Chapter 11: First Contact
Pleakley could say that he had regrets over way too many things in his life.
Perhaps his first ever regret was that his first name was Wendy. Every time he took out and flashed his identification pass, his eye would always manage to catch his full name, the same name that had been written on his birth certificate, under the section labelled 'Full Name'.
Full Name: Wendy Pleakley.
It always made him angry whenever he saw the four words printed on his ID card. He absolutely hated that name. Wendy Pleakley.
Actually, "hated" was way too mild a word to describe how much he disliked the name Wendy. The more accurate term to Pleakley would be "vehemently despised with every fiber of his being".
The fact that he was named Wendy wasn't even his fault in the first place. His own parents had been the one who had chosen that name for him. Regardless, it had always been a sore point between him and his family. Honestly, why did he have to be named Wendy? He would rather let his brother have that name and take a different, much better one.
Another one of his big regrets was a botch up that he had made for his final exams when he was studying at G.A.C.C., the Galactic Alliance Community College. The night before his final paper, he had burnt the midnight oil trying to cram as much knowledge as possible into his brain at the last minute.
That idea, which had seemed so good at the time to the studious student, backfired spectacularly when he ended up oversleeping for his final paper, which debarred him from the examinations and ultimately cost him his dream job — a secured internship for a teaching job at G.A.C.C.'s Earth Studies division.
With his less than stellar results thanks to the debarment of his last paper, he had been forced to take a compromise instead, and he had ended up getting hired as a Federation Agent specialising in Earth Studies. However, the job scope as a Federation Agent was much worse than it had sounded on paper.
The interviewers had lied. Instead of practical Earth experiences, he had wound up confined to a lousy desk job on Planet Turo for ages. When he questioned his superiors, the answers he was tossed back was "a lack of funds" before his request was shot down.
To make matters worse, the working hours were absolutely terrible, to the point where he ended up never having a chance to visit Earth before now. Yep, for all the hoo-ha about being a proclaimed "Earth expert", this was his first time on the planet itself.
That said, he wouldn't be here on Earth right now if he hadn't let himself get suckered by that rascal, Experiment 625. Oh boy, was that one a doozy. Another regret for Pleakley to add to his long list of regrets.
He couldn't believe that he had let the sneaky illegal genetic experiment trick him into letting the Grand Councilwoman assign him as 625's caretaker on a very dangerous covert mission, and later let 625 blackmail him further into being the one that had to directly chase after Jumba.
Let the espionage spies do that job instead! Why did he have to be the one to get involved in such a dangerous, life-threatening affair?!
Honestly, Pleakley realised that it was all because of the intergalactic pepperoni press. The Grand Councilwoman had said as much. Had the Federation not have the need to cover the mission up from the press, then Captain Gantu and his ridiculously large fleet of ships would be chasing after the scientist instead, and he would be at his desk on Planet Turo instead of being seated next to a crazy scientist.
Oh yeah, being seated next to a crazy scientist. None of any of those previous regrets even came close to his current new biggest regret — getting into this car and trying to take control of the wheel from Jumba.
That very nutty, no, more like half-crazed Jumba. Might as well add "uncaring for their own safety" onto the scientist's wanted poster as well.
Jumba seemed determined to flout every traffic law in intergalactic travel to catch up to something. What that something was, Pleakley had no clue, but it was probably important.
Important enough to drive at really dangerous speeds, Pleakley thought. The sheer speed at which Jumba drove and swerved was starting to make him dizzy and lightheaded. Did Jumba not get motion sickness or something? Because right now, Pleakley was already tempted to barf.
Suddenly, he saw Jumba smirk in triumph. Following Jumba's line of vision, he caught a glimpse of something blue. Before he could comprehend anything, he heard Jumba holler out loud. "You stop right now, six-two-six! Stop!"
"What are you, nuts?" Pleakley hissed in a low whisper. "Darn it, humans can hear you!"
Jumba played off Pleakley's concern, instead gave a hard stare to intimidate the alien seated on his right. "And you! Let go of the wheel, Pleakley!"
"No! Not until you follow the speed limit!" Pleakley yelled in defiance, trying not to let the fear on his face show. His nightmare was slowly becoming a reality. Jumba had already tested his patience, but this was ridiculous.
Jumba was flouting so many local traffic laws in his mad rush that they were very likely to be pulled over by an officer, which would reveal their identities as aliens to the world!
Stay calm, he told himself. Remain calm, don't panic! Everything's going to be fine…
Actually, scratch that, we're not gonna be fine! "Slow down! You're nuts!" Pleakley shouted, wrestling the steering wheel to the left as the demons in his mind won out. The resulting action caused the vehicle to barely avoid crashing into a hypermart.
"I think I'm going to be sick…" Pleakley blinked his eye repeatedly to clear the tears in his dazed eye. This couldn't be happening. He was not trapped in a car, desperately fighting for control of the vehicle with a criminal in what was definitely the worst car ride he had ever been in his entire life. Seriously, the constant swerving at high speeds caused by Jumba flooring the accelerator was arguably worse than a spaceship undergoing hyperspace turbulence.
Just then, a flash of unnatural dark blue scurried away on the pavement. Pleakley tried peering at it, but found that he couldn't focus on the object. All the constant swerving had made him dizzy to the point that he wasn't quite sure what he had saw. He let go of the wheel unwillingly, leaning back on the leather seat, putting his sweaty palm to his face. Was he hallucinating?
"There you are, you sneaky little brat!" Jumba spat, before he burst out into a wide, sinister grin and slammed the accelerator down.
Apparently not. It looked as though Jumba saw whatever the flash of blue was as well. "What are you doing?" Pleakley asked warily, eyeing the needle on the speedometer inch further and further to the right. He was too tired after the struggle for the steering wheel and the probability that he was going delusional to raise a more firm objection against him.
"Be quiet!" Jumba ordered, his voice filled with such conviction that Pleakley could only meekly follow his command, "And don't move! He can sense you."
"What do you mean by 'he can sense me'?" Pleakley's eyes darted around, but he couldn't see anyone in the windscreen. "I don't see anything there! Don't scare me! Is this some kind of a horror flick?"
Ignoring Pleakley, Jumba continued to talk out loud to himself. "Heheheheh! Jumba has you cornered now, six-two-six. There's nowhere for you to run now! And when I catch you—"
"What are you talking about? Who're you cornering? And can you slow down, please?!"
"Don't be nosy, I'm not telling you, and no," Jumba answered each one of Pleakley's questions in turn before he reached inside his shirt with his free arm and started to pull something out.
Pleakley gulped as he observed Jumba's subtle movement. It seemed like a simple reflex motion to an unsuspecting eye, but to him?
He knew otherwise.
Pleakley exactly what was in Jumba's fingertips and what he was about to do. "No! Don't kill me!" he yelled in a panic, grabbing onto Jumba's arm before he could fully take out the object hidden in his shirt.
Jumba let go of the wheel and used the arm he had used to drive to break free of Pleakley's grip. "What do you think you're doing?!" he sneered.
"I know what you're doing!" Pleakley cried, his eye wide with fear. "You're going to shoot me with that blaster!"
Jumba stared incredulously before replying, "Blaster? You mean plasma blaster?"
"Wait, are you not drawing a plasma blaster?" Pleakley blurted out, "You know, like in the movies, when they draw the blaster out of a holster and shoot stuff?"
Jumba's eyes narrowed before he revealed the object he had wanted to take out. "You have very active imagination, but this is not plasma blaster," he said with a deadpan tone to a very relieved Pleakley. "What, you thought I was going to shoot mere tourist like you? Of course not, I'd start an intergalactic incident if I did that! Get your mind away from those action movies! This is actually very expensive infrared binoculars." Seeing Pleakley's eyes shining with interest, he added, "So get your grubby paws off of it."
Pleakley grumpily argued back with a pout, "Darn, you made me curious! I want to see that now!"
"No!" Jumba struggled to keep Pleakley from snatching the binoculars. "What part of very expensive do you not understand, one-eyed noodle?"
"Sharing is caring!" Pleakley retorted.
Jumba dodged his swipe by using both arms, "Jumba said no!"
"Hey!" Pleakley was suddenly hit with an epiphany when he glanced at his and Jumba's intermingled arms, "If we're fighting over this, then who's driving this car?" he asked, looking back to the front.
Jumba cursed, realising Pleakley was right when he suddenly spotted his prize out of the corner of his rightmost eye.
He beamed, seeing a mild sneer of irritation flash across 626's face as he zoomed by the experiment in the vehicle. So you finally realised that you didn't lose Jumba back at the hotel, six-two-six. Heh heh! It's too bad, but I've managed to catch up to you. Did you really think that you could escape me? 626 was currently standing on the footpath outside a building. Jumba caught the words of the sign that 626 happened to be next to — Animal Shelter, just before 626 and the sign got obscured by trees.
Jumba smirked at his luck. Experiment six-two-six probably stopped running because he sensed me nearby. Now that he knows I am pursuing him, he is probably going to run someplace else. But it is being too late for him! The cold trail is hot again now that I've got a landmark to trace him down! All Jumba has to do is turn vehicle back around to animal shelter and…
"What are you doing? You've been staring out the passenger side window for the past five seconds! There's nothing there! Wait… look out!"
Jumba snapped out of his trance with a grumble. Why did that freeloading tourist Pleakley have to shriek into his ear and ruin his happy mood at things finally going his way again. Frustrated, he turned back to the windscreen.
It was only after he brought his attention back to the front did he realise that had much more pressing concerns to be worried about at the moment. He cursed, bringing his hands back to the steering wheel in an attempt to avoid disaster. However, by then, it was too late. The vehicle had been unmanned by either of the two for far too long.
The law of entropy states that everything in the universe tends to decline into disaster when left alone. Therefore, following that logic, the car had driven in a direction which guaranteed the messiest crash when Jumba and Pleakley were fighting over the binoculars — it proceeded to drive off the road, crashing through a fence before rolling down into a ditch, the front of the car nosediving into the ditch while the back ended up suspended in the air at a 45 degree incline as the whole vehicle ended up stuck in said ditch.
When the wheels eventually stopped rolling, the two screams which had earlier rung out from its occupants within had long gone silent.
Choota! Why must meega have all the shoddy luck?
It was all the fault of his stupid blue fur! The unnatural colour made him stand out as long as he was on this dirt brown planet.
626 had only saw Jumba for a mere split second, as his creator drove past him before speeding out of view, but he knew with a sinking feeling that Jumba had managed to spot him in that time, all because his fur contrasted greatly with the native Hawaiian surroundings. The scientist was probably furiously turning the vehicle back right this second to resume the dissection plan that he constantly preached about ever since they had landed on this planet.
Hmph, like meega will give him the chance, 626 thought. Why isa Jumba so insistent on cutting meega up anyway? Maybe earth planet's atmosphere messed with Jumba's head? Or perhaps… meega's crash landing during hyperspace had done that? If so, then Jumba's messed up head is on meega! Great, that means that meega being chased by Jumba is meega's own fault. What irony, ha ha ha.
Forcing the somewhat hilarious thought that he had been the one who had caused brain damage to his own creator aside, 626 began to focus on an escape plan. Jumba's vehicle—who knows how he got that anyway—had sped by at about 120 miles an hour, and at that speed Jumba would require a couple of seconds to slow down and turn the vehicle around safely.
If he didn't slow down, he would risk tipping the car over due to inertia when he made the sharp U-turn. A smart scientist like Jumba would know that more haste meant less speed, so 626 was almost certain he would slow the car down, which gave him a few seconds.
626 had only those few precious seconds to get out of Jumba's line of vision and hide. That left him with only two choices.
Option number one was to hide in the building he was currently next to, an animal shelter. However, the drawback was that it was such an obvious move. Come on, where would Jumba assume he was hiding if he disappeared after coming back? Of course it would be at the area that he was last seen!
Jumba had seen him by the building when he had driven by. That was a fact. There was even a sign nearby that said "Animal Shelter", which might as well be a neon sign that read "Experiment 626 is Hiding Here" in this scenario. The moment Jumba did a thorough search, he would find his precious experiment and the cat-and-mouse game between them would be over.
That left him with the other option, which was to run away to the neighbouring buildings to find a new hiding place that Jumba would be less likely to suspect. He was seriously considering risking it, but the other option's drawback was way worse. Since he had no idea when Jumba's vehicle would reappear, there was a chance that Jumba would see him as he was scampering away. If that happened, he would be a sitting duck since he would be distracted because he was running. Jumba would have a clear shot with his plasma blaster, long enough to stun him.
626 grimaced, looking down with a look of disgust evident on his face. He really didn't want to complete the train of thought of what would happen to him if Jumba managed to capture him.
Taking another precious second to weigh his two options, 626 shivered unconsciously as a cool breeze passed by him. As if the wind was a catalyst, he mumbled curses in Tantalog before breaking into a sprint, having made his choice.
He might be the indestructible experiment six-two-six, but being arrogant often led to a person's downfall. He would rather not chance being in the direct line of fire and the risk of being incapacitated if he ran to find another hiding place. Sure, hiding in the animal shelter might be really predictable to a genius like Jumba, but on the flip side, it would force Jumba to appear at the shelter.
Staying at the animal shelter where he was last seen was bait, but he knew that it was a gambit that Jumba would be forced to take. This would let 626 be one step ahead of Jumba. He could make up for the loss of control later by finding an escape route.
626 managed to finish his sprint towards the shelter at the same time he finished rationalizing the plan to himself. He extended his lower pair of arms and proceeded to immediately use them, climbing up the wooden door using all six of his limbs. When he made it to the top, he then gently pushed on the door, knocking it ajar.
Three pair of eyes in the shelter turned to the now open door, but to their disappointment, they saw nothing. As 626 had expected, the eyes of the humans were naturally trained to observe their surroundings at eye level, so they completely missed him scampering onto the ceiling from the top of the door frame.
He continued to remain on the ceiling as the brunette lady wearing an apron, most likely an employee of the animal shelter judging by her attire, walked towards the ajar door and shut it.
"Must have been the wind," she commented with mild irritation before turning back to the other two in the room. "Sorry for the interruption, ma'am, what were you saying?"
"Oh yeah," the second woman began to speak, "we are here to get a pet for my little sister. Nothing dangerous, but it should be something that can defend itself. Something that won't die, something sturdy, y'know."
"Like a lobster!" 626 glanced down at the cheerful but random input coming from the child.
The older girl—no, 626 corrected, the elder sister—squatted down to face her younger sister. "Lilo, you lolo," she had an incredulous expression on her face, suggesting to 626 that this wasn't the first time she had spoken to her younger sister this way, "Do we have a lobster door? No we don't, we have a dog door. We are getting a dog!"
The two sisters are here at the animal shelter to get… a dog! 626's eyes lit up in delight, being careful not to fall off the ceiling in exhilaration. This was it! This was his escape route!
All he had to do was make sure that he was adopted by these two, and then he would have a safe way out. This way, when Jumba came in and threatened him, he would use the two humans as a distraction to get away.
He immediately scurried along the ceiling to the pound area at the back, before letting himself fall down to the ground. Landing with a whump, he recovered from the admittedly really tiny fall quickly. Now all that was left for him to do was…
"Woof! Woof! Woof!"
He swirled around, sneering at the offending canine that had dared to bark at him. The dog's bravado immediately vanished upon seeing 626's nightmarish face. It darted off with its tail between its legs, whimpering to a corner in fright. His eyes followed the retreating dog, only to see it join a group of canines huddling together. He snarled at them once again, eliciting a chorus of unified whimpers from the group of dogs.
Those submissive cowards. At least they were all cowering out of sight of anyone walking by the main walkway now. All of them being out of sight would make his job of being selected by the girl easy.
Speak of the devil! 626's eyes turned to the direction of the call. That was the little girl's voice!
He hurriedly retracted his lower pair of arms — wouldn't want to scare her away, after all, and brushed his unkempt blue fur down using his arms in a valiant effort to look presentable.
Actually, if he was going to be serious about this adoption plan, then those head antennas had got to go. Those extended back spikes as well. They screamed "alien" to the humans and for his plan to succeed, he needed the young girl to truly believe that he was native to this planet.
Then again, did he really have to hide his alien appearance? No one at the Birds of Paradise had noticed anything amiss. Maybe it was too extreme a precaution for him to take. If he retracted his head antennas and back spikes, his menacing persona would be practically reduced to a mere quarter of what it originally was.
Oh, whatever! If he was going this far for a dumb plan just to throw Jumba off his trail, he might as well go all the way and put in one hundred and one percent of his effort. It'll make the reveal of a cute little "dog" being a hostile and very destructive alien so much more satisfying when he backstabbed and traumatised the little girl.
Completing his "cute" disguise after retracting any alien appendages back into his body, he poked his head out to see the little girl. Now that he was not suspended upside-down from the ceiling, he got his first in-depth look of the girl Lilo.
Lilo was very short, at least in comparison to someone like Jumba. Only relatively speaking though, her height would be close to around his if they both stood up straight. She was wearing a red dress adorned with a floral leaf-like pattern, as well as a pair of slippers. He smiled slightly at her attire. The dress and slippers would limit her movement, so when push came to shove, she would be the perfect hostage when he bargained with Jumba since she would be unable to run fast with that outfit, which made her unlikely to escape his grip.
Yes, the perfect getaway method, and at worst the perfect hostage as well. All he needed to do was win her heart and he was home free.
"Is anybody there?" the girl called out, glancing about only to see empty cells in the pound area. "Hello?!" she continued to raise her voice, repeatedly scanning her eyes around for any dogs.
Unfortunately for her, it looked like all the dogs in the facility had ran and hid away after he performed his mean snarl to all the dogs earlier. It was really too bad for the poor girl, since the situation now only gave her the illusion of choice.
She—Lilo—was under the impression that she could pick whichever dog from the shelter that she desired, when in reality the only dog she would be able to pick from this shelter will be him. He'd make sure of that. If any other canine tried to get close to her and ruin his escape, he would silence the mutt.
He only peeked back out after the girl walked past him. She hadn't noticed him as he had hid in the back of the chain-link cells along with the other dogs.
To be honest, 626 could have let her see him the moment she had walked into the room, but he decided to lay hidden in the shadows for a little while more to rehearse his introduction.
His perfect introduction.
626 was about to give that poor girl an introduction that she would never forget, not for the rest of her life.
As she continued walking down the walkway, he came out of the chain-linked fence that barricaded the dogs from the walkway. He then walked forward on all fours towards the unsuspecting girl. When he got close enough to her, he then stood up and tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention.
Checkmate, Jumba. Once meega manage to win this little girl over, yuuga will never be able to take meega alive from this animal shelter!
Meega won't lose to you!
Here we go! Stitch (admittedly still kind of a mean and evil experiment) has finally met up with Lilo after close to almost 50K words. You'll have to wait to the next chapter to see what Lilo thinks of Stitch though.
Once the adoption arc is done, we can really get the story moving and twist this plot around. This is a Canon-Divergence AU, after all!