not live if she stays where she is.”

    Red gasped. You could hear a single hair drop on the cave floor. Red could bear it no longer – she lunged at Cantus, grabbing him by his cloak. “You mean we aren’t there protecting her?" she screamed, shaking Cantus furiously.

    “Red!" Mokey exclaimed, trying to pry her friend from the Minstrel. “We can’t protect her!"

    Red had a death-grip on Cantus. Her face was tightly curled downward. “There are at least a million of us! If we all work together … we can stop it!

    Cantus shook his head. Red stopped. The look of his eyes calmed her immediately. “Red, courageous Red … we cannot help her. But her family can.”

    Red eased her grip. “Her … family?" She glanced back at Mokey. “How can a Trash Heap have a family?"

    Cantus put his hand on her shoulder. “We haven’t the time.”

    Mokey nodded. “We need to evacuate the Rock in twenty-four hours.”

    Gobo adjusted his vest nervously. “So, what about the Doozers, eh? What about all the creatures of the Rock?" He bit his lower lip. “We’re not going to let them die, are we?" Throughout Gobo’s travels, he had learned to make friends with lots of different types of creatures. He did not want to believe that fate would make him meet those beings if they were only going to leave the Rock … forever.

    Mokey replied, “The Doozers and those who are able will stay in the Gorg’s basement.”

    “The Doozers don’t mind having their entire lives uprooted and destroyed?" Boober asked in his gloomy way. His voice reminded one of a trombone in quality.

    Cantus shrugged. “They relish the idea that all their buildings will be destroyed … since it means they can start from scratch.”

    “Figures," Boober replied. The only beings more in denial about the nature of reality than Fraggles were Doozers, Boober thought glumly to himself. No matter what you did to their structures, made from pressed radish dust, they always celebrated such destruction. All they could ever think about was building. He slightly shook his head, absorbed in his own morose musings: he was certain such unrelenting optimism was a terrifying mental disorder.

    Red let Cantus go, turned to Mokey, and quieted her tone. “Mokey," she pleaded, “you have to come with us. You’re … you’re my best friend.”

    Mokey ran her fingers through one of Red’s pigtails. Her smile was warm. “Red … you and Gobo are natural leaders. It makes sense for you two to be in charge of the evacuation. I must stay behind with Cantus and Convincing John. We are the only ones who can hear the solution to this problem.”

    Boober slowly worked his way to Mokey. It had been particularly hard on him, watching Mokey act strangely for so many years, ever since that awful nightmare. He had been attracted to her sense of morbidity for decades. She could write the most depressing poems in all of Fraggledom, something that he admired. On the other hand, ever since she dreamt of the death of her Deathwort plant, she hid in far away caves to chant to herself for several hours each day about strange things like “Seeks” and “Pau” and “Unity”. It terrified him, and not even his belubious, the fluffy part of his tail, could stop his heart from racing every time he thought about it. Of course, since he always focused on the negative … no one really noticed much. “Mokey," he started, his voice nearly a whisper, “if you … if you need us….”

    Mokey stroked his face. Her voice, for one brief instant, returned to normal. “I’ll call. Thank you, Boober.”

    <><><><><><>

    Jenny and Sarah were cleaning up the arena where they had had a party, a rousing affair in honor of stellar reviews of opening night that left the whole place looking as though it had been hit by a tornado. Large monsters from the Muppet Theater helped with the big equipment, the Electric Mayhem had already carried away their portable instruments and sound systems, the stagehand Rick Hollandaise busily polished the crown he had lent to the show, and Ms. Bitterman was passed out on a lonely sofa in the far corner of the place, having been given a special concoction by a mischievous King Prawn, who was still more than a little upset about being conned by a beautiful woman.

    Kermit called out for Jenny. She stopped sweeping, looked around, and spied the famous frog … with someone she felt she had seen before … somewhere. Kermit finally reached her, panting. “Jenny, Matt here needs our help," he told her, pointing to the elderly creature beside him, who matched Kermit’s height. The creature had beige skin and fur, a tail with a white fluff on the end, a long white mustache and thick white sideburns. He wore a khaki jacket and a hat one might expect famous explorers to have.

    Jenny snapped her fingers, a light appearing in her eyes and voice. “Ah, Travelling Matt – you attended the wedding in Manhattan Melodies, am I right?" Jenny and the gang had been trying to “fill the pews” for the big wedding number and during the rushed costume fittings and place arrangements, this elderly little fellow had just stumbled onto the stage, looked around at all the creatures sitting there awaiting the bride and groom, and casually sat down in the front row. By the time the audience witnessed the start of the wedding scene, it was too late to remove him. Besides, it offered a humorous look to have something so tiny sit with large brown bears.

    Matt nodded. He fidgeted. He sounded like a gruffer version of Boober, though his pitch varied more: “Yes, it was a very beautiful ceremony. However, I regret I have a favor to ask of you … if it’s okay.”

    “Oh?"

    “Matt here is a Fraggle from Fraggle Rock," Kermit interjected. “Fraggles are magical creatures who can show up anywhere magic is needed.”

    Sarah rolled her eyes, grunted, and turned from them, focusing on sweeping.

    “Uh," Kermit continued, doing a double take on Sarah, “anyway, they need a place to hang out until some … uh … issues are worked out in the Rock.” Jenny didn’t respond immediately. “I told him he could borrow my house on Sesame Street. But, there are so many….” Kermit hoped Jenny could help him find a place for all of them. He had heard about Fraggles back in the early eighties …

    Kermit and Grover, a self-labeled cute furry blue monster, strode into the post office one cold winter afternoon. They hadn’t received their mail that day, but Grover wouldn’t go unless Kermit joined him. As they joined the line waiting for their mail, they noticed a purple-faced cowboy with brown hair standing in front of them, humming to himself absent-mindedly. Kermit glanced at Grover and tapped the cowboy on the shoulder. “Uh, excuse me, could you move forward, please?" he whispered.

    The cowboy turned around and got a big grin on his face. “Well, HOWDY, uh … uh," he buried his head in his hands, his cheeks blushing with embarrassment.

    “Kermit," he replied, frowning. “Let’s just try to move the line forward, alright, Forgetful?"

    Forgetful Jones stared at Kermit blankly. “Why? The music ain’t even started yet.”

    “Music?" Grover asked in disbelief with his normally high-pitched gravelly voice.

    Jones sighed and rolled his head around in a circle melodramatically. “Well, of COURSE, there’s supposed to be music – this is ‘line dancin’’ after all, you know!" He shook his head. “And they call ME ‘forgetful’, sheesh.”

    Grover glanced over at Kermit, whose mouth was crunched up in that characteristic frown he always got when he was about to scream at someone. Grover quickly stepped forward and whispered in Jones’ ear.

    Forgetful laughed, slapping his knee. “Yee haw … I FORGOT," he informed Grover cheerfully yet sheepishly. He strongly patted Grover on the shoulder. “Well, just to let you know I don’t mean no harm or nothin’, I’ll go up to that lil’ lady up there at that there winder and get those envelopes you’re needin’, okay?" Before they could respond, he marched up to the window and was handed some mail, which he distributed to Kermit and Grover. “Here you nice young fellers go … Kermit … Gobo ….”

    “Gobo?" Grover asked, staring at a small postcard. “My name is not … ‘Gobo Fraggle’.” He looked at Kermit. “I do not even think this postcard goes to Sesame Street at all.”

    Forgetful Jones snatched it from him and stared at it carefully. “You mean, you ain’t got this ‘Uncle Matt’ feller writin’ to ya?"

    Grover sighed. “My … name … is … GROVER," he informed Jones slowly, starting to lose patience himself.

    “Look, Forgetful, just hand it back to the postlady," Kermit told him flatly. Kermit tried so hard to keep his temper with Forgetful. It wasn’t HIS fault his short-term memory was shot.

    Jones shrugged and smiled that ever-cheerful smile of his and handed it back to the postlady behind the counter. “Here ya go, Gobo," he told her. He stroked his mustache thoughtfully. “You know, that’s a right pretty strange name for a girl….”

    “We are quite intelligent and helpful creatures, Miss," Matt offered tensely and hopefully. “There’s about a million of us strong. We obviously all can’t fit in one Silly Creature’s cave … but our strategy is to split up … temporarily … until the danger passes.”

    “What danger?" a young male voice asked. Everyone turned to see a young man with curly brown-blonde hair. He stretched out his hand to Matt. “You’re Travelling Matt, right? You were at the ball….”

    Matt twitched his nose. “Uh, the goblin ball? Yes!" he replied, nodding enthusiastically, shaking Toby’s hand. “Yes! I remember now! You’re the young Silly Creature who became heir to the throne of the Goblin Kingdom, am I right?" He turned to Kermit, smiling. “Brave young lad.” He glanced back at Toby. “We’re unaware of the identity of the one who threatens the Rock, I’m afraid.”

    Toby bowed slightly. “Consider my place a sanctuary, then. I’d be honored to have such a prestigious guest.”

    Jenny smiled. Sarah’s brother was such an accommodating sort, much like her father had been. She nodded. “Yes, we’ll be happy to help any way we can. We should be able to fit quite a lot of you in our theater.”

    Kermit tapped Matt on the shoulder. “We might be able to come up with some space at our theater, too … though not to the same extent.”

    Matt sniffled, tears welling up in his eyes. “I … I never would have guessed you Silly Creatures and talking Space Frogs could be so generous! The Fraggles will welcome your hospitality with open arms!"
  11. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    ... Absolutely love how this is turning out, what with the expanded extra story. But one small quibble or question. Isn't Slimey an orange worm with yellow stripes, not the other way around? Other than that, it's great and I look forward to more being posted.
  12. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    *shrugs* I dunno, that's like asking if a zebra is white with black stripes or vice versa
  13. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah... Thought so. Just that going by how he was described to me, plus the little figure I have to find while restoring my overall figure display to prominence, he has an orange head and tail end with yellow stripes. Oh well... Post more when you can.
  14. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 10
    (Spring, 2011AD)

    Junior Gorg looked out somberly through the window in the belfry of the Gorg Castle, sighing, watching as Wander McMooch gathered greaseberry leaves … and berries … and roots … in the garden below. Suddenly, he heard someone climbing up the ladder. He turned to find Pa, panting at every rung, appearing through the trap door.

    Pa blinked twice before speaking, trying to control his voice. “Junior … do you know what’s happening in our garden?”

    Junior nodded. “Yes, Daddy … McMooch is down de-yah takin’ gweasebewwy plants,” he replied in a casual, matter-of-fact tone.

    Pa finally stood before him, scowling, his eyes all squinty. “Greaseberry plants? McMooch? Junior, if you sold our castle to that thieving little toad again….”

    Junior shook his head, backing up to the window, his hands waving wildly. “Nonono, Daddy! I didn’t sell the castle again! He said he needed ‘em for tomowwow.”

    Pa threw his head back in indignation, his arms thrashing around. “And why do we care what he wants? Why are we giving him my greaseberry plants? You know I hate not having greaseberries for breakfast,” he exclaimed, then continued under his breath, “and lunch and dinner.” Pa poked a finger at Junior. “If you were still King …”

    Junior sighed and turned his back on his father. “Pa, don’t start up with dat again.” He paused. “I don’t want to be King of da Universe.”

    Pa turned from his son, clenched his fist so tightly it hurt, bit his lip so hard it bled, and cursed silently to himself. He tried counting to twenty, though it didn’t help much. When he felt he could talk to his son without choking him, he turned and inhaled deeply. His voice was far more subdued. “Junior,” he began warily, “I … I know you think I’m some old fool, out of touch with how things ought to be. I was against you having Fraggles as friends. I was against you throwing the sacred Gorg crown away to who knows where.” He sighed, the pain in his voice becoming more evident. “Junior, tomorrow you celebrate five hundred years of living in this universe. Destiny has decreed you would become a great Gorg King … perhaps … even greater than King Gorgous himself. It is a king’s duty to help those in his kingdom. It’s in the air, Junior, my boy. A darkness is coming and we’re all in danger.”

    Junior still avoided eye contact, staring out the window. “I don’t have to be King of da Universe to help my friends, Pa.”

    Pa gently put his hand on his son’s shoulder, bowing his head slightly. “You don’t have to be a king to be friends … but if you were King … there would be certain rules, such as enemies not just taking over your land. The only way a kingdom can change hands is to win it in battle or offer it in trade.”

    Junior barely turned his head. “Pa, we don’t have a kingdom no more.”

    Pa nodded, his voice exasperated. “Exactly! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell ya, boy! If our home is no longer the great Gorg Kingdom, then anyone can just waltz on in and do whatever they want with it! You’ve got friends now … do you really want to put them at risk … all because you don’t want to grow up?”

    Junior sighed, turning slowly towards his father. “The Shadow said I could be anything I wanted! And … and … da Fwaggles said it’s bettah not to have a boss at all! I’m only twying to do da wight t’ing, Pa.”

    Pa closed his eyes. “If Fraggles told you putting garden shears up your nose was a good idea … would you actually do it?” He opened his eyes, his facial expression filled with sincere pleading. “Fraggles are Fraggles. Gorgs are Gorgs. I realize we’re all connected, Junior, but it doesn’t mean we all have to live the exact same way!”

    “He has a point,” noted a deeper gruff voice. “If everyone sang exactly the same, there would be no harmony.”

    Junior and Pa looked around and spotted a yellow-orange Fraggle, taller than the usual ones, with red tufts of hair and a mellow expression. Junior recognized the voice as the Shadow. He pointed at the Fraggle. “You! You told me I could be anyt’ing I wanted!”

    The Fraggle nodded gently. “I also told you you could become a great Gorg King.” He sighed. “The trouble with the universe is that there are so many options, wembling is inevitable. I thought you were different.”

    “I didn’t wemble!” Junior protested angrily. “I made a choice! I chose not to be King!”

    “So you went back on your previous decision … which makes you a wembler,” the sage Fraggle replied, making Pa chuckle in agreement.

    “What pwevious decision?” Junior retorted, offended.

    The Fraggle shook his head. “Junior Gorg!” he exclaimed with irritation. “You promised to play the Royal Kazoo. It can only be played by a great Gorg King. You played it! All you ever wanted was to prove to your father you could be a great Gorg King. Then, just as suddenly, when the safety of all our futures was almost assured … you went back on your word! What is right for the goose is not always right for the gander … you cannot succeed living a Fraggle’s life, just as we cannot succeed living the lives of Doozers or Gorgs.” Cantus pointed emphatically at Pa. “Your father is not as clueless as you think, Junior. He was blind to the nature of the Universe … but so were you, once. You can’t throw away an old song just because it’s no longer in fashion. There will always be a need to learn from all melodies, no matter how out of place they may seem at the time.” He sighed resignedly. He didn’t like getting on to others … but even his patience had limits.

    Junior Gorg bowed his head in shame. Pa’s eyes were widened, his mouth agape. He had never been … understood … to this extent before, certainly not by a mere Fraggle. It had become a cliché to think of Pa Gorg as an out-of-touch conservative who placed tradition above the needs of the present. Pa would never admit it, but his father had considered him a dunder-headed lummox with crazy ideas when he was a child. It was, after all, an unsung tradition … to hate the foolish ideas coming out of the mouths of your children. Pa may have had his faults, but so did the next generation … and so did the generations that came before. Pa’s eyes began to moisten. This was the first time in decades … maybe centuries … that Pa had felt so … so … validated….

    <><><><><><>

    Sarah sat on the porch swing just outside the back door to Toby’s house. His parents had sold it to him so they could travel to Europe, despite Irene’s (Sarah’s stepmother) protests. She thought Toby should make his own way, that selling the house to him was spoiling him. However, they couldn’t argue with the amount of money he paid for it, thanks to his software development career.

    The full moon cast a soft glow on the ornate back yard, filled with ornamental flowers and shrubs. She just couldn’t take being inside anymore, not with all the shouting and singing and dancing. Toby, naturally, was at the top of his game, providing for the Fraggles who had to escape Fraggle Rock for some reason. Toby had really come along, having learned the finer points of making people happy when he was Goblin King. While she was proud of him, Sarah could not share in his success.

    “Do you mind if I sit with you?” asked a low male voice. Sarah looked around, finally looking down to find a blue Fraggle with red hair, a brown cap, and a dark red scarf. His eyes weren’t readily visible.

    “Sure, I guess,” Sarah replied quietly. “Partied too hard, huh?” she asked, trying to make polite small talk.

    The Fraggle shook his head. “I’m not the party type.” He looked up at her. “Oh, I’m Boober, by the way.”

    “Sarah. Toby’s my half-brother.”

    Boober jerked back a little. He glanced back and forth. “Uh … he looks like he has all his limbs to me….”

    Sarah couldn’t help but smile. “No, no … it means we only share one parent, not both.”

    “Oh,” Boober replied, sighing with relief. “Do you mind if we just sit here? I’m not much of a conversationalist,” he requested, his shoulders drooping.

    “Sure … I like things to be nice and quiet, myself.”

    He nodded. “Yeah, me too.”

    For three hours the two gently swayed on the porch swing, staring at the moon as it glowed on the various plants. They soon couldn’t tell if the party was still going on. It could’ve been because they all finally got tired … or Sarah and Boober were just really self-absorbed at the moment. Sarah glanced at Boober out the corner of her eyes. He was staring at his swaying feet, his tail slowly curling and uncurling, his lower lip trembling. Finally, he broke the silence. “Do you,” he said hesitantly, “do you think … it’s all over for Fraggle Rock?” His voice quivered at the end.

    Sarah’s face was crestfallen. This poor creature was taking it hard, she thought to herself. She put an arm around his shoulders, hoping that was an appropriate gesture. “I … don’t know, Boober.”

    Boober sniffled. “Heh … at least you’re honest,” he replied, looking up at her. “All my friends said it was definitely going to be okay.” His voice tensed. “But what if it isn’t? What if this marks the end of our race? What will happen to my laundry? I mean, those shirts and socks aren’t going to wash themselves….”

    Sarah cocked an eyebrow. “You do laundry?” she asked skeptically. She smiled, trying to make a joke, “Maybe you could give my brother some pointers. There’s a whole room filled with dirty laundry.”

    Boober turned his head toward the back door.

    “Boober,” Sarah continued in a slight panic, “I didn’t mean to make light of your situation. It was a bad attempt at humor.”

    Boober glanced back at her as if dazed. “Huh? Oh,” he replied, shaking his head, “I’m not offended. I was just wondering why I didn’t bring my bleach nuts with me. Maybe a little laundry would ease my mind. Nothing is as comforting as stain removal.”

    Sarah couldn’t help but smile. So, she thought to herself, this would be what she would be like as a Fraggle.

    Boober noticed her expression. “So, you’re not into the whole ‘eternal optimist’ thing either, right?” He paused, pointing to himself. “You’re like me?”

    Sarah took her arm off and stared at the moon. “I consider myself a realist, not a pessimist. I just want things to be normal.”

    Boober nodded. “Me too.” He waited a few minutes before continuing in a quieter voice. “Everyone always thinks I dampen the mood. They’re the ones who never think about the consequences of their actions. No one listens to me when I tell them we get away with everything we get away with because of nothing but sheer dumb luck, that’s all.”

    Sarah nodded. She found talking to Boober easier than she would have expected. “People are like that, too. My brother thinks I’m an idiot for not jumping at the chance to do something fantastic and magical. He doesn’t listen to me, really listen, anyway. If I had accepted the offer to leave my world and live carefree in a magical land … it would stop being magical!” she exclaimed, passion increasing in her voice. “My dreams would become normal! I’d go from trying to make a living here to trying to make a living there!” Tears started welling up in her eyes. “Someone I loved very much … well, grew to love … would stop being the man of my dreams. I don’t want to take that away from him, Boober. He’s practically the King of my entire Universe,” she continued wistfully. “The last thing I want to do is take away his specialness.”

    Boober patted Sarah’s hand with his own, making her flinch slightly. He sighed, not responding for several minutes, letting the cool night air take away their heavy thoughts. “I … feel the same way,” he said finally. He sang a short, melancholic, wistful verse

    You and I,
    We nearly cried,
    Although … our love was strong.
    And by and by,
    We’d start … to sing … along…

    Sarah wiped away her tears and stroked his back. “You have someone like that?” Boober nodded silently, trying to keep from sobbing. Sarah continued, “She didn’t come with your group? Maybe we can head over to the theaters and see if she’s with them.”

    Boober shook his head, sniffling. He wiped his nose with his scarf. “No, she stayed behind. Mokey.” He made a fist. “She just had to be the hero! She’s getting as bad as Gobo and Red! What is she going to do? Paint the bad guy a picture? Offer them a radish from the Gorg’s garden? Why can’t she just run and hide … like we … like … I … did?”

    “And you regret your decision?”

    Boober stared at Sarah in disbelief. “You’re one to talk! No offense, but it sounds like your boyfriend needs you … and all you can do is put on a play and hide in the back yard!” He pulled away from her. “I’m … I’m sorry. I’m just really stressed. I just want everything to get better. I … want Mokey to be safe, to be herself again.”

    Sarah fought back tears. Had she really been selfish all those years? Had she avoided helping those who needed her? All throughout her adulthood, she tried to keep from needing her friends from the Goblin Kingdom. She didn’t want to appear as though she couldn’t handle problems herself. Now … she was aware that perhaps she should have wondered if they needed her, if Jareth needed her. And here was a whole race of beings who faced extinction … and she was the only hold-out … the only one who hadn’t risen to the challenge willingly.

    “I know, Boober,” she said amidst sobs. “I wish I knew how to save your home.”

    And just as Boober expressed his thanks, a flash of inspiration hit Sarah like a nuclear bomb.

    Sarah stood up, nearly flinging Boober off the swing. She pounded her fist into her palm. “I need to get to the theater!”

    <><><><><><>

    At the edge of the lake below Mizumi’s castle, an obese young woman with short thick black pigtails, dark freckles on her cheeks, and black lipstick stood. She wore a patched-together blouse with a broad frilled collar and knee-length shorts that threatened to fall off her rotund form. She licked her lips as she spied a few small minnows in a shallow pool.

    “Drumlin?” a sultry voice asked.

    Drumlin turned to find Mizumi standing next to her. “Care for some fish, Mum?” she offered in a gargly voice as though she were heavily congested. She grunted as she stooped over, inhaling deeply, the waters of the shallow pool vanishing into her through her mouth and nose. She snorted, her face slightly fuller than it was before. She picked up a couple flopping fish, but her fingers were so thick she snuffed out their lives immediately. “Huh,” she shrugged, tossing the snapped minnows back with the dying others. She turned toward her mother. “I don’t see why we don’t attack already, Mum,” she continued as though nothing had happened. “The Gorgs are without a King, so it’s not like we have to observe the rules.”

    “Despite my temper, we are still a civilized kingdom, my dear daughter,” Mizumi replied with a smile. “I offered a chance for McMooch to redeem himself. I must abide by it.”

    Drumlin shrugged, the water in her belly sloshing audibly. “You know he’s gonna stab you in the back, Mum.”

    Mizumi blew her daughter a kiss. “Of course he will. However, I need an excuse to execute him. Failing to eliminate a simple Oracle is all I need. After the Gorgs are finally eliminated, perhaps you and your sister can run the place. I hear there’s a fantastic ever-present flood in the basement. You’ll feel right at home.”

    Drumlin bowed, smiling greedily.

    <><><><><><>

    High atop the north tower of a large beige stone castle, a lone figure held a crystal ball, which showed a car speeding through the busy streets of New York. A chime went off somewhere deep within the castle. The figure smiled, his cloak rustling as he shrunk, turning into a beige-and-white barn owl. As the full moon illuminated the surrounding area, the owl flew off in the direction of a place he never thought he’d ever return to.
  15. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 11
    (Spring, 2011AD)

    No one can blame you,
    For walking away
    ….

    Sarah turned off the radio as she pulled into the staff parking area of the theater. She knew that crown was the solution to the Fraggles’ problem, even if she didn’t know quite why. She quickly tied up her dark brown hair, leaving several strands dangling around her face. As she fumbled with her keys to the back door, she realized she knew why she had discovered the solution. After years of trying to avoid it, she had made a wish … she had re-connected with a magical gift given to her by Jareth decades ago.

    This was the first time she wasn’t repulsed by the idea.

    Hundreds of Fraggles were sprawled out on the floor throughout the theater corridors, sleeping soundly. She tried to tiptoe around them. It would be dawn soon, but surely these creatures deserved to sleep in. She worked her way to the basement, when she discovered Rick working on the crown. He gasped, nearly dropping the now-shiny crown on the floor.

    “Christ, Ms. Williams … you nearly gave me a heart attack. I’m an old man, y’know!” he exclaimed bitterly.

    “I’m sorry,” Sarah said quietly. “I need the crown.”

    Rick stared at her. “You … need … the … crown,” he repeated very slowly. “This crown? Why?”

    Sarah realized telling him the truth would just sound weird. “Uh, there are some … um … production stills I need to make for some flyers.”

    Rick cocked an eyebrow. “At three-thirty in the morning?”

    Sarah scoffed, trying to hide her insecurity. After all, it was his crown, right? What claim could she possibly have on it? “And yet you’re messing around a closed theater this early in the morning?”

    Rick chuckled. “Your boss told me to babysit that furry little firecracker and her friends … for an extra thousand.” He smirked. “So ….”

    Sarah sighed, brushing strands of hair from her face. “How much do you want for it?”

    Rick shook his head. “It’s a pricey family heirloom,” he replied. “I don’t think you can afford it.”

    Sarah took a few steps closer, her voice slightly more stern. “A family heirloom that you keep in a theater basement?”

    Rick licked his lips. “I suppose … for fifty thousand, I could tell myself that it’s for the greater good and all….”

    Sarah’s eyes got so wide they threatened to pop out of her head. She even forgot to breathe. After a few seconds, she finally managed to screech, “Fifty thousand?” She shook her head, trying to get her voice under control. “You know what? Fine. Fifty ….”

    A sharp high-pitched gasp interrupted her. “Nicky! How could you?” exclaimed a female voice.

    Rick and Sarah turned to find Miss Piggy (whom Sarah knew only from her media work) standing in the doorway, her golden-blonde hair curling slightly at the neck, a somewhat small-for-her-size robin’s egg-colored sequined gown, lavender elbow-length gloves, and a pearl necklace hanging loosely around her thick neck.

    Piggy’s eyes were widened, her mouth gaping open. She placed a gloved hand on her chest and spoke in a sing-song manner. “I couldn’t believe it!” she told “Nicky”, trying to sound as innocent and dainty as she could. “I came here looking for vous, and one of those hamster things told me you had stolen a crown!”

    Red Fraggle, her fiery hair down against her back, and wearing a pink robe, appeared beside Piggy and jabbed her with an elbow, her face frowning. “We are Fraggles, not hamsters, lady,” she snapped, glaring up at the pig’s face.

    “Whatever, kid,” Piggy growled, not looking at her. She maintained her glare at Nicky. “I thought you promised moi you were different!” She started to growl again. “I’m not goin’ back to the slammer just because you can’t keep your klepto meathooks off someone else’s property!”

    Sarah gawked at the stagehand. “You stole this crown?”

    The old man ignored her. He smiled warmly, trying to sweet-talk his way out of this situation. “Piggy,” he started in the most suave voice he could muster at his age, “those Caribbean cruises don’t pay for themselves, my dear.” He pointed at the crown. “I was fashioning this myself! I was gonna sell it on eBay and use the money to get us some VIP tickets to a swank European concert!” He pouted through his smirk. “I only want the best for you, my dear.”

    Red shoved her way past Piggy, jabbing a finger angrily at the male Silly Creature. “You stole that crown! That was Junior’s!”

    “Prove it!” Rick/Nicky retorted tauntingly.

    Piggy lowered her head. “I … I believe you, Red,” she stated mournfully. “Nicky has a teensy-weensy little problem with risk-taking behavior.” She roared, “He knows it’s a risk to upset moi!” Piggy nodded at the crown. “You two return this crown to its rightful owner, s’il vous plait,” she continued with her normal melodious tone. Like flipping a coin, her voice changed back to a snarl. “I’ll deal with him.”

    “Now, Piggy, my beautiful basket of bacon,” Nicky began as Sarah and Red grabbed the crown and took off for the Fraggle hole upstairs on the backstage wall. They could hear some yelling and crashing as they reached the hole which was very large, though Sarah would have to bend her head a little.

    They ran through the tunnel, lit without lights somehow, Sarah noted. Red led the way as Sarah carried the awkward crown. Red yelled back as she ran, “Hey, you want me to carry that?”

    Sarah panted a little. “No, it’s okay. It’s as big as you!”

    Red groaned. “Please! I pump granite every morning!” She dodged into a tunnel to the right. “It can’t be that heavy!”

    Sarah remembered dashing away from the Cleaners, who operated a large drill-like device in the bowels of the Labyrinth. Middle age wasn’t helping her at all, she noted to herself. Time to renew that gym membership…. She ducked to avoid a stalactite. “The back wall of the … crap … theater is only five feet thick! How does this tunnel keep going?”

    Red paused as they came to a room with multiple tunnels, shrugging. “I dunno,” she replied absent-mindedly. “Magic, I guess.”

    Sarah chuckled. “Ah.” She noticed Red seemed indecisive. “Are we lost?”

    Red put her hands on her hips. “Of course I’m not lost! I’m not Gobo’s Uncle Matt!” she replied, annoyed. “I’m trying to think of tunnels that you can fit into without scraping your head on the ceiling!” She finally bounded toward a wide tunnel on the left. “Don’t worry … it shouldn’t take more than an hour to reach the Gorg’s garden.”

    <><><><><><>

    Junior Gorg awoke in his bed, feeling very stuffy. He wished there were a way to move the stale air of the castle. It gave him permanent sinus trouble. He sat up on the edge of his bed, removed his radish-printed pajama shirt, and began to rummage around his nightstand for his usual khaki jacket. When he closed a drawer and looked up, he noticed two figures cloaked in brown robes, one slightly taller than the other. Both were around six feet, thought Junior. The taller one pulled back its hood, revealing a dark-skinned female with sea-green shoulder-length hair and matching gown. She let the robe fall gracefully to the top of the nightstand on which she stood. Her head was adorned with broken knick-knacks. Her face beamed, a gentle smile caressing her features. The other one removed its hood, revealing a more male look, with feathered blond hair that also reached to his shoulders. His features were more chiseled, his eyes marked with strong black liner. He wore a stern expression. Both, however, congratulated him on his five-hundredth birthday.

    Junior could not help but gawk at his visitors. “Wh – what do you want fwom me?” he asked in a whisper, so as not to awaken his parents, who slept a few rooms down.

    The blond-haired one spoke with a smooth deep voice. “The safety of the universe is at risk. We have come to fulfill the prophecies.”

    Junior sighed, wiggling his feet and rubbing his hands together. “Yeah, yeah, I know,” he said reluctantly. “I gotta take my wightful place as King of da Universe or my Fwaggle fwiends could all die.” Junior pointed at each of them, asking them who they were.

    The female nodded toward the male. He replied, “You know me as Sir Hubris, former King of the Universe.”

    Junior stood up, grabbed the male in his large brown furry hand, and shook his head. “Uh-uh … da Fwaggles twied that on me alweady many ye-uhs ago. Nice twy, Gobo.”

    “Sir Hubris” frowned. “Do I look like a Fraggle, you overgrown buffoon?”

    Junior stared at the being in his hand. He didn’t feel like a Fraggle. Junior gasped, nearly dropping the Legend, and flung him back onto the nightstand. Junior fell to the ground, bowing repeatedly, sobbing uncontrollably. “Suh Hubwis! It weally is you!” he cried in a full-fledged panic. “I – I – I would give you da cwown you gave my ancestuhs … but … but,” he stammered, his heart racing, “… but I thwew it away! I nevah found out where it went, neither! And now you’re gonna tell me and my family we have to go wandah da universe forevah!” He blubbered still.

    Junior noticed a small hand on his quivering chin. He looked up, his eyes crossing at the sight of the female, she was so close. She laughed cheerfully, with a tinge of sympathy. “Dear Junior Gorg,” she began, her voice silky and calming, “even a lost heart can be found again … why not your crown?” She looked up at the nightstand where “Sir Hubris” clutched his torso from the aching he felt. He stood up and rolled his eyes.

    Lummox, he thought to himself. Sighing, he replied, “Since I cannot fulfill the legend and take back what was mine, the legend is negated.”

    “Wh – what does that mean?” asked Junior, wiping the tears from his eyes.

    “It means,” Sir Hubris noted irritatingly, “that the legend foretold I would return to take your crown. Since you have no crown, the legend no longer has any meaning. It must be started anew.” He pointed to Junior’s bedroom door. “Go to your family and celebrate your birthday. For later this morn … you will yet again be King.”

    <><><><><><>

    Wander McMooch sighed, leaning against the tremendous gate that led to the Gorg property as the sun rose above the horizon. He had inflated himself to almost six-and-a-half feet high, since he knew he would be visited by Mizumi’s daughter, Drumlin. He had only seen her when she was a young child, before his banishment. He wore a shaggy red coat with a leopard-print collar and a pink broad-rimmed hat with a couple of feathers in a wide white band.

    The ground started to vibrate in short intervals. He looked to the right and saw nothing out of the ordinary. However, when he looked to his left, he spied an obese brunette woman stomping toward him. Small puddles disappeared as she walked past them. She seemed to grow marginally larger each time. Wander gulped as she approached, taking a couple of steps back.

    “You’re bigger than I remember,” gargled Drumlin.

    Wander retorted, “You aren’t exactly petite either, sweetie.”

    Drumlin frowned and grabbed Wander by the throat. He could feel himself shrink as she drained him of moisture. She let go after he had reduced in size by a foot or so. She laughed maliciously. “Is the Oracle dead already? Or am I gonna have to do it myself?”

    Wander gasped for breath. His whole body ached from the sudden loss of moisture. He tightened his coat around him. He hoped he could get through this conversation without dying. He bowed. “Milady, the Trash Heap is just far too powerful for me,” he whined. “Perhaps I could show you where she is. Far on the other side of the Gorg property lies the Oracle, beloved by … ugh … Fraggles and Gorgs alike. She’s behind a great tree by their well.”

    Drumlin nodded, called him a filthy coward, and went with him across the Gorg front lawn, where they could hear singing and dancing inside the tremendously huge Gorg castle. As they approached the great tree, Drumlin chuckled eerily. “I hope this goes by quickly … I haven’t eaten breakfast yet.”

    Wander asked absent-mindedly, “Oh? What did you bring with you?”

    Drumlin smiled, licking her lips. “Bufonidae burritos,” she replied, rubbing her ample tummy.

    Wander shivered uncontrollably for a moment. They rounded the tree … to find a large pile of dark mud. Wander jerked back in surprise, shaking his head vigorously. “Nonononono,” he stuttered, “she should be here! She can’t move on her own!” He zoomed back and forth around the space, searching high and low. “Even Philo and Gunge can’t move her! This is absolutely impossible!”

    Drumlin adjusted her patched-together blouse, shrugging. She stooped down to the pile of mud, inspecting it. “And you’re sure she can’t teleport?”

    Wander moved back a foot or two. “No – at least, not herself, anyways,” he replied, quivering.

    Drumlin stroked her chin. “Gorgs probably did something with her. Perhaps they were warned …?” She glared at McMooch, who felt as though he were about to faint. “I’ll see if there are any clues here … before you’re punished for your idiotic failure.” She reached toward the top of the pile of mud, absorbed most of the moisture in it, leaving behind a dried pile of dust, which blew away in a sudden breeze. She stood up, engorged with moisture, and noted satisfactorily, “Hm, berries, fruit, and some chocolate cake, I think.”

    Wander nodded enthusiastically. “Yes! Yes! Junior Gorg is celebrating his birthday today! They must have hidden her in their kitchen!”

    She listened for the continued sounds of partying. “Well, let’s go pay them a visit, shall we?” She turned and wobbled off toward the castle. However, a few feet around the tree, Drumlin groaned, rubbing her belly. Wander kept a safe distance from her, out of sight. He could hear her cough violently. The sound of dripping made him come just close enough to see her sweating heavily. She gargled up water from her throat. She glanced at him with hatred out the corners of her eyes.

    McMooch cackled. “Don’t you remember why I was banished, you fat, frelling fae?” he taunted. “I poisoned the lake water underneath your Mommy’s castle! You’ve just absorbed about thirty pounds of water laced with concentrated greaseberry juice. It’s the slickest stuff in the universe!” He laughed maniacally. “Soon you’ll just fall apart from the inside out!” He continued to laugh as she gurgled and gargled and died, spilling into a veritable pool of water.

    Wander decided it was time to high-tail it out of there. He started to zoom away in the opposite direction, toward the entry to Fraggle Rock, when he was stopped mid-zoom by a dark-skinned woman, who smirked triumphantly. “Are we ready to head back to the Trash Kingdom, Wander?” she asked.

    “Are you certain Mizumi can’t find me there?” he pleaded. “She’ll kill me for what I’ve done!” He bows, shaking. “You know, I never really wanted to kill your daughter, right? I mean, we had our little disagreements … but I swear I could never harm Marjory!”

    The Queen of Trash patted McMooch on his head, smiling sympathetically. “Wander McMooch … you are an immoral toad tossed away like garbage from your own home,” she told him. “But in my kingdom I can breathe life into anything thrown away … so long as they are treasured by someone. I have no doubts I can re-purpose even you.” She teleported them both to her kingdom; far away from the Gorgs, the Fraggles, and Moraine.

    <><><><><><>

    In the main room of the Gorg castle, the three Gorgs sang songs, with many creatures from deep within Fraggle Rock (who now stayed with the Gorgs) providing backup:

    Once there’s Ma and once there’s Pa,
    Sang of love forever….
    Junior plays and Junior sways…
    Hey! He’s so clever!

    Pa slapped his son on his back, nearly bowling him over onto various Doozers and other creatures, laughing. He sang the next two lines:

    Five-hundred – it’s not long at all!
    The rest … just get better!

    Then, the whole group sang:

    Out the door, five hundred more!
    Sing! Altogether!
    Sing! Altogether!

    Just as they finished singing, they heard a scream from low in the wall. Red came running out of a hole in the wall, followed by a female Silly Creature … with the …

    … with the …

    crown ….

    The three Gorgs gasped … and so did Sarah, who was completely unprepared for the size of these beings. She bent her neck back to see them. She gulped, feeling her knees tremble. They soon heard a rustling sound, as a tiny bird fluttered in onto the Gorg’s dining table, transformed into “Sir Hubris”, and bowed.

    “Suh Hubwis!” Junior exclaimed.

    Pa and Ma nearly fell backwards in shock. “Sir Hubris?”

    “Jareth,” Sarah gasped.

    Jareth smirked, avoiding Sarah’s presence. “You’ll forgive me if I make this quick. Time is short.” He inhaled deeply. “Millennia ago, a Gorg was made King of the Universe. At the time, I promised to return to the land of Gorgs to take back what was mine.”

    Pa and Ma clutched each others’ hands, terrified of the news to come. For the legend foretold that Hubris would run them from their home.

    Jareth continued with a hurried voice. “Yet, as fate would have it, the kingship was rejected. Having broken the spell, Junior Gorg, you have set your fate upon an unknown path. If you wish, I shall crown you King of the Universe. It will be your task to rule the Universe as you see fit, for good or ill. Junior Gorg, what say you?”

    All eyes turned to Junior. You could hear a pin drop, despite how many creatures were present.

    Junior bowed his head, shuffling his feet nervously. He bit his lower lip.

    “You can do it, Junior!” Sarah belted out unexpectedly. Her voice was filled with certainty and passion. “You can’t have ‘no’ for an answer! From everything I’ve heard about you … I know you can be a great Gorg king!”

    “Weally?” Junior asked, awe-inspired that a strange being would just offer that out of the blue. He nodded. “I, Junior Gorg, humbly accept the cwown fwom Suh Hubwis, so I can pwotect the cweatures I have come to love and wespect!” As he finished proclaiming his acceptance, the crown vanished from Sarah’s hands and appeared on top of Junior’s head, sparkling with a newly-polished sheen.

    The crowd of creatures broke into loud applause, cheering and whooping wildly. When the noise died down, Jareth turned to Sarah and Red, his face filled with worry. “Return to New York,” he told them. “Do not stay in Fraggle Rock. Mizumi is on her way and … she is … upset.”

    “What about Madame Heap?” Red bellowed so that Jareth could hear her. “I’m not leaving if she’s not safe!”

    “Madame Heap is in danger?” Junior asked, his eyes wide. Why didn’t he know this?

    Jareth shook his head. “She and her companions have been taken to safety to the Trash Kingdom. Go!” he barked. “You each have your parts to play! You have played them well … now leave, before it’s too late!” He noticed Sarah’s disappointed expression. He smiled warmly. “Sarah … protect the Fraggles. I cannot protect them from here. We need you.”
  16. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 12
    (Spring, 2011AD)

    Mizumi’s carriage arrived shortly before noon to the Gorg property. She leapt out, her silver gown slightly more blue than her hair. She rushed to the Gorg castle … met by Junior Gorg, who wore a purple robe … and a royal crown. He brandished a golden scepter decorated with scenes from Gorgous the Great’s life, topped with a black crystal orb. His brow was furrowed … his voice sure. “You are invading the Great Kingdom of da Gorgs,” he bellowed sternly. “Weturn to your home or I will slay you!”

    Mizumi cursed silently to herself. Somehow, some way … the oaf was king again. By the looks of the scepter … Jareth had a hand in this. Mizumi, however, would not be turned away so easily. She fumed. “My daughter was killed on your property, Gorg!” she screamed. “I demand restitution – you will permit my entry into Fraggle Rock!”

    “Weally?” Junior asked, his serious tone suddenly turning into innocence. “Uh, yo-uh daughtuh was thumped?” He waved to the surrounding area. “Here?” He shrugged, his voice a bit more casual. “I didn’t do it!”

    She glared at an opponent easily more than thrice her size. “You, Your ‘Majesty’, are responsible for my pain! I demand you let me enter!”

    The King of the Gorgs stared at his scepter, nodding slightly. He glanced back down at the queen with the ever-reddening face. He tried to sound “royal” again. “Not only was your daughter here to hurt wesidents of my domain,” he began, “but it was a citizen of yo-uh own countwy who thumped her! Now begone … and come here no more!”

    <><><><><><>

    Cantus, the Minstrel, peered hesitantly out of the hole that led to the Gorg’s garden. The time had come, he knew. He had heard the soft nervous whispers of the Rock: The drop becomes the stream becomes the pond becomes the flood. He saw a powerful sorceress threaten the Gorg King. If he exhaled completely and closed his eyes, he could just hear water flowing through her. He understood that this was the danger that threatened the Rock. He smirked. Fraggles were known to be lovers of water … there were even fully aquatic Fraggles called Merggles who had adapted specifically to the medium. The mystical Minstrel had a love of irony, and this, dangerous as it was, brought him a modicum of amusement. Cantus felt a nearly exhausted presence behind him. Without turning, he whispered, “Is everyone out of the Rock?”

    A higher-pitched version of his voice with a certain tenseness lacking in the Minstrel responded, “Yes, except for Mokey … she said she found a cave far out into the Rock, closer to the Cave.” He took a few breaths. “She swears it will work.”

    Cantus nodded. “Mokey … and the Song that sings for her … listen well to the Song of the Rock. If they say it will work … it will.” Cantus turned, placing an arm on the other Fraggle’s shoulder. The other Fraggle had gray skin, a messy tangle of black hair, a short black mustache, and a dark purple jacket over a black shirt with a white collar. He seemed a little cross-eyed.

    The other Fraggle wiggled his nose, his arms slightly trembling, his belubious puffed out. “Do you think this will work? I’ve never sung without them before.”

    Cantus smiled warmly. “John, you want them to be safe, don’t you?”

    “Well, yeah.”

    Cantus patted Convincing John on the shoulder. “As long as this creature has few targets….”

    “You mean ‘us’….”

    Cantus nodded and continued, “… then we need not fear for the safety of the Rock. The other Minstrels are with the Silly Creatures in Outer Space. This is the only way we can protect our home.”

    John snorted in amusement. “Are you trying to convince you or me?”

    They both smiled and turned back to the hole, where the sorceress was still arguing with the Gorg King.

    “She looks pretty powerful,” John noted, adjusting his collar to give himself some more breathing room.

    “Mm,” Cantus replied, nodding.

    John coughed. “How many verses do you think it will take to convince a sorceress like her?”

    “Twelve, minimum,” Cantus answered immediately. When John gagged and nearly fainted, a small smirk appeared on Cantus’ face.

    John shook his head, sighing, placing his hand on his chest. “Don’t tease me like that!”

    After they had watched for a few more moments, John leaned back against the tunnel wall and sighed, wiping the sweat from his brow with a small cloth from one of his jacket pockets. John cleared his throat. “I don’t know how you do it, Cantus,” he said. “No matter what gets thrown at you, you just bounce back like it was just a soft breeze. I’ve tried and tried, but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it.” He noticed Cantus staring at him without a response. John continued, “I’m an awful wembler --.”

    “Everyone is a wembler,” Cantus acknowledged softly. He shook his head slowly. “I’ve never met anyone too definite … at least, I don’t think I have,” he said, looking back through the hole to make sure the sorceress wasn’t approaching.

    Convincing John sighed, exasperated. “Cantus … I … I just … can’t. You make music that makes flowers grow, while I sing to get Fraggles to do whatever strange thought goes through my head at the time. I’ll never match you.”

    Cantus gently put his hands on both of John’s shoulders. He stared straight into John’s eyes painfully for several moments before stating softly, “I’ve tried to save her, John. I’ve tried to elicit every song I can think of from her … but I can’t save her. I need you to work on her some.”

    John trembled. “What’s … I mean … where are you going?” He shook his head. “I know you’re not telling me that --.”

    “I’m telling you that I’m auditioning you for a verse, nothing more,” Cantus replied. He pulled away and smiled that calm, warm smile of his. “It may be nothing. I may, despite a lack of history of it, be actually wrong.” He smiled wider. “I hope I am. What has become of Mokey may yet prove to be one of her greatest strengths.” He sighed. “I just want someone like you to be there for her in case I’m right.”

    “But I don’t have that kind of power!” John protested.

    Cantus shook his head. His voice got sterner. “Don’t make me argue with you, John. I’m the one Fraggle your songs don’t affect. What do I have to do to convince you that you, too, can make the Ditzies glow and the flowers bloom?” He waved toward the back of the tunnel. “If you sang one of your convincing songs to a poison cackler, you could make it harmless. If you sang one of your convincing songs to a boulder, it would move out of your way.” He sighed again. “John … you may not sing my song, but you sing a song just as powerful. You just have to believe in yourself.”

    <><><><><><>

    Mizumi was now just out of Junior’s reach, assuming he didn’t lunge for her. She stretched out her hand. Junior felt a strange sensation, as though he were sweating profusely to the point of collapse. A fine mist traveled from his fur to her palm. Mizumi had not wanted to battle the goblins, for they were stupid but plentiful and obstinate. However, there were just three Gorgs here … and none had experience with a real battle (or so she had heard). Although they were gigantic, Gorgs typically kept to themselves, never venturing far from their territory. Mizumi could feel the sheer strength of the Gorg King. He was far more powerful than the largest ogre she had ever come across. She could feel his fear and his thoughts about his parents and his desire to see the universe.

    “Daddy,” Junior mumbled as he wobbled back and forth. So, he thought, this was what it felt to be thumped by magic.

    The orb atop the scepter turned into a barn owl and flew in circles before taking off away from the castle.

    Mizumi stopped her attack on the Gorg King and glared at this sudden development. “Jareth!” she roared. “You will not escape me!” As the bird flew towards the Gorg well, Mizumi became like a fog … a furious fog that rushed toward the well. Within minutes she was atop the edge of the well, returning to her normal form just long enough to see the owl dive far into the caves below, pulling out of the dive slightly to the right. She became like a waterfall and flowed in torrents into the well. She flew past the Fraggle Pond, towards the back of the Great Hall, following the bird intently, without a thought for anything else. Nothing but the echoing splashes could be heard throughout the Rock.

    After nearly half an hour of chasing the agile little owl, Mizumi pushed herself to her limits and caught up, turning back into her usual form, clutching the fowl’s thick neck, only to be astonished as it transformed …

    … becoming …

    … a furry, brown …

    thing.

    It smiled, though as shaggy as the fur on its face was, it was hard to tell. “Hi!” it exclaimed cheerfully in a high-pitched grating voice. “Gosh, you’re pretty!” It waved with one hand as it clutched her arm with another. He was roughly three feet tall. His legs dangled above the ground. He reminded her of a really, really shaggy dog with no tail. He grunted as she held him fast against the cave tunnel wall. “Uh … do you want me to be a dog? I’ve never seen one before. What does it look like?”

    She dropped him and took a couple steps back. Her face was frozen in shock. “What … are you?” she asked in a whisper.

    The creature rubbed its neck and perked up. “I am called Skenfrith , Milady,” he replied with a smile. He pointed at her. “You want it … I become it!” He shrugged, as though anticipating her next reaction to being tricked. “And you can’t hurt me … it was already pointed out to me that everything will turn out alright!”

    Mizumi’s tone grew deadly. “Is that so?” she asked, tightening her fists. She had been hoodwinked … again … by the most powerful being she had ever met. She didn’t know whether to eviscerate Jareth or throw him to the ground in a passionate embrace.

    A trilling melody made Mizumi gasp. It reminded her of rainfall dropping on metal. She looked to her left. Down a broad tunnel, she saw two small shadows, leaping playfully as the melody continued. Fraggles, she decided silently. The melody stopped, and she heard similar voices laugh.

    She walked toward the infuriating sound. “How dare you mock me?” she hissed, forgetting the empathic shape-shifter. “Your allegiance to the Goblin King shall ruin all of you!”

    Immediately after her warning, the melody started up again, but segued into a rousing gospel-like melody, which resonated in the tunnels. One of the shadows began to sing frantically:

    Now listen to me, honey,
    We're laughin' 'cause it's funny,
    Because we haven't got anything to lose...

    “That’s your opinion!” shouted the livid Queen of Cups. She chased them through tunnel after winding tunnel, the same rousing tune angering her more and more. She nearly overtook them in a large cave filled with multicolored crystals. One was a relatively tall orange-yellow Fraggle with a long robe, while the other was a short gray one with a loud purple jacket. The gray one continued to sing most of the lines, with the other one backing him up:

    After all, Queen, you're used to power,
    And you're as pretty as a flower,
    But you have never before heard our tunes (heard our tunes).
    And you can try to snatch us, try to catch us, but now with Cantus,
    There's a magic even you cannot deny (not deny),
    And we're a hummin' though you're comin' but, you see, our song … just … can't … die! (It lives on!)

    As they reached the chorus, the melody slowed a bit, becoming less like a shouting match and more like an actual song:

    Yeah! Listen to Convincing John,
    And all your troubles will be gone.
    I’m gonna tell it, spell it, sell it,
    Just for you!

    They separated for a moment, dashing among the various crystalline structures, which seemed to glow in sync with the melody. As Mizumi chased them out of the cave, they continued to sing. As they sang, as the music played, she noticed how much brighter and livelier the tunnels were. But it made no difference, she vowed to herself: she would not rest until they were all destroyed, down to the very last leaf of the very last plant.

    So, now we're getting closer,
    And I make a good composer,
    And if it's answers you seek, then you shall find (find).
    So follow us to the cave,
    Though you may want to rant and rave,
    Because you think we're gonna leave you behind (behind)!

    The air got mustier as they continued. Mizumi could see flickering lights up ahead.

    We have a spell, and we have a smell,
    For there wasn't any bath at the hotel,
    Therefore we really hope that you don't mind (mind).
    The cave is near, the cave is HERE!
    Now our destinies are intertwined!

    The taller one sang the chorus as they entered a very large cave, nearly barking the words, they were so forceful:

    Listen to Convincing John!
    And all your troubles will be gone!
    He's gonna tell it, spell it, sell it,
    Just for you!

    Mizumi stopped. The cave was rather large, well over three feet above her own head. Torches hung on the walls, illuminating several drawings, most of a very primitive nature. Many seemed to identify ancient human activities. However, shadows cast by the various rock formations prevented her from seeing the images further along in the cave. In the center of the cave, a light purple Fraggle female sat cross-legged, chanting silently to herself. Mizumi felt drawn to this Fraggle. By now she realized she was being set up. However, what Fraggle magic could harm her? What was this song supposed to accomplish? Was she to dance herself to death? Perhaps it was merely a delay tactic. All this, though, she mused to herself, was awfully … well-thought-out … for a small group of dancing rodents.

    She decided to see what the female Fraggle was up to. Unlike her departed daughter, her absorption powers could materialize thoughts, allowing her to know what her opponent knew. The only reason she had ended her attack on the Gorg King was that she discovered he truly did not know about Drumlin’s death. Besides, she admitted to herself reluctantly, she had become hopelessly vindictive. She wanted to punish everyone, everywhere … all for her humiliation. She stretched out her hand, feeling the creature’s thoughts enter her. Strange, she thought: there were two sets of thoughts. Possession? She saw humans and humanoids … and a strange crustacean-like entity bound to a living vehicle … all within the deep reaches of the universe. As she delved deeper into the being’s unconscious … an image of a blue, elegant (and bald) woman appeared. The woman smiled. “Are you certain you wish to continue? I’m not known for being completely pacifistic.”

    Mizumi pulled away, amazed at the strength of the mind within the lowly creature. As her mind began to clear of the images, she realized the others were still singing:

    Now then, let Mokey go, Queenie,
    You don't want to seem a meanie,
    She can't answer if you let her choke (choke)!
    Put her down and you will succeed,
    And you will find you have a need,
    To realize this is not some sick joke!

    Listen to Convincing John,
    And all your troubles will be go-o-one…

    Suddenly, the flute’s melody transformed into a more complex melody, one that seemed to lighten the cave somewhat and bring it to life. Flowers began to bloom. The air took on more pleasant smells. Mizumi looked for the Fraggles, who had joined hands, bobbing up and down and humming. An acrid smoke rose from the ground. The Queen of Moraine coughed, her skin irritated by the particles in the air. She lunged toward the trio to stop them from their bizarre ritual … but the smoke became too thick. It threatened to choke her.

    After about fifteen very long seconds, Mizumi felt a strong chill in the air. The smoke dissipated. She coughed to expel the last of the smoke from her throat and began searching for the Fraggles, who had disappeared. Perhaps it was a teleportation spell, she mused. They must have hidden themselves further within the cave. No matter … she would hunt them down and kill them slowly, perhaps using the pools in Fraggle Rock to drown them. She heard strange footsteps further down the tunnel where they had entered. She followed the sound and came across a set of small nearly hairless brown creatures with large heads, not even a foot tall. They gasped as they noticed her. Soon, they began chatting among themselves in some meaningless tongue, and motioned for her to follow them.

    As she followed the small creatures, a feeling of unease took over her. It was too cold. It was too cold … and … the air didn’t feel right. She clapped her hands loudly to startle the small beings. They glanced at her nervously, stopping dead in their tracks. She told them solemnly, “I am looking for small furry creatures obsessed with singing. Bring me to them, or I will kill you all.” They looked at each other, chattered some more unintelligibly, and motioned for her to follow. They brought her to a large opening, where sunlight was very weak. Clouds covered most of the sky near the horizons. The opening appeared on a high cliff, looking over a sprawling valley. Geysers erupted here and there in various clearings in a forest where the trees were barely thriving. She could hear jazz-like music wafting up from a dying area of the woods. The tiny creatures pointed in that direction, nodding enthusiastically, and dashed back off deep into the cave. No matter, she reflected, for I do not need them.

    As she reached the bottom of the cliff, a burst of steam blew her backwards. She screamed and writhed in agony, her skin seared by the high temperatures of the geyser. She struggled to stand, but the pain was immeasurable. Her gown was nearly destroyed, barely hanging off her skin. The clothes burned her skin, so she removed them. Every inch of her made her feel as though she were being boiled alive. She attempted to reach the place where she heard the music. She would make them pay for this.

    The cold air was the only benefit to this whole debacle, she thought bitterly to herself. Her skin was bright red and beginning to peel in places. As she neared the source of the music, she could hear some deep gravelly vocals, set to a blues number:

    Quicksand … sucked my momma down ….

    Mizumi entertained herself with the thought that she was close to getting her revenge. Suddenly, a metal trap beneath her feet snapped shut, bringing the barely ambulatory Queen down with a crash. She cried out in anguish.

    “Hm,” stated a very gravelly voice that varied in pitch somewhat, “this one’s rather … uh … unconventional.” A long pause, followed by multiple voices chuckling. “Perhaps this particular species is … evolving at a much faster rate due to adverse environmental pressures.”

    Another pause. This time, a deeper, smoother male voice with a bit of an accent and a hint of a hissing quality spoke with bemusement, “Maybe, Crazy Lou. Let’s just get down ta business, shall we, ladies and gentlemen?”

    Mizumi, through her squinted and tear-filled eyes, spotted a large hulking shape approaching her … a purple bipedal lizard, taller than the average fae or human, with a pale yellow underside, small horns emanating from its brows and the side of its triangular head, a black leather jacket … and … and … a long thick tail with four spikes on the end, one of which was broken. Her eyes widened as the pain dulled. She glanced around. There was another bipedal reptilian with pale brown skin, a broad face, tiny round eyeglasses, and the same black leather jacket style. Yet another approached nearby … an athletic creature with green scales, dark sunglasses, and a Mohawk of sorts consisting of long pale green spines. This one spoke, its voice reminiscent of Jareth’s dwarf Hoggle, except that it sounded younger and more intelligent and not nearly as rough on the vocal chords, “She’s not exactly dead yet, guys. Maybe it’s too soon to start ripping off her flesh from her bones.”

    The purple one looked up in shock. He shook his head, sighing disgustedly. “We’re not gonna go t’rough dis again, are we, Scooter?” he whined. He glared at the vulnerable humanoid, smirking maliciously, licking his reptilian lips (if they had them at all). “We … can wait.”
  17. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 13
    (Spring, 2011AD)

    Despite everything that had happened, the Fraggles in Outer Space had enjoyed themselves. They had danced, sung, and made merry until their feet were sore. Jenny and Kermit had forbidden the Fraggles from feeling that they have to repay them … but the Fraggles insisted on helping with the operations of both theaters, especially after Jenny’s stagehand had to retire unceremoniously. They had found him bruised and groaning in the basement, which was littered with broken set pieces and props. Besides that, the crown was gone … though Red and Sarah had explained to Jenny what had happened.

    Over at the Muppet Theater, Kermit was backstage, as usual, overseeing set designs. Wembley Fraggle walked up to Kermit, who was busy reading from some notes. “Uh, Mr. Frog?” he asked hesitantly.

    Kermit smirked, not taking his eyes off the page. “Wembley … I told you you can call me Kermit.”

    Wembley nodded. “Mr. Kermit, sir? Is there anything else we can do for you?” His voice was filled with hopeful exuberance.

    Kermit glanced at the young green-yellow Fraggle with the banana-tree shirt. “You don’t have to do anything, Wembley,” he replied. “Look, we appreciate the help, but don’t feel like you’re obligated to help us out.” Kermit tried not to sound as curt as he did when Jenny had offered the same help years ago. After all, Kermit realized that, much like his neighbors on Sesame Street, Fraggles were very innocent and naïve.

    Wembley grunted and nodded emphatically. “Yeah, yeah … but you know … ‘when it feels real good, like a feeling should, then it’s understood, you gotta (grunts twice) pass it on!”

    Suddenly, various Fraggles and Muppets started singing impromptu:

    Pass it on (pass it on),
    Pass it on (pass it on),
    Wish upon (wish upon),
    All the good things that you do.

    Pass it on (pass it on),
    Pass it on (pass it on),
    When it’s gone (when it’s gone),
    It will bring good luck to you!

    “I get it! I get it!” Kermit exclaimed, stopping their song, though the others laughed as they continued with their work. Kermit sighed.

    Wembley chuckled. “Well, it’s just that,” his head swayed back and forth with each phrase, “I’ve been thinking … and I know a way you could get more involvement with your theater!” He dramatically spread his arms, facing the dressing rooms on the back wall of the second story floor. “Picture it … young Silly Creatures … bored stiff from doing Silly Creature things … your theater … filled with all kinds of creatures and monsters … it’s the perfect opportunity … you could help the young Silly Creatures learn about making plays!” He glances back at Kermit, whose mouth was slightly agape as the Fraggle continued his pitch. “You could help young Silly Creatures learn about how to interact with all kinds of different beings … and they can learn how to make stuff and use their imagination and sing songs and everything! What do you think?”

    Kermit paused before speaking. “Uh, well, that’s something we could look into, I guess….”

    “It’s a great idea!” shouted Scooter, an orange gopher (or go-fer) with short red hair and large glasses and a lime-green Muppet Show jacket, as he zoomed in on the conversation.

    A crustacean half the size of Kermit, Wembley, and Scooter with a tassle of unkempt red hair and four arms, appeared from behind Scooter. “And we could be making very much more monies, okay?” Pepe, the King Prawn, walked up to Kermit and playfully punched him on the shoulder, his voice lowered in all seriousness. “There is a Lamborghini with my name on it, okay?” He pointed at Wembley. “You should really agree with this guy, Kerr-mit.”

    Scooter gave a thumbs-up. “I’ll go run the numbers….”

    “But,” Kermit interjected.

    “And I will be getting ze permits, okay,” Pepe offered, running off.

    “But,” Kermit repeated.

    “Don’t worry, Boss,” Scooter replied, placing his hand gently on Kermit’s shoulder. “We’ll take care of everything.” He jogged towards the exit.

    “But,” Kermit said again. He sighed, shaking his head. “This could be a liability insurance nightmare.”

    “Is that bad?” Wembley asked, nervous that maybe he caused his host some trouble, putting one hand up to his quivering lower lip.

    Kermit shrugged. “It’ll be fine until a monster eats a kid or Crazy Harry blows them up.” He patted Wembley on the shoulder to reassure him, smiling. “Other than that, it may just work!”

    <><><><><><>

    In the ornate throne room of the castle of Moraine, with fountains everywhere spewing all kinds of liquids and robots hanging up against the walls, a hundred or so exquisitely dressed guests stared at the throne, where Esker placed a small crystal tiara on the head of a thin young woman with long black pigtails and a scar running through her left eye. A cloud with a face on it hovered proudly above her.

    “Princess Moulin,” Esker bellowed, quieting the crowds, “we entreat you to rule the Land of Cups with devotion and wisdom.” He bowed low, followed by the attending gathering.

    The new Queen of Moraine smiled and threw up her arms, causing the fountains to erupt into a dazzling and sparkling display of acrobatic trajectories. The crowd cheered wildly.

    <><><><><><>

    On the far edge of the Gorg Kingdom, behind the great Gorg well, a rousing tune sprang up as the scent of compost once again filled the air. The Trash Heap sang in her scratchy voice, assisted by Philo and Gunge, who jumped up and down wildly in celebration:

    I've been up and I've been down.
    I've been dragged all over town,
    Trying to find a place to lay my head.

    After all the pain and woe,
    Here's the only thing I know,
    Couldn't last a day without my friends.

    Philo and Gunge took up a line:

    Trash is back, trash is back in town!

    Marjory exclaimed,

    Oh and I'm home for good!

    Philo and Gunge sang the only line they sang for this song:

    Trash is back, trash is back in town!

    Marjory continued to shout exuberantly, her large body wiggling with every movement:

    Oh yeah, let me tell ya about it!

    Through the nights and through the days.
    I had wandered in a haze.
    Now I know my family loves me true.

    Friends and Mother both are near,
    Lonely's not a word I fear,
    Cause now I know you all will pull me through!

    (Trash is back, trash is back in town.)
    Oh and I'm here to stay.
    (Trash is back, trash is back in town!)

    <><><><><><>

    Cantus, Convincing John, and Mokey all sat down, leaning against a ridge next to the Fraggle Pond, staring at the high ceiling of the Great Hall. As exhausted as they were, they couldn’t help but smile. They all could sense the rest of the Light returning to the Rock. They began to hear a familiar carol waft down the tunnels towards them, sung by what sounded like every Fraggle who lived in the Rock:

    There's a rhythm.
    There's a rising.
    There's a dream of green that needs to wake,
    A password,
    And a promise,
    That the earth will never ever break.
    It's coming,
    Feel it humming,
    In the hearts we share with rock and sky so raise … your … voices… high. . .

    The song repeated for a few verses before soon the whole Great Hall was teeming with life again as Fraggles, Doozers, and other creatures, even Skenfrith, joined in the song.

    Mokey felt someone staring at her. She turned to her head to her right and saw Red bounding towards her, arms waving madly. Mokey’s eyes widened, her jaw dropping. “Red! Stop! Wait!” But it was too late, Red practically tackled her, squeezing her friend as hard as she could.

    “Oh, Mokey!” she exclaimed. “You’re alright!” Red sniffed back some tears. “I just knew you would be!”

    The inhabitants of the Rock cheered, hugging and congratulating each other. Mokey saw Boober hang back in the crowd. She managed to squeeze past about twenty Fraggles and Doozers. Upon reaching him, she kissed him on the cheek.

    Boober jerked back in shock. “Why … why did you do that?” he asked, rubbing his cheek.

    Mokey smiled. In her natural voice, filled with a dream-like quality, she replied, “I heard you, Boober. Just remember,” she said, starting to sing an upbeat song quietly to garner as much privacy as one could have among a throng of Fraggles,

    Boober, my friend,
    Is on his way,
    We can have a super holiday.

    Stay a little longer with your friends.
    Play a little longer with your friends.

    Boober gawked at her. “M … Mokey,” he stuttered, “does … does this mean that you’re back to normal?”

    Mokey patted him on the shoulder with one hand as she tapped his hat with the other. “You know how your alter-ego Sidebottom is a part of you?” He nodded. Mokey smiled warmly. “I now have another part of me.” She paused, slightly pouting. “Does that bother you, Boober?”

    Boober stared at the ground floor for a few moments and then shrugged. His face lit up and he laughed. He grabbed both her hands in his. “Mokey,” he proclaimed cheerfully, “now we can go on double dates and not have to invite anyone else!” He laughed again.

    Mokey grinned, though she was a little taken aback by his response. “That sounds … like … fun!” She joined him in laughing at their strange situation.

    <><><><><><>

    Sarah had finally finished cleaning up the stage in preparation for the night’s show. Toby had congratulated her on taking charge of her situation, helping to save countless creatures from destruction … and on finally letting magic within her heart. She wiped her forehead, absent-mindedly tying up her hair. She picked up the broom from the stage floor and turned, bumping accidentally into someone’s chest. Before she looked up, she saw a golden pendant shaped vaguely like a straight-on image of a flying bird. She looked up and gasped. A blond-haired man with chiseled features, thin sunglasses, and slicked back hair tied into a ponytail grinned at her. He took her by the shoulders and repositioned her so she would see an amazingly ornate crown, fashioned from gold and silver and rare jewels, roughly the size of the one returned to Junior.

    “It’s a present,” he noted dryly.

    Tears welled up in her eyes and she embraced the King who stood before her, fearful that he would just be a figment of her imagination.

    Alone on the stage, they shared a long and well-deserved kiss.
  18. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Act 2: Comin’ Back

    Scenes that may help:
    Muppet Babies
    Waiter Grover
    Muppet Family Christmas Home Movie
    Boober’s Quiet Day Pt 1 (for Sidebottom, Tosh, and Storyteller)
    We Love You Wembley Pt 3 (for Lou)

    Chapter 14
    (Early Summer, 2011AD)

    Ma Gorg, her ample blonde hair pulled up into a bun, patted her husband’s furry gray-blue hand as he lay in bed. He had kept his squinty eyes closed for the better of the morning. Her pale lavender face with the upturned nose was slack. She had been at his bedside all night long and she was near exhaustion. She struggled to keep her eyes open.

    Pa groaned. He clutched at his right leg. His voice was gravelly with age. “Oh, this ol’ war wound….”

    Ma sighed. Her voice, though weary, was melodious. “Oh, Husband and Retired Caretaker of the Universe,” she cooed, “surely it cannot be all that unpleasant?” She continued with a much sharper tone. “Besides, yesterday it was your left leg.”

    Pa opened his eyes and glared at her. He had not trimmed his long sideburns or the long shaggy hair on the back of his fuzzy head for days. “Don’t tell me where I hurt, woman!” he protested. “I’m one-thousand and ten years old! I think I know where I hurt!”

    She patted him on his arm patronizingly. “Of course you do, dear.” She put both hands on her hips as she sat on a small wooden stool from the living room. “Honestly, you act like you’re about to keel over.”

    Pa whined. “But, Ma – you know as well as I do I haven’t been feeling the burning wildfires of youth lately! Cut me some slack, will you, my dear?” He tried to sit up, but fell back down on his pillow. “Where’s Junior? I … I want to talk to him! I’ve still got advice to give!”

    Ma shook her head and rose from her seat, standing almost twenty feet tall. “I am not sending for our Loving Son and King of the Universe, Pa,” she replied. “He’s heading to a meeting with the Royal Court of All That Is. I am not bringing him home just so you can worry him with all your depressing whimpering.”

    Pa screamed as he sat up despite his pain. “Drat and Deuteronomy, Mother!” He paused to massage his leg. “I am not whimpering! I may not be the oldest Gorg in existence … but I am leaving this world soon!”

    “You’ve said that for half a century!” Ma shot back, though her voice began to waiver. He had started bewailing his fate when the first leaves of the Nirvana tree started to fall. The Nirvana tree was a sacred tree planted at the coronation of each Gorg king. When the last golden leaf fell, it would be time to crown someone else.

    Pa had not taken that very well. Now, every little ache and sneeze portended some dreadful catastrophe.

    “It’s true, Mother!”

    Ma stared at her husband. They had been married for 537 years, and all this time he had tried to get out of doing many of the things a Gorg King should do. Sure, he had been a loving husband and a devoted father … but he couldn’t fool her. He was a coward. And yet, deep in her heart, she felt some anxiety. Despite all his frustrating faults … she wanted to spend all of eternity with him. Being away from him was far too painful.

    Still, he usually whined like this to get out of work, which he usually turned over to his ever-eager son.

    But, Junior wasn’t here.

    Ma sighed again. “Fine. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that you really are unwell. I have given you every remedy noted in the Book of Gorgs. Something should have worked by now.”

    Pa whimpered, lying back down, unable to sit for more than a few minutes. His tone was that of resignation. “Remedies only work if you can get better at all, Mother,” he noted sadly. “I can’t get my legs to stop hurting. It’s starting to creep up my back, too.”
    <><><><><><>

    “Okay, wait a minute!” Wembley screeched in the Storyteller’s ear (well, Fraggles didn’t have visible ears, but, whatever). He wore a loose white button-down shirt with banana tree with sunset patterns on it. He had light green skin and blond hair, a long nose, and a blond belubeous (the puffy tuft of hair at the end of their tail). Fraggles were, in general, two-feet tall.

    “What’s the problem?” the Storyteller replied. She had long graying pink hair, golden skin, round purple glasses, and she wore a long red robe.

    Wembley huffed and puffed. “Well … well … what is it with you? You’re going to kill off Pa Gorg?” He screamed, running around in circles, jumping up and down in a huff.

    The Storyteller waited until Wembley stopped. Her face was skeptical, her eyelids half closed. “Are you quite finished, yet?” He waited a few moments, bobbed his head from side to side as he tried to decide how to answer, and then he affirmed he was finished. She nodded. “Good. What have I been telling you about storytelling?”

    Wembley grunted and shrugged. “Well, it … it isn’t real … is it?” he asked timidly.

    She sighed. “You gotta keep the audience going. You can’t be afraid to change the tone if the situation calls for it.”

    “But,” he groaned, “I don’t understand! Why do you always have to have characters face danger and destruction?”

    The Storyteller sighed and shook her head. “Because, Wembley … that’s where the drama is. Besides, if you have some twists in there, then the initial pain will pay off. It’s basic storytelling. If you want to learn the tricks of the trade, you just gotta go with it.”

    Wembley groaned. He noticed a cushion in her cave that looked recently sat on. “Uh, who else has been here?”

    The Storyteller’s head lowered and she shuffled her feet. Her tail drooped. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said finally. She shrugged. “Let’s change the subject, shall we? Let’s see, where was I…?”

    <><><><><><>

    Pa Gorg, back in the days when he had just become King of the Universe, sometime in the thirteenth century of what humans called (at the time) Anno Domini (which Pa assumed meant “To dominate a ‘no’”), stared through the small window of his hiding place, which consisted of some ancient human stone ruins. He had been asked by various human kings to help out with a great battle. As King of the Universe, it had been his royal duty to commit himself to helping out other kings.

    Many Gorgs had been run off by these awful creatures. Some had supposedly fled to the northernmost regions of several continents. However, without a steady supply of radishes, they would certainly disappear … literally. Pa hailed from what the humans called “Europe”, but with every passing human generation, he felt more and more uncomfortable. They could easily be destroyed if in small groups, since an individual of the species was rarely taller than his knees. However, there were just so many of them now. He had heard of a few Gorgs being tied down and thumped in their sleep by whole armies of the pests.

    Pa could hear the roaring battle cry as the fight began. Spears, arrows, horses, swords … the sounds of heavy footsteps and clanging metal made him shudder. There were probably millions of the tiny creatures. The stench of war flooded the entire area. Pa glanced at a parchment he had been given by those who wanted him to be on their side in battle. He shrugged. Something about a “den” – he couldn’t read the sloppy handwriting very well, and some of those human languages were torturous to learn. At least there was a garden there, he mused to himself. Lots of trees, fertile soil, plenty of water from several rivers … in short, it was paradise. According to the legend, no one else lived there anymore. That was fine with him. He’d leave these creatures to their own problems, get a wife, have some heirs to the throne, and call it a day.

    And the best part was that it should only be a few weeks’ walk from where he was now.

    <><><><><><>

    “Argh!” Travelling Matt screamed as he fled the large black and brown “dog”, which had a very powerful narrow jaw that he was definitely not interested in testing for strength. Matt liked to wear a khaki uniform, a pith helmet, and a thin white scarf around his neck. He was the most famous explorer of Fraggle Rock. He was famous mostly for his uncanny ability to find things even when he’s not looking for them. Whereas many saw it as dumb luck, Matt considered it proof of his natural talent and instinct.

    He began to wonder just how long this creature could run. He had been chased throughout “Central Park” for nearly an hour now, and he was beginning to feel that burning in his legs that signaled a need to quit running.

    But that creature was still very angry….

    He felt the creature tackle him to the ground, snarling and growling. The hard path made of some strange type of Silly Creature pour-able rock scraped his beige skin.

    He was getting too old for this. Back in his prime, he could outrun any creature, even Gorgs. He was known for his athletic prowess all his life.

    And if he didn’t get away now … it might just be his very last expedition.

    “Hey! Back off! Woof woof!” bellowed a gruff male voice.

    “Go on, shoo!” yelled a much younger and naïve male voice.

    Matt could hear the creature who threatened to thump him yip as it was suddenly taken off Matt’s back. He felt two small hands grab him by the arms. He moaned as he was stood up. He glanced around, not focusing on anything in particular. An orange head with red hair and bold black round glasses filled his vision completely.

    “Are you okay, sir?” asked the orange head, the owner of the young male voice.

    “I said sit!” ordered the gruff voice from further away, which grunted as the cruel barking monster continued to struggle.

    Matt tried to focus, but his heart was running away with him. “Gobo?”

    The out-of-focus orange head shook. “No….”

    “Morris?”

    “Uh, the cat, the dance, the game, or the town?”

    “The Fraggle,” Matt noted wearily, finally feeling as though he could catch his breath.

    The other Fraggle-like being shrugged. As Matt focused on him, he could see that this being had external ears and no tail. Obviously he wasn’t a Fraggle. The creature was about Matt’s height, and wore a lime green jacket over a black shirt and blue pants, the kind Silly Creatures called “jeans”. “Sorry, never heard of him,” the being said casually. His face continued to show intense concern. “Did that Doberman bite you?”

    “No, but maybe he was pinched!” shouted the gruff voice dryly.

    The orange creature nodded toward Matt’s left, ignoring his friend’s bad pun. “We can get you to a hospital if you need patching up.”

    Matt turned and saw a large rotund brown shaggy dog with long droopy ears, an oval black nose and a broad black-lipped mouth. He stood on his hind legs, unlike the dog being held forcefully by the collar. The upright dog shook his head and grunted with each attempt by the angry creature to escape. “Hey, Scooter … why don’t you take him out of here?” strained the upright dog, though he was nearly slanted back forty-five degrees from the effort to keep the furious dog at bay. “I don’t think I can hold him much longer.”

    “Sure, Rowlf,” the orange creature replied, grabbing Matt by the arm and pulling him away briskly.

    About a half-hour later, Scooter helped Travelling Matt to a bench. Matt put his elbows on his knees, letting his arms sway next to his legs, which were still aching something terrible. Scooter bit his lower lip and adjusted Matt’s clothes, looking for rips. Scooter stepped back. “Well, it doesn’t look like that Doberman got you,” he noted satisfactorily. “How do you feel?”

    Matt panted, his tongue hanging out. “I … I feel … as fragile as … a Doozer stick.” He dramatically flung himself back against the back of the bench. His white sideburns and mustache were dripping wet from sweat.

    “A Doozer stick?” Scooter asked curiously.

    Matt stopped panting and stared at him in shock. “How can a Fraggle not know what a Doozer stick is?”

    Scooter chuckled and snapped his fingers. “Oh! I’m not a Fraggle. I remember now … a couple months ago you guys hung out in the Muppet Theater.”

    Matt twitched his nose. “Well, I stayed with the young Master Toby … but, yes, there were some Fraggles in that theater.”

    Scooter nodded for Matt to continue. “So … is Fraggle Rock okay now?”

    Matt smiled. “Yes, everyone is quite happy with the way things turned out … uh ….”

    “Scooter.”

    “Yes, Scooter, that’s it.” Matt sighed. “I want to thank you and that upright dog creature for saving my life. That first dog creature was going to eat me!”

    “Sorry I’m late!” huffed the aforementioned bipedal brown dog as he finally ran up to them. He put his hands on his knees and panted. After a few moments, he managed to catch his breath. He extended one hand. “Hey, there! Rowlf the Dog. You okay?” Matt nodded. Rowlf nodded too, putting his hand back and shrugging. “I don’t mean to blame the victim … but you really made that dog mad back there. He said you were trying to attack his owner.”

    “What!” Matt screamed incredulously. “How dare that snarling beast accuse me of something so … so … unFragglish!” He scoffed. “The nerve!”

    Rowlf nodded with exaggerated movements. “Oh, you’re a Fraggle, huh?” He shook his head and muttered under his breath, “No wonder.” He perked up and patted Matt on the knee. “Look, I know you folks don’t know a lot about how this place works, but dogs don’t like it when you hop on their owner’s shoulders and start beatin’ on ‘em.”

    “But, but there was a worm creature snaking its way from the dog’s neck to the Silly Creature’s ears!”

    Rowlf and Scooter stared at the elderly Fraggle with their mouths open. They couldn’t believe their ears.

    “I was only trying to free them both from such a horrible monster!” Matt continued to protest.

    Rowlf stroked his chin. “Hm, that Doberman did have a snapped leash, alright. And just about every human has an iPod while they’re joggin’.”

    Scooter scooted over to Rowlf and whispered into his ear, “How can anyone confuse a leash and some earphones with a worm?”

    Rowlf glanced over at his friend and shrugged. He glanced back at Matt. “Don’t worry about it. It was just some misunderstanding. Why don’t you go with Scooter. I’ll go talk to that Doberman and explain what happened.”

    <><><><><><>

    Ma slapped Pa, making him wince. He rubbed his cheek. “What in blue blazes did you do that for?” he yelled.

    Ma pulled back the covers. Tiny dots were swarming all over the fur on his legs, and a long trail of them led to end of the bed, down the leg, and across the bedroom floor.

    Ma put her hands on her hips. “You’ve been eating snacks in bed again, oh Perceptive and Intuitive Husband of Mine,” she growled, shaking her head. She stomped off toward the door. “I can’t believe you made me keep watch over you just because you can’t resist chips in bed. If you ate in the kitchen like you should --.”
  19. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 15
    (Early Summer, 2011AD)

    Toby, a young Caucasian man in his twenties wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans, sat at his computer desk, staring at his monitor. He moved the mouse every so often, rotating a virtual three-dimensional image of a solar array that would help convert solar energy into electricity. Toby had once been kidnapped in his infancy by a magical being called the Goblin King. In his teenage years, he had ended up heir to the Goblin Kingdom. Now that he was back in the “normal” world, he paid the bills by creating software. His sister (well, half-sister), Sarah, was a top Broadway writer. Her latest hit, “The Comeback of Sir Hubris”, was breaking all the attendance records.

    On the other hand, he wondered if her success had anything to do with her wish to do so. The Goblin King enjoyed giving her her every heart’s desire. However, both the Goblin King and Sarah would act severely insulted if he insinuated such a thing.

    “Meep meep, meep meep meep," came a high-pitched voice from behind. The tone was one of resigned confirmation.

    Toby turned toward the source, a four-foot-tall lanky male in a white lab uniform with pale skin, a tubular head, large white googly eyes, and a large tuft of bright red hair. “Well," Toby offered, “do we even need the inverter, Beaker? I mean, I don’t think they’re on any kind of grid at all – at least, Sarah didn’t think so.” He pointed at the monitor. “I think DC’ll work just fine.”

    “Meep, meep meep meep meep, meep meep meep, meep meep," Beaker replied, shrugging. “Meep meep, meep meep meep?"

    Toby nodded. “Yeah, we can put a battery on it. Do you think we’ll run out of supplies? I mean, this is a pretty big array we’ll have to build. What did Dr. Honeydew say? Did he want to add anything?"

    Beaker went off on a long tirade, his tone of voice suggesting boredom regarding Dr. Honeydew’s opinions. He shook his head, continuing his rant with increasing frustration and anger, his finger jabbing forcefully in the air.

    Toby’s brows rose, his hands out in a placating pose. “Hey, calm down, dude," Toby interrupted in a bemused voice. “I wasn’t implying you didn’t have good solutions.” He winked. “I know who the real talent is, okay? Why do you think you’re here?"

    Beaker’s narrow mouth went slack. He shrugged. “Meep meep, meep.”

    Toby smiled. “Exactly. Don’t get so defensive, Beaker. If this project works out, it will be an amazing accomplishment. We’ll have something to be truly proud of.”

    <><><><><><>

    Red Fraggle frowned, her knuckles aching. She was trying to climb up the Great Hall again, for about the twentieth time this year. She had managed to climb up about thirty feet up the craggly rock walls of the large cave. All anyone could see below her was an orange-yellow dot with a red long-sleeved turtleneck sweater and two fiery red-orange pom-pom-like pigtails, with her tail swaying beneath her. They couldn’t make out her facial expressions (luckily for her). She looked up again: in about ten feet, she’d hit the large stone bricks that marked the beginning of the interior to the Gorg’s well. It would be about another six or seven feet to reach the lip of the well. She would go down in Fraggle history as the only Fraggle to get all the way up to the very top. However, at about the height she was at right now, the cave walls arched into a vaulted ceiling, making it nearly impossible to hang on.

    She groaned to herself. If she couldn’t get to the top, she’d at least try to beat her personal best, which was about two feet away. She felt her fingers and toes begin to slip on the beginnings of the dome-like ceiling. She dared not look down: she would be extremely lucky to hit the Fraggle Pond below, but it was only so big around, and she wasn’t sure she would survive the adventure unscathed if she fell.

    Far below, a large crowd of Fraggles craned their necks, trying to see if the Fraggle Rock Swimming Instructor would actually pull it off this time. Most of them cheered her on, but a couple here and there started to mutter how messy it would be if she splattered all over the Great Hall floor.

    One Fraggle, rather overweight with multiple chins, munched on a clear-white Doozer stick, which was cast from pulverized radishes and flavored with an assortment of different spices and vegetables, depending on the season and the location of the nearest Doozer mill. He had a tangle of brown hair, pink skin, and puffy eyelids. He wore a robe that looked as though it were made of burlap.

    As Red continued her climb, the Fraggles began to sing:

    Red can climb the highest mountain,
    Red can burn those calories,
    Red can best the other Fraggles even now!
    Red can never worry ‘bout it,
    Red can never, ever freeze,
    But Red, just think, you might even go ka-pow!

    For you might never, ever, ever,
    You might never, never, never,
    Reach the top,
    Of the Gorg well!

    “Yes I can!" screeched Red from her perch high above the Great Hall, making everyone laugh.

    The overweight Fraggle felt someone tap him on his shoulder. He turned, half-interested, to see a strange “Fraggle” with dark orange skin, glittery eyelids with long black lashes on small googly eyes, bright red braided hair pulled up into a ponytail with a few strands dangling along each side of her face, tiny rounded diamond-pierced external ears, strange red and blue clothes like Silly Creatures wore … and no tail. His eyes widened (as much as they could), his voice surprisingly high-pitched and scratchy, “Who … who are you?"

    The strange creature smiled and took out a piece of paper from her pocket. She read from it, her voice a little deeper than Red’s, “Uh, let me get to the point of this letter, here: ‘The Fraggles are invited to an event in Central Park, to test their athletic skills against all types of creatures, including human children. It will be a multi-cultural extravaganza designed to teach each other about different types of athletic events from all around the world. We would be pleased to have representatives of Fraggle Rock join us for this momentous occasion. Signed, Kermit the Frog and Gonzo the Great.’” She looked up, batting her eyelids as small pebbles began to rain down on them. “So, anyone can come, but the letter is addressed to Red and Gobo Fraggle. You know where I might find them?"

    The heavy-set Fraggle turned and pointed to the ceiling above them as the Great Hall resonated with the wail of Red as she fell from her perch finally. “Red’ll be here any second," he told her casually. He glanced over … at nothing but cave wall. He searched for the strange creature, finding her leaping up to a thick vine, lunging off a small cliff, hurling through the air on the vine, weaving one leg around the vine for stability, grabbing at Red with one arm, nearly being pulled off the vine at the weight of the falling Fraggle, and landing with a “Ta-da!" on the large rocky arch on one side of the Pond, Red Fraggle leaning back and forth before fainting and falling to the ground with a “thud”. The obese Fraggle waddled over to the arch and looked up … as everyone else was also staring at the strange new arrival. “That was inspiring! My name is Large Marvin! What’s yours?" A chorus of “Yeah, what is it?" echoed throughout the Great Hall.

    Suddenly the female creature shook slightly, her voice quivering with unease. “Uh, the name’s ….”

    “Hey, look! A letter!" shouted Red, who had stood up at last, rubbing her head and clutching at the piece of paper. She read it aloud voraciously and gasped with delight. She stared up at the arrival. “This is a great idea! Of course I’ll come! This ‘Central Park’ place is in Outer Space, right? That’s where that frog guy lives.” She started to re-read the letter to herself over and over again.

    “Hey, uh, don’t worry ‘bout Red, eh?" said a male Fraggle with an eager voice. He had orange skin and red-purple hair and wore a yellow long-sleeve shirt with red stripes and a brown vest. “She tends to get excited about things like contests and stuff. Are you from around here?" He stared at her when she seemed too intimidated to respond. He chuckled, smiling warmly. “My name’s Gobo. You can come down, you know. We don’t bite.”

    The new arrival jumped down with a grunt, dusted off her pants, and grabbed the orange male Fraggle by the hand and shook it, smiling. “Well, I’m not a Fraggle, but my parents lived in caves like this. When they died my brother and I were adopted by a man named J.P.” She lowered her head in embarrassment, her cheeks turning slightly red, which brought out the color of her hair. “Sorry, I keep meaning to introduce myself. My name’s Skeeter. I’m a personal trainer and Olympic hopeful.”

    Her response was met with a lot of “oh’s” and “ah’s.”

    Gobo stared at her blankly. “What’s an ‘Olympic’?"

    Skeeter sighed and reared her head back in thought, as though the answer were written on the ceiling. “Well, the Olympics are a series of major sports tournaments held every four years by humans. They keep telling me I’m too short … but I’m determined to prove I can outperform them all.”
  20. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 16
    (Early summer, 2011AD)

    Far from the Great Hall, far from most Fraggles, two female Fraggles skipped along a remote tunnel, humming a cheerful melody. Eventually, the slightly bigger one, a female Fraggle with lavender skin, deep maroon lashes, and pink long hair with purple strands here and there, stopped. Her voice suggested permanent wonder of all around her. “You know, Tosh, I wonder if Wembley will go to Outer Space. I hope he doesn’t get hurt out there.”

    Tosh, a smaller pink female Fraggle with pale algae-tinged hair, sighed as she tugged on the red leash holding a large lion-like creature with a golden mane. “I’m sure Wembley will be fine, Lou. Rock forbid any of those Fraggle Five not go for fame and glory.”

    Lou gasped. “Tosh … where did that come from? We were all invited to that Silly Creature contest. You sound … almost … bitter.”

    The lion-like creature sauntered up to its owner and licked it tenderly, trying to comfort her. Tosh groaned, her voice getting louder and louder. “Boober acted like he wanted a safe, normal life. I knew he had a crush on … on … that Fraggle, but I offered a kind of calm anonymity I thought he’d enjoy! That Fraggle has completely lost her gourd!"

    “You’re jealous!" Lou exclaimed in shock.

    Tosh snorted. “I am not!"

    Lou smiled teasingly. “You are! You are you are you are," she chanted melodiously.

    Tosh shook her head. “I’m not jealous – I’m hurt, Lou!" she retorted, frowning. “I thought it meant something when Boober hung out with me. All Boober ever said he wanted was to do his laundry and keep out of trouble. That kind of thing is impossible hanging out with Gobo and his friends! I feel like he promised me a reward for running an errand for him … only to discover he already had the thing he sent me to find!"

    Lou hung her head. “You feel betrayed?" she asked quietly.

    Tosh nodded, her tail drooping. “Yeah," she replied solemnly. “He gave me the cold shoulder.”

    Lou frowned and shuddered. “Your shoulder’s not the only one that’s cold.”

    They headed down the tunnel and came across a hole filled with ice. They looked at each other. Tosh’s lion-like creature took one paw and broke the ice, shattering it. A stiff icy breeze nearly numbed their noses.

    “M-maybe we s-should have p-packed mittens," Lou chattered helpfully.

    <><><><><><>

    The Storyteller sighed, dusting the furniture in her cave. She was one of the few Fraggles to have an actual door, so she could concentrate on creating her tales in solitude. The older a Fraggle got, the further from the Great Hall they tended to live. Oh, near-constant singing and dancing was fun and all, but as they got older, they realized there could be a great deal of fun in “retirement” as well. She had her long graying pink hair tied up so she could clean without having to blow strands of hair from her face every so often. She stopped momentarily to wipe the sweat from around her glasses.

    A knock on the door startled her, making her chirp in fear. She opened it to find Cantus, who had orange-yellow skin, red tufts of hair on either side of his head, as well as a red goatee, which was starting to gray. He wore a simple purple robe, his twin flute tucked neatly into a long pocket. “Cantus!" the Storyteller exclaimed. “What … a surprise! I didn’t hear you approach.”

    Cantus barely shook his head. “I didn’t want the others to hear me come.” He paused for a long time, though the Storyteller was used to that from him. “I want you to come with me.”

    Storyteller sighed and took his hand in both of hers. “Cantus," she told him frankly, “you know your sister would do absolutely anything for you … but you gotta stop all this ‘come’ and ‘go’ nonsense.” She patted his hand. “If I wanted to just up and wander places … I would have gone with Matthew.” She sighed and retreated back into her cave and plopped down on a small blue cushion. She waved for him to enter, her voice one of experience with his vagueness. “Come on … out with it, Cantus. What’s the deal this time?"

    Cantus slowly entered, leaning against the doorway. His voice stayed mellow, but the Storyteller could detect a faint hint of impatience growing. Strange, she thought, that that would happen so close to the beginning of the conversation. Usually it took him at least ten minutes to get frustrated. “I want you to see something.”

    Storyteller leaned forward, frowning. “Cantus, if you’re taking me out on a camping trip to look at blooming cave lilies again….”

    “The Rock is not just the Rock," Cantus replied (sort of). “The Rock is also the Cave. It is also a great many other places no one ever sees … not even Matt.”

    “Cantus, the story’s dragging, dear," the Storyteller lectured. “Pick up the pace or your audience’ll fall asleep.” She leaned back. “We’re not getting any younger.”

    Cantus frowned briefly. “Do you remember me telling you of young Gobo at the time of the Festival of the Bells many years ago?"

    The Storyteller nodded. “Yeah, little guy wanted to prove the location of the Heart of the Rock. So what?" She wagged a finger at her sage brother. “You and I know where it is. What’s the big deal?"

    Cantus shook his head. “That was not the point….”

    The Storyteller groaned, exasperated. “The point was you wanted him to listen to his heart. We all know that, Cantus. It’s your main theme. You go on and on about it.” She shrugged, wanting to change the subject. “Want some cider?"

    “No, thank you," he replied absent-mindedly. He walked over to a large plaid cushion and sat down gingerly, exhaling with relief. He scratched his head. “I have found other Hearts in my travels, Sis," he continued wearily. “All are magic and all bring light.” He stared at his younger sister. “I want two Fraggles to look for the strangest Heart of all.”

    Storyteller laughed, stroking her chin thoughtfully. “Let me guess: uh, Mokey Fraggle, and, uh, let’s see … uh, who else would be suckered … er … inspired … to go along with one of your new missions?"

    “Actually, I planned on sending Tosh and Lou from the Rock.”

    The Storyteller’s eyelids opened more fully. “Tosh and Lou? Why them, of all Fraggles?"

    Cantus smirked. “Because they need to have a verse.”

    “Here we go," Storyteller grumbled. “Tosh and Lou felt underappreciated and useless and third-tier. Helpful ol’ Cantus will give them a sense of importance --.”

    “They already have importance," Cantus interrupted curtly. “I only wish to help them see that for themselves.”

    <><><><><><>

    “I’m with Beastie," Tosh said emphatically, watching her lion-like creature shiver and pull away from the hole leading to an icy tunnel. “I’m not going in there.”

    “But Cantus said we were looking for something," Lou replied in a whining tone. “I would say we found something, right?"

    “Exactly … it’s found," Tosh retorted. “Let’s go back to the Rock.” She saw Lou approach the hole, despite the cold. “Lou, it’s not the time of year for the Rock to slow down and get covered in ice yet. What if we go in there and spread that cold to the whole Rock?"

    Lou shot Tosh a harsh glance. “You’d rather Gobo or Boober get all the glory?"

    Tosh sat down on her knees, her tail swaying back and forth. “What if there isn’t any glory in there? What if it’s blame?"

    Lou stared at Tosh for several minutes, the only sound being the wailing of the icy breeze. “You know Tosh, I don’t know why Boober and you didn’t work out either," she said finally, inhaling deeply and plunging into the hole.

    Tosh finally dragged Beastie with her through the hole, shivering, and coming out into a cave that seemed half as tall and wide as the Great Hall. All of the walls and the floor were covered in ice, and there were no plants at all. The first thing really strange Tosh noticed was a series of planks of wood sticking out of a wall to her right, about four feet or so off the ground, smothered in ice. Tosh finally noticed Beastie staring at something to her left. It was a gigantic stone pillar. Beastie pulled Tosh toward the other side of the pillar. There stood Lou, shivering, her head moving back and forth as if reading something. Tosh joined Lou and noticed a set of Fragglish inscriptions carved into the pillar. Beastie, meanwhile, was jerking its paws off the icy floor one at a time, trying not to freeze to the ground.

    Lou pointed at a squiggly line just underneath a lantern made of copper or something. “That one says ‘Rhythm’.”

    Tosh squinted. It was hard to make out some of the symbols for all the ice. She pointed at a small tree creature engraving. “That one is ‘Rise’, right?"

    Lou nodded. “The little box with the line sticking out at the bottom is ‘Dream’ and … and … I can’t seem to make out some of it because the frost is in the way," she noted curiously, with a tinge of frustration. She scanned the rest of the images as they went down the pillar. There were a couple of box pictographs, a large tree-creature, and a set of three vertical lines. “Hm," Lou continued, “it says, ‘ Password’, ‘Promise’, ‘something something’.” Lou’s eyelids widened as she grabbed Tosh in amazement. “Tosh, do you know what this is?"

    Tosh nodded, jumping up and down, partly for her excitement and partly to encourage more circulation in her near-frozen tissues. “It’s the Carol of the Festival of the Bells!" she screamed. As if it were going to burst out of them at any moment, they began to sing:

    There's a rhythm.
    There's a rising.
    There's a dream of green that needs to wake,
    A password,
    And a promise,
    That the earth will never ever break.
    It's coming,
    Feel it humming,
    In the hearts we share with rock and sky so raise … your … voices… high. . .

    A tiny light inside the lantern started to flicker before disappearing. Tosh and Lou laughed and headed toward the hole. They gasped.

    It wasn’t there.

    <><><><><><>

    Cantus finished his cup of cider and handed it to his sister, who placed it neatly in a bin filled with all her other dirty dishes. He licked his lips. “You always did make the best cider.”

    Storyteller shrugged one shoulder. “It’s a gift," she replied casually. She turned toward him, placing her hands on her hips. “Now, why do you want me to go with you to this ‘new Heart’ thing, huh, Cantus? I tell stories … I don’t go out trying to find them. I let them come to me.”

    Cantus motioned for her to come closer. When she did so, he whispered into her ear for a few moments. The Storyteller’s tail drooped.

    “I will be waiting at the Crystal Caverns tomorrow morning," Cantus said, standing and nodding as he left the Storyteller’s cave.

    The Storyteller had been standing outside her cave for several moments after Cantus left, when Wembley came bounding toward her. “Hey!" he screeched. “Miss Storyteller, uh, ma’am? I need your help with a story!" He was bouncing up and down in anticipation.

    The Storyteller felt like she was in a haze that was sapping her energy. “Uh, okay … what story do you want to hear?"

    Wembley shook his head. “No no … I’m writing a story about our adventures in Outer Space!" he replied exuberantly. “I need some help, though.” He put a finger on his lower lip as he began to think. “Now, do you know anything about magical water fairies?" He chuckled. “I want to bounce some ideas off of you about why that one magical water fairy was in the Rock….”
    This isn’t necessary to know for the sake of the plot. However, if you want to know which island I have in mind … this deals with that.


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