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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

    Chapter 31
    (Summer, 2011AD)

    “Doc” Jerome Christian, a very elderly man in his early nineties, perhaps (birthdays could be fun to celebrate so long as one didn’t pay close attention to the number of them you’ve had), sat in his brown pajamas at the pale oak computer desk in his motel room. It was a modest room with white walls and dark blue bedspread on each double bed. There was a small painting of a seashore with a lighthouse looking over some ships hung on the wall next to a large window with dark blue curtains. He stared, hunched over, at the letter that came with the package marked “Return to Sender”, sighing.

    Jerome,

    I found your package the other day. Unfortunately, that “tenant” is no longer reachable from that particular location. You see, the Water Department investigated the numerous complaints about the water supply in the building and … well … how can I put it?

    There IS no wall access anymore, Jerome. Whatever that inspector did, it made that particular location unrecognizable. She said it was for the safety of “endangered species”. I’m sorry, Jerome. If I could forward this to your friend, I would. There’s no one to give it to, I’m afraid. That’s why I sent it back to you. I thought maybe you should have the opportunity to come up with another plan.

    I still miss our “business meetings” along the seashore. Watching the sun rise over the Atlantic with you lightened my heart in ways you’d never understand.

    I’m glad you managed to get away from Arizona. You’re in Oregon, now? It must be beautiful there. You need to be away from Arizona in the summer, Jerome. We’ll always miss our friends but life must go on, you know?

    I’m … I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to minimize what this time of the year means to you.

    There are days I wish you’d come back. I know you won’t, but watching over your friend here helped ease the pain of your departure. Now I don’t even have that anymore. I just stay up late working on the Inn, meeting investors, working with the accountants, etc.

    I guess we both bury ourselves in our work, huh?

    Good luck with your research.

    Sincerely,

    Betty Ardath

    Doc put the letter down, his hands trembling from old age. He stared at the package. Inside was a book he had made for his friend, with pictures captured from the video he and Sir David Tushingham had found in Montana a few weeks ago. His friend had told him of his winter holiday celebrations, including various legends associated with them. The centipede-like creatures in the screenshots seemed so close to his description of a mythical beast that protected his homeland from destruction.

    All Doc had wanted to do was supply his friend with possible confirmation of the legend. It seemed harmless enough. Now, apparently, he couldn’t mail it. The hole that led to a mystical cave system was gone. He wondered how its inhabitants would get water, since they had depended on the pipes from his workshop all those years. He shrugged, trying to smile. Things would work out, he thought to himself. They always did.

    His friend was a magical subterranean mammal named Gobo Fraggle. He had appeared to Doc when Doc was depressed about his friend Ned’s failing health. Later, when he and Ned moved to Arizona, a mystical hole had appeared in the wall to his living room. Gobo Fraggle had re-appeared, bringing with him his friends.

    “You can not leave the magic,” the little creature had told him.

    “Perhaps, Gobo, perhaps,” Doc noted sadly, closing his eyes. “Yet … those who made me feel that magic have left me.”

    Life just wasn’t the same without Sprocket or Ned. Those two had meant more to him than anything else, even Ms. Ardath. They had made his life seem almost magical. He also felt a surging wave of magic within him when Gobo appeared. It was as if his appearance had reawakened a long-dark spark in his heart, something he didn’t even know existed. Now Sprocket was gone. Ned was gone. The Fraggles were unavailable.
    Losing one’s spark hurt more once you found out it existed in the first place.

    <><><><><><>
    (60,000,000BC)

    Charlene Sinclair stared at her reflection in the lake, twisting and turning as she observed how the fur tunic fit around her green scaly frame. She, her siblings, the Scavenger Pack, and the Howlin’ J band had arrived week before last in the barely spoiled land that would have been known as Sinclair City had her father had his way. The valley was several hundred miles long, complete with rivers and forests and caves high above the bordering mountains where cavemen stayed. Although ash covered the edges of the valley, the innermost land was largely untouched … except for a road here and there and some abandoned buildings. Wesayso had wanted to denude the forest for sports arenas and other economic havens, despite the cavemen’s presence.

    In a couple of months, they would celebrate the New Year in 59,999,999 BC (which stood for “Backwards Counting” or something like that). She was sure there was some sort of logic to counting time backwards … she just didn’t know what it was.

    A twig snapped behind her. She gasped and turned to find a small brunette pale-skinned caveling, with unruly locks of hair cascading from a tiny hairband. The little creature was nearly half Charlene’s height and had bright pink spandex leggings under its fur tunic. Charlene smiled and posed for it. “Look, kid, this looks good, don’t you think?” The child smiled and clapped. Charlene’s own smile grew bigger. “Well, we’ll have to thank your parent for giving me this, won’t we?” she added cheerfully. Suddenly, her face fell slightly. “We should always thank our parents when they do something nice for us,” she told the human child sadly. The child jumped up and did a somersault. Charlene smiled weakly. “Hey, you remembered….” It warmed her heart to find the cavelings she had trained to do circus tricks some time ago. While she came to despise herself for exploiting them, they seemed no worse for wear. The ever-present smile on the humans’ faces reminded her that there was always hope.

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

    Baby and Sonny stared at the drawing for several minutes with their heads tilted to the right as they contemplated its meaning, their tails swaying back and forth slowly. Sketched onto the face of a large boulder deep in the forest was a small rodent-like creature with a mischievous grin, wearing a heavy-looking crown.

    “Oh, don’t tell me he’s doing it here, too,” a female voice whined behind them. They turned to find a small brown-furred bulbous-nosed mammal with closely-spaced eyes and crossed arms and a snarl on her lips.

    Baby and Sonny looked at each other quizzically. “What do you mean by that?” Sonny asked in his high-pitched gravelly voice.

    The female mammal shook her head and pointed at the drawing. “Some arrogant little rat thinks he’s better than everyone else. He paints his picture all over cave walls in the mountains. I guess this means he’s been here too. He thinks that just because he survived being eaten by a swamp monster a couple of years ago, he should be king over all the mammals.” She paused and stared at them. “Uh, why aren’t you two fighting to the death?”

    Sonny shrugged, patting Baby on the back enthusiastically. “Me an’ the kid here are tight, hon,” he announced to Baby’s cheers. “We’re a part of the new generation!”

    Baby nodded. “Yeah! Tight!” he barked happily in an even higher squeaky voice. “Clothes too small! No tailor!”

    The two mammals stared blankly at the lone Lizard.

    The brown-furred female shook her head slowly. “Uh, look: while I applaud this general sense of harmony between species … it kinda creeps me out. Later,” she said, waving dismissively as she strolled away.

    Sonny watched her leave and shrugged. He turned to his saurian friend. “Huh … I wonder what got her fur matted into knots?”

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

    “C’mon, Spike! Why can’t I get a jacket?” Robbie asked his friend angrily as they sat fishing by the side of a crystal clear river with a branch and some twine.

    Spike glared at him. “Because I ain’t holdin’ auditions for any more pack positions, alright?” he snarled.

    Robbie huffed and threw down his improvised rod. Standing up, he angrily pointed at the Leader of the Scavengers. “Look, Spike … this isn’t like before. I’m not coming to you begging for help. I’m asking as an equal.”

    Spike flashed a smirk. “Well, that’s funny, Scooter … since even Crazy Lou can take you wit’ one arm tied around his back … and blindfolded,” he shot back, chuckling.

    Robbie growled, clenching his fists. He kicked some rocks into the river.

    “Hey, you’ll scare da fish!” Spike protested. “Let it go, Scooter … you’re not Scavenger material,” he said curtly.

    Robbie glared at his friend, who continued to concentrate on fishing, even to the point of humming a cheerful tune to himself. “How many creatures do I have to kill in order for you to trust me?” he demanded. “I’m the alpha male of my family now, Spike … I’m not the victimized teenager anymore.”

    Spike shook his head. “No, now you’re the deranged idiot who confuses drivin’ a stolen car wit’ bein’ a hardcore pack member.” Rob started to yell again, but Spike cut him off with an icy glare. “Drop it,” he said in a deadly tone, making Robbie kick his fishing rod into the river and stomping off.

    Spike smirked and patted the ground next to him. “He’s gone … you can stop skulking around the treeline, sis,” he announced without looking back.

    A brown female dinosaur with tiny spikes all over her scalp and wearing a fur tunic silently sat down beside him, staring at the river. “How … how do you see me?” she said in a broken accent. Her voice was deep and low-key.

    Spike smiled, tugging casually on his fishing rod. “I make it my business to know who’s stalkin’ me, toots.”

    The female glanced at him, her head bowed as a sign of respect. “Please … I am to be called Thighs of Thunder. ‘Toots’ is derogatory.”

    Spike cocked an eyebrow and glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. “You let playful male banter upset you like that, cinnamon bun?” he asked, unable to hide a wide grin.

    She lunged forward, her snout splashing wildly into the river. When she pulled it out, a wriggling fish at least a couple of feet long struggled against her sharp teeth. She took it out of her mouth and offered it to Spike. Just when he was about to take it, she snatched it away, stood, and turned to leave, smiling teasingly. “Fish more nutritious, Oh Sarcastic One,” she told him. “Pastries bad for digestion.”

    “Spike,” he corrected in awe as the drops of water fell off her snout, glinting in the sunlight.

    As enchanted by the caveman-raised fem-lizard as he was, he started to feel pangs of guilt. Robbie had a point: he wasn’t the wuss he used to be, though he was still far short of Scavenger material. He watched the fish in the clear blue water ignore his baited hook.

    It must be a family thing, he thought to himself. Rob had always had a real family, one that loved him and sheltered him and encouraged him (despite what Robbie thought, sometimes). He was unused to the idea of being on his own. The last time he tried to win supremacy over his old man, it ended in disaster (which Spike had thought extremely funny) and he had to get on his knees and sob and beg to get his childhood back. Rob could never seem to temper his idealism with a sense of practicality. His highest dream as long as Spike had known him was to be “King of Teenage Pangaea” … a rock superstar with ladies swarming all over him. Now, all that was gone. Oh, he could still work up some music if he wanted, but his audience was a sliver of a fraction of what it could have been. That was what made the Scavengers “better,” if you could call it that: they were adaptable. They already only had themselves, so they didn’t have any emotional luggage that dragged them down and made them prey for some creature hiding behind every rock.

    Spike nodded slightly to himself. Robbie wasn’t asking to be a member of a pack.

    He wanted to be part of a family.
  2. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 32
    (60,000,000BC)

    “When was the last time you saw him?” asked Spike in a sleepy voice, massaging the back of his neck as he and Robbie marched through the forest just after dawn. He finished adjusting his newly tailored jacket, which had taken him all night to alter, as the sounds of branches snapping punctuated their otherwise silent walk over a tree-covered hill.

    “Last night,” Robbie replied as though he had answered that question a dozen times already. Rob wore his black and white striped T-shirt and his Rampaging Trilobites red varsity jacket and his scuffed up red and white sneakers. He sighed, shaking his head. “I woke up just before dawn and saw this slip of paper.” He took out a crumpled sheet of paper from his pocket, unfolded it, and showed it to Spike. The paper showed a crudely-drawn picture of two pink circles, one on top of each other, with the top one decorated with a smile and two purple eyes and the bottom one connected to a thick triangular tail. Little stick arms and legs stuck out from the bottom circle as well. Some trees and a lone mountain were to the left of the figure, as well as a green blob with a triangular wedge sticking out from the bottom.

    Spike grunted and handed it back to Rob. “What’s the shapeless green thing?”

    Robbie tried to wipe away a tear casually so Spike wouldn’t notice. He cleared his throat. “It’s how he draws Dad. He must be trying to get back to him.”

    “But the SUV’s the uddah way,” Spike noted.

    Robbie stopped cold and turned toward Spike with a look of confusion. “He’s a kid, Spike! What does he know?”

    Spike couldn’t help but smirk. “He knows how to disappear,” he said jokingly.

    A brisk wind from the east brought ash and soot from further towards the border of the valley, making their eyes sting. They tried to use their jackets to shelter their snouts from the sudden ash storm, but soon it got to be too much for them and they had to stop. After a few minutes, the winds died down and their surroundings were transformed into a gray parody of the lush green area.

    Spike frowned. “This is gonna make trackin’ ‘im a little harder,” he said to himself bitterly.

    <><><><><><>
    (Summer, 2011AD)

    Sir David Tushingham, a laughingstock of a paleontologist, dug into the soft earth just outside the rim to Crater Lake in Oregon, opposite the ridge from Wizard Island. Tired from poking around the dirt and rocks all morning long, he climbed over the ridge to gaze at the crystal clear lake. Near Wizard Island floated a rather large tree stump. He had heard of this tree before; “The Old Man of the Lake”, they called it. It floated forever and was rumored to create storms when bound.

    Unable to stop himself for the sake of his curiosity, he approached the edge of the lake and found, to his amusement, that the tree approached the edge as well, floating remarkably fast for just some driftwood. Sir Tushingham’s pith helmet flew off behind him as a brisk wind appeared, apparently the same wind that drove the tree towards him.

    He could see as it came close to the lake’s edge that there was a large crack near the top of the stump and something glinting within. He looked around and waded into the water to investigate. As the tree stump came to a rest, he tried to pry apart the crack a little and noted with more than a little interest that a small glass bottle was embedded deep into the tree. He could barely see, but it looked like there was the same crystal clear water in the bottle as there was in the lake (with the exception, of course, of the place where he was standing, having muddied up the water a bit when he walked into the cold crisp water).

    <><><><><><>
    (60,000,000BC)

    After about an hour of walking down the hill towards some mountains on the edge of the valley, Spike and Robbie started to hear moaning and wheezing. They looked at each other, shrugged, and walked in the direction of the sound. Soon they came upon Sonny, the eager young blue mammal from Howlin’ J’s band, who leaned back against a tree and wheezed and coughed. He seemed to have some matted fur and some scrapes on his arms and snout. His new yellow T-shirt (he was going through about a T-shirt every month or so) was dusted with gray ash.

    Robbie ran up to him and kneeled down, checking Sonny for wounds. “Who did this to you?” he interrogated the winded mammal.

    Sonny coughed and shook his head. “Nobody, Rob … I just got allergies, is all.” He blew his nose on his T-shirt and looked up. “I lost track o’ da kid before dawn.” He pointed all around him. “Some cavelings gave us some little white flowers and da kid thought … well, I thought, too … that they were some human snack or somethin’. Then the kid gets all freaked out and starts goin’ on about ghosts and monsters, pushes me down that hill, and runs off … somewhere.” He coughed again. “I guess the Lizard ain’t supposed to eat that stuff. I mean, I didn’t see any ghosts or monsters.”

    Spike stared at the little blue mammal. “Where d’ya think he’d go?” he asked in a stern yet concerned voice.

    Sonny spat on the ground and looked up at his large saurian friend. “Hey, how the heck should I know?” he screamed. “He ain’t no newborn, ain’t got no parents --.”

    “Hey! He has me an’ Charlene!” Robbie protested angrily.

    Sonny glanced at Robbie. “—an’ he can walk now and he can go where he wants to go.” He paused, glaring at Robbie. “You keep wantin’ to chain ‘im down like that an’ you’ll be cursed with a kid dat never grows up!”

    Spike glanced warily at Robbie, who remained motionless, his eyes wide, breathing in short shallow breaths. Spike didn’t want to tell him that he thought Sonny had a point because he knew his friend wouldn’t take it very well, considering Spike had just yesterday forbidden him from re-joining the Scavengers. After all, what was Spike to do? Let him back in?

    Rob was stuck to the lockers thanks to the large green spikes that had grown out of his back. He had tried to take a swipe at Spike, who nimbly twisted around and shoved his newly-bulky friend into the lockers of Bob LaBrea High School that one night at the dance.

    “I’m gonna sit right here, an’ watch your muscles fall off,” Spike had told him matter-of-factly as he sat down on the opposite side of the hall.

    They sat there for about forty-five minutes, the music from the dance dying down. Rob was starting to groan from withdrawal. Rob glared at this dinosaur who dared to oppose him. “You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you?” he growled with a very deep voice, his eyes losing focus due to the growing migraine.

    “I TOLD you dose t’ings were bad news, Scooter,” Spike retorted, crossing his arms defiantly, leaning against some lockers with a clang.

    “DON’T CALL ME THAT!” Rob bellowed, struggling to break free, then cringing from the headache yelling caused. “You were the most awesome dinosaur I had ever met. All I ever wanted was to be like you. You did what you wanted, you didn’t care what other dinosaurs thought …. Yet every time I get close – you shoot me down. Why can’t you make up your freakin’ mind, you pathetic ‘rebel without a cause’ loser? Huh?” He struggled against the lockers, growling. “You’re just like my father. You offer the carrot on the stick … and then you yank it away right when I get to the point where I can reach it,” he continued to rant resentfully.

    “I don’t talk ta thornoids, KID,” Spike muttered with a hiss.

    Robbie scoffed. “You think I’m just sayin’ this stuff ‘cause of what I ate, huh, Spike? Let me tell you something … I’ve never felt less inhibited. I feel free.” He looked around at his predicament and sighed. “Emotionally, anyway,” he grumbled. “I finally have the courage to tell you off and like some pathetic little whiner, you can’t handle a frank assessment of your friendship.”

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

    Wendy, wearing a pink T-shirt and a black leather vest, and Thighs of Thunder, wearing a fur tunic and bone earrings, finally tracked Charlene down by her whimpering. They caught up to her and told her to stop running. Charlene, still wearing the fur tunic the cavepeople had given her, turned, wiping her eyes, and blubbered, “I have to find Baby, Wendy! Mom told me to keep watch over him! What if he’s eaten?” Her face grew more and more horrified. “What if he’s fallen down a big random hole somewhere in the valley? What if he’s cut to ribbons by some creep in a large red triangular paper hat and an apron and big carving knife?”

    Wendy and Thighs of Thunder looked at each other and back at Charlene. Wendy spoke first, “Charlene, you’re letting your imagination get to you. Calm down, and we’ll handle this logically.”

    Charlene sighed, exasperated. “Baby is the least logical dinosaur in all of Pangaea!” she screamed, bursting into tears.

    Thighs of Thunder walked up to Charlene and patted her gently on the shoulder. “The pink one is chasing a large green shadow,” she offered quietly.

    Charlene sniffled. She wiped her eyes. “A … a … large green shadow?” She paused. “How do you know?”

    Thighs of Thunder shrugged. “Cavepeople have sophisticated communication abilities.”

    Charlene cocked an eyebrow. “All they do is grunt,” she replied innocently.

    The cavemen-reared saurian female squinted. “And yet … you with … superior … knowledge … cannot find a mere toddler.”

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

    Robbie trudged silently through the gray forest toward a large mountain just up ahead. Whenever Baby got scared back at home, he would jump supernaturally high up to a stalactite on the ceiling. This, from a dinosaur who couldn’t walk. So, logically, he might very well have gone up to the mountain. He noticed a large sheet of white paper nailed to a distant tree. Upon approaching, he noticed it was a map of the valley.

    Why are there always helpful maps just when you need them in situations like these, Robbie wondered to himself, walking with his hands in his pockets. He noticed a Wesayso logo in the right bottom corner. “Hm, they intended to put up a ski lift over here,” he said aloud.

    “I want you to be my daddy,” Baby’s high-pitched voice cheerfully announced (with some reverb).

    Robbie stopped and looked around anxiously. A few birds and small pterodactyls flew off into the sky from the tops of the trees, and some large insects buzzed to his right. However, there was no sign of his baby brother.

    He had told Spike to take Sonny back to the band. For some strange reason that he couldn’t quite understand, Spike just silently nodded and left with the allergy-suffering mammal. Robbie sighed. He shouldn’t have mouthed off to Spike yesterday, he thought sullenly. Spike apparently thought his friend was too good for the pack life, though he wasn’t willing to say it.

    Yet …

    … except for his brother, Robert Mark Sinclair didn’t have any males to call family anymore.

    Except for his siblings, he didn’t have any family anymore … even “Uncle” Roy and the guys from his father’s work.

    Robbie had tried to see the pros and cons of their current situation. On one hand, there wouldn’t be any bills to pay because the government was non-existent and life had become infinitely simplified thanks to living in a barely-disturbed paradise. On the other hand, Thighs of Thunder said there might be only a thousand or two dinosaurs left … if it were assumed that they weren’t the only ones to think of coming to this valley. Also, he …

    … he wasn’t ready. He was only sixteen. Spike was the oldest, going on nineteen. That didn’t make him feel comfortable. He hadn’t completed high school yet. What if there were important lessons that would have helped him in this situation. He shook his head. Maybe, just maybe – there would never be any textbooks that could give him the answers he needed.

    He needed advice.

    Just as he got to the base of the mountain, Robbie saw something white fluttering up the side about fifty feet up. He started to climb, but at about fifteen feet up he began to wish he had brought a thermos with him. Or a canteen. Or just a sippy-cup. Anything would be helpful.

    A rock underneath his right foot slipped and he fell back down to the ground with a large “Oof”. Robbie gagged as water started pouring onto his head. He stood up, wiped his face off with his jacket, and looked up. A stream of pressurized water shot out of a small hole where the rock had been. He cupped his hands and sniffed it. It smelled like strawberries. He tasted a little and cringed and spat it out.

    Whoa, he griped to himself, that water’s WAY too carbonated. There must be enough caffeine in that stuff to kill a full-grown swamp monster.

    With a new sense of determination, Rob started to climb the mountain. He arrived at a wide ledge and looked around after catching his breath. He heard a faint fluttering sound and looked to his left. Maybe it was another drawing, though it seemed a little thick. He hopped over to it and grabbed and clutched it in his hands … only to realize it was a discarded (and used) diaper.

    “Ewewewewewew! Gross!” he cried, chucking it down the mountainside. He vigorously wiped his hands on his jacket … wishing he had kept some of that vile-tasting water so he could wash his hands. He stared down at the mountain….

    After washing his hands, it was time to climb all the way back up to the ledge. Having reached it a second time, Robbie started calling out for his brother, cupping both hands around his snout. He saw trees all around on the valley floor, a breeze starting to shake the ash from the canopy, resurrecting the area in a wash of green. Leaves of many shapes and sizes twirled into the air as Robbie watched in a random awe.

    Some of us are trees, rooted in the ground, some of us are leaves that the breeze blows all around. Robbie’s eyes started to water – the whole thing reminded him of family. Back when he was a child, his grandmother would read him a story about a tree with long golden leaves that switched lives with a tree-pusher. No one knew what that tree was called, but it was rumored in common childhood myths that it gave you a broadened perspective if you touched it. Perhaps, Robbie mused, he might see if one of those trees existed in this valley. Surely he needed help figuring out what to do. When Baby was younger, Robbie had put it into his brother’s head that the tree-pusher was actually his father and that it was a secret, since at the end of the story the tree-pusher didn’t remember what had happened to him and it wasn’t nice to bring up a painful past. So, Robbie sometimes wondered if his baby brother ever imagined his father when Grandma Ethyl read that same story to him.

    He noticed some movement further along the ledge. A tail. A thick, green tail.

    “Dad?” he whispered.

    He ran, his heart racing. He couldn’t believe that his parents had survived the nuclear winter and had even made it to the valley. Maybe they had decided to just hop in the car after all.

    A fine white mist filled his range of vision and Robbie stopped dead cold. The mist was freezing on his skin. He shook, afraid to move, lest he accidentally fall off the ledge.

    An oval caveperson’s face appeared in the mist to his side. It smirked. “If your destiny is to swim, you must get your feet wet,” it offered in a silky voice. Suddenly, it vanished, the mist dissipating. “Robbie?” it seemed to whisper in a caring female voice.

    Robbie!” he heard a female voice proclaim loudly as he found himself nearly crushed in two thick green arms that threatened to crack his ribs. It had a familiar twang to it….

    Robbie managed to break free and let the new arrival come into focus. It was his father … he thought. The same bulky green scales with the pale underside … only this Earl wore rose-red lipstick and blue eye-shadow and a light beige long-sleeved shirt with a fringed collar and sleeves.

    “Aunt … Aunt Pearl? Is it really you?” he gasped, blinking distinctly. He glanced down the side of the mountain. “Uh, no offense, but how did you climb up here?”

    Pearl, who kinda looked like Earl in drag, smiled and waved dismissively at her nephew. “Aw, shucks, Rob … those little cave-folk have a stairway built up to this ledge about fifty feet ‘round this here mountain.”

    Pearl led Robbie around the mountainside to a large cave. Deep inside, in the middle of a huddled group of fur-clad cavepeople, sat Baby, who was laughing and telling jokes. Pearl nudged Robbie, staring at her youngest nephew. “Yeah, heard the little pink dumplin’ yellin’ and screamin’ at imaginary monsters from way up on that ledge. Poor little thing ripped off his diaper and jumped off the ledge and practically just belly-flopped right in my big green lovin’ arms!” She laughed as though the child had drawn her a picture for her refrigerator. “Those cave-folk came outta this tunnel and motioned for us to come on in, so that’s precisely what I did.” She sighed happily, slapping her teen nephew hard on the back. “Yes sir … I sure am glad to know you folks managed to show up here. I thought Earl’d be dragged here by his wife!”

    Robbie lowered his head.
  3. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 33
    (60,000,000BC)

    Pearl walked up to Charlene from behind, watching the teen stare at the Scavengers Lingo and Crazy Lou as they played Scrabble and argued over whether or not pack slang counted. Charlene, in the fur tunic, sat on a boulder by the sparkling river, sighing. Pearl, shimmering herself in a sparkling red and blue outfit and shaded with a large white cowboy hat with a tuft of short yellow feathers in the front, cleared her throat gently.

    Charlene yipped and turned. She nodded in greeting. “Oh, hi, Aunt Pearl,” she said, beginning with a cheerful voice and ending with a low-key one. She returned to gazing at the two males who were now yelling at each other.

    Pearl wore a compassionate expression on her face and grunted as she sat down on the ground beside Charlene to the girl’s left. She watched the two males for a few minutes before speaking. “Now, I thought I’d never seen you all dolled up in a human getup to save my life, child,” she commented with a country twang to her voice.

    “It was all they had,” Charlene replied as though she didn’t really want to participate in a conversation. However, she soon started picking at it and sighed. “Humans live in cool dank caves, so they need lots of insulation.” She sniffed at the fur. “I guess it also masks their scent from predators,” she noted, shuddering slightly.

    “You know, I saw you on TV awhile back,” Pearl acknowledged in a maternal tone. “I thought your act with those cavelings was top-notch --.”

    “But the crowd kept wanting more and more,” Charlene protested. “I couldn’t hurt them just to be famous.”

    Pearl patted her niece on the back gently. “What I was going to say was, that … that I was real proud of how brave you were, darlin’.”

    Charlene turned towards her aunt. “What would you say if I told you I thought that little beige one over there was cute?” she asked skeptically. “He’s real knowledgeable and smart and has a great sense of duty.”

    Pearl smirked. “Isn’t he a pack member?”

    Charlene frowned, crossing her arms. “There’s somewhat of a shortage of rodeo clowns,” she retorted, growling.

    Pearl laughed. “Now don’t go off and sound like your daddy, Charlene,” she drawled. “I just wanted to make sure you knew what you were gettin’ into, is all.”

    “Did you know what you were getting into with Buttons, or Danny, or any of the other guys?”

    Pearl’s face fell. She nodded slowly, looking at the ground. “I suppose, from a certain point of view … namely your father’s,” she said under her breath, “that I deserved that.” She looked up at her niece. “Charlene, I’m not your Papa and never claimed to be.” She pointed at Crazy Lou. “If you see something behind that ‘bad boy’ exterior that others don’t … you just keep on seein’ it and don’t let anyone tell you different.” She paused, her tone more serious. “Just don’t confuse a boy with a healthy self-esteem.”

    Charlene cracked a smile and sighed, looking back at Crazy Lou, who was jumping up and down in victory. She smiled. “I won’t, Aunt Pearl. I’ve done a lot of growing up since I was younger.”

    Pearl smiled warmly. “Yes sir, I sure do think you have. I know your parents are proud of you.”

    Charlene bit her lower lip, trembling.

    Pearl looked shocked momentarily and wrapped an arm around Charlene. “Now, honey, I didn’t mean to go an’ upset you. I didn’t know about Earl and Fran until Robbie told me this morning.”

    Charlene sniffled and looked at her. “You don’t sound so upset.”

    Pearl glanced toward the ground and took her arm off Charlene’s back. “Well, darlin’, you remember that song I wrote for your pa, about leaves and trees?” Charlene nodded. “The thing is … despite everything, that was the only way your father could have acted. He’s a big strong tree with deep roots and trees don’t budge … no matter what the danger. Besides, he had a family to take care of. Your father isn’t the brightest star in the sky … but honor and duty are two things that he’s unable to disobey.” She swallowed, her voice getting quieter. “I suppose lettin’ you kids run off on your own to this valley was Fran’s idea….” Charlene nodded, wiping away her eyes. Pearl nodded. “I thought so … Earl doesn’t like change, particularly when it comes to his family.” She saw Charlene quietly sobbing. “Now, Charlene … I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but … sometimes plants wither in the wintertime, darlin’, and the hardy ones come back next spring. I don’t want you kids to have false hopes, but if there’s anyone who’s too thick to accept defeat, it’s your pa.”

    “Do … do you really think there’s a chance they could survive after all?”

    Pearl sighed and lowered her head. “Well, I’ll be honest: it’s pretty bad out there, darlin’.” She looked up at the sun high above them and turned her eyes back to the ground. “I can’t see your folks just up an’ dyin’ without a fight, but I don’t know their situation, either. I came here because I just assumed Earl would take you here, since he discovered it and all.” She sighed. “I guess there must have been more to that situation than I thought.” Her eyes started to water as she stared off into the distance. “If he really is gone … I … I … I hope … he finds … peace.” Her voice broke. “But even a dead tree can rise again, given the right circumstances,” she continued with a surer voice.
  4. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 34
    (Not applicable)

    The Afterlife, a large beach-themed resort hotel, opened its doors promptly at six in the morning. Clouds wafted in from outside. The beige turtle-faced dinosaur, wearing a flowing pink robe and cheap clip-on wings made out of gold leaf, glanced around in the doorway and shrugged. He turned back toward his desk, which was a large semi-circular desk with a pale pink façade with gold lettering that spelled “Afterlife”. The top of the desk was a white marble, complete with a matching computer and desk lamp. On each side was a pale blue seahorse with a lighted spine that stood about seven feet tall. A couple of frosted ferns sat on high pedestals behind the desk against a mural of palm trees. A large lighted harp about six feet tall stood near the front door while a marbled ceiling fan twirled lazily.

    The “angel” dinosaur hummed a cheerful tune as he typed away. He suddenly stopped, looked around nervously, clicked on the mouse, and started playing Solitaire.

    A “ding” from a small bell startled him. He looked up and to his right to see a tall green female dinosaur with a multi-colored blouse, red nail polish, bright pink lining her four head crests, and a worried expression. “Excuse me,” she began with a very soothing and maternal voice, “but is this the afterlife?”

    The angel sighed, shook his head, and reached over the desk, pointing to the letters on the front. “Read the sign, honey … it’s truth in advertising.” He walked back over to his computer. “Name?” he asked in a disinterested voice.

    “Uh … Fran … Fran Sinclair,” she replied. “Excuse me, but shouldn’t you know who I am?”

    The angel shrugged again. “Hey, look lady … we’ve started a huge recycling program. I can’t waste time trying to remember who you happen to be at the moment.” He pointed at the front door impatiently. “It’s like a revolving door now. You come in, stay for awhile, and get put back when a new position opens up.” He sighed and resumed typing. “It’s like we’re a temp agency now,” he grumbled. “It’s not like the Boss has to edit all the databases. Nooooo … we desk angels get stuck with all the paperwork.”

    Fran grabbed the angel by his robe and leaned in close. “Are my children here?” she asked emphatically, almost desperately.

    The angel’s eyes widened and he grunted as he tried to pry himself away. “Do you mind if I look it up?” She let him go and he consulted the monitor. “Hm … ‘Sinclair’, is it?” He shook his head. “Three children … youngest is four … mm-hmm … let me see,” he mumbled. Finally, he smiled, slapping the side of his monitor. He glanced at Fran, who was wringing her hands. “They haven’t arrived yet. In fact, they’re not scheduled to come here for quite some time … especially that eldest one you got.”

    She stared at the desk as though deep in thought. “Is there any way I can contact them?”

    The angel shook his head. “Sorry, only staff can use the IMs here.”

    Fran tilted her head in confusion as she glanced at him. “What does that stand for?”

    The angel smiled. “Interdimensional Messaging. It’s all the rage in our Marketing Department.” He chuckled. “It’s completely state of the art and can be broadcast from anything … televisions, rocks, shrubs, cereal … you name it!” He sighed, placing his head in his hands. “I wish I had the patent on that … I could get out of this entry-level gig and get an important job … like terraforming.”

    Fran shook her head. “But I need to speak to them. I need to see if they’re okay. I want to know if my husband is okay. I’ve already talked to my parents and they said they hadn’t seen my husband. I’m very worried.”

    The angel cleared his throat. “Mrs. Sinclair … your husband … oh, how can I put this?” He chewed on one finger for a moment. “He’s in our ‘Not-So-Nice’ wing,” he told her sadly.

    “What does that mean?”

    The angel averted his eyes, staring at everything other than her. He tapped his fingers together. “Well, it means your husband was found to be directly responsible for killing billions on your planet. We take that kind of thing very seriously.”

    Fran scoffed and slammed her hand down on the desk, the sound echoing throughout the lobby. “Mr. Richfield is responsible!” she exclaimed angrily. “My husband was manipulated into agreeing to it!”

    The angel scratched his head nervously. He hated it when someone started to make an uncomfortable scene in the lobby. It made him look incompetent. “Let me check,” he said finally, tapping away at the computer. He nodded. “Oh, yeah … he’s in the ‘Stupid Idiot’ section. They have to complete a million-year seminar on ‘I Am Not a Doormat’ and another one on ‘Cause and Effect’.” He looked at her and shook his head. “I’m afraid the courses are absolutely mandatory. There are no visitors allowed.”

    “What do I do until then?” Fran demanded.

    The angel shrugged. “I dunno, Ma’am. Perhaps I could interest you in our recycling program? It’ll put you back with the living so you’ll have something to do until your husband gets out.” He stared at her as she started to droop sadly, sobbing. He handed her a handkerchief. “Please, Mrs. Sinclair, I do so hate to see grown females cry. Look: I also got several Universe Cruises available, anywhere from the One-Million-Year Camping Trip to the Grand Ten-Million-Year Party Cruise, where you can visit just about every major galaxy currently in existence!”

    Fran blew her nose and yelled, “I don’t want to go on a cruise! How can I be happy knowing I can’t talk to my children or my husband?” She broke down, crying uncontrollably. “All I ever wanted was for my family to be happy … to have peace in their hearts and the will to live.” She blew her nose again. “Why is that so much to ask?” She continued sobbing. “I’ll never be happy without Earl by my side!” she wailed.

    A sudden phone ring made them both jump. The angel answered the phone, which apparently was sitting on a shelf behind the desk. He spoke. “Hello, Front Lobby,” he said. He nodded as a mumbling voice spoke to him. “Uh-huh, right.” He paused to listen. “Really?” he asked in a surprised voice. “Huh, who’d have thought …? Well, I saw that thing about the kid. Yeah. Seems a little early to assign them for a position that far ahead though, isn’t it?” He shrugged. “Well, okay,” he said with a certain degree of uncertainty in his voice. He hung up the phone and looked at Fran. “Here’s the thing, Mrs. Sinclair … and this will be OK’d by the Boss … you can visit your husband every other weekend, but it’ll prolong his seminar for another million years. However, in order to get this one-time offer, you and your family … specifically, your mother, your husband, and your youngest child must agree to submit to the recycling program. There are some positions opening up, starting around 1000 CE --.”

    “CE?”

    The angel nodded. “Yeah, ‘Calendar Extension’. Anyway, if you agree to this, we’ll keep you and your husband together (after his seminars are over, of course) in relationships as particularly long-lived species. That way, you can spend more time alive together.” He shook his head and clasped his hands on hers. “My dear, we so rarely get Destined Couples. However, you two, if you agree, will be part of something big further along in Earth’s history.”

    “Why do you need my mother?” Fran asked, tearing one hand away to wipe her eyes.

    “In order to ensure your personality gets preserved more or less intact, it would help for your mother to raise you in your new lives.”

    “And Baby?”

    The angel laughed nervously, and backed away. “Your child began the process of communing with a recent invention of ours. Their destinies are mind-bogglingly important … so we’ll need your son to regain access to their descendants later. Unfortunately,” he added sadly, “it might not be possible for you to meet the new version of your kid. However, we’ll try to work something out.” He smiled. “I guarantee you … both of you will live in Paradise.”
  5. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    This brings us to the end of Act 3 (whew)

    Chapter 35
    (Summer, 2011AD)

    Doc jumped while standing in the small kitchenette, nearly gagging on the pills he had to take after lunch, spitting some water out on his white shirt and pale khaki pants. The door to the room slammed shut and a gangly slightly younger man lunged forward and hunched over, panting, dripping wet from the storm outside. “David? Are you alright?” Doc asked with a slightly bemused tone.

    David nodded, peeling off a long dull yellow rain jacket and hanging it up on a small hook near the door, the water making an irritating sound on a small plastic mat below as it dripped. “Thanks for letting me borrow your Duncan Macintosh,” he said in a cheerful British accent. “I didn’t know they made them yellow.”

    Doc smiled and started to wash the glass of water in the sink. “I always thought yellow was a good color on me.”

    David Tushingham beamed as he walked over to the small counter, plopping down a small glass bottle. His voice was giddy. “You won’t believe this, Jerome,” he proudly announced, “but I’ve discovered something positively magical!”

    Doc skeptically glanced at the bottle. “If you’re trying to imply the bottled water industry is older than previously surmised … I doubt paleontologists will care,” he teased.

    David blinked a few times before shaking his head. “Don’t be silly, Jerome!” He pointed at the bottle. “I took this out of that old tree stump over in Crater Lake – and it started to rain!” He jumped up and down. “Isn’t that remarkable?” He saw Doc stare at him with a single cocked eyebrow, tapping his foot. “Well … don’t look at me like I’ve gone bloody senile, Jerome!” He paused. “This further supports your hypothesis of strange happenings in the Northeast! What if it’s all connected?” he exclaimed, nearly out of breath. “What if there really are such nonsensical things as fairies and such? What if … what if there are entire interdimensional realms just waiting to be explored?” He opened the bottle and stared at the water inside with a wild-eyed expression.

    Doc chuckled to himself. He remembered the first day he saw Gobo Fraggle and how magical it had seemed to him. As he continued to think more about it, after the little creature had run back into his hole in the wall, he realized that he had always felt torn away from a sense of magic growing up, and the Fraggle’s arrival had merely re-awakened in him a sense of connectedness with other beings. It was like being reborn as your true self.

    “I would love to run some tests,” he heard David exclaim … though his voice seemed so distant.

    Not that he was consistent about that sense of wonder. He had lost his friend Ned in the summer of that very year from, ironically, heat exhaustion, and come Christmas time all he wanted to do was get away from it all … to spend the holidays just by himself and his dog Sprocket. He was getting to be that age where everyone seemed to leave you at some point … though a nagging thought in the back of his head suggested the feeling of losing family stretched far longer than he thought, though he couldn’t seem to put his finger on it. All he knew was that, growing up, all he wanted to do was make it on his own … and sometimes he just wanted to be alone. If it hadn’t been for Kermit the Frog and his friends, he might never have shaken himself out of his melancholy and bitterness.

    “Come on, Jerome, put out your hands,” David told him rather sharply, breaking Doc’s train of thought.

    Doc glanced at the bottle. “David, how is this scientific?” he asked skeptically and somewhat fearful of his friend’s new show of excitement, since David had also been feeling wistful and somewhat regretful as he got older.

    David shook his head, nearly shoving the bottle towards his older companion. “What has progress ever given men like us except a sense of being passed by?” he retorted. “Not everything in life has to be so bloody thought out, Jerome! Now just open your hands!”

    As the water poured into Doc’s cupped hands, a mist arose. Soon, their vision filled with images superimposed onto the reality of the motel room….

    <><><><><><>
    (59,999,999BC)

    “We … can wait,” Spike hissed, licking his snout hungrily.

    Robbie, dressed in a black leather jacket with a Scavengers logo sewed onto his right sleeve and the Rampaging Trilobites logo from his varsity jacket on his back. He was a slightly athletic seventeen-year-old, having spent several months mountain climbing. It was Fall, and as the leaves began to turn, a stiff cold breeze chilled anyone without fur or at least a jacket. “Spike, I thought you disagreed that we should wait.”

    The slender young human-looking creature clutched at her leg, which was trapped in a steel trap. Her hair was stringy and silver and her skin was red and peeling from being scalded by a geyser about an hour ago. Sheer hatred made her eyes burn.

    “Yeah, Spike,” Charlene said, nodding. “Make up your mind. Either we eat her or we don’t.” She adjusted her black leather jacket, made by painting over one of her Aunt Pearl’s cowgirl-like jackets and polished her bronze ring against her jacket. She pointed at their victim. “Those cavepeople are up to something.”

    I’m not a cavewoman!” the human-looking creature screeched angrily. “I am the Queen of Cups!”

    Scabby snickered. “An’ we’re the Kings and Queens of All Plastic Dishware!” he laughed. “Get to the point!” He paused for a moment, glancing around to see everyone else having the same jaw-dropping expression on their faces. “Uh … did that thing just speak?”

    The Queen, Mizumi of Moraine, was furious. She flung one arm towards them, waited for beat or two, then brought back her arm, her face stunned.

    Meanwhile, the Scavengers laughed. “What was that supposed to accomplish?” Robbie asked incredulously, shaking his head. “What? Were you going to throw a magic cup at us or something?”

    The human-looking woman cringed, gritting her teeth. “My skin is seared. I cannot summon my powers,” she noted in shock to herself.

    Spike held up his hand to silence his pack. He smiled. “And what kind of powers do you have, Talkin’ Tina?”

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

    “Yaaayy!” Baby cheered as the Howlin’ J band finished up their song, clapping his chubby little hands. He wore a black fur coat over his yellow shirt. He had decided a couple of months ago not to wear his diaper anymore. He had finally mastered walking, though it was still hard sometimes to find his balance after having grown chubby from rarely moving when he lived at home.

    A couple of humans in the back clapped and grunted their approval.

    The band had had help setting up their new place, which was basically just a better-looking version of the old Tavern on the Swamp. They had found some generators left behind at the under-construction baseball stadium, so electricity wouldn’t be hard to come by for a few years. Fortunately, the humans seemed rather adept at construction … so they had the whole place ready within a month.

    Sonny high-fived his father and hopped off the stage and ran over to the table and the make-shift high chair where Baby sat. He jumped up on a seat and poured himself some strange alcoholic drink the humans had made from potatoes. He took a sip and sighed happily. “So, Kid, you liked that song, huh?”

    “Yeah!” Baby announced happily. He inhaled deeply and sang a bar from their song. “Quicksand … sucked my momma down. Giant bugs carried off my wife!” He started laughing to himself. He noticed Sonny stifling a cough. His face fell. “Sonny still not breathing good?” he asked in a worried tone.

    Sonny shrugged, patted his chest, took a sip, and smiled. “Hey, no sweat, Kid. I ain’t gonna let no crazy ash storm get me down! It’s like I told ya … we’re gonna start our own band! We’re gonna head all over this valley and rock everyone’s socks off!” He paused, chuckling. “If anyone’s got socks, that is,” he said with a wide grin.

    <><><><><><>
    (Summer, 2011AD)

    Doc, as he watched the scenes appear before them within the mist, smiled weakly and wistfully. Ned had always wanted him to join some random group, whether it was that silly Chipmunk order or something else. They hadn’t been out of school long before World War Two had started, and that was where he had first met Ned. They saw a little action before being assigned to more engineering-like jobs, repairing weapons and tools and vehicles and such. The European Theater was where they had their first taste of ancient artifacts, falling in love with the idea of discovering really old knick-knacks.

    Watching the young dinosaur play and sing with his mammalian friend was almost too close to home for Doc….

    <><><><><><>
    (59,999,999BC)

    Pearl knocked some ash and dust off her normally sparkling outfits in front of her RV further along the river, almost to the far western coast. She hummed to herself, thinking about her niece and nephews. She had offered to become a mother to them, but they had, thankfully, refused. Pearl just wasn’t the stay-at-home type. She smiled. Earl and Fran had done such a good job raising them that she didn’t need to smother them. They were happy finding their own ways in life. Soon, she started hearing deep thumping sounds coming from behind her. After listening for a few minutes, dead still, she realized they were too loud for most carnivores. That left swamp monsters or four-footers. After all, this was their country.

    She could soon hear one of her own songs being sung by a booming female voice, albeit a bit more sadly than she had sung the song at the Sinclair household:

    He waved goodbye and threw me out, all I said was fine. Cuz when your ex is a big T-Rex you move on down the line.
    For his big long teeth go chomp.
    Chomp.
    His big long teeth go chomp.
    Uh huh, and his big fat feet go stomp.

    His big fat feet go stomp.
    Chomp.
    Chomp.
    Stomp.
    Stomp.
    Ain't no use in crying, cuz when your ex is a big T-rex you...
    Move on down the line!


    Pearl turned and saw a curious large blue Apatosaurus with thick black lashes and a necklace made of large red stones. They both smiled knowingly.

    <><><><><><>
    (Summer, 2011AD)

    Evidently, Doc and David noted, some time had passed, for now it was nearly springtime, with every plant budding. The silver-haired woman, now almost completely healed, save for a blotchy scar here and there on her arms and neck, slinked behind Robbie as he dug out some meat that had been stored underground for the winter. His muscles rippled as he moved, just as his jacket flapped and fluttered in a breeze as it hung on a nearby branch. Robbie looked up and around and caught sight of her, her new form-fitting bright blue robe rippling in the breeze.

    She smiled. She looked around. “So, the time has come, has it not?” she asked in a silky voice.

    Robbie dropped the carcass he had dug up. “What is that supposed to mean, Mizumi? What’s so special about my twenty-first birthday?” He hadn’t wanted to just eat her when they found her. He had respect for the simplistic lives of the cavepeople. But this was not some caveperson. She had a predatory look in her eye. In fact, she reminded him of an old myth in the Great Book of Dinosaur that spoke of a conniving two-legger female dinosaur who cut off her four-legger boyfriend’s two front legs so that he could be set upon by predators.

    Mizumi maintained her smile. “The time has come for new lives to spring forth anew,” she replied. She waved her hands around. “All of this is at great risk. Those that come after you will surely destroy this paradise. Why not spare yourselves that fate?”

    Robbie scoffed and turned back to his task. Without looking at her, he asked, “What do you propose – hide the valley?” He felt her slender hands caress his black and white-striped shirt. He shot a sharp glance at her.

    She backed away a couple of steps and laughed. She took out a small glass bottle and held it up to him. “I understand you wished to record your thoughts for posterity,” she said. “Perhaps I can aid you in such a noble endeavor. With this I can store every memory you and your family have ever had.”

    Robbie sighed. “So what?”

    Mizumi frowned. “This is not the only hiding place, Robert,” she retorted, irritated. “You are a natural leader -- bring dinosaurs to safe haven, and maintain your race’s place in history for eternity!” she cooed (rather loudly). She smiled again, nearly sending shivers down Robbie’s spine. “Only take my present … and assure your status as alpha male for all time….”
  6. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Act 4: The Underground Council Comes Back (Final)

    Chapter 36
    (Late Summer, 2011AD)

    “Don’t little frog go to school soon?” asked a deep, gruff voice.

    Robin the Frog, about two-thirds the height of his more famous uncle, Kermit, looked up from playing video games in the basement of the Muppet Theater. He saw Sweetums, a large brown hairy monster with a fat lower lip, yellow-tinged eyes under thick black eyebrows, and a ratty brown cloak.

    An alarming sound came from the television. Robin whipped back around and madly pushed buttons, but it was too late. His character got flame-broiled and died. Robin shook his head and snapped his fingers. “Aw, man,” he exclaimed with a youthful yet assertive voice. “I forgot to save, too. Just my luck!” He turned to Sweetums. He tried to hide the irritation and disappointment in his voice. “Actually, I’ve started taking classes on the internet. That way, when I visit my folks in Florida, I don’t have to miss school.”

    Sweetums stared at the television. “Sweetums make frog lose game?”

    Robin smiled. “No, I wasn’t doing so hot anyway.” He paused, patting the floor beside him. “You wanna play?”

    Sweetums shook his head. “Tiny controllers get crushed by Sweetum’s big hands,” he replied, trying to sound as though it didn’t bother him. He was a rather large monster and very strong. Kermit, though, had been the first being to appreciate him as something more than just a heap of muscles. “Sweetums has to build set piece for the show next week.” He smirked. “Muppet Theater do play version of Frog Prince.”

    Robin’s head leaned back and he sighed, turning back to the television, which mocked him with its “game over” screen. “I wonder whatever happened to that human guy who had to play me,” he wondered thoughtfully. He frowned. “I better not need Uncle Kermit to rescue me again, though. I’m a lot bigger and wiser than I used to be.”

    “Not around flame jets on TV screen,” Sweetums teased with a hearty laugh as he turned to head down out of the room. Ever since they first met, he and Robin had stuck together like glue on paper. Robin was just as nice (if not more so) as his uncle and wasn’t scared of a large monster that drove away even some adult humans, who were only a few feet shorter than him. Monsters had been maligned all throughout their history, so finding someone who cared for you anyways was a treasure to hold in one’s heart forever.

    “Just you wait … I’ve got warts with your name on them!” Robin shot back with a half-smile.

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

    Oscar the Grouch, a broad-mouthed creature with ratty green fur, leaned against the back of his trash can just outside of 123 Sesame Street, reading a half-shredded, half-stained copy of Grouch Gazette, humming cheerfully to himself. A lot of interesting things had been happening in Grouchland lately: there was a new swimming pool filled with sludge installed for grouch youth, wealthy grouches were moving to Naples in droves, a big slimy toad by the name of McMooch had started a neighborhood filthification organization, and the Queen of Trash had left her kingdom for some sort of rare meeting.

    He sighed happily. It looked like it was going to be a really rotten season after all.

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

    On the far edge of a black tar-and-muck-filled swamp sat a small stone cottage, half-eaten with mold, with a small attic underneath a large stone sculpture of a nose, the nostrils of which streamed watery goo into the nearby bog. Inside sat a broad-faced dwarf with grey bushy brows and thick sideburns, wearing a red-tinged purple robe fastened with a circular golden clasp, a blue and gold tunic, black pants, and thick black boots. The only rooms were a small bathroom/kitchenette in the back and the main room which served as a throne room, complete with an aged stone throne with jeweled edges and a large chunk taken out of the top. Flies swarmed to and fro, irritating the dwarf immensely. He had tried to swat them, fumigate them, set them on fire … but they just kept coming. That’s what you got when you lived in the Bog of Eternal Stench.

    A knock on the door snapped him out of his gloom. He told the visitor to enter in a very gravelly voice, made even huskier with age.

    “A-ha! I knew I would find you here, Hoggle, my good Prince!” enthusiastically shouted Sir Didymus, a brown-grey fox-terrier-like creature with a brightly-colored Royal Guard-like uniform. His riding partner, Ambrosius, a white sheepdog with tinges of grey here and there, followed meekly.

    Hoggle snorted in disgust. “Aw, where else did you think I’d be?” Many years ago, a human girl, Sarah Williams, had tried to solve the Labyrinth. In return for rescuing her from a bunch of hyperactive Fireys, she kissed him. King Jareth, in one of his usual humorous moods, made good on his promise to turn him into a prince … by giving him a crown and moving his house to the Bog. Although through the years he’s managed to adapt … there were times he still hated her for it.

    Sir Didymus shrugged, maintaining his ever-present smile. “Why, with the Goblin King, of course, as he journeys to lands unknown to address the Council!”

    Hoggle jumped up, standing only twice the size of the small canine-like creature, and stomped his feet, wringing his hands. “I have to watch this stupid cesspool for the rest of my life!” He grabbed Sir Didymus by the collar of his uniform. “Don’t you know anything?” he shouted angrily.

    Sir Didymus trembled ever so slightly. “Why,” he replied with a less confident voice, “Prince Hoggle … dost thou not remember young Sarah?”

    Hoggle threw him to the ground and stomped back to the throne, burying his jaw in his hand. “Why you gotta always bring her up?”

    Sir Didymus adjusted his uniform and patted his loyal steed on the back to reassure him. “Her powers of logic were wondrous to behold,” he answered with a tone of wonder in his voice. “It was she who figured out the key to respecting my oath.”

    “So what?” grumbled Hoggle. He hated beings who couldn’t just say what needed to get said. Using flowery language or beating around the bush made him feel stupid. It was like when he first met Sarah outside the Labyrinth gate – she clumsily stumbled over every sentence. What was worse, she assumed he was a complete idiot (just like that jerk, Jareth). She was the one who took things for granted. She was the one who got herself dumped into an oubliette dungeon … and yet she forgave him! He gritted his teeth. He should have been the one to forgive her….

    “Hmph! What was the result of yon fair maiden planting a huge wet one on you?” He saw Hoggle stare at him with deadly viciousness. Didymus cleared his throat. “Ahem, well, as I recall, all he told you was he was going to make you a prince. At what point did King Jareth order you to stay here? Did you not attend the ball at the castle, held for Master Toby? Does not even the King leave his Kingdom to address business?”

    “And to flirt,” Hoggle muttered bitterly, still ruminating over Sarah.

    “All beside the point, dear Hoggle,” Didymus lectured.

    “Wait a minute!” Hoggle interrupted suddenly, a light going off in his head. He turned to Didymus and stood up. “You’re tellin’ me that since I’m prince I can leave here if I wanna?”

    “Well, your position does have its benefits,” Sir Didymus replied.

    Hoggle jumped over to the small fox-like being and kissed him and headed for the door. Barely turning his head, he cheerfully announced, laughing, “See ya!”

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

    “Ya know, Marjory,” offered a high-pitched street-wise voice, “life’s been kinda dull since Juniah Gorg took off for dat meetin’.”

    “Yeah,” replied a slightly deeper though similar voice. “I almost miss da big guy.”

    Marjory, an oracle created out of a heap of trash, with deep-set eyes and a narrow mouth, nodded. She patted the two rat-like creatures, one pink and one gray, on the head. Her voice was a bit raspy. “I know boys, I know.”

    The pink one smacked his lips. “Hey, Gunge … ya t’ink we’ll get to go on anuddah trip to dat Trash Kingdom? Dey had the best scraps!”

    The gray one sighed dreamily. “Maybe, maybe not, Philo … it all depends on good ol’ Marjory here.”

    Marjory chuckled. “Actually, boys, it depends on how the story’s written.”

    Philo and Gunge looked at each other and then at Marjory. “What da heck does dat mean?” they asked loudly.

    Marjory shrugged. “Everyone in life has their own path, their own story,” she answered defensively.

    Gunge sighed. “Great ta know. I was startin’ to have existentialist feelin’s of havin’ no independent purpose, bein’ constantly driven by the whims of unknown powahs.”

    “Me too,” Philo muttered back.

    Marjory exhaled silently in relief before lowering back into an inanimate heap.
  7. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 37
    (Late Summer, 2011AD)

    A small black carriage, drawn by six brown horses, rumbled along a cobblestone path early in the morning. Inside sat a woman with golden blonde hair, loosely curling just below her shoulders, wearing a dark blue robe with pink trim over a pale blue low-cut gown. Beside her, holding the reins, sat a taller man with brown hair, wearing a pale beige tunic, accented with a triple-sun bronze medallion, with loose gold-colored material forming a sleeveless robe. The man hummed a medieval tune cheerfully, while the woman smiled as she took in the surroundings. It was such a cool, bright day that morning. The sky was a pure sapphire. The leaves on the forest edge were just beginning to turn, with tinges of red and yellow on the emerald green leaf tips. The air was filled with songbirds’ melodies. Nothing could make them happier.

    The man glanced at the woman with a grin. “Melora, milady,” he asked in a suave voice, “your hair positively shimmers in the sunlight.”

    Melora smiled warmly. “Why, Prince Robin,” she teased in a sweet and innocent voice, “should you not keep your eye on the road?”

    Robin kissed her on the cheek. “Does my princess fear ogres and goblins, my love?” He patted his long sword attached to his waist with a leather clasp. “I will charge through any obstacle and battle any foe, just to keep one strand of hair on your head from falling into disarray,” he boasted.

    Melora laid her head on his shoulder and sighed dreamily. “Ah, Brave Robin, I feel my heart racing with anticipation!”

    Robin nodded. Neither of them had stopped grinning for hours, despite how tired their cheeks were becoming. However, life was just so wonderful. They had fallen in love despite all their vexing trials, so nothing could tear them apart. “Would that I had a battle to win, milady. Only then would I be engaged in action that befits my muscles tensing!” He rested his head on hers for a moment. “This shall prove to be a monumental occasion, my love,” he said more tenderly. “This council meeting will bring forth a millennium of good fortune for all involved, of that I am quite certain,” he announced confidently.

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

    “Jareth … of all the filthy rotten things you could ever request of me!” screamed a young adult woman with black hair tied into two pigtails, dressed in a crisp navy blue dress with gold trim. Her reddened scar over her left eye was nearly hidden by the redness of her face.

    “You said you wished you could be more active on this trip, Moulin,” Jareth teased with a deep suave voice. He wore nearly all black save for a pale shirt with a frilly collar. He couldn’t help but smile.

    “I am not bathing that … that … walking mound of fur!” she shot back, jabbing a finger towards Junior Gorg, a two-story tall brown furry creature with a pale bulbous nose and a slight speech impediment. The sentient cloud that was her ever-present companion flew around in circles anxiously, growing darker as a sign of impending rain.

    They had stopped to rest some time ago, since Jareth had not wanted to go to the Council along with the two humans or the Queen of Trash. Every time Jareth met the Queen of Trash, she would hassle him about the junkyard surrounding the Labyrinth. She argued that trash outside his kingdom could be rightfully taken by her for repurposing. He claimed he was in charge of all goblins, including those who lived in that junkyard, and it wasn’t generous to take away their home. Jareth had a frustrating habit of getting along with no one. Hence, before he had become the Goblin King, he had been known to his critics as Sir Hubris, a fae very strong-willed yet self-obsessed. It was his lack of compassion for those under his care that drove him to give his crown to Gorgous the Great, the first Gorg King (and the first being stupid enough to take the crown). After all, no matter how long or how hard he had worked to please his subjects, they always found something to complain about. Now, here was Junior, a descendant of that very King, who had denied his destiny until his home and his friends were in danger.

    “May I say somethin’?” Junior asked timidly, adjusting his fraying purple robe. He had been walking alongside “Sir Hubris” for a couple of days now. The most frustrating thing was how slow they were. Junior could probably have been there by now … if he knew which way to go.

    No!” came the simultaneous retort as the argument continued.

    Junior frowned and stomped his booted foot just feet away from the five-to-six-foot faes, sending them sprawling to the ground. He smiled as they gawked at him in surprise. His voice was smug. “If kings an’ queens can tell uddah kings what to do, den I can tell you to keep yuh stupid mouths shut.” He wagged a finger at them, smiling. “I don’t wanna hear anuddah word outta either of ya.”

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

    A dark-skinned athletic woman with sea-green shoulder-length hair walked into a large hole in the hull of a ship deep in a jungle. Upon entering, she looked around for all types of items that could be useful in her abode, the Trash Kingdom. She wore a pale green dress and a crown made of discarded knick-knacks. Her foot snapped a dusty leg bone from a long-deceased sailor.

    “You’re different than the rest,” a deep gravelly male voice commented dryly. The Queen of Trash’s head jerked up to see, deep in the shadows in the stern, a brown-robed figure with a hint of green coming from the worn fabric. “Most of the humans I’ve seen like to wear browns and grays.”

    The Queen smiled. “I am Queen of the Trash Kingdom. I come for the Council.” She nodded towards him. “And you?”

    The other being grunted in surprise. His voice became somewhat younger. “The ‘Trash Kingdom’ … and you look like that?” he asked, his voice betraying the fact he was ogling her. He shook his head, careful not to reveal his face. “I don’t mean to be offensive … but you’re not what I imagined.”

    The Queen laughed, kicking away another pile of bones gently. “It appears we have some time to kill. Let’s get to know one another then, shall we?”

    The robed male figure shrugged. “Are we early?”

    The Queen shook her head and shrugged playfully. “Jareth and the others could simply have teleported here. The island isn’t that difficult to find.” Suddenly, she frowned in confusion. “How did you get here?”

    The robed male figure cleared his throat and backed away a few steps. “Uh … actually, I, uh … have great advisors,” he stuttered nervously. “Yeah. I, uh … you know, there’s a human village nearby with some great TV dinners. Maybe we could go pick up a couple.”

    The Queen no longer smiled. “Are you that quick to risk letting the humans know of our arrival?”

    The male figure sighed. “Look, Miss Queen, ma’am … ever since I’ve been here it’s been nothing but skeletons and jungle and humans with guns and some sonic fence thing and strange hallucinations. I don’t think this place is too attached to reality to begin with.”
  8. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 38
    (Late Summer, 2011AD)

    Jareth sat on the cool grass in front of the palanquin, a multi-legged enchanted vehicle, staring at a small crystal ball. He turned it this way and that, staring at it intently. Thunderous footsteps alerted him to the Gorg’s presence.

    “What can I do for you, Gorg King?" he asked with a hint of irritation in his voice.

    Junior sat down, shrugging, wiping the sweat from his brow. “I wanna ask you a question, Suh Hubwis," he noted with a curious sadness. He waited for a couple of beats and finally sighed, asking, “What was King Gorgous like? I got a pict-yuh of him at home. I got a whole book of legends about you, but even Da Book of Gorgs can’t help me understand what he was like!" He stared at the small king, who was only half as tall as what the legend says he was. Jareth continued to stare at the crystal ball. Junior sniffed and wiped his nose with a finger. “Uh, what ya lookin’ at?"

    Jareth sighed, not taking his eyes off. “The crystals show me anything I wish to see," he replied in a low-key voice.

    “Come again? No offense, but yo-uh way down there. I got twoubles hearin’ ya," pointing at his ears (which were very small and buried in his shaggy fur) with both hands, his facial expression wide-eyed.

    Jareth looked up at the behemoth. “I said the crystals show me anything I wish to see!" he bellowed forcefully. “I’ve been concerned about humans making their way into the Underground, where you and I and many creatures hid to avoid ending our lives at the hands of humanity," he continued bitterly.

    Junior stared at “Sir Hubris” for a few moments. Finally, he shrugged, noting casually, “I noticed you guys all have dis pwoblem with human bein’s. Surely dey can’t be all dat bad. Fwom what I gathuh, you guys have your fa-yuh share of wars and stuff. So, weally, you don’t have a lot of woom to talk, do ya?"

    Jareth frowned. “Ask your father," he retorted. “He fled from human wars.”

    Junior smirked smugly, his eyes half-closed. “And if I wecall, you wandahed da univ-uhs twying to flee fwom your own citizens.” Junior leaned back, crossing his arms defiantly. “If anyone’s a coward ….”

    “So, you wanted to know about King Gorgous, if I recall?"

    Junior nodded with a grin. If he had mastered anything in his five hundred years of life, it was how to pester someone until you got your way.

    Jareth sighed, twisting the clear crystal ball until it disappeared. He looked around and saw that Moulin was still napping in the cab of the palanquin. He didn’t want her to hear this story. It was … rather sappy for his reputation.

    And it was barely true.

    However, he had spent a lot of time rehearsing it. Not that he ever expected to return to the Gorgs for any reason at all. The goblins in his kingdom were just a small-scale representation of all the hassles he had had to deal with as King of the Universe. He never wanted to go back to that. He had known, of course, that Junior had thrown away the crown decades ago. Once thrown away, the Queen of Trash had come to the Labyrinth to mock him, for she was fully aware of anything ever thrown away, especially things that had held significance at some point in time. Had one of the Gorgs actually possessed the crown, he was honor-bound to regain his former position. However, the Queen of Trash had a suggestion that came to dwell in his thoughts more than anything else, even Sarah. He looked up at the two-story walking rug and sighed.

    Around what the humans call ten-thousand years BC, at an age when glaciers receded, scouring and flooding the land with water, caves and tunnels were located by various human tribes obsessed with them, from the Azilian who painted pebbles to the Magdalenians, who painted cave walls in order to attract a connection to what became known as the Underground. Back then humans were still relatively harmless, barely scraping together a living. There were larger mammals much more dangerous to them, such as mammoths and saber-toothed cats … and large humanoid hairy creatures. I had been King of the Universe for only about a century or so, but I despised it. My court was filled with creatures of every sort and they all nagged me to attend to their every need.

    I loathed being their superior yet given all the work.

    Despite my responsibilities, I began to take long trips. Whenever I returned, my court only wailed longer and louder. They could never be pleased. So, I decided I would give my crown to the most deserving … or the most stupid, as the case may be. I truly felt that only the most brain-dead lummox would ever desire to serve those needy, whiny buffoons.

    Anyway, six approached at my behest to contest the crown. A capcaun, which was a sort of dog-headed ogre, offered to spend eternity bringing me children to be my heirs.

    A small clurichaun, a broad-faced humanoid only about a couple of feet tall, offered a flask of unending wine that he had found … from my own cellar (can you imagine the GALL?)!

    Some giant, someone bigger than even you, from an eastern island chain … Dai … botchi-something … it doesn’t matter. At any rate, this creature offered to teach me how to mold the land to my liking.

    One of my favorites, an avian being with the upper half resembling a young woman, offered to fly me to a magical dimension and provide a sacred song. Kinnara, if I recall….

    “Yo-yuh dwooling," Junior commented dryly, clearing his throat. Jareth blushed and nodded.

    There was this vampire. I forgot what he wanted.

    Finally, a sphinx showed up, offering me all the best riddles in the universe.

    Well, I wasn’t impressed. I was the KING OF THE UNIVERSE! I already HAD everything!

    After many months I had nearly decided to let the world burn. I was fed up. They were so needy and shrill and I just couldn’t stand being around them anymore. One night, a young Gorg stumbled into my small garden, wanting to eat the vegetables that grew there. At the time, there had been many large humanoids running around the planet, and Gorgs were related to them distantly. At any rate, he forsook offers of gold, offers of power, and offers of fame. He had simple needs. He denied my offer of the crown.

    That was the last straw. I decided I would take my own life than have to face yet another day as King of the Universe. When I told him as much, he offered to take the crown.

    “I will take the crown," he said. “For every being deserves to have a full tummy and a smile on their face. It is sad you cannot find such things. You need the opportunity to find them.”

    “And that, young Gorg," Jareth told him with a sigh, “was the sign of someone truly great. He knew that I needed things. My station in life did not immunize me from the trials of life. He did not minimize my feelings. And so, this accidental seventh contestant made my path clear. I gave him the crown and offered to take it back from him when I had discovered what I needed.”

    Junior sat with a slack jaw and wide eyes. In the far edge of his peripheral vision, he noticed Moulin with a single open eye. However, he didn’t acknowledge her eavesdropping. “And what is it you need?"

    Jareth smiled briefly.

    Moulin sat cross-legged in the cab of the palanquin as Jareth started to climb up the steps. She smirked. “So, where is this island?" She chuckled. “Come now, Goblin King … where are these evil humans going to start their invasion?"

    Jareth frowned.

    She had heard him.

    Moulin smiled and leaned back, sighing. “Goblin King, Goblin King," she teased dramatically, “take thy whining far away from me! For the sun rises and sets and forever do I fret, that mere humans will dare to blast open my bedroom door … and my nights of adventure shall be no more!"

    Jareth crossed his arms in indignation, gritting his teeth. “Are you quite finished, then?"

    Moulin laughed. “Never before and never again do I hope to see, a Goblin King afraid of humanity!"

    Jareth glared at her, his teeth threatening to crack. He pointed angrily at her, though his voice stayed steady. “They chased us to the Underground --.”

    “You fled, as I recall.”

    “Their weapons present a danger to us all," he retorted, though he shuddered at the unintentional rhyme.

    Moulin had had enough. She stood up and stomped her foot on the floor of the palanquin. She grinned sarcastically, turning her palms up as though juggling invisible objects, mocking him, “Why nuclear weapons versus magic: hm, whatever could prove to be more powerful, the destruction of cities or the transformation of their entire little world?" She pointed and sneered at Junior. “The Gorg King had a point, you know: there is nothing those silly creatures can do that we can’t do better.”

    Jareth smirked, leaning back slightly. “So, you ache to go to war, then?"

    Junior gawked at the two as they talked. War? Junior hadn’t even packed another set of clothes for his trip! He didn’t bring even a shield! He thought his father had been absorbed with bravado and baseless self-promotion. He had no idea it was rampant throughout the universe. How did the universe ever live so long, if all its inhabitants were chomping at the bit to hack into everyone else?

    And what was a “nuclear” weapon?

    Junior stroked his chin for a few moments. Maybe, just maybe, it was a “new clear” weapon … maybe a weapon designed to turn creatures invisible had just been invented! He shuddered. The last time he and his family had run out of radish cream, they had started to turn invisible. It was … shocking … to say the least. Junior felt his pulse race.

    “I don’t want to be invisible!" he cried, sobbing.

    Moulin and Jareth turned to stare up at him. Moulin shook her head. “What are you talking about?" All Junior could do through his sobs was repeat the same statement over and over. Moulin nodded at her cloud companion, who flew up to Junior’s face and zapped him with lightning and sprayed his face with torrents of water. Junior stopped blubbering and gawked cross-eyed at the close cloud, which smirked at him before flying back to its mistress. “Snap out of it, you’ll smell like a wet dog!" Moulin barked. “Then we’ll have nothing more to do with you. I am not travelling downwind of a creature in need of hygiene classes!"

    Junior sniffled, wiping his face with his robe.

    “You’ll be travelling nowhere," announced a strange female voice. Everyone turned to see the Queen of Trash standing haughtily next to a robed figure roughly two feet taller than she. The Queen of Trash crossed her arms and glared at Jareth. “You summoned us and then went back on your word, Goblin King," she proclaimed loudly with an accusatory tone. “You had no intention of having a meeting at that island.”

    Eyes turned to Jareth, who showed no signs of backing down or sheepishness. “No," he replied curtly.

    Jareth felt himself kicked off the palanquin. He smacked the ground face-first, getting dirt and grass in his teeth. He turned to see Moulin standing over him, her fists clenched, her face tightly drawn into a scowl. “You weren’t going to the island at all?" she shrieked. “Name your intentions, Goblin King! What was all this … some bonding experience?"

    “Don’t flatter yourself," Jareth retorted angrily, spitting out some dirt. He gingerly retreated from Moulin and stood to face the Queen of Trash. “I summoned everyone to a Council meeting … but I gave everyone different directions," he informed the new companions matter-of-factly. “The location is not nearly as important as the information.” He stared at her expectantly.

    The Queen of Trash sighed. “You’ve been watching too much television," she replied, putting her hand on her hip, rolling her eyes.

    “And there’s this movie about this fight between a misunderstood demon and a fairy prince bent on destroying humans," offered the young male voice behind the thick brown robe, a pair of red and white sneakers peeking through the thick fabric near the ground.

    Everyone stared at him. The robed figure shrugged. “It’s just déjà vu, that’s all I’m implying," he noted submissively, rubbing his clasped hands together, careful to keep his hands hidden.

    The Queen of Trash glanced at him with a look of curious bemusement. “Since when do you watch movies?"

    The robed figure turned to her. “Don’t you?"

    The queen sighed and shook her head. “I rule the Trash Kingdom … I get everything people and grouches alike throw away. So, yes, I have access to modern electronics.”

    “Um," Junior began with a forceful yet submissive voice. “I don’t wanna fight no one, if it’s all da same to you," he said, shrugging, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.

    “You would risk the fate of your kingdom because you don’t want to take up your sword?" Jareth sneered.

    Junior shook his head. “I took my cwown back to save my Fwaggle friends," he replied proudly. “Someone was comin’ to hurt them all.” He pointed at Jareth. “What you want is completely different. You want us to join you to go to Outer Space and thump them all where dey live. You’re actin’ like dey all are our enemies!" He crossed his arms in defiance, not noticing his speech clearing. “I refuse to fight! Madame Trash Heap would have told me if humans were a danger to my kingdom. If they were all so bad, they woulda taken themselves out by now! Humans have been around a long time … and they’re … all … still … here! That can only mean that the desire to live is stronger than the desire to die. I will defend my kingdom … but I refuse to fight creatures who have not tried to hurt me.”

    “That was a powerful speech," the robed figure replied in awe, sliding his hood back … over his green snout, his spiky Mohawk made of long scales, and three small ridges on each side of his head. His eyes were youthful, like Junior’s … a sense of wide-eyed wonder filled them with a certain brightness. He had several small scars forming bite marks on his neck and a couple of his scales were missing here and there. He placed a scaly green hand on his chest. “That’s exactly how I felt growing up, Mr. Gorg, sir," he continued, craning his neck. “I had the misfortune to take part in war … and I had to learn the hard way that they always start over something that could have been handled better had everyone just stopped to think.”

    Junior nodded thoughtfully. “Swords look better on my Pa’s mantle.”

    Moulin gawked at the reptilian robed creature. “I read that your kind disappeared millennia ago.”

    He glanced at her and shrugged. “Well, it was a long story.”

    “You seem to have aged little," Moulin probed. “What are you called?"

    He flashed a grin and held out his hand. “Robert. Robert Mark Sinclair. I am Chief Elder of the Pangaeans that inhabit Sinclair City.”
  9. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 39
    (Late Summer, 2011AD)

    “Okay! I think we’ve taken a close enough look!” yelled Robert Sinclair as he squirmed in the big furry hand of Junior Gorg. He couldn’t help having flashbacks to that time when he went with his father to a swamp to “learn about the food chain” … and promptly got eaten by a monstrous swamp monster. Had it not been for some quick thinking, making the swamp monster sick with lovey-dovey talk, he would have died a horribly slow death.

    Junior chuckled. “You gotta be the biggest lizard I ever saw!” He gently set Robert back down, patting the young adult dinosaur on the head.

    Robbie twitched his tail in irritation. “I’m not the biggest dinosaur, you know.” It had been several years since he had allowed himself to be humiliated like that.

    Junior shrugged. “Most lizards ‘round our castle aren’t even half your size,” he noted with amusement. “Can I keep you around our house?” he asked with a childlike enthusiasm.

    “Uh … no,” Robbie replied, as though he had been asked to have his tail chopped off.

    Junior shrugged and started to walk away. They had all been travelling toward a distant mountain chain in the southwest of the Underground (though directions were rather relative, considering how easily space and time could be altered). They would try to catch up to Prince Robin and Princess Melora in a couple of days, the beginning of autumn.

    Robbie cupped his hand in front of his snout and whispered to the Queen of Trash, who walked alongside him, “Is that guy always like that?”

    The Queen of Trash shrugged. “I don’t have a lot of experience with Gorgs,” she replied bitterly. She didn’t like having to walk, particularly since it was all Jareth’s idea … though Jareth had decided to fly off as an owl … to avoid Moulin. Yet again, they could have teleported to those two human royals … but Jareth insisted on doing things the long (and irritatingly inefficient) way. “Gorgs keep to themselves, mostly.” She glanced at the dinosaur. “Just how old are you? You seem rather young for a ruler.”

    “I turned twenty-three last month,” Robbie replied. He stared at the ground as they walked. “I’ve been Chief Elder for,” he continued, changing to a more subdued tone, “a … awhile.”

    “Do you have any family?” the Queen of Trash asked in a bored-yet-polite tone.

    Robbie hesitated for several minutes. “A sister,” he mumbled.

    The Queen of Trash glanced at Robbie thoughtfully, noticing his sad expression. “I apologize for prodding,” she said with increased sincerity. “I suppose your kind suffered many losses, am I correct?”

    Robbie nodded. “Yeah.” He looked at her at last. “What that Jareth guy said, about humans being cruel and all … he doesn’t realize that they never caused us any real problems. We caused our own destruction.” He shrugged. “I wonder why he has such a big thing about them.”

    She smiled and patted her reptilian companion on the shoulder. “Jareth likes to hole himself up when he doesn’t get his way. When he started as the Goblin King, a powerful fae desired him. She only desired him for his strong will and powerful magic. Jareth has a tendency to consider himself deserving of much more than partnership. He built a large living labyrinth to keep everyone out.” She shook her head. “Jareth hides when he feels intimidated. They didn’t call him ‘Sir Hubris’ for nothing, you know. He puffs himself up to make him appear more important than he is.”

    Robbie gave a half-smile, half-frown. “Sounds like Mr. Richfield,” he replied. “Mr. Richfield caused the death of the whole planet, for just several hundred million bucks.” Robbie grinned and elbowed her. “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to be that ex-girlfriend, would you?” he snickered.

    The Queen of Trash rolled her eyes.

    The small elderly dwarf shuffled toward the dark-skinned athletic female at dawn by the large gate that led to the newly created labyrinth. He slung a large black pesticide instrument over his shoulder and adjusted his red leather cap. “So, who are you?” he asked gruffly.

    “Please inform the King that I wish to speak to him,” she replied in a professional tone.

    The dwarf reared his head back and smiled. “Not until you answer my question,” he retorted.

    She sighed. “I am Eshe. I bring life. I offer my assistance to the Goblin King.”

    He patted his chest. “Well, I am Hoggle … and I say no one gets in the Labyrinth but me,” he chuckled.

    Eshe smiled. “Does the King know you hinder his rule?” she asked, bending down to bring her face closer to his.

    Hoggle shrugged. “And you could tell him that yourself … IF … I lets you in. However,” he continued proudly, “I’m not in the charitable mood this morning.”

    Eshe stroked Hoggle’s broad chin, making him whimper nervously. “Hoggle … I’m certain moods can change,” she offered seductively. She dangled a small red velvet pouch in front of him. It made a noise like chinking coins. She emptied the pouch into one of his large outstretched hands, showing him bright sparkling jewels. He stared at the pile in complete awe. In fact, the large brick walls of the labyrinth could have fallen on him and he wouldn’t have noticed. Eshe stroked his graying hair. “Open the door to the Labyrinth, Hoggle.”

    “So, basically,” Robbie interrupted, “you seduced and manipulated him in order to see the king.”

    “Typical,” Moulin interjected from the palanquin. “You and Jareth truly deserved each other, Trash Queen.” She glanced icily at the glaring queen. “At least my mother was honest in her intentions. She admitted no ethical problems with tricking other beings.”

    “What makes you think I thought so little of that tiny, wretched dwarf?” the Queen of Trash protested honestly.

    Robbie turned his head back and forth between the two quarreling females, his heart racing and his breathing shallowing instinctively. Had he been with his fellow dinosaurs, blood would be shed in about five minutes, the way these two females were snarling at each other.

    Moulin sneered. “You played him like a fiddle. For all your whining about being compassionate and seeing things in an optimistic point of view, you are just as callous and selfish as we are.” She huffed angrily. “You’re no different than his current fling,” she griped. “I recall that his human flirt had the same solution … toying with males to get her way.”

    “Don’t project your own ethical sensibilities onto me, little girl,” the Trash Queen snarled.

    Moulin smirked. “Oh? And how did you help that little red thing again? Forced him to wear out his tongue giving you raspberries? What was that all about? Were you out of water and needed all that spit?” She laughed. “I could have sent you some water if you were that desperate. You needn’t toy with a mere toddler just because you were bored and needed something to do.”

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

    Hoggle glanced around at the near-white ballroom, decorated with multi-colored curtains and sparkles and golden chandeliers. The ballroom was located deep within the castle. He had only been there a couple of times, the latest being that ball held for Sarah’s brother.

    The thought of Sarah made him growl quietly to himself.

    All his life, Hoggle had been the butt of goblin jokes. He was disrespected every chance they got. He wasn’t a reptilian or amphibian or avian-looking creature, so they mocked him relentlessly. In fact, he was pretty sure Sir Didymus was the only mammalian inhabitant that got any kind of respect, and that was only due to his amusing constant state of denial of his own talents.

    Well, and the Fierys … but no one in their right mind would agree to be friends with them.

    And no one besides Toby ever got his name right on the first try.

    He looked at a small female figurine from a music box he found in a pile of rubble. He caressed it in his large fat fingers. He glanced around to make sure no one was looking, and started to sing sadly:

    There's a fine, fine line between a lover and a friend;
    There's a fine, fine line between reality and pretend;
    And you never know 'til you reach the top if it was worth the uphill climb.

    There's a fine, fine line between love
    And a waste of time.

    There's a fine, fine line between a fairy tale and a lie;
    And there's a fine, fine line between "You're wonderful" and "Goodbye."

    He started to choke up. When Sarah was trapped in her crystalline dream, wearing the finest white gown ever imagined by a fairy-tale obsessed girl, she mindlessly wandered among the various costumed dancers. Unlike the Fierys, who had tried to tear her apart, these dancers merely gossiped and laughed at her … for she was but a girl trying to pretend to be someone she wasn’t. However, Jareth was there, so confident in his powers of seduction that he purposely refrained from dancing with her at the beginning. He wanted her to come to him.

    On the other hand, Sarah kept spying a tall thin dancer with a tri-corner brown hat, long white hair, wearing a long-snouted white skull mask. While this dancer danced with the others, he kept his wary eyes on her and her alone. He didn’t laugh at her. He didn’t try to dance so closely to her that their bodies threatened to merge.

    The look of fear in her face when she spied him, the way Jareth soothed her in dance … it was enough to convince Hoggle he would be alone forever.

    I guess if someone doesn't love you back it isn't such a crime,
    But there's a fine, fine line between love
    And a waste of your time.
  10. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 40
    (Fall, 2011AD)

    Robin the Frog sat on the edge of a very large nest, sighing. It was a shoddily enclosed space, with old broken doors forming a kind of fence for privacy. His uncle, Kermit, had to help with a small neighborhood play. Robin sighed again. Ever since Miss Piggy decided to date some creep named Nicky Holiday, Kermit had involved himself more often at Sesame Street and the swamp down in Florida. He buried himself in work to keep from thinking about her.

    Robin broke off a large twig and chewed on it wistfully. Gonzo had Camilla. Floyd had Janice. Those two old guys had wives. Heck, even Skeeter finally found someone to her liking … and he was more than a match for her, from what he’d heard.

    Robin never had anyone. There had been the odd guest star who treated him well … but it wasn’t the same. They took pity on him as the small kid, like someone would treat the dozens of residents of this particular neighborhood. He knew there were lots of children here, and Kermit had offered to let him stay in school here … but Robin didn’t like to think of himself as a toddler. He liked hanging around the theater, where there were others who … who … could get through a simple conversation without turning it into a public service message or a Powerpoint presentation for class.

    Then Kermit had to bring up The Frog Prince again. It was like his uncle was spitefully bringing up a sore point that Robin had had ever since he’d been younger. Sure, he wasn’t as old as Kermit (how could he?), but though “Muppets”, as they had become known, aged more slowly than “normal” animals, Robin still didn’t see himself as a child anymore. He’d probably get along with ten-to-fourteen-year-old humans.

    Despite being an older child, Robin resented that play more than anything. It was a good starting-off point for him, but the message irritated him to no end.

    Why can’t a frog have a beautiful princess at the end?

    Surely humans weren’t still so prejudiced to believe that frogs gave people warts. Robin had wanted his character to be loved, regardless of his looks. But, no … Kermit insisted that humans would only watch a play that left the lovers human at the end. It was only after much prodding seven years later that Ms. Warren could turn into a “beast” to turn a tale on its head.

    Robin slyly smirked. Though uncredited, he finally got his wish with a certain screwy fairy tale by Dreamworks. That was the message he wanted to spread … that a message of tolerance was being tossed aside by “curing” the enchanted of their problems. It didn’t work that way in real life! In real life, those who were different stayed different. At least, that’s what he told that Myers guy.

    “I’m awfully sorry, did I interrupt you?” Robin heard a very young male voice ask timidly. He looked up (way up) to see a tall yellow bird with the expression of a curious and eager child.

    “No, no,” Robin replied happily, shrugging. “This is your nest, Big Bird. I just wanted to thank you for letting me stay here. Did you get to see Snuffy today?”

    Big Bird laughed and closed the door behind him. He turned back to Robin. “Yeah, I managed to find him in Central Park. He was going for a walk with Alice,” he announced cheerfully. “I walked with them for awhile and then we all got ice cream!” He paused, lowering his head suddenly in shame. “Gosh, I should have brought you some….”

    Robin shook his head. “Oh no, that’s okay. You don’t have to.”

    “But you rarely come over to Sesame Street,” Big Bird protested. “I have to be a good host.” His face brightened back up. “Your uncle is one my most favorite friends. It seems like we’ve known each other forever,” he exclaimed, his eyes getting wide, like he had just found a really lucky penny on a sidewalk.

    Robin cleared his throat. He couldn’t believe he was going to ask him this: “Big Bird,” he asked hesitantly, trying to come up with an effective way to ask it, “do you have any special friends?”

    Big Bird nodded enthusiastically. “Oh yes!” he exclaimed. He started to count on his fingers, “I’m friends with Susan and Gordon and Telly and Kermit and Bert and Ernie and … even Oscar … and --.”

    “—No,” Robin interrupted, trying to wave him down. “I mean, do you … have you ever had a girlfriend?”

    Big Bird’s eyes widened and his beak went slack. “I’m six years old!” You might as well have told him that his feathers were plaid.

    Robin bit his lower lip. “Since the eighties!” he protested. “You’re older than I am!”

    Big Bird shrugged and shook his head. “And why can’t I be six?” he asked expectantly. “I like me for who I am, Robin. Snuffy likes me. Maria likes me. Abby likes me.” He sat down on the edge of his nest and put a hand behind Robin’s back. His tone quieted. “Robin, have you been lonely lately? Is that why you’re acting this way?” He patted Robin gently on the back. “I know what it’s like to be lonely, sometimes. Sometimes my friends have to go away or stay home and I can’t see them and it makes me very sad.” Big Bird shrugged. “Besides, I’m not the Count, you know. I don’t have to count every … single … year just because they happen. Bob told me that sometimes you’re as old as you feel. I feel six. It’s my favorite number so far.” He inhaled deeply with a burst of inspiration. “Did you know that six is half of a dozen?” he asked Robin excitedly.

    Robin cracked a small smile. “Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard.” He hesitated. He felt like a heel for criticizing one of his uncle’s best friends. Big Bird had been through a lot over the decades: he lost his store-owner friend of his, he had to face the relentless unbelief regarding his mammoth-like friend Snuffy, he got manipulated into giving himself up for adoption, and his nest was blown away in a hurricane. He leaned against Big Bird. “Thanks,” he said finally, “Big Bird. You always … know the right thing to say.” He looked up and saw a compassionate smile wash over the large bird’s beak.

    Was it such a problem that he felt out of place with those who were supposedly like him?

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

    They call me Prince Robin, the Brave!
    And history one day will rave!
    I'm valiant, and daring, and noble of bearing,
    courageous and gallant ... a mountain of talent!
    No wonder folks curtsy and wave!
    I'm Robin, Prince Robin, the brave!

    Prince Robin, who had once been enchanted and turned into a frog by the wicked witch Taminella, sang happily as he and his wife Princess Melora sat lazily by a bubbling brook on the edge of a forest surrounded by large, rocky mountains. Princess Melora sighed dreamily as she laid her head on his shoulders.

    “Oh, Prince Robin, it is so lush and green here,” Melora remarked cheerfully. She waved her arms. “Look all around, my great Prince … we could build a splendid castle right over there. I’m sure Daddy would lend us workers for building.” She licked her lips and adjusted her dress as she tried to bend over to cup her hands into the brook to drink. She had to wipe her long blonde hair away. Just as she brought the water to her lips, a pebble hit her in the head. She dropped the water and Robin, his face full of shock, jumped up briskly and unsheathed his sword. He glanced this way and that … and saw a tall blue-purple reptilian with numerous small spikes on his triangular head and large horn-like spikes breaking out of a rough-looking black leather jacket, wearing a bright red bandanna on his head and a pair of chain-accessorized black leather boots.

    The creature smirked. “I wouldn’t drink the water,” he hissed. He patted his stomach with his left hand. “Bad for digestion.”

    “Name yourself, knave!” ordered the young Prince boldly. “I will not allow anyone to attack the fair Princess!”

    The creature chuckled and nodded sarcastically. “Of course, of course … I understand.” His face brightened. “Still, after all, I didn’t know if you cave rats could understand speech.”

    Melora patted down her gown as she stood and rubbed the back of her head briefly.

    “I asked your name,” continued Prince Robin more forcefully, pointing his sword at this new foe.

    The creature put up both hands in a placating gesture. “Keep your boots on, Tiny,” he said. “I’m known as Spike.” He shrugged. “A little derivative, to be sure … but, all these natural accessories are more than a match for your little knife.”

    “Be ever so certain … I have slain many dragons in my lifetime!” the human prince boasted.

    Spike grinned. “Anybody can beat one o’ dose t’ings,” he replied dismissively. “Just get ‘em to hiccup when they’re blowin’ fire an’ BAM … dey get heartburn somethin’ awful and down dey go.”

    Melora grabbed hold of Robin’s sword arm and gently pulled it down. She looked at the reptilian. “Sir Spike, am I to understand that you attempted to save us from a cruel fate?”

    Robin looked at Melora in surprise.

    Spike nodded.

    Melora approached Spike cautiously, speaking in a calming voice. She didn’t want to engage in battle. This creature seemed every bit just as brave and certain as her husband … and the creature certainly looked stronger. “We would like to thank you, kind sir,” she continued. “We are strangers in this land and have come to assist in any way we can.”

    Spike stared at the human female with some amusement. She wasn’t like that other one. This one was as naïve as Scooter used to be. He smirked half-politely. He needed assistance. However, he didn’t know who he could trust. Everything had taken such a downturn over the last seven years or so. Finally, he managed to speak. “You got anyone else comin’ wit’ ya?”

    Melora nodded slowly and smiled. “Yes … from my understanding, there are six of us total.” She placed her hand gently on his jacket and continued to smile warmly, not noticing the jerky twitches from his tail. “Do not concern yourself. We have heard of the trials ahead. We welcome any opportunity to assist those in need.”

    Spike grit his teeth, trying to keep from reacting to this … cave rat … touching his jacket. Get ahold of yourself, he thought silently. You need to at least sucker these guys into putting themselves in the line of fire first. As sickeningly sweet and nice as they are … shouldn’t be too hard….

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

    A middle-aged Caucasian woman with dark brown hair sat sleeping in a theater seat with her feet propped up. She had a gentle smile on her face, as she had been dreaming of the play she had written roughly three years back. She had even managed to get a Tony Award for her story of a distressed king who had to accept responsibility in the face of nearly hopeless obstacles.

    She felt a lone finger stroking her hair. She slowly opened her eyes to see Jareth, in his now customary disguise of a black pin-striped suit and slicked-back blond hair tied up into a ponytail and dark sunglasses to hide his eye markings.

    “Hello, Sarah,” he told her suavely, with a hint of a smile. He gazed down at some popcorn in his hand. “Do you want some?”

    Sarah grunted with amusement and sat up, yawning. She looked at the popcorn and then at him. “I’ve already had a nice nap, thanks,” she replied in a teasing tone. When she had first traveled through his labyrinth, Hoggle had given her a peach from Jareth, one which left her in a strange dream-like state where he tempted her with fairy-tale frivolity and romance. She had the contrasting images of his smile while she fell for him and his grimace when she broke free burned into her memory. Though she had forgiven them both, she wanted Jareth to realize he could not play the same trick twice.

    Jareth frowned momentarily, but recovered with a grin. “Sarah … if this popcorn has any potential to harm you … I would suggest taking that up with your own suppliers.”

    Sarah sighed and popped a few in her mouth. She let them remain there for several moments (to taste them fully) before swallowing. The kernels seemed fresh, warm and salty and buttery. He must have made some in the lobby while she slept in the seating area of the theater.

    Jareth frowned again. “You still didn’t trust me?”

    Sarah smiled. “Only a fool would assume you were harmless.”

    Jareth pulled away. “Sarah,” he retorted bitterly, “I grow so tired of these games. You see me as something, and when I try to comply with your every wish … you act as though it’s all my fault.” He glared at her, pleadingly. “What is it that you want from me?”

    Sarah rolled her eyes and stood. “Jareth,” she answered in a lecturing tone, “stop taking everything as an insult.” She pointed at him accusatorily. “You act a certain way and then want to blame me for your own shortcomings.” She shook her head. “This isn’t about my wishes. I’m trying to accept who and what you are. If you don’t like what you are, don’t come blaming me. That may have worked when I was a teenager but I’m older and wiser.” Her voice started to rise. “I know you guys don’t age as fast as we mere mortals do, but you’d think after several thousand years, you’d be able to act like a grown man.”

    The silence stretched on for minutes. Jareth could barely keep his eyes on her. They had been through this argument several times over the last decade or so. Finally, he spoke in a beaten tone. “I have done as you requested. I have left you to live your life here, though why I can’t understand --.”

    “Can you turn your back on your kingdom?” Sarah asked defiantly.

    Jareth quickly stood and said forcefully, “In a heartbeat, Sarah – I would risk the destruction of the entire Underground itself to be in your arms for all eternity.”

    Sarah stood wide-eyed, shaking her head slightly. “All those creatures depend on you, Jareth. You can’t just --.”

    Yes, I can … that’s the whole point,” he said, cutting her short. “I admit I have my responsibilities --.”

    “So, there we go, ‘progress’,” she sniped sarcastically, crossing her arms.

    He sighed. “However, if it means never seeing you --.”

    Sarah put her hand up to shut him up. “Jareth, stop. Whenever I think of you, you show up. You’ve probably been spying on me with those crystal balls of yours when you’re not here. It’s not like we don’t interact. Stop acting like a petulant child. You told me you wanted us to be equals … but every chance you get, you gripe and moan and complain when I don’t cater to your every whim.”

    “I cater to yours,” Jareth sulked, avoiding Sarah’s eyes.

    Sarah looked away. “You said you loved that my will was as strong as yours ….”

    Jareth snorted. His tone remained acidic. “Mizumi’s will matched mine.”

    Sarah huffed. “Then why didn’t you go with her?”

    Jareth rolled his eyes. “Sarah, I have been willing to put aside my feelings to give you everything your heart desires.” He looked at her painfully. “I have been accused of excessive hubris since before your race created the first cities. ‘I move the stars for no one.’ For all the flak I get about my selfishness, I find it frustrating that no one cares about my needs at all! Everyone puts their own needs ahead of mine – even you!” His voice rose as he got angrier. “How am I the selfish one, Sarah? Is it because I dare ask you to take a few years off to live in my castle … to roam the countryside of the Underground? Heaven forbid Sarah Williams skips a paycheck! I mean, it’s not like I wouldn’t ‘arrange’ for her rent to be paid during her absence!”

    “I want to stand on my … own … two … feet!” Sarah barked back.

    “And why can’t you stand on your own two feet by … my … side?” he snapped at her. His mouth closed and his eyes widened as a flash of inspiration hit him, square in the gut. “This is about your mother!” he exclaimed breathlessly.

    Sarah gritted her teeth and clenched her fists. “Don’t you dare bring up my mother, Jareth!”

    Jareth nodded as though all the mysteries of the universe were now suddenly crystal clear. “Yes, it is … this is about your fears of ending up like her – chasing every flitting dream and dumping her life on someone else’s doorstep!”

    “Shut … up,” Sarah growled. Tears started welling up in her eyes and her voice started to waiver. “You have no right --.”

    “To suggest the obvious?” he asked haughtily. “You fear loving me because you fear being seen as some star-struck groupie who starved herself to death on the promise of love and glory,” he announced confidently. He stared at the young woman who had started to cry. He pointed toward himself. “I have grown since meeting you and young Toby,” he told her in a calmer, sadder tone. “My heart opened and yearned for you. Despite all the setbacks you’ve caused me … I learned from them. I thought that if I consented to ‘wait’ for you, you would make the same sacrifices I wanted to make for you.” He paused for a few moments. “I may be selfish. I may want you to fulfill my dreams … but don’t pretend that I am so selfish I would rather keep my kingdom than love you. I would throw it all away. Am I not selfless?”

    Sarah glanced past him slightly and gasped. Her heart skipped a couple of beats, but she was almost relieved that something … anything … interrupted this rehashed spat of theirs. He always seemed so stuck on himself, she thought. He claimed everyone was blind to his needs … but … he … didn’t … he didn’t realize the real reason bringing up her mother upset her: she had passed away. Fortunately, she and Sarah had made amends regarding the past. Her mother had become star-struck about a male co-star and had run away with him, leaving Sarah alone with her father and her step-mother. For years she resented it. However, ever since she had spoken to that little blue Fraggle, Boober, she had tried to heal old wounds, for she realized that others needed her just as much as she needed others. She couldn’t just tell Jareth, though … he, with all his powers that he loved to talk about, should know, shouldn’t he?

    Jareth turned quickly and spotted a large male with a scarred white bald head with his lips sewn shut, standing next to a large lion-like creature comprised completely of water.

    The male bowed and spoke despite his ever-closed mouth. “King Jareth of the Goblin Kingdom,” he said, “I come to inform you that my mistress has nearly arrived by palanquin to the edge of the valley, along with the lizard and Gorg and Trash Queen.” He stood erect and smirked. “They are, as yet, currently unaware of the reasons behind your numerous absences.” He paused, shooting a quick glance at Sarah. “However, it is quite clear the real reason you declared war on humanity. Should it come to light that you would force the entire world to fall down for the sake of a mere girl ….”

    “Perhaps it will come to pass that Queen Moulin will need a new bodyguard, Esker,” Jareth growled with clenched teeth, “one that takes the first hint about keeping one’s mouth shut. I seem to recall you have difficulty accepting that requirement from me.”

    “What do you mean, ‘declared war on humanity’?” Sarah asked the newcomer with a tinge of panic in her voice.

    Esker smirked again. He had kept his suspicions about Jareth’s whereabouts to himself. He wanted Moulin to go along on that journey. She would have returned home in a huff had she known he was meeting his human girlfriend. Despite his dislike of Moulin, at least she understood the necessity to act like a queen, despite her wistful pangs of long-distance love. Also, humans had presented a real (albeit small) risk to the Underground. However, the dimension known as the Underground was filled with beings with more power in their little fingers than humans could ever hope to achieve in their wildest dreams. So, he had gone along with Jareth’s version of events, until they got closer to the valley that had mysteriously appeared two years ago. Soon, they would face the one being who had ever appreciated him fully. Moulin, graceful and intelligent as she was, did not permit him the same … benefits … that Mizumi had. That was a judgment error he was all too willing to correct. He looked at Jareth and shrugged. “There are cards in play of which my mistress is completely unaware, King Jareth.” He pointed at Sarah. “You risk losing everything just so some tiny mortal human girl will kiss you,” he sneered triumphantly.

    Stop … insulting … Sarah,” Jareth warned him in a deadly tone.

    “Hey!” barked Sarah loudly. “What is this about declaring war on humanity?” She could feel her heart race a mile a minute. Her eyes threatened to pop out of her head. It felt as though her lungs were on fire. So much had happened during the last decade or so, especially in New York. Would Jareth really snap like that? She certainly hadn’t wished it!

    Esker glanced quickly at Sarah. “Isn’t it obvious? You would not join him for the sake of your duties here. If those duties were to disapp--.” Esker’s voice cracked as his eyes widened, his face tensing in pain. Small crystals started to jut out from all over his body, until soon there was nothing left but a spiky pillar of pure white crystal. The water-lion, meanwhile, faded from view, whimpering, its tail between its legs.

    Jareth smirked. It would have sent below-zero shivers down anyone’s spine. He turned his head slightly, stepping forward towards the pillar. He spoke to her in a condescending tone, “Sarah, I must be leaving. Perhaps you could use that as a prop in your play.”
  11. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    *Prods story with ? nagging wand. Hmmm... Now what was the spell to magic up an update? Oh well... :scary:
  12. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Well, I thought the reason no one was saying anything was that they needed to catch up. :D

    School has started, I'm still thinking of some directions I want some characters to go ... so I'll probably be only updating on weekends.
  13. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    ... Is okay. Post when you can, you know I love this and can't wait for more.
  14. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Chapter 41
    (Fall, 2011AD)

    Just as Spike finished up talking to the human couple about effective dinosaurian combat techniques, a thunderous stomping approached. They looked up toward the east to find a two-story-tall brown shaggy creature, followed closely by a legged vehicle with a long curved “nose” with eyes and a dark-skinned female humanoid with sea-green hair.

    Spike, so taken aback by the sight of the Gorg (for he had never seen a mammal that large … why he was only a few feet shorter than a typical swamp monster), didn’t notice the robed green-skinned dinosaur approaching him.

    “Spike!” a familiar voice shouted with glee.

    Spike tore his eyes away from the hairy mountain with legs and focused on Robert Sinclair. “You …,” he hissed in shock. He gestured angrily toward the strange group. “You tell half da valley that you’re lookin’ for help, and all you can come up wit’ is a bunch of cave rats wit’ fancy clothes and an ape on thornoids?” he yelled accusatorily.

    “What’s an ape?” Junior asked the lone rider of the palanquin.

    “Ix-nay on the accusations, Spike,” Robbie pleaded in a hushed tone.

    “Cave rats?” noted Eshe, Queen of Trash, with a cocked eyebrow and a hint of a smile, her arms crossed. “Beats ‘frelling faes,’ I suppose.” ‘Fae’ was a generic term for human-sized elementals or fairies, though it was typically used as a slur by non-fairies … like that greasy toad Wander McMooch. Wander had despised faes for taking over watery abodes best left for amphibians and reptiles and fish alike. He thought they had an obnoxious air about them, obsessed with their superiority over all other beings. That was why he poisoned the lake of Moraine, that was why he was banished, and that was why he no longer trembled before his newest benefactress. Eshe had not treated him that way. She had allowed … no … accepted McMooch’s needs and wants, unconditionally.

    “Apes are furry creatures with penchants for both playfulness and violence,” Moulin told Junior matter-of-factly as she climbed down the steps of the palanquin. Despite her dislike of Junior, he was beginning to grow on her. It was true that he wasn’t as beautiful as a reptile or a fish, the usual types of creatures that lived in Moraine, but their conversations had helped her see that he really was more than a dunder-headed lummox. With some proper education, his pure heart would make him an effective ruler.

    Spike grabbed Robert by the arm and dragged him away as the newcomers conversed among themselves. When they were out of sight, Spike snarled, “How could you bring dose t’ings here?” He pushed Robert against a tree. “How can you trust ‘em? How do you know they’re not gonna turn on us and let that white predatory cave rat --.”

    “Spike, she’s done more for us than we could ever have hoped for,” Robert retorted through gritted teeth.

    Spike suddenly let go, his jaw nearly slamming into the ground, his eyes filled with shock and pain. “You … you’re not ….” He couldn’t believe his ears: Mizumi had done something to the water, had done some sort of voodoo with nearly every inhabitant of ‘New Pangaea’, had ‘helped’ Rob take control, had relocated the whole valley through time and space … and here was Rob, defending her! He had assumed Rob was going to get help to stop her.

    Robert sighed, adjusting his robe. He scowled. “Look, Spike, I know you don’t approve of her. You’re not seeing the big picture: she rescued us, she placed us somewhere we could get actual resources that we wouldn’t have otherwise. I mean, we have air conditioning again! When was the last time we had that?”

    Spike exclaimed, “We’re cold-blooded, Rob! Da heat wasn’t gonna kill us!”

    Robert shook his head. “This whole ‘I’m against the sins of civilization’ thing is getting old, Spike,” he replied tersely.

    “Well, look where it got us,” Spike shot back, bitterly. He snorted. “You’re sounding like your ol’ m--.”

    Spike flew backward, slammed in the stomach by Robert’s thick green tail. He glanced up at Robert, who glowered at him, curling his upper lip slightly. Spike coughed briefly. He hadn’t seen that coming. Rob really had grown the last couple of years.

    If he weren’t so concerned over the lives of dinosaurs everywhere … he’d be proud.

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

    “What do you mean, ‘The water is poisoned?’ Is that what that Polacanthus told you?” Moulin questioned Robin and Melora, who lounged on heaps of soft moss-covered earth, sipping tea daintily.

    Melora looked at Robin, confused. She turned back to Moulin. “Sir Spike never told us the nature of his being. How do you know what he is?”

    Moulin smirked. “I study ancient history as a hobby,” she replied smugly. “An effective ruler must be well-educated.”

    “Yes,” Eshe commented dryly, rolling her eyes, “because studying lifeforms from millions of years ago is so relevant….”

    Moulin snapped her head toward the Queen of Trash, her eyes narrow slits, her voice hissing, and her veins popping in her neck. “And yet, here they are --.”

    Eshe smiled and bowed slightly. “Point taken, Milady.” Perhaps Moulin had a gift for prophecy that avoided detection. After all, from what she understood, Moulin had criticized her mother for challenging destiny in Mizumi’s quest to woo Jareth. Also, it would make sense for a water elemental to engage in hydromancy, which used either ripples or oil layers to predict the future.

    Moulin shook her head and glanced at the two human royals. She pointed at their white teacups, adorned with roses and lilypads. “If the water is poisoned, how are you drinking tea?”

    Robin smiled. “We always prepare ourselves. When the water of this stream was condemned by the reptilian creature, Sir Spike, it occurred to us that we had packed plenty of supplies for a whole month in the back of the carriage!” He laughed heartily. “We had completely forgotten!”

    Moulin groaned, letting her face fall clumsily into her hands. It was bearable when there was just one naïve oaf to deal with …. Faced with a trio of permanently happy faces … she may not survive this royal excursion at all.

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

    The basement of the theater where Sarah’s award-winning play was being held had seen it’s fair share of drama itself. When the crown prop was discovered stolen, a porcine drama queen mopped up the floor with the aging thief.

    Now, it was just cold and dark.

    Sarah sat down on a small stool among the many props, including a two-foot-tall crown made of gold and silver and jewels. Her dark brown hair shielded her eyes as she sat crying. The crystal pillar had shattered, its shards disappearing shortly after Jareth had left yesterday.

    For some strange reason … a reason she could not understand … she felt safe in the basement. It reminded her of falling into the oubliette dungeon, the dirt walls of which glittered with some sort of sparkles, like the ones she had seen on opening night. Despite the fact there had been no doors or windows or supplies, indeed only a jumbled dusty skeleton had been her companion, she had not felt afraid.

    Of course, she didn’t make the connection between the skeleton and her own supposed fate.

    Suddenly, Sarah felt a bit of warmth near her face. She looked up, wiping her eyes … but there was nothing. She stood, glanced left and right, and cleared her throat. “Who’s there?”

    Nothing but silence greeted her.

    She had expected a response, a gruff “me” blurted out from the darkness as the sound of a striking match brought forth a warm, almost intimate glow that had given her a sense of relief.

    Though she had not been afraid in the oubliette, she still welcomed company.

    When he had patted her on the hand sympathetically, she didn’t feel intimidated like she had been by Jareth. Jareth was very much like his own labyrinth, endlessly changing and beautiful but dangerous. He, on the other hand, acted selfish, but had risked his life to save her from that gargantuan horned door robot called Humongous. Jareth, meanwhile, always stayed in complete control over the situation … or so he thought. Sarah had done the impossible … she had solved a maze designed to keep people from getting close to him.

    And yet, talking to this powerful being was like talking to a narcissistic teenage boy: he desired her, he took any instance of her wishing for some time alone as a huge insult akin to requesting lifting a mountain into the air with one’s bare hands, and he had no empathy for anyone.

    Perhaps he was more than what he seemed … but even after all these years … he hadn’t changed all that much. It hadn’t been for lack of trying: Boober’s chastisement had cured her of her innate egotism. She wanted to like him, she wanted to see him as more compassionate being … but he was willing to destroy everything he worked so hard for, just for her.

    While most would consider that romantic, Sarah couldn’t.

    After all…



    …what was to keep him from destroying her because of a new, more attractive whim?

    She wasn’t a fool. She wasn’t some headstrong hormone-driven teenager anymore, either. He had all the red flags of someone who lived impulsively and violently. He spied on her like an abusive, possessive husband. Perhaps nothing in her life was outside his awareness. He traps and kills those who stand against him.

    What did he need?

    Boober had told her to see the needs of others. What can you do for the one who only seeks to dominate you so you’ll spend the rest of your days cowering at his feet? What words can be said to someone who confuses power with love?

    She just couldn’t see the answer. She shook her head and began to pace the room.

    “Get a grip, Sarah,” she told herself angrily, clenching her fists. “You’re over-the-hill now. You can figure this out. Argh!” she grunted as her knee hit a fake tree that leaned against a wall. She rubbed her leg and continued to pace, albeit more slowly. “You’re forty-one: too old to be dense and too young to be senile. There has to be an answer.”

    She sighed and resignedly plopped herself onto the stool once more, burying her face in her hands. “I just can’t see it,” she grumbled. She felt something light fall at her feet. She reached down, picked it up, and examined it. It was a long golden leaf, roughly a foot-and-a-half in length. She sniffed it. She expected it to smell of gold paint. Instead, it smelled like tea. Ceylon white tea, to be exact, she noted to herself in surprise. She looked at it more closely and discovered that it wasn’t painted at all – it really was golden naturally.

    She stood up and decided to head home.

    Maybe this was just what she needed, after all.
  15. Yva Minstrel

    Yva Minstrel New Member

    Read through Chapter 3!

    Hi,

    I am only leaving a review to the first three chapters, as that is how far I have read. I will say straight up, I love this. I don't know why I didn't start reading this gem of a story sooner. I am only three chapters into it and I am really feeling myself drawn into what is going on.

    You weave everything together so wonderfully that it truly surprises me that more people haven't commented on this. The points that I love so far.

    Junior's speech. You really bring him to life and make it sound as though I can really hear him talking here. The other two gorgs are also great, specifically Ma Gorg with her 'sweetums' and 'most loved son' lines.

    Sir Hubris is very effectively used here too. I must admit as I read the first chapter, I had other ideas as to who this character was. I was simply not sure, but your description of him and the way he carries himself is most effective for telling this story.

    I have to say that your powers of description really put us (your readers) right there in the middle of the action. You give us a feel (even if we are not perfectly knowledgeable about the universe) that we are learning about them as we go along. Since I am not one for reading the cliff's notes, I'll have to look into Labyrinth and see what the big hubbub is about it. I also need to watch Dark Crystal, as I have not yet seen that film either. (shame on me)

    Somehow all of these things are connected, and I'm looking foward to seeing how they are woven together. I loved the scenes with Philo and Gunge, as well as the phone call between Jenny and Kermit.

    That line about Homeland Security contacting Crazy Harry made me just about fall out of my chair laughing. I could see it. Hehehe.

    Good stuff, I'll check back in when I get to do some more reading today. Looking forward to reading further into this.

    Good job, time for breakfast. :)
  16. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Yva. If you want, I have a whole reading list of fanfic stories that have become cherished classics here, even some that are yet to be finished.

    Kelly... Update! I have to say that I'm ribbeted by the inner conflicts of Sarah trying to figure out how to resolve her relationship woes with Jareth. Also... Me likes the dynamic between the members of the council now that only the Goblin King is missing from their midst. Knew Mezumi wouldn't stand to stand still. So Sinclair City is now New Pangaea, very appropriate. Wonder how the rest of that civilization's doing. And I sympathize for Moulin, so many happy faces... It's almost like a grouch trying to live on Sesame Street.

    Loved it all, please post more when you can.
  17. Yva Minstrel

    Yva Minstrel New Member

    Just a suggestion, but maybe you can post them and stick them at the top of this forum. A newbie's guide to fan fiction here. :) That way the writers don't feel too stressed about their stuff not getting read after they get finished. If there's an easy link to the stories as in an index, then it would be monumentally helpful.

    Just my two cents here, but if not, do PM it to me, I'd love to have it for future reference. :D Aside from writing, I am also an active reader.
  18. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Yva! Yes, it all comes together (eventually). I came up with the Sir Hubris idea last year or something. The problem was that Sir Hubris was considered half the height of a Gorg (roughly 10ft), but it made a LOT more sense to assume the legend "improved" some of the details. :)

    Sarah and Jareth has been a struggle. I don't want it to be cliche. However, I think I've left enough foreshadowing (some intentional, some coincidental) to guide me on how that is going to work out.

    Mizumi is like Jareth ... she is in denial about her own nature. She can't stand Jareth for being obsessive about love ... but she's been exactly the same. And like Jareth, she doesn't like the word "no".

    We might learn about the New Pangaeans after the rest of the group realize who's "really" in charge. Have to leave stuff for epilogues and stuff, too. :D

    I've really tried to grow Moulin. I know she wasn't very popular all mopey and stuff, so I've been trying to find her a sense of humor. :p It's still a work in progress ... but she no longer treats Junior like Princess Leia treated Chewie. Hahaha...
  19. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    We're about 3-5 chaps left.
  20. Yva Minstrel

    Yva Minstrel New Member

    Through to Chapter 9

    Hi,

    I have made it up to the start of chapter 10, so the reading is going along alright, and I thought it was time for another few lines update on how this is shaping up for me.

    First of all, the interludes sort of throw me for a loop. They are amusing and neat ideas, but they also throw me off as I'm reading. That is, after reading about what has been happening with Mokey, I get this 'program break', which sort of takes the overall mood away and detracts for me what she is going through or experiencing. That scene with Cantus was quite wonderful and I was left to wonder what has been happening to her, and what Cantus sees with her. Very deep and almost spiritual stuff going on here. Good jub. But, going from that to a 'program break' is very strange for me, as my mind is still with Mokey and not the digression.

    Speaking of which, Wembley's little chat session at the computer was very cute and perhaps as a one shot it would work, but meshed into an already very thought involving story is rather hard for my overtaxed brain to wrap itself around. It just seems to me that these cute little bits sort of detract from the overall flow or essence of the story.

    Don't get me wrong, I really do like the story, but it's what I would loosely call a 'thinking story', that is it is a story that I would really have to be in the proper frame of mind to follow. When there is an 'interlude' then my thought processes are abruptly stopped, and my brain is still back with Mokey or Pa Gorg, all the while trying to process what is going on. Make sense? What I'm trying to say is the overall flow of the story is abruptly jarred and then the reader is left trying to figure out everything once again.

    For me, I have to sort of remember how the characters are in relation to one another. That Sarah and her brother are connected to Jareth and the other characters at the top of your chapters. Then I have to stop and think about how they are connected to the Gorgs. Then I must contemplate how the Fraggles are bonded together in the rest of this. What this story reminds me of is a tapestry of various ideas and concepts, all internally woven together to push the plot along. Up to now, I have not seen how the overall picture is supposed to look. I am getting small glimpses, but not a complete image.

    Overall, it's still neat stuff, but at times it can be quite complex as well as hard for me to follow. It is very clear that you are a 'Labyrinth' fan and you have tapped into my becoming fascinated with that story, but I am sort of getting lost in the characters of who is who, and I realize that even a cliff's notes version of the story is not always going to help me.

    Perhaps I ought to watch or read this 'Labyrinth' thing before I continue with the story. At least through that I can continue to follow the actions and get the full impact of your story. Right now, I feel as though I am only seeing a small part of it, and not the whole thing. The other confusing bit is how you go from italicized writing at the top of the chapters to regular font in the later chapters.

    I do think your writing is wonderful, and I can't stress that enough. I just need to really grasp what all is happening, and diverting myself away from reading to check something online is not really the best way for me to read or even follow a story. I keep waiting for the light to go on in my head and get to shout 'eureka!', but up through this chapter, I haven't had that sense of inspiration happen just yet.

    I guess that's just me though, maybe other people read things in a different way. At the moment, I feel rather ignorant because as wonderfully as this story is written and presented, my brain presently feels like it's made of Gorg Butter. :smirk:


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